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5 Things to Know About Rwanda

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Rwanda Hills

A tiny nation with a tumultuous history indelibly marked by a gruesome genocide, Rwanda has undergone a dramatic turnaround in recent decades but is dogged by criticism over rights abuses and lack of political freedoms.

The former German and Belgian colony is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this week, 13 years after it joined the club of mainly former British colonies.

– The 1994 genocide –

On April 6, 1994, president Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down, killing him as he returned to Kigali from peace talks with Tutsi rebels who had been waging an insurgency since 1990.

It unleashed a genocide orchestrated by the ruling Hutu extremists. An estimated 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus, were slaughtered before Paul Kagame’s rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) took power.

The UN set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to try those accused of conducting the genocide. It tried several dozen people before wrapping up its work in 2015. Trials have also been held in Belgium, France and Rwanda itself.

– ‘Land of a thousand hills’ –

The “land of a thousand hills” lies in central Africa’s Great Lakes region and is home to almost 13 million people, one of the most densely populated countries on the continent.

The Hutus are the majority ethnic group, followed by the Tutsi, and the Twa pygmies, a minority group.

The World Bank has hailed the landlocked nation for “impressive development gains” since the genocide and said it hopes to achieve Middle Income Country status by 2035.

Rwanda has become a destination for conferences, sports tournaments and other events, billing itself “Africa’s Singapore”.

The economy grew by 10.9 percent last year, after the Covid pandemic drove it into recession in 2020, with services the main contributor ahead of agriculture and industry.

– ‘Grave’ rights concerns –

While Rwanda lays claim to being one of the most stable countries in Africa, rights groups accuse Kagame of ruling in a climate of fear, stifling dissent and free speech.

Kagame became president in April 2000, although he has been regarded as de facto leader since 1994.

He was returned to office — with more than 90 percent of the vote — in elections in 2003, 2010 and 2017. His most recent victory followed controversial constitutional amendments that allowed him to serve a third term and could see him rule until 2034.

Ahead of CHOGM, rights groups issued an open letter to Commonwealth leaders voicing “grave concerns” about the rights situation.

“Commentators, journalists, opposition activists, and others speaking out on current affairs and criticising public policies continue to face abusive prosecutions, enforced disappearances or have at times died under suspicious circumstances,” they said.

– Tricky ties –

Rwanda has a tempestuous relationship with several of its neighbours, including Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

After Kagame’s RPF took power, over one million Rwandan Hutus fled to Zaire, now the DRC. Kinshasa often accuses Rwanda of sending in troops and supporting armed militias on its soil. Rwanda meanwhile says its giant neighbour is a rear-base for groups hostile to Kigali.

Although ties improved under Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, tensions have heightened recently over the resurgence of the M23 rebel group.

Relations with Uganda were also strained over mutual accusations of espionage, kidnapping and support for rebels, but there has been a rapprochement this year.

Rwanda won its independence in 1962. Under Kagame it has moved closer to the English-speaking world, joining the Commonwealth in 2009, ironically at the same time France restored ties after a three-year break.

Kigali has long accused Paris of complicity in the genocide, charges denied by France although a 2021 report commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron found it bore “serious and overwhelming responsibility” for the bloodletting.

– Gorillas in the mist –

The popular Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park boasts hundreds of mountain gorillas, with numbers increasing thanks to stronger security measures and efforts to win over local villagers.

A 2015 census found there were more than 1,000 in the Virunga mountain range straddling Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC, and Uganda’s Bwindi Forest. They are now listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, while other great apes remain “critically endangered”.

In the 1980s decades of poaching had caused the mountain gorilla population to plunge to just 250 across the Virunga massif. Famed American primatologist Dian Fossey was murdered in Rwanda in 1985, allegedly because of her anti-poaching efforts. Her autobiography “Gorillas in the Mist” inspired the Hollywood film.

How to Choose a Rental Car in Tanzania

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Are you renting a car in Tanzania for your vacation? If yes, you should take your time to learn how to get the right type of car that will suit your vacation needs. Even if renting a vehicle for your Tanzania self drive adventure makes sense, you need to ensure that you find the right factor you should consider. Without any doubt, selecting the perfect car rental company is one of the complicated processes. However, if an individual wants a car rental service provider carefully, the overall process can be seamless and easy.

Below are factors that a person should consider when selecting the right company?

Conduct thorough Research

The process of choosing a car rental company can be tough if you do not have the right factors that you need to consider. That is why you need to start this process by conducting enough research. Ideally, there are thousands of car rental companies out there that can offer you better car rental services. However, to ensure that you find a reliable auto company, make sure you do your homework. Use up-to-date resources to get auto details that will help you to make the right choice.

Consider the location of the car rental company

As mentioned above, multiple car rental services have been established today, providing car rental services. However, when you are making your selection, one of the vital factors that you should remember is the rental company’s location that you intend to choose. Take your time to find a reliable car rental company that offers affordable car rental services and make sure it is situated in an easily accessible location. It is advisable to go for a car rental company located near your home in most cases.

Go through car rental terms

Before you hire or choose a car rental company, make sure you read and understand their terms and conditions. It is one of the common mistakes that most people commit when going for car rental services. It is advisable to read all the details and see if they suit your lifestyle. If you do not understand the information, ensure that you ask for clarification. But choose a car rental company that has reasonable terms and conditions.

