Top most visited places in Uganda

 

 

 

Top most visited places in Uganda

Top most visited places in Uganda : also known as the pearl of Africa is a safe and enthralling place, a land where lions laze in the acacias and hippos hump through the wetlands. It has misty hills that houses gorillas & chimpanzees in a land of rain-stained forests. It has also got the lapping waters of Lake Victoria (largest in Africa), and the winding channels of the Victoria Nile to boot. A distant view of rock-ribbed mountains and standalone volcanos conquer the peripheries, shooting up to craggy summits where waterfalls and thunderstorms coalesce. As we know Kampala is the capital of Uganda, and a pulsating city which is steeped in tribal ancestry and life. So, if you are travelling to Uganda for the first time, you may be hard-pressed to decide which places are the best to explorer. So now to settle your dilemma, we have compiled a list of the most beautiful places to visit in Uganda and it’s an all-round top African adventure.

Kampala city

When visiting places in Uganda, don’t miss to check out Uganda’s capital city, Kampala the largest city with a population of around 2.5 million people. It is located in the south-central part close to the shores of Lake Victoria, it is a home to a steady expat community and also offers plenty of things to see and do. Some of the beautiful places to tour in Kampala include; art galleries, temples, cathedrals and museums that include the popular “Uganda National Museum”. You can also browse throbbing markets such as the Owino Market (said to be the largest market in Central-east Africa) for food, clothing and crafts. The capital also offers a good range of hotels for accommodation, restaurants for fast food and bars for enjoyment and relaxation. While in Kampala, you can taste the frenetic energy of day-to-day Ugandan life between the sun-cracked streets of Central Kampala.

Lake Victoria

If you want to experience the Heart of Uganda, the story begins with Lake Victoria, which is the birthplace of the Nile River. This is Africa’s largest lake shared by three countries; Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania and boasts one of the world’s largest ecosystems.  The lake was named in 1858 by a British Explorer “John Speke” and receives its water from thousands of small streams such as River Kagera and much more. Lake Victoria is the perfect place for those that find serenity in looking at the water, enjoy boat cruise, fishing excursions and catch the sun drown into the vast water body. There is also much natural beauty and wildlife to see here; from scenic mountain views to islands beaches, and various birds and animal species.

Entebbe city

Entebbe stands on Lake Victoria a few thousand metres north of the Equator and only 45 kilometers of the modern capital Kampala. It derives its name from a Luganda phrase “Entebbe za Mugala” literally meaning the headquarters. It was a cultural site for the Mamba clan and was also the capital of Uganda during the colonial era. Entebbe is the entrance point to Uganda for the international visitors through the Entebbe International Airport which was first an airstrip but later upgraded in 1951. Entebbe became a British Colonial Administrative and Commercial Centre in 1893 when Sir Gerald Portal used it as a base. In 1913, Sir Frederick Treves described Entebbe as the “prettiest and most charming town of the lake”. Some of the attractions in Entebbe include, the official residence of the president (the state house), Entebbe botanical gardens, Uganda wildlife education centre, Reptile village, Ngamba island, mabamba swamp, Ssese island, Lutembe bay among others

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is ranked among the top attractions in Uganda because it offers an amazing experience for visitors to stand just metres away from the gentle giants Mountain gorillas. Over 300 Mountain Gorillas are found in this impenetrable forest of which an estimate of 14 are habituated. The Park is called in the south-western Uganda on the edge of the rift valley, Bwindi’s mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests. Over 120 mammal species are found here with over 350 bird species. Local communities like the Batwa pygmies live in and around the forest and you can enjoy great cultural encounters after your Gorilla trekking experience. Nature walks and hiking along the trails of Buhoma and mountain biking are also available for most visitors.

Source of the Nile

The second world’s longest river is found in Africa, with Lake Victoria as its source and starts its 6‚500 kilometers journey from here to the Mediterranean Sea. A visit to the source of the Nile is a truly rewarding moment and this will give you an unforgettable experience. There is a golf course unwinding along the banks and the source of the Nile provides a pretty focal point to the flow of water from Lake Victoria’s only outlet. The Nile River rapids over an opportunity for you to go White water rafting, Kayaking and enjoying the boat cruise.

Murchison falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is the largest and oldest conservation area and one of the most spectacular in Africa. It is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45 meters over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80 kilometer stretch of rapids. While here, you can witness enormous waters bursting through a narrow gorge before crashing in powerful, roaring cascades. A boat cruise along the Nile River to the bottom of the falls is a rewarding experience for nature lovers, as the northern trail teems with a variety of both bird and mammal species including the reptiles. Guided nature walks along the southern part are another refreshing activity, and spot fishing is also possible in Para. A number of people who have visited this place have lifetime memories from one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. While visiting this breathtaking sight, you may also want to explorer the surrounding protected area that makes up Murchison Falls Conservative Area to spot some of Africa’s icons such as African lions, elephants, leopards, giraffes, Uganda kob, water bucks, buffaloes and many more.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in western Uganda, and is one of Uganda’s most visited National Parks. It was named after Queen Elizabeth II and was established in 1954. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savannah, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, primates and over 600 bird species. It is such an amazing place to explorer while on your visit to Uganda.

Mount Rwenzori

The alpine highland glaciers, snowfields and blue cirque lakes, make Rwenzori Mountain, also known as “Mountain of the Moon” one of Africa’s beautiful mountain parks. Huge tree-heathers and colorful mosses are draped across the mountainside with giant lobelias and everlasting flowers, creating an enchanting, fairytale scene. A nine to twelve days trek will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita (the highest peak). The mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located within four districts; Kasese, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko and Kabarole in western Uganda along the Congo border. It is a home to reptiles, amphibians, over 70 mammal species and over 217 bird species. Mount Rwenzori can be visited throughout the year because it is a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination.

Jinja city

While heading to Jinja, it’s just a short drive along the highways east to the river town of Jinja, which juts out into the waters where the Victoria Nile emerges from its eponymous lake. Sleepy, sun-cracked and relaxed, the place is the perfect antidote to the energy of life in the capital. Jinja has got a clutch of beautiful bars, but it is most famed for the wealth of riparian resorts that line the banks. While at Jinja, you will be sure to find something to suit, with everything from pool-peppered boutique hotels to more rustic ecolodges.  Don’t forget to head for the whitewater rapids on River Nile for some rafting when you want to get the blood flowing.

Semliki National Park

Semliki National Park may be one of Uganda’s smallest national parks but packs awe-inspiring beauty and plenty of attractions that include its most famous, the Sempaya Hot Springs. These hot springs bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley. After watching the boiling hot springs blast off into a steamy spray, you can hike through the forest to catch glimpses of its many bird species and exotic animals such as the flying squirrels, red-tailed monkeys, pygmy antelopes and many more. The Park sprawls across the floor of the Semliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori Mountain. It is dominated by the eastern most extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is located in Nakasongola district and it’s the only place in Uganda to see rhinos in the wild-and not just see them, but get extremely close to them. Because of poaching, rhinos became extinct in Uganda in 1983. The sanctuary was set up later to reintroduce the rhinos in the country. It started with just six animals, but thanks to a successful breeding program the animals now increased and they are expecting more. The rhinos can be seen by taking a guided walk with a knowledgeable ranger and it takes about two to three hours.

The Equator

Uganda is blessed to be one of the few countries where the Equator passes. Located just 72 kilometers, along Kampala-Masaka Highway in Kayabwe, Mpigi district. You can get the iconic photo of you standing right in the middle of the Equator landmark, being in both the southern and northern hemisphere at the same time with just the imaginary line of the Equator cutting across. While at the Equator, also try out the exciting water experiment to see how water swirls in opposite directions when poured at different spots of the northern and southern hemispheres.

