NGORONGORO MARATHON SET FOR 19TH APRIL 2014 | Tanzania safaris

The Ngorongoro Marathon is now annual race, first organized in 2008, will take to the road on 19th of April this year with an expected record attendance as the Ngorongoro Marathon has gained stature and recognition and become a hugely popular sporting event. Organized by the Rift Valley Athletics Club and charity organization ZARA the venue is again Karatu on the foot of Ngorongoro, where a half marathon this year is run alongside other shorter events in order to widen the appeal and thus help raise more funds.

The main aim of the sporting gala is the fundraising to help the local community in the fight against malaria, a most noble cause as this tropical disease is a major killer, in particular of infants and young kids, across Africa.

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21 tourist killed on Andaman and Nicobar | Chimpanzee tracking

There has been a  deadly tourism nightmare in a remote island paradise. 21 visitors dead, more injured, after a tourist cruise boat capsized off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar islands on Sunday, leaving 21 people dead, an official and reports said.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, and are a Union Territory of India.

The territory is 150 km (93 mi) north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thailand and Burma by the Andaman Sea. It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10°N parallel, with the Andamans to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobars to the south. The Andaman Sea lies to the east and the Bay of Bengal to the west.

The territory’s capital is the Andamanese town of Port Blair. The total land area of the territory is approximately 8,073 km2 (3,117 sq mi). The capital of Nicobar Islands is Car Nicobar also known as Malacca.

The private boat was carrying 43 tourists, believed to be Indians, when it sank between the popular spots of Ross Island and North Bay near Port Blair, the capital of the islands, the Indian government and a local official said.

Some 13 people were pulled from the water following the accident late on Sunday afternoon, and were taken to a hospital in Port Blair, with “several of them seriously injured”, an official there said.

“The bodies have also been taken to the same hospital,” the unnamed official in the control room set up after the accident told this news agency by phone.

Rescue operations were underway with fears for at least another nine people still missing who may be trapped in the now submerged vessel, according to sources.

The Aqua Marine was carrying a large group of tourists from Kanchipuram in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, the Port Blair official said. However, authorities were canvassing the hotels in Port Blair to confirm all of the tourists who were on board the boat, the official added.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock over the tragedy and “condoled the loss of lives,” in a statement, without confirming the number of people killed.

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American tourist trampled to death by wild elephants | Thailand national park

Lily Glidden of Freeville, New York, who was visiting Thailand, was trampled to death by a herd of wild elephants in one of Thailand’s biggest national parks.

Lily was a 2012 graduate of Tufts University where she studied biology. Upon graduating, she made it her life’s work to live among and work with wild animals.

She had gone into the Thailand park earlier this month when she was reported missing. A large search party found her body five days later. Park rangers said it looked like she was taking photos as the time of her death and based on injuries it appeared she had been trampled by elephants.

Lily’s facebook page shows that she has worked with a large range of wild animals over the years, and she also lead wilderness education programs when she was a student at Tufts. The university is saddened at the loss of one of their alums.

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670 tourists aboard US cruise ship to Mombasa Kenya | safari afrika

Some of the tourists on board the ‘MV Nautica’ cruise liner disembark soon after the ship docked at the port of Mombasa. PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD

A US-owned luxurious cruise liner made a return trip to Mombasa port less than a month after it docked on Boxing Day, last year.

The ship, christened MS Nautica, on a round the Indian Ocean voyage docked early yesterday morning with 670 passengers from 18 different nations, majority of whom were Americans.

The vessel had arrived from the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar and was scheduled to sail out of Mombasa for Mahe, Seychelles, to continue with its Indian Ocean cruise.

Disembarking tourists took off in tour vans and buses to Tsavo East National Park, where close to 250 passengers were scheduled to have lunch at the scenic Ashnil Aruba Lodge, Shimba Hills Game Reserve, while others went on a tour of Mombasa town.

Stakeholders in the multi-billion shilling tourism industry termed the ship’s return visit a “symbol of confidence in destination Kenya”.

Ashnil Group of Hotels Sales and Marketing Manager Paul Kurgat said following renewed sea patrols by both the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and multi-national navies, the Indian Ocean waters have been safe from piracy attacks.

“The cruise ship’s arrival serves to boost minimal numbers in hotel accommodation. We are hopeful that in the near future, cruise liners will be docking for more port days,” Kurgat said.

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Valentine’s Day a big business in East Africa Tourism | Budget Rwanda safaris

 

Hotels, resorts, safari lodges, restaurants and now airlines too are trying to cash in on Valentine’s Day celebrations this year, more so as the big day falls on a Friday, making it a perfect mini getaway weekend for lovers. Kenya Airways has now joined the throng with their heart shaped campaign, inviting those keen to get away with their loved one to consider spending a few days in Mombasa, Malindi, Zanzibar, the Seychelles, Bangkok and yes, even Uganda, where ‘lovers’ retreats’ are being organized by among others GeoLodges Uganda.

