Nkugute Crater Lake Uganda

Nkugute Crater Lake Uganda

Nkugute Crater Lake Uganda : located in Bunyaruguru County in Rubirizi District whose name apparently means swallow and this has been a source of odd stories. It is a place of mystery, with a history that goes back to tales shared around campfires by the locals in the villages that surround it. The boundaries of Lake Nkugute seen from a hill that borders the lake look similar to the map of Africa. In the past, the lake used to be surrounded by a very thick forest, but it was destroyed during the construction of the Mbarara-Kasese highway and presently, the lake is surrounded by banana plantations, tilled land as well as pine and mahogany trees. Behind the beauty are strange and supernatural stories and according to locals, it’s the deepest lake in Africa with some shadowy reaches that have eluded western scientists but there is no proof to this claim.

How it was formed

Nkugute is a crater lake which was formed as a result of volcanic activity in the Bunyaruguru volcanic field and the eruption in this field is more than 12,000 years and this is evidenced by the existence of hot springs within its vicinity such as Kitagata hot spring. The lake is said to have derived its name from its violent nature and insatiable appetite for humans. “Nkugute” is a Runyaruguru word that means “swallow” and tales in this area are that Lake Nkugute used to swallow two children, a boy and a girl, annually.

Mysterious tales about the lake

The lake’s name literally translates to “swallow” for it’s said that every year, one boy and one girl disappear beneath its waters, and if anyone notices and tries to help, they’re “swallowed” too. It’s also said that anyone walking past the lake alone after dark will be accosted by the Bachwezi people. The Bachwezi are a near-mythical culture, sometimes said to have been extra-terrestrial, who ruled the region for over 10,000 years and were worshiped as demi-gods. Every year, the lake would swallow a male and female child and no one would predict when this was going to happen. People who came to wash from the lake’s shore would at times forget to pay attention to their children who enjoyed swimming from the lake and before they knew it, one of the children would be seen helplessly screaming while being “swallowed” by the lake. Those who attempted to rescue the drowning child would sometimes also be “swallowed”. So the crater lake came to be known as Nkugute in reference to that behaviour.”

Previous residents
Before these changes occurred, the lake was home to the Bachwezi and a lot of mysterious things happened to justify this. For example, after 10pm, anyone who walked past the lake would be stopped by very tall, dark skinned and strange people who would beat him/her up or take and abandon that person in any of the forests in the area. “The locals who encountered these Bachwezi narrated that they would be found grazing long horned cattle. They would accuse the locals whom they punished for stealing their cattle. However, they would only attack those who would be walking alone because it was not possible to see them or be attacked when walking in a group. The lake had a caretaker called Omuzumira Komurusozi, who was responsible for performing rituals to appease the gods of the lake but whenever these rituals delayed, the lake would turn violent.

Reports of people drowning under unclear circumstances would be popular; it is then that people would seek the intervention of the caretaker to perform the rituals. The rituals involved slaughtering a goat and a sheep whose heads were dumped in the lake. However, following the prominence of religion in the area, people abandoned engaging in the rituals. Nkugute is now a major source of water for domestic use in Rubirizi. A dam was constructed at the boundary of the lake, which looks like the horn of Africa, to supply water around the district. A sign post can be seen at the shore of the lake cautioning members of the public against unauthorized access to the lake. Fishing on the lake is not popular which is attributed to lack of fish in the lake.

How it can benefit from tourists
The Lake is a popular destination for tourists though the locals have meagrely benefitted from the industry. Tourists who come around just take pictures of the place and leave. This is blamed on the absence of hotels or nice places of accommodation around the lake. Its also believed that if people could invest in hotels or a beach put up within the lake’s proximity, the locals could benefit from the tourism industry.

The Sitatunga Antelope

 

 

 

The Sitatunga Antelope

The Sitatunga Antelope: or Marsh buck (Tragelaphus spekii) is a rare swamp-dwelling antelope that can be found in many countries of central Africa but is rarely seen due to its elusive behavior. The sitatunga is confirmed to marshy and swampy habitats and they occur in tall and dense vegetation as well as seasonal swamps, marshy clearings in the forests, riparian thickets and mangrove swamps. They spend the hottest parts of the day resting in the shade of reeds on platforms of dried plants, which they build themselves by circling and trampling on vegetation.

Physical description

Sitatunga have slightly hunched appearance, with hind legs growing longer than the forequarters. Adult males have impressive spiraled horns that will be ivory tipped when fully developed. According to color, males are traditionally chocolate or grey-brown while females are brown to bright chestnut. Adults have a longer coat and white markings on the body, face, legs, ears and feet while juveniles will have a woollier coat with white spots as well as stripes on a bright reddish-brown coat. The sitatunga are also distinguished by their long, splayed hooves which make them clumsy and vulnerable on firm terrain but well-adapted for walking through muddy, vegetated swamplands. Males are considerably larger than females and have long, twisting horns and their splayed feet make them accomplished swimmers. Both sexes have a white band between the eyes, and white spots on the cheeks. They also have two distinct white patches on the body, one above the chest and one on the throat, below the chin and the tail is black tipped, brown above and white below.

Behavior

Sitatunga are most active at dawn and dusk, but can be active in both day and night. They feed upon bulrushes, sedges and leaves of bushes, sometimes venturing out of the swamp to gaze on grasses in riverine forests. They are known to be Africa’s only true amphibious antelopes with many adaptations to their aquatic habitat such as waterproofing oil on their coat and elongated, splayed hooves for walking on soft soil. They use tunneled pathways through tall reeds and papyrus to navigate through the swamps. They use regular, tunneled pathways through papyrus and tall reed as a swamp provides a year-round supply of rich food, they have exceptionally small home ranges. Sitatunga are also known to be strong but slow swimmers capable of paddling several miles; usually half-submerged, they can dive deeper if in danger staying hidden with only part of the head out of the water. They will rest only on dry mounds or floating islands in the swamp, turning circles on the spot until the grass is trampled into a springy mat. Although they are said to be solitary animals, pairs associate for short periods of mate for mating and small temporary mixed groups are occasionally formed. The young are born on a dry, trampled mat in the swamp and lie out for a month with only short visits from their mother for suckling. The ties between mother and young ones do not last for long and half-grown sitatungas are often on their own and are seen foraging alone. They usually graze on their own though they may also group in male or female pairs, bachelor groups of 3 or 4, or family groups of 5 to 15 members which will comprise one bull, multiple ewes and juveniles.

Size

Sitatunga grow to 57 inches (115 centimeters) in length for females and 63 inches (160 centimeters) for males. Adult individuals can weigh between 110 and 775 pounds approximately 50 to 125 kilograms.

Breeding

Sitatunga can breed throughout the year although a weak breeding peak is noticeable. They have a gestation period of 220days and calves lie up on trampled reed platforms or even in dense undergrowth for several weeks. A home range for these sitatungas is generally very small and this is due to the prolific and permanent food supply available.

Habitat

They have small home ranges due to the abundance of food within their swamp habitat. Sitatunga form paths through reeds, papyrus, phragmites and Typha, and will create platforms of vegetation by repeatedly circling and trampling reeds and grass. They are excellent swimmers, able to move slowly through water for several miles, and will dive deep enough to submerge their entire body when escaping or even hiding from predators with only their nose exposed at the surface.

Feeding

Sitatunga graze on young papyrus and reed shoots for the bulk of their diet as they spend the majority of their time in water. They forge both in the swamp and land. They also feed on buds, seeds, flowers, tall grasses and other foliage for nourishment as well as occasionally feeding on elephant dung in order to receive nutrition from undigested seeds. Sitatunga may stand on their hind legs to reach higher vegetation, more so male have been known for using their horns to break off branches for food. They have also been spotted grazing on crops at night.

Reproduction

They breed throughout the year, with females producing single calf after a gestation period of 7 months. The calf will weigh approximately 4 kilograms (8 to 9) pounds at birth, and potentially double in weight during the first month. After the calf is born, the female hides it on a vegetation platform secluded in dry reeds, and in deep water for protection. These calves always stay with their mothers for a number of months in order to learn how to navigate the swamp safely. Sexual maturity is at 1 year for females and approximately 2 years for male.

