Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

PIAN UPE WILDLIFE RESERVE

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is one of Uganda’s largest national protected areas covering an area of about 2043sq.km north of Mount Elgon and this makes it the second-largest protected area after Murchison Falls National Park. The Park holds quite a number of wildlife species and other different bird species Ostriches being the Unique bird in the park.

Discover Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve has become of the best wildlife safari destination in Uganda. Given that it is still quite one of the newly Uganda recognized tourist destinations with raw and beautiful scenery in Uganda.

The beauty of this game reserve has stunning landscape sceneries with surrounding mountains and most of the time you will have the whole game reserve to yourself. Pina Upe is the second largest conservation area after Murchison falls national park with an area coverage of up to about 3,893 kilometres squared.

Pian Upe wildlife reserve covers an area of about 2,275 square kilometres to the north of Mount Elgon, under the Uganda wildlife Authority mandate to conserve for future generations, Pian Upe is managed by the Mountain Elgon Conservation Department.

Therefore, Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is joined to other two wildlife protected areas in the North-eastern part of Uganda namely; the Matheninko and Bokora Wildlife Reserve plus Mount Elgon national park to form the Mount Elgon Conversation Area.

Location of Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve 

Pian Upe is located in the North Eastern part of Uganda in Nakapiripiti district with a total of about 8 other districts either closely or partly covered by the stretch of the game reserve, these district including; Amudat, Moroto, Katakwi, Napak, Kween, Kumi, Bukedea, and Bulambuli.

The wildlife reserve can easily be accessed by road from Kampala capital city via Mbale to Soroti road which takes about 8 to 9 hours and about 4-5 hours from Mbale city town and 5-6 hours from Kidepo national park to Pian Upe wildlife reserve.

While in Nakapiripiti, Pian Upe can easily be accessed from the south of Chepsikunya trading Centre or north of Namalu trading centre for visitors travelling from Moroto city. The closest operational airstrip is located in Amudat airstrip.

History of Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Years before Pian Upe wildlife reserve was gazetted as a conservation area, the area was a famous battleground for two of Karamojong’s pastoral groups comprised of those from the North-eastern part of Uganda and the Pokot who are from Kenya, right up into Matheniko & Bokora Wildlife Reserve and into Kidepo Valley National Park, the main road leading into the reserve forms the boundary where both tribes intersect to raid one another during ruthless cattle rustling.

However, Peace has since returned to this region, and tourism introduced for the better of the communities.

In the 1958, the southern part of Pian Upe wildlife reserve was gazetted as the Debasien Animal sanctuary even when the boundaries of the wildlife reserve were still being threatened when the government established a project for an agricultural produce in the south of the Girik River.

This escalated threats on the reserve resources, hard-pressed the state to expand the area northward and rename it Pian Upe Game Reserve in 1964.

Fortunately, the Government of Uganda has expressed great interests in upgrading the Pian Upe Game Reserve to National Park position, and efforts to introduce and restore wildlife numbers in the reserve is already in the process, as well as plans to open up more areas/communities for tourism development.Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

How Pian Upe wildlife reserve got its name

Pian upe derives its name from its community where “Pian” refers to a clan among the Karamajong people of north-eastern Uganda while “Upe” refers to a Kalenjin speaking pastoralist community of the Karamongs who are said to have originated from the Pokot tribe in Kenya, but now settled close to the wildlife reserve in Amudat district.

“Pian” actually means “calm hearted people” while “Upe” means “enemy”, when both words are combined, you get a word “friendly enemies”.

These people are predominantly pastoralists and live a very traditional lifestyle, only being cantered around their cattle. This group is mainly found in Nakapiripirit district close to the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve Headquarters.

Best time to visit Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

All national parks and wildlife reserves in Africa have the best time to visit and Pian Upe wildlife reserve is not an exception.

The best time to visit Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is between the months of January to March when the vegetation is dry, you have clear views and animals gather at the water sources making it easy for game viewing.

It is also at this period when the reserve management also carries out controlled bush burning to keep the grasses short, leaving the vegetation dry and it becomes easier to view the animals around the major water sources when they gather for a drink.

Girik River which located in the southern part of the reserve is a source of water for the animals living in this semi-arid region. From the months of November to December, it’s a dry season but the vegetation is still lush making it difficult to spot animals hidden in the grass, treetops and other invisible places.

From April to October, it’s the rainy season, so the trails or the tracks are usually muddy thus the roads are even impassable due to flooding making game viewing impossible.

The tracks in Pian Upe wildlife reserve are still poorly developed so in the wet season, it can be a bit challenging, lush vegetation, bad hazel views. Visitors are recommended to travel in 4WD Vehicle; Land Cruiser most preferably in case of weather challenges.

Attractions in Pian Upe wildlife Reserve

Flora and Fauna;

Flora – Pian Upe wildlife reserve is one of the most fascinating and interesting conservation area with distinct wild-lands dominated by wooden savannah plains which are surrounded by mountains and also cut between rock-strewn ridges and kopjes, plateau, and seasonal rivers.

Pian Upe is dominated by short trees and shrubs, thatching grass, lemon grasses, bristle species, beard grasses to mention a few. The reserve plains are draped with red acacia, shrubs like the butterfly pea, desert date and bush willows

Fauna – Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is one distinguished place for harboring quite a number of rare animals found nowhere else in Uganda, such as a healthy population of Cheetahs and Uganda’s only remaining population of Roan Antelopes.

Seeing the Cheetah measures up to 80% chances thus Pian Upe wildlife reserve is the best place to see world’s fastest mammal.

Other predators found in the reserve include; the wildcats, Jackals, Spotted Hyenas, Civets, Serval Cats, the mysterious Leopards and prides of Lions are reported to periodically travel between the nearby Amudat Wildlife Conservation Area and Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve.

The reserve is also home to large herds of ungulates including the Common Eland, a small population of Zebra, Hartebeests, Günther’s Dik Dik, the popular Oribis, and the Impalas which were recently relocated here from Lake Mburo National Park.

Cape Buffalo, the Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, Blue and Common Duiker, Klipspringers and the Bohor and Mountain Reedbuck also enjoy the homely Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve.

Some of the rare animals in the reserve including; the Ververt and Patas Monkeys, the African Hare, Crested Porcupine, , Aardvarks, , Rock Hyrax, Four-toed Hedgehogs, and the Olive Baboons.