Insurance & Policy variety

Different companies provide their customers with difference insurance cover at various prices. Therefore, depending on an individual`s cover needs & what he or she is prepared to be accountable for, he or she should choose a service provider basing on the insurance deals that they offer.

Reputation

The reputation of the car rental firm is one of the things that one should consider. So, it is paramount to read online testimonies and reviews before selecting a company.

Flexibility

Look for the company that is flexible. Such companies have various locations to drop off the rental vehicle. Truly, it is good to look for service providers that are inexpensive and lenient as far as drop off locations is concerned.

Convenience

Ask the convenience that the company offers before making a final decision. There are service providers that offer online bookings. Undeniably, the online interaction will save an individual a lot of time and stress.

Customer care services

A car rental firm that is well-known to offer excellent customer care services is a better choice. One can ask his or her friends, family members, workmates, or even neighbors about their experience in case they have used the services of a particular company before.

Vehicle selection

One might want to travel for a holiday with his or her family, a quick day outing, or a business trip. Whatever the situation, it is good to look for a particular car that suits personal needs.

When you are hiring a car rental company, make sure that you check on the available cars’ condition. Before you drive away in a rental car, ensure that it is in good condition. Ensure that you check for any signs and damage on the vehicle you intend to choose from the exterior and interior.

Cheap is not the best choice always

Though everyone strives to save money, choosing a cheap option while renting a vehicle might not necessary be the best for an individual`s needs.

The above are some of the factors that should always be considered when choosing the right car rentals services provider. Other factors include additional drivers and added extras among others.

Distance Traveled

Companies will normally offer you different rates when you rent their cars, one where you’ll have to pay for the number of kilometers you travel and another where you can travel without worrying about the distance. In terms of daily rate, paying per kilometer is usually the cheaper option.

When hiring, one with unlimited kilometers can travel freely without worrying about the extra cost. Normally when paying for the extra kilometers the daily rates will be much cheaper than the unlimited option.

Drop-off times & location

The drop off time and the company’s rules towards it are among the most vital factors to consider before hiring a car.  It is good to look for service providers that are inexpensive and lenient as far as drop off locations is concernedIn addition consider the company’s penalties for lateness and ensure you are comfortable with the penalties. Some companies might charge whole day charges just for delaying for an hour.

Value Addition

Ask the convenience that the company offers before making a final decision. There are service providers that offer online bookings. Without a doubt, online interaction will save time and stress. Some car rental companies may offer a bundle deal with discounted price for several extra items like GPS units, child seats, booster seat, and roof racks for an additional fee. Most car rental companies do not allow smoking in the car. Car rental companies will charge you a cleaning fee in case you do so. Some rental car companies may or may not charge for a chauffeur.

Conclusion

Choosing the right car hire company can be confusing and challenging at first if you do not know what you are looking because there are many factors to consider. This makes the task of choosing the right one stressful.

Best Destinations to Visit on Self Drive in Kenya

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Self Driving in Kenya

Planning to self-drive Kenya this season? Kenya is ranked among the top Africa safari destination due it’s richness in tourist attractions that range from wildlife, culture to landscapes and water bodies all of which contribute highly to the success of tourism in Kenya.

Being a very large tourist destination, Kenya is one of the best places to embark on a self-drive safari or guided road trip and much as the latter is a much safer and comfortable option, driving yourself offers you all the freedom and privacy you want adding spice to the road adventure.

If it’s your first time visiting and would love to self-drive Kenya alone, a s couple, a group of friends or family, we suggest you try out this self-drive itinerary for a full feel of some of the country’s best attractions.

Nairobi city

The capital city of Kenya is the perfect base for all safaris in Kenya, a place buzzing with local and international businesses. Top places to visit include the Nairobi national park, Giraffe center, Karen Blixen museum, Bomas of Kenya, Maasai market to mention but a few. You can also do some shopping before you exit the city or spend the night out mingling with the locals.

Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is just a 10 minutes’ drive from the center of Nairobi with only a fence separating the park’s wildlife from the metropolis. Nairobi’s skyscrapers can be seen from the park. Despite its proximity to the city and the relative small size of the park, Nairobi National Park boasts a large and varied wildlife population. Migrating wildebeest and zebra gather in the park during the dry season, and it is one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries.

Malindi

Malindi provides a very nice introduction to the coastal tourist attractions in Kenya with its extensive coral reefs and beautiful beaches. There are surfing, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing and other water sports. The Malindi Marine National Park is protected and has fine beaches clear water and very colorful fish. Malindi is served with a domestic airport and a highway between Mombasa and Lamu.

Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. The mountain offers a beautiful sight. Its series of peaks are crowned with snow, and its slopes are covered with forest. The 5199 meter (17,057 ft) high summit is a difficult technical climb, several lowers peaks however are an easy destination for any fit trekker.

Samburu National Reserve

Samburu National Reserve is a very peaceful national park in Northern Kenya. It attracts wildlife because of the Uaso Nyiro River that runs through it and the mixture of forest and grassland vegetation. All three big cats, lion, cheetah and leopard, can be found here, as well as elephants, buffalo and hippos. The Uaso Nyiro River contains large numbers of Nile crocodile.