Facts about sitatunga

Here are a few of the most fascinating facts about this type of antelope;

Banana like shaped hooves

Sitatunga have bizarrely shaped hooves that some people say look like bananas. Their hooves are split into two sections that splay out from each other. This lets sitatunga walk through muddy regions without sinking in and they barely make any noise while walking in water.

Mostly live-in swamps

This makes them so unique because they live to live in swampy, marshy areas with thick grass, reed beds and mangrove trees. They make trails through swamps that normally lead to clusters of reeds where they can sleep. Sitatunga generally live in the swamps of south eastern Africa, in Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Angola, Ghana and Kenya. You can also find them on and around the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria.

Distinctive markings on the coats

Sitatunga are reddish or greyish brown color with short, coarse fur. They have patterns of vertical white stripes and spots along their body, and their legs, throat, cheeks and forehead also have white patches. Male sitatunga has also got a white stripe that goes down the middle of their back.

Same family as cows

Sitatunga are technically part of the Bovidae family. They are in the Tragelaphus genus and their technical scientific name is Tragelaphus spekii. These sitatunga get their name from John Hanning Speke, the English explorer who described them in 1863. Unlike cows, sitatunga have never been domesticated.

Unusual leg length

These animals look like they are always hunched over because their rear legs are actually much longer than their front legs. This strange placement helps them to balance better in marshy areas. Their pasterns, which are the part of the leg above the hoof, are actually flexibly. This unusual leg construction makes it easy for sitatunga to run on damp surfaces.

Great swimmers

Sitatunga are one of the best swimmers among antelope species. They mostly entirely submerge themselves, so all you can see is the sitatunga nose and eyes poking out of the water. Sitatunga typically swim to cool off, escape flies, or even travel to other regions of the marsh. However, they have to be careful to avoid areas of open water that might contain crocodiles.

Where to find them

Sitatunga reside in swamps, savannas, forests and in Uganda you can spot them in Katonga Wildlife Reserve, Bigodi wetland sanctuary, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Ssese Island among others.

Africa’s amazing waterfalls

 

 

Africa’s amazing waterfalls

Africa’s amazing waterfalls : Africa is not only renowned and famous for its breathtaking scenery and some amazing wildlife, but also waterfalls, which symbolize life for the African people. Water is life and nothing depicts this more than an African waterfall, in a full flow at the peak of the season! With its interminable water flow, dropping down multiple levels and throwing up glorious spray. The spray acts like continual rain creating abundant life and drawing tourists from across the world to marvel at its wonders. It’s hard for people not to look at a waterfall and feel inspired by its mesmerizing power and beauty. A river carving its way through the earth then flowing out with a high volume, thunderous roar over its peak before dropping down, continuing on its determined path. Here we explore Africa’s most Amazing waterfalls to help you include them on you’re to do list in Africa.

MURCHISON FALLS – UGANDA

Four of the Big 5 roam about and sip at the edge of the Victoria Nile whose waters eventually burst through a narrow rock face in a powerful torrent and drop down a steep cliff before reaching the bottom in a foamy fury. Welcome to Murchison Falls also known as the World’s Greatest Waterfall. Delta cruises along papyrus-lined waterways are the highlights of the trip whether seen from the top of the falls or the Devil’s Cauldron, its intimidating base Murchison Falls Promises striking vistas from whichever vantage point.

Murchison Falls Facts

  • Murchison falls was named by the explorer Sir Samuel Baker in 1864 after Sir Roderick Murchison who was the president of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society.
  • Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother Visited Murchison Falls national park in 1959 when she stayed in the queen’s cottage at Paraa and where she cruised upriver to view the falls.
  • Murchison falls pours over the fading escarpment at the northernmost tip Africa’s Western Rift Valley, a 3000km tectonic trench that has opened up between Lake Malawi and northern Uganda during the last twelve million years.

VICTORIA FALLS-ZIMBABWE / ZAMBIA BORDER

This is one of the seven Natural Wonders of the world, a UNESCO world heritage site and a tourism hub for the region. It’s on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia in the heart of Southern Africa, and attracting millions of tourists from around the globe to marvel in its sheer volume. Victoria Falls has the largest volume of falling water, with over 5 million cubic meters of water dropping over every minute in peak season and this has earned it the title of the World’s Largest Waterfall.

Victoria Falls Facts

  • The falls have a Width of 1708 meter
  • The falls are 108 meters high
  • They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
  • On these falls, Water flows always even in the drought.
  • The falls border between 2 countries and consequently, it is a tourism hotspot for tourists.

TUGELA FALLS – SOUTH AFRICA

This is Africa’s tallest waterfall, flowing from the lofty heights of the renowned Drakensberg Mountains.The world’s 10th largest uninterrupted water drop at a staggering 411 meters. Located on the Tugela River in South Africa’s Royal Natal National Park, Popular for tourism. During the winter season the upper Tugela has been known to freeze, not a common sight in sunny Africa and attracting many people to hike up its side on numerous trails to the frozen peak!  With its narrow width the water flow can be seasonal, and in some years of drought, may dry up entirely. However in peak season, a large volume of water flow drops down its peak, throwing up an impressive spray for people to see.

Tugela Waterfalls Facts

  • With a total water drop of 948 meters over 5 levels it is one of the world’s tallest Waterfalls. Narrow width of only 15 meters in peak season.
  • A tourism hotspot popular local people and tourists with hiking trails up the side from spray to peak.
  • The upper falls of the Tugela has been known to freeze during the winter months.
  • A waterfall falling out of the clouds.
  • Waterfall consists of 5 levels, including Africa’s longest uninterrupted drop of flowing water at 411m.

KONGOU FALLS – GABON

By far Africa’s largest waterfall by width, and to some people, the world’s widest! This flow width creates a large volume of water that has a drop of only 56 meters, but is considered one of the world’s most powerful water flows. The level of flow does drop, particularly in period of drought, but never dries up. During peak season there is a high volume of water flow throwing up a drenching spray for people to see and great for the tourism sector.

Konguo Falls Facts

  • The falls bear a width of 3200 meters.
  • Popular with people for featuring in the Hollywood blockbuster movie “Tarzan”
  • It is one of the more remote waterfall destinations in Africa, but well worth the travel.
  • It is considered by some as the original Garden of Eden due to their top most powerful water flows.

KALAMBO FALLS – TANZANIA / ZAMBIA BORDER

Kalambo Falls – Tanzania/ Zambia Border is the second highest, uninterrupted falls in Africa. Found along the Kalambo River which forms the border of Tanzania and Zambia, before flowing into the world renowned Lake Tanganyika. Being one of the most remote waterfalls in Africa, people must first enjoy a 3-4 hour hike up the side of the side of the falls. A mixture of steep gorge and lush plateaus, amongst the spray of the flowing water.

Not for the faint hearted, but well worth the effort!

Kalambo Falls Facts

  • Single, uninterrupted 235 meter (772 feet) drop of water.
  • Width of only 1.8-3 meters
  • Ranks 12 thin the world for the tallest waterfall.
  • It is one of the most important archeological sites in the whole of Africa
  • People living around the falls date back over 250,000 years ago.

OUZOUD FALLS – MORROCCO

These are considered by the local people as one of the most beautiful and romantic of all the world’s waterfalls. Falling over the side of the Atlas Mountains along the El-Abid River before dropping 110 meters down its rugged cliffs. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole region, offering easy access for people. Travel by through the Atlas Mountains, followed by a mild walk along well used paths along the side of the falls to the edge. Behold the breathtaking beauty and thunderous roars of the mighty falls and the spray it produces, teeming with a large volume of indigenous wildlife, including the Barbary apes.

Ouzoud Falls Facts

  • At 110 meters (330 feet), are the tallest falls in North Africa. Width of 90m during peak seasons.
  • Considered by a number of people as one of the most beautiful and romantic falls in the world.
  • They offer a direct an easy access for tourism with mild hikes to the lip and refreshing swims in the natural pools below the falls.
  • Renowned for its close encounters with resident troops of indigenous monkeys that comfortably call the waterfalls home.

