Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Safari to Kidepo Valley National Park, a better Destination than the Serengeti and Masai Mara.

Kidepo Valley National Park  located in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of Karamoja province on the far northeastern border with the South Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo Valley is Uganda's most remote national park. Kidepo is the undiscovered secret of Uganda yet the spectacular beauty of this pristine wilderness impresses all that make a traditional big 5 safari to Kidepo park. For the loves of  birds, Kidepo Valley National Park boasts a bird list of over 475 species, a total second only to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Amongst the host of dry, eastern "specials" not found in any other Ugandan national park are some of East Africa's rarest and most sought after birds such as Black-breasted Barbet and Karamoja Apallis.

ABOUT THE KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

Province : Karamoja.
Elevation : 914m on Kidepo valley floor to 2749m a top Mount Morungole
Size : 1442 km 2
Habitat : Semi-desert scrub, open thorn-scrub, open thorn-bush, long and short-grass open tree savannas, riparian woodland including Borassus and Kigelia woodland, thick, "miombo- like" woodland, montane forest and granite out-crops..
Status : National Park since 1954
Birds Recorded : 475 species.
Visiting Timing : March-April for all the specials and many transit migrants, although good year - round.
Time Required : 4-7 days


Key Species of Birds
Ostrich, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Pygmy Falcon, Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Clapperton's and Heuglin's Francolins, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Kori, White-bellied and Hartlaub's Bustards, Violet-tipped Courser, Black-headed Plover, Four-banded Sand Grouse, Bruce's Green Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, White-crested Turaco, White-bellied Go-away bird, White-faced Scoops Owl, Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars, Little Green Bee-eater, Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers, Abyssinian Ground, Eastern Yellow and Jackson's Hornbills, Red-fronted and Black-breasted Barbets, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Singing Bush lark, Red-winged Lark, Ethiopian Swallow, Pied, Isabelline and Heuglin's Wheaters, African Grey Flycatcher, Foxy and Red pate Cisticolas, Karamoja Apalis, White-bellied Tit, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Northern White-crowned and Yellow-billed Shrikes, Slate-coloured Boubou, Fan-tailed Raven, Superb Starling, Red billed Oxpecker, Eastern Violet backed, Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds, Rufous and Chestnut Sparrow, Yellow-spotted Petronia, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers, White-browed and Chestnut- crowned Sparrow Weavers, Grey-capped Social and Speckle-fronted Weavers, Green-winged, Orange-winged and Red-winged Pytilias, Black-bellied and Black-faded Waxbill, Steel-blue and Strawtailed Whydahs, Brown-rumped Bunting.

BIRD WATCHING
The Apoka Rest Camp and Park Headquarters overlooking the swallow, southern Narus Valley is a great spot to begin your Kidepo birding. The attractive Silverbird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike frequent the thorn trees around camp, as do a number of other widespread species such as Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Ruppell's and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. A small permanent water hole at the edge of camp attracts swallows and a variety of seedeaters including Yellow-rumped Seedeater and is visited at night by Four-banded Sandgrouse, Elephant, Buffalo and occasionally Lion. Clapperton's Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached and Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbill may be seen in the rank grass along the normally dry stream bed adjacent to camp or along the track to Apoka lodge.

OTHER WILDLIFE
Kidepo's mammal list of over 80 species includes 28 that are found in no other Ugandan National park. Amongst these are such charismatic African animals as Bat-eared Fox, Carcal, Cheetah and Klipspringer. Unfortunately, Kidepo suffered the same fate as many other Ugandan parks during the Amin era and is still recovering from years of poaching that left game herds depleted. Striped Hyena, Lesser Kudu, Grant's Gazelle and Beisa Oryx have not been seen at all in recent times and are presumed to be locally extinct. Other large mammals have shown a remarkable recovery and there are now healthy population of Elephant, Common Zebra, Buffalo, Bohor Reedbuck, Waterbuck and Kongoni. Predators are plentiful and Spotted Hyena, Leopard and Lion are frequently seen. Oribis is abundant in the Narus Valley, whilst the dry thorn thickets in the north are home to Guenther's Dik Dik. Senegal Galago and Sidestriped Jackal may be found in the rest camp at night and White-tailed Mongoose is common but more likely to be found on a night drive. The park also has a very rich and diverse reptile fauna.


