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Atravelynn

Have Orthotics Will Track

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Atravelynn

Paraa Lodge:

When I got my key to Room 105, the receptionist stated, “That’s the best room.” Entering the room and looking out the window, I knew why. The room itself, furniture, bathroom was great too. The Paraa setting in general, regardless of the room, is one where you know you are privileged to be in a very special place.

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Paraa’s buffets were extensive with many vegetarian possibilities and a fish entrée each meal. The vegetable lasagna was exceptional. I always rejoined the line at least once per meal. Sometimes the lines were long from not only Parra guests, but other visitors who came to see the wildlife on the desirable north side of the park and then stayed to eat. The Paraa guests were always given noticeably better seating in a separate area with the best views. If the main course buffet line was too long, I started with desserts, where I could step right up. The pineapple and other fruits made my practice of desserts first a healthy choice.

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I found Paraa to be big and bustling, beautifully decorated, quite luxurious, and in a superb location. There were always plenty of helpful staff members at the desk. For a small fee there was even Internet access. A very fancy spot.

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Chimp Tracking at Kaniyo Pabidi in the Budongo Forest Reserve:

After crossing on the ferry, which was 20 minutes late that day, the drive to Pabidi = 1.5 hour

 

It had been raining all night, we drove in morning rain, and Guide John and I departed for chimp tracking in full rain gear under dripping skies. I envied the lodge guests who were dining leisurely on the protected patio and could wait out the weather.

 

Since I arrived about 9:00 am, five chimp trackers had already departed with their guide, but radio reports indicated they had found no trace of chimps. This was my only primate trek of the trip in wet conditions and it was definitely slipperier going, but he glistening forest was gorgeous.

 

Guide John was one of the founders of the sanctuary, a highly skilled tracker, and a very nice guy. He showed me knuckle prints in the mud that meant the chimps had been on the ground and moving in the area. We examined chimp excrement that had dropped from the trees above and had gone splat. John showed me the juicy residue on the rind of a half eaten fruit, indicating it had been consumed not long ago. In the trees we spotted nests that were both old and recent, but no chimps huddling inside. We were definitely on the trail of the chimps, but time was not on our side since I had to be on my way by noon, at the latest.

 

John felt bad that I did not get to see the chimps but I consoled him that I had had better luck earlier in the trip. He explained to me about the habituation program (where you stay with the chimps all day) and I decided I’d like to go tracking with John again as part of that program and spend a couple of days in the cozy lodge, dining on the patio, with a brownie for dessert. I saw a sign that said they sell brownies.

 

Abraham and I departed Pabidi at noon, bound for Entebbe. We had no time to spare, especially since the dirt roads were rain soaked, since we knew we’d encounter about a mile of continuous speed bumps due to road construction, and since it was important to be at the airport a full 3 hours before my Entebbe-Nairobi flight because there could be lingering disruptions from the Kenya Airways strike.

 

I had anticipated this possible lack of an opportunity to freshen up post-tracking, and had packed accordingly. I asked Abraham if he thought changing in the vehicle was a good idea in order to maintain our tight schedule of or if that was silly and getting carried away. He responded that he was concerned we did not have any extra time and that it was a good idea. So before we left the park, I hopped to the rear of the vehicle and changed from primate tracking outer clothes to my airport attire. Orthotics were an essential component of both ensembles. The bumpy roads made the transition a bit of challenge. That was a first in Abraham’s guiding career and I thought it was a hoot to perform a discreet Superman-like transition in the back of the Landy.

 

Once changed, I could concentrate on the box lunch packed by Paraa. We arrived right on time at the Entebbe airport after our 5-hour drive from Pabidi and I sadly bid farewell to Abraham but hoped to return with him as my guide someday. I’m already eagerly anticipating Abraham’s perceptive greeting at that distant reunion.

 

On a previous primate trek-laden trip in 2004, I jokingly made the comment that two treks is typical, four is exceptional and eight is a cry for help. The 12 treks on this trip continue my cry for help. So far help has not arrived.

 

 

 

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twaffle

Wow, Murchison Park looked like it delivered for you.

The many Rothschild giraffes were spectacular and I think that the buffalo looked like it was having a great time in the dirt.