LUMANGWE FALLS – ZAMBIA

Located along the Kalungwishi River in Zambia. During the peak season, it is far the country’s largest waterfall. Other waterfalls are bigger but they form the border with neighboring countries. People often confuse this fall with Victoria Falls due to its sheer volume, large curtain of water flow and saturating spray, even during periods of drought.   Surrounded on either side by lush, dense bush, this is a perfect trip for people interested in nature tourism. While tourist infrastructure is somewhat lacking it is well worth the visit.

Lumangwe Falls Facts

  • 30 – 40 meter waterfall with a width of over 160 meters making it one of the largest.
  • Often confused with the mighty Victoria Falls, due to its volume of the water flow.
  • One of the least visited falls by people, ensuring a much more personal and private experience.
  • Tourist accommodation available within the falls complex with the continual thunderous roar.

OWA FALLS – NIGERIA

Considered the tallest fall of water in the whole of West Africa falling down 5 distinct levels over its rocky sides flowing into an ice cool pool of water at the bottom. A number of people consider these falls one of the most naturally beautiful waterfalls in the region, and a major tourist attraction for the area. During the peak seasons, with a high water flow the spray is at its best. Due to the dense bushes on both sides and the height from which the water drops, it’s the volume of its roar which can be experienced first, usually from a quite distance away. These falls offer an incredible natural ambience for nature tourism since the dense vegetation along both sides of the waterfalls harbor a variety of indigenous wildlife. While the area has a lot to offer for nature lovers, the cold water which categorizes these waterfalls even during months of drought.

Owa Falls Facts

  • They are Nigeria’s highest waterfalls with 120 meters, with the water flow over a fairly narrow width.
  • It was Nicknamed “Wonder in the Wilderness” by the local people.
  • It has got only one route in and out with limited tourism infrastructure.
  • It requires some hiking along the side of the falls through the dense rainforest, so hiking shoes are a must.
  • A major tourist attraction is swimming in the ice cold pools under the falling and rasping water.

WLI WATERFALLS – GHANA

It is proved to be the largest waterfall in the West Africa and certainly the largest in Ghana. It has two distinct levels, an upper fall and a lower fall. Referred to by the local people as “Agumatsa Falls” meaning “Let me follow”. A popular tourist site near the Togo border offering two different experiences between its easier to get to lower falls, and it’s more difficult hike up the side to the upper falls. Crystal clear pools flowing pools grace the bottom of each falls, inviting people to cool off. Peak season, when the water flow is at its highest volume it is always between April- October. Surrounded on all sides by dense rainforest, teeming with wildlife, including the unique presence of thousands of fruit bats nesting in the nearby cliffs.

Wli Falls Facts

  • It is Ghana’s highest water drop of 80 meters over 2 distinct levels.
  • It is narrow in the width with a continual fine spray creating lush rain forest up its side.
  • Major tourist attraction in the area is standing tall amongst exquisite mountainous landscapes with a diversity of wildlife.
  • It has two peculiar levels namely the lower and upper falls where the lower falls are the easy access for tourism while the Upper falls require hiking to the top or peak, all in all worth the effort for people looking for some adventure.

BLUE NILE – ETHIOPIA

 

It is located on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia and known to the local people as “Tis Abay”, meaning “great smoke”. A reference to the incredible spray thrown up by the flowing water. One of the many reasons as to why the Blue Nile falls in one of Ethiopia’s major tourist attractions. A seasonal falls with low water flow in periods of drought, changing dramatically in peak seasons to a torrential water flow of over 400 meters in width. Not only is the evolution of endemic species, only found in this area.

Blue Nile Falls Facts

  • The falls have a 52 meter water drop, but with a whopping 400 meter width during peak seasons
  • The falls are an easy access for tourism with a variety of nearby tourist facilities for people to choose.
  • They have a unique ecosystem thriving on its sides, fed by its continual spray and home to species found nowhere in the world.

LOFOI FALLS – DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

It is one of Central Africa’s largest waterfalls, with an unbroken water drop of 340 meters from its peak. A popular adventure tourist destination, allowing people to camp at the peak of the waterfall enjoying some spectacular views while taking in the sheer volume of nature around you. Water flow is seasonal, with high levels especially during the peak season, throwing up a dense spray creating a lifetime adventure.

Lofoi Falls Facts

  • They are narrow in width however substantial in height with a 340m undisturbed water drop.
  • The falls are harbored between 2 National Parks and a nature tourist dream teaming with life.
  • Dense rainforest up its sides offering with established tourism hikes and swims in its crystal clear pools.
  • Unique opportunity for people to camp at the peak.
  • The falls have large volume of water flow especially during peak seasons, reduced water flow specifically in the drought periods.

The Black- and- White -casqued hornbill

 

The Black- and- White -casqued hornbill

The Black-and-White-casqued hornbill : also known as the Grey-cheeked hornbill (Bycanistes subcylindricus) are fairly large and mainly black hornbills with white lower backs and rumps, upper and under tail-covers, thighs, bellies and vents. The central pair of the flight feathers on the tail is all black (rectrices), while the rest of the tail feathers are basically black and extensively white distally. The secondaries and inner primaries are mostly white with bases being black. The bird has a Grey-tipped facial feathering, which derives its other common name “Grey-cheeked Hornbills”. Movements and dispersion of these hornbills vary seasonally and this species is also diurnal and usually travel in pairs or small groups.

Physical description

It is recognized by its black plumage for the higher body and wings alongside and white plumage on the lower body and wings with black feathers amongst the white feathers of the tail, specifically the top tail feathers. It has a broad creamy-brownish bill and flattened casque, which are enlarged in males. Males have red eyes, blackish facial skin and a dark brown bill with a high ridged, laterally flattened casque.   Females have pink facial skin and brown eyes and have much smaller all-blackish bills, the casque is decreased to a lower rounded ridge on the basal upper mandible. In males, the purpose of the casque is not clearly known although it is suggested to be for sexual characterization. The species has mobile eyes something not common in birds meaning that their eyes move themselves in their socket whilst other birds have to move their heads to see around. The bird is also capable of displaying emotions through the feathers at the top of the head, which allows it to communicate out its emotional state. Juveniles emerging from the nest have small bills lacking casques. Birds less than a year of age have brown feathers on the forehead and around the base of the bill. Sub adults have a high degree of vascularization in the area of the future casqued. The facial feathers turn from brown to grey by the age of 10 months

FACT: Black-and-white-casqued hornbills have fused vertebrae in the neck and strong muscles to support the weight of their bills and casque.

Feeding

The black-and-white-casqued hornbills are mainly frugivorous, with fruit comprising 90% of their diet, 56% belonging to Ficus species. They forage by hopping from one branch to another in the forests reaching out for fruits with its tip of the bill which they then swallow wholly. They are also frequently seen foraging alongside monkeys and squirrels and the bird is well known to consume over 41 plant species in general. In addition, the species also consumes other bird’s eggs, insects, bats, snails, mollusks, lizards and other small animals. Mosses, fungi and lichens are also comprised in their diet. In this species, the carnivorous component of the diet is increased during the breeding period. The bird does not consume water directly and seems to instead hydrate itself from the water contained in the fruits that represent most of its diet. During the dry season, this species does not nest, they are nomadic, sometimes travelling over 6km to visit fruiting trees.

Reproduction

Black-and-white-casqued hornbills are monogamous (having one mate at a time) and they breed seasonally from January to May in Central Africa and August to March in eastern Africa. Their breeding season coincides with local rainy seasons, so that they can take advantage of the abundance of fruit and arthropods at this time. Black-and-white-casqued hornbill individuals nest in naturally formed cavities 9 to 30m high in large forest trees. Due to the rarity of the nesting cavities, there is an increased degree of intraspecific competition for nesting sites. As a way of protecting their nests, pairs plaster and seal the cavity or nest-hole with mud pellets collected by the male so that only a slit was left. The female do most of the work. All the material is brought to her by the male. When nesting, the birds keep the material in the tips of their bills and make rapid sideways vibrating movements of their bills. Inside, the female lays a clutch of 2 eggs, which are white in color with pitted shells. The eggs are incubated for 42 days while the male delivers food to the female hourly through a small slit, regurgitating numerous fruits, mammals and insects and the male can bring up to 200 fruits per visit. Normally only one offspring is reared, with the chick from the second laid egg dying of starvation. Newly hatched chicks have pink skins and open their eyes at the age of approximately 20 days. The offspring fledge at the age of nearly 70 to 79 days and can feed themselves by 40 to 72 days after fledging. During breeding, pairs actively defend their nesting trees. They make continuous and repetitive “long-calls” and “high-pitched screams” whilst perched on tree tops.