Pian Upe wildlife reserve is home to a variety of reptiles including; the common  , Geckos, Venomous puff adders, rock pythons, Savannah monitors, Chameleons and crocodiles that can be found in River Girik.

The reserve is still untouched with low numbers of visitors, this guarantees all wildlife sightings in a private, and intimate experience, dismissing crowds that can be seen in other national park.

Morning and evening game drives are the best time to see most of the animals with the dazzling sunsets and sunrises for example every morning the sun comes out behind the mountains and descends over the horizon in some of the most fascinating sunsets.

Most of the animals in Pian Upe wildlife reserve had become extinct during the era of insurgencies however; the Uganda Wildlife Authority already has plans of reintroducing most of the animal species to re-active the reserve for tourism development.

Bird watching 

Pian Upe wildlife reserve has become of the Uganda’s top bird watching destinations. The reserve offers some great birdwatching experience with a variety of different bird species found there.

The reserve’s ecosystem has attracted unique bird species making the reserve a desired birding destination in Africa.

Some of the bird species found in the reserve include; the rare Ostriches which are easily seen while in this reserve compared to Kidepo valley national park, the Karamoja Apalis which is an endemic bird found in to north-eastern part of Uganda.

Other bird species include; Superb sterlings, Green bitta, Secretary bird, Abyssinian ground hornbill, the rare shoebill stock and the Fox weaver bird that can be seen in the park’s stretch of land.

Community tours

Pian Upe wildlife reserve is located in the Karamoja region where we find the Karamojong people who are similar to the Masai of Kenya and Tanzania.

These people have a rich culture and tradition that is exciting to experience even though they are known to be hostile in the early days of their settlement. The Karamojongs are best known for their pastoral practises.

The cultural visit to one of the local Karamojong community near the reserve will offer you an exciting cultural experience on a rare cultural music, dance and drama performance by the locals most especially the famous Edonga dance.Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Mountain hiking and guided nature walk

Driving through Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve introduces you to an endless flow of Savannah plains, dotted with Acacias and Sausage trees as well as rocky ridges, embraced by three mountains – Mount Napak, Mount Kadam and Mount Elgon.

When you look beyond the horizon, you will see these mountains stretching high above the sky. These mountains allow hiking opportunities for example hiking to the Napedet cave is one of the best experiences of hiking while in Pian Upe wildlife reserve.

This hike tests one’s physical fitness levels, working on health levels and granting awesome views of the reserve’s ranges.

Napedet cave is a popular ancient recreational place for the first inhabitants of this area who would gather to engage in painting before the area was gazetted. Visitors can be able to see odd paintings of Roan Antelope, Hartebeests, Baboons, as well as Giraffes which once roamed the reserve’s open plains.

Accommodations available in Pian Upe wildlife reserve

Pian Upe wildlife reserve does not have so many of the accommodations since it is still under development.

The commonly used accommodation facility in the park is the Uganda Wildlife Bandas which are located at the park headquarters. Alternatively, someone can choose to camp around the park headquarters with own tent or hired tent from the park.

There is only one available mid-range accommodation facility called Karamoja Overland Camp with tents that are self-contained featuring en-suite facilities like showers, electricity.

Packing list for a Pian Upe Safari

Just as one needs to prepare for a gorilla trekking safari, visiting Pian Upe wildlife reserve requires adequate preparation in what to bring given its insufficient resources to host visitors. There are key things one has to bring when visiting the reserve namely;

You need comfortable light clothes of neutral colours. However, warm clothes are also advisable since the evenings and early mornings often get chilly.

Comfortable closed shoes are highly recommended especially if you are going to hike on one of the mountains when you visit Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve.

For those camping, you are advised to come with your own camping equipment like the tent and beddings, own cup, plate and other necessary daily things to use.

Insect repellent to protect you from the wild flies and safari bugs

You will want to pack some sunscreen lotion, sunglasses, and a sunhat, as this semiarid part of the country can get pretty hot.

Remember to pack your personal toiletries (lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, bath soap, deodorant, and lip balm.

Carry gadgets that can take some decent photos, cameras, binocular for bird watching. You will want to remember this stunning landscape, and photos will help you tell your stories.

A portable external battery charger/power bank is highly recommended as the electricity can be on and off sometimes, especially in the night. Remember to carry a touch.

EAST AFRICA

East Africa made up of 19 nations including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda is home to isolated terrain and rugged landscape which makes it a popular destination for all outdoor enthusiasts. It has grown in popularity especially with tourists who love conflict aftermath or wildlife. Travelers to this region of the world enjoy spectacular scenery, welcoming people and a vibrant culture. The attractions range from discovering ruins, hiking and safari tours.in east Africa

in east Africa

Kenya

Kenya is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. If you visit Kenya, be sure to go to Maasai Mara in Western Kenya. Here, Maasai culture and wildlife sightings are unparalleled. For an outdoor adventure, you can take a hike around Mt. Kenya or go to the Nandi Hills located at the edge of the Great Rift Valley.

For the people who love the coast, there are several resort towns along Kenya’s eastern coast. The beaches here feature white sands and tourists can hire glass bottom boats for an offshore trip. Bamburi Beach is a popular resort destination and is home to a vibrant night-life and fine dining.

For the wildlife lover, Haller Park is the best destination at the coast. It is a wildlife sanctuary home to giraffes, crocodiles and hippos. Another common destination is the Bamburi Forest Trails. Bamburi Forest Trails features walking and bike trails, panoramic views and hiking. Other popular spots include Lake Nakuru, Hell’s Gate National Park and Amboseli National Park.MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE KENYA

MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE KENYA

Tanzania

Tanzania is home to diverse landscapes and wildlife. Safari tours can be taken from several different locations in Tanzania. You can head to Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is the highest point in Africa, for a scenic drive or a long hike to the summit. You can also head to the Serengeti National Park for the breathtaking wildebeest migration, visit the Ngorongoro Crater and the country’s national parks for a spectacular wildlife viewing. The wildlife here includes zebras, gazelles, lions and over four hundred bird species.Kilimanjaro-National-Park_Tanzania

Kilimanjaro-National-Park_Tanzania

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the largest countries in East Africa and home to the Simien Mountain National Park, a World Heritage Site. It is home to a wide range of animal species including the caracal, gelada baboon and the rare Ethiopian wolf. There are several mountain peaks that exceed 13,000 feet and offer a challenging climb. Ras Dashan is the highest of these peaks.