You got some nice photos of the shoebill and I really liked the photo of the lion with all those kob.

 

I passed over the troublesome image #10 with my eyes closed, showing my eyelids just like the baboon!

 

The falls look as beautiful as I remember them and it looks as if MP is recovering after its' troubles.

 

I still have more report to read and more photos to view.

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Atravelynn

The troubles are past and everything is fine there. I waited until it was fine to go. Now I'm even thinking Kidepo. I had not ever seen baboon eyelids like that and I'm sure you were kidding about yours.

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twaffle
I had not ever seen baboon eyelids like that and I'm sure you were kidding about yours.

 

 

I don't drink so much any more, but there was a time when I'm sure my eyelids and everything else was very baboon like. :P

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Leely

I have already lavished this report with praise on Fodor's but here I go again. It's so helpful and also amusing. Thank you, Lynn. I had been thinking 1 week Rwanda, 1 week Kenya in early June 2010 but now I am not so sure about Kenya.

 

Your ride seeker information was interesting. One of my quasi-eco-qualms is getting carted around in an SUV totally sola*. I had thought that would be necessary because otherwise how could I get to the trailhead? But it's possible--even normal--to hire a care and driver in Ruhengeri?

 

*I hope you don't think I am in any way crticizing your trip because that is faaaarrr from the case. If I have to (and can afford to), I will certainly hire an SUV and driver to cart me all around the country. I wasn't sure there were other non-time-consuming options.

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Atravelynn

Leely,

 

I didn't know about the option to pick up a driver in Ruhengeri either. But that seems much more reasonable at $30 for the day than being carted around the country solo and it would be something I'd consider in the future. Like you, I wanted to make darn sure I had a way to get to those gorillas that I had paid $500 to see.

 

I don't know about Kenya in the near future either.

 

Thanks for the praises across the Internet.

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Game Warden

Enjoying the trip report very much Atravelynn, with a touch more time you'd be able to edit in some photos...

 

I've got some ancient shots of Murchison taken in the 20s, I'll have to find them and we can compare then and now.

 

Matt

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Nyamera

An outstanding report as always and it seems like the primates were mostly well behaved. The Jackson’s hartebeest at Murchinson Falls look great, but where are the Akagera topis? This is the only complaint I have, and I must remember to use your report if I ever go to Rwanda and Uganda.

Thanks, Lynn!

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madaboutcheetah

Hi Lynn,

 

I'm having trouble viewing your pics on the Kodak gallery. Any reason why?

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Atravelynn

A before and after at Murchison Falls would be fun, Matt.

 

Nyamera, there were topi herds at Akagera, I just did not get very good photos of them.

 

Hari, I've noticed some slowness in the Kodak site or else just a few pictures showing up, not only for my albums but for a few other people's I've viewed.

 

I found hitting the done button, if nothing happens after a minute or two, takes you to all the photos on the traditional white background from way back.

 

Eventually the best pics will appear in this report so no album links needed.

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Atravelynn
Eventually the pics will appear in this report.

 

Eventually has come at last. I finally illustrated this report with photos. So for the few hours I was clicking away in the gallery, I got to to back on safari to Rwanda and Uganda, minus the jetlag.

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rickmck

Nice photos, Lynn. What an exceptional primates-focused trip.

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pault

Better eventually than never, I say! Nice to read the report again with illustrations.

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twaffle

I will have to read it all over again, as it is so much enhanced by having the photos with the text. BTW, I'm sure that is the very same ferry at Paraa that I have in my 40 year old report. I'll have to put them side by side.

 

You really have a good eye for a photograph … who needs expensive DSLRs! :(

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Atravelynn

Thanks for popping in again for the illustrated version. A ferry side-by-side would great, Twaffle!

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Caracal

Thanks Lynn - really enjoyed reading this and viewing the photos, particularly the colobus group (troop?), the shoebill, and that buffalo kicking up its heels with a whale of a wallow.

You certainly had some great sightings.

Your mention of Kidepo has me thinking about it again.

Last year was thinking about Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kidepo but after reading about protest riots in Kampala plus travel warnings late last year shied away and settled on South Kafue this August.