Kenya Airways’ is in fact offering rebated ‘romantic packages’ through KQ Holidays to bring these destinations within reach of Kenyans, Ugandans, Rwandans, Burundians and Tanzanians. International airlines have notably not yet splashed out any special deals tailored for a weekend getaway, seemingly leaving this occasion to the local businesses in the aviation and travel industry.

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The Nile Project launches African tour | Luxury Uganda trip

The Nile Gathering 2013 in Aswan (Photo: Courtesy of The Nile Project)

Following a successful gathering of musicians in Upper Egypt’s Aswan early 2013, the Nile Project launches its second edition of the ‘Nile Gathering,’ to take place in Kampala, Uganda, from 23 January to 13 February.

The second edition of the musical residency — lead by Miles Jay — brings together 14 talented musicians from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda who will, in a collaborative manner, compose a body of songs inspired by the Nile Basin’s diversity in music traditions and instruments.The musicians participating in the gathering include: Alsarah (Sudan / Vocals, Lyricist), Dafaalla El-Hag (Sudan / Oud, Percussion, Banimbo, Zombara), Dawit Seyoum (Ethiopia / Bass Krar, Krar), Dina El-Wedidi (Egypt / Vocals, Lyricist), Endris Hassen (Ethiopia / Masenko), Jorga Mesfin (Ethiopia / Saxophone), Kasiva Mutua (Kenya / Percussionist, Lyricist), Lawrence Okello (Uganda / Percussion, Adungu, Amadinda), Meklit Hadero (US and Ethiopia / Vocals), Michael Bazibu (Uganda / Endongo, Adungu, Endingidi, Percussion), Nader El-Shaer (Egypt / Kawala, Ney), Selamnesh Zemene (Ethiopia / Vocals), Sophie Nzayisenga (Rwanda / Inanga, Vocals), Steven Sogo (Burundi / Ikembe, Guitar, Bass, Vocals).

The first album resulting from 2013’s gathering was dubbed “Aswan”. Following the residency, the musicians performed two heavily packed live concerts in both Aswan and Cairo. The album was very well received internationally.

“We were very happy that the Nile Project’s music struck a deep chord with our Egyptian audiences last January,” said Mina Girgis, Nile Project executive director, in the project’s press release. “This year, we are hoping to build on that success by inviting a more diverse pool of musicians, expanding our performance circuit to more Nile Basin countries, and launching the project’s education and innovation programmes at partner universities.”
“We’re looking into how the Nile has connected us, even though we never knew we were connected,” Girgis told Ahram Online in late 2012, before the launch of the project. “The people along the Nile, most of them have never met and never knew each other.”

The Nile Project not only utilises music as a common language, to bridge gaps across diverse cultures that exist around the Nile, but also hosts ‘Nile Workshops’ at universities, starting with Egyptian universities in late 2013.

The African tour set to take place following this year’s residency will include not only concerts promoting the new musical collaboration but also talks and workshops on sustainability and development challenges of the Nile at universities in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Egypt.

In addition to the workshops, the crew are also launching ‘The Nile Prize’ targeted at students who develop innovative solutions to regional challenges. These projects will be supported by the programme over the span of one year.

Through music and workshops, the Nile Project sets out to expose audiences to the music of neighbouring countries and offer a space of open dialogue around Nile issues. The project aims to connect the 11 nations, and 437 million people, who live around the Nile but that often fail at recognising themselves as a region.

Due to polarisation in these countries caused by tense political relations and conflicting media coverage, especially recently with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam capturing headlines around the world, the Nile Project attempts to offer an alternative path for dialogue and communication among Nile Basin citizens.

The Nile Project is also planning tours to Europe in the summer of 2014 and North American in the winter of 2015.

The idea for the project developed following the Egyptian revolution, when Girgis came to Egypt after living in San Fransisco to be part of the movement in Tahrir Square.

Searching for his place and how to contribute to Egypt, Girgis along with his Ethiopian friend from the US, Melkit Hadero, started thinking of why there is little connection between Egyptian and Ethiopian musicians, and others around the region.

An ethnomusicologist by education, the idea of the Nile Project started coming together, and Girgis and Hadero spent most of 2012 traveling across the Nile Basin meeting musicians, development organisations and cultural institutions, to involve them in the early phases of planning the long-term project.

