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Eric007

Uganda 2017

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Eric007

Hello to everyone on ST.  This will be my first TR on the site so please don’t beat me up too bad.  I have been asking advice on this site and figured it was time to actually add something that might help someone else.  This is a TR of our trip to Uganda in February of 2017, sorry for being late.  I will start off with some housekeeping information to provide a little about myself and this trip.

My wife and I first went on safari for our honeymoon in 2013.  We were bitten by the bug and have tried to return ever since.  We have been to MalaMala, Timbavati, Uganda (two trips as we loved it so much in 2015), Northern Tanzania and will doing a safari in India for 2018.  Some of you may have responded to my questions about wild dogs, but that trip had to be shelved and we decided to go to India instead.  We are currently arranging a 2019 trip to Zimbabwe.  We can post prior reports, but they will be a bit dated (2-4 years), if that matters.

 

As far as this TR is concerned, we did this trip in February 2017.  We stayed at the following lodges and were guided by Nkuringo Walking Safaris, who were great.

1 night - 2 Friends Beach Hotel in Entebbe.  We stayed at J. Residence on a previous trip but 2 Friends was much nicer.

4 nights - Kibale Forest Camp...one of our favorite camps in all our travels

1 night - Mweya Lodge in QENP

3 nights - Mahogany Springs in Buhoma

3 nights - Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge

1 night - Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali.

 

All photos were taken on a 7D ii and a 100-400 ii.

 

The Kingfisher, Shoebill and Hammerkop were all taken at the Mabamba Swamp on the way from Entebbe to Kibale.  We were in an old wooden canoe and had to be dragged through the mud at times, but we enjoyed it.  The swamp was quite beautiful and had a plethora of bird life, sorry, we are not very good at bird identification.  We had always wanted to see a Shoebill and had a relaxing morning in the swamp.

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The drive to Kibale was much shorter than the first time we were in Uganda, as we bypassed Kampala.  Going through Kampala traffic probably added 2-3 hours to the drive.  The drive this time was only 5-6 hours.  In Kibale, we did chimp trek, chimp habituation and swamp walk.  All of the pictures in the next group were taken at the Kibale Forest Camp, one of the reasons we love the camp so much.  We would just sit on our porch, or at the dining area, and watch all the wildlife.

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We the did the Chimp trek/habituation.  We were glad we did both because 1 day they were in the open and 1 day they were high up in the trees and were difficult to see/photo.  

 

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After the chimps, we drove to Mweya in QENP for the Kazinga channel cruise.  We had been to QENP before and loved the park, but we found the wildlife to be scarce and well away from the trails.  The channel cruise was very nice though.  For this trip we wanted to spend more time with the apes and have some time to relax in the jungle.  The following are from the cruise and QENP.

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We then went to the Buhoma section of Bwindi.  We had trekked out of Ruhija on a prior trip.  After trekking in Buhoma, we hiked through the park to get to the Nkuringo gate.  The hike wasn’t brutal and we enjoyed it, and it saved us from a long bumpy ride around the park.  We trekked the Habinyanja family in Buhoma. They had several babies that were very funny.  They tried to come investigate us, but mom wouldn’t have it.  They were a awesome family to see.  The total trek time was 4-5 hours, start to finish.

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We then went to Nkuringo to trek the Nkuringo family.  We had read that they were one of the hardest treks because of the terrain.  We found them fairly quickly, maybe half an hour, but the trek back to the gate is vertical and took considerably longer than going down.  They were on the move most of the time we were with them.  You can see the silverback eating fruit.  The youngsters climbed the tree and threw it down to him, but they didn’t stop.  As the silverback tried to eat, he was being pelted by fruit, his reactions and covering his head in fear were priceless.  

 

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after this his it was back to Texas.

 

Im not sure why some of the pictures are small and some big, maybe someone can help me with that.

Hope you enjoy

Cheers,

Eric

 

 

 

 

 

 

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michael-ibk

Thanks so much for this report, Eric, really a joy. Starting off with a Shoebill is impressive enough, but then the hits just keep coming. Excellent pictures of the Chimps and Gorillas, you had fantastic outings with them.

Edited by michael-ibk

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Kitsafari

gorgeous photos of the expressive gorillas - must have been priceless to watch the silverback being pelted by the younger ones, and reflects his softer side too!

I'm envious you saw the dinosaur bird - the shoebill!

thanks for sharing. 

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amybatt

Wonderful report and photos, @Eric007.  Since you'd been to Uganda before, you could compare previous trips, and this one seemed to stand out for you?  You'd recommend Nkuringo?  (I ask because I'm contemplating a second gorilla/first chimp hike in 2019)  It looks like all your treks were very successful and you had excellent interactions!

