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The Cost of Conservation

Gorilla, Rwanda ST

Yesterday, the Rwanda Development Board announced that the price of gorilla permits would be increasing from US$ 750 to US $1,500. Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, is reported to have said that “We have raised the price of permits in order to ensure sustainability of conservation initiatives and enhance visitors’ experience. We also want to make sure that the communities living near the park area receive a bigger share of tourism revenues to fund development projects and empower them economically.”

Whilst this is an admirable intention, I fear that such a hike in prices might be too much for many tourists; not least as in neighbouring Uganda the price is US$600. If so it will not only impact the government’s revenues from gorilla tourism but also affect local communities employed in tourism. The highest-end properties might just be able to sustain such prices but the lower-end properties – many of which are community-based – do not have the clientele to support such prices. They undoubtedly will be affected by such a price-rise, which seems contrary to the government’s intentions.

I am a firm believer that conservation must pay its way, that money is desperately needed to strengthen conservation efforts. For example, it is criminal that the Ecuadorian government has not raised the park fee to enter the Galapagos in the last fifteen years and it remains at a paltry US$100. This means that if you stay in the Galapagos for a week you are paying less than US$1 per hour for the privilege of doing so compared to the US$1,500 cost to spend one hour with Rwanda’s gorillas.

I was uncertain and ultimately wrong about the Rwandan government’s decision to increase gorilla permit prices from US$250 to US$750 just over ten years ago. I sincerely hope that I am wrong again.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Comment below or get in touch with us on social or by email on social@steppestravel.com 

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USA National Parks Day

Today is the centenary of the USA National Parks Service.

To celebrate their 100th anniversary we champion the unsung heroes; national parks around the world that match the A-lister’s natural splendour but not their footfall. 

The space and wilderness of these protected places and National Parks are what inspires us all to travel. Support these areas of natural beauty by visiting them with us and share your images and experiences on facebook, instagram and twitter#nationalparkscentennial

British Airways
The British Airways Worldwide Luxury SALE is now on. Get into the great outdoors and take advantage of savings on selected fares worldwide. Contact us inspire@steppestravel.com or call on 01285 880980 to find out more.

USA

USA Lake Powell & Yellowstone

Ok so Lake Powell isn’t a national park itself but we love it as it is close to all five of Utah’s national parks – Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP, Arches NP, Bryce Canyon NP and Zion NP. Get into the great outdoors and swim, fish, snorkel or canoe your way across her waters.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Mind-blowing scenery, huge horizons and solitude. 12 days from £7,350 pp | VIEW HOLIDAY

UNSUNG HEROES WORLDWIDE

 

India Dudhwa NP walking tiger

Near the Nepalese border sits Dudhwa National Park. Tigers and leopards roam here as well as the Indian rhinoceros. The park is also a stronghold for the rare Barasingha deer which makes it one of the best wildlife destinations in India.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Less visited and all the better for it – safari away from the crowds of Central India. 10 days from £2,300 pp | VIEW HOLIDAY

Special Offer: Fly to Delhi with BA and receive a complimentary upgrade to World Traveller Plus on your return journey*
Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 880980 to find out more.


*Subject to availability and terms and conditions of BA Worldwide Luxury Sale.

 

Georgia Stone faces of Kazbegi

Borjomi -Kharagauli National Park dates back to medieval times and is a protected area in the Lesser Caucasus. Join our new group walking tour departing in September 2017 and see this undiscovered gem for yourself.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Natural beauty, historical monuments and rich flora and fauna. 14 days from £2,445 pp | VIEW HOLIDAY

Tasmania Maria Island

The marbled Painted Cliffs that form the rugged coastline and pristine beaches around Maria Island National Park resemble Ayers Rock in their colours and spiritual heritage. Spot the resident wildlife from possums to penguins and Fur Seals and perhaps a Tasmanian Devil?
WHY WE LIKE IT: Small and secluded – you are more likely to bump into a kangaroo than another visitor. 16 days from £7,495 pp | VIEW HOLIDAY

Uganda male gorilla in Bwindi NP

Kidepo Valley National Park is home to the famous Karamojong warriors (Read Chris’s blog below) as well as jackals, aardwolves and cheetahs – found in no other parks in Uganda.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Like the Masai Mara, but ringed by jagged mountains and full of game, not tourists.
14 days from £8,995 pp | VIEW FLYING SAFARI

