Great Lakes Safaris


Great Lakes Safaris

June 2008

With this newsletter we ask your special attention for the Nkuringo gorilla family, living in the south of Bwindi National Park. Read more about the disputed exclusiveness of these mountain gorillas and their permits and let us know how you feel about it!

1.   Uganda in South Africa
Great Lakes Safaris is proud to be one of the Ugandan delegates that attended the INDABA exhibition in South Africa. INDABA 2008 was held from 10-13 May in Durban and is one of the largest tourism marketing events in Africa. It not only showcased a variety of Southern African tourism products, including safari companies, game lodges and transport, but also attracted many international visitors and media from across the world.

In order to introduce the Pearl of Africa to the Southern African market and to improve the information flow, Great Lakes Safaris devoted four days representing Uganda with scheduled appointments and ad-hoc meetings. As in many countries, the presence of the mountain gorillas turned out to be the main attraction. But visiting Uganda for a brief gorilla safari would be an injustice to the country! With its wide savannah plains, teemed with wildlife, snow-capped mountains, clear lakes and lush tropical rainforests, it has so much more to offer!
We invite you, together with our neighbours from Southern Africa to come and experience this green heart of Africa yourself!
More about the Indaba Tourism Fair...


2.  Exclusiveness of the Nkuringo gorilla (permits)
The dense rainforest of Bwindi National Park is home to an estimated 340 of the 720 mountain gorillas left in the world. These 340 gorillas comprise over 32 families, each having between 10 and 30 members including one or two Silverbacks. Of the 32 groups, only four families are accessible for tourists, though two other groups are likely to be open for tourism by the end of this year.

To be able to visit the small population of mountain gorillas, one needs to purchase a gorilla permit, for which the sale always has been carefully monitored and controlled by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

During the habituation process of the Nkuringo group - one of the Baby Mountain Gorillafour gorilla families - it was discovered that the gorillas shared their land with the local community, which obvioulsy lead to negative consequences for both animals and people. After several discussions with UWA and other institutions, the Nkuringo community decided to move from this land for the purpose of gorilla conservation. In return, the community would be compensated by the construction of an eco-lodge, from which a part of the revenues would go directly to them.

So far this seems a generous gesture, which is fully supported by all stakeholders in the tourism sector. However, besides the contruction of an eco-lodge, UWA also decided to "privatize" 6 of the 8 Nkuringo permits, such that the grant majority of tourists would have to spend their nights in the newly built lodge.

And this is where the problem comes in. Since the responsibility of the lodge management is given to The Uganda Safari Company (TUSC), this single tour operator has now received the monopoly of the gorilla permits. All national and foreign visitors who are interested in these permits, can only apply when they spend at least two nights in the lodge. A lodge where a room costs USD $900 per night...

This means not only a denial of your freedom to decide where to stay, but subsequently all other local companies in the close surroundings will be put out of business. Small guesthouses, locally owned restaurants, souvenir shops and other suppliers, who have been welcoming tourists for many years, now have no other choice than closing their family business.

Besides that, also many local safari companies will be touched by this decision. Due to the rising demand for gorilla permits, the competition is high. But with the disputed exclusiveness via TUSC, fair competition has become impossible.

So what justifies the decision to have the sale of permits handled by a particular tour operator? The opening of a new exclusive lodge certainly not! And more important, how will it affect the protection of the mountain gorillas and their habitat? Contribution to the conservation of gorillas, as well as benefiting the local community, can be realized in so many different ways - with the fullest support of all of us! So why should the permits be tagged to this upmarket lodge, and consequently creating a strict selection of who can visit the gorillas in the future and who not!

The new lodge is more than welcome! But to "use" the gorillas to win extra guests can not be justified in any way! The gorillas are a natural resource and can not "belong" to a single safari company or accommodation.

Self-evidently, we can not let this happen. We have urged the involved organizations to cancel the agreement. And we need YOUR support as well! So speak your mind and sign the following petition:


3.  Meet our staff... Jaynefer
In the past editions you had the opportunity to meet some of our valued and experienced guides. But also behind the scenes, the office staff works hard to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that your safari will become an experience of a lifetime!

Meet Jaynefer, who started working with Great Lakes Safaris from the very beginning. With her never-ending dedication and commitment, she has been greatly involved in the success of Great Lakes Safaris during the past 7 years.
"My name is Jaynefer Mukasa Muluya. I was raised in a humble Jaynefer Mukasa Muluyaand Christian Born-Again family residing in one of the Kampala suburbs called Makindye. I have visited many of the East Africa's tourism destinations and I am really interested in promoting tourism. I hold an MBA to suit my position and I completed my Bachelor's degree in Tourism Management (MUK). On top of that carried on a research about the potential of developing Aqua-Tourism in Wetlands with the case of Uganda.
I look forward to seeing that the world is informed about the unknown beauty and potential of tourism Uganda has. I must say that Great Lakes Safaris has all safari satisfactions for any visitor, and as the Office Manager, I can simply say: "It's the opening to the wilderness of Uganda!"

Looking forward to seeing you soon!"


4.   Permits available
For the new year of 2008 we have still have permits available. Thus if you want to track the mountain gorillas on any of the following dates, you are guaranteed of a permit!
        9th July 2008                2 permits available
      13th September 2008     2 permits available
      10th December 2008      4 permits available
      20th December 2008      6 permits available
Permits can be booked in combination with a tour to other national parks, completely adapted to your wishes. But book early as competition is high!


5.   Testimonial
In February 2008 we met Antonio Hurtado and his friend Daniel at the Fitur Exhibition in Madrid. In less than a month we met again, this time in Uganda! This is whay they say about their safari:

"Todo salio muy bien y según lo previsto. Con los gorilas muy bien porque no tuvimos que andar demasiado y vimos a muchos, muy de cerca y en una zona bastante soleada. Los chimpancés no tienen nada que envidiar a los gorilas, el entorno es fantástico (parece de la película de Tarzan). Los pudimos ver andando, corriendo, gritando. La verdad es que fue bastante emocionante. Nos gusto mucho Parque Nacional Queen Elizabeth; muy grande y pudimos ver leones y muchos, muchos hipopótamos.
¡El guía Gerald estuvo fantástico en todo momento, siempre puntual, incluso pinchando por los caminos! Dale las gracias por adaptarse tan bien a nuesto nivel de ingles, fue capaz de explicarnos todo lo que le preguntábamos. ¡La verdad es que estuvo estupendo!"

English version:
"Everything went very well and how we had planned. Especially with the gorillas it was great, because we did not have to walk too long and we saw many of them, from a very close distance and in a quite sunny area. The chimpanzees don't have any reason to envy the gorillas; the surrounding was fantastic (it looked like the forest from the movie Tarzan). We could see them walking, running, climbing, shouting. It was truly a thrilling experience. We also liked Queen Elizabeth National Park; a wide area where we saw lions and many, many hippos.
The guide Gerald was fantastic at every moment of the trip, always keeping time and navigating well on the roads! We are thankful for adapting to our level of English so well and he was capable to explain us everything that we asked. He was truly wonderful!"



If you have any questions or comments concerning the newsletter please contact us!

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Suzie House, Ggaba Road
P.O. Box 33024
Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256 (0) 414 267 153
        +256 (0) 772 426 368
Fax: +256 (0) 414 267 153
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