Communication

The black-and-white-casqued hornbills are absolutely vocal, with a large collection of calls one of which can be heard from a distance of 2km. They make repetitive “long-calls” and “high-pitched screams” while perched at tree tops. It is theorized that the casque on the bill of this species acts as a vibrating chamber to make their voice sound more powerful.

Where to find them

The black-and-white casqued hornbill is found mostly in Ivory-Coast, with smaller populations in its surrounding countries for West-African populations. The Central-African populations are mostly in Uganda and Kenya as well as Cameron with smaller populations in Gabon, Tanzania and Central Africa.

Kasubi Tombs ranks N0. 1

 

Kasubi Tombs ranks N0. 1

Kasubi Tombs ranks N0.1 : nestled on Kasubi hill in Buganda kingdom which is located in the central region of the country Uganda. They occupy a 27 hectare site that has been used by the Buganda for its Royal Tombs since the 13 century and represents the spiritual heart of the Buganda people. It is the site of the burial grounds for four kings (kabakas) of Buganda and some members of the Buganda royal family. Therefore, the site remains an important spiritual and political site for the Ganda people and also an important example of traditional architecture. The tombs became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2001 when it was described as “one of the most remarkable buildings using purely vegetal materials in the entire region of Sub-Saharan Africa. BBC has ranked Uganda’s Kasubi Tombs as Africa’s NO.1 iconic architectural building.

 

Why Kasubi Tombs ranks

It was predominantly built from wood & other organic materials and the interior is designed to replicate a sacred forest and is topped with 52 circular wings to represent each of the 52 Buganda clans. Most of the site is agricultural farmed by traditional methods. At its core on the hilltop is the former place of the kabakas of the Buganda, built in 1882 and converted into the royal burial ground in 1884. Four royal tombs now lie within the “Muzibu-Azaala-Mpanga” meaning “A tough one brings forth powerful ones” the main building which is circular and surmounted by a dime. The palace was originally built by Ssekabaka king Suuna II in 1820 and was rebuilt in 1882 by his son Ssekabaka Muteesa I. It is a major example of an architectural achievement in organic materials, thatch, reed, principally wood, wattle and daub. The site’s main significance lies however in its intangible values of belief, continuity, spirituality and more so identity.

The thatching of the roofs at Kasubi tombs

The thatching technique at the Kasubi tombs is quite unique and can hardly be compared to another African or even a European thatching technique. The grass is prepared in conical bundles which are simply laid onto the roof structure without being tired, expect for the first layers at the bottom and when one of these bundles is rotten, it can simply be pulled out and replaced. This is such an interesting technique and it makes the huge maintenance task of the thatched roofs much easier. This activity at the tombs is carried out by the members of the Ngeye clan (black and white colobus), who are the only people allowed to do the work. The thatching skills are passed down from the elders of the clan to younger members during an apprenticeships. The practice is still alive with younger members of the clan coming up voluntarily to take on this important responsibility at the site. Special customs are observed when fixing the roof for example widows are not allowed to enter the building when it is being thatched because it is believed that their presence would cause leakage and pregnant women are also not allowed inside the building during the renovation. In addition, thatcher’s are not supposed to have sexual intercourse during the thatching period and the same custom is observed by the decorators of the poles, who belong to the leopard (Ngo) clan. Kabaka tombs are very important to the Buganda kingdom and the country at large because it’s a rare shrine where the four Buganda kings were buried; Kabaka Muteesa I, Kabaka Mwanga II, Kabaka Daudi Chwa II and Kabaka Muteesa II. Other members of the royal family including the mothers, grandmothers, princes, princesses were also buried here thus acting as the living testimony of the Ganda traditions which attracts both religious and cultural tourists.

Reconstruction of the Kasubi Tombs

A few major buildings were almost completely destroyed by fire in March 2010 and the cause of this is still under investigation. Consequently, in July 2010, it was included in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. The Buganda kingdom has vowed to rebuild the tombs of their Kings and the president of Uganda (HE. Yoweri Kagutta Museveni) said that the national government of Uganda would assist in the restoration of the site. The reconstruction of the site started in 2014, funded by the government of Japan. Baganda kabakas have always built their palaces on hills where every new king has a right to choose a hill on which to build his palace as well as renaming it. This action was to control the major routes to the palace in order to find easy ways to escape just in case of a rebellion and when the Kabakas died, the traditional practice was to bury each Kabaka at a separate site to put up a royal shrine to house his jaw bone which was believed to contain his spirit in the afterlife. At Kasubi tombs there is an area behind a bark cloth curtain known as “Kibira” (a forest) where secret ceremonies are conducted and the area where the real Kabaka tombs are built. In front of the curtain there are raised platforms corresponding to the position of each Kabaka’s tomb. Historically, Kabaka Muteesa I was the first king to be buried at Kasubi and he was the 35th king in the Buganda kingdom. Only widows of the Kabakas have access to the sacred forest.

Anthropological dimensions

The physical features of the Kasubi tombs represent only a portion of the traditional life there. The tombs and the whole site environment carry strong spiritual and social significance while the architecture itself carries meaning related to the Ganda traditions. The rich decorative features, invested with spiritual values reflect the interaction between nature and culture between the spirits and the living people for example is it the fifty two rings of spear supporting the great roof and their number related to the fifty two Ganda clans. Apart from the royal burials, a number of traditional rituals are carried out throughout the year. These include the new moon ceremony and the consultation of the mediums. But the main spiritual life is not visible to the ordinary visitor as many ceremonies are performed secretly inside the buildings. This aspect of the Ganda tradition is well known by the population and it is still respected. The Baganda observe the myths concerning the origins of the death and people believe that every person’s death has a spiritual origin. At Kasubi tombs, when a king or a member of the royal family dies, they immediately enthrone a successor after the burial and perform rituals to appease the spirits. Animals are sacrificed and gifts of various kinds such as money are deposited in the numerous shrines.  The tombs are also visited by a wide range of Baganda medicine men and women who consult the king’s spirits to obtain blessings in their trade.

Sipi falls “The three waterfalls”

 

 

Sipi falls “The three waterfalls”

Sipi falls “The three waterfalls” : is the most incredible and wonderful waterfall in the eastern part of Uganda, Kapchorwa district in the northeast of Mbale and Sironko. It is approximately 276 kilometers from Kampala, capital of Uganda. The glorious falls were named after the Sipi River which in turn was named after a locally grown plant called Sep, an indigenous plant to the banks of the river. This green plant resembles a wild banana and it is found with a bolt of crimson rib used for medicinal purposes by the local people as it’s believed to treat fever and measles. Local folklore has it that British sightseers once found a lady picking wild plants in a nearby plantation and asked her the name of the falls. She thought they were asking the name of the plant so she replied, “Sep”. The falls originate from the hot springs that flow on Sipi River, one of the rivers flowing on Mount Elgon to the bottom pouring from a high cliff creating a series of rapids flowing to Lake Kyoga. Sipi falls is encompassed of three waterfalls each flowing from a different altitude that lies on the foothills of Mount Elgon and near the borders of Kenya and Uganda which submits beautiful and stunning views of Mount Elgon National Park. The main or highest fall drops from an altitude of 100 meters, second at 85 meters and third at 75 meters and hiking up to the top of the falls will give you tremendous and beautiful scenic views of the Karamoja plains, Coffee plantations, Lake Kyoga, Mount Elgon and the surrounding areas.

