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Tulips

Uganda - No Wonder it's the Pearl of Africa

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Tulips

I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Uganda in September of 2017.  This report is a bit delayed, but I felt compelled by certain remarks made this past week, to show what a wonderful country this is.  I didn't know to much about Uganda beforehand and was struck by it's beauty.  Yes, there is evident poverty, but this country has so much to offer.

 

The drive from Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to Queen Elizabeth Park in Uganda was quite long, but very scenic. The first stop was the Ugandan border. The border agents were very into the football (soccer) game on the tv and not much interested in anything else.  So getting into the country wasn't difficult.  You just have to fill out a form and get your passport checked if you already have a visa as I did.  

 

Shortly after finishing at the border, we made a rest stop at the Travellers Rest Motel.  I was thrilled as had just read about his place in a book about Diane Fossey.  This was the motel she used.

 

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Shortly after the drive continued and the first photo spot was reached and it was a doozy.  The Lake Bunyonyi area is just beautiful.  There are really no words.

 

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The other prominent feature of Uganda are the tea plantations.  They are everywhere.  I was amazed at how lush everything was.

 

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Lunch was at a roadside restaurant and we continued onto the lodge.  The lodge is a mid-range lodge just outdside of Queen Elizabeth Park called the Enganzi.  Its a very nice lodge, but it is built on a very steep hill.  I had to climb up and down 187 step to get to my cottage.  So, if you forgot something you had to weigh it's importance vs. climbing all the way back down and then up to get it.  Also, there are no radios in the cottages so if you needed something , you had to climb up and down to get it.  I got more of a workout here then on any of the treks I did.  LOL!

 

The view of the park of the lodge is spectacular.  I know I keep repeating spectacular, but so what!!  

 

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This is the main lodge

 

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My cottage

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The lodge provided a welcome drink and towels and then gave us the menu for dinner.  We had a choice of 3 entrees and 2 appetizers and then dessert.  Drinks are not free at the lodge, but they are happy to let you bring your own without any sort of corkage fee.  Paul, our guide, offered to get us all some bottles wine or other drink of choice. So, the money was handed over.

 

One thing I should mention is that the bank machines in Uganda give out 50,000 shilling notes.  These can't be changed anywhere.  I had a really hard time and the guide often took the bills and got change or gave change from his allotment.  It may be better to change funds at a money exchange place or bank, but as I always just use ATM's, I never thought anything of it.  US dollars are also widely accepted, but the exchange rate will not be as good.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Tulips

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Tulips

Today was another early start for the chimp trek.  The starting point is the Kalinzu Forest Visitors Centre.  The drive is about 45 minutes or so from the Enganzi.

 

On the way, we stopped to get a photo of the mist.

 

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There were two groups of people going out.  There were 6 in my group and about 10 in the other group.  We started in different directions, but ended up at the same group of chimps, so it made for a lot of people trying to get photos.

 

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Our guide was Crystal and you have the opportunity to hire porters for $10 USD.  My porter for this trek was Victor.

 

I didn't find this trek too bad.  All told, we trekked a little over two km's there and back.  The terrain was muddy in spots and it was a lot of up and down hills, so I really appreciated having the porter.  He was also very attentive and made sure I saw the chimps and made sure I got some photos.  He was really good.

 

I am deathly afraid of spiders and live in fear that I will find a huge thing while I am alone in my room or cottage.  During our trek we came upon the largest web I have ever seen.  Crystal said it was tiny spiders that make it and thankfully, I didn't see any, otherwise the screams might have woken the dead.  Although I am not as bad if there are other people around when I see them.

 

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As for the chimps, if you have more than one trek, that is better. I only had one trek and it was my least favourite of the 3 treks I did (Golden Monkeys and Gorillas were the others).  The chimps stayed way up in the trees and often covered their faces or were partially hidden by branches.  The people that had little point and shoots or little to no zoom, didn't get any photos on this trek, unfortunately.  I had a 300 prime lens that i used.  I would recommend at least a 300 or 400 zoom or a bridge camera that has a superzoom if you don't get lucky and have them come down.

 

like the Gorillas, the chimps are all named and the guide can recognize them all by their faces.