Hell’s Gate National Park

Hell’s Gate National Park is a tiny park named after a narrow break in the cliffs, once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans in the Rift Valley. It is unique among Kenya’s wildlife parks, as you are allowed to walk or cycle without a guide. There’s dramatic scenery, with steep cliffs, gorges and basalt columns. The national park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, though many are few in number. Examples of little seen wildlife include lions, leopards, and cheetahs. 

Lamu Island

Lamu Island is a part of Kenya’s Lamu Archipelago, and has managed to stay unspoiled and untouched by the mass tourism that has hit much of Kenya’s coastline. As the oldest living town in Kenya, Lamu Town has retained all the charm and character built up over centuries. There are no roads on Lamu Island, just alleyways and footpaths, and therefore, there are few motorized vehicles on the island. Residents move about on foot or by boat, and donkeys are used to transport goods and materials.

Tsavo National Park

Tsavo is the largest national park in Kenya and one of the largest in the world. Due to its size the park was divided into Tsavo West and Tsavo East. The Tsavo West has spectacular scenery with a rolling volcanic landscape while Tsavo East has more open savannah than its western sibling. Tsavo National Park is the ideal destination in Kenya for people who seek solitude and privacy as well as the chance to explore the wilderness.

Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru is a very shallow lake in central Kenya. The lake’s abundance of algae attracts vast quantities of lesser flamingos, sometimes more than one million at once. Often called the greatest bird spectacle on earth, the flamingos are one of Kenya’s top attractions. Sadly, in recent years the number of flamingos at Lake Nakuru has been decreasing, due to environmental degradation and pollution.

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park is a relatively small park located close to the Tanzania border at the foot of Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. The park is famous for being the best place in Africa to get close to free-ranging elephants. Other attractions of the Amboseli National Park include opportunities to meet the Maasai people and spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the top tourist attractions in Kenya and the country’s most popular game park. Each year the Masai Mara National Reserve is visited by thousands of tourists who come here to watch the exceptional population of game and the annual migration of zebra and wildebeest. The “Great Migration” takes place every year from July to October when millions of wildebeest and zebra migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Conclusion

We believe that driving yourself at your own pace is the best way for a true Kenya safari adventure. If you are looking to hire a car in Kenya to explore this beautiful country, you have come to the right place. Kenya car rental is the best recognised car company in Kenya.

Self Drive Holidays in Africa

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This let’s discuss the two almost related traveling trails but a bit different in a one way or the other. A unique partial guided and the self-drive safari in Africa, the two words are subsequently correlated. Well, looking out for an independent way of exploring, both ideas can qualify for the request.

Either with a partial guided or a self-drive holiday tours, are both independent reflections where you have your holiday vehicle and with or without the driver. For African holiday tours ensure to procure a stronger safari vehicle which are customized for African safaris and enjoy the rest of the benefits.

Unique Partial Guided Holiday Tours

A traveling trail where one hire a car with a driver and take a self-controlled trip, it’s not like a fully guided trial where everything on a trip is handled by the operator. Here only have a driver who only responsible to take your decisions when driving. This is common for travelers who are not familiar with driving in new environment or with families or even can be applied to certain car rental fleets which are not rented out for self-drive.

Many car rental operators, as well tour operators have stood to provide this unique partial guided tour holiday. Where a tourist may need to rent a car with a driver only and do the rest of the planning and handling the ground work on their own.

An advantage is that many operators have opened door to offer partial guided tours across the regions of East Africa driving to Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya is possible. The southern Africa region driving to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia etc. and the sub-Sahara regions as well there operators who offer such services, only you need to have a real specifications about your trip and get the right chauffeur.

Partial guided holiday tours are so much preferred by travelers who are wishing a private way of exploring, but want to cruise as bosses. The common way of doing this becomes having a 4×4 car rental with a driver to avoid hassling with road terrains but chill at the chiefly seat.

Alright, making this possible, only have that holiday Jeep, overland or land cruiser and pay an extra of less than $40 dollars for driver and enjoy your unlimited unique partial guided holiday tour. And the advantage of such kind of trips, driver available for hire and well informed about the destinations, country and regions and this makes easy to cruise anywhere.

Self-Drive Holiday Tours

Want to trek mountain gorillas or track the chimpanzees, hiking one of the 4 highest African mountain peaks, watching variety of wild species in African open savannahs or the dramatic annual migration of thousands of wildebeests, want to take tropic rain forest walks on your own? Yes, make it possible by seating behind the wheels and decide your next stopovers.

Self-drive holiday tours have become so common where most of the travelers for various reasons have resorted to taking a self- catered drive. Only you have to do is procuring a 4×4 car rental that can cruise you to any of your desired destination. Driving your own adventure throughout Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania in your rented 4×4 cars and no cross border fees from the operators.

Imagine the thrills deciding your own route to take in foreign land, waking at the convenience in your own private camp, encountering nature’s habitat on your own pace. The collection of self-drive holidays bid faultless blend of flexibility to explore at your own pace with the benefit of following a well-researched route and having pre-booked accommodation or with your camping gears with you at the end of the day.

The faultless freedom of experiencing your allocated holiday destination is one of the best things coming with the idea of self-drive holiday. Can decide your stopovers for a photo break, stretching, spotting unique sceneries, and out on the open road there’s a wow factor around every corner across all our spectacular destinations.