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Eric007

@amybatt both trips were wonderful, but on the second trip we made some adjustments to suit us.  We did two chimp treks the second time.  I would recommend 2 treks for the chimps because you never know how they will act or their location from day to day.  Sometimes they’re high in the trees, sometimes they’re sleeping, sometimes they’re in the open, etc.  Two treks allows for more chances to see them, however, in Kibale, their chimp sightings have to be very near 100%.  I know several people who only went to see the gorillas and in my opinion, they missed out.  The chimps are very expressive and we enjoyed them immensely.  In all honesty, you go to Uganda for the apes.  I can’t speak to Murchison, as we never went there, but QENP, we felt didn’t have the amount of wildlife as other “classic” safari parks.  The park is huge and has very few tracks to drive on.  That being said, We did see lions and hyena.  The second trip we stayed in QENP to break up the drive to Bwindi.  The Kazinga channel cruise was our favorite part of QENP, both trips.  Birds, hippos,crocs, Elephant, Buffalo, etc are all seen on the cruise.  We would not stay for an extended time in QENP, including Ishasha, if we returned a third time.

 

Bwindi.  Ruhija was by far the hardest trek we had.  Also, the lodging in Ruhija is far inferior to Buhoma and Nkuringo.  On the most recent rip we trekked out of Buhoma and Nkuringo, both groups were great.  I don’t think you can have a bad gorilla experience.  FYI, they also offer gorilla habituation now at the Rushaga gate.  I would also recommend two gorilla treks with two different families to maximize the trip.

 

You asked, you’d recommend Nkuringo?  Were you referring to the gorilla family, the lodge or the tour company?  In any case, they were all great, but I don’t know your travel style.  On our first trip we used Churchill safaris and were very pleased with them as well.

 

Hope this helps, feel free to ask anything.

Cheers,

Eric

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amybatt

Ah good point, I meant the tour company but good to know you'd recommend the lodge and the family too! LOL!  I'm glad you had such a good trip and for sharing your feedback.  Thank you for sharing this!

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MR1980

Great report and outstanding photography @Eric007! Seems to have been a fabulous trip!

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

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Atravelynn

" The youngsters climbed the tree and threw it down to him, but they didn’t stop.  As the silverback tried to eat, he was being pelted by fruit, his reactions and covering his head in fear were priceless."

 

This is an amazing interaction @Eric007

 

SHOEBILL   SHOEBILL!

 

Was this a group departure or a privately organized trip? 

 

You had 4 nights in Kibale.  Can you explain how you spent your time there.  Really nice to have that amount of time in such an exciting spot with diverse habitats and animals.

 

Great photos!

Edited by Atravelynn

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Eric007
8 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

" The youngsters climbed the tree and threw it down to him, but they didn’t stop.  As the silverback tried to eat, he was being pelted by fruit, his reactions and covering his head in fear were priceless."

 

This is an amazing interaction @Eric007

 

SHOEBILL   SHOEBILL!

 

Was this a group departure or a privately organized trip? 

 

You had 4 nights in Kibale.  Can you explain how you spent your time there.  Really nice to have that amount of time in such an exciting spot with diverse habitats and animals.

 

Great photos!

@Atravelynn The trip was private, just my wife and I.  We had been to Uganda on a previous trip and tailored this one from the experience of the prior trip.  The first night in Kibale we just ate and went to bed. We had just landed from the US, got 3 hours of sleep, then got up early to see the Shoebill (Mbamba).  We got to Kibale in the early afternoon and lounged till dinner, then went to bed.  The second day we used to nap and relax.  If you stay in or right outside of the park you will see monkeys/birds/etc right outside your tent.  If you stay near the lake or Fort Portal, your experience will be much different.  The second day we also did the afternoon swamp walk (Bigodi) which we enjoyed from the first trip.  Lots of species of monkey and bird, plus, it helps the community.  Easy walk, even in the afternoon, and right next to the lodges near/In the park.  The third day we did chimp trek and lounged in the afternoon.  The fourth day we did chimp habituation, so we spent all day with the chimps.  The fifth day we were off to QENP.  We loved the chimps the first time, which is why we went with them twice on this trip.  The chance of seeing chimps on any given day has got to be right at 100%.  However, sometimes they stay high in the trees all day or are moving quickly through the jungle, making it hard to photograph them and have a “spectacular” sighting.  Two trips allowed us to maximize our chances.  Honestly, if you stay in/right outside the park you could spend a full day watching wildlife right outside your tent.  Kibale is a magical place.  Feel free to ask anything else. Cheers.

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Atravelynn

You made good use of your days in Kibale.  Magical, indeed!

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safarigirl.se

@Eric007 Thank you for this report! Such a great start with the shoebill, they are indeed more dinasour than bird ? Wow!!

 

I also love the Kibale forest camp, if we had know how great it was we would also stayed at least one more night. The whole camp was just filled with monkeys and birds to enjoy! And I was told you could spot Bush babies at night if you very lucky! 

 

Have you you done the habituation experience with gorillas at your previous trip? We did it this year and I’m interested to hear others take on it :) 

 

 

 

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Eric007

@safarigirl.se we were advised against doing the habituation when we went.  Their logic was that the gorillas were still very skittish and they may flee or hide in the trees for the entire day.  I’m not sure if that was accurate, but that’s what we were told.  Our camp was close to where the habituation started, making me believe their advice, as it wouldn’t hurt their business either way because we would have stayed at their camp for trek or habituation.  Our two treks were great.

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