 

Victor

 

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Unsure of the name of this one.

 

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Hoda - She was in heat as you can tell from her swollen bottom

 

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Reggie is the one peaking out from behind the tree

 

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We see more chimps, but these were the best photos.  We really didn't luck out, but they were still nice to see.

 

We headed back to the lodge for lunch and a bit of a break before the afternoon game drive in the park.

 

I actually fell asleep for a bit.  i think my body was tired form the constant super early mornings and all the exercise.

 

I did have a welcome visitor though.  A Blue Headed Tree Agama.  Isn't he beautiful?  

 

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Later in the afternoon, we headed out for the game drive.  Despite the lodge being just outside of the park, it is quite a drive to get to the gate.  We had to stop and pick up the ranger and get the passes.  There was a power failure at the gate, so this delayed us a bit.  Our ranger today was Christopher and he had an eagle eye, i must say.

 

The vehicles in Uganda are the pop tops.  I mostly took photos from the side window, but did occasionally get up on the seat to take photos from the top.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

 

Since Queen Elizabeth Park is a national park, there is no off roading. 

 

This guy was right by the side of the road.

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Babboons are everywhere

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Vervet Monkey

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Red Necked Spur Fowl

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This male impala chased the female all over the place

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Can you spot it?  This is where i really wanted to offload and where I was really impressed with the ranger.  This is the best I could get with the 300 lens.

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More beautiful scenery

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It was really starting to get dark when we came upon the hippos.

 

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It was getting too dark to get anything of use and you have to be out of the park by a certain time, so we headed back to the gate to drop Christopher off and then head back to the lodge for dinner.

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amybatt

I am loving this, thank you for sharing it.  I agree Uganda looks beautiful, your photos do it justice.  I’m interested to hear about your chimp trekking as it’s on my agenda for 2019.

 

The blue headed agama with the sweeping landscape background is such a nice shot.  I don’t know if you intended to do that or not, but nicely done.

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Tulips

Another early start for a morning game drive.  We went to a different part of the park and our ranger today was Ruth.  She was also very good.

 

The buffalo were certainly prevalent at sunrise.

 

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Africa Wattled Plover

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Yellow Throated Longclaw

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Long Crested Eagle

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Red Headed Weaver?

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We got a radio call and then we went speeding like bats out of .....  We knew there was something big.  We were not disappointed.  And.... there were cubs.

 

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This hippo was on a mission

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This water buck was more than happy to pose

 

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Queen Elizabeth Park is beautiful.  There is lots of wildlife, but it is all in timing.  We dropped off Ruth and headed on to our next stop.

 

We headed to lunch at the Mweya Lodge, which is where the boat tours of the Kazinga Channel start and the lunch is included with the ticket.

 

On the way, we did come across a lion in a bush.  She was quite happy to sit there and she was panting.  I didn't get any photos really because she was hidden by the leaves etc.  Another car came up and started revving its motor and driving back and forth trying to drive her out.  We were appalled and wanted nothing to do with that and asked our guide to leave immediately and he did.

 

Lunch was a massive buffet and I had some of the best fish ever.  There was so much choice.  Even at this big luxury lodge, they could not make change.  Drinks were not included in the ticket.

 

Last year in Botswana, the water safari was a highlight and here in Uganda, i felt the same way.  In my opinion, a trip down the Kazinga is a must.  There is so much variety.

 

 

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African Fish Eagle

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Pied Kingfisher with a meal

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African Spoonbill

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Yellow Billed Stork

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Monitor Lizard

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Hadada Ibis

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Hamerkop

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Marabou Stork

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More spectacular scenery.  There's that word again!

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The cruise is about an hour/hour and a half or so.  It goes up and then back so you start and end in the same place.

 

This is what driving in Uganda is like

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It was a great day with many photo opportunities and it was back to the lodge for a well earned drink and dinner.

 

Edited by Tulips

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Tulips

Today was my last day in Uganda and I was headed to Entebbe.  Another long day of driving, but not without a stop at the Equator.  Uganda is one of the countries where you can stand on both sides.  Have now had the opportunity to do this in two countries on opposite sides of the world.  I first stood at the Equator in Ecuador and now Uganda.  