Leopard Sri Lanka

Encounter leopards in Yala National Park and whales off Sri Lanka’s east coast. 15 days from £4,745 pp

Colombia Tayrona National Parkl

Discover remote archaeological sites and take a jungle trek in Tayrona National Park. 15 days from £3,995 pp

Iceland Vatnajokull National Park

Vatnajokull National Park is both the second largest National Park in Europe and the largest glacier in Europe outside of the Arctic. Explore this photographer’s paradise on our Iceland Photography tour with Tim Mannakee.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Raw beauty.
9 days from £5,245 pp | VIEW PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

Madagascar Andasibe Mantadia

Spot lemurs and listen to the sounds of the rainforest as you walk through the Andasibe-Mantadia Park. Followed by a relaxing time on the shores of Anjajavy Peninsula where the baobab’s meet tropical beach.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Unique indigenous wildlife.
11 days from £3,450 pp | VIEW HOLIDAY

Chile Northern Patagonia Park

Patagonia Park covers 200,000 acres in a remote part of Aysen, Chile. Once overgrazed land it is now becoming one of the best places to see rare and threatened species such as the Andean condors, huemul deer and puma.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Join Hilary Bradt, founder of Bradt guides.
14 days from £5,495 pp | VIEW GROUP TOUR

ON LOCATION 

The Karamojong of Kidepo Uganda

“Our tiny plane flew over the rugged mountains bordering Kidepo Valley National Park. In the foothills of these mountains, patches of red earth scratched out from the surrounding greenery showed small manyatta’s and villages, isolated by distance and home to the Karamajong people…”  READ BLOG

Get in touch to learn more about our wildlife holidays. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 880980.

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Steppes Leading Ladies Issue Five | July | Primates

Leading-Ladies-header-Jane-Goodall-being-submissive-to-chimp

“We admit that we like apes, but we seldom realise that we are apes.” – Richard Dawkins

Our fifth edition of Leading Ladies champions our pioneering primatologists. Women like Dian Fossey who dedicated her life to the conservation of Mountain Gorillas and brought this endangered species back from the brink.

Women like Jane Goodall who arrived in Tanzania, age 26 with a notebook, a pair of binoculars and a strong desire to study wild chimpanzees. Now one of the worlds leading primate ambassadors whose conservation work continues to protect chimps, habitat and local communities worldwide.

Ashley Leiman, who first visited the rainforests of Malaysia in 1974, set up the Orangutan Foundation UK to help primate conservation and today leads our Borneo Orangutan conservation tour to Tanjung Puting National Park.

Justin WateridgeJustin round
Managing Director | Steppes Travel

P.S Every hour rainforest areas the equivalent to 300 football pitches are being destroyed in Malaysia and Indonesia by the palm oil industry.

ahead-of-her-time

Dian-Fossey-with-Mountain-Gorillas-in-Rwanda

Dian Fossey changed the future of gorilla conservation.

In 1967 Dian Fossey set up camp in Rwanda’s Parc des Volcan. She found a species on the brink of extinction. Although Dian was not an advocate of gorilla tourism – it is this aspect and the money generated from tourism that has helped fund their conservation and pay the park guides to protect these great apes.

Almost 50 years later they are still endangered but protected and the population is slowly climbing with an estimated 880 Mountain Gorillas in the world.

“The man who kills animals today is the man who kills the people who get in his way tomorrow.” – Dian Fossey

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS

GORILLA TREKKING HOLIDAYS

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Jane-Goodall-with-chimp-hooting

“What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”  – Jane Goodall

Dr Jane Goodall DBE is one of the world’s leading primatologists in chimpanzee behaviour. 

Best know for her 55 year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. Goodall’s research challenged long term beliefs that only humans could construct and use tools and that chimpanzees were vegetarian. She observed chimpanzees feeding at a termite mound placing grass stalks into the mound to fish for termites and also stripping leaves from twigs to make them more effective as a tool for capturing. She also observed chimps hunting and eating colobus monkeys.