African Tour programme:
6 February, Jinja, Uganda – Mezzanine
8 February, Kampala, Uganda – National Theatre
15 February, Zanzibar, Tanzania – Sauti Za Busara Festival
22 February, Nairobi, Kenya – Kuona Art Centre
23 February, Nairobi, Kenya – Safaricom Jazz Festival
25 February, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Africa Philanthropy Forum (private)
27 February, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Location TBA
5 March, Cairo, Egypt – Al-Azhar Park
7 March, Aswan, Egypt – Nubian Museum
10 March, Alexandria, Egypt – Bibliotheca Alexandrina

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British tourist killed in St Lucia | gorilla permits for Rwanda

A British Tourist man has been killed on the popular Caribbean island of St Lucia as he tried to defend his wife from attackers, according to reports.

Roger Pratt, 62, was killed while his wife, who is now helping with the investigation, was treated for injuries.

The attack took place on board the couple’s yacht, which was moored off the Vieux-Fort coast on Friday night, where they had been staying as part of a round the world trip.

They departed Lowestoft in June, travelling along English coastline before heading to the Algarve and on to the Caribbean.

The UK Foreign Office has said it is aware of the death of a British national on the island, and is providing consular assistance to the family.

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Canopy walk in Nyungwe forest Rwanda | Africa gorilla safari reviews

Nyungwe Forest, which became a national park in 2005, exemplifies the farsightedness of a government that is channeling aid money toward preserving the best of Rwanda’s natural beauty, while bringing in tourist dollars that benefit surrounding communities. An example is the USAID-funded Nyungwe Nziza (Beautiful Nyungwe) project, which recently built a canopy walkway above a forested canyon—a thrilling perspective on the park and its residents.

Chimps are the star attraction in Nyungwe, though they’re not as readily watchable as the famed “in the mist” mountain gorillas farther north in Virunga National Park. Far easier to view are colobus monkeys. The world’s largest community of them lives in Nyungwe. The park hasn’t yet gained renown among birders, but it will. Almost 300 species abide here, including showboats like the oversize, clown-headed Ruwenzori turaco.

“Nyungwe stands out among Africa’s intact montane rain forests for its size and diversity,” says conservationist Bill Weber, who with his wife, Amy, pioneered the gorilla tourism project in Virunga. “It’s a place where people can spend several days and really get to know a rain forest, having different experiences each day.” Visitors can hike trails to peaks and waterfalls, and meet locals in Banda Village near the park entrance. Should one ask residents whether they are Tutsi or Hutu, the answer will almost certainly be “We are Rwandan.”

Travel Tips

When to Go: The drier months (July-October) are best for gorilla trekking, hiking, and tea plantation tours. For birding, visit December-March.

How to Get Around: International flights arrive at Kigali International Airport, about 140 miles northeast of Nyungwe National Park. Rental cars are available but not recommended. The most convenient option is to book a custom or small group tour (including airport transfers, lodging, meals, activities, and park entrance fees) with a responsible tourism operator, such as Africa Treasures and Travel LTD, founded and operated by native Rwandans.

Where to Stay: Serene and luxurious Nyungwe Forest Lodge is the ideal home base for exploring the park. It’s surrounded on three sides by tea plantation, and on the fourth by rain forest. Opened in 2011, 12-room Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel lives up to its name. Step out onto your private balcony or sit on the restaurant’s outdoor terrace for mist-shrouded views of the national park and Lake Kivu.

Where to Eat or Drink: Kitabi Cultural Village, located at the Kitabi entrance to the national park, offers guided tours (with samples) where guests can learn about banana beer brewing, traditional milk preservation, millet grinding, and picking and processing tea leaves.

What to Buy: Shop for original indigenous crafts, such as baskets, place mats, bracelets, and wood carvings, at the Kitabi Women’s Handicraft Cooperative. Crafts are handmade using locally sourced materials, and purchases support the cooperative’s efforts to create a path out of poverty for local women.

Fun Fact: Nyungwe National Park’s black-and-white colobus monkeys live high in the trees, rarely touching the ground. Their name is derived from the Greek word for “mutilated” since the monkeys typically have no thumbs. This adaptation makes it easy to scramble across branches on all fours.

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British tourists to rise to 60% spend in 2014 | Luxury gorilla safaris

Confidence among UK consumers could be returning as new research reveals that almost two-thirds of Brits (60 per cent) plan to increase the amount they will spend on holidays in 2014, compared to the previous year.

On average Brits will increase their travel budget by 14 per cent compared to last year and a well-heeled 8 per cent will be investing more than double their 2013 holiday spending. These findings make up Diffusion’s 2014 Consumer Travel Trends report, commissioned by the communications agency using OnePoll to survey over 1,000 Brits online on their holiday plans in 2014.

In further positive news, more than one in six (17 per cent) plan to increase their number of holidays, one in eight (12.5 per cent) are looking to travel further afield and one in ten (10 per cent) will book a multicentre trip. However, the ‘fly and flop’ remains a staple part of British travel plans, with almost a fifth (19 per cent) of Brits intending to book a beach holiday in 2014.

