Apr 11

Scrambling up the Albertine Escarpment, Uganda

Today we are travelling to the Albertine Graben region in the East African Rift Valley. I visited this area to perform an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Chinese oil giant, CNOOC, as the Rift Valley is thought to contain large amounts of natural gas and oil. To access the site I had to climb roughly 300m down the steep escarpment, or cliff, which takes about 45 minutes. It might not look that hard, but because of the heat and the climb you sweat and pant for breath going up and going down!

There a group of able bodied men who wake up every morning and come below the escarpment to work as “helpers” to carry luggage for most of the people who come to the site. I tried to descend with my back pack but I was breathing heavily and drinking lots of water. To my surprise there were young girls who also come to this place to help ferry sugarcane down the escarpment. The biggest problem is during sharing of the money given to the “helpers” as they might not agree on how much each man gets because they help lift luggage of different weights and dimensions. It was on my way back up the cliff that I made these panoramas for vEcotourism.org.

At the bottom of the cliff, you can see the young men have tied up our luggage ready to ascend the escarpment as a young boy rests nearby with his sugar cane. At the base of cliff there are motor bikes (also called “boda boda” in Uganda) waiting to move travellers to their destinations in the Rift Valley, be it CNOOC’s installations, the Kingfisher oil site, local fishing villages or farm lands.

Click on the image or here to begin your tour!

- Mark O


Mar 21

Experience the roar of the magnificent Murchison Falls, Uganda

Murchison Falls

In December 2013 I travelled to the remarkable Murchison Falls, also known as Kabalega Falls, in north west Uganda. Located within Uganda’s largest protected area, the Murchison Falls National Park, the area is characterised by green, pristine vegetation scattered with diverse wildlife. You can join me on my travels through this vEcotour; experience the thunderous Murchison Falls, watch the amazing wildlife browsing the rich habitat and understand the challenges within this oil-rich region.

Making your way towards the top of the deafening Falls, you can feel the force of the world’s longest river, the Nile, being driven through a narrow gorge to the river below creating a breath-taking rainbow. The river then flows westward into Lake Albert, the most diverse lake in Uganda, providing wonderful habitat for elephants, buffaloes, hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds. However, this magnificent region faces a huge challenge. Murchison Falls National Park is considered to be oil-rich and there is need to strike a balance between oil exploration and wildlife conservation.

Come on a vEcotour to Murchison Falls with me by clicking on the image above and we will explore the remarkable environment, the awesome wildlife and how these wonders can exist and continue to thrive in the face of often damaging oil exploration.

Alternatively, click here to start your vEcotour!

Make sure you also keep up with my blogs, the latest vEcotours and news by following us on Twitter as well as on our brand new Facebook page!

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Murchison Falls, Uganda 2.146111, 31.811111 Murchison Falls, UgandaJoin vEco blogger Mark O to experience the awesome roar of the Murchison Falls.Click the image to start your vEcotour!

Mar 06

Creating vEcotours with the Born Free Foundation team

© vEcotourism 2014

vEcotourism’s Ian and Matt Redmond were delighted to drop by the offices of their long-standing supporters at the Born Free Foundation in order to provide a hands-on workshop in virtual tour construction.

After providing inspirational insights into vEcotourism and its potential, Ian challenged the Born Free team to create a pano of the Born Free office. Armed with a camera and panorama tools the team collected the images and sound while curious colleagues looked on. vEco tech expert Matt deftly stitched the images and ‘voilà’; a panorama of the hard working staff in the Born Free office. Click here or the map below to view the Born Free team’s pano.

“It was great to learn how vEcotours are created and to understand how dynamic these exciting new virtual tours can be”, Born Free’s Programmes Support Co-ordinator Laura Gosset explained, ”The potential for vEcotourism is phenomenal, with forseeable uptake for wildlife education, training and of course armchair tourism, giving you a real taste of the jungle from your desk.”

vEcotourism can’t wait to begin creating new interactive and immersive vEcotours of Born Free’s projects in wild and wonderful places around the world.

