Lake Bunyonyi Is A Natural Wonder of The World – Uganda Safaris & Tours

Lake Bunyonyi ought to be considered one of the natural wonders of the world and, now that I’ve seen it before my own eyes, it’s joined the ranks of my most beloved travel destinations.

Believed to be the second deepest lake in Africa, Lake Bunyonyi is a body of water in southwestern Uganda near the Rwandan border, and one of the country’s top natural treasures. And, at 1,962m above sea level, the lake enjoys moderate temperatures year round, cool in both the mornings and evenings. Most visitors make it an R&R stop after gorilla trekking in nearby Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, or a wildlife safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park even can proceed to Kibale National Park to trek chimpanzees.

Lake Bunyonyi is framed by lush, green-terraced hills that reach a height of 2,200-2,478m, but it’s the 29 islands of various shapes and sizes scattered across the water that make it most magical — we could’ve admired them all day. It’s a sight that reinvents itself every hour or two with the ever-changing climate and direction of the sun. In the early morning, the islands weave through cotton candy-like streams of mist and, in the afternoon, they’re bathed in the warm glow of the sun. Later, they’re silhouetted against a dim sky as evening approaches. One day the islands vanished from sight completely, hidden under a blanket of clouds, but it only took an hour to see them emerge once more.

There’s nothing like that powerful moment when the mystical scene opened up to us for the first time after arriving at Arcadia Lodge, a cottage high up on a hill that claims to have the most breathtaking panorama of Lake Bunyonyi. If you don’t stay as a guest, be sure to at least visit for a drink or meal on the terrace to enjoy the view. So overwhelmed Jill was by the lake’s sheer beauty that I found her in tearful meditation, silently absorbing what was before her eyes. What fantasy did we step into to find such natural splendour?

Things to Do at Lake Bunyonyi
Apart from worshiping the scenic landscapes from a hilltop, there’s plenty to do here, so I recommend spending at least a night or two on its shores or one of the islands.
Swimming: Lake Bunyonyi is known as one of the few lakes in Uganda free of bilharzia, making its waters safe for swimming. I didn’t find the weather warm enough so refrained from taking a dip. It’s also free of dangerous wildlife like hippos and crocodiles. The only warning for visitors is the depth — inexperienced swimmers should take caution.
Ride a Canoe: The most common mode of transportation on these waters is the dugout canoe, which offers a completely different perspective of the lake. You can rent your own to explore the islands or select a guided tour.

Each island is associated with a legend. Punishment (Akampene) Island, the smallest and most notorious of the 29 islets, holds a dark reputation: it’s where pregnant, unmarried girls were exiled to starve or drown if they attempted to swim away.

One of the excursions sold to tourists is a visit to a Batwa tribe of pygmies. The Batwa in this region, one of the original inhabitants of the country, were dispossessed of their ancestral lands by the government to build the Echuya Forest Reserve with tragic consequences. To survive, they invite tourists to their community, where they perform song and dance.

Hiking and Nature Walks: Hire a local guide to lead you along the best hiking trails on the islands or through the terraces of the Kigezi highlands to be rewarded with spectacular views of the landscapes and even some wildlife. Forest and tree plantations can be found on some of the islands, as well as monkeys and zebras. Otters can also be spotted in the waters.

Birdwatching: Meaning “the place of little birds”, Lake Bunyonyi takes its name from the abundant birdlife that call it home. Over 200 species are found here, including herons, weaver birds and grey-crowned cranes.

How to Get to Lake Bunyonyi
To reach Lake Bunyonyi independently, you first have to make your way to the town of Kabale, about an eight-hour bus ride from Kampala. From Kabale, the lake is 20-25 minutes by taxi. Given its proximity to Rwanda, you may want to consider accessing the lake from Kigali (or vice versa), which is only 1.5-2 hours by car. If you need to purchase your visa at the border, however, add another 30 minutes to one hour to your journey (weekdays are busier).

The Busoga Kyabazinga Royal Trail In Jinja – Jinja Tours Uganda

The Busoga Kingdom Ministry of Tourism and Heritage presents the Kyabazinga Royal Trail to enrich you with the rich and diverse cultures and people of the Busaga region and support the development of local tourism attractions in the Busoga.

