Monday, 31 October 2011

Gorilla Census a Success

The combined team of parners and UWA staff that has been combing the thick forests and steep ridges of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park during a mountain gorilla census winded up the exercise meant to determine the current population of the gorillas in Bwindi .
Bwindi impenetrable National Park is known to have more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas. The Teams comprising of rangers and wardens from the three countries from Uganda, Rwanda and Congo have taken part in the massive exercise which comes at the heels of a similar recent one in the Greater Virunga massif. IGCP and Marx planks have been the key sponsors of this year’s census which has spanned close to six weeks. Key amongthe activities during the census have been gorilla data collection, sample collection, GPS, and mapping among others.
Unlike the previous censuses, this particular year has been singled out as going as one of the toughest given the timing in the park. September has always been a peak rain season for Bwindi which has been very challenging for the participants having to camp in the forest

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Discounted Gorilla Permits

Uganda Wildlife Authority has announced promotional sale of gorilla permits covering October and November. The promotional price is $ 350 for Foreign Non residents, $250 for foreign residents and sh.100,000 for East Africans. The promotional price is applicable to unsold permits that are offered to be sold at this discounted rate but not all available permits in the month. The permits apply to 4 Gorilla Groups of Kahungye, Oruzogo, Mishaya and Mubare. The permits may not be extended and cancelled, outside the guideless given above.

UWA plans to implement the promotional sales jointly with private sector operators especially hotel owners tour operators and airlines. The private sector will provide complimentary rates for accommodation, meals and transport to complement the price reduction offered by UWA. Due to the huge demand for gorilla permits during the high season months, many tourists miss out on this activity due to the shortages of permits. It is expected that tourists who are unable to track the gorilla during the high seasons will consider doing so during this period at a discounted price. It is also an opportunity for Ugandans and long term visitors to Uganda to enjoy this unique opportunity of viewing the mountain gorillas and thereby create a better understanding of their conservation status and create more ambassadors for the species.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has a total of 28 gorilla families of which 6 are habituated for tourism, one is habituated for research and two more are in the process of habituation for tourism. Bwindi is home to over half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

1.      Avoid carrying too much luggage, if possible Take only one bag
2.      Pack less
3.       For the techies… USB devices are great for transferring information, applications and pictures use one. However, remember that there are no condoms for USB devices and that every PC and internet cafe device should be treated as a pox-ridden carrier of digital STDs for your virgin device. Keep it faithful to only your computer (and vice versa).
4.       Paperbacks trump hardbacks. There’s a lot of waiting around when traveling, which makes it nice to have a book handy.

5.       Bargain for everything. Have a great conversation with the first seller of whatever service or product you’re interested in. Never buy from that person. Instead, figure out exactly where the line is and then haggle harder with the next vendor, tout or merchant. (You might find that If you’re paying 25% of the asking price, you’re still being ripped off.)

6.      On Cameras. A lot could be written about this, but suffice it to say that smaller is better unless you really like to take good pictures. I would suggest something that is waterproof.

7.      Spread your money out. Never carry all your money in one place. This isn’t just for security reasons, its for bargaining as well. I suggest carrying varying amounts of cash in 3 different spots and knowing what the amounts are so that you never pull out too much.
8.       Eat local. This is especially true if you’re going on the cheap; don’t be afraid to eat the cooked foods at the road-side kiosks. At $.50 you can get a good full meal and I can do it in a hurry if need be. If that’s too adventurous for you, you can choose other local spots, just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to eat at the “westernized” establishments.

9.      Mosquitos are made in hell and must be killed. Buy a can of Doom (insect spray), get insect repellent, sit on the smoky side of the fire, and use a mosquito net – whatever it takes.
10.  Remember your power adapter. Know what the outlets are going to be like where you’re going so you can recharge your computer, phone and camera. Not knowing where you’re going, I would suggest this one – though a little big, it does fit almost everywhere you’re likely to travel.

11.   Watches are overrated. It’s just one more thing to carry, use your cell phone for the time. Time doesn’t matter as much anyway to be honest
12.  14. Drink a lot. Whether you drink bottled water, sodas, beer or tap water – just make sure you’re drinking. You’ll end up sweating more, walking more and not realizing just how dehydrated you are until you notice that you haven’t gone to the restroom all day.

13.  Toss out your expectations, embrace the differences. It’s not all going to fit the “standard” that you think it should be. Just roll with it and keep a light-approach to life. When something goes wrong, which it will, remember that a smile, a shake of your head and a laugh will take you a lot further than the angry, frustrated and shouting “white person in Africa act” will.

14.  Make friends locally and listen to them. They know the area and can point you towards people and places that you’ll get a lot out of. They also know most of the dangerous and dark corners of the region that you should stay away from. People, at the end of the day, are your greatest assets when traveling, not your gear, knowledge or prior experience in the region.
15.  Bring a hat. One you don’t mind wearing all the time, one you can wash in the sink or a bucket every night, one that keeps the sun from frying your brain. Or buy one. But this is a “don’t leave home without it”
16.  Undershirts keep you cooler they’re essential equipment in tropical climates, and one of the few ways to remain presentable if you’ve got to do a business meeting.
17.  In urban or rural Africa tip a cheap flashlight/torch is your friend when the power goes out and you’re staggering home from the bar at 2am.
18.  Live as much like an average income local as possible (very poor by US standards).
19.  Listen and make friends locally. Stress on all those words. Take the time to greet and exchange greetings with people whose paths you cross, everyone is important, chat with the guard outside your hostel, make every effort to learn the local language, it’s a sign of respect and is appreciated, say a warm hello to the mama selling the peanuts on the street, make friends with taxi drivers, and know how to ask questions, and then how to listen.
20.  Carry a copy of your passport and an international driving license to be saved from trouble.
21.  Carry a USB-2-mobile cable instead that plugs into any USB port and also comes with an adapter for the 12v socket in any car. Helps you get some energy where there’s no socket and is much lighter than most power adapters.
22.  If you can’t patch holes in the mosquito net, apply some repellent around the hole.
23.  Nokia phone with built in flashlight becomes a clock, alarm, torch and phone…magically!
24.  Two each of small packets of tylenol cold (2 daytime / 2 nigh time) are great if you get slammed with some bug and just need to get through a day and a night somewhere.
25.  Always have tissues with you as the lavalatories s are seldom well stocked.
26.  Especially in very busy areas like indoor markets, hugely populated street corners, etc, carry your day backpack on my front.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Travel for the Disabled to Africa Travel and tourism is a social right for every human being. However, it is estimated that over 500 million disabled people in the world do not take holidays.

For those with some form of disability, many of the existing tourism offers are not easily accessible. At Eco Culture Tours and Adventures, we know that disability is not inability to travel and tourism. We arrange tours for the physically impaired, blind and the deaf in the community. We book our disabled clients in the hotels in East Africa which have facilities for the disabled in society and encourage that they come along with their close family members, friends and their spouses on our tours who can help in explaining for them the sceneries and offer comfort. Blind Students should be accompanied by their tutors. The deaf can be provided with the translators during escorted tours both in the wild and on water.