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BRACQUENE

@inyathi

 

Thanks  a lot !

That’s what for me at least it is all about , to discover places that are still wild and remote out of the main circuit even in Uganda and Kidepo is definitely one of those ! If I go it will not be an add on but a priority 

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dlo

After lunch we waited a bit for the boat to leave. From here you have 2 options, a trip to the falls themselves or to the delta in hope's of seeing shoebills. We went with the falls because of the supposed increase of wildlife and I wanted to hike to the top of the falls.

 

The first part of the cruise were filled with a variety of birds mostly being herons, kingfishers, and bee eaters. Of course you get plenty of hippos and crocs and plenty of elephants and waterbuck came down for a drink. 

 

It slows down probably the last 15 minutes or so before reaching the falls themselves but it is well worth anyone's time. The boat docks and they let the people who want to hike off. There's maybe 12 of us who decide a very hot and humid hike up a lot of stairs is a good idea. 

 

I drag Chris to the front because for some reason I need to be first like it's a race. Honestly though we do stop and take a bunch of breaks for photos, and maybe a bit of a rest😓. I have no memory of how long it was but I'd guess 45 minutes but it could have 2 hours it is all a haze to me. 

 

I did enjoy the hike and most importantly we were first to the parking lot where our drivers were waiting for us😎. After a short drive back to the ferry we crossed to the north of the park and all of sudden every elephant and giraffe that was hiding out in the morning appeared magically in front of us.

 

We stopped for a few pics here and there but the sun was dropping and we managed to leave the park shortly before the gates closed and get back to camp. 

 

The afternoon was good and we were ready to look out for some cats tomorrow so we were going to leave first thing tomorrow morning.

 

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dlo

So our last full day in Murchison had us leaving ridiculously early, something like 5:30. We've been to Murchison twice now with only a brief look at that lion from earlier and this would be our last day with a real possibility of seeing one so we would look hard for cats today. 

 

It was still dark when we drove into the park and we stopped by Idi Amin ruins again with no luck. After cruising around for a short while Robert noticed an oribi in some long grass on the lookout. Well that was all we needed and even though the grass was very long we saw the head of a lion poking through. The lion started to move a bit so we drove around trying to get either closer or a better view. 

 

We stop as she has moved out of sight and as we are scanning the ground I shush Chris and Robert. After quieting everyone I tell them to hold on,i see something but hang on. I see what I think is a leopard tail dangling from a tree near where the lion would be. I'm skeptical of my spot because it's so far away so I don't say anything until I'm sure i know what it is.

 

"I think I see a leopard" I exclaim. I'm now sure of it now as I point it out. Its definitely a leopard everyone agrees and I'll pat myself on the back here. That leopard is hundreds of meters away and we can't get any closer than we are. Easily my best spot ever especially with my terrible eyesight and if a guide pointed it out i would be amazed😁

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Fortunately for us he got up and moved but with that lion around he wasn't heading anywhere. We drive off and the day is considered a success now and I'm very happy with myself for this one. 

 

We move off in the direction the lion was heading we stumble into the only crowded sighting in Murchison. There are maybe 4 lions in a wooded swampy area with a big herd of buffalo. Between the 10 or so cars and all the trees and bushes it's very hard to see anything. We managed to eventually jockey to a better position but only got very brief glimpses mostly when the buffalo chased the lions off.

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These buffalo were having nothing to do with the lions and with the lions barely being visable we finally decided to head off. Chris and I were at this point both feeling a little rough and the heat was severe so we headed to Murchison River Camp in the afternoon to spend our final night here.

 

I wanted to stay here to save time and get to Ziwa very early tomorrow. These plans fell apart as we ended up having to change our itinerary at the last minute so going there turned out to be a waste of time. 

 

We were entertained though by a troop of vervet monkeys that used the camp pool. Chris went to get some pics of them drinking from the pool but she made the mistake of leaving the 2 apples she took out lying around. Of course one of the monkeys stole both apples, he proceeded to chow down on one while hiding the other under his leg. There was also a sink and mirror outside the bathroom that one of the vervets was obsessed with spending minutes checking himself out like some monkey version of leonardo DiCaprio.

 

The rest of the day was laundry a couple of cold showers and trying to get the bat out of the bathroom. 

 

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I'm so pretty!

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I'm so terrified of bats😢

 

With our Saturday and Sunday plans being reversed at the last minute we now have to leave early Saturday morning for Budongo. 

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BRACQUENE

@dlo

Great photos of the vervet monkeys especially the first two in my opinion 
but the ‘black and white ‘ leopard are the ones I will remember : magical and well spotted!

