Behind The Scenes – Rwanda and Uganda
The Gorilla Countries
There are many more things to see and do in these two countries than gorillas, but they share a border and national parks that are home to this incredible primate. The two countries have incredibly lush landscapes with rich black soil that nourishes plenty of fruit and vegetables. It has surprised many of our clients to find potatoes being grown alongside the hiking tracks into the gorilla parks, or rice fields on terraces on African hillsides. Between them the two countries are home to an estimated population of over 60 million and many of the camps and lodges we work with in Uganda and Rwanda work in partnership with their local communities to promote health, education and ensure the protection of the wildlife that visitors come to see.
African Parks – Akagera National Park, Rwanda
African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. Akagera National Park (managed by African Parks) has some of the most varied landscapes and savannah in East Africa, with open plains, woodlands, lakes, swamp, and mountains on the eastern edge of Rwanda. Magashi Camp is in a private concession in the north-eastern corner of the park, the camp has a beautiful position overlooking Lake Rwanyakazinga.
Since 2010, when African Parks started managing the Akagera National Park, full time employment of local people has increased significantly and many income generating opportunities have been created. Examples of such enterprises are the honey-harvesting project which generates a steady income for 375 Akagera beekeepers, the women’s chicken cooperative and mushroom-growing projects. Environmental education, infrastructure development and working with surrounding communities is critical to the park’s long-term viability and local livelihoods.
Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust – Rwanda and Uganda
The Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT) is a non-profit organisation that connects Volcanoes’ Safari Lodges in Rwanda and Uganda to the neighbouring communities and conservation activities. One of these properties is Virunga Lodge, set on top of a high ridge with breathtaking views of the Virunga volcanoes and lakes Ruhondo and Bulera. The lodge is ideally situated as a start point for the gorilla tracking activities in Parc National des Volcans.
In June 2014 Virunga Lodge launched the “One Sheep per Family” project, to provide one sheep to each of the families in three nearby villages. The sheep manure provides natural and effective fertiliser for growing crops. As well as providing manure, selling lambs provides income for the family. To date almost every family in three local villages have received a sheep so far through this successful initiative.
Nkuringo Safaris – Uganda
Nkuringo Safaris are committed to create sustainable experiences that have a positive impact on the communities’ local to their lodges. Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is one such lodge located high up on Nteko Ridge with breathtaking views of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park as well as the series of the mighty Virunga volcanoes.
One of the local projects that Nkuringo Safaris is pleased to support is the Nkuringo Batwa Women Project. This initiative empowers women, whose traditional areas for hunting and gathering have become restricted, by providing supplies and developing sewing skills to increase self-confidence and provide a source of income.
Community & Conservation at Singita Kwitonda – Rwanda
Singita Kwitonda Lodge sits on the edge of Volcanoes National Park, one of four national parks in Rwanda. Home to one-third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, conservation of this precious habitat is an enormous priority. Singita’s founder Luke Bailes alludes to the immense and ongoing challenge of conserving Africa’s most vulnerable landscapes. “No matter how much work we do, there is always more to be done because wildlife areas continue to be under threat.”
An ambitious conservation programme to address specific issues like poaching and the pressure placed on natural resources is headed up by Claudine Tuyishime from Singita Kwitonda Lodge. Her daily work involves environmental monitoring and protection, development of a plant nursery and landscape reforestation.
We would be delighted to help you plan a safari encompassing any of the conservation activities mentioned here. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.