Old Kampala Mosque

A popular thing to catch a glimpse within Kampala is the famous Old Kampala Mosque. This stately yellow building with its cluster of copper domes is the 5th largest mosque in Africa, with space that occupies around 16‚000 people all praying together. Its huge prayer hall I decorated with stained glass from Italy, an enormous blue and red woven carpet, and intricate chandeliers from Egypt. If your energetic enough, try climbing the 306 steps to the top of the minaret where you will have a perfect way to get your bearings and take in the size of the city from a peaceful vantage point.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with South Sudan and Kenya, approximately 700 kilometers from Kampala. It was gazetted as a national park in 1962 by Milton Obote, and has a profusion of big game and hosts over 80 mammal species as well as around 500 bird species.

Ssese island

Ssese islands are a group of about 84 islands dotted along the northwestern shores of Lake Victoria. Each island differs in size, shape and exotic flora and fauna. While here, you can relax amid beautiful scenery, see chimpanzees, walk on white-sand beaches, enjoy horseback riding and windsurfing, as well as interact with the Bantu people and also learn about their culture.

Kibale National Park

Break through the dense jungles and wetland forests of the great Kibale National Park and you won’t be disappointed! What awaits is one of the world’s most awesome arrays of wild chimpanzee packs, and you can see these majestic apes of Central Africa trawling through the undergrowth and commanding the canopies on game drives and different types of safari excursions. The Park is located in the western part of Uganda in Kamwenge district, in the protecting moist evergreen rainforest with a diverse array of landscapes. In East Africa, it sustains the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest. Kibale is home to over 70 mammal species, over 325 bird species and other primates.

Sipi falls

Sipi falls whose name was derived from the wild banana plant that grows nearby is one of the best places to visit in Uganda for spectacular views and a good splash of water. It is a collection of 3 falls dotted in the Kapchworwa region on the border of Mount Elgon National Park with each flowing at a different altitude. Hiking up the falls gives spectacular views of the Karamoja low lands, Lake Kyoga and the coffee plantations in the area. It is popular with adventure enthusiasts especially climbers, hikers and hill runners thanks to its fresh mountain air, rolling hills and craggy cliffs. There are plenty of outdoor adventures here such as tours to the local coffee plantations, birdwatching walks, hill running, rock climbing on one of the 14 bolted sport routes and abseiling down the side of the main 100 meters waterfall.

Lake Bunyonyi

Regarded as one of the honeymoon holiday destinations in Uganda, the beauty that Lake Bunyonyi offers cannot be compared to anywhere else in the country. Lake Bunyonyi translated as a “place of many little birds” is located in the western part of Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale districts and it is believed to be the second deepest lake in Africa. With a collection of 29 islands surrounded by steep terraced hillsides, well-maintained resorts, calm and quiet environment with the only noise coming from the singing birds, no wonder Lake Bunyonyi is where most travelers in Uganda head to get some peace and quiet after jam-packed safaris in the country as it is one of the most beautiful places in Uganda. in addition to providing spectacular views, a number of activities can be done here such as canoeing, bird watching, hiking, cultural experiences with the local villagers and swimming in the crystal-clear waters since the lake is hippos, crocodiles and Bilharzia free.

Bahai Temple

The Bahai Temple also known as the “Dawning Place” of the praise of God is situated on Kikaaya hill just a few kilometers from the heart of the city on Kampala Gayaza Road. It was completed in 1961 and it’s the mother temple of the Bahai’s faith in Africa. The temple represents oneness and unity with its nine-sided magnificent silhouette. Bahai Temple is of international importance and attracts followers of the Bahai faith from all corners of the world. It is also surrounded by immaculate beautiful grounds which are serene with a wide range of birds and photographic opportunities.

Mabamba Swamp

Mabamba swamp lies at the extreme end of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa and second largest in the world. The swamp harbors several bird species including the rare shoebill stork which is very unique and uncommon making it the best birders destination. Other birds in Mabamba Swamp include; the papyrus gonolek, weaver birds, goliath heron, kingfishers, pygmy goose, chested bee-eaters, grey headed gulls among others. This is yet another destination that shouldn’t be missed out while in Uganda.

Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo

The Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo located along KampalaJinja highway and is one of the most distinguished shrines in Uganda and an important site among Christians in Africa. Believers say that young Christian’s converts (both Anglican and Catholics) were burned to death on refusal to denounce Christianity. This angered Kabaka Mwanga II, prompting him to order the execution of the young believers on 3rd June 1886. The shrine was built to commemorate the lives lost and was later consecrated by Pope Paul VI IN 1969. On June 3 every year, Catholics pilgrims from allover and out side Uganda visit the Uganda Martyrs Shrine to pay their respects and attend mass.

 Uganda Museum

This is the oldest museum in East Africa and was started in 1908. Was first located in Lugard’s Fort on old Kampala Hill, then transferred to Makerere University at the school of industrial and fine arts and lastly to Kitante hill where it stands today. It emerged when the Governor George Wilson called for “all articles of interest in Uganda”. The Uganda Museum is a collection of traditional culture and music with all kinds of musical instruments, historical samples, science, archaeological artifacts and natural history. You should add the Museum on the places to visit in Uganda because it gives a real picture of Uganda and its people.  

Kasubi tombs

They are located on Kasubi hill northwest of the capital Kampala. They are a world heritage site under UNESCO because of their historical and significance. Kasubi tombs are the burial place for the royal family of Buganda kingdom and this makes them unique compared to others because four kings of Buganda are buried in them; Muteesa I, Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa II and Sir Edward Muteesa II. This is contrary to the original traditional values and norms of Buganda where every king was rested in a separate tomb. In 2010, some sections of the tombs were burnt into ashes forcing them to be closed to visitors. However, the restoration of the burnt structures commenced in 2014 and the remains of the past Kabaka’s were reinstated. The tombs are important spiritual and political site for the Ganda people as well as an important example of traditional architecture.

The African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus)

 

 

The African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus)

The African jacana (Actophilornis africanus) : is a wader in the family jacanidae, identified by its long toes and claws that enable them to walk on floating aquatic vegetation in shallow lakes, their preferred habitants. These lovely birds are also known as “Lily walkers” because of their slender legs and toes that give them the gracefulness to walk on the lily pads that blanket their wetlands. The species is found in sub-Saharan Africa in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and many more. The African jacana is a monotypic and hails from the family jacanidae which consists of six genera and eight species. These unusual wading birds have extremely long and slim legs, toes and claws which enable them distribute their weight evenly, thereby allowing them to walk across water on thin and flimsy floating water vegetation specifically the water lilies. These graceful birds are good divers and strong flyers accompanied by their squawking sound during flight. The species has a keen sense of sight and hearing and relies little on its sense of smell.

Physical description

African jacanas are conspicuous and unmistakable birds. They adult male is a long necked, legged and short tailed, medium sized water bird with almost egg shaped body. It is predominantly a Rufous brown in color across the body, upper and lower wing areas although the shade of brown is darker below. The neck and head are white with a prominent black eye stripes and black primary flight feathers. The up surrounding of the neck is also black. At the base of the front of the neck where it joins with the upper chest, the white feathers morph into a pale yellow to orange color. The bills appear short, blue with a continuing frontal shield extending above the eye stripe, over the face and the forehead to the crown. The feet and legs are grey with slim toes and claws appearing far too large for a bird of its size and the eyelids are dark brown. Juvenile birds are similar to adults but lack the blue bill and have mainly a brown head. Underbody parts are white with a Rufous patch on the belly. The adult female is similar to the male although generally larger in size and weight so in conclusion the female is larger than the male although the coloring of the feathers are much the same between the sexes. Their impressive markings that include chestnut brown wing feathers and yellow-orange breast feathers, all these features combine to make the African jacana easily recognizable.

