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From the blog

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas and adjacent communities

On Wednesday 10 January, Africa’s critically endangered mountain gorillas got a major boost when the Rwandan Government received 27.8 hectares of land from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to create more gorilla roaming space in the famous Volcanoes National Park.  This is the first expansion in three decades for Africa’s oldest park.

Rwanda has recorded an unprecedented 3.7 per cent annual increase in mountain gorillas over the last decade, with numbers rising from 380 in 2003 to 480 at the last census in 2010 (the next census results are expected in March).  


This population growth has demonstrated the potential for mountain gorillas to thrive in larger and less vulnerable numbers, as well as the need for more space.  Currently, the primates frequently roam outside the park boundaries, putting them in direct conflict with the surrounding community. Mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to diseases transmitted by humans, so there’s a crucial need for a buffer zone between their habitat and human settlements to better protect both people and gorillas.

AWF, with support from the Annenberg Foundation, purchased land directly adjacent to the park from Serena Hotels in 2017 to provide more space for the rare primates.

“Gorillas are a global treasure. The fact that people travel from all over the world and are willing to pay $1,500 USD to see mountain gorillas demonstrates the extraordinary value of these awesome mammals,” said Benjamin Mkapa, co-chair of AWF and former president of Tanzania, after the land-exchange event on Wednesday.

Following the donation from AWF, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Chief Executive Officer Clare Akamanzi said, “Today’s donation to Volcanoes National Park is a major step in the consolidation of Rwanda’s conservation gains for the benefit of communities today and future generations. Through gorilla conservation and tourism, we are directly benefiting from these wonderful animals. The gorillas must be very excited and beating their chests about this.”

Rwanda has demonstrated that a country can support a robust economy including infrastructure development whilst simultaneously protecting the environment, said AWF’s President Mr. Kaddu Sebunya, during the park ceremony in Kinigi, northern Rwanda. He added that if mountain gorillas are going to survive in the long term, Volcanoes National Park must be strategically protected, and he challenged the African elite to lead the transformation of the continent and protect its natural resources.

“Conserving Africa’s wildlife is too important, too urgent, to be left largely to charity and the West alone,” said Mr. Sebunya. “Increasingly we see success when governments take charge of the vision, and when citizens own the narrative of conservation. What Rwanda and the RDB leadership are teaching us, is that there is nothing inevitable about conservation challenges in Africa today.” 

In 2016, Volcanoes National Park generated an impressive $16.4 million USD from park entry fees. 10 per cent of earnings from gorilla tourism in Rwanda are funneled back into the local community to support shared social services, infrastructure development, employment, community engagement, empowerment, and livelihood development. Visitor numbers have grown 82 per cent since 2007, proving that there is also an increasing demand to see the primates in their natural habitat.

Mountain gorillas are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and are only found in the Virunga Massif and in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda). They represent one of the four great apes that live in Africa, but are the only great ape whose population is increasing.

Wednesday’s land donation marks another step in the right direction for Rwanda’s animal and human populations, furthering a model of growth and sustainability that has set the benchmark for conservation and development efforts across the continent.  The handover ceremony, comes on the back of a large tourism investment forum held in Uganda in late 2017, co-hosted by AWF and Uganda’s Giant’s Club, that demonstrates AWF’s commitment to support tourism as part of Africa’s economic future.

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Customer Reviews

Ngoni Safaris Uganda

Customer Reviews

Michael T 06/June/2021

Above & Beyond
Review of: 3-Day Gorillas trekking and Batwa Experience
Sedrick went above and beyond to accomodate our request for an itinerary alteration due to our compressed time in Uganda. He also compeltely took care of scheduling our covid 19 testing and drove us to the site on arrival.

Our driver/guide Ben was also outstanding!

**We highly recommend using a porter during gorilla trekking as their are some complex parts to the trail/terrain. This also benefits the local people by providing them work.**

David 24/June/2021

Seeing Lots of Animals and Uganda
The schedule suited my time in Uganda exactly and was a great opportunity to view some of the top wildlife and natural wonders of the country. Lodgings range from mid-range to near upscale and are in beautiful locations. Food is good and ample. My driver, Stanley, was expert at spotting wildlife and, very importantly on the Ugandan roads, a careful and skilled driver. You see various parts of the country on this tour, and due to distances, be aware you'll spend quite a few hours on the road. One thing they might add is an itinerary going into more detail ahead of time on each day's activity and suggested things to bring. I was concerned about the needed COVID test for return home, but they took care of arranging that, and it turned out successfully. Overall the tour was a real highlight and is highly recommended.