The Ethiopia’s Blue Nile Falls is twenty miles from Bahir Dar. The waterfall has a 150ft drop and is one of the most popular attractions in the country. Another popular tourist attraction in this country is Ethiopia’s first stone bridge. It was built in 1626 and is downstream from the Blue Nile Falls.Ethiopia

Ethiopia

Burundi

Although civil unrest makes Burundi a dangerous location for foreign visitors, nationals hope that there is peace on the way. Tourists to this country will enjoy Bujumbura, the capital city. From there, they can head to the beaches of Lake Tanganyika. Attractions like Kasumo and Saga Beach are popular places to visit when the country is safe.Burundi

Burundi

Rwanda

Up until 1996, Rwanda was engaged in brutal civil war and related conflicts. Since then, this country has been open to foreign tourists. You can go for the gorilla trekking for an up close and unforgettable experience with mountain gorillas in Parcs de Volcanoes in Rwanda. If you would like a sobering experience, you can visit churches at Kigali and St. Famille to sign up for a personal tour by survivors of the mass murders that occurred here. The guides are passionate about the program since they believe that awareness decreases the repetition of atrocity.Lake Kivu Rwanda

Lake Kivu, one of the largest of the African Great Lakes, In Rwanda

Uganda

Uganda is still under the radar of many visitors due to the ongoing violence. However, this East African country has many enjoyable attractions for the bold tourists. Visitors can get to experience the amazing white water rafting in Jinja, which is the source of River Nile. They can also visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and see the elusive mountain gorillas. For the lovers of adventure, the Mountains of the Moon located in Rwenzori National Park will offer the best experience. These are the highest mountain ranges in Africa.Rwenzori Mountains

Rwenzori Mountains

The most visited attractions in East Africa are a collection of everything glorious about the continent; majestic people, ancient landscapes, unforgettable experiences and sublime wildlife.

Mt Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania

The picturesque Savannah in Kenya with Kilimanjaro in the background
Majestic Mount Kilimanjaro from the Savannah

With its distinction as the highest mountain in Africa, it’s no mystery why Mount Kilimanjaro draws an approximated 35 000 climbers each year. A part of the Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania, it was recognized by the World Travel Awards for three consecutive years (2015/6/7) as Africa’s Leading Tourist Attraction – it’s also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.
At 5,895 metres, it is one of the Seven Summits; the highest mountains in each of the seven continents. Every year thousands journey to this epic peak to brave its height and the elements. A reported two-thirds make it and many return, unable to resist the challenge it presents.

• Mount Kilimanjaro, nicknamed Kili, is actually a Stratovolcano – a conical volcano built on layers of lava and volcanic ash.
• Kili is a dormant volcano made up of 3 volcanic cones, ShiraKibo and Mawenzi.
• It’s positioned 320 km south of the equator
• There are six official routes up the mountain

Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Games drives at Maasai Mara National Park are one of the reasons it is a top attraction in East Africa
The breathtaking Maasai Mara plains

An expansive wilderness with a plethora of wildlife and sights, Maasai Mara National Reserve is the adventure playground of choice for an estimated 290 000 tourists each year. Drawing them to this landscape is its Savannah plains, animals that include lions, cheetahs, elephants and hippos and, without a doubt, the epic annual migration of Wildebeest – an event so grand that photographs scarcely capture its fullness.

The Maasai are not only native to this land but also its caretakers
Maasai warriors near Lake Manyara
Picture credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Maasai Mara is a preserved area in southwestern Kenya identifiable through its rolling hills, grassy plains and the Mara and Talek rivers running through it. Also a wonder to behold are the villages (enkangs) of the mighty Maasai people that dot the area, one of the most wondrous attractions in East Africa. A Maasai safari opens visitors up to a large concentration of game and endless photographic opportunities. Named after its native inhabitants’ own description – the word “Mara” is Maa (the Maasai language) for “spotted” – of the area’s speckled appearance and diverse landscape, the preservation still honors the Maasai’s ancient ways and reverence for nature. For many visitors, it’s not just the wildlife and landscapes but the experience of authentic Africa that brings them to this land.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The Serengeti's wildlife population and diversity unparalleled which is why it's one of the leading East African attractions
Elephants in the Serengeti

The animals, vegetation and waterways of the Serengeti are the same as they were more than a million years ago. It is also here that the oldest human remains were found (2 million years old) by renowned archaeologist Dr Leaky. These plains are also the ancestral land of the Maasai whose ancient ways endure in the communities in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Young maasai warrior
The glorious Maasai people
Photo credit: Softkenya

This park has 500 bird species that include lovebirds, crowned crane, secretary bird and ostrich. Meanwhile lions and cheetahs roam the land and leopards can be found on the trees near the Seronera River. Each year, the annual migration – millions of wildebeest, zebra and more – marks this terrain and serves a feast for the crocodiles of the Mara River. From herds of elephant, gazelle, zebra, impala and eland, this wilderness puts on a spectacle for enthralled revelers year in and out.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most unforgettable attractions in East Africa
The misty hills that are home to majestic gorillas
Photo credit: Uganda Tourism Centre

On the hills of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies one of the oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests on the continent. Dating back 250 000 years and home to over 400 mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is an unforgettable destination, which last year alone drew 40 000 trekkers. The national park itself is home to 120 mammals, including baboons, chimpanzees and elephants, and 350 bird species. Named one of the Best Parks in Africa by CNN last year, it’s also one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and a popular honeymoon destination.

Already one of the most favored attractions in East Africa, Bwindi forest looks set to be even more popular after its feature in the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther. Scenes from the area were used in the making of the movie, which means a visit there offers a real-life glimpse of Wakanda while you enjoy one of the 35 African Experiences You Need To Have Before You Die.

Gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest
A family of gorillas in the forest
  • Some 70% of visitors opt to access this forest from Kigali, Rwanda by driving into southern areas such as Rushanga, which is a shorter trip that the one from Entebbe or Kampala. Some choose to get the most of this region by visiting all the top attractions in East Africa via a Kenyan safari then a short flight to Kigali for a Rwandan adventure before driving into Uganda.
  • Charter flights to Bwindi are available from Entebbe International Airport.