Unicity of the African jacana

Excluding being a beautiful and distinguished looking wading bird, there are a number of characteristics and habits almost unique to the family of jacanas and of the African Jacana particularly. Firstly, unlike nest building and parental care undertaken by the female of most species of birds, with the African jacana the duties are reversed. Breeding females usually take up with a harem of males who individually and under the study of the females build a nest and then awaits the arrival of the eggs. And once laid, the females generally moves on to the next male whilst the male bird incubates the eggs until hatching. The male is particularly protective of his chicks and has a method by which he can hide them and move them about during times of danger. With the use of his wings, he is able to scoop up the young holding them beneath his wings against his body and move about with just the chicks’ legs protruding and swinging below. The appearance of this act results in a rather comical and strange looking muilti legged creature which occasionally appears to have eight or more legs. The size of the toes and claws of this bird combine to produce massive feet designed to allow easy movement across lily pads and flimsy floating water vegetation. Both the toes and claws are extremely thin with no form of webbing between them yet the bird is not only an accomplished swimmer but also an expert diver as well. African jacanas are not very good flyers, they are weak and only capable of short-distance flights this is because these birds moult all at the same time making them unable to fly until the new feathers have grown. This keeps the feathers stay clean and in good condition thus particularly important for water birds. Their ability to appear walking across water, lily pads and other flimsy floating vegetation has resulted to also being known as the “Jesus birds” or “Lily Trotters”. Chicks usually hide from predators by diving below the water surfaces and remaining there with just their beaks protruding above the water’s surface making indeed a fascinating and an amazing species to study.

Breeding

The African jacana has evolved a highly unusual polyandrous mating system; where one female mates with multiple males and the male alone cares for the chicks. This system has evolved due to two factors: firstly, the eggs laid can equally be well incubated and cared for by both parents of the either sex. Secondly the lakes that jacana lives on are so resource-rich that the relative energy expended by the female in producing each egg is effectively negligible. This means that the rate-limiting factor of the jacana’s breeding is the rate at which the males can raise and care for the chicks and the female mates up with over 4 males. In this breeding the male builds a semi-submerged floating nest with almost every aquatic plant material and then the female mates up with a male, Laying 4 brown eggs with distinct dark brown to black camouflaged markings. Occasionally the female will simply lay the eggs outside a nest on a floating vegetation. Males then collect the eggs under their wings and move them to a safer location.   As soon as she lays eggs, she moves on to a new male, leaving the previous male to incubate and raise the chicks. The female lays around 4 eggs in a nest on a floating platform. The male will incubate the eggs for around 25 days, with the chicks fledging around 50days later. Within permanent wetlands, African jacanas are able to breed year round though where season influence a fall in water levels seasonal breeding may occur. Eggs are incubated for a period of up to twenty six (26) days by the male alone although he is not constantly on the nest due to the heat, will often require shading from the hot sun as opposed to incubation. Upon hatching, chicks are able to run, dive swim, feed themselves and are protected by the adult male. In this case, each male jacana bird incubates, cares and rears a nest of chicks. A mating pair can have up to 30 clutches of eggs each season, resulting from either the same partner or various partners. The female African jacana is more dominant than the male and much larger. At times this female jacana is highly selective about whom she chooses to mate with and she rarely chooses the same partner for every clutch of eggs she lays.

Communication

These colorful water birds utter out loud, raucous shrieks, moans and almost barking noises when danger lurks or when intruders fly over their territories. It is a noisy species uttering out a range of calls and sounds. In flight, they utter a loud and fast staccato ”kreep-kreep-kreep”, almost like a nasal trilling sound. Alarm calls are particularly by necessity, extremely loud and consists of sharp single notes similar to “kaakup”.

Feeding

African jacanas occasionally choose seeds as their preferred diet consisting of fresh water insects, larvae, spiders, crustaceans and molluscs. The species normally forage whist swimming, walking across lily pads, and other floating vegetation from either the surface of the water or from the lily pads themselves. Although they are also able to catch flying insects, they have been seen picking insects from hippopotami and buffalo backs.

 Where to find them

In Uganda you can find them in Murchison falls national park, Mabamba swamp and at banks of most of Uganda’s Lakes and Rivers.

 

 

 

 

Mountain Moroto in Uganda

 

 

 

Mountain Moroto in Uganda

Mountain Moroto in Uganda : is the highest mountain in the Karamoja region and adjacent to the town of Moroto in Moroto district, Karamoja, Northern Uganda and located against the border of Kenya’s Turkana region. It is approximately 3 kilometers by road, east of Moroto district. The native name for this mountain was “Moru-To” meaning the western mountain and it was named due to the migratory movements of the natives westward. One of a chain of volcanoes along the Kenyan border that begins with Mount Elgon in the south and includes mountain Kadam and mountain Morungole. The region of Mount Moroto is a forest reserve protecting a range of habitats from arid thorn savanna to dry montane forest. The mountain is also a home to wildlife though not plentiful such as potos, monkeys, the spectacular golden cats and over 220 bird species. Although a long hike is needed to reach the higher areas, excellent arid thorn savanna and rocky slopes are accessible from the town at the foot of the mountain. Mount Moroto with its twin peaks; Sogolomon and Sokodek rises 3‚082 metres out of the plains of Karamoja, home to the Karamojongs. The highest peak of Mount Moroto is “Sokodek” though most people think that “Imagit” peak is the highest because it’s the famously climbed. The Imagit peak is reachable in one day of hiking and descending will take you only half a day.

What to do on Mount Moroto

Farming and Irrigation

The natural springs on the slopes of the mountain coalesce to form springs and small rivers. The “World Food Program is teaching the Karamojong people how to harvest and store that water and use it to irrigate agricultural produce for household, food and for income generation.

Hiking

It’s a mix of encounters with the Uganda’s highland people, breath taking views and unique sights along the trails. You will also come across unique campsites where you can enjoy the sunset, the stars and sunrise over the planes of Karamoja. The activity is done with an experienced local guide.

Bike tours

Discover Uganda’s untamed Northeast on Karamoja bicycle tours while following the cattle paths of the nomadic warriors and learn about the pastoral culture, cycle over community trails through villages and interact with indigenous communities. You can also ride over abandoned colonial roads through Uganda’s true wilderness and enjoy the views of the fast wilderness. A bicycle tour through the Karamoja land is the best way to immerse yourself.

History tour

Learn about the history of Karamoja with a visit to the Karamoja museum which is free of charge to tour and a recently discovered “Rock Art Site” which stands out of the landscape. The Art Site is only accessible in dry season that is from October to April.

Birding

This activity is done Mount Moroto Central Forest Reserve and you will sight a number of bird species such as tiny cisticola, red-fronted tinkerbird, crested francolin, red-eyed dove, ring-necked dove, hornbills, African pygmy-kingfisher, green wood hoope, white-browned coucal, diderlic cuckoo, augur buzzard, little rock-thrush, red-backed scrub-robin, ox peckers, barn swallow, sunbirds, Cabaniss’s buntiny, eastern paradise among others.

Cultural experience

This is not a sightseeing tour but a participatory experience which is about sharing the rich cultural heritage of the Karamojong by participating in various activities such as preparing local foods, singing and dancing on folklore, making Karamojong accessories and listening to the stories of the elders. This will be an unforgettable journey.

How to get there

Mountain Moroto can be accessed from Mbale either via Soroti approximately 6 hours (170 kilometers) or via the direct eastern route approximately 7 hours (230 kilometers).

 

River Tarangire Tanzania

 

 

River Tarangire Tanzania

River Tarangire Tanzania : also known as “river of warthogs” is a perennial river located in the Eastern branch of the East African Rift Valley, within Northern Tanzania in East Africa. Its headwaters are found in the escarpments and highlands of Dodoma region in Kondoa district and Manyara region in Babati district. The river rises in the Wasi highlands, falls down the eastern Kondoa escarpment and it also flows east to Chubi where it then turns north to flow through Tarangire National Park. It then turns west and then south before terminating at its river mouth on Lake Burunge. Most of the headwaters in the Irangi hills headwaters area is forested with Miombo woodland habitant trees and lower plants that are designated for protection within the forest reserves (Salanka, Isabe and Bereko forest reserves). During the dry season, the river flow is slow and steadily decreases as the water is released from sediments until the riverbed stretches are dry while in the wet season, rainfall in the Irangi hills and throughout the catchment causes a high rate of flow with rapid rises and falls in water level because the discharge in the river is highly seasonal and varies annually. Rainfall occurs in months of November to January and March to May. Tarangire River is the origin of Tarangire National Park which is endowed with diverse biodiversity covering an area of 2‚850 square kilometers and was established in 1970. Tarangire National Park is located in the southern Tanzania, just south of Lake Manyara in Manyara region and it’s a protected area of colossal baobabs, grass plains and huge herds of elephants.  