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS

Section-Dividers
Ashley-Leiman, founder of Orangutan Foundation UK

Ashley Leiman founded the Orangutan Foundation UK in 1990. One of the leading figures in orangutan conservation, Ashley spends approx a third of her year in the field (predominatly in Indonesian Borneo).She is also leading our trip to Borneo

We asked Ashley to share her thoughts on who has inspired her to do what she does, what advice she would give and more…

Who has inspired you to to what you do?

Growing up I wanted to be Albert Schweitzer, the French-German theologian, organist, philosopher and physician. He inspired me with the words “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

What inspires you?

My first experience in 1974 in the rainforests of Malaysia, I knew I was ‘home.’ Today it’s the continued motivation and enthusiasm of our Indonesian staff and knowing we make a difference.

What advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

They are future conservationists – change is in their hands.

Read our full Q & A with ASHLEY here

JOIN ASHLEY IN BORNEO

Indonesian-Borneo-Orangutan-Conservation-Tour-

 11 DAYS FROM £2,795 PP

Gorilla-Trekking-Guide

Download our guide for expert tips and FAQ on what to pack, which parks to visit, our choice of accommodation and what family groups and behaviour you might see.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE GUIDE

Other-Leading-Ladies-header

Alex Walker Ladybug safaris

In conjunction with Alexander Walker’s Serian, we are offering the first-ever fully female guided safari. Start your journey in Kenya’s Mara North Conservancy and then head into Tanzania’s Northern Serengeti.

FIRST ALL FEMALE GUIDED SAFARI

Votes-for-Women

Votes-for-women-header-image

Who has inspired you? Cast your vote as to who we should feature next. Send your suggestions to leadingladies@steppestravel.co.uk
On-Location-header

Orangutan-in-rainforest-palm-oil-header

“It is thought that one in ten products found on supermarket shelves today come from palm oil. Rainforest areas the equivalent to 300 football pitches are being destroyed every hour in Malaysia and Indonesia.”

According to the UN  there is risk that by 2020 there will be no wild orangutan remaining outside protected areas. What can we do to help protect the habitat of the orangutan?

READ BLOG

What's-On-header

Beyond Steppes Travel FestivalBEYOND Steppes Festival Royal Geographical Society, London
17th & 18th September 2016

Ashley Leiman will be speaking at the Festival along with our many key speakers.

Buy your tickets

Featured speakers: Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Chris Packham, Benedict Allen, Alastair Humphreys, Colin Bell, Steve Leonard, Edurne Pasaban, Hanli Prinsloo, Monty Halls, Kenton Cool…and much more.

Get in touch to start planning your next holiday. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

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Mud, Sweat and Tears: Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

gorilla's face close up

I woke early with feelings of trepidation, anxiety (Would I be able to do the climb?), nerves and much excitement. I was going in search of mountain gorillas,  in Uganda, following in the footsteps of the great Sir David Attenborough.

It was a mild morning, although the sky looked rather cloudy. With waterproofs packed, carrying lots of water and a picnic lunch, our group of eight headed down to the park station. We began with a briefing and an introduction to the guides and porters who would be assisting our search.

The group ready to start trekking

It is absolutely worth the $15 for a porter (more on that at the end). And so we set of at a fairly brisk pace through very pretty woodland, over streams and past waterfalls, taking in the sights and sounds of our wonderful surroundings.

After about an hour, we stopped for a water break and our ranger advised that we would now start our ascent up the mountain in search of the gorillas that were up ahead. Little did we know that they – the gorillas – would continue to climb the mountain with a group of humans desperately clambering after them.

The climb through jungle ahead

So the climb started – and boy what a climb – a near vertical ascent, scrambling on hands and knees through virgin rainforest. And, in my case, being unceremoniously dragged up to the summit. Finally, after a further 90 minutes, we stopped and our porters moved aside for us to continue for the last five minutes to a small clearing…

…And there they were: a family of 14 gorillas, including the silverback, two babies and a selection of inbetweeners. To say this was emotional is an understatement. I did shed a few tears, not only because I was so overcome by the sight of our nearest relatives, but also because I had actually made it.

Gorilla eating twig

We then spent a very happy 50 minutes in the presence of these spectacular creatures. I cannot put into words what an overwhelming and extraordinary experience this was. The two babies played with anything in their reach, whether it was their mother’s foot or some nearby twigs. Others just sat and ate copious amounts of foliage. And some just slept – but it has to be said there was a considerable amount of flatulence from these guys, which was quite amusing.