For your own information, not that every vehicle is available to hire for a self-drive, but there are quite a wider fleet of ranges which one can choose from for the case of self-drive. These best 4×4 car hire options for self-drive holiday tours in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania include Toyota Land Cruiser (Prado TX/TZ, V8/GX and Hardtop), 4×4 Toyota Rav4, Super custom for families and Toyota Hilux Dual Cab. These records are the most enduring for a 4×4 self-drive in the African wilderness and an advice to make a choice from the mentioned.

Tор Reasons You Should Visit West Africa This Year

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Wеѕt Afriса may not be on thе tор 10 most common рlасеѕ tо vacation, but that makes thе triр аll the more worthwhile аѕ уоu dоn’t hаvе tо worry about an оvеrаbundаnсе оf other vacationers аnd tоuriѕtѕ during your stay. Wеѕt Afriса is culturally and hiѕtоriсаllу riсh with bеаutiful nаturаl wоndеrѕ tо ѕее with уоur оwn eyes. If уоu’rе rеаdу tо trаvеl thе road less-traveled, this iѕ just the рlасе fоr уоu.

When уоu think of a vacation you probably think оf hеаding tо one оf thе mаnу bеасhеѕ in Hаwаii or Cаlifоrniа оr mауbе еvеn Flоridа, ѕliding dоwn ѕnоw-соvеrеd ѕlореѕ in Denver or Aѕреn, оr bу ѕреnding time аt ѕоmе оf the mоѕt famous resorts ѕuсh аѕ Diѕnеу World. At the same time if you’re a bit lаx оn уоur budget and mоrе аdvеnturоuѕ, you mау bе mоrе than willing tо spend уоur timе vacationing in Europe, thе Cаribbеаn, оr роѕѕiblу еvеn thе Mеditеrrаnеаn. Though аll оf those рlасеѕ аrе wonderful, hаvе уоu еvеr considered a triр tо Wеѕt Afriса аѕ уоur next getaway destination?

Here аrе six reasons whу Wеѕt Afriса ѕhоuld be уоur nеxt vасаtiоn ѕроt:

Experience the West Afriсаn culture

Thе locals in Wеѕt Afriса аrе еxtrеmеlу inviting, hospitable, аnd аrе аlwауѕ open tо sharing thеir culture with any viѕitоr that thеу mау come intо соntасt with. Frоm triрѕ оn саmеlѕ tо wаtсhing and even раrtаking in ѕоmе оf thеir ѕрirituаl rituals аnd gаthеringѕ, during уоur vасаtiоn уоu саn trulу become оnе with the Wеѕt Africans. Kеер аn еуе оut fоr thе trаdе ports, ореn-аir markets in Mаli thаt fеаturе lосаl аrt аѕ well as muѕiс, аnd festivals that аrе соmmоnlу hеld in the tоwnѕ within thе region. Thе mаѕk dаnсе оf thе Dоgоnѕ iѕ dеfinitеlу a rituаl tо ѕее first-hand.

Trаvеl bу саmеl in most cities

While уоu’vе probably trаvеlеd by fооt, bу саr, by train, аnd bу рlаnе, it’ѕ dоubtful that уоu can say that you’ve еvеr traveled bу саmеl. In West Afriса traveling by саmеl iѕ a commonality аѕ locals hаvе tо trаvеrѕе thе dеѕеrt landscape, which isn’t dоаblе bу using cars оr оthеr соnvеntiоnаl mеаnѕ оf transportation. Tаkе a саmеl ridе tо vаriоuѕ tоuriѕt locations оr tо lеѕѕ traveled рlасеѕ such аѕ саvеѕ аnd smaller аttrасtiоnѕ. During уоur vасаtiоn, рrераrе уоurѕеlf to sit bеtwееn twо humрѕ!

The рink lаkе visit

Lаkеѕ are usually blue, ѕоmеtimеѕ with a tingе оf green, but in Wеѕt Africa, уоu саn ѕее аn аmаzing ѕight – a рink lаkе. Simрlу knоwn as thе Lac Rose, Pink Lake, or Lаkе Retba, this lаkе iѕ lосаtеd in Dаkаr аnd it is trulу a ѕight tо bе seen. Naturally thе lаkе givеѕ оff a рink-рurрlе hue duе tо the high amounts оf salt and суаnоbасtеriа in thе water. Thе high аmоuntѕ оf ѕаlt аttrасt salt harvesters whо are commonly аt thе lаkе. Thе соlоr of the wаtеr сhаnсеѕ dереnding on thе time оf day аѕ wеll as where the ѕun iѕ ѕitting in the ѕkу.

Viѕit thе Grаnd Mosque

Mosques аrе designed tо bе еxtrаvаgаnt аnd еlеgаnt аѕ they are mеаnt tо portray ѕрirituаlitу, power, and a ѕеnѕе оf truе ѕtrеngth. Hоwеvеr, whеn уоu visit Wеѕt Africa, you’ll probably соmе асrоѕѕ whаt iѕ knоwn as thе Grand Mosque, аnd whilе the ѕizе of it ѕurеlу livеѕ uр tо itѕ nаmе, thе mоѕԛuе iѕ dеfinitеlу nоt as оrnаtе аѕ you’d рrоbаblу imagine. In fасt, thе Grаnd Mоѕԛuе, аlѕо known as thе Grеаt Mosque of Djenné, iѕ thе largest mud building in thе world. Thеrе аrе no соnсrеtе-рillаrѕ or ѕtееl-еnfоrсеd bеаmѕ structurally supporting thiѕ amazing ѕtruсturе. Whilе nо truе dаtе iѕ knоwn, it iѕ ѕаid thаt thе mоѕԛuе was firѕt built ѕоmеwhеrе between 1200-1330.