 

The Park is known as a wonderful birding destination and also features large numbers of wild animals, particularly during the dry season when river Tarangire is the only source of fresh water in the Tarangire Ecosystem. Migratory animals like giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, and antelopes make their way into Tarangire to drink from the Tarangire River and its attached swamp lands. Tarangire is 118 kilometers southwest of Arusha town and it boasts with glorious landscapes covered with glamorous woodlands, high number of scenic baobab and acacia trees, and seasonal swamps providing home to the wildlife. It is the 6th largest National Park in Tanzania and offers some unrivalled elephant sightings indeed, it is estimated that the park is home to the largest elephant population in the country which is approximately 2‚500 and are rapidly increasing by an estimated 6% per year. Tarangire national park is the home to the oldest known elephant to give birth to twins. Other common resident animals include; waterbuck, giraffe, dik-dik, impala, eland, Grant’s gazelle, vervet monkey, banded mongoose and olive baboon. Tarangire is also home to predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, honey badger and African wild dog. As it’s a wonderful birding destination as mention above, the park holds a big number of bird species both migratory and residents such as the ash starlings, woodpeckers, yellow necked spurfowl, northern white crown shrike, black necked weaver, white-faced whistling duck, red-billed hornbill, pygmy falcon, African marsh harrier, black-headed heron, African hoopoe, kori bustard, lilac-breasted roller, brown parrots, bee-eaters, lover birds, guinea fowl, white bellied go-way-bird, saddle-billed stork, slate-colored boubou, lesser striped swallow to mention a few.

Activities in Tarangire National Park

Birding

Enjoy spotting a large batch of colorful and exclusive bird species. Over 500 different bird species are housed within the swamps and woodlands that are spread all over Tarangire. For bird lovers, who find themselves taken up for a long period of time, this makes Tarangire a famous safari destination for you. Some of the popular species here include; Hoopes, yellow necked spurfowl, crested francolins, hornbills, helmeted guinea fowl, steppe eagles, brown parrots, gigantic lappet-face vulture, white-bellied go away bird, bateleur eagles, mouse birds, kori bustards, yellow-collared lovebirds, bee-eaters, lilac breasted rollers, swifts, hamerkops, striped swallows, plovers, starlings among others.

Game drives

This is one of the most common activities at Tarangire national park. Tourists can explorer the adorable national park by taking game drives to the wild and encounter Tanzania’s largest herds of elephants alongside animals like fringe eared oryx, giraffes, tiny ashy starling, greater kudu, gazelles, hartebeests, wildebeests, lions, African wild dogs, zebras, leopards, tree climbing pythons to mention a few. If tourists are lucky to visit in the dry season between June and November, they can see elephants digging up the muddy river trying to access water and yes, the site is memorable.

Giant baobab tree

It is also referred to as “the tree of life” its gigantic in nature and can store within its trunk 300 liters and 1‚000 liters of water. They have long life span and can survive up to six hundred years. This tree is a significant source of food to various animals which normally feed on its edible seed. On the other hand, elephants sharpen their huge tusks on the back of these trees. According to the local tales it is said that these trees would easily move around the African continent, however their aimless movement annoyed God and he decided to plant them upside down to limit them from moving ever again.

Cultural visits

The Park is situated near the Masai steep for tourists who are interested in cultural encounters. They can visit the local Masai people who are nomadic pastoralists and have very unique ways of living with cultural aspects you will enjoy to learn about. They also have very unique way of dressing and you can acquire handy crafts and take home for reembrace.

Sight seeing

This is one of the most memorable experiences you can encounter at the park and it provides some of the most spectacular views of nature and also the Tarangire River. Even when its dry, the woodlands, baobab and acacias landscape will give you a feeling of being entangled in nature, the elephants are always muddy digging water from the Tarangire River in the dry season the sight is worth visiting.

Guided nature walks

Tourists can take guided nature walks and experience the wilderness. You will come across a number of tree and plant species, and these guided nature walks are done in the morning and evening hours with an experienced tour guide. They last for about one to three hours.

When to visit the park

The best time for visiting this Africa best kept secret is from July to October before animals start migrating out of the park. Being one of the most seasonal parks in northern Tanzania, Tarangire national park has a lot of migratory movement within greater Tarangire ecosystem.

How to get there

From Arusha, Tarangire is located at the distance of about 120 kilometers which is in the southern east of Manyara National Park.

 

Mountain Kilimanjaro Tanzania

 

 

Mountain Kilimanjaro Tanzania

Mountain Kilimanjaro Tanzania :  also known as the “mountain of greatness” is a dominant volcano in Tanzania. It is the highest peak in the African continent and the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, meaning it is not part of a mountain range at 5‚895 meters above sea level and about 4‚900 meters above its plateau base. A number of theories exist about the meaning and the origin of the name Mountain Kilimanjaro. One theory is that the name is a mix of the Swahili word “Kilima” Meaning Mountain and the KiChagga word “Njaro” loosely translated as whiteness. Another theory is that Kilimanjaro is the European pronunciation of a KiChagga phrase meaning “we failed to climb it”.

Also called a stratovolcano, Kilimanjaro is made up of three volcanic cones; Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Kibo is the summit of the mountain and the tallest of the three volcanic formations while Shira and Mawenzi are extinct. Kibo is dormant and last erupted 360‚000 years ago and could possibly erupt again. The highest point on Kobo’s crater rim is called “Uhuru” the Swahili word for freedom. Mount Kilimanjaro’s middle and lower slopes receive more rain than the surrounding plains. The southern slopes are the wettest and they feed River Pangani which formed a valley flowing South parallel to Mountain Usambara through the East streams feeding River Galana. Kilimanjaro is the fourth most topographically prominent peak on Earth. In 1973, the mountain and its six surrounding forest corridors were named Kilimanjaro National Park in order to protect its unique environment and because it’s a major climbing destination. The Park was named a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in 1987. The Park is an outstanding universal value covering an area of some 75‚575ha and protects the largest freestanding volcanic mass in the world. There are seven official trekking routes by which to ascend and descend Mount Kilimanjaro; Machame, Marangu, Lemosho, Mweka, Shira, Rongai and Umbwe. The Machame route can be completed in six to seven days, Lemosho in six to eight days and the Northern Circuit routes in nine days and more. The Lemosho route can also be continued via the Western-Breach, summiting via the western side of the mountain. The Western-Breach is more secluded and avoids the six-hour midnight ascent to the summit just like other routes. The Rongai and Marangu are the easiest of the camping routes.

A variety of animals live in the areas surrounding the mountain for example in the Kilimanjaro rainforest especially around the first campsite (Big Forest Camp) on the Lemosho route, including the blue monkey, White necked raven, Colobus monkey, Bush baby and four striped mice. Since the high attitude cannot support plant or animal life, insects such as spiders, ants and leeches can be found in the rain forest zone. This zone also plays host to rats, snakes, birds and some plants such as huge tree ferns, sycamore trees, junipers and moss. There are about 300 lowland gorillas to estimate on Mount Kilimanjaro and its possible for one to visit some of their families through walking in the forest of the park following the direction of the ranger. While Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the least dangerous mountains of its size on earth, we can’t ignore the fact that there is still a risk in climbing it. A number of people die almost every year due to hypothermia, dehydration and many more diseases. Because of its shrinking glaciers and ice fields, this ionic mountain is a home to the largest ice fields in Africa. On average, expect two or three days with snowfall per week at the start of August and the forecast model average snowfall for the week is 1.6in. Without forgetting that the Northern ice field has the largest body of ice remaining on Mount Kilimanjaro, with an area of 0.95 square kilometers when last measured in 2007. A detailed analysis of six cores retrieved from the rapidly shrinking ice field were found on top of Mount Kilimanjaro and it shows that these tropical glaciers began to form about 11‚700 years ago. The cores also yielded remarkable evidence of three catastrophic drought that plagued the tropics 8‚300, 5‚200 and 4‚00 years ago. The Kilimanjaro weather at the summit, Uhuru point, at night the temperature can range between 20 and -20-degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -20 degrees Celsius) due to the great height of the mountain and it creates its own weather. But beware that with the additional chill factor of wind, the felt temperature maybe as low as -40 (both in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit. In addition to this, Mount Kilimanjaro has got snow because winds carry moisture from the ocean and when they hit large objects like mountains, they rise, cool and condense forming clouds and precipitations; rain and snow. These two are the main winds that drive weather patterns on Mount Kilimanjaro that’s the south-east trade winds and the north-east anti-trade winds. The mountain is drained by a network of rivers and streams especially on the wetter and more heavily eroded southern side and especially above 1‚200 metres. Below the altitude, increased evaporation and human water usage reduces the waterflows. River Lumi and River Pangani drain Mount Kilimanjaro on both the eastern and southern sides respectively.