The Kingdom of Busoga (Obwakyabazinga) is one Uganda’s most respected and much organized kingdoms in Africa. The Basoga were organized into chiefdoms and paid allegiance to the Bunyoro Kingdom and later Buganda. After the coming of the British colonialists, the chiefdoms of Busoga were amalgamated to form the Busoga Lukiiko which was first headed by Semei Kakunguku a Muganda British Collaborator. After the end of Kakungulu’s tenure, the Basoga maintained the arrangement and the title of Isebantu Kyabazinga was born and eventual Busoga settled for a centralized monarchy that it enjoys up to today under the kingship of His Highness William Wilberforce Kadhumbula Gabula Nadiope IV.

The Kyabazinga Royal Trail is to expose you to the royal, historical and cultural sites of the Busoga Kingdom for a deep understanding of the Busoga kingdom that hold a strong history and cultural significance to Uganda.

The Busoga region is endowed with a lot of cultural and historical sites that are to be explored on the Kyabazinga Royal Trail which include; The Iganga Palace, Mpumudde Hill, Jinja Cultural Centre, Budhumbula Palace, Iyinga Landing Site, Kagulu Rock, Wanyange Afro Tourism, Bishop Hannington Site, Nyenga Hill, and the famous Source of the Nile.

Package Details

The tour package is scheduled on 29th and 30th July 2017 starting from either Kampala or Jinja at 8:00am.

On Day 1, you will visit the The Iganga Palace, Mpumudde Hill, Jinja Cultural Centre, Budhumbula Palace, Iyinga Landing Site and Kagulu Rock.

On Day 2, you will visit the Wanyange Afro Tourism, Bishop Hannington Site, Nyenga Hill, and the spectacular Source of the Nile.

Package Cost for Two Days

Starting from Jinja 70,000= each for only transport and activities

Starting from Kampala 250,000= each for transport, accommodation, activities and meals.

To book this package, Contact us now through info@jinjatours.com or call us on +256 701 367 970.

Relax in The Sun With Refreshing And Panoramic Views on Ssese Islands – Sseese Habitat Resort Kalangala

As the only hotel on a stretch of beautiful beach, the ultimate Ssese Habitat Resort Kalangala offers guests total peace and relaxation.

This exclusive resort offers unspoilt panoramic views of the Lake Victoria across the white sandy beaches of Ssese islands. The gardens surrounding the property are filled with shady trees and a cool breeze blows in from the lake. The building and Ssese guest accommodation have been refurbished with fresh, modern interiors.

The resort offers a truly personalized service. Each room has a private balcony where guests can relax with a book or a sundowner and enjoy the view.

Book your Ssese islands holiday online through info@sseseislandshotel.com or call our reservations team on +256 701367970 for more information.

Uganda Named 3rd Best Birding Destination In Africa By Nature Travel Network

If in the long run you plan on visiting several other African countries as well, 12 days Uganda birding safari here is enough to generate the essential Ugandan birds (Shoebill, the Albertine Rift endemics, Green-breasted Pitta, etc.) plus mammals (especially Mountain Gorillas and Chimps but the country also has magnificent Colobus Monkeys and more). Even 19 days in Uganda would certainly not be wasted!

In this little country called “The Pearl of Africa” you’ll find the people fluent in English and even friendlier than in other parts of Africa, and you’ll also see the Albertine (or Western) Rift, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the source of the Nile at Jinja, Africa’s biggest lake (Victoria) and vast Papyrus Swamps inhabited by Shoebill, a monstrous birds placed by some authorities in its own order because it’s so different from any other species on earth.

Explore the Wilderness of Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve Uganda

When it comes to tourism destinations in Uganda, Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve stands out as one of the unique wildlife reserve. With Uganda’s affluence of attractions, a single visit to Pian Upe wildlife Reserve is not enough for one to ascertain the disclosures this reserve offers.

This natural treasure is a conservation area in the Karamoja sub-region of northeastern Uganda and it is regarded as the second largest conservation protected area in Uganda after Murchison Falls. The southern part of the reserve was gazetted as Dabasien Animal Sanctuary in 1958, a government-led project to convert land just south of River Girik meant for agriculture that was threatening the viability of wildlife conservation in the entire area. In 1964, the area expanded northward and was renamed Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve.