We have a variety of tours for you to experience these attractions for yourself, one being a trip from seeing the great Wildebeest to the Archipelago islands. Contact our consultants here.

chimpanzees spots in Uganda

How to see chimpanzees in Uganda

For the primate lover, Uganda’s chimpanzees are a huge attraction. Sharing up to 98% of our DNA, Uganda’s chimpanzee population numbers around 5,000. Living in family groups of 15-20, these highly sociable, intelligent and communicative creatures form complex social relationships. The best way to see chimpanzees in Uganda is on a dedicated chimpanzee trek through the rainforest.

Uganda_Chimpanzee

There are several places in Uganda where you can go chimpanzee trekking to learn more about these fascinating animals, but be aware you will need to buy a chimpanzee trekking permit in advance from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. These cost $150 per person and permit you to stay with the chimpanzees for one hour. A morning or afternoon trek will also include guides, entry to your chosen national park and birdwatching.

It’s important to follow chimpanzee trekking rules, which are designed to protect both you and the chimpanzees. Visitors should:

  • Stay at least 8m away from the chimpanzees at all times
  • Not eat in front of the chimpanzees
  • Not trek if you are ill
  • Avoid flash photography
  • Be at least 12 years old

1. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest

Kibale Forest National Park, located outside the colonial town of Fort Portal, is a dense tropical rainforest where you can track chimpanzees and 12 other primates, including red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons and the rare Ugandan red colobus.

Known as the primate capital of East Africa, Kibale is the premier site for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, with most tours starting from the Kanyanchu Visitor Centre. A typical chimpanzee trek in Kibale Forest will see you travel in a group of six plus guides (the total number of permits per day is restricted), heading into the forest either in the early morning or afternoon. Chimpanzee treks are generally shorter than gorilla treks as it’s easier to reach the chimpanzee families. Expect to spend more time looking up at the trees as chimpanzees swing through the rainforest, calling out to each other and thumping tree branches, while your knowledgeable guides explain how the chimpanzees interact and keep you safe.

Within Kibale is the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary that feeds some 200 bird species and a number of reptiles. It’s also an excellent place for spotting butterflies and taking village walks, where activities include basket-weaving, dance and interactive meals, where your host explain the history and culture behind the food you eat.

Uganda_Chimpanzee4

2. Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest

Located in western Uganda around a four hour drive from Kampala lies Budongo Forest. Home to six habituated chimpanzee groups totaling around 700 primates in total, Budongo offers chimpanzee treks year round.

The forest is an attraction in itself, owing to its huge mahogany trees and incredible biodiversity, with blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys and olive baboons all viewable on a trek. Its location — an easy stop-off point on the road from Kampala to Murchison Falls National Park — makes Budongo a popular place for chimpanzee trekking, although its smaller population of primates means your less likely to see the animals than in Kibale.Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest

Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest

3. Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge

A third option for tracking chimpanzees in Uganda exists in Kyambura Gorge, a gem in the far eastern corner of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Known as the “Valley of Apes”, the gorge’s rich biodiversity comes from the draining of the Kyambura river which left a deep (100m) channel in the landscape. Home to a small family of 16 chimpanzees, this is a chimp trek for those already looking to visit one of Uganda’s most popular national parks.

A hike through the gorge gives you the opportunity to see habituated chimpanzees and other types of primates including red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus, baboons and vervet monkeys.

This green-riverine forest also offers shelter to several forest birds. Although the chance of spotting chimpanzees is not as high as on an official trek in Kibale or Budongo, the gorge’s shimmering green landscape is among the most impressive in Uganda and absolutely worth visiting.

Uganda_Chimpanzee3

4. Chimpanzee at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, located in the middle of Lake Victoria in Uganda’s south, is home to 49 orphaned chimpanzees.

Visitors to the sanctuary can see and feed the chimps, learning more about how the sanctuary cares for its chimpanzees. The facility can organise transport, excursions and accommodation.

Besides chimpanzees, Ngamba has monitor lizards, birds and beautiful neighbouring islands where you will interact with locals in their fishing villages.Chimpanzee at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Chimpanzee at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

5. kalinzu forest chimpanzee trek

Chimpanzee trekking experience; kalinzu forest is famous for the popular chimpanzee trekking adventure activity in the jungle and it is known as the second best chimpanzee trekking destination that follows kibale forest national park.

It is a habitat to over 300 chimpanzee population and approximately 70 chimpanzee communities have been habituated for tourism experience to travelers on Uganda safaris.

Chimpanzee trekking experience in kalinzu forest is done into two phases, the morning phase that starts at 8 am and the afternoon phase starts at 3 pm.

The trekking experience starts with briefing at UWA headquarters in the park where you are taught the dos and don’ts safety measures as well as the expectations when you go trekking in kalinzu forest.

In kalinzu forest chimpanzee trekking is limited to children below 13 years of age and travelers are grouped according to physical fitness level and to every group a park ranger guide is allocated who will take the group through the forest as you go for the chimpanzee trekking experience.

Chimpanzee trekking in kalinzu forest will take about 3-4 hours and more before you meet the chimpanzee community depending on which trail you take and due to the fact that chimpanzee keep moving from one place to another searching for food in different locations.

And once you locate a certain chimpanzee community/family, you will be allowed to spend only hour with it as you enjoy taking photos, video with them, as well as observing their feeding behaviors and lifestyle pattern in the forest.

The habituated chimpanzees in kalinzu forest are so friendly and have gotten used to presence of human being thus trekking in the forest will  earn you incredible adventure experiences of a lifetime in the forest jungle.

Chimpanzee trekking permits in kalinzu forest is much affordable compared to that of kibale forest national park. The trekking permit costs 50 dollars per person while as in kibale forest national park chimpanzee trekking permit costs 150 dollars per person.

To acquire a chimpanzee trekking permit, travelers can book directly with the Uganda wildlife reception at the headquarters the park or they can use a genuine Uganda safari expert such as Adventure in the azas safaris to assist them with the booking before they travel to kalinzu forest for the chimpanzee trekking experience.

The Uganda safari experts will assist with the entire planning and arrangement of your chimpanzee trekking safari in kalinzu forest giving you a stress free adventure experience of the chimpanzees.