What to do in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Mountain climbing

This is the most and common done activity in Mount Kilimanjaro. You will climb Africa’s free-standing mountain giving you a thrilling experience you have never imagined. You will be able to climb different peaks such as the Kibo peak which is the highest and snowcapped throughout the year offering magnificent views of the surrounding towns from far, and also Shira peak which is known to be the oldest and formed up a plateau providing spectacular grasslands and various plant species with a lot of wildlife.

Canoeing

Visitors to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park enjoy a guided canoe trip on Lake Momela. It is such a fantastic experience with knowledgeable guides. While paddling on the lake, look out over forest, bush and grassland with Mount Meru to the west. You will also sight animals like buffaloes, waterbucks, duikers, hippos, giraffes, zebras and birdlife such as flamingoes that stain the water pink when seen from a far, pelicans, Egyptian geese, great crested grebe, southern pochards, maccoa ducks, African jacanas to mention a few, on and around the lake which makes the lake incredibly abundant.

Birding

The Park is a home to over 150 bird species some of which are residents and others are migratory. These birds include resident black shouldered kite, blue napped mouse birds, white necked raven, long tailed trogon, African fish eagles, Gabar goshawk, African pygmy kingfisher, white checked barbet, red capped robin chat, grey hornbill among others. Birding is best done in November to April when birds migrate the most.

Guided nature walks

These walks can be done at the slopes of the Mountain Forest canopy and you can encounter a lot of primates which include; the red-tailed monkey, black and white colobus monkey, olive baboon and a lot of plant species. You will also have a panoramic view of the Chagga farmlands and neighboring towns.

Wildlife

A number of wild animals can be seen at the Shira plateau plains while on your safari to Mount Kilimanjaro national park though not has many as compared to other national parks in Tanzania. These animals include; vervet monkey, honey badger, black and white colobus monkey, bushbaby, genet cat, aardvark, elands, baboon, elephants and four striped mice.

Camping

Camping within one of the 32 camping sites along the second hiking route will be memorable and you will have an exclusive bush experience. These campsites provide amazing and comfortable accommodation with bush toilets as well as delicious meals to suit your hiking experience.

Picnicking

The Park boasts with the 13 picnicking sites where you can enjoy this activity in the uninterrupted wilderness. Some of these picnic sites include; Last water, Daraja refu, Wona, Kilimamchele, Jiwe la mbula, Machame half way among others. Don’t forget to pack lunch boxes which you will enjoy from one of the sites.

Cycling

You can make your safari more memorable and experimental by cycling to the highest peak of Mountain through Kilema route, though additional fee might be added for the activity. There are three main stations to cycle in and this activity will expose you to farmlands of the Chagga people. Not that this activity should be done by well experienced mountain bikes and a well knowledgeable tour guide.

Filming

Mountain Kilimanjaro being Africa’s free-standing mountain offers panoramic views perfect for filming adventure movies. One of the famous films that scooped an award was “the snows of Kilimanjaro” which was done in 1952 from this mountain.

NOTE:

Mount Kilimanjaro national park can be visited throughout the year. However, the best time is from Mid-June to October and December to Mid-March.

How to get there

The Park can be accessed within two hours from Arusha and one hour from Moshi town, its also an hour and half drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The great wildebeest migration in East Africa

 

 

 

 

 

The great wildebeest migration in East Africa

The great wildebeest in East Africa : migration has no beginning and end point because it is a circular migration that moves in a clockwise route holding over a million plus animals across the Serengeti- Mara. The continuous movement is as a result of prompt rain or following the rainfall and the search for abundant lush new grass for grazing and life giving water, wildebeest’s migration comprises of more wildlife species such as zebras, Thomson’s gazelles, impalas, elands and the grant’s gazelles. A number of people think that the wildebeest migration only occurs once a year however it is an all year round event with various times offering an adventurous, exciting and unique wildlife experience. This journey takes them across a variety of plains in both Kenya and Tanzania with main destinations being the Ngorongoro conservation area, Serengeti national park, Grumeti reserve and Loliondo game managed area. Their journey is specifically made up of danger as the animals cross rivers infested with crocodiles along the way such as river Mara, during which a big number of the animals cannot evade the giant Nile crocodiles lying in wait to ambush their prey. Whether the wildebeest are dropping calves or efforting to cross rivers while keeping away from the predators, the journey is constantly on the move throughout the year, however nothing much is known on how the wildebeests foretell which way to go, but it is widely believed that their journey is controlled or dictated primarily by their response to the weather, mating and calving seasons alongside following the rains and the growth of new grass though there is no scientific proof of it. On addition, experts also believe that the animals react to lightning and thunderstorms in a distance and it is hint that wildebeests can locate rain in a distance of 50km away.

 

Wildebeest facts

Appearance

The species forming the large herds of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of Kenya and Tanzania is known as the western white-bearded wildebeest, while the eastern white-bearded races inhabit Kenya and Tanzania east of the Gregory Rift. The wildebeest is also called the “gnu an antelope in the genus Connochaetes. It belongs to the family Bovidae, which includes antelopes, cattle, goats, sheep, and other even-toed horned ungulates. Connochaetes includes two species, both native to Africa: the black wildebeest or white-tailed gnu (Connochaetes gnou) and the blue wildebeest or brindled gnu (Connochaetes taurinus). Fossil records suggest these two species diverged about one million years ago, resulting in a northern and a southern species. The blue wildebeest remained in its original range and changed very little from the ancestral species, while the black wildebeest changed more as adaptation to its open grassland habitat in the south. The most obvious way of telling the two species apart are the differences in their coloring and in the way their horns are oriented. In East Africa the blue wildebeest is the most abundant big-game species some populations perform an annual migration to new grazing grounds but the black wildebeest is merely nomadic.

Diet

Both sexes possess a pair of large curved horns. The blue wildebeest is herbivore, feeding primarily on short grasses. They travel in large herds and are active day and night, grazing constantly.

Behavior

Wildebeest often graze in mixed herds with zebra, which gives heightened awareness of potential predators. They are also alert to the warning signals emitted by other animals such as baboon. Wildebeest are a tourist attraction but compete with domesticated livestock for pasture and are sometimes blamed by farmers for transferring diseases and parasites to their cattle. Some illegal hunting goes on but the population trend is fairly stable and some populations are in national parks or on private land.

Breeding

Breeding in both takes place over a short period of time at the end of the rainy season and the calves are soon active and are able to move with the herd, a fact necessary for their survival. Nevertheless, some fall prey to large carnivores especially the spotted hyena.

Habitat

Their habitat comprises the grassy plains and open woodlands of central, southern and eastern Africa, particularly the Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai mara game reserve in Kenya. Its range extends from Namibia and South Africa to Mozambique (north of the Orange River) and from southwestern Zambia (south of the Zambezi river) to southern Angola.