Thoughts of Kidepo still lurk though.

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Atravelynn

That's the first I've heard about needing an immigration officer in tow when heading to Kidepo. A solo safari could soon become an entourage with those rules.

 

Here is what someone told me about driving to Kidepo:

 

"There are 3 main access routes by Road to Kidepo .

1) Kampala-Mbale-Soroti-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong 792 KMS

2) Kampala-Mbale-Siroko-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong 740 KMS

3) Kampala-Lira-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo 705 KMS

Some routes are considered far too unsafe so it is better to contact some responsible tourism stake holders to find out how safe it is before you use any roads."

 

My Uganda guide said that it is now safe to drive there whereas it was not before. I believe he said that the president's wife is overseeing that area now so there is more political will to keep it safe. Something like that.

 

Of course, flying is also an option. The flights go maybe 2x per week. I think the lodge there is expensive, around $800/nt.

 

Those riots around Kampala occurred right after I left.

 

Maybe some of us could team up for Kidepo some time in the future. Early 2012 might be earlier than I'd be going, but who knows. It is on my list. Some places I feel like it is better to get there soon. But with Kidepo I don't feel that way and even think waiting may offer more options of getting there.

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Atravelynn

I've gotten very conflicted reports on when is best to go. But I gathered it was not when much of the rest of Africa would be very good, such as Aug/Sept.

 

If you have to charter a plane, then I probably won't be flying there unless I team up with some other people. But who knows what may change in the future.

 

Thanks for the info!

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TonyQ

@@Atravelynn

Thanks for pointing me to this.

It really is a fantastic report reflecting an amazing trip.

4 gorilla visits, 2 chimp visits and 3 colobus monkey visits + Murchison Falls!

It was wonderful seeing the gorillas, and the chimps - but I didn't know colobus monkeys lived in such large groups and that you would be able to get such good viewing.

 

As usual from you, great practical detail - very useful.

Excellent pictures - I have not seen a baby colobus before - so interesting they are not black and white.

Murchison Fals looks great - and a Shoebill

 

Thanks very much (and sorry to have discovered it so late)

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Tom Kellie

post-49296-0-66925700-1435485529_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-40637600-1435485544_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-81004300-1435485561_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-88059300-1435485575_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-61347800-1435485593_thumb.jpg

~ @@Atravelynn

 

Far too much to single out highlights — the entire trip report is fascinating!

You accomplished so much, with superb images to share.

Few trip reports have such a variety of high quality photographs.

Now that gorilla watching is cropping up on Safaritalk, your fine images set a high bar.

Very nice colors in all subjects before your lens!

Tom K.

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Marks

What a great (and occasionally humbling, when it comes to thinking of the schoolchildren) trip, and a thread that was posted before I even knew of Safaritalk. Love the primates on the first page and the more familiar plains game on the second.

 

I just love that George Jefferson came up.

 

 


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If ever a picture was begging for a caption...

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Atravelynn

What a great (and occasionally humbling, when it comes to thinking of the schoolchildren) trip, and a thread that was posted before I even knew of Safaritalk. Love the primates on the first page and the more familiar plains game on the second.

 

I just love that George Jefferson came up.

 

 

gallery_108_208_10409.jpg

 

 

If ever a picture was begging for a caption...

Is the report over yet?

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Tom Kellie

post-49296-0-72784700-1439657189_thumb.jpg

 

~ @@Atravelynn

 

A graduate student here asked me over one month ago if I'd seen any “classic lone elephant on a road” photos.

I replied that I'd never yet taken such an image, but I'd seen such in Safaritalk trip reports.

The trouble was that I couldn't remember exactly where.

Tonight I remembered and found the image — in your trip report.

It's a terrific image as it emphasizes the solitude of such an immense animal in any even more immense setting.

I'm glad that you posted it.

Tom K.

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Atravelynn

So glad to be of service. I thought it had a "miles to go before I sleep" quality to it!

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Tom Kellie

So glad to be of service. I thought it had a "miles to go before I sleep" quality to it!

 

~ @@Atravelynn

 

Or as old hymns put it: “One more river to cross”.

Tom K.

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