 

Like in Quito, the Equator is in a touristy area with lots of shops and restaurants.  You also have to be quick getting your photos as everyone is lined up wanting them.

 

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A local restaurant and a local drum shop

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The hotel in Entebbe was lovely.  My room was only 10 feet from the lobby across a little courtyard.  A treat compared to climbing all those steps at the Enganzi.  I stayed at the Boma.  Its about 10 minutes from the airport and its in an area that is quite safe to walk around in.   They have a nice restaurant as well.  I left a very generous tip in the box.

 

 

My porch

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My room

 

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 The staff went above and beyond.  The Enganzi wouldn't wash anyones shoes.  The staff here took them and had them spotless and didn't charge a thing.  They provided a day room at no charge to another guest who had a late flight out.  I would stay here again in a heartbeat.  Also, there is a little gift shop nearby called, Anna's Corner.  It sells quality goods and jewelry.  Not the mass produced stuff you see everywhere.  I bought a lot of stuff here and was able to get rid of the last of my Ugandan money.

 

So, I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at Uganda and can see how beautiful it is even though it is a poor country.

 

I leave you with an image of Lake Victoria as I fly out of Entebbe.

 

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michael-ibk

Very enjoyable report with lots of beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing. The Weaver you were asking about it a Southern Red Bishop I'd suggest.

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mapumbo

Will you provide descriptions  of your other treks?

Have now put Uganda on my bucket list.

Who did you plan your trip through?

Thanks for the TR.

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Alexander33

@Tulips

 

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Uganda is a beautiful country and I hope one day we will have the opportunity to visit.

 

The chimps certainly can be a challenge, and it really is just a matter of luck as to how quality a sighting you get, but having limited ourselves to just one trek (in Rwanda), I wholeheartedly agree that if you really are into chimps, multiple treks are likely necessary. Nevertheless, I think you did quite well with them, all things considered. 

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Tulips
19 hours ago, amybatt said:

I am loving this, thank you for sharing it.  I agree Uganda looks beautiful, your photos do it justice.  I’m interested to hear about your chimp trekking as it’s on my agenda for 2019.

 

The blue headed agama with the sweeping landscape background is such a nice shot.  I don’t know if you intended to do that or not, but nicely done.

 

Thanks @amybatt  

 

 

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Tulips
18 hours ago, mapumbo said:

Will you provide descriptions  of your other treks?

Have now put Uganda on my bucket list.

Who did you plan your trip through?

Thanks for the TR.

 

@mapumbo I did my golden monkey and gorilla treks in Rwanda.  The report is here:

 

I haven't finished it yet as work and life got in the way.  It will be done forthwith though.  The golden monkey trek is up.

 

I used a Canadian company that uses local people.  Mainly so I could lay in CAD as the USD doesn't go as far right now and because I knew they were reputable.  At the time of booking, I hadn't spent much time on this board.

 

Reading this board has provided lots of reputable companies in Africa and my agent contacted some about a 2018 trip, but ultimately I realized my bank account needed something a bit cheaper.  I will be looking at 2019 though.

 

 

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Tulips
17 hours ago, Alexander33 said:

@Tulips

 

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Uganda is a beautiful country and I hope one day we will have the opportunity to visit.

 

The chimps certainly can be a challenge, and it really is just a matter of luck as to how quality a sighting you get, but having limited ourselves to just one trek (in Rwanda), I wholeheartedly agree that if you really are into chimps, multiple treks are likely necessary. Nevertheless, I think you did quite well with them, all things considered. 

 

Thanks @Alexander33.  

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Atravelynn

"The chimps stayed way up in the trees and often covered their faces or were partially hidden by branches."  I think that is typical for many chimp trekking experiences, especially in newly habituated troops.  But you got some great shots of the chimps.

 

I think I saw a cat in the Euphorbia.

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anocn4

Thank you for the trip report. Uganda is a beautiful country. Your photos do the country some justice.

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mtanenbaum

Enjoyed reading your trip report. Just got back from Uganda myself and will be posting soon.

 

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