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Amazing First Class flight to Dubai on Emirates A380!
As Flyga Twiga has been covering, there seems to be quite a bit of change going on within the tourism regulations and procedures in the Republic of Rwanda. Earlier this year, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced the doubling of Gorilla Trekking Permit Fees. This was discussed widely within the East African Tourism Industry (our reporting on this discussion). And, sparked a response from neighboring Uganda, who share the border and the few remaining Mountain Gorillas with Rwanda (Uganda Tourism Board Statement).
Now, Rwanda appears to be reinterpreting the much touted “East Africa Tourist Visa” (EATV). In a “Travel Tips Press Release” dated 2 August 2017, Coastal Aviation, one of the leading East African Safari Aviation providers, stated:
Visa Issues in Kigali
We have recently had a case where guests arrived in Kigali and were deemed to not have a valid visa. This caused us to be fined $3,000 by the Rwandan authorities. It transpired that the guests had an East African Univisa. They had applied through Uganda for this. The Rwandan authorities deemed this visa to be invalid as the guests should have applied to Rwanda, their first arrival point, rather than Uganda. Please ask you guests to double check this should it apply to them. We will no longer be responsible for any fines, should this recur. On Application for a Visa, the applicant is given a tracking number. It is important that we receive this tracking number, in order to be able to verify the visa, before flight.
This interpretation of the EATV was not a “one off” fluke, or misinterpretation by a rogue Rwanda Customs & Immigration Agent. Julian Edmunds, Managing Director of Coastal Aviation, only two days after the initial Press Release, sent out an email, subject, “Rwanda Visa Issues.” He stated in his 4 August 2017 email:
The Rwandese seem to interpret the multiple entry as that you may cross the borders between Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya...but that as soon as you leave these countries (ie to Tanzania) then the visa is deemed to have expired and a second visa is then required.
Yesterday we had another such incident. Guests had the East Africa Tourist Visa and used it to enter Kenya. They then left Kenya and then went to Tanzania; we then flew them from Tanzania to Rwanda. The immigration officers in Rwanda would not accept their East African Tourist Visa as they deemed it expired. Luckily the guests were American and therefore eligible to purchase a visa on arrival...had that not been the case, we would have been forced to repatriate them to Tanzania and fined $3000!
Nowhere in the documentation, in English and Korean, does it state that this should be the case. Rather, the document, titled, “Take advantage of the new East African Community Visa” states:
“The holder shall also be allowed to move out of the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Rwanda, and the Republic of Uganda and return without having to pay for another visa. This will only be applicable for 90 days.”
What all this means for those traveling on the EATV is unclear. Hopefully the respective Tourism and Development Boards will issue clarifications on this matter. When they do, we will immediately provide the information here.
Until then, have a Happy Day! And, a Safe Safari!
Title Korea International Tourism Show 2017
Slogan Light Up!
Dates and time August 24th (Thu) 2017 to August 27th (Sun) 2017 10:00AM ~ 6:00PM
Sunday, 10:00AM ~ 5:00PM
Venue IlsHall 7, Exhibition Center Ⅱ, Ilsan KINTEX
Capacity 11,290㎡ (Approx. 500 booths in total)
Hosted by Organization committee of Korea International Tourism Show, The Kookje Daily News, KyongbukIlbo, KyeonggiIlbo, JeonnamIlbo, JoongdoIlbo, KangwonDominIlbo, ChungbukIlbo, JeonbukDominIlbo, GyeongnamIlbo, HallaIlbo, The Korea Travel Times
Organized by Korea International Tourism Show Head Office l Universal Live Co., Ltd.
Sponsored by Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Korea Railroad Corporation, Korea Tourism Organization, Goyang City, Korean Food Foundation
- Opening Ceremony
- Domestic/International Pavilion
- Travel Information Pavilion
- Held together
- Special Hall
- Global International Students Festival
- The World Alcoholic beverages Festival
- Travel talk Show
- Culture trip with tour commentator
Below is the statement by the Uganda Tourism Board that it will NOT increase Gorilla Trekking Permits. It is a little hard to see - but one of the five gorilla babies mentioned below is being held by its mother behind the Alpha Male. His name is "Christmas" as he was just born in December 2016!