ACCOMMODATION
Apoka Rest Camp, run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, offers comfortable bandas within the national park, including bedding, mosquito netting and showers. It is recommended that you bring all your own food although it can be cooked for you if necessary.
A more upmarket option is the exclusive Apoka Lodge. This luxury lodge is located in the middle of Kidepo National Park with spacious rooms and private veranda. Each room has a sitting room and ensuite bathroom. A restaurant and swimming pool are available as well.
It is recommended that a ranger-guide accompany you at all times whilst at Kidepo Valley National park and this can be arranged on arrival at Apoka. Patrick is an excellent ranger who knows many of the birds. Park officials also suggest that all vehicles travelling north into the Kidepo Valley be escorted by multiple armed guards due to the periodic presence of poachers and cattle rustlers in the area.

SAFARI TO KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL
Steady safaris tours runs tours to Kidepo valley national park and they have fantastic reviews on trip advisor by happy clients. Steady safaris tours will arrange a successful safari to Kidepo valley national park and extensions to Karamojja region. We have run hundreds of safaris to Kidepo valley in Uganda. Get in touch and we will arrange your safari to Kidepo national park.

Uganda safari to Kidepo valley national park by Steady safaris tours your company of choice for traditional big 5 African safaris.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Family Safaris in Uganda by Steady safaris tours.




Family safaris are the hardest to arrange by far. Parents might be happy to chat endlessly  about the wilderness of Africa experience, but more often than not this means long hours in a hot vehicle. "Are we there yet?" is just as hard to answer on roads that lead to Uganda national parks.
This, together with high prices, is why safaris are not always seen as family holiday choices. Indeed, some more exclusive camps still maintain a lower age-limit of 12. They may cite safety – and, of course, you don't want your kids becoming too friendly with the local buffalo – but they are also concerned about their other guests. After all, clients who have paid top whack for their exclusive bush retreat could do without tantrums over twiglets, or the unrelenting click-bleep of a Nintendo DS as their vehicle tails a leopard.

Get it right, though, and there are few more rewarding family holidays than a safari. You just need to plan carefully and compromise a little on the agenda.
First, small is beautiful: think macro, not wide-angle. Cut down on some of those long game drives and spend more time in camp; a day in camp can be worth two in the bush. Indeed, you can get the Uganda bush in a microcosm. A salamander snaring moths on your ceiling can be as gripping as any lion kill, while a sandy picnic site offers a real-life puzzle-page of tracks and signs. Children can enjoy their own thrilling close encounters with the likes of hornbills, vervet monkeys and mongooses – and all on their own terms.

When you choose to go will depend upon where you're heading. In much of Uganda the dry season, from May to November, is peak safari time, with roads open, wildlife coming to water and sparse vegetation making viewing easier.

Sometime in Uganda the rainfall pattern is more complex and you can go at any time of year. Christmas holidays are peak season in the Uganda. In the end, wherever or whenever you take your family on safari the rewards will be the same: a wildlife safari, plus the ultimate outdoor children's playground. Mix up your itinerary, get hands-on, and there'll be no time for temper tantrums.
What's more, travelling with children offers adults the perfect get-out clause from all those pre-dawn departures and long waterhole stakeouts – and a chance to rediscover the natural world through younger eyes. If they find it interesting, be it rhino poo or baboon bums, then it probably is; you just haven't looked closely enough. There is more to safaris than big game, after all, and getting down and dirty with nature is where the wonder begins.