There is an artificial cave designed behind the waterfalls close to the bottom and these caves propose incredible experience where you can sit silently in the shadow of the pouring falls which are more like a curtain to the cave. While here, you will enjoy the cool breeze and eye-catching views while taking pictures. The climate in this area is cool since it’s a hilly area and sometimes as tourists are hiking there are rains which makes hiking a bit hard but its also an adventure of its own. Sipi falls is basically a place available for loosening up, chilling and relaxing from the congestion around cities. The nearby communities have welcoming and hospitable people and they are majorly the Sabiny and the Bagishu. These tribes live around this area and also practice farming such as growing of the Arabica coffee which is the major cash crop in this area. This coffee is grown on altitudes between 1600 metres and 1900 metres above sea level. Coffee tours are organized through guides with knowledge of coffee farming, processing and roasting. Profits from this activity go towards community projects. 

Activities done around Sipi falls

Hiking Sipi falls

This activity is a very good option for tourists who go to Sipi falls. While here, you can pick from numerous popular waterfalls walks which are both simple and difficult because you will spend sometime while hiking to the top of the three falls. However, the cool breeze of the Sipi falls and the out-standing views will offer a lot of comfort.

Bird watching

Mount Elgon is a home to over 280 bird species where most of them are seen around Sipi falls and also along the trail to Chetui falls and Kapkwai forest exploration center. Birders will be able to see a number of bird species such as alpine chat, dusky turtle dove, lemon dove, white chinned prinia, African blue flycatcher, African goshawk, grey cuckoo shrike, mountain yellow warbler, hartlaub’s turaco, black-throated wattle eye, African hill babbler to mention a few.

Arabica coffee tours

This activity is marvel for many tourists who come to Sipi falls. The plantations are set around Mount Elgon which has volcanic soils which are perfect for this type of coffee coupled with the cool weather to ensure healthy coffee plants. These plantations are found in the Bagishu region and you will have fun meeting and hanging out with the people in the coffee production chain like the farmers, processors, exporters and the roasters. While here, you will get a chance to prepare your own cup of coffee straight from the source.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is a rewarding activity that is carried out on the top of the Mount Elgon and around Sipi falls. The mountain trails run from Sipi trading center to Chema hill in Kapchorwa town. The activity is organized by Sipi River Lodge which also arranges bikes for hire. It is such a thrilling and enjoyable activity in that you ride a bike on the Rocky Mountains which give you a lot of great moments on your amazing safari.

Abseiling

This is the art of descending rock and slopes using friction device attached to your harness. It is organized at the Chebonet falls and are made up of 15 sport climbing routes ranging from 10 metres to 15 metres. While doing this activity, make sure you have a climbing helmet and other gears before taking part.

 

Guided nature walks

The guided nature walks at Sipi falls are done at the bottom of the waterfalls and the best time is during the rainy seasons. You will walk on the down steep through the surrounding village communities and the crops on the farmlands. Walk to the three waterfalls which takes approximately 4 hours. Nature walks at Sipi falls are guided with the local guides to the Budadiri community where you take part in the different trails like the Namugabwe cave trail which passes through the Bamasaba community and the banana plantations to reach the historical cave filled with bones.

Fly fishing

On the remote section of the Sipi River above the waterfall, you can learn and take part in the art of fly fishing which requires different techniques from other types of fishing for example luring the fish with a “fly”.

Nyero Rock Paintings

You will enjoy a walk to the Nyero rock paintings in Kumi which is approximately 2 hours from Sipi falls are of the most historical rock art in the nation. They are revered as a sacred place for the gods and now hold a lot of Uganda’s and even the heritage of mankind. You will engage yourself in tour and history of how the ancient people used to live through their art.

Cultural tours

You will enjoy cultural tours with the Sabiny and Bagishu who stay in the surrounding villages. The Bagishu have an Imbalu ceremony where young teenage boys are circumcised before the age of 15 hence learning more about traditional circumcision and why it’s carried out. You will also meet the Sabiny who will tell you about the female circumcision which is practiced in Sabiny and see performances from widows through dancing, singing, storytelling which will provide you with unforgettable memories on your safari.

How to get there

Sipi falls is located in the eastern part of Uganda, Kapchorwa district in the northeast of Mbale and Sironko and it can be accessed through Kampala-Mbale-Kapchorwa-Sipi falls and it is approximately 6 hours by road.

The Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

 

 

The Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) : also known as the laughing hyena is a hyena species classed as the sole extant member of the genus Crocuta and is a native to the Sub-Saharan Africa in countries like Uganda, Ghana, Zambia, Malawi and many more.  The spotted hyena is the most social of the carnivore which is the largest group sizes and with most complex social behaviors. Different from other species, the social system of the spotted hyena is openly competitive other than cooperative, with access to kills, mating opportunities and the time of dispersal for males depending on their ability to dominate other clan members. Females only care and provide only for their own clubs rather than assisting each other, yet males display no paternal care and their societies are larger than males and dominate them. Being the most common large carnivore in Africa, the spotted hyena is a greatly successful animal due to its part adaptability and opportunism. The species is primarily a hunter but at times it’s a savage with the capacity to eat and digest a bone, skin, and other animal wastes. Spotted hyenas hunt alone, in small groups of 2-5 members or in large groups and during a hunt, they often run through ungulate herds in order to select an individual to attack and once selected, their prey is chased over a long distance often several kilometers.

Physical Appearance

The spotted hyena has a strong and well developed neck including forequarters, but relatively underdeveloped behind parts. The rump is round instead of rectangular which prevent attackers coming from getting a grip on it. Their fur varies greatly and always changes with age and it is made up of spots, and much shorter. The base color is usually pale greyish-brown or the vice versa where an irregular pattern of roundish spots is superimposed on the hind and back quarters.   The spots vary in size, even on single individuals and their variable distinction may be reddish, blackish or almost deep brown. A less distinct spot pattern is visible on the legs and belly but not on the throat and chest whilst some made research confirms that at times the spot patterns help to identify out individual hyenas. The crest is usually reddish-brown in color, the crown and upper part of the face is brownish including a white band above both eyes although in the front of the eyes. The area around the rhinarium, the lips and the back portion of the chin are all blackish and the limbs are spotted, though the feet vary in color ranging from light brown to blackish. The mammal has appropriately a large heart, nearly to 1% of its body weight thus giving it great endurance in long chases. The spotted hyena’s skull has a much greater size and narrower sagittal crests and due to its size, it has one of the most powerful built skulls among the Carnivores. 

Behavior

Spotted hyenas form social groups namely clans and these may comprise of 3 to 80 members. These large clans usually occur in prime territory with large prey concentrations, such as Kidepo valley national park whilst smaller clans occur in the desert areas in southern Africa. Here all females are dominant to all males and females remain in their natal clans for the rest of their life. Males scatter or disperse upon reaching sexual maturity and once a male joins another clan, he enters a dominance line up that the other males respect. Males spend quite a long time on developing relationships with females in the clan, they follow females for periods of days or weeks and eventually gain favor with the females through this behavior. Even though spotted hyenas live in clans, the members of a clan are only observed all together in three circumstances such as when defending the territory, at communal den and during kills. Sometimes the clan members forage alone or in small groups, higher ranking females have been shown to combine more with kin than low ranking females. 

Hunting Behavior

Leaving alone other large African carnivores, spotted hyenas do not normally prey on any species. When hunting medium to large sized prey, they tend to select certain animal categories like the young animals that are frequently targeted as well as the old ones, although the another category is not so significant when hunting zebras, due to their aggressive anti-predator behaviors. The spotted hyena spots and tracks live prey by sight, smell and hearing however carrion is normally detected by smell and the sound of other animals or predators feeding. Their auditory perception is powerful that it can detect sounds of predators killing prey or feeding on carcasses over a quite distance. The spotted hyena relies more on sight than smell when hunting and does not follow its prey’s prints or travel single, small prey is killed by being shaken in the mouth whilst large prey is eaten alive.

Denning Behavior

In the spotted hyenas, the clan’s social life revolves or rotates around a communal den whilst some clans tend to use particular den sites for years and others may use several different dens within a year or several den sites simultaneously. These dens consist of more than a dozen entrances and are normally located on flat grounds and their tunnels oval in section, being wider than they are high and narrow down from an entrance. Dens have large bare patches around their entrances where hyenas move or lie down on, because of their size, adult hyenas are incapable of using the full extent of their burrows, as most tunnels are dug by cubs or smaller animals. Spotted hyenas rarely dig their own dens, having been observed for the most part to use the abandoned burrows of different animals like warthogs, jackals, hares and more. Faeces are normally deposited 20metres (66feet) away from the den, however they urinate wherever they happen to be. Dens are used mainly by several females at once, and it is not uncommon to see up to 2 metres in width, the height being rather less. 