However for travelers will to enjoy chimpanzee trekking, we advance that you make advance permit booking for the great and wonderful trekking experience so as to avoid issues of last minute booking that may turn your safari into a hell experience.

Mount Karisimbi Hike – Facts, Costs, When To Go

Mount Karisimbi is an inactive volcano that is part of the Virunga Mountains that are shared between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and it is the highest of them all. In addition it is the 11th highest on the entire African continent standing at a height 4,507 meters. It is located within Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park along the border with the neighboring Democratic republic of Congo surrounded by a number of a number of other volcanoes such as Bisoke, Mikeno, and Nyiragongo.

This mountain’s peak is covered by snow in the dry season and it’s from this that its name karisimbi which is a word in the local kinyarwanda language to mean ‘white shell’ was derived. There are two craters found on this mountain with the mutango crater being the largest in addition to the two (2) kilometer wide Branca Caldera

karisimbi hike

Hiking Mount Karisimbi

A hike on Mt. Karisimbi is considered as one of the leading tourist activities in Rwanda. a hike on Mount karisimbi is commonly combined with a gorilla trekking Safari in volcanoes National Park. By taking this amazing adventure you will be able to encounter various types of wildlife along the way among which are different types of birds, different monkey species like the golden monkey, and if lucky the mountain gorillas you will also get a chance to see but Dian fossey grave (who was a well-known researcher that dedicated several areas of her life when conducting research on the mountain gorillas in this area. The hike up to the summit is generally considered somewhat challenging and it will require all participants to be in very good physical shape with proper stamina to be able to take on the challenging slopes of the mountain. As you climb up you will be led by a professional park guide and as you ascend or descend you will follow the pace of the slowest hiker with the hiking group. There are also a number of porters available for hire at the park headquarters who will assist in caring your personal luggage, camping equipment and bags and these can be hired at 20 US dollar each.

Mt.Karisimbi

The hike begins in the early morning and by 7:00 a.m hikers have started the actual climb after a briefing by the park guide. It takes two (2) days to complete the round trip including the ascent and descent with the starting point being at the bottom of Mount Bisoke. During the approximately 7 hour ascent, you will have a stopover at an altitude of about 3,700m which is almost mid-way, and there you will pitch tent for dinner and the overnight.

The rest of the climb will be completed early morning the next day when you are strong enough. An early hot cup of tea / coffee in the morning the following day for breakfast will be well deserving having spent a cold night up on the mountain.  On the second day you will proceed to the final ascent to the peak as you traverse the challenging section that is covered with fog which hinders good visibility, a steeper terrain that experience stronger winds and not to forget the muddy trails. After enjoying some time at the peak you will later begin the approximately 6 hour descent back to the starting point.

A 2 Day Mount Karisimbi Hike – Rwanda

Day 1: Hike To The Summit

Today morning you will begin the day early at around 5 a.m. and then transfer to the park headquarters found at Kinigi where you will be briefed about this amazing adventure. After this the hike will begin led by a professional guide and accompanied by two armed ranges one heading at the front while the other at the back. During the hike which may take approximately 7 hours your hiking pace will depend on the physical fitness of the slower hiker on the hiking team. You will traverse the amazing landscapes on the slopes of this mountain during which you will encounter a variety of wildlife including birds, golden monkeys and if lucky you may be able to encounter the Karisimbi mountain gorilla family that lives within the lower slopes of this mountain. Eventually you will arrive at the camping area where you will pitch tent and spend the night. Because it is very cold up on the mountain you are highly advised to bring with you enough warm clothing and bedding.

 Day 2: Descend Mt. Karisimbi

After an early breakfast today you will enjoy the breathtaking sunrise as well as the views of the great lakes from up the summit. In addition you will enjoy views of the other mountains that make up the Virunga Volcanoes, see the cultivated farmlands below and local settlements in a distance away. The views here are very breathtaking so don’t forget your camera on this adventure. Later you will descend back to the bottom and be received by your Safari guide-driver who will then transfer you to the Kigali International Airport for your departure flight.

What To Pack When Hiking Mount Karisimbi

Below is a list of some of the essentials we consider relevant for any holidaymaker interested in taking on an adventurous hike to the peak of Mount Karisimbi.

A rain jacket

Warm sweaters

Trousers or long pants

Gardening gloves

Sunglasses

Hiking shoes preferably with good support on the ankle

Stockings

A hat

A tent, sleeping bag and warm bedding for the overnight

Insect repellent

A first aid kit

Walking stick

Enough bottled drinking water

Enough snacks

Cost Of Hiking Mount Karisimbi

Every person interested in hiking Mount Karisimbi is required to obtain a hiking permit and the cost of hiking permits on Mount Karisimbi is $400 per person per hike. These permits can be obtained on the day of hiking however holidaymakers are highly advised to book them in advance either from the Rwanda development board or using their trusted travel agent.

Best Time To Hike Mount Karisimbi 

Mount Karisimbi can be visited all year round however it can best be hiked during the dry season which begins in the month of June to August as well as in December. Visiting during this time of the year will offer you an opportunity to see the snow that covers the peak of the volcano which on the contrary cannot be seen during the wet rainy season.

The Lake Wamala

        lake wamala

lake Wamala

Lake Wamala is one of the freshwater bodies located in Central Uganda, covering a total area of 250 km². It is a relatively shallow with a depth ranging from 1.5 m to 4.5 m.

It is surrounded by papyrus beds, reed (Phragmites), Raphia palms and wild date palms (Phoenix reclinate).

Lake Wamala is home of three critically endangered fish species (Labeo victorianusOreochromis esculentus, and Oreochromis variabilis) and host to a dragonfly Papyrus Wisp (Agriocnemis palaeforma) which is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ by IUCN Red List.

Lake Wamala is therefore of such ecological and cultural importance that the area has been proposed as a Ramsar site.

Lake Wamala is under high pressure due to the increasing human population (around one million people). Natural habitats in the basin have been converted to other land uses, primarily agriculture.

The basin holds extensive forested areas but these are subject to ongoing and major deforestation, which is leading to erosion and increased siltation in the lake and inflowing rivers.

Water quality is also deteriorating as a result of pollution originating within the basin, for example domestic waste litters the lake as communities use it as a rubbish pit, and poor agricultural practices result in chemicals entering the rivers and lake.