No price increase for gorilla tours in Uganda
The Ugandan government has confirmed that it will maintain the $600 fee per person for gorilla permits and promises that there will be no price increase in Uganda.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority today announced that there will be no price increase in Uganda for a minimum of 12 months. Gorilla tracking charges will thus be maintained at $ 600 per person in peak season and $ 450 in low season.
In Uganda, sustainable gorilla tourism is a major contributor to the protection of these rare and endangered animals. Revenues from gorilla permits help to preserve the habitat of the endangered mountain gorillas. Through tourism, the protection of animals also attracts worldwide attention and support. And gorilla tourism offers communities around national parks an economic perspective, as 20% of fees go directly to the local population in addition to tourism creating jobs. This avoids long-term conflicts between humans and animals as well as poaching.
“The mountain gorilla population in Uganda has been steadily increasing to about 550 individuals since the 1980s. This shows that our model for gorilla tourism works and both conservation and locals benefit from the tourism. We therefore have no reason to change anything or increase fees,” explains Dr. Andrew Seguya, Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has in fact been very successful in the protection of mountain gorillas. Between September 2016 and January 2017 alone, there was a real baby boom with a total of five new-born mountain gorillas. This gives hope to conservationists, in the light of IUCN recently listing the mountain gorilla as critically endangered on the latest ”red list” of threatened species.
“Once you have looked into the eyes of a mountain gorilla, you understand how important it is to protect these primates. We therefore think it is important, that not only a wealthy minority can get the chance to experience these animals in their natural environment, but everyone who loves gorillas and wants to contribute to their conservation. Besides, we feel obliged to our tourism partners worldwide to keep prices stable”, said Stephen Asiimwe, CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board.
To protect these highly endangered primates, gorilla tracking is highly regulated. A maximum of 8 visitors per day are allowed for each gorilla group. Together with specially trained rangers, tourists hike into the rainforest and track the animals. Once the group is found, visitors can stay with them for about an hour only.
In Uganda, gorilla tracking can be done in two national parks: in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which protects the habitat of about 450 mountain gorillas living in 36 families. And the Mgahinga National Park on the border between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mgahinga has between 50-100 mountain gorillas. According to WWF there are only 880 mountain gorillas worldwide. The remaining population lives in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In light of Uganda’s recent marketing drives in Europe, tour operators in Germany, Austria and Switzerland expect a rise in demand for safaris in favor of Uganda. Uganda is not only absolutely safe for tourists, but also offers other attractions besides the mountain gorillas, such as safari tours in the ten national parks, chimpanzee tracking, hiking and mountaineering, boat cruises on the Nile as well as an immense variety of bird species.
The below has been reprinted with kind permission from Great Lakes Safaris & Uganda Lodges Ltd. The thoughtful analysis of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) substantial increase in charges for the Gorilla Trekking Permits has sent shockwaves through the Rwanda and Uganda Gorilla Trekking Communities. My sincere thank you to Sheila for her thoughts and analysis.
Sheila Kogo Malinga
Great Lakes Safaris & Uganda Lodges Ltd - Where the journey into the wild begins…!
Differences in Gorilla Tracking : Rwanda vs Uganda
Gorilla Tracking in Uganda and Rwanda is pretty much the same experience although the factors that accompany the tracking are different.
One of the principle tracking difference in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda – is that Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is in a thicker rain forest, with steeper slopes and ridges, compared to Rwanda where the Volcanoes National Park, mountain forest is open and the hiking gradient more evenly spread, making it relatively easier to track the Gorillas in VNP Rwanda compared in BWNP.
The similarity is the Mountain Gorilla, all in rain forest- accessible by a mountain hike. It also the case that Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is closer to Kigali, the Capital of Rwanda, compared to Uganda whose capital city Kampala is 495km away.
Our experience in tracking Gorillas both is Uganda and Rwanda is that different persons arrive at different conclusions in comparing the Gorillas- whereby the younger, stronger and more fit person experience a preference for Uganda where they feel they have worked for the eventual coming to the Gorillas experience as opposed to Rwanda, where they find it easier and more ‘zoo-like’ in their opinion although we do not share that opinion.