The report also examined the sources of information used by consumers when planning and booking their holidays. Almost half (46 per cent) of consumers will rely on word-of-mouth recommendation to select destinations, with almost three in ten (29 per cent) planning to consult review sites like TripAdvisor.

Diffusion’s research analyses the sources of travel inspiration for British consumers. The report highlights the growing impact social media sites are having on our travel choices, rivaling the influence of traditional editorial sources and paid advertising campaigns. For example, more people will be inclined to book a holiday after seeing their friends’ boastful social media photos than will do having read a magazine review or seeing an advertising campaign (15 per cent, 13 per cent and 11 per cent retrospectively)

2014 sources of travel inspiration
1.  Word-of-mouth – 46%
2.  TV programmes – 30%
3.  Review sites (e.g. TripAdvisor) – 29%
4.  Online Media – 22%
5.  Newspapers – 16%
6.  Friends’ Facebook and Twitter photos – 15%
7.  Lifestyle Magazines – 13%
8.  Advertising Campaigns – 11%
9.  Blogger Reviews – 8%

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SAMUEL BAKER’S HISTORICAL VISIT MURCHISON FALLS | Luxury gorilla trekking

A visit to Murchison Falls National Park is incomplete without a hike to the top of the falls using the famed Baker historical trail which offers the best viewing points for the Murchison and Uhuru (Freedom) falls.

Of late, most of the visitors have asked for their itinerary to include the hike from the bottom to the top of the falls along the steep cliffs of the river with stop overs at the famous Baker’s view rock and other sharp bends that provide a panoramic view of the river and parts of the northern bank.

From the early morning game drives towards the delta, hundreds of visitors book boat rides to the bottom of the falls and instead of a return journey on the water, prefer to disembark and do the hike, thanks to the concrete stairs and rail guards erected by UWA. The visitors are then picked by the vehicles which use the southern bank access route to pick them from the top of falls car park.

David and Christopher the great-great grandsons of the famed Victorian explorer Sir. Samuel Baker have recently added value to the top of Murchison falls trail by installing an interpretational signage detailing the expedition that led to the discovery of the spectacular falls and Lake Albert as the European explorers searched for the source of the River Nile.

In marking the 150th anniversary of the discovery which transformed Murchison Falls National Park into one of the world’s leading destination, the Baker descendants sought to retrace their ancestor’s foot steps before planting markers in different areas of Masindi, Gulu, and Fort Patiko.
Quoting from their ancestor’s dairy, the marker atop the Murchison falls describes how Sir Samuel White Baker followed the course of the Victoria Nile from Lake

Albert and later sighted a spectacle of the entire volume of the river roaring furiously through a rock bound pass, plunging in one leap of about 120 feet. He named it the Murchison falls after the President of the Royal Geographical Society.

The marker also details how Sir Baker, a British explorer, officer, engineer and writer made two expeditions to Africa and served as the Governor general of Equatorial Nile Basin (today’s South Sudan) which he established as the province of Equatoria between 1869-1873.Baker is mostly remembered as the first European to view Lake Albert which he named after the recently deceased Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria.

His second wife, Lady Florence who was saved from a slave market in central Europe joined him on his exploits of Africa and the couple is famed for their efforts to abolish salve trade  in the region.

In Murchison Falls National Park, the Baker descendants were impressed by the developments on the trail by Uganda Wildlife Authority which has improved the surface with concrete stairs and rail guards making the walk from the bottom to the top of falls more user friendly. They promised to promote the trail as an additional tourism product on top of the game drives,boat ride, nature walks and birding in Uganda’s largest, oldest and most visited protected area.

David Baker says he met with Julian Monroe Fisher a renowned explorer and anthropologist in January 2013 and agreed to create trail makers to commemorate 150 years since Sir Samuel Baker trekked in Africa from lake Albert to the top of Murchison Falls.
He added that the trail is a historical one to commemorate the Europeans that came to Africa to search for the source of River Nile as well as put an end to slave trade.

Christopher Baker remarked that walking the trail to the top of the falls was one of his most memorable experiences and added that “this is the most romantic place I have visited in my life”.

Tom Okello the Conservation Area Manager promised to modernize and market the park to regain the glory of the 1960s when it used to be most visited in Africa.
Earlier, Christopher Baker enjoyed a one and half hour long boat ride to the bottom of the falls during which he marveled at schools of hippos, migratory birds, a variety of antelopes along the river banks, Nile crocodiles sun bathing and spectacular landscapes including the Nyamusika cliff .He also donated a pair of ultra modern binoculars made in Germany, to the guides of Uganda Wildlife Authority.

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