Soak uр thе sun on bеасhеѕ in Senegal

Bеасhеѕ аnd vacations juѕt gо tоgеthеr. Thоugh Southern Afriса is рrоbаblу bеѕt knоwn fоr its bеасhеѕ, Wеѕt Afriса аlѕо оffеrѕ beaches that аrе wоrth strolling оn fоr a few hоurѕ. Mоѕt оf the bеасhеѕ аrе lосаtеd among Senegal’s 350-mile ѕtrеtсh of ѕаnd аnd сriѕр water with thе bеаutiful wаrm ѕun above you. At thе beaches уоu саn ѕаil, jеt-ѕki, wаtеr-ѕki, snorkel, аnd ѕсubа-divе. Yоu will also find palm trees, coconuts, аnd еvеn mаngо trees. The beaches, fоr the most раrt, hаvе the perfect 80-degree tеmреrаturе with a ѕlight sea brееzе.

Sреnd timе in mуѕtifуing Mоrоссо

Mоrоссо iѕ one оf thе most misunderstood and mуѕtеrу-induсing рlасеѕ оn еаrth аnd mаnу whо knоw about it саll it a natural paradox tо ѕау thе lеаѕt. Here traditional vаluеѕ and аrсhitесturе have mixed with tоdау’ѕ newer idеаѕ аnd wауѕ of lifе. In Mоrоссо уоu will find iсоniс rеligiоuѕ ѕtruсturеѕ dаting сеnturiеѕ bасk to luѕh bоtаniсаl gаrdеnѕ thаt add vivid соlоrѕ аnd scenes to thе dеѕеrt landscape thаt trails thrоughоut thе сitу. In Morocco уоu саn also еnjоу cuisine of the region which inсludеѕ Frеnсh-inѕрirеd diѕhеѕ with a hint оf Wеѕt Afriса spices and twinges.

Nоw whаt аrе уоu ѕtill wаiting fоr? Piсk uр уоur vасаtiоn bаg аnd еxрlоrе Africa!

“Cradle of Humankind” A World Heritage Site in South Africa

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South Africa has long been held to be the original Cradle of Humankind by many archaeologists, anthropologists and scientists over the years. This is due to the profusion of fossilised bones, teeth and other human remains, as well as the remnants of ancient tools and implements that can be found in this part of the continent. In fact, South Africa is home to the world’s most productive site in terms of hominid remains. So acclaimed is this locale that it was named the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in December 1999.

This heritage site is located in Krugersdorp, just outside the metropole of Johannesburg. More specifically, it is in the Sterkfontein valley, and stretches for almost 50 000 hectares (approximately 124 000 acres). The land is now privately owned, but was once the possession of our earliest human ancestors.

The entire Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is made up of several other sites, all of which have produced valuable findings of ancient hominids. Initially, the sites that made up this official landmark were Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs. Six years later, Makapan and Taung were listed as serial sites. These combine to form the South Africa’s Fossil Hominid Sites.

These sites are so valuable to research and the history of our entire species because of several discoveries:

Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site1935 – The first fossils of a being that is believed to be a human ancestor in ape form are found by Robert Broom. This species is known as the Australopithecus africanus and is thought to have lived over 4 million years ago.
1938 – Young Gert Terrblanche is exploring Kromdraai when he discovers bone that turns out to be fragments from an ancient skull. The owner of the skull is found to be a Paranthropus robustus (a being that lived approximately 1.8 million years ago and developed very strong teeth and jaws to survive on the dry vegetation of the time).
1938 – A tooth believed to be from an ancient ape-man is found between Kromdraai and Sterkfontein.
1948 – Robert Broom returns to Swartkrans Cave and finds hominin remains. This group includes all Homo species, Australopithecines and a few other groups of ancient humans.
1954 to mid 1980’s – CK Brain conducts extensive research in many of the sites that make up the World Heritage Site and discovers a plethora of hominid remains.
1966 to present – Phillip Tobias continues to excavate and explore Sterkfontein.
1991 – The Gladysvale site produces its first hominid remains, discovered by Lee Berger.
1994 – Drimolen becomes the latest addition to yield hominid remains (found by André Keyser).
1997 – Two teeth are found at Gondolin by Kevin Kuykendall and Colin Menter.
1997 – Ron Clarke discovers a skeleton that has almost all of its components. This is dubbed “Little Foot” and is believed to have roamed the earth approximately 2.5 million years ago.
2001 – The first human remains are found by Steve Churchill and Lee Berger at Plovers Lake and the very first tools and implements used by ancient man are discovered at Coopers.

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is, for the most part, perched on dolomite rock. This type of material dissolves slightly and gradually in water, which grants it the perfect composition in which to form fossils. This type of material also forms caves more easily. This fact is testified to by the more than 200 caves in the area. The discovery of animals (both modern and extinct), hominids and their implements (such as axes made of stone) have largely been in these caves.