The great wildebeest migration all-year-round

  • January, February and March: Around January each year, seems reasonable to call the wildebeests’ yet birthing seasons, the herds occupy the short-grass plains that are displayed all over the lower slopes of the Ngorongoro crater highlands and around Olduvai Gorge. The journey is always accomplished in the southwards moving across the eastern side of Serengeti into Ngorongoro conservation area. February seems the wildebeests’ birthing time, here there are higher chances of witnessing the wildebeest birth. Over 300,000 calves are born here within a period of two to three weeks or approximately 8000 calves are born every day. The plains always harbor abundant and nutritious grass giving the herds the best conditions for elevating their newborn calves. Depending on the rains, the herds can be seen south of Serengeti National Park between Ndutu and Ngorongoro plains and around the end of March or early April, the herds locomote slowly and begin their northward travel.
  • April and May: Around April the migratory herds all tend to be travelling northwards in quest of fresh grazing grounds and water. The journey consists of a big number of animals including the zebras. June marks the end of rainy season, particularly this is the Grumeti River crossing season mainly depending on water levels of the river and this may create a chance for you to spot the Nile Crocodiles though this crossing is not always exciting as the Mara river crossing.
  • June and July: Around June this is when the big event occurs the start of Mara River crossing where a high concentration of herds reach the western part of Serengeti and the southern part of Grumeti River and they appear closely to the brown waters of the river which are infested with Nile crocodiles making the crossing difficult for each crossing animal. In July, thousands of million plus wildebeests and zebras continuously move northwards along the western brink of the park crossing the Mara River into Kenya here many challenges and Tense River encounters are faced, here marks the end of the weak animals and a large number is killed. They usually commence at the beginning of the high seasons in July, merely the whole timing consists on nature.
  • August, September and October: By August, the herds would have faced a number of challenges while crossing the Mara River to disperse the Masai Mara’s northern section. The full flow, confusion, panic, waiting predators, surging currents, waiting predators and other large predators like crocodiles, leopards, lions and more that survey and patrol the banks, ready to attack any wildebeest, all causing a massive loss of lives. The survivors continue moving northwards and herds break into groups with a large number of them remaining in the northern Serengeti. They start crossing into Masai Mara national reserve in Kenya to quest for nutritious green pastures and life giving water before kicking off their journey to the private conservancies such as olare orok, and Mara North. By September to October, here the main chaos has ended and the migrating animals have gradually moved eastwards. Howsoever the wildebeest will face the heavy waters of the Mara River once again as they get ready to cross afresh during their return journey southwards.
  • November and December: In November after some short amounts of rain occurring especially in the late October and early November, these gnus move down wards from Kenya into Namiri plains, the eastern ends of the Serengeti the only plains known for cheetah spotting. In December, they scatter all over the eastern and southern limits. In the first early months of another year, the grasses in the inner south of the Serengeti are lush with the rains attracting thousands of wildebeest and thousands of other plain animals. The cycle continues all over again as the calving season starts afresh. This great wildebeest migration season is one of the best moment worth not to miss watching as the frenzy herds of the wildebeests cross over and over again.           

The wildebeest migration is a breathtaking natural phenomenon and a must see safari wildlife display behavior experience for adventurers, nature lovers, wildlife addicts and those questing a little more from their African vacation.

 

 

 

Pemba Island in Tanzania

 

Pemba Island in Tanzania

Pemba Island in Tanzania : also known as “Jazirat al-khudrah” in Arabic literally meaning the green island and also known as “Pemba Kisiwa” in Swahili is a Tanzanian island forming part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, lying within the Swahili coast in the Indian Ocean in its capital Chake-Chake. With a land area of 988 square kilometers, the island is situated about 50 kilometers to the north of Unguja (the largest island of the archipelago) and it also lies 50 kilometers east of the mainland Tanzania across the Pemba channel. The island is part of the semi-autonomous Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar and it is administratively divided into two regions; the North Pemba (Pemba Kaskazini) with its capital at Wete which is the largest city and the South Pemba (Pemba Kusini) with its capital at Mkoani. Pemba island is with the exception of a strip of land of cloves, mangoes and hillocks lush with fruit and tree species. It has been long known as the “Green Island” in the Eastern Coast due to its fertile soil where locals grow their crops like coconut, bananas, red beans, rice and cassava. The traditional dhows lie scattered across most of the coastline and fishing is a large part of Pemba’s culture.

The island is surrounded with warm sub-tropical waters renowned for some of the best diving and snorkeling in the whole archipelago because of its steep drop-offs, colorful coral reefs and undisturbed marine life. It also offers a more authentic island experience with a tourism industry not has developed as Zanzibar’s but perfect for those wanting to capture the untapped nature of the archipelago. It has been designated as an important bird area by “Bird Life International” because it supports a big population of Pemba green pigeons, Pemba scops owls, Pemba white eyes and Pemba sunbirds. Culture at the island has also been influenced by the Arab traders from Oman and the Original inhabitants who lived on this island for centuries. The island offers dives which are world class and the best along the entire East African coastline with a range of levels all the way from beginners to advanced. This activity is carried out in one of the best sites in the Pemba channel (Pinnacle site) where you will be able to see schooling hammerheads. Apart from diving, the beaches on the mainland are reasonable and also the superb sand bars.

Climate

Pemba Island has a tropical climate with two rain seasons. The most rainfall coming between April and May and smaller rain season coming between November and December. Drier months are January to February and a longer drier season is between June to October.

Attractions on Pemba Island

Fishing

The island is famous for its rich fishing grounds. There is a deep 50 kilometers wide Pemba channel between the island and the main land which is one of the most profitable fishing grounds for game fishing on the Swahili Coast. You will be given an opportunity to target six different billfish species including black, blue and striped marlin.

Agriculture

Pemba island is with the exception of a strip of land along its Eastern coast, a very fertile place to keep it within the Global Farming Industry. A large segment of Zanzibar export earnings comes from cloves. Other primary crops include rice, coconuts, red beans, bananas as well as cassava.

Wildlife

Tourists should pay a visit to the Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary which is a home to over 4,000 endemic Pemba flying foxes. You can also see these foxes on the walking trails of Ngezi Forest Reserve which also provides a safe harbor for red colobus monkey, Vervet monkeys and a host of bird species which include; The much sought-after and endemic Pemba scops owl. All walks must be accompanied by a local naturalist or guide.

Cultural experience

Join a village tour and learn how rural communities cook, fish and manufacture the goods they need to survive on a daily basis. You can also opt to visit the old fort and slave port of Chake-Chake. Don’t miss to visit the farms and discover how the clove stems are turned into essential oil at the Clove Oil Distillery since cloves are Pemba’s biggest export and there are more than 3.5 million clove trees growing on the island’s spice farms.

Prison Island

Prison island may not sound like the most attractive place in the world but this tropical paradise is the perfect place to escape from the hustle of the main Zanzibar and relax in the sun. Taking its name from the fact that it is a former prison for slaves, this field of natural beauty holds all kinds of pleasure including many giant tortoises that roam freely around the islands. One can reach the island from Zanzibar by use of boat which is approximately 30 minutes.

Scuba diving

 

Pemba island is one of the most rewarding dive destinations in Africa although it is ringed by coral reef on all sides. Most of its dive sites are located off the west coast where the land plunges hundreds of metres into the deep waters of the Pemba channel. With pinnacles and magnificent submarine walls, the island’s underwater topography provides a natural habitat for all kinds of sea creatures such as Reef sharks, Napoleon wrasse, Turtles and Big game fish. However, Swahili Divers Company offers courses for all dive experience levels.

Pemba museum

Filling an 18th century Omani fort, which was built on the remains of a 16th century Portuguese garrison, this small museum has well organized displays on island history. You will get a lot more information out of your visit to the ruins at places like Ras Mkumbuu if you tend to make a stopover at the museum.

Mud bath

This is one of the unique attractions that Pemba Island has got to offer. It might sound a little strange to those who haven’t tried this kind of activity; all you have to do is let go and let the kid go inside you. This activity has got several health benefits for you for example for starters, mud is rich in minerals and nutrients that will not only remove toxins from their bodies but also release all of the stress that hides inside bodies.in addition to that, you can enjoy the process and give a double win for Pemba Island.