Would you like to partner with vEcotourism to amaze, delight and inform your supporters?  If so, please contact Jay Ploss at jay@vecotourism.org


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Born Free Foundation vEcotourism workshop 51.062883, -0.325858 Born Free Foundation vEco workshopSee the panorama the Born Free Foundation created during their vEcotourism workshop.Click the image to start your vEcotour!


For an example of a fully interactive tour, enjoy the vEcotour of the Susa mountain gorilla group in Rwanda here!

Mar 03

Celebrate World Wildlife Day!

World Wildlife DayIt’s World Wildlife Day! A day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. Announced by the UN, the day coincides with the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Andrina Murrell, Communications Director for vEcotourism.org explains, “vEcotourism.org is really pleased to be celebrating the first ever World Wildlife Day. Each of our engaging vEcotours is a unique celebration of fauna and flora and we encourage you to immerse yourself in a new place, experience a new species and revel in our amazing world.”

Take a trip to Sumatra to meet one of our closest relatives, the orangutan, discover the secrets in the rocks in Canada, sidle up to the mighty mountain gorilla in Rwanda and much, much more.

To begin your vEcotour, click on one of the vEco logos in the map below.


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vEco global: 23.079732, 26.718750

Feb 27

Take a walk on the rocky side at Green Point, Canada

Green Point, Canada
Canada’s Gros Morne park, on the comparatively sheltered Western coast of Newfoundland, is a geology lover’s paradise and a designated UNESCO natural world heritage site. From precipitous land-locked fjords to the curiously sterile exposed mantle of the Tablelands formation, this is a wild landscape and one that is home to a unique mixture of boreal, temperate and arctic flora and fauna.

Join vEcotourism’s project manager, Jay Ploss, as he takes you on an narrated tour of geological discovery at Green Point, a stretch of wave-battered coast, where you’ll interpret the exposed rock to reveal the continent-shattering secrets of Earth’s distant past.

Start your tour here!

To learn more about Gros Morne park and its diverse attractions, visit Parks Canada’s website here.


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Tilted rock and a vanished ocean at Green Point, Canada: 49.683098, -57.965211

Feb 17

vEco’s gift to you: the view of a lifetime!

To say thank you for the enthusiastic reception and all the fantastic feedback that vEcotourism.org has recently received, we wanted to give something back! Just like vEco Ambassador Ian Redmond, you too can enjoy the spectacular view over the hills on the southern edge of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda.

Simply click on the image or links below to download this amazing wallpaper so that you can enjoy this breath-taking scene on your computer!

If you haven’t already signed up, get the latest news and update on vEco’s new Facebook and Twitter sites!

(4×3 screen res. / 16×9 screen res.)

© Ian Redmond

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Feb 13

Presenting vEco’s first blogger: Mark O!

My name is Mark Olokotum alias Mark O! I am the main photographer and tour guide for vEcotourism.org in Uganda, and will be bringing vEco content from East Africa as well as presenting vEco materials to local communities. I invite you to “Be part of the conversation and conservation”!

Mark OI hold a BSc in Fisheries and Aquaculture from Makerere University, Uganda, and am currently studying for an MSc in Zoology/Fisheries Science, Conservation and Management, and worked on the Persistence of the African catfish (Clarias gariepinus, Burchell) in Lake Wamala, Uganda,under a changing climate. Currently, I am a Research Assistant at the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI), as well as a vEcotourism assistant for Jackson Efitre. I am passionate about biodiversity conservation and in the future I would love to be a nature journalist. I hope to explore alternative solutions to problems and have an open mind about what will work best and therefore have high expectations from my work.

I think vEco technology has great potential and will have long term contributions to my career in biodiversity conservation. Lots of people want to conserve and this is a great chance for them to experience wild areas through vEcotourism!

I look forward to sharing my vEco adventures and panoramas with you over the coming months as I visit ecologically and culturally sensitive areas of Uganda. If you’d like to get in touch with me, write to markolokotum@vecotourism.org.