Reproduction

Reproduction in spotted hyenas is polygamous and they are non-seasonal breeder, however a birth peak occurs during the wet season. Females are polyestrous, with an estrus period lasting nearly two weeks. The spotted hyena is promiscuous and no enduring pair bonds are formed and both sexes may copulate with several mates over the course of several years. Male spotted hyenas will display or show submissive behavior when approaching females in heat, even if the male over weighs or outweighs his partner and female normally favors younger males born or joined into the clan after they were born. Males perform a bowing display to females before mating, he lowers his muzzle to the ground, advances quickly towards the female, bows again and then paws the ground close at the hind quarters of the female. The female’s dominance assures that males are timid and will retreat immediately if the female displays any aggression and the female’s reproductive tract makes mating a bit difficult.  The gestation period is 4 months and females usually bear twins although 1 to 4 young are possible. The females give birth through their penis-like clitoris and during birth the clitoris ruptures to allow the young to pass through and the resulting wounds take several weeks to heal. Cubs are not weaned until they are between 14 and 18months of age and females are capable of producing a litter every 11 to 21 months. The newborn cubs weigh nearly from 1 to 1.6kg and are normally quite precocious being born with their eyes open. The age at sexual maturity is about three years, though some males may be sexually active at the age of two. Females are very protective of their young and do not tolerate other hyenas around their babies at first and males have not been reported to have any role in parental care.

Communication

The spotted hyena is well known for its wide variety of vocal communication including groans and soft squeals that are uttered during hyena greetings. A whoop is given out as a contact call where a fast whoop is uttered when excited at a kill. Usually males give the fast whoop calls often than the females but are generally ignored however female calls generally evoke much more of a reaction. Additionally a lowing call is used by impatient hyenas who are always kept waiting at a kill. Spotted hyenas also possess a complex set of postures in communication, like when threatened or afraid the ears are folded flat, and are usually followed with baring of the teeth and flattening of the mane. During any attack by either wild dogs or other hyenas, it lowers its hindquarters and during an allegation attack, the head is held high with the ears cocked, mouth closed, mane erect and the hindquarters high, the tail normally hangs down when neutral, though it changes position according to the situation.

Feeding

The spotted hyena is the most carnivorous member of the Hyaenidae. Hyenas have a reputation for being mostly scavengers, although this is not accurate since a study revealed 70% of the diet was composed of direct kills. Generally clans split up into hunting groups of 2 to 5 individuals and they eat a variety of items such as waterbucks, impalas, warthogs, topi, elands, hares, jackals to mention a few though zebras are hunted in larger groups. Spotted hyenas use their keen senses of hearing, sight and smell to hunt live prey to detect carrion from a far distance and at times, it chases its prey for long distance. Although they are aggressive mammals towards each other when feeding, they compete with each other frequently through speed of eating other than fighting each other as lions do.  In addition, they also hunt in regions of higher concentrations of prey and they do not require much water instead they normally spend approximately 30 seconds drinking.

Where to find them in Uganda

In Uganda the spotted hyena can be spotted during game drives in different national parks like Murchison falls national park, Kidepo valley national park, Queen Elizabeth national park and more.

The African Martial eagle

 

 

 

 

The African Martial eagle

The African Martial eagle : (polemaetus bellicosus) is a large eagle native to sub-Saharan Africa in countries like Uganda, Ghana, Zambia, Malawi and many more. It is the only member of the genus polemaetus, a species of the booted eagle subfamily (Aguilinae) and has feathering over its tarsus. One of the largest and most powerful species of booted eagle, it is a fairly opportunistic predator varying its prey selection between mammals, birds and reptiles. Its hunting technique is unique as it is one of the few eagle species known to hunt primarily from a high soar, by stooping on its quarry. The martial eagle is one of the most persecuted bird species in the world. Due to its habit of taking livestock and regionally valuable game, local farmers and game wardens frequently seek to eliminate martial eagles, although the effect of eagles on prey is almost certainly considerably exaggerated. The martial eagle is perhaps naturally scarce due to its requirement for large territories and low reproductive rates.  

  Description

Martial eagles are Africa’s largest eagles. The males are slightly smaller than females nearly (76% of the size). The adults have brown upper-parts and have a short and dark crest, underparts are white with brown to black spots that extend to feathered legs. The bill is long, strongly hooked and black. Toes are bluish gray and armed with large curved talons, wings are long and slightly pointed with dark under-wing coverts, however the flight feathers are barred. The tail is short, lighter in appearance and is also barred although females have more spots on the underparts than males. Juveniles have pale to white upper-parts and have pale wings with light under-wing coverts.

Behaviour

Martial eagles exceptional amount of time in air and spends most of the time hunting or soaring high above the ground and only perceived via binoculars (normally invisible to the naked eyes) with the help of their large wings and broad tail, they are able to soar excellently although poor an maneuvering which directly explains why they avoid dense forests. These birds hunt by attacking in a well-controlled dive at a slanted angle and striking prey with their long legs. These eagles often perch on dead branches and trees that gives them a wide view of the areas and generally return to these perches when resting interestingly martial eagles are very shy birds and often avoid humans. When not breeding, both mature eagles from a breeding pair may be found roosting on their own in some prominent tree up to several miles from their nesting hunting for several days in one area, until viable prey resources are exhausted, and then moving on to another area. However, martial eagles, especially adult birds, are typically devoted to less disturbed areas, both due to these typically offering more extensive prey selection and their apparent dislike for a considerable human presence. Martial eagles tend to be very solitary and are not known to tolerate others of the own species in the area outside of the pair during the breeding season.

Reproduction

Martial eagles have a slow breeding rate and nest in large trees or pylons often situated on hill sides and the nest is enormous about (4-6 feet in diameter) made of sticks up to 1.5 inches in diameter and lined with green leaves. Pairs may build multiple nests (up to 7 nests in a given territory) and alternate between nests on successive years. The nests are often re-used from year to year with the female repairing parts of the structure and re-lining the interior with leaves. Mating seasons vary across the geographical ranges, although it generally occurs during the dry seasons and often breed once every two years than once every year. The females lay generally 1 sometimes 2 eggs and incubation lasts for 45 to 50 days, and chicks fledge 90 to 100 days. However males have been observed incubating and males rarely bring food to incubating females until the eggs hatch, there after males will hunt and feed females for approximately 2 months. Chicks are born without feathers and become fully fledged after 90 days, and after which they attempt their flight and spend several years in the nest before being chased off by the adults.  Juveniles remain close to the nest for up to 6 months, and do not reach full independence until 2 to 3 years of age and reach reproductive maturity at 4 to 5 years of age. Generally martial eagles lack a mating dance although both sexes will make a loud distinctive cries during mating periods and form monogamous pairs which they mate with for life.

Vocalization

Martial eagles are silent for most of the year, however during mating season they cry kwi-kwi-kluee-kluee. Like all birds, martial eagles perceive their environment through tactile, auditory, visual and chemical stimuli.  The martial eagle is a week and infrequent vocalizer. Little vocal activity has been reported even during the breeding season. The recorded contact call between pair members consists of the birds, usually when perched, letting out a low mellow whistle, ko_wee_oh. More or less the same vocalization is known to have been uttered by females when male brings food and repeated mildly by large begging young. During territorial aerial display and sometimes when perched, adults may utter a loud, trilling klee_klee_klooeee_kulee. The territorial call may be heard from some distance. Recent fledglings also at times make this call. A soft quop may be heard, made by pairs around their nest, perhaps being a mutual contact call. In comparison, the crowned eagle is highly vocal especially in the context of breeding.  

Feeding

Martial eagles eat a variety of medium sized mammals, birds and lizards usually weighing between 1-5 kilograms, determined anything available in their territories including much larger animals like cape hares, squirrels, mongooses to mention a few. At times game birds and waterfowl make up a large portion of their diet including francolins, bustards, guinea fowls and many more. In addition, martial eagles also prey on animals like small antelopes, Thomson’s gazelles, young impalas, vervet monkeys, baboons, snakes, monitor lizards to mention a few and eagles have been seen killing and eating up to 35 kilograms.