During the time with the gorillas, there were lots of oohs and aahhs and looks of wonder on my fellow travellers’ faces. I think we were all exceptionally moved by our experience.

Gorilla sleeping

After almost one hour (which is the allocated time you are allowed to spend with them), we were advised we should don our raincoats and pack away our photography equipment as the ominous sounds of thunder reverberated around the treetops. Before we had time to finish zipping up our raincoats, we were soaked – right through every layer. The most incredible storm commenced in earnest.

Gorilla's face

We slithered and slipped in a most ungainly manner, back down the mountainside in the most torrential rain I have ever witnessed. The small streams we had encountered on the way up had now become small rivers, which we waded through, already too wet to worry about trying to avoid walking in them.

Finally, we arrived back at the ranger station, bedraggled and saturated, but wearing silly grins following our encounter. After receiving our certificates, we made our way back across the road to Buhoma Lodge. Here, we were greeted by the joys of a hot bath and a complimentary massage to ease aching bones and muscles.Buhoma Lodge

We gathered in the bar with celebratory drinks and compared photos and videos, all as excited as children reliving our experience. This is certainly the most difficult, yet most moving experience I have ever had and it will stay with me forever. Do it – you will be so pleased you did.

For just $15, porters will carry your backpack and clothing, and help you over the tricky terrain. This not only helps the community and offers valuable jobs, but the porters themselves are worth their weight in gold. I was pushed and pulled up the mountainside, struggling all the way, but my porter was there every step of the way, with a helping hand and words of encouragement when I thought I couldn’t continue. These guys are more than worth the money.

Get in touch to learn more about gorilla trekking in Uganda. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

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Uganda – The Karamojong of Kidepo

Community Visit Dance, Uganda

Our tiny plane flew north from Entebbe over the rugged Mountains bordering Kidepo Valley National Park in the remote north-east where Uganda, Kenya and Sudan meet. In the foothills of these mountains, patches of red earth scratched out from the surrounding greenery showed small manyatta’s and villages, isolated by distance, politics and geography, home to the Karamajong people.

Their cattle raiding exploits with their Sudanese neighbours have created myths of fierce warriors and tyrants (both Idi Amin and Milton Obote hail from this region known simply as “North of the Nile.”). Thankfully, times change and a fledgling flight service, a lifting of foreign office travel bans and the establishment of a luxury lodge is opening up an area for explorers in the former badlands of Karamoja.

Kidepo, Uganda

If you could design your own national park, it would look like Kidepo. Imagine the endless plains of the Serengeti, devoid of tourists, a park scarred with ridges and valleys begging to be explored on foot, where animals roam in a wild amphitheatre ringed by jagged mountains.

Our drives yielded all manner of wild beasts, but it was the chance to visit the Karamajong people in the region that was so exciting.

Karamajong villages, Kidepo, Uganda

 

Often misunderstood, having suffered under Idi Amin’s rule when he  tried to brutally westernise what many Ugandans saw as a backward people, the Karamajong armed themselves after Amin fled from a nearby  munitions outpost, in order to protect themselves from further humiliation. This meant that the cultural significance of cattle owning – the size of your herd is vital in securing a wife – escalated from raiding with spears – to automatic weapons. The government has now pacified the area – some say a little too violently – but this history and current peace is what makes the region fascinating.

This was to be no ordinary community visit, but not in the way that I expected. On arrival into the village itself, women were tirelessly working the fields, bent double, children asleep on their back, but on hearing our vehicle they looked up, genuinely surprised, then delighted, a beaming grin and languid wave despite the heat and backbreaking work under a relentless sun.

A hearty embrace from the village leader was our second introduction to the much feared warriors, before we simply wandered around the village. Our first stop was a simple thatched roof rondavel, leathery goat skin blankets on the floor and children’s drawings sketched on the wall, above a low wall which sheltered the family from stray bullets when village raids were a very real threat.

The beauty of this village lay in its living embodiment of a rich culture whose beliefs were revealed in more subtle ways. A small medallion, hung above the entrances of huts, to ward off negative energy brushed your head as you walked through the doorway. Stepping back out in into the sun, our guide showed us other charms dotted around the village. Yellowing and cracked animal bones and horns tucked away in thatched roofs, from past sacrifices and offerings, each one telling a story to be understood and remembered by future generations. We were shown which plants in the bush they use to wash the dead, dried wild asparagus above the entrance on another hut to protect the pregnant occupant from lightning (the storm clouds were already gathering in the late afternoon) and a string of wild bark, spread between two huts to scare off dangerous animals.