In the 1950s, Lake Wamala was stocked with the non-native Nile Tilapia, which had negative effects on native biodiversity.

Fishery was a major source of livelihood for the local residents surrounding the lake, as well as the city of Kampala. However, overfishing led to the decline of the fishery as fish stocks are decreasing.

The Living Lakes partner organizations Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development (UCSD) and Kikandwa Environmental Association (KEA) are striving for the protection of Lake Wamala and its catchment area.

The activities include public awareness and sensitizations campaigns, water quality assessments, promoting community forestry projects and sustainable wetlands management.

An integrated management plan needs to be developed to cope with the fast and dramatic changes Lake Wamala is experiencing due to uncoordinated policies, increased population pressure, and climate change.

The partners advocate for the designation of Lake Wamala as a Ramsar site for Uganda due to its biodiversity and cultural values.

They initiate and support cultural tourism and other alternative income generating activities as one way of reducing stress on Lake Wamala fisheries and other resources.

The Madi And Their Culture

The Madi live in Moyo district in the extreme north bordering Sudan. They are Sudanic in Language and their Origin could be traced to Bari in Southern Sudan.

The Madi Culture

Births

One thing that tended to bother the Madi was the mystery of birth. All their beliefs were based on reproduction. The term they used for the Supreme Being who was responsible for births was Rabanga.

In addition to being a spirit, Rabanga was also regarded as the earth, in the sense of “Mother Earth”. One old man explained this concept in the following statement:

We see all plants are born form the earth and if the earth cannot make a woman fertile, how does she conceive?

Rabanga was also believed to have created every thing.

Twins

Among the Madi, the birth of twins was believed to be an ill-omen and it was attributed to Rabanga. Twins were regarded as mysterious creatures and infact the elder of the wins was named Ejaiya meaning “take him to the bush” and the younger Rabanga.

After the births of twins, the father and the family of the mother would each bring a sheep to be eaten by the parents of the twins together with the woman who had looked after the twins’ mother during the period of confinement. This ceremony was called Lati.

The mother’s family was required to produce another sheep which would be tied n a bed-like structure made of sticks at the slide of the mother’s hut every morning and evening.

The sheep was allowed to live a normal life with the rest of the sheep apart from mornings and evenings when it was put on the bed.The Madi Culture

The Madi Culture

When it gave births, it was killed and offered as a sacrifice for the well being of the parents of the twins. The special bed made of sticks on which the sheep was regularly put, was called Rabanga and the sheep itself was known as Rabanga-Bilo.

Religion

The whole life of the Madi was centered on the belief that their ancestors survived after death as spirits known as ori.

They believed that the Ori could intervene directly in human affairs. They attributed misfortune to anger of such and such a spirit and in the event of any misfortune or sickness, they would immediately consult an odzo or odzogo (witch doctor) to find out which ancestor was behind the existing ordeal.

After that, sacrifices were offered to the particular spirit in order to avert its malign influence on the living. The powerful families among the Madi were believed to have powerful ancestral spirits to help them. The whole paraphernalia of the spirits of the dead was known as babu-garee.

Rain making

Within the whole of the Madi community, there were as many as forty-five rain-making centers. With only two exceptions, rain could be made by the rainmaker by using a special set of stones which were usually white in colour.

These “rain stones” as they were called were believed to come with rain from the sky and they could be categorized into “male” and “female” stones.

The male stones were conical with fairly sharp points while the female ones would be either round or conical but perhaps without sharp points. Actually some female stones looked exactly like male ones but the rain maker could tell which without any difficulty.

When “rain stones” were discovered, they were immediately reported to the chief. In the event of thunder or lightening, it is said the “rain stones” would jump about.

They were kept in special pots and they could not be looked at without the permission of the chief or rain maker, otherwise they could easily strike the insolent viewer with impotence.

If rain failed to come, people would ask the rainmaker to assist. The ceremony of making rain was completely perverse of the rain maker.

The stones were smeared with fat or oil and supplications were made to Rabanga and to the former chiefs.  Then the offertory food was eaten and the stones would be placed in a little water.

The rain maker would take the offertory food (mtami, wimbi and beans) together with shear- butter nut oil into the huts where the rain stones wee kept.

Then he would put the clay pot on a wooden basin, remove the “rain stone” from their pot, wash them and, calling upon the spirits of the dead chiefs and Rabanga to bring rain, he would put them in a bowl in which they were anointed with a little oil.The Madi Culture

The Madi Culture

The rain maker and the chiefs principle wives, who were the only people supposed to be present at the ceremony, would cook the beans in the oil and brew beer from mtami and wimbi. From the remainder of the wimbi, millet bread would also be made.

This food was eaten by the rainmaker and the two principle women who prepared it. The “rain stones” were then placed in a pot with sufficient water which would be neither too much nor too little.

The rain maker and the women would neither leave the hut nor eat any other food during the whole day. Rain was expected to fall on that day.

If rain failed to come and adzo would be consulted or, alternatively, the rain maker would extend the rain making ceremony to involve the killing and eating of a sheep.

Unless there was something really unnatural, rain was expected to come.  If there was too much rain, the rain maker would pick a branch of a bush called erewa, smear it with red ochre and put it in the roof of the hut where the rain stones were kept.

It is said that only two clans among the Madi would cause rain to fall without using “rain stones”. Their elders would meet at their place of worship and ask Rubanga to bring rain by just playing to him.

Political set-up

The political set-up of the Madi was closely interwoven with their religious beliefs. There were organized in chiefdoms and each chiefdom was headed by a hereditary chef known as the Opi.

The Opi exercised both political and religious powers. He was respected not only as a political figure but also as the center of the collective influence of the former chiefs.

Other people of political and indeed religious importance in the Madi society apart from the chiefs were the rain makers and the Vudipi.

The Vudipi exercised an important influence over the land. The chiefs, rainmakers and Vudipi were all believed to descend from a line of ancestors who performed the same functions.

They were also believed to retain similar powers even after they had died. There was a hierarchy of spirits corresponding exactly to the hereditary of authority as it existed in the society.The Madi Culture

The Madi Culture

Judicial system

In cases where one pleaded innocent to accusations of stealing or adultery, the witch doctor was consulted.