  • Families with Younger Children – Avoid safaris that provide longer drives – take a short day or 3 day overnight safari places such as Lake Mburo 2 day safari or a 3 day to  Murchison Falls national park.
  • Park Entrance into National Parks for Children in Uganda:    Children 15years – pay 15 USD less in price per day for park entrance fees. Under 5year will enter park without paying.
  • Less Activities for Children:  Gorilla Tracking minimum age is 15, Chimpanzee Tracking is 15 years at Kibale Forest and Kyambura Gorge at Queen Elizabeth and at Budongo Forest near Masindi.  Things such as Volcano Hikes that are 6 to 8 hour in length would also be a thing not to be considered.  There are alternative children activities at Kibale Forest that can be arranged that are supervised by trained park staff or your driver- can take them on an alternative hike or other activity – the same can be done while Gorilla Tracking at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where the children can go on a village walk, forest hike or older ones on a bike ride.
  • Hotels, Lodgings, and Tented Camps for families:  Some give a discount for children if they stay in the same room or give discounted prices for children.  The age limitations vary from lodging accommodation to accommodation.  Some welcome children while others do not depending on the ages of the children. There are many lodging facilities with swimming pools which will certainly enhance the time of most children.
  • Vehicle for a Family Safari:  A safari van is the best vehicle for a family with children going on a safari.  There is ample room to move around and a safari van may not be as confined as another vehicle.
  • Food for Children in Uganda:  There is lots of things to eat here in Uganda for children at lodges, hotels and tented camps.  You will not find a lot of hamburgers on the menus, but there are items that children will like such as Fish and Chips, Chicken Strips and Chips, sometimes you might find pizza here or there.
  • Things to drink for children:  Sodas are here, Pepsi and Coca Cola products such as Pepsi, Coke, Mountain Dew, Sprite and Fanta, some fruit sodas such as Alvaro are found here.  Fresh Juice is readily available but always ask if they add bottled or boiled water to the juice.  Water is also available in bottled form such as Rwenzori. There are of course many fruit juices for children that you can buy – please read the fine print – in some cases even when it says “pure”sugar might have be added.
  • Book your Family Safari with a Tour Company such as Steady Safaris Tours:  It is best to book your Family Safari with a reliable tour company that is Children Friendly and will give you all the advice you need in detail such as Steady Safaris Tours.
  • Create your own Family Safari:  Using a pre-packaged safari tour will be cumbersome, since often you will hear, “They are too young,” such as where Chimpanzee Tracking and or Gorilla Tracking is in package.  At Steady Safaris Tours we can assist you to put together a “family friendly safari.” You create it and we will help you in every way with suggestions, advice, travel times between parks and lodges that will be fun for the kids.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Gorilla tracking tours are governed by rules.



MOUNTAIN GORILLA TRACKING RULES


1). 8 visitors may visit a particular group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day this controls behaviour disturbance to the mountain gorillas.
2). Wash hands prior to tracking (before you depart the your lodging facilities wash your hands with soap).

3). Do not litter take back with you what you brought.
4). Tracking starts from last known GPRS (where mountain gorillas were last seen making nests).
5). Listen to the trekking leader of the day at all times please (representative of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, he is the boss).
6). Maintain a distance of 7meters between you and the gorillas when you find the gorillas.
7). Stay in tight group while observing the gorillas.
8). Keep you voices down and low at all times. Its okay to ask the guide questions but silently.
9). DO NOT eat or drink while your are in the presence of the Gorillas.
10). DO NOT look the Silverback in the eye. DO NOT run should the gorilla charge. Crouch down slowly should the gorilla charge. Follow the lead of the Leader from (UWA).
11). Turn the flash of your camera off.
12). DO NOT TOUCH THE GORILLAS.
13). You are allowed 1 hour with the gorillas maximum time.
14). Respect the 1 hour limited with the gorillas please.
15). If you are ill and we realize it we will NOT allow you to track the gorillas and we will not refund your money even before the Uganda Wildlife Authority stops you we will take it upon our selves to stop you as Steady Safaris Tours Limited.
16). If nature calls, toilet call or want to go to the bathroom, ask the trekking leader he will freely dig you a hole BUT ensure you cover up the hole when done with your business.