Pian Upe wildlife reserve slots up among the most amazing wildlife reserves in Uganda also doubling as a habitat to different extinct species of wildlife which has made the reserve a major destination for tourists who wish to spend wildernesses encounters while on Uganda Safaris.

Touring Pian Upe means exploring the second widest protected area in Uganda after Murchison falls National Park. Situated in Karamoja region, Pian Upe wildlife reserve sits on approximately 2800 sq km making it one of the biggest wildlife reserves in the country. This wildlife reserve is not so far away from Kidepo Valley National Park and Mount Elgon National Park (The home of Sipi Falls) implicating choosing either parks as destination for your Uganda safari will definitely increase your chances of touring Pian Upe wildlife reserve.

Some of the wildlife in Pian Upe reserve include: giraffes, lions, leopards, Zebras, buffaloes plus more wildlife. The reserve is also a good place for Uganda birding safaris considering the array of the amazing bird species that reside in the reserve. Some of the birds include: the Ostrich, the Jackson’s Hornbill, the white-headed buffalo-weaver plus more. These birds can best be viewed in a swamp called Loporokocho.

Leave along the amazing species of birds in the reserve, the wildlife reserve also harbors various species of primate like the vervet monkey and the extinct olive baboons. The existence of these primates makes it possible to view different species of wildlife at the reserve. Pian Upe is also shelters several of the rock pythons and Savannah monitors (largest lizards).

Want to adventure Pian Upe wildlife reserve and enjoy a Uganda wildlife safari? You are just steps away from having your trip started. Simply inquire with us via info@travel256.com or call us on +256701367970.

The Silverback Mountain Gorillas in Uganda

Silverback gorillas live high in the mountains in two protected parks in Africa. They are also referred to as mountain gorillas. Silverback gorillas continually wander through their home ranges of 10 to 15 square miles, feeding and resting throughout the day. Because gorillas are nomadic, they build new nests each day at dusk, constructing them out of bent branches in a tree or of grasses on the ground. Silverback gorillas have long black hair and their thick, shaggy coats help to keep them warm in cold climates. Adult male mountain gorillas are called Silverbacks because of the silver saddle of hair on their backs. Mountain gorillas have a stocky build, with a broad chest, long, muscular arms and wide feet and hands. Their arms are longer than their legs. Gorillas live in groups. Each gorilla family has a silverback as leader who scares away other animals by standing erect on its hind legs, tearing  up and throwing plants, drumming on the chest with its hands or fists, stamping its feet, striking the ground with its palms and galloping in a mock attack on all fours!

Silverback Gorillas are around six feet tall – about the height of an adult male – while females are around five feet tall. Silverback gorillas weigh approximately 350 pounds- about twice the weight of normal adult man.  Gorillas are herbivores, and eat only plants. They spend most of their day foraging for food and eating bamboo and leafy plants

Silverback gorillas were not even known to exist until 1902.Today, their habitat is being destroyed when people use the land for farming and the trees for fuel. Gorillas are also killed by poachers and sometimes get caught in poacher’s snares meant for other animals. The Silverback Gorilla is the most endangered species of Gorilla and can only be found in the Virunga Region in Eastern Africa (Uganda, Rwanda and Congo).

Mountain Gorilla Tracking in Uganda is a lifetime experience. Contact Kisoro Tours today to arrange your gorilla tour, send us an inquiry  via info@kisorotours.com or call us on +256701367970.

Rwanda Increases Gorilla Permits Tariffs 2017

The Rwanda Development Board on 6th May 2017 announced an increase in the price of Gorilla Permits from US$ 750 to US $1,500 for all visitors effective immediately. A new exclusive package for tourists who wish to book an entire family of gorillas was also introduced at US$ 15,000, and will receive exclusive personalized tour guide services. The Gorilla price increase will not affect tourists who had already purchased their tickets at the time of this announcement (that is before 6th May 2017).

Tourists who visit other Rwanda national parks  namely Nyungwe and Akagera National Park for a minimum of three days, in addition to gorilla trekking will receive a discount of 30%. Similarly, conference tourists, who stay pre or post conference dates to track gorillas will be eligible for a 15% discount.

