Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Commemorating the life of dian fossey

dian fosseyThe day 16th January 1932, saw the birth of a child who would be remembered in the world of Tourism on an international Scene, Dian Fossey. Dian was an American zoologist, primatologist and anthropologist. During her childhood life, her parents divorced and she grew up in the company of a step father. She was a brilliant student during her time in school and was extremely interested in animals.
When she was a teen, she was a pre-veterinary student at the University of California. Unfortunately, Physics and Chemistry challenged her and then she  decided to concentrate on a degree in occupational therapy at San Jose state college and graduated in the year 1954. Dian had always had a dream of viewing wildlife and had photos of several destinations of Africa given to her by a friend who had visited magnificent breath taking continent.
Dian decided to put everything aside and focus on making her dream a reality. In 1963, she got a bank loan and began planning her first trip to Africa.
In 1963, Dian arrived in Kenya, a country at the coast of East Africa. Her dream of viewing the wildlife had come to life. She was amused by the different features and wildlife she viewed. She made a visit to Tanzania, Congo and Zimbabwe.
Later in 1967 Dian Fossey; arrived in Rwanda and set up a research center between Visoke and Karisimbi Volcano mountains, Karisoke Research center. The mountains are located in Volcanoes National Park, North of Rwanda. She named the center karisoke from the first four letters of Mt.Karisimbi, “Kari”, which overlooked the center from the south; and “soke” from Mt.Visoke in the north. This site is always explored by travelers on gorilla safaris in Rwanda.
The center was basically to concentrate on the behavior of the Mountain gorillas. Dian spearheaded a campaign on the conservation of mountain gorillas and mobilized resources to stop the act of poaching which was on going in Rwanda. The poachers saw her as a threat who was intervening with their act.
On the 27th December 1985, Dian was murdered, few weeks to her 54th birthday. It is believed Dian’s murder was because of her effort in conserving the mountain gorillas and campaign against poaching in Rwanda.
Robbery was not believed to be the motive for the crime, as Fossey's treasures were found in her room like her handguns, passport, lots of dollars in traveler cheque and U.S bills. The final recording in her notebook read;
”When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.”
Dian Fossey was put to rest near her research center, Karisoke which is in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Next to her grave, is that of Digit, her best gorilla friend, who died in 1977.
Fossey's life and effort to conserve mountain gorillas; well as fighting the act of poaching in Rwanda was portrayed in the movie “GORILLAS IN THE MIST”, a commemoration movie done by Universal Records.
There has also been set up of infrastructure to commemorate the hero; like the Dian Fossey hotel in Nyiramacibiri, Rubavu District, western province of Rwanda near lake Kivu; Organizations such as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, which basically aims at conserving the mountain Gorillas and fighting poaching in both Volcanoes national park Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dian Fossey’s history and great acts have made her a living testimony of conservation and a Rwanda safari product.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Kidepo valley national park; an epitome consecration of Uganda’s beauty hegemony

kidepo- valley -park -ostrichesStraddling at the far north eastern corner of Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park is beyond the mediocre when it comes to the rating of the destinations worth exploration on safaris in Uganda. Kidepo just like the Uganda gorilla trekking safari haven of Bwindi form a considerable percentage of the Uganda’s listing among the best destinations for the year 2016 by CNN travel.
Uganda branded as the Pearl of Africa right from 1908, the country has not in any way disappointed her crown and still counts among the best odds even in the contemporary world tourism. The Uganda safari undertakers have always found a reason to justify the destination as the Pearl of Africa much of which is presented in her stunning scenic environment and wildlife.
Because of the unstable political situation that characterized Uganda for long coupled with limited government interest in tourism in the past years, some of the great treasures of Uganda are less explored, hidden and unnoticed.
Kidepo Valley National Park is not only a finest destination for wildlife but also the home to the one of the unique and very small ethnic tribes of Africa – the Indigenous Karimojong. The folklore gives the Indigenous Karimojong an Ethiopian origin before they wandered in various parts of East Africa until their current settlement in the highlands of Karamoja. They feature unique language and culture which is of great interest to the travelers on safaris in Uganda that find their way to Kidepo.
Besides the unique people, Kidepo features a permanent wetland of Narus which despite the troubled past of the inter-tribal conflict driving the wildlife away in the year 1980s and 90s, the range of wildlife populations have returned and the valley is filled by abundant wild game that definitely make the wild game viewing in the park memorable.
The 1442km park features a complete diverse landscape ranging from rolling mountain ranges of Morungole and Lomej to expanse plains of Narus, Namamukweny and Kidepo, the range of 475 species of birds and a count of 77 species of mammals, 5 primate species including the localized patas monkey, 20 resident predator species including the bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, aardwolf, caracal and cheetah are limited to Kidepo on Ugandan standards and 12 antelope species of which greater Kudu, lesser Kudu, Guenther’s dik-dik and the mountain reedbuck that are limited to Kidepo on Ugandan standards. The park boasts of being the only one in Uganda with Ostrich bird species. This diversity gives the travelers on safari in Uganda a reason to face off a 700km journey from Kampala if not boarding a charter flight from Entebbe or Kajjansi to Apoka.
The Kidepo Valley National Park is indeed an epitome consecration of Uganda’s beauty hegemony. The park features collection pools bubbling with the ancient volcanic heat at the Kanangorok hot springs overlooking the rolling hills of South Sudan. To the south, the Kidepo Valley features its seasonal river where during the rainy seasons, the flash floods are all over but surprisingly hours to follow, it dries up leaving a sandy flow that can be over 165feet wide in some sections and amazingly further is that under this sand, water can still be found which is at times dug out by animals like elephants and baboons.
Whether you choose to follow the Mbale section and enjoy the eastern Uganda landscape including the Mount Elgon Volcano and Mount Moroto or opt to follow the Karuma, Gulu, Kitgum route with the magical views of Karuma falls and open landscapes of northern Uganda, the 700km to Kidepo are worthwhile and a typical lifetime journey to the true African wilderness.
By Siima Simon Peter