The witch doctor would take a hand full of spear grass and order the accuser and the accused hold each end of the grass.

The witch doctor would then cut the spear grass wit an arrow. Whoever was guilty would fall sick and the truth would establish it’s self through the consequences.

The guilty one was usually cleansed in the following way:

He would pay a sheep which would be slaughtered. The blood and dung from the sheep’s intestines were smeared on the back of the hands of both the accuser and the accused. Some blood and dung was also smeared on their chests.

Their legs were then tied with the sheep’s skin and the elders of the two families concerned would eat the meat of the sheep as an act of reconciliation.

In cases involving poisoning, the witch doctor would heat a spear and touch the thigh of the accused with the hot end of the spear.

If a weal appeared, then the accused would have been proved guilty and he would be immediately speared to death.

It seemed automatic that if one was touched with a heated spear on the thigh, a weal would definitely occur. There are stories, however, that cases are known where it did not.

Superstitions

If a man was going on a journey and he met or saw a rabbit, a bush buck, or a wild pig, he would run back and consult a witch doctor to find out what to do before he set off again.

If an owl hooted while perched on one’s house or if a man met a certain snake or a leopard, then someone in the family would die.

If a jackal barked inside one’s compound, the occupants would at once move to anew site in that the old home was cursed.

There was also s belief that some people had the power to turn into leopards or to speak to leopards and use them for evil deeds.

Economy

The Madi were settled agriculturalists. Their main crops wee Mtami, Wimbi and a variety of beans and shea-butter. Their means of exchange was through the barter system and they are known to have carried out lucrative trade with their neighbors.

In addition, they tended sheep, goats, cattle and chickens. Their general economic structure, like that of most pre-colonial Ugandan societies, was mainly subsistence.

The Metu people are a subsection of the Madi. They live in the steep and rocky area to the west of Mt. Otze in West Madi. They divide themselves into the higher Metu known as the Meturu and the lower Metu known as the Meituli.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is certainly one of Africa’s most fantastic natural environments with treasures and natural wonders above all other adventure. The ‘mountains of the moon’ are home to lush bamboo forests and unrivaled landscapes ending in the unique topography of Lake Mburo. The Park covers most of the center and eastern half of the range and it includes Africa’s third, fourth and fifth highest peaks in an alpine highland of glaciers, snowfields and lakes rendering it one of Africa’s most beautiful mountain parks.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Our clients hiking Rwenzori Mountains National Park

The Rwenzori mountains harbor the most unique vegetation alongside alpine climates ending into a well-paced exploration with an immersive and fulfilling experience. The snow capped peaks and  its lower slopes blanketed by a flourishing bamboo, damp montane forest and moorland, huge tree heathers,  vibrant mosses while the large lobelias plus the everlasting flowers, forming an amiable vista offer a sight like no other. With this unique luxuriant vegetation, the park receives higher levels of rainfall compared to other places elsewhere giving an exciting combination of both heavy rainfall alongside great exposure to the sun.

The Rwenzori Mountains in southwestern Uganda are steep, rugged and well watered, rising high above dry plains and are ice-capped and their slopes consist of ancient rocks which were extruded from the surrounding plains during the formation of the western rift valley. These Precambrian rocks have produced soils of low fertility, except on parts of the northern ridge where volcanic ash from the Fort Portal plateau was deposited.

Mt. Rwenzori National Park lies in the west along the Uganda-Congo border protecting the highest parts of the 120 km-long and 65 km-wide Rwenzori mountain range. The Rwenzori mountains are a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination for skilled climbers to the summit of Margarita.  The elusive mountains of the moon are often veiled by clouds and mist rising up to 5,109m above sea level carry permanent snow and glaciers whose melted waters certainly represent the highest springs of the Nile.

This World Heritage and RAMSAR site includes six glaciers peaks: Mt.Stanley,Mt.Speke (4.890m), Mt.Baker, Mt.Gessi in DR  Congo ( 4.715 m), Mt. Emin (4.791 m), Mt. Luigi di Savoia, Mount Stanley, with Alexandra (5.083 m), Margherita (5,109 m) and Albert peaks (5.101 m) as the highest points of the ranges.

The park provides stunning views of the glacier and snow-capped mountains just kilometers from the equator further extending to the Virunga National

Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) alongside the alpine highland glaciers, snowfields and blue cirque lakes rendering Mt.Rwenzori National Park one of Africa’s most beautiful mountain parks.

Wildlife & Birdlife

Mt. Rwenzori National Park is home to about 70 various mammal species, including 6 Albertine Rift endemics, 4 of which are endemic to this park and 3 rare species. The mammals living within this park include; the Rwenzori otters, bushbucks, elephants and leopards also watch out for different primates such as the chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, the blue monkeys and the Angola colobus, as well as uncommon reptile species including the 3 horned chameleon.

The park is also home to 217 species of birds. 9 species of reptiles and 6 species of amphibians, they are various bird species to look out for including:- Albertine Rift endemics like; Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Montane Rwenzori Nightjar, Dwarf Honeyguide, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Kivu Ground Thrush, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Montane Masked and Collared Apalises, Stripe-breast Tit, Rwenzori Batis, (Grauer’s Cuckoo-shrike ), Blue-headed, Regal and Purple-breasted Sunbirds, Strange Weaver, Dusky and Shelley’s Crimsonwing. And the other species to look out for are; Lammergeier, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, African Long-eared Owl, Western Green Tinkerbird, Olive Woodpecker, Grey-chested Illadopsis, Grey-winged Robin, Evergreen Forest and Bamboo Warblers, Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Montane Sooty Boubou, Golden-winged and Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbirds, White-collared Oliveback, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Oriole-Finch.

Vegetation

The slopes of Mt. Rwenzori harbor uncommon flora species, thus the national park being recognized for its unique vegetation. On your way to its peaks, you will move through a stunning progression of varied altitudinal vegetation covers including; the tree heathers, bamboo, montane forest and the afro-alpine. The beautiful afro-alpine zone with its symbolic giant groundsel and lobelia, is one the most rare botanical species only found in the high mountainous areas at altitudes 3800 meters

The Rwenzori slopes’ vegetation zones vary as follows: mountain forest zone (1500 – 2500 m); the bamboo zone (2500 – 3000 m); the heather and rapenea zone (3000 – 4000 m), which is characterized by the giant heathers Erica, but also giant lobelias and Senecio; the Alpine Zone (4000 – 4.500 m) with everlasting flowers or Helichrysum.