For the more elderly person- I would say above 50, whose principal interest is to see the Gorillas and do not necessarily have massive doses of energy to extend in that quest, they tend to have a preference for Rwanda. Also persons who desire to do multiple Gorilla treks also have a preference for the easier option but there is a general tendency for some people to believe that the Gorilla Tracking in Uganda is a more authentic quest in search of these ‘gentle giants’ of the forest.
Also for persons with very limited time, obviously Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda being so close to Kigali, within 2.5 hours drive is a big advantage. However for persons with more time, gorilla tracking in Uganda tends to be more appealing as they have many options of extending their tour in Uganda with her hugely more diverse tourism product as opposed to Rwanda where gorilla tracking seems to be the thing and there is nothing much else- meaning
Rwanda has failed to deliver as a standalone tourist destination.
For the budget sensitive person the lower price of gorilla permits $600 in Uganda versus $1500 in Rwanda, coupled with the hugely attractive low season rate in Uganda of $450 (April-May and November) and not available in Rwanda is a huge appeal.
All the gorilla habituated families in Rwanda are accessible from one starting point , although the distances to the various trail heads differ- while in Uganda the Gorilla families are divided between the Northern section of Bwindi
Impenetrable National Park called Buhoma and the Southern Section called Nkuringo and therefore the difference between the North and the South prohibiting and necessitate persons tracking gorillas in the North to also choose accommodation in the Northern section and vice-versa for the southern section.
This also gives the impression that tracking in Uganda has an added tendency to seem un-crowded.
In the end, Rwanda is Rwanda and Uganda is Uganda – two distinctively different countries. It is hard to really say which is better or not better rather that different persons comparing tend to arrive at different conclusions making it more an issue of personal choice/preferences.
Especially if you are staying in a Safari Camp run by Solar Power. If you don’t turn off your lights during the day – you won’t have any lights at night!
Happy Day! Safe Safari!
Flyga Twiga Selected as International Hosted Buyer for World Travel Market Africa 2017 #WTMA2017
Flyga Twiga LLC has been selected by the World Travel Market Africa 2017 (WTMA 2017) as an International Hosted Buyer. The WTMA 2017 will take place in Cape Town, South Africa from the 19th through 22nd of April.
Tree Climbing Lions Uganda 2017 © Flyga Twiga LLC
There is 1 Mountain Gorilla for every 9 million people left on Earth. This Alpha Male Silverback is from Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. While Mgahinga is the smallest of the Ugandan National Parks, it is also one of the easiest in which to find the Mountain Gorillas. We were fortunate that this family of 10 were only 30 minutes in the Rain Forest. More about my experiences with these magnificent, endangered species following #POATE2017. Thank you Uganda Tourism Board for this amazing experience.
These are the awesome options given by Uganda Tourism Board:
Fun Activity Options -
Option 1: White Water Rafting on the Nile
Option 2: Bungee Jump on the River Nile
Option 3: Quad Biking
Option 4: Horse Riding Along the Nile
Thx UTB – Can’t wait!
The Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (#POATE2017) is fast approaching! The POATE Team has sent a reminder of items needed for our exciting Gorilla & Chimpanzee Trekking. These include:
· Long trousers and long-sleeved shirts
· Getters/ long socks to wear over your trousers as protection against ants
· A pair of garden gloves to protect against nettles
· A pair of sturdy, comfortable hiking boots with good ankle support is most important – try to break these in before your trip rather than wearing them brand new as you’re likely to get blisters.
The gloves are particularly poignant as those who have seen “Gorillas in the Mist” may remember, it was gorilla curiosity in Dian Fossey’s glove which first established her relationship with the gorillas.
Looking forward to the “Best of the Pearl” Fam Trip with the Uganda Tourism Board in February!
“There was no way that I could explain to dogs, friends, or parents my compelling need to return to Africa to launch a long-term study of the gorillas. Some may call it destiny and others may call it dismaying. I call the sudden turn of events in my life fortuitous.”
― Dian Fossey
Where will you go next?