Kidepo, Uganda

Kidepo Sunset, Uganda

They even talked of the traditional recipes used to cure illnesses, plants for Malaria of course, but epilepsy is apparently best treated with a steaming bowl of zebra brain porridge. The recent and well documented violent history seemed a long way from this relaxed village, where the women laughed easily, children chased chickens and most men seemed to be taking it easy (although like the weaver nests hanging in the nearby trees, the males had to decorate their homes to attract a mate so are kept on their toes.)

After having met the chief, who did look somewhat bewildered at our appearance, I asked our guide what the elder did all day. “It is difficult” he says, “The young people of the village are leaving this traditional
lifestyle behind for an education” The role of the elders in settling disputes, offering advice and being the cultural lynchpin in the village is required less and less. Many found this loss of responsibility hard to accept.

The dancing however, seemed to be one thing that had not been abandoned and no sooner had we said goodbye to the chief, than we found ourselves pride of place in a crowd of around 100 people as the group of 20 dancers began stamping the ground, clapping and singing, each footfall ending in tiny explosions of dust. The women were simply, but colourfully dressed, bright beads and bangles seemingly suspended in mid-air as they jumped, the bells tied around their ankles shaking out a rhythm. It was the men however, who took most pride in their appearance, animal tails and hides were tied around sinewy arms, ostrich feathers stuck in felt hats, young men challenging each other to jump higher, sing louder, charm the women more.

Villagers, Kidepo, Uganda

Kidepo Villagers Dancing, Uganda

Kidepo Villagers Dancing, Uganda

Mesmerising as this was for us as spectators, we were soon forgotten and the dancers continued oblivious as we were invited to look at a banquet of carefully laid out jewellery, some old and faded, other pieces almost looking freshly painted against the dark dust. Everyone seemed to be involved, everyone seemed to share in the profit and there was no hard sell. We were more a curiosity to the villagers, who stood next to us staring and smiling, some trying to find common ground in language with a quiet “how are you?” There was no hint of terrifying warriors or “backward” villagers, despite the arresting tribal scars on the faces of the older men, only a community full of joy and pride. The singing and dancing was still going on as we left and they practically danced out of the village with us, surrounding the car as we drove off.

Chris and village kids, Kidepo, Uganda

 

Kidpeo Valley Sunset, Uganda

Back at the lodge that evening I spoke to Philip, one of the guides who was born in that very village, forgoing a traditional lifestyle in favour of a western education and guiding school. A decision that cost him daily beatings from his parents for abandoning his cattle until he moved in with his forward thinking Aunt. Having been a guide here for 8 years, I asked if he ever wished to guide elsewhere in Uganda. He looked at me, slightly taken aback, then said proudly; “People come here from all over the world and always tell me it’s the most beautiful park they have seen – why would I go anywhere else?”

Get in touch with me for more information on your Uganda holiday with Steppes, call me on 01258 787 560 or email inspire@steppestravel.com for more advice.

Uganda Flying Safari - Valley of the Hunters

Uganda Flying Safari – Valley of the Hunters

12 days from £4,995pp

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Steppes Beyond | Uganda & Rwanda: Gorilla Trekking

gorilla trekking uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an excellent option for those looking for a more comprehensive wildlife experience but are more flexible on time and budget. Despite the trekking being much tougher than in Rwanda, Uganda is certainly no one trick pony.

Below is copy of my presentation on Gorilla Trekking holidays at our Steppes Beyond event in March 2015. For more information on any of our destinations please do get in touch.

Start your gorilla trekking adventure with us, call us on 01285 880980 or email inspire@steppestravel.com.

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In need of Winter Sun?

As the nights draw in closer, the days become shorter and our list of work gets longer, it becomes ever more apparent that a break is needed. And the sunshine wouldn’t be unwelcome either.
We’ve selected some of our favourite destinations to help you beat the winter blues, escape the Christmas shopping crowds and provide an alternative to the usual mundane commute.
It’s much greener on the other side, we promise.