    

20 Reasons to visit Africa

 

 

20 Reasons to visit Africa

20 Reason to visit Africa : From exploring its vast, open savannas and dense jungle interiors to sampling a cheeky on Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees, Tanzanian red over traditional South African cuisine, the world’s second largest continent offers no shortage of colorful and awe-inspiring experiences. With different country destinations such as Uganda the pearl of Africa, South Africa’s inspiring attractions, Botswana’s unspoiled Treasures, Kenya’s contrasting Wilderness, Tanzania’s Inimitable Experiences, Zambia’s Thundering Africa, Namibia’s Striking Ecology, Zimbabwe’s World of Wonders, and many more inspiring attractions. The continent teems with unique landscapes, ancient history, geographical wonders and active adventures to boot. An incredible mosaic of landscape, wildlife and culture, here are more reasons why it is time to put Africa on your holiday radar:

1. Experience an African safari

 

Much like devouring fresh pasta in Italy or exploring ancient ruins in Greece, Africa is synonymous with the wildlife safari. Africa’s National Parks rich with a diversity of wildlife and birdlife with famous destinations  to clap eyes on lions, zebras, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, leopards, impalas, Kobs, jackals, rhinos, wildebeests, antelopes to mention a few. With bird species such as African fish eagles, martial eagles, red billed buffalo weavers, shoebill stork, white headed buffalo weavers, turacos, Grey plantain eaters, sunbirds, lapwings, jacanas, bee-eaters, robin chats, plovers, night jars, ibises, hornbills, finches, Gonolek, crested cranes, flycatchers, kingfishers, barbets to mention a few. But an African safari isn’t just about glimpsing these animals and birds from afar, you’re completely immersed in their own untamed world. All those experiences you are most likely not to forget, and definitely putting one for the bucket list.

2. Soak up the checkered political history

With a political history as shocking and fascinating as any other, Africa is famously home to Nelson Mandela, an antiapartheid revolutionary. He was imprisoned on Robben Island a few kilometers off Cape Town in South Africa for 18 of his 27 years behind bars and to this day his cell remains furnished as it was at the time.

3. Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas (The pearl of Africa)

Upon visiting Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park, you will never forget the moment you first lay eyes on a Gorilla in the wild in Uganda. Starting with rising at dawn to trek through the humid jungle, Expecting challenges and obstacles as you battle through the appropriately termed impenetrable Forest comprised of scaling steep paths and trudging through muddy ravines in search of the majestic creatures. At times after a healthy trek, gorilla families are revealed chewing bamboo shoots scratching their heads and climbing trees, here time seems to stand still as you observe these gentle and shy giants relaxing in their natural habitat – an Ultimate mystical experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.

4. Explore colorful, coastal cities

Nestled between mountains and the ocean, Cape Town is one Africa’s most stunning and colorful coastal cities. Head up Table Mountain for seriously epic views and go for a dip at picture perfect Clifton Beach a sensational stretch of sand and sea that has been awarded Blue Flag Beach status, which means the water, safety and marine quality is world class. With pristine beaches, epic sunsets, warm, balmy nights and palm trees to boot, the African island of Mauritius is the place to soak up the sunshine and veg out on beach.

5. Visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world

Forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is known as the greatest sheet of falling water in the world. As with any natural wonder of the world, the true majesty and spectacle of Victoria Falls is difficult to describe it is a sight to behold. The falls are 1.7km wide with a volume of between 20,000 and 700,000 cubic meters of water per minute falling down a vertical drop of 100m.

6. Behold breathtaking landscapes

When it comes to incredible scenery, Africa is right up there with the best. Boasting vast savannas, stunning beaches and dramatic mountains, this continent has it all. Throw in epic canyons, sugar plantations and extinct volcanoes, and you, have got endless opportunities to explore nature at its finest.

7. Indulge in spectacular food and wine

From Stellenbosch to Franschhoek, not many people realize the South African wine lands are spectacular than some of the more famous wine regions of the world. Indulge in wine tasting, winemaking tours and delicious cuisine as you take in the magnificent scenery.

8. Head to the waters for a different Safari experience

However not commonly associated with the country’s dry landscape, there are plenty of water based activities such as white water rafting on Kenya’s River Tana, Uganda’s river Nile experience, canoeing down the mighty Zambezi, exploring the rich wildlife of Okavango Delta by mokoro, canoeing on the second deepest lake in Africa Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda and exploring its exciting islands and canoeing down Manambolo River in Madagascar brimming with endemic birds and enter the spectacular and less visited Manambolo Gorge through a limestone plateau. If your inner water-child is calling for a trip with water activities, Africa has all you need and further more.

9. Tropical beaches that rival some of the world’s best

Africa certainly has a lot of beaches making it impossible to choose the absolute best, though a top pick would be the beaches on the small island of Zanzibar, just off the coast from the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam. This small island boasts clear azure waters, coral white and a variety of diving and snorkeling opportunities, and is the perfect place to relax after completing a safari or trek up Africa’s highest peaks, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. Other primitive and pristine beaches include Camps Bay, Cape Town’s most popular beach on the edge of a trendy suburb along with cafe’s and bars and the skeleton Coast, possibly the world’s most hauntingly beautiful stretch of beach and graveyard for ships across in Namibia.

10. Luxury Glamping

Ever wanted to go glamping? Nowhere does it better than Africa. Glamping is a fantastic and memorable way to experience a safari think the creature comforts of a hotel with the thrill of being immersed in nature, separated by the walls of your canvas tent. But don’t worry glamping means proper beds with pillows and private balconies with hot tubs looking over the savanna.

11. Hang out with the meerkats

Get up close with the cutest animal in Africa the meerkat! Only in Africa can you interact with meerkats in their natural habitats, the desert regions of South Africa. Hanging out with these most social and fearless of animals will be a highlight of any African holiday.

12. Vibrant cities

Africa is a melting pot of the ancient and cosmopolitan cities. Explore Morocco’s Marrakesh, a densely packed, medieval city that originally dates back to the Berber empire. The maze of alleys and prosperous markets evokes images of the Disney’s Aladdin and you will be hard-pressed shaking the magic carpet from your mind as you navigate hundreds of intricately hand-woven rugs from the electric souks. In contrast, South Africa’s Cape Town is a modern cosmopolitan city that boasts a spectacular coastline and rich in cultural heritage and history. The city is mysteriously beautiful both for its setting against one of the new seven wonders of nature, Table Mountain as well as its regeneration of industrial districts, Dutch, Malay & historic buildings.

13. Geological wonders

 

Visit the world’s highest sand dunes in the Namib Desert. Witness the world’s largest and most powerful waterfall, Victoria Falls in Zambia/ Zimbabwe, and explore the lush water world of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Discover Ngorongoro crater, a UNESCO World Heritage site of the world’s largest unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera; or even stopover at Fish River Canyon, the second largest river canyon in the world, Murchison falls Uganda’s strongest waterfalls where the Nile forces its way through the gaps in the rocks only 7m wide and tumbles 43m before flowing west words into L. Albert. With a gorgeous variety of culture, wildlife and adventure, the African continent will deliver truly unforgettable experiences.

14. It’s closer than you realize

Flight to Johannesburg are just over 11 hours that’s so closer than Europe, USA and South America!

15. Camping, glamping and everything in between

Camping in Africa is an invigorating experience since it offers a close connection to the land, nature and wildlife. So what better way for a truly immersive way to experience Africa? The best thing about camping in Africa is that there are many grades of camping, so it is not all about bush tents and bare essentials however there is that too! Whether you are keen on pitching tents to experience the outdoors firsthand, want that little bit of luxury, like bush showers around and attached to your campsite and fully serviced camping, or high-end camping in luxurious dome tents with full bedding and an en-suite, Africa offers it all.

16. The best time to travel is……. All year round!

While July to September is a popular time to visit thanks to more moderate weather, you can enjoy an African holiday all year around.