Rwenzori - birds

Local People

The Rwenzori Mountains National Park are the home to the ethnic groups of the Bakonjo and Bamba peoples. These indigenous people are Bantu speaking communities who have lived in the foothills of the mountains for generations, and whose culture is adapted to the steep slopes and climate of the Rwenzori.

Activities

Mountain climbing: Mt. Rwenzori with its majestic snow-capped peaks offers one of the best mountaineering experience which is largely undiscovered by many travelers. The scenery on the mountain has been called some of the most beautiful on the planet as it is covered in different types of vegetation that you will enjoy as you scale its heights. On the foothills of the mountain is farmland with crops such as coffee, then the beautiful land terrain and plant life of submontane vegetation in the Afro-montane zone covered by luxurious tropical evergreen forest with a high richness in color and species.

Bird watching: The park has a richness in bird life with a dwelling to 217 species of birds and 17 of them can only be found in Rwenzori area including the Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Long-eared Owl, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Strange Weaver, Archers’ Robin-chat, Rwenzori Batis, White-starred Robin, Montana Sooty Boubou, Slender-billed Starling, Lag den’s Bush Shrike, Blue-headed Sun bird, Barbets, Golden-winged Sun bird, Greenbuls, ILladopsis, Apalises, Crimson wings and Flycatchers.

Hiking: Hiking in the park varies from the traveler’s preference where you can enjoy day hikes through the forests at the foothills as you enjoy unique activities like fishing.

Cultural encounters: You will have plenty of opportunities to witness the locals at the foothills of the mountain of the moon carrying out their cultural lifestyles and activities like cultural dances or you can opt to visit the Ruboni village where you will learn about the lifestyles of old of the forefathers of the mountains of the moon.

Accommodation

Mountain Rwenzori National Park has various establishments to accommodate you that are around the towns surrounding it. Since this park is not very busy you rest assured of accommodation though it is always safer to book in advance. Some of the lodging options include;

  • Hotel Margherita
  • Rwenzori International Hotel
  • Katara Lodge
  • White House Hotel
  • Equator Snow Lodge
  • Tropical Savannah Guest House
  • New Saad Hotel located
  • Ruboni Community Camp
  • Mihunga Safari Lodge
  • Rwenzori Turaco View Campsite
  • Rwenzori Mountains Services Bunkhouse

When To Visit Rwenzori Mountains National Park?

Mountain Rwenzori National Park is one of the highest landscapes in Uganda rendering it chilly and wet. The best time to climb the mountain is from June through to August and from December to February.
The daytime temperatures range from 10-15°C, with much colder nights with January-February and July-August are being the driest months but heavy rain is possible at any time.

How To Get to Rwenzori Mountains National Park?

Mt. Rwenzori National Park is located within four districts Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kabarole and Kasese districts in Western Uganda bordering Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

By Road: The park is located in Kasese and is 5 hours from Kampala, western Uganda is mountainous thus a four wheel drive vehicle is advisable. Kasese town can be reached from Kampala via Fort Portal road (375km) or via Mbarara and Queen Elizabeth National park (450km).

The two major entry points to ascend to the Peaks (Nyakalengija central circuit and Kilembe Trail) are located near Kasese town while the third Nature walk trail head is at Kazingo near Fort Portal town in Kabarole District.

By Air: The park can also be accessed by air with chartered flights from Kampala at either Kajjansi airfield or Entebbe International airport to Kasese airfield and it will take you at least 1 hour and then be transferred by your driver guide to your destinations.

Other mountains in Uganda include; mountain Elgon, mountain sabinyo, mountain mgahinga and many others.

Ostriches

COMMON NAME: Ostrich Scientific

NAME: Struthio camelus

TYPE: Birds

DIET: Omnivore

GROUP NAME: Herd

AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE WILD: 30 to 40 years

SIZE: 7 to 9 feet

WEIGHT: 220 to 350 pounds

SIZE RELATIVE TO A 6-FT MAN: Ostrich is the world’s largest flightless bird found in the continent of Africa Very long bare neck and legs; the only bird with two toes; males are black with white wings and tail feathers, females are brown with “dirty” white wings and tail feathers

Speed and Movement

Though they cannot fly, ostriches are fleet, strong runners. They can sprint up to 43 miles an hour and run over distance at 31 miles an hour. They may use their wings as “rudders” to help them change direction while running. An ostrich’s powerful, long legs can cover 10 to 16 feet in a single stride. These legs can also be formidable weapons. Ostrich kicks can kill a human or a potential predator like a lion. Each two-toed foot has a long, sharp claw.

Herds and Reproduction

Ostriches live in small herds that typically contain less than a dozen birds. Alpha males maintain these herds, and mate with the group’s dominant hen. The male sometimes mates with others in the group, and wandering males may also mate with lesser hens. All of the group’s hens place their eggs in the dominant hen’s nest—though her own are given the prominent center place. The dominant hen and male take turns incubating the giant eggs, each one of which weighs as much as two dozen chicken eggs.

Behavior and Diet

Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. The old saw probably originates with one of the bird’s defensive behaviors. At the approach of trouble, ostriches will lie low and press their long necks to the ground in an attempt to become less visible. Their plumage blends well with sandy soil and, from a distance, gives the appearance that they have buried their heads in the sand.

Ostriches typically eat plants, roots, and seeds but will also eat insects, lizards, or other creatures available in their sometimes harsh habitat.

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Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo, active volcano in the Virunga Mountains of east-central Africa. It lies in the volcano region of Virunga National ParkCongo (Kinshasa), near the border with Rwanda, 12 miles (19 km) north of Goma. Nyiragongo rises 11,385 feet (3,470 metres) high and has a main crater 1.3 miles (2 km) wide and 820 feet (250 metres) deep containing a liquid lava pool. Some older craters on the mountain are noted for their plant life.

Nyiragongo is known for its devastating eruptions. In 1977 some 2,000 people were killed, and in 2002 Goma was largely destroyed by lava, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless and creating a refugee crisis. In 2021 lava stopped short of Goma’s city limits, but the eruption killed more than 30 people and destroyed several villages.

Mount Nyiragongo