Lake Mburo national park; an ideal mini break destination for wildlife, scenery and culture

zebras-ugandaLake Mburo National Park is one of the famous Uganda safari destinations and surprisingly the closest wildlife destination to Kampala the capital of Uganda. Unlike Queen Elizabeth National park and Murchison Falls National Park which are 417km and 305km respectively, Lake Mburo National Park is only 240km from Kampala making it ideal for a relaxed mini break wilderness encounter for any Uganda tour undertaker departing from Kampala.
Lake Mburo National Park with its slogan the Whispers of the wild stands in the traditional rangelands of Kiruhura district bordering the districts of Isingiro, Lyantonde, Rakai and Mbarara as the Uganda’s smallest savannah park covering 260km2. It is a rich habitat with a myriad of wild game including the unique Rothschild Giraffe, the highest population of Impala antelope and the Burchell’s Zebra, the Topis, Warthogs, Eland antelope, defassa waterbuck, bush buck, buffaloes, the leopard and occasional lion that combine to make it a darling destination for travelers on safari in Uganda. The magical sights of the park and beyond from the Kazuma look out are thrilling offering inclusive views of the Lakes Mburo, Kacheera, Kibikwa and series of other five lakes that adjoin the Lake Victoria catchment. The range of 350 bird species thrive in the park including the endemic Red faced Barbet.
The park has for long been unknown to many and few of the Uganda safari undertakers would consider visiting it on their way to or from Queen Elizabeth or Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks. But with the introduction of Rothschild Giraffes in the middle of 2015 from the Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo has rose above the odds attracting the attention of both the local and international safari undertakers.
The proximity to Kampala gives Lake Mburo National Park an advantage over other safari parks. The park can be explored in a day with a return transfer to Kampala. The two days or three days extension presents a relaxed encounter because of less drive time an experience that is preferred by most travelers. The stop at Uganda Equator crossing Kayabwe presents a break in the 3 – 4 hour journey and offers an opportunity to learn about the physical geography and the tropics not forgetting being a good photographic site and a one stop shop for crafts and fine Ugandan coffee.
Lake Mburo National Park is franked by the ancient Precambrian rocks including Ruroko and Rwakobo that date back to over 500 million years ago presenting a unique scenic view and rich history with local cultural traditions attached to them. The Lake Mburo itself is an amazing resource with counts of Hippos, the Nile crocodiles, unique bird species like the African finfoot and stands as the only permanent water source in Kiruhura district saving counts of people and their livestock during the prolonged dry spells. At the boundary close to Nshaara gate there lies the Ankole Cow Conservation Village which is the home to the set of selected cows named Enyeimbwa presenting an experiential touch with the culture of the surrounding pastoralist community which is also impressive to explore on Uganda tour. At 33km distance, there lies the largest private Museum in Uganda – the Igongo Cultural Center with extensive lush gardens, the cultural village, the classic restaurant with traditional cuisine, craft center, country hotel and the well-equipped Museum that features artifacts of all cultures of south western Uganda.
Lake Mburo National Park is accessed through two gates Nshaara gate suitable for those coming from Kampala and Sanga gate suitable for those coming from Mbarara side may be transferring from Rwanda or other south western Uganda destinations. The all category accommodation exist catering for all visitor categories including the top notch Mihingo Lodge, Midmarket Rwakobo Rock and the Tented Budget lodging at Eagles Nest to list but a few. Spare a weekend or day off your routine and whisper with the wild!
By Siima Simon Peter