17. Africa’s brimming full of BIG amazing things

As the second biggest continent in the world, Africa is jam-packed with some of the world’s biggest things:

  • The largest desert in the world, the Sahara Desert.
  • The longest river in the world Nile River which runs for 6,853 km.
  • The world’s biggest inland delta, Okavango Delta in Botswana.
  • Highest freestanding mountain in the world (and one of the seven summits), Mountain Kilimanjaro.
  • The world’s oldest desert- the Namib desert in Namibia
  • The world’s largest wildlife migration on Earth takes place in the Serengeti in Tanzania with over 750,000 zebras marching ahead of over 1.2 million wildebeests as they cross this mysterious landscape.
  • It is the home of the largest living land animal, the African elephant, which can weigh up to seven tons.
  • It also harbors the four of the five fastest land animals in the world such as the lion, Thomson’s gazelle, wildebeest, and the cheetah.
  • It also has the world’s largest outdoor art galleries with more rock art sites than any other continent. Large amounts have been found in the Sahara desert, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kalahari Botswana and Uganda, though many remain undiscovered because they are situated in remote areas of the desert or are rarely visited by humans. The oldest known art found has been estimated to be between 27,000 to 40,000 years old, offering an insight into the ancient people’s beliefs, way of life and stories in countries like Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia and more.
  • Africa is clearly known as a home to an estimated total of over 3000 tribes, each with incredibly different languages, cultures and traditions. Some of the tribes are well known such as the Zulu, which happen to also be Africa’s largest ethnic group of 11 million people, the Masai who have deeply rooted traditions and culture and are known for living a nomadic life style and herding cattle for a living, the san and Batswana people of the Eastern Kalahari, with a cultural heritage that is over 20,000 years old. While thousands more exist, each have equally fascinating communities and traditions that will forever captivate the modern world.

18. The Great wildebeest migration

 

From July to October herds of over 1 million wildebeest, zebra and other grazing species move over the border from Tanzania and into Kenya’s Masai Mara. Their journey takes them across the Mara River, and it is their struggle to swim across and then clamber up the river banks that attracts tourists from all over the world. In order to escape the crowds and higher prices, consider travelling in the low season. One of Kenya’s best-kept wildlife secrets is that another migration takes place each year between January and March. This spectacle does not involve wildebeest migrating northwards from Serengeti but instead an east to west migration from the Loita plains to the Mara traversing Ol kinyei, Naboisho and Olare Motorogi conservancies.

19. Tanzania’s inimitable Experiences

The centerpiece of your dream in Tanzania is the experience. From the moment you first touch the native soils, you feel connected to land, animals and people unlike any others on the planet. As an immersion destination, Tanzania is a place where your imagination blends flawlessly with reality. Vast landscapes that entice the human mind now stretch for miles inviting you to explore every tree, plains and mountains. These experiences await you in the land of Tanzania, one of East Africa’s most incredible destinations.

20. Rwanda, Gorillas in the mist

Experience your very own “Gorillas in the mist” African vacation in Rwanda! Followed a professional ranger-guide deep into the natural habitat of Rwanda’s mountain gorillas in the volcanoes National Park and you can even pay homage to those who have worked to protect the awe-inspiring creatures. You can also meet some of the local peoples who once poached these creatures but now work to give mountain gorillas a fighting chance to survive and thrive. Volcanoes is a home to parts of the continent’s mountain gorilla population you will also have a chance to explore Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s Great lakes and gives guests a chance to refresh themselves with water-based activities, and the lake is especially known for its Nyirangongo views of Congo, an active volcano that displays a glow of magma around its rim.

In conclusion, the facts above are just tips of what Africa entails. Discovering new things and attractions never stops because it’s always full of surprises. Book with Ssemambo Tours & Travel for your safari experience in Africa.

Ajai Wildlife Reserve in Uganda

Ajai Wildlife Reserve in Uganda

Ajai wildlife reserve in Uganda : is another fascinating tourist destination nestled in the north-eastern Uganda between districts of Arua, Nebbi, Moyo and Adjumani on the  Western banks of the mighty Albert Nile between Pakwach and Nimule, about 10Km north of Inde and 32Km east of south-east of Arua. The reserve is situated in an area with higher elevation but is relatively small approximately (166 sq km) and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The reserve derived its name from a powerful local chief called Ajai who led in the 1930s and was first established in 1962 and later was officially established as Ajai wildlife reserve in 1965.   Ajai wildlife reserve comprises of a prominent island that is encompassed by savannah and seasonal swamps that are poured into by the rivers Acha and Ala.

During the rainy seasons, the swamp gets fully flooded thus cutting off the island from the outside world and this explains why animals continue to survive within the island close to a growing human population. Ajai wildlife reserve generally  consists of woodlands, savannah plains, swamps and has got a great Tourism Potential hosting or harboring a diversity of wildlife such as leopards, bushbucks, black and white colobus monkeys, zebras, foxes, common duikers, Dik dik, olive baboons, oribi, vervet monkeys, uganda Kobs, waterbucks, civets, buffaloes, sitatunga antelopes, hippopotamus to mention a few. The reserve also hosts a number of reptiles such as pythons, green snakes, monitor lizards, puff adders, black cobras and many more. Additionally the swamps and woodlands combine to perfectly harbor  a variety of bird species including African fish eagles, Grey crowned cranes, weaver birds, giant kingfishers, Marabou stocks, African jacanas, pied kingfishers, to mention a few.

History

Historically, till the early 1970s, Uganda was a popular tourist destination due to her spectacular sceneries alongside the higher concentration and diversity of wildlife including both the black and white rhinos. Initially, Ajai wildlife reserve was managed by a powerful local chief named “Ajai” who led in the 1930 hence the reserve deriving its name from him until 1980, the wildlife Reserve was one of the few places where you could sight the endangered white Rhinos in Uganda and now are extinct within the wildlife reserve and this draws an explanation as to why it was once called the Ajai Rhino Sanctuary. During that time, it harbored over 60 white Rhinos out of the 80 Uganda was hosting. When the local community members started hunting these rhinos, the World Wildlife Fund facilitated an Anti-poaching initiative that was conducted throughout the wildlife reserve in 1962. Though it didn’t stop the poachers from hunting these mammals not until they became extinct and later the local people started using the wildlife reserve land for their own personal activities. After a period of six years, the Uganda Wildlife Authority came in and privatized some of the management and operations of Ajai Wildlife Reserve with peculiar consideration given to a private hunting and photographic tour operator, the Uganda Wildlife Safaris Limited. Today Uganda’s rhinos are extinct and very few rhinos now survive outside national parks and reserves worldwide.

Activities in Ajai reserves

Game drives

In Ajai game reserve, game viewing can be enjoyed while on a game drive in several different game drive areas, driving through scaling landscapes where you will have great chances of seeing the lions in wait for prey as they go to drink. Here  you will have a big opportunity to have a glimpse at different animals like the sitatunga antelopes, leopards, olive baboons, common duikers, hyenas, warthogs, Kobs, waterbucks, bush bucks, hartebeests to mention a few.

Birding 

Game drives offer an opportunity for one to come across a variety of distinct birdlife including savannah forest birds and water birds. The commonest species found in the plains include the Marabou stork, Secretary birds, Abyssinian Ground hornbills, Open-billed storks, Black-billed Bustards, Widow birds and many more. Near swamps and other water bodies where there are more thickets and woodlands, the commonest bird varieties include the Giant kingfishers, shrikes, Malachite Kingfishers, Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, francolins, Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, herons, Hamerkop, African fish eagles, weavers, Crombecs, Hornbills, Red-throated Bee-eaters geese, Stilts, Warblers, plovers, Flycatchers to mention a few.

How to get there

This Uganda Safari destination can be accessed by both Air and road transport. Through road transport, it is approximately a 6-7 hours’ drive from Kampala the starting point of most and many safaris, to Arua where the wildlife reserve is located and with air transport, scheduled and charter flights can be arranged to Arua airfield. You can fly from Entebbe to Gulu or Arua after which you can be transferred to the reserve for the day’s activities.

Are you planning to take a safari trip to North western Uganda, and you are wondering what destinations you can visit for uttermost safari adventure or experience? Well!! Ajai wildlife reserve awaits you.