Why Pemba Island is a top tourist attraction

Pemba island is one of the 10 best dive sites in the world. It has got a wonderful scenery, hilly green, very fertile land and is surrounded by numerous smaller islands and coral reefs. The island has little tourism, smaller beaches, yet better diving possibilities.

How to get there

You can fly to Pemba Island from Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar with the latter journey taking approximately 30 minutes.

The Saline Lake Manyara

 

 

The Saline Lake Manyara

The Saline Lake Manyara : is a shallow alkaline lake at an altitude of 960metres above the sea level with a maximum depth of 10feet and covers (two-thirds) of the park. The lake’s name is believed to be based on a plant called “Euphorbratinucalli”, locally known as Emanyara in the Maasai language. It is the spiky protective enclosure around their homesteads; they probably perceived the escarpment hems in the lake like the enclosures thus the name. Or, others say that it may have originated from the Mbugwe word “Manyero” meaning a place where animals drink water. This saline lake lies in the Northern Tanzania, west of Arusha in the Eastern rift valley. It is the seventh-largest lake in the country with a surface area of 470km2. Lake Manyara was formed as a result of the Great Rift Valley. Over millions of years as the rift grew wider, streams cascaded down its continually eroding slopes and pooled into what is now the famous lake. The lake has no outlet and it thus subjected to intense evaporation allowing salt and other minerals to accumulate. There are crusty white deposits of soda glitter such as diamonds around the edges of the water and the saline water appears slightly soapy in texture due to the concentrated minerals, though the water is not too salty for the animals to drink.

The Western side of the lake is flanked by a steep rift escarpment to the North of the Ngorongoro highlands while in the East and Southeast, an undulating plain with isolated volcanic mountains which gives way to a peneplain. Several springs, streams, wetlands and smaller lakes, both perennial and seasonal drain into the lake. The shores of the saline lake host at its Northern tip the town of “Mto wa Mbu” with its irrigation agriculture. The flora of this lake diverse with over 670 flowering plants and fern species, most of them are wide spread and a few are endemic species. The lake receives two rainy seasons that’s; the short rains from November to December and the long rains from March to May. April is the wettest month while the driest months are July, August and September. January, February and March have the highest average high temperature while June and July have the lowest average high temperature. On this lake is an area covered by the Tanzania National Park Authority called Lake Manyara National Park. The Park is situated between Arusha and the lake in Manyara regions. It covers an area of 325km2 and about 230km2 of the lake’s surface containing five distinct vegetation zones. The Park was originally established in 1960 to protect the elephants which reside in the park. Other wildlife on the area include; buffaloes, lions, leopards, rhinoceros, giraffes, impalas, mongoose, kirk’s dik-dik, baboons, zebras and many water birds especially flamingos. The Park simply bursts with life, with its population of abundant water birds, dense woodlands, steep mountainsides, ground water forest filled with acacia trees and its outstanding black-manned tree climbing lions.

Activities in Lake Manyara national park

Birding

 

Owning to its profuse bird species, the lake is the ideal birdwatching location. Grab the opportunity to spot the flocks of thousands of flamingos that feed along the edge of the lake such as lesser flamingos, greater flamingos among others. But the lake has also got over 300 other bird species that you will see such as the Egyptian geese, Klipspringers, Guinea fowls, Crowned eagles, Hornbills, Northern shoveler, Yellow-billed stork, Great-white pelican, Black-winged stilt, Pied Avocet, Caspian plover, Marsh sandpiper, White-winged tern and so forth.

Fishing

The lake consists of a number of fish species such as the catfish and tilapia. It has got a small fishery, but fish only tends to be found near the inflow areas where salt concentrations are lower. Don’t miss to take part in this activity where you will be guided by the local fishermen about fishing and its methods.

Nature walks

With the help of a tour guide, trek through the dense woodlands and hike the steep mountain sides, while spotting different species of plant life and learning their possible medical properties or even the primate species that may be roaming around like the Vervet monkey, Baboons and even the Manyara monkeys. Explorer the depths of the forests and broaden your knowledge of wildlife.

Game drives

This of course is your usual game drive where you can discern the different mammal species and how they adapt to their habitants like the giraffes’ dwell where there are tall trees that they can feed from, the hippos near the water for much obvious reasons even get a chance to see the black-manned lions that climb trees. They usually do this (climb trees) because the ground can get too hot sometimes or in other cases to get better view to scale the area for their next prey. Elephants will become a recurrent sight as the park is famous for its vast elephant herd. Other animals include; lions, leopards, cheetahs, buffalos, impalas among others.

Canoeing

Yes, indeed one could go canoeing on Lake Manyara, on a two-man canoe, with a guide who will take you around the saline lake on the small boat. You will come across hippos in the water, none of which will attack you as they are used to visitors. See the buffaloes grazing at the lake shores along with the impalas and water bucks. The ride is about three and a half hours long allowing you to explorer to the fullest. Also notice the different bird species at the lake, mostly the flamingos, along with egrets, spoonbills and herons amongst others.

Mountain biking

Mention to the guide your interest in this activity and they will take initiative to take you where you will be provided with bicycles, water, and bicycle gears. These would dearly aid you as you ride along different trails taking in the beautiful scenery of the park and the shores of the breath-taking Lake Manyara.

Community visits

This is a two-and-a-half-hour small trip to the Karata local villages where you will find and interact with new people and find out more about their culture. Visit the Maasai women and take part in their daily activities like cooking and go home with a few souvenirs like their beautiful handmade bead necklaces among others.

Magi Moto Hot Springs

The Swahili words “Maji Moto” literally translate to hot water which is a valuable explanation for their name. the magnificent hot springs are surrounded by palm and fig trees that only add a sense of tranquility to the area. Locals have taken it upon themselves to build a small restaurant and bathroom facilities around the hot springs to encourage tourists to stop by.

Mto Wa Mbu Market Town

This is situated just opposite the lake and its name “Mto wa Mbu” means ‘Mosquito Creek’. It is a trading center for the tribes of the area like the Gororwa, Chagga, Irangi and Tatonga to mention a few. Visit and marvel at the unity just one language can bring and maybe even leave with plenty of new trinkets.

Why is Lake Manyara a top tourist attraction?

Although small in size compared to other national parks in Tanzania, Lake Manyara is a home to a variety of wildlife species which include elephants, baboons, lions, hippos, buffalos, giraffes, blue monkeys, leopards, antelopes, impalas and its extra ordinary concentration of birdlife has made this place world-renowned among ornithologists.

 

   

   

Ngorongoro Crater Lake Tanzania

 

Ngorongoro Crater Lake Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater Lake Tanzania : The crater is a large caldera of a volcano that collapsed about three million years ago to a depth of over 600 meters and is about 260km2 wide. It was named by the Maasai after the sound made by a cowbell “Ngoro Ngoro” and it is the largest caldera in the world that is unfilled and inactive. It is part of a larger protected area and a world heritage site Ngorongoro Conservational Area located 180km west of Arusha in the crater highlands of Tanzania which was established in 1959 and covers an area of about 8,292km2.  The crater has approximately 6,000 wildebeests, 25,000large mammals, 70 lions and 16 highly endangered black rhinos that roam around in this crater including all the big five along with other animals like cheetahs, hyenas, warthogs, zebras, serval cats, jackals among others. There are no giraffes in the crater but rather they dwell outside the crater. The local Maasai residents also graze their livestock in the crater.  

Attractions at Ngorongoro crater lake

Attractions at Ngorongoro Crater Lake are widely dispersed across inside and around the conservation area. Ngorongoro conservation area is part of the Serengeti National park that hosts a number of wildlife especially the wildebeest whose migration occurs in the southern Serengeti National Park and on the Northern Ngorongoro Ndutu area. The attractions also cross across the conservations and extend to the olduvai George where the remains of early man were discovered and below are some of the key attractions in the Ngorongoro Crater Lake area.

Ngorongoro crater

This is one of the unique and must see attractions in the Ngorongoro conservation area with its beautiful sceneries of the largest caldera. The guests always have a mesmerizing view of the crater at the crater viewing point a few kilometers from the main gate before walking down to the crater. It gives you a spectacular view of the crater watching the wildlife at the top views.