In line with Rwanda’s high-end tourism strategy, the price increase aims to strengthen conservation efforts and contribute more to the development of communities living around the Volcanoes National Park.

Along with the new gorilla tariff in Rwanda, the tourism revenue sharing rate for communities adjacent to the park, will also increase from 5% to 10%, which will quadruple the absolute revenues received by the surrounding communities. Over the last 12 years, more than 400 community projects have been completed including hospitals, schools, business development centers and water supply systems to facilitate access to clean water. These projects directly benefit the people living around the parks.

The Chief Executive Officer at Development Board, Ms. Clare Akamanzi said: “Gorilla trekking is a highly unique experience. We have raised the price of permits in order to ensure sustainability of conservation initiatives and enhance visitors’ experience. We also want to make sure that the communities living near the park area receive a bigger share of tourism revenues to fund development projects and empower them economically.”

New, high-end lodges are opening in Musanze and plans are underway to improve visitors’ experience at Kinigi, including renovation of the information center to equip it with modern offices and tourism services such as conservation education, children’s learning space as well as digital facilities.

Mountain gorillas are an endangered species with only around 880 remaining in the world. Of those in in the Virunga Massif, Rwanda accounts for 62% of the gorilla population. Stringent conservation measures have significantly contributed to a rise in gorilla numbers. There are currently 20 families habituated for tourism and research in Rwanda, up from just 9 families in 2010.

Note: Uganda Gorilla permits tariffs are have not changed and are still at US $600.

For more information and inquiries about gorilla tracking in Africa, please send us an email via info@travel256.com or call us on +256701367970.

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Uganda

The Kasubi Royal Tombs and two of Uganda’s national parks are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites: the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

The Kasubi Royal Tombs: The Unesco World Heritage-listed Kasubi Royal Tombs are of great significance to the Buganda kingdom as the burial place of its kings and royal family. The huge thatched-roof palace was originally built in 1882 as the palace of Kabaka Mutesa I, before being converted into his tomb following his death two years later. The tombs were destroyed in an arson attack in March 2010, however, and are still being rebuilt, with no end to the work in sight at present. Outside, forming a ring around the main section of the compound are the homes (fortunately not damaged by the fire) of the families of the widows of former kabaka (kings). Royal family members are buried amid the trees out the back, and the whole place has the distinct feel of a small rural village.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Located at the junction of the plains and mountain forests, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has been described by UNESCO as “an isolated forest of outstanding biological richness”. This ancient forest contains more than 160 species of trees and over 100 species of ferns – and more famously, almost half the world’s mountain gorillas. As it is surrounded by one of the most densely populated rural areas in Africa, community benefits arising from gorilla tracking and other sustainable tourism initiatives may be the only hope for the future conservation of this precious site.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park: The National Park comprises the main part of the Rwenzori mountains chain, which includes Africa’s third highest peak at 5109m above sea level. The combination of spectacular snow-capped peaks, glaciers, V-shaped valleys, fast flowing rivers with magnificent waterfalls, clear blue lakes and unique flora contributes to the area’s exceptional natural beauty. The mountains support the richest montane flora in Africa, encompassing the charismatic giant lobelias, groundsels, and giant heathers which have been called “Africa’s botanical big game”.

Incorporate all these Unesco World Heritage sites in your trip to Africa for an ultimate Uganda tour and safari. For inquiries contact us via info@travel256.com or call us on +256 701 367970.

UNESCO Director General to retire in Uganda and participate in the development of the precious heritage sites

There is growing interest in Uganda from the rest of the world, with several people choosing to retire and invest in Uganda.

The latest is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) director general, Irina Bokova. “People ask me what I will do when I retire, now I know; I will retire in Uganda and participate in the development of the precious heritage sites,” she said.

“I know the other ambassadors will forgive me but Uganda is the Pearl of Africa. It is so gifted by nature.” She was speaking as a guest of honor at a farewell luncheon of the Ugandan ambassador in France, Nimisha Jayant Madhvani, who is also the permanent delegate of Uganda to UNESCO.