Sri Lanka

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Whether it is the rolling tea estates, leopard and wild elephant, botanical gardens or empty beaches Sri Lanka is a country that rarely fails to please. A lush, green and far less crowded alternative to India, it provides the perfect combination of culture, conservation and calming relaxation.

Sri Lanka - Whales and Leopards

wildlife group tour

Sri Lanka – Whales and Leopards

11 days

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Sri Lanka - Family Adventures in Sri Lanka

Family Adventures in Sri Lanka

15 days

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 Maldives

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Fly into a world of sunshine, beautiful clear water, superb diving, complete relaxation and total privacy. Search for Nemo with the children or escape to your own private dhoni with your partner.
Swap the snow for sand and spend Christmas in the Maldives.

Maldives Highlights

Maldives Highlights

10 days

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Maldives Family Holiday

Maldives Family Holiday

10 days

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 Egypt

 

Historically and culturally, you’ll be sure to find Egypt intoxicating. Whether you take a Nile cruise in your very own private dahabiya, explore in the footsteps of Alexander the Great in the oasis of Siwa, star gaze with the Bedouin or dive straight into the marine life rich Red Sea with the family Egypt always has something to offer.

Egypt - Highlights of Egypt including a Nile Cruise

Highlights of Egypt including a Nile Cruise

10 days

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Egypt - Luxury Egypt - Cairo, Nile Cruise & Beach

Luxury Egypt – Cairo, Nile Cruise & Beach

15 days

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Galapagos Islands

 

Be mesmerised by the courtship ritual of the blue-footed booby or have sea lions blow bubbles in your face as you snorkel with turtles. For the land lubbers you can explore the volcanic islands and share your breakfast with Darwin’s finches. The Galapagos Islands really do offer wildlife interactions like no other. Combining your Galapagos adventure with a holiday to Peru or Ecuador is also a popular option.

Galapagos - David Plummer Photography Tour

wildlife group tour

Galapagos – David Plummer Photography Tour

11 days

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Brazil - Brazil and Galapagos Ultimate Wildlife Holiday

Brazil and Galapagos Ultimate Wildlife Holiday

15 days

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St Lucia

 

Guarded by the two sentinels of the Piton Mountains, it’s clear to see St Lucia is more than just a lush Caribbean island. ‘Enjoy’ a somewhat strenuous hike up Gros Piton for the best view of the island, go in search of the endangered Saint Lucian parrot in the Botanical Gardens or follow a colonial heritage trail, visiting some of the historic plantaion houses.

You could also just simply sit on the white sand beach and sip rum cocktails.

St. Lucia - St. Lucia Highlights Holiday

St. Lucia Highlights Holiday

12 days

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Zimbabwe

 

One of our most favourite countries in Africa is Zimbabwe. A winning combination of expert guiding, stunning landscapes of Mana Pools and Victoria falls and Hwange National Park, renowned for its elephants and wild dog. Find out more from our Zimbabwe expert Ben.

Planning to propose to your partner? Why not pop the question whilst flying over Victoria Falls in a helicopter.

Zimbabwe - Highlights of Zimbabwe

Highlights of Zimbabwe

10 days

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Zimbabwe - Family

Family Holiday to Zimbabwe

7 days

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 South Africa

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There’s a reason that the South African’s think they have the whole world in one country. From sandy beaches, snow capped mountains, lush vineyards, the arid Kalahari to the wildlife packed National Parks, it’s difficult not to be in agreement with them. First time taking the family on a safari holiday, South Africa is your perfect introduction. Find out more from our South Africa expert Illona.

South Africa and Mauritius - Family

Family Holiday to South Africa and Mauritius

12 days

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South Africa - Cape Town and Kruger

Cape Town and Kruger

11 days

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 Uganda

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Meet the family for a once-in-a-lifetime experience tracking mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge or Kibale Forest. For something a little out of the ordinary in Uganda explore Queen Elizabeth National Park to discover tree climbing lions or look for shoebills on the lakes.

Uganda - Giant Tigers & Dinosaurs

Uganda – Giant Tigers & Dinosaurs

7 days

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Rwanda & Uganda Wildlife Safari

Uganda & Rwanda – Safari across the Kingdoms

14 days

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Have we missed out one of your favourites? Get in touch with us and let us know.