Then, over 30 000 years ago, the African tribes of |Xam and Khoe-San people inhabited the area, followed by the Sotho-Tswana folk in the 1500’s and the Mzilikazi in the 1800’s. Since the arrival of the British colonialists and the Dutch, the area became more and more urban. However, this urbanisation and development has had no negative impact on the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. In fact, it has enabled researchers as well as visitors from all over the world to access the site and learn even more about ancient Africa and its inhabitants, lending it an enormous amount of credence as the true Cradle of Humankind.

To learn more about The World Heritage Site in Maropeng, South Africa, please visit:  http://www.maropeng.co.za

Africa – Origin of Man

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Africa the Origin of Man

The recent African “Origin of Man” theory or Recent African Origin (RAO) model is designed to explain the origin of earliest humans in Africa. This continent is believed to be the Cradle of Humankind, the first point from which humans originated. This is also known as the Recent Single-Origin Hypothesis or RSOH, as it places the development of the modern civilizations and, indeed, mankind as originating from one central point.

Darwin’s theories in the 1800’s were the original basis for this belief. He hypothesised that all modern life is merely an evolution of an extinct version of the same type of animal and in the same region it had once occupied. Because Charles Darwin believed that all human beings were merely descendants of a prehistoric and extinct ape, this placed the origin of man in the same area as the original site of the apes; i.e. Africa. This theory was supported half a century later by fossils and remains of an ancient hominid civilization and their implements. These were found in Africa. This was the theory of MONOGENISM.

However, in more recent times, DNA evidence as well as anthropological findings have worked together to further add to Darwin’s original ideas. The first human beings are believed to have replaced Neanderthals approximately 150 000 years ago, having been the earliest ancestors of humans on earth. This means that, according to this popular theory, all other mankind on earth originated, at some time in human history, from Africa.

Most scientists believe that the Cradle of Mankind is in East Africa. This is largely because of Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania archaeological and fossilized remains that have been found in significant sites in this part of the vast continent. These include the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and Koobi Fora in Kenya.

The 1800’s saw the input of different researchers and anthropologists and thus was born an opposing theory called POLYGENISM. This proposed that the human race is made up of smaller civilisations that developed independently of one another from prehistoric hominids. This theory petered out by the mid 1900’s, although some scientists still hold firm to this conviction.

Major advances were made when, in the late 20th century, technology was developed that could date the migration of man around and out of Africa. Then, in 2000, further developments and testing could trace the mtDNA sequence of Mungo Man – an Australian predecessor of human beings, according to researchers and anthropologists.

There remain many questions and doubts regarding these and other theories and their reliability. Scientific research and archaeological findings present much fascinating evidence, but contradictions, gaps and lack of substantial bases cast doubt. However, most scientists still believe Africa to be the origin of man and the true Cradle of Humankind.

Explore Rwenzori Mountains, the Mountains of the Moon

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Rwenzori Mountains

The Rwenzori Mountains National Park derives its name from the Rwenzori Mountain range, a larger portion of which straddles on the side of Uganda. The park was officially established in 1991 and later, recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is an excellent area worth visiting for mountaineering and treks mainly involve conquering the 6 massifs and their peaks.

The 6 peaks of the Rwenzori Mountain chain include Mt. Stanley 5109m and this is known for its magical Magherita peak. Mt. Speke 4890m and this features 4 summits including Johnston, Emanuele, Trident, and Ensonga. Together with Mt. Stanley and Mt. Baker, Mt. Speke makes a triangle enclosing Bujuku valley. There is also Mt. Emin Pasha and Mt. Gessi.

Geographical Location

Rwenzori Mountains is a block mountain sitting within the beautiful Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Western Uganda. The snow-capped mountain straddles at the edge of border area with D.R. Congo and surrounded by 3 districts of Kabarole, Kasese and Bundibugyo. It is found at a close proximity to Equator where its weather and climatic conditions are greatly influenced by the inter-tropical convergence zone.

Things to See in the Rwenzoris

The park’s main attractions besides Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon include wildlife, birds- 217 species including Albertine rift endemic species, butterflies, reptiles, lakes-20 in total, rivers, vegetation zones, cultures and many more.

Wild animals in Rwenzori Mountains

Rwenzori Mountains plays a significant part when it comes to wildlife conservation. The block mountain supports a range of habitats where Rwenzori Mountains National Park wildlife thrive including 70 mammal species, 217 bird species.  The different species of wild animals worth looking for while on Uganda safari in Rwenzori Mountains include Rwenzori otters, chimpanzees, Rwenzori duikers, montane squirrel, three-horned chameleon, black and white colobus monkeys, leopard, elephant, giant forest hog, frogs, blue monkeys, Rwenzori climbing mouse, bush bucks, Rwenzori colobus monkeys, hyrax. 

Lakes in the Rwenzori Mountain range

There are 20 Lakes in the Rwenzori Mountains alone. Lake Bujuku is undoubtedly the major lake and it is found at the top of a deep and curved glacier Bujuku valleys. This is along the shadows of Mount Speke, Baker and Mt. Stanley. The other important water lake is Lake Mahoma which you can explore while trekking along the Central Circuit Forest.

Birds

The Rwenzori are one of the most important bird areas in Uganda. Even though there are only 195 species recorded in the park, among them are many rare, threatened and endemic species. The probably most noticeable bird is the Rwenzori Turaco. But also the Francolins, Olive Pigeon, White Necked Raven and Mountain Buzzards are seen in the Range.