Bird watching/ birding

Birds are one of the firm and greatest attractions in Ngorongoro with both permanent and migratory birds from Europe and Asia like the European swallows, European rollers, harriers, lapwings to mention a few that come for breeding in the rainy season. Ngorongoro is a breeding ground to thousands of water birds like the ducks, herons, waders and flamingos. It also hosts other big birds like the ostriches, secretary birds, eagles and many more.

Laetoli

It is located in the southern part of Olduvai Gorge deep in the remote areas. It is renowned for its footprints remains which are not clearly known on how they came into existence.

Olduvai museum

It is a small museum located at the edge of Olduvai Gorge, with the highest correlation of archaeological sites in the entire world which were discovered by Dr Louis Leaky in 1959. This is where the remains of the early man were discovered. One can visit this place on his or her trip from Serengeti or to Ngorongoro.

Wildlife

Ngorongoro crater is a home to both big and small animals that are easily spotted in the short grasses especially during the game drives. It is enriched with wildlife, hosting over 30,000 animals like the zebras, warthogs, jackals, serval cats and much more. The crater is also a home of the big five like the elephants, lions, Buffalos and the rare black rhinos though the leopards are rare and hardly spotted.

NOTE:

Permits are required if one is to visit the crater since the area is under conservation only a few tourists are allowed per year. Book a safari to the crater and begin your search for the big five while you spot other wildlife.

Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda : is famous for its lush green terraced hills, legendary Islands and its impressive population of over 200 bird species. The lake is located in the western part of Uganda between Kisoro and Kibaale districts close to the border of Rwanda. The lake is quoted to have 25km long and 7km wide with a maximum depth of 130ft (40m) but the locals and tour guides argue that it is much deeper, around 3000ft (900m) which would make it the second deepest lake in Africa after Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. 

How was Lake Bunyonyi formed?

The lake was formed 10,000 years ago, and was formed as a result of lava flow that emerged from one of the Virunga mountains and occupied River Ndego. Because of its continuation, the river was blocked and dammed by a lava flow and the valley drowned.

Can one swim in Lake Bunyonyi?

The lake is known to be one of the few lakes in Uganda that are Bilharzia free, making its water safe for swimming and it’s also free of dangerous wildlife like hippos and crocodiles.

Fish species

At the beginning of the 20th century, fish was introduced in the lake but massively died in 1960s perhaps as a result of volcanic gas emission, today there are Cray fish, Mud fish, Mirror carp, Nile perch and Tilapia.

What to do at the Lake

Birding

As its name suggests Lake Bunyonyi meaning “place of many birds” nurtures a superfluity of over 200 bird species both migratory and local making it a birder’s paradise where you could spot the black-headed weaver, streaky seed eater, hadada ibis, bronze sunbird, grey crowned crane, fan tailed widow bird, pied kingfisher among others.

Sport fishing

Here you relax with fishermen and fish following their methods of using baskets, hooks, and nets. The species of fish in the lake are rather diverse comprising of the Tilapia, Nile perch, Mud fish and you could also get a chance to eat Cray fish which is culinary delicacy in these parts.

Nature walks

Where one can walk around the lake shores whiling tearing water, listening to bird songs and feeling the fresh breeze of the lake and the rewarding community. These walks can be done along the shores of the lake and also walking around different Islands where there are settlers.

Canoeing

One will experience the quietness, calmness and the tranquility of Lake Bunyonyi. This ride is exceedingly exciting because you will see a number of bird species such as the kingfishers, Egyptian goose, Yellow billed ducks, little egrets, white winged turns to mention a few and you will also view the different Islands.

Community services

The region is mainly occupied by the Bakiga and the Batwa (who resettled here after being displaced from Bwindi). The Batwa though have adapted to a modern lifestyle are still in tune with their culture and already to dance if asked to. The Bakiga on the other hand are known for their hand work and this is early portrayed in the beautifully tilled hills that are filled with crops surrounding the lake. Visit these tribes and get an idea of how they live daily.

Island Hopping

Lake Bunyonyi is famous for its 29 Islands some habited others inhabited. One can hire a canoe and a guide to take you around visiting the different islands and getting to know the stories of some of these islands. These islands are as follows;

Akampene Island/ Punishment Island

The history of this island is rather gruesome. Whenever an unmarried girl was found pregnant, they would be sailed to the island and left there to meet their death. This was to teach the younger girls that it is wrong to do certain things unless one is married. The girls were usually rescued by men who had no bride price to get a wife from the mainland. Due to the women’s desperate situation, the men expected them to have great respect towards their saviors thus obliging to the man’s every beck and call. The practice was however stopped in the first half of the 20th century but the survivors of Akampene still shares its story.

Bushara Island

This is the home to the Lake Bunyonyi Development Company. It uses tourism to generate funds that are used to develop the area around Bunyonyi. This would explain the luxury tents that adorn the camp site; it also has a camp site where you can relax. This island is almost completely covered by eucalyptus trees. Since most of the trees around the Lake were cut down to create land for agriculture, the eucalyptus trees are precious to the area.

Kyahugye Island

Being the nearest island to the mainland it is the most visited yet not only for its direction. The island’s perimeter is embellished with trees of many species like Pinus trees, Cupressus trees, Eucalyptus trees to mention a few. But its hill top is cleared for tourists; campsites are available as well as stocked bars and restaurants. The top of the island enables one to have an overview of the lake and on a clear day the Mountain Muhabura can be sighted. That’s not all, during nature walks on the island you can come across animals like impalas, waterbucks, kobs, zebras, black and white colobus monkeys, numerous bird species and more. The island is known as the only one that harbors animals.

Bwama and Njuyeera Island (Sharp Islands)

Sharp Leonard was a man who visited the Bwama Island in 1921. The island was inhabited which gave him the idea to start a leprosy treatment centre that was established in 1931. A church was built along with patient dormitories and a sick bay. This island was meant to be a safe haven for leprosy patients to live in peace without fear of affecting others. Sharp on the other hand inhabited an island Nyuyeera which was close to this one. In his honor the two islands were nicknamed after him, now on the island you will find a primary school.

Bucaranuka Island (Upside Down Island)

The island’s name rotates around a legend of how its habitants died. One day as villagers were drinking locally made booze, a woman came by and asked them for some help. They laughed at her and refused to offer her anything thinking she was a common beggar. The lady asked again but they ignored her request. She then asked that at least one-person takes her to the main land. A young man was chosen and he accepted to accompany her. When they reached the main land, the young man turned around to go back but the island turned upside down killing everyone. It is believed that it was only the young man and lady that survived.

The main islands are very popular but the rest are also good destinations to explore and watch birds as well, you never know what you may discover, perhaps you too like sharp can have an island named after you.

Itambira Island

The island is a home to the “seeds to hope” project. The non-profit organization was set-up so that the local community’s welfare improves. The island also harbors byoona amagara retreat camp and paradise eco hub. It is a good place to relax and eat while looking out at the lake.

Bright Island

This is another island on Lake Bunyonyi that is set near Kabale. It nurtures beautiful accommodation that allows one a lake view from literally almost any building they are in. Bright island hotel offers residences, has a restaurant and a well-stocked bar. It is surely a place to be.

Nature’s Prime Island

This is an eco-tourism site on Lake Bunyonyi that also like the most of the previous islands gives you a fantastic vantage point from where you can take in the beautiful of the lake and all that surrounds it.

Bakiga Cultural Museum

The museum is a replica of a Bakiga homestead built in 2002. This is to educate those who do not know about their culture. For a small cost get a feel of their traditional lifestyle and learn about the various items you will find there like spears that were commonly used for protection, calabashes for churning, traditional stools and a pot for making perfumes among other items.

How to get there

From Kampala to Kabale using Mbarara road and Kabale-Mbarara road takes approximately 6 hours as you cover 474km, then the drive from Kabale to Lake Bunyonyi is approximately 1 hour thus making the whole journey 7 hours.