Justo Nov 18, 2019

I went on an 11 day safari visiting Kampala, Jinja, Lake Mburo NP, Bwindi NP, Queen Elizabeth NP and Kibale NP. Communications with Ngoni were prompt and easy from the start. As soon as I made my booking, Sedrick contacted me through WhatsApp and guided me through the rest of the process. Leading up to the tour he made sure I was well-prepared to begin. He was always very clear and friendly. Service was exceptional. I had the pleasure of going on this safari with three members of Ngoni's staff - Sedrick, Nelson and Joel. These guys made my comfort their priority from the moment we met. Whether it was checking if I was okay with the accommodations or making sure I always had a bottle of water, I always felt like I was being well taken care of. Nelson is an excellent guide. His knowledge about the flora and fauna of Uganda was extensive, always able to answer any questions I had and was eager to teach - it's obvious that he has a great love for his country and it's environment and is eager to share this love with his clients. My experience with Ngoni and Uganda surpassed all expectations I had. Absolutely amazing, and thanks to the guys at Ngoni it feels like a new home - can't wait to come back and visit. Webale, brothers!

Stephany Aug 13, 2019
Sedrick was unique and stood out from the rest in the high quality communication he provided since the first inquiry. He called me to provide information about the itinerary and see if I had any questions even before booking the tour. We communicated through WhatsApp for any other questions that came to mind after that call. After picking me up from the airport, he and Pilot (additional tour guide) provided plenty of information about the country to give me some context and we started our long drive to the impenetrable forest. The food was delicious with many options; the accommodation was very clean with exceptional service; and the transportation from Entebbe to Bwindi park was very comfortable (although long). As a solo female traveler, both tour guides (Sedrick and Pilot) did an exceptional job at enduring I accomplished everything intended to in Uganda, and always made me feel safe. I highly recommend to book your safari with this company because the quality and professionalism will not let you down.

Shakira Dec 14, 2018

Ngoni safaris uganda is the best tour operator in Uganda. A few weeks back we traveled to Bwindi impenetrable with sedrick to explore the beauty that is Uganda. This company took care of us . with most comfortable car , Great guide .We highly recommend it to the next travelers

Winnie Dec 19, 2018
I was going on a gorilla safari with my friend and this was going to be the first ever safari for the both of us. Luckily, the communication with the office was super easy and we got answers to all of the questions we needed. The driver / guide (Sedrick) was very professional and funny and made our time very pleasant. Also, he had a proper knowledge of the local area close to the Mgahinga national park and he promptly spoke some 7 languages which we thought was super positive. The safari was surely the highlight of out East African trip!

Ritah Jan 2, 2019
My Team and I did a five day trip, including Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls and Kidepo. It was truly an incredible experience. Our guide, Sedrick, was knowledgeable, skilled in driving in some challenging settings and just plain fun to hang out with for five days. The lodging was perfect, especially Savannah Lodge. The tents and beds were high quality. The views were spectacular. Meals were delicious and varied. I recommend Ngoni safaris Uganda with all my heart and soul!

Pilot May 28, 2019
Our six days trip was amazing. The driver/guide had an incredible knowledge of animal and bird-life and are so interesting to talk to. His driving skills through lashing rain and massive puddles was admirable! The cooks managed to produce varied and delicious meals from the kitchen, which we ate both at accommodation or roadside when we were travelling from one place to another . At all times we felt safe and well-looked after. All in all, an incredible experience, due not only to the abundance of wildlife we were lucky enough to see, but also to the great efforts put to have our Safari a better one . The safari was full of fun. Traveling with ngoni safaris is my life time memorable experience and I highly recommend it to travellers who would love to visit uganda or EastAfrica for holidays, vacations or Adventure.. Even five stars are too small .