Adventure Activities in the Rwenzoris

There are exciting safari activities that can be done in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. From popular Rwenzori mountain climbs to birding, game viewing, cultural encounters / experiences, a lot await you in the Rwenzoris;

The Rwenzori Mountains is most visited for the following;

Mountain climbing-the main reason for most visits in the Rwenzori Mountain range. Get to hike to the highest peaks including the Margherita peak at 5109m which takes you about 8-9 days or more. All Rwenzori mountaineering adventure are conducted with lead of the experienced guides.

Birding-About 217 bird species make Rwenzori Mountains an important birding site and these are available for visitors to identify while on birding safaris. The birds of interest at Rwenzori Mountains include Kivu thrush, slender billed starling, handsome francolins, Rwenzori turaco, long eared owl, cinnamon chested bee-eaters, apalis, archer’s robin chat, golden winged sunbirds, white starred robin, montane sooty boubou, strange weaver, flycatchers.

Nature walks and hiking, cultural encounters are among the many alternatives to explore and experience Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda. There are designated nature walking trails and cultural trails leading to the Bakonzo communities.

What to pack for Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon safari

There is a long list of items to have packed for your actual nature walk/hiking safari in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. They include daypack-waterproof, insect repellents, camera, first aid kit, long sleeved shirts, trousers, walking shoes/boots that are waterproof, sunglasses, socks, water, binoculars etc. If you plan to visit Rwenzori Mountains for nature walk, make sure that you pack appropriately and wear environmentally friendly cloths.

Best time to go Rwenzori Mountaineering/climbing

Unlike other usual safari activities, Rwenzori Mountain climbing is perfectly done during the dry season. The dry months of the year in the Rwenzori Mountains are experienced starting June, July, August and December, January, February. These months are preferred by most climbers due to low or even no rains and the trails kept drier which eases visitor climbing adventure to the peaks.

However, visits can still be made to Rwenzori Mountains National Park even during the rainy/wet/low season-(March to May, October, November). The disadvantage about this season is that heavy rains are experienced and trails become slippery-making climbing a little challenging. But you can embark on a number of activities including nature walks, birding, community visits since rains often start and stop shortly. Besides, nature walks or hikes begin early and by the time rains begin, visitors would have returned or covered a significant distance of their trail.

Accommodations

The Rwenzori Mountains National Park in particular has the best comfortable places to stay or book any around the nearby towns like Fort Portal, Kasese, Bundibugyo. In and around Rwenzori Mountains, the best places to book for your hiking or birding tours include Hotel Margherita, Ruboni Community Camp. Mihunga Lodge. The huts are also distributed through the hiking trails if you are undertaking mountaineering adventure and along central circuit, they include John Matte, Nyabitaba hut, Elena hut, Guy Yeoman hut etc.

Getting to the park

The main options to get to Rwenzori Mountains National Park are; by road and by air. By road, there are many routes leading to the park but the important ones if you are setting off from Kampala or Entebbe are; Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara to Kasese to Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon or Kampala via Fort Portal route. If you choose setting off using flight, the perfect alternative is arrange scheduled/chartered flight from Entebbe Airport to Kasese airstrip and this is close to Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Rwenzori National Park sits suitably in the Western part of Uganda and it is surrounded by 3 districts; Bundibugyo, Kasese and Kabarole. The park is occupies all 1000sq.kms of land area and protects diversity of animal species 70 mammal species, 217 bird species, amphibians and reptiles, 6 vegetation zones.

Best 5 Places For Tracking Chimpanzees In East Africa

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Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe

With a wealth of luxuriant tropical rainforests, East African safaris offer some of the most unforgettable chimpanzee trekking adventures on Earth. From the Afro-montane forests of Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park to Kibale and Budongo Forests of Uganda, to the Mahale and Gombe Stream Parks of Tanzania, primate lovers are spoilt for choice with the spectacular destinations offering chances of seeing our close cousins in their natural habitats.

Chimpanzee trekking adventures involve walking through dense forests, led by expert guides and armed rangers on foot but there are also chances of encountering other iconic primates that live in the same habitats as chimpanzees. Whether you are a first-timer or seasoned primate trekker, you are sure to be mind-blown by our choices for the top 5 places for tracking chimpanzees in East Africa;

Kibale Forest National Park

kibale chimp trackingKibale Forest National Park is possibly the most popular chimpanzee trekking destination in East Africa. With approximately 795 square kilometers, this Park shelters over 1500 of Uganda’s 5000 chimpanzees hence making it every traveler’s number one choice for chimpanzee treks. This Park is characterized by relatively easy and flat terrains as well as dense undergrowth but the one hour allotted for observation and photography makes you forget all the challenges encountered in trekking these Great Apes for several hours. With Kibale, it is possible to undertake the “Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Uganda”, an all-day activity allowing visitors to visit a semi-habituated chimpanzee troop to watch them go about their daily routines from the time they rise to the time they make their nests at only $250 per person per trek. Permits for normal chimpanzee treks in this Park are at $200 and guarantee one hour with these Great Apes.