The event organized at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France on Tuesday attracted several ambassadors from different countries from across the globe. Bokova, who has visited Uganda twice; before she became UNESCO director general and in 2010 as the director general, has lasting memories of the country.

“I recall very well my visit to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa’s crown, in June 2010, where I was honored to meet with President Museveni and to discuss African languages in the context of the dictionary of African languages (Runyoro-Rutooro-English dictionary),” she said.

“I recall my visit to the outstanding tombs of Buganda kings, at the Kasubi world heritage site, following fire that ravaged the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga tomb in 2010. On this visit, a guide recognized me and said, ‘you are here for the second time, you must be a good person’. I told him, ‘I don’t know but my visiting again will make me a better person’”. Bokova said that since then, UNESCO has been working on the reconstruction of the tombs, with the generous support of Japan.

She further noted that UNESCO is committed to protecting and promoting Uganda’s rich cultural and natural heritage, embodied in three sites inscribed on the world heritage list: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kasubi Royal Tombs and Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

This is on top of six intangible heritages inscribed with UNESCO, for example Busoga Bigwala music.

She applauded Madhvani for helping Uganda engage in taking forward Sustainable Development Goal 4, with the development of a national road map to support the implementation of the National Education Strategic Plan.

Uganda has been benefitting from the UNESCO-China funds-in-trust project on teacher training.

“I know, just last month, the director of the UNESCO regional office for Eastern Africa in Nairobi met with Janet Kataaha Museveni, the First Lady and minister of Education and Sports, when they discussed UNESCO’s action to harnessing teacher training, including through information and communication technologies,” she said.

“Together, we are working to empower and nurture the energy and commitment of young women and men, to strengthen Ugandan society as a whole.”

Madhvani, whose mission in Paris is accredited to France, Spain, Portugal, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been moved to United Arab Emirates and replaced by Richard Nduhura, the former minister of Health and currently the ambassador at the United Nations in New York.

During her four year tenure, Madhvani said that she was able to host President Museveni twice. This is amidst the fact that President Museveni had not been to Paris for 15 years before 2013.

Also, UNESCO with French film director Pascal Plisson, filmed the first ever positive French film in Uganda titled Le Grand Jour, depicting the culture, education and heritage of the young generation in Uganda, India, Cuba and Mongolia.

Madhvani also noted that the number of tourists has increased from the three countries she has been in charge due to Uganda’s good image, unique beauty and peaceful environment. Spain alone has increased their tourists to Uganda to over 450 per annum from about 100 in 2012.

This is on top of embassy playing a major role in the oil pipeline negotiations that was recently approved and will see Total and CNOOC invest 8 million Euros in the project, the largest investment in Uganda so far.

“I go with a richer experience serving four years on the executive board of UNESCO as well as bilaterally with France, Spain and Portugal,” Madhvani said.

Reported by The NewVisoion

Uganda is Africa’s Best Birding Destination

Bird Watching in Uganda

From the Source of the Nile on Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Rwenzori mountain ranges, the Virunga volcanoes to the desert plains of Karamoja, Uganda is an equatorial country of astonishing and amazing diversity of habitats providing an ultimate Uganda safari experience.

This richness is reflected in the ever-burgeoning bird list of over 1000 species. 1000 bird species, some of which are endemic to the country; mainly in the Albertine region. These constitute 67% of Africa’s and 11% of the World’s total population, making the country a must visit for bird lovers. Some of the most interesting birds include: the Grey Crowned Crane, Shoebill Stock, Wattle Plorer, African Fish Eagle, African Skimmer, African Jacana, Saddle Billed Stock, Pelican, African Pigmy Geese, Great Blue Turaco and Narina’s Trogon.

These special birds, such as the Shoebill Stock and the numerous spectacular endemics of the Albertine rift Valley region are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. The huge bird list is so remarkable given the small size of the country of over 235,000 sq-km; approximately the size of Great Britain. Making it arguably, the richest African birding destination.

Best seasons foe birding.

You can watch birds across the country through the year though, between August and February is the optimal season in most concentrated areas.

Interested in making bird watching in Uganda part of your African Safari, please send us an inquiry at info@travel256.com or call our travel expert on +256701367970.