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NaFIRRI Research Institute, Uganda 0.419644, 33.207078

Feb 10

Experience the fascinating world of the Susa gorilla group in Rwanda, guided by great ape expert Ian Redmond

GorillaPano_1209Sidle up to one of our world’s greatest living wonders: a group of mighty mountain gorillas browsing and playing in their natural habitat on Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda. Our latest vEcotour features 360 degree images, ambient background sounds, and embedded videos, all captured by our vEco Ambassador and great ape expert, Ian Redmond.

Mount Karisimbi, a dormant volcano, is part of the Virunga Mountains which straddle the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Karisimbi is home to diverse wildlife, including a significant population of the critically endangered mountain gorilla, and encompasses a wide variety of vegetation zones including the bamboo forests and hagenia forest which characterise the high-elevation Afromontane regions of central and eastern Africa.

Immerse yourself in prime gorilla habitat and, with expert narration from Ian Redmond, experience awesome silverbacks jostling for position, meet the only other nonhuman primate in the National Park and delight in young gorillas frolicking in a bamboo grove. Begin your trek by clicking here or on the image above!

To explore two other vEcotours from the same part of the world, click here or select the “Virunga Mountains & Mountain Gorillas” page from the “Take a tour” menu.

Lastly, If you would like to keep up with the latest vEcotours and news, make sure you follow us on Twitter as well as on our brand new Facebook page!



Feb 04

Mobile Clinic arrival marks a special day for the Kibale Health and Conservation Project, Uganda

© UWAToday represents a fantastic result for vEcotourism Project Advisors Dr.’s Colin and Lauren Chapman; a long-awaited mobile clinic van for Kibale National Park has finally arrived in Uganda. The Kibale Health and Conservation Project, founded by the couple, works to to provide health care to the local communities surrounding Kibale National Park as well as create tangible benefits from the Park to improve community-park relations.

In a region with a life expectancy of only 45 years and where over a quarter of children under five are malnourished, this mobile health clinic will provide both health and conservation education reaching many rural people in villages surrounding the Park who have little or no access to hospitals and doctors. The Kibale Health and Conservation Project has already benefitted thousands of local people in the region through affordable health care, mosquito nets and more.

A result of collaboration between the Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the University of McGill, Canada, the mobile clinic will initially be run by The Kibale Health and Conservation Project before being handed over to UWA to continue the effective programme.

A ceremony to present the mobile clinic is to be undertaken next week and vEco’s Ugandan team is gearing up to attend this exciting event! We will be blogging about it here on vEcotourism.org, so make sure you check back soon!


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Kibale National Park, Uganda 0.435398, 30.449982

Jan 17

Palm oil company hit with momentous fine for destruction of key orangutan habitat

Palm oil plantationAn Indonesian company has been ordered to pay US$30 million to the state for illegally clearing 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of the Tripa Peatland Swamp Forest in Aceh province, Sumatra. The historic fine was imposed after PT Kallista Alam was found in breach of Indonesian National Law for the “illegal use of fire to clear forests”.

Tripa Peatland Swamp Forest is part of the unique Leuser Ecosystem which is home to approximately 80% of the remaining Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) population, classed as critically endangered by the IUCN*. However, as the world’s largest palm oil producer, Indonesia’s forests, and the diverse wildlife which inhabit them, are under threat from clearance and burning for palm oil production resulting in a desolate and lifeless environment. The fine received by palm oil conglomerate PT Kallista Alam has therefore been widely applauded. Almost US$21 million of the fine is to be used to restore the affected forest.

vEcotourism Ambassador, Ian Redmond explains: “This welcome decision represents a huge step forward in Indonesia’s struggle to halt deforestation. The fine is of such a size that any palm oil company thinking of converting forest to plantation will think twice about breaking the law.”

You can experience the majesty of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and the unique Tripa Peatland Swamp Forest through vEco’s immersive, one-of-a-kind tour in Sumatra here!

*International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

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