Budongo Forest, in Kaniyo-Pabidi sector

Budongo Forest is situated within the north-western corner of Murchison Falls Conservation Area, close to Lake Albert and in the North-West of Uganda. It extends for over 825 square kilometers and shelters more than 600 chimpanzees within its dense rainforest. The majority of the treks in this Forest are conducted at the Kaniyo-Pabidi sector (south) and begin with a briefing at Budongo Information Center (adjacent to Budongo Eco Lodge). However, the canopy of Budongo Forest is denser than in Kibale Forest National Park, thus becoming more challenging to trek than it is in the latter. A Permit to trek chimpanzees in Budongo Forest costs $100 per person per trek and allows participants t walk for hours in the forest searching for the Great Apes and spend one hour with the habituated troop.

Nyungwe Forest National Park

nyungwe forestExtending for approximately 1000 square kilometers, Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park is another excellent place for tracking Chimpanzees in East Africa. There are over 500 chimpanzees and two habituated chimpanzee Troops (one around Uwinka and another at Cyamudongo, a fragmented forest). Besides trekking chimpanzees, visitors to Nyungwe Forest are offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of undertaking the iconic canopy walk that you won’t experience in other chimpanzee trekking destinations in East Africa. Permits for trekking chimpanzees cost only $150 and provide chances of seeing chimpanzees alongside other primates and birds of the Park.

Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania is another excellent place for tracking chimpanzees in East Africa and shelters about 800 individuals within its diverse landscapes. These chimpanzees were habituated by the Japanese Research Project established in the 1960s and what makes the experience here magical are the white sand beaches and azure waters of Lake Tanganyika that offer relaxation after hectic treks in the jungles. Besides chimpanzees, other primates in this Park are the extraordinary Angola Colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, red colobus monkeys, blue monkeys alongside a plethora of forest bird species. Permits for this Park cost only $150 per person per trek.

Gombe Stream National Park

Extending for only 52 square kilometers, Chimpanzee trekking in Tanzania’s smallest National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This Park was gazetted in 1968 and extends through the steep slopes and River Valleys bordering the northern sandy shores of Lake Tanganyika. With a permit of $100 per person, you will have a chance to walk through this tinny Protected Area, made famous by the research works of Jane Goodall.

Best time to Track Chimpanzees in East Africa

Chimpanzee tracking in East Africa is conducted all year round but these adventures are more enjoyable during the dry season. For Uganda and Rwanda, dry seasons extend from June to August/September and January to February) when trails are drier and less muddy/slippery For Tanzania, the dry season is from June through October and offers the best chimpanzee spotting opportunities given the fact that these Great Apes favor the lower slopes.

Go on a Self Drive Safari in Kenya

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Kenya Safari

You have a million reasons to visit Kenya for self drive tour. With self drive safaris, you can create an adventure of your own. There are endless options for one to experience Kenya but self drive stands out. Leaving the driver guide behind and you explore Kenya on your own is by far an amazing opportunity of a lifetime. Yes, a self drive in Kenya has multiple advantages over the organized tours. Here are some of the reasons why you should choose a self-drive safari in Kenya;

Ultimate freedom

Independent travel in Kenya/self drive is by far a more flexible travel option that gives solo travelers opportunity to freedom to explore what the country has to offer at their pace. You enjoy ultimate freedom which the usual safaris don’t give.

Because you are a sole manager of your Kenya tour, there is opportunity to make a stop visits to multiple tourist sites while en-route. Secondly, you can start your trip from different part of Kenya and venture into the community which makes it possible to give back to the local communities. You can even go camping which makes it more affordable because some self-drive rental cars in Kenya are fitted with camping gear.

Affordability

For budget/backpackers on Kenya safaris, a self-drive tour is amazingly a great chance to explore and experience the Magical Kenya. It is a more affordable alternative means to explore Kenya than the guided safaris. What is important is that choose the right rental car from the many options available. In case of big groups or family tours, hire a car in Kenya that can accommodate the number of people you plan to travel with.

When hiring a car for a self drive in Kenya, you can find a rental car at USD30 per day or USD88 per day for van rentals or if you are interested in a 4×4 rentals. Important tip: Book your self drive car in Kenya with a reputable tour operator and you will have detailed information about your rental, destination, rates etc.

Comfort & privacy

While on self-drive in Kenya, you can choose your own kind of rental car to use and also the friends/family members. Not everyone likes traveling with strangers and with self drive, you have that chance to get on a road trip with persons you are comfortable traveling with. Besides, the self drive rental cars in Kenya are all in their better mechanical conditions, the seats are comfortable, no crowds like if you traveled using a bus, matatu.

Excellent game viewing

With a self drive, you can stop next to the road at the national park or reserve at any time, enjoy sight of wildlife at your pace. Also, you won’t be interrupted unlike when you travel in a group and everyone is struggling to have space to capture the best shots of the game in the wild. If you want to have the most of Masai Mara Reserve game viewing experience, the big game viewing, wildebeest migration, camping etc consider a self-drive a must do and you won’t regret.

You are the manager

Self drive tours in Kenya mean you become sole manager/in charge of your trip unlike most guided safaris. With self drive, you can choose which wildlife species to sight for and spend more time with.

Safety

Unlike the past, Kenya is currently safe for self drive tour. You can embark on a road trip to the Masai Mara National Reserve for your self drive trips safely to enjoy the wildebeest migration. But, before traveling to any part of the country, get to know the current state of security in the area you plan to visit.