Uganda named a top travel destination for 2016

A curious gorilla assesses photographer Petra Kilian-Gehring, who took this picture in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park while on an Ujuzi safari to Uganda.
A curious gorilla assesses photographer Petra Kilian-Gehring, who took this picture in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park while on an Ujuzi safari to Uganda.

CNN has named Uganda as one of the top 16 up-and-coming travel destinations for 2016. CNN travel reporter Anisha Shah writes:

Rich in nature, it’s an outdoor sanctuary of crater lakes, white-sand beaches on lake islands, thundering waterfalls and national parks.

A top highlight is Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary, where rescued and orphaned chimpanzees live out their days on an island in Lake Victoria. Visitors can cross the equator by boat there, slicing through Africa’s largest lake.

It also noted that Uganda is one of the few places in the world to see mountain gorillas in their native environment, along with Rwanda and Congo. Seeing these close cousins of humans up close is truly the experience of a lifetime. Ujuzi traveler El Nault calls it “a profound spiritual engagement.”

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Taking Kids on Safari

Surveying the savanna. Photo taken by Susan Thurston on an Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.
Surveying the savanna. Photo taken by Susan Thurston on an Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.

In 2016 and 2017, Kenya is waiving visa fees for children. What a great time to introduce your kids or grandkids to the joys of exploration! The country offers a range of fun safari activities for kids of all ages, a few of which include:

  • Feeding endangered Rothschild giraffes by hand at the Giraffe Centre in Karen
  • Petting baby elephants at the Daphne Sheldrick Animal Orphanage and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
  • Visiting  chimpanzees at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Ol Pejeta Conservancy.  This sanctuary offers a safe haven for abused and orphaned chimpanzees from West  and Central Africa. (Chimpanzees are not native to Kenya.) After being nursed back to health, chimpanzees spend their days exploring, climbing, socializing, and learning to be chimpanzees all over again. This is an amazing project supported by the Jane Goodall Institute.

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Meet Habibu Muhereza, one of Ujuzi’s Ugandan guides

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Habibu Muhereza was born in the Bushenyi district of Uganda, which borders Queen Elizabeth National Park. After working as a teacher, he started his conservation career as a Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) ranger and interpretive tourist guide. This work gave him the opportunity to get to know all  the parks in Uganda. Impressed with his excellent work and dedication, the UWA appointed him as its head guide for Queen Elizabeth National Park, where he managed wildlife and educated his local community about living alongside the many important species in the park.

Habibu has completed the Uganda Safari Guide Association tourist and guiding course, as well as guiding and birding courses in Queen Elizabeth, Kibale Forest and Bwindi Forest National Parks. He consistently gets rave reviews from travelers, such as this one from a safari-goer in 2011:

“Habibu Muhereza was the best guide Iʹve ever had on any safari, ever — and this was my fifth trip to the African continent! There arenʹt enough superlatives — he was exceptional!!!!”

Meet Edward Kabagyo, one of Ujuzi’s Ugandan Guides

EDWARD KABAGYO copySince his childhood, Edward Kabagyo has had an avid interest in the animals of Uganda. For the last 15 years, Edward has been involved in wildlife and conservation within Uganda. Edward started his conservation career by caring for orphaned or injured animals, specializing in mammals and reptiles.

Working in direct contact with a huge variety of animal species, he has gathered wealth of knowledge on animal behavior. He is able to tell safari goers about the social structure of animal groups, reproductive behavior, hunting strategies, and myriad other interesting animal facts.

A member of the Munyoro tribe, Edward was born in the Hoima District in Western Uganda. He is married with three children.

“But above all was our superb guide and driver, Edward K., who enriched our experiences beyond beyond the abilities of a mortal. For example, on our first full day in [Murchison Falls National Park], we came across a group of other vehicles who had just seen a lion, and who were all parked together waiting for the lion to reappear. Edward, instead of staying with them, moved elsewhere, and within moments the lion emerged from the reeds and came right up to our vehicle, as through the two of them (Edward and the lion) had pre-arranged it. Every day, Edward accomplished similar feats. His knowledge of the beasts and the birds, the fauna and topography, is truly phenomenal, as is his ability to spot targets of interest from unimaginable distances.”
— Gary Barringer, 2013

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Featured Organization: Uganda Carnivore Program

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lion on a rock uganda
Petra Kilian-Gehring took this photo of a lion on an Ujuzi safari to Uganda.

Lions, leopards, and hyenas are among the most popular charismatic mega fauna in the world.  Unfortunately, their populations have declined significantly over the past 200 years, due mainly to the growing needs of an expanding human population.  The Uganda Carnivore Program works to monitor and conserve important predators, working primarily inQueen Elizabeth National Park to find solutions that meet the needs of both wildlife and humans.

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Today is World Rhino Day

A white rhino grazes at Lake Nakuru National Park. Photo taken by Kathy Overman on an Ujuzi Safari to Kenya.
A southern white rhino grazes at Lake Nakuru National Park. Photo taken by Kathy Overman on an Ujuzi Safari to Kenya.

Please take a few minutes today to help protect endangered rhinos around the world. If you are able, consider a donation to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, which is racing against time to save the northern white rhino. There are only four northern white rhinos left in the world.

You can read more about Ol Pejeta’s work here.

Find additional organization that work for rhinos, and other ways to help out, at World Rhino Day’s Facebook page.

Big boy! Our find of the day with only 33 living in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
A black rhino enjoys browsing in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Photo taken by Ujuzi African Travel.

New visa rules in Kenya and Uganda

Kenya and  Uganda have both made changes related to visitor visas. Kenya has introduced an electronic visa application, and Uganda has changed the fee for its 90-day visitor’s visa to $100.

The East African Tourist Visa — covering Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda — has not been effected by these changes. It is still available for $100 upon arrival in Uganda or Kenya.

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Meet Sula Iga, one of Ujuzi’s Ugandan Guides

SULAIMAN IGA copySulaiman “Sula” Iga spent his early years growing up in Queen Elizabeth National Park, where both his parents worked for the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It came as no surprise when Sula decided to follow in his parents footsteps to become a wildlife expert, earning a diploma in tourism and safari tours before working for a research organization studying the flora and fauna of Queen Elizabeth National Park. He has been a guide for the past six years.

An avid birder, Sula is very passionate and knowledgeable about the many bird species found in Uganda. In his spare time, Sula loves to read and watch wildlife documentaries, comparing the wildlife of Uganda with other countries. He is married and has two children.

“Sula is an incredible man [with an] unfailing concern for our safety and comfort, and a great knowledge of his country’s geography, history, culture and of course wildlife. He found lions for us on both our game drives in Ishasha when no trackers had found any for several days!”
—Cheryl, January 2013

Read moreMeet Sula Iga, one of Ujuzi’s Ugandan Guides

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