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Steppes – Discover Uganda

We have been travelling regularly to Uganda for over 15 years. Such is our knowledge of the country, that over this time we have arranged tours to Uganda for ITV and BBC film crews, shown CNN journalists the ropes and even been approached by the Ugandan Wildlife Authority to help habituate a group of gorillas (Nkuringo, in case you were wondering). In short, no-one knows Uganda better than Steppes Travel. I’d love to speak to you about any queries you may have about a gorilla trekking holiday.

Call us on 01285 601 753  or email inspire@steppestravel.com to start your gorilla trekking adventure.

Uganda - Gorilla Habituation Experience

Uganda – Gorilla Habituation Experience

6 days from £3,795pp

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Uganda - 6 day Bwindi flying safari

Uganda – 6 day Bwindi flying safari

6 days from £2,595pp

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The Mountains of the Moon

Africa brings people together. It provides an unbreakable common thread which endures and serves to unite friends and family. Here are a few of my most favourite itineraries that I have put together for my clients.

For a holiday to Kenya, I helped bring together four generations of family, exploring the Mara and Laikipia by foot, vehicle and camel. While recently one of the most memorable trips was helping the relative of a famous explorer retrace their ancestor’s footsteps. The great grandson of the explorer John Hanning Speke (who discovered the source of the Nile at Lake Victoria) crossed the “Mountains of the Moon” the Rwenzori Mountain range in Western Uganda to see Mount Speke in all its glory.

We have also organised for a private group of vets to visit Klaserie Private Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger to get hands-on experience of darting, notching and micro-chipping a white rhino. The feedback we got on this trip was humbling; “…a poignant reminder that it requires actions not words to save the planet’s most endangered animals”.

Some of the most unforgettable trips we have organised to Africa have involved giving our clients an insight into conservation and we are proud that our clients were a part of the habituation process of the Nkuringo group of gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

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Uganda, more than just gorillas!

I love Uganda.

For me, it encapsulates everything that makes Africa so special and its location alone is like something from the lost world. Open, wild savannahs in the shadow of rugged glacial peaks, where the western Congo forest, slowly grows over a rolling landscape scarred by gorges and ravines but softened by dazzling lakes and splashes of colour from traditional villages.

Go wild, find the money and fly into the remote Karamajong region (known locally as the land of the nomad hunters), where fierce herdsmen protect their cattle from other tribes and Kidepo Valley Park is visited by only 5% of those who explore Uganda. A dry, arid, but cinematic landscape, ringed by mountains where you can stand on a kopje and almost see the earths curve. The stunning Apoka Lodge offers soothing respite from the wilds.

In complete contrast to this you have the lush forests in Semliki wildlife reserve in the shadow of the Congo Blue Mountains. As Uganda’s oldest reserve and with only 1 permanent lodge in the 534sq km park, you can take your pick on where to create your adventure. A lazy river safari through the lakes and sparkling waterways, where shoebills hunt amongst the reeds or perhaps a drive to look for forest elephants who move silently through the trees whose canopies shake with frenetic chimps.

Even if you don’t spot chimps in Semliki, you can head out with wildlife rangers in nearby Kibale Forest and search for them again – troops of up to 60 chimps as they hunt, fight and smash their way through the tree-tops – not for the fainthearted!  If this all gets too much however, then slow things down with a leisurely walk around the calming waters of the regions beautiful crater lakes, as wooden pirogues glide across the blue waters, carpeted with lilies.

Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Park are perhaps the most famous wildlife parks, but don’t be put off. It is here you find the highest concentration of game, some of the best birding, the strange tree climbing lions and plenty of boat safaris as thirsty game comes to drink on the shore dotted with fishermen hauling the days catch ashore in the setting sun.

Of course if this hasn’t sated your lust for adventure, then join the photographers, adventurers and trip-of-a-lifetimers by heading deep into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (note the name!) to peer through the thick vegetation, adrenalin racing, heart pounding and breathing hard as you come face-to-face with the unnervingly human mountain gorilla.

The beauty of Uganda is that all this adventure is balanced by welcoming, authentic lodges, where you can chose to live like a King in luxury above the clouds or if prefer your safaris, smaller and more intimate, bush camps in the forest, where distant chimps can be heard as you swap stories around the campfire.