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dlo

@BRACQUENE Thanks thats leopard sighting will always be a favorite for me. Even being so far away it absolutely was a magical moment and we had it all to ourselves. I still probably don't have a career as a guide though😢

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BRACQUENE

@dlo

 

But perhaps as a spotter than :D ! By the way I was constantly thinking where did I see that image of the leopard before and suddenly I knew : Bagheera ( a black Panter ) in the classic Walt Disney Jungle Book from 1967

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dlo

The original plan this morning was to drive to Ziwa and see the rhinos bright and early. Instead we are now going to Budongo to go birding in the royal mile. The days have been reversed because of a problem with birding guides on Sunday suddenly becoming unavailable so now we won't be able to start our birding day until around 9 or 9:30. 

 

By the time we arrive at Budongo my stomach is rebelling against me and it is already quite hot. In spite of this it's an enjoyable day and for a non birder like myself still very interesting. 

 

Our guide Raymond is extremely knowledgeable to my virgin ears and he is so enthusiastic about his his job and especially some of the sightings. I can almost sense his disappointment when we don't quite share his enthusiasm at the chocolate kingfisher😄. His enthusiasm does rub off though and I find the birds we see to be quite beautiful. The problem in this forest though is seeing them.

 

You walk along a road here with thick forest on both sides of you. Even in the heat of the day there is plenty of life but I would think an early start would be much more rewarding. Seeing the birds is one thing but getting pictures is mostly luck and patience and probably a monster camera twice the size of mine. 

 

The stomach problem isn't to bad but a couple of hours in I can take no more! Into the forest I go to make a bush stop but as I go in through a bush path I decide to go a little further into the forest to ensure privacy. Well my notoriously poor sense of direction ensures I turn the wrong way when finished and I'm hopelessly lost in no time😄. Chris says it sounds like a chimpanzee is thrashing around and Raymond says simply " he is lost".🤪 

 

Chris calls out for me and I end up doing a 180 and now bushwacking through some very thick vegetation as I finally make my way through, none the worse for wear except for a slightly bruised ego. 

 

The walk continued to a stream which was covered with all kinds of butterflies and marked the endpoint of our walk. Because we weren't feeling well we decided to walk back to the car and not stop to much on the way back. 

 

Budongo forest is a beautiful area to visit and I would gladly visit again especially if I could get there first thing in the morning. I changed my itinerary and visited because of a trip report by @inyathi so if anyone wants more information on Budongo please give his report a read.

 

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BRACQUENE

@dlo

I agree that early birding is preferable  but what you’ve seen or at least shown us this time is again a festival of exotic colorful creatures I almost instinctively associate with Uganda !

 

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michael-ibk

Raymond would have been happy with me - love the chocolate kingfisher. 

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inyathi

@dlo I’m sorry to hear that you were ill when you visited the Royal Mile and also weren’t able to get there early, but very glad to hear that Raymond found you the kingfisher he sure knows how to find the birds, it’s actually properly called the chocolate-backed kingfisher, but I like the name chocolate kingfisher :), from the photo it looks perhaps like you saw it better than I did.  

Edited by inyathi

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dlo
2 hours ago, inyathi said:

@dlo I’m sorry to hear that you were ill when you visited the Royal Mile and also weren’t able to get there early, but very glad to hear that Raymond found you the kingfisher he sure knows how to find the birds, it’s actually properly called the chocolate-backed kingfisher, but I like the name chocolate kingfisher :), from the photo it looks perhaps like you saw it better than I did.  

Haha I also like chocolate kingfisher but thanks for the correction. Was Raymond your guide? He was an interesting guy and very passionate about his job. Probably when I was lost in the woods he was chatting with Chris. He said he was working as a chimp researcher but didn't enjoy it so he quit to work as a bird guide. I am very glad you and @michael-ibk are enjoying my horrendous birding descriptions😁

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inyathi

I don't imagine there are two Raymond's working as bird guides on the Royal Mile so yes he was my guide, I assume this is him.

 

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Need a bird guide for The Royal Mile in Budongo Forest in Uganda contact Raymond by inyathi, on Flickr

Edited by inyathi

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BRACQUENE

@inyathi @dlo

 

The publicity looks older than the guide but I am sure he is the right guy if I want to find that “ chocolate - backed kingfisher “ one day in the near future 

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dlo

@BRACQUENE the older I get the younger everyone looks!. @inyathi you are correct there are no dueling Raymond's.

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Zim Girl

@dlo Enjoying this Ugandan trip report very much.  I think your guide Robert may have been our guide in Uganda way back in 2006.  Is his full name Robert Bulega?

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dlo
2 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

@dlo Enjoying this Ugandan trip report very much.  I think your guide Robert may have been our guide in Uganda way back in 2006.  Is his full name Robert Bulega?

 

Thank you. Yep same guide! What a small world. We had him in 2005. When I contacted great lakes I asked for him again but I couldn't remember his last name so I sent a picture of us. The girl I was dealing with made me laugh when she exclaimed how young he was😀. Same friendly guy as before just with kids now and he finally broke down and got married last summer. 

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dlo

After leaving Budongo forest we would spend the next 2 nights at the Masindi Hotel. It's fine for what it is and I've stayed in far worse but the heat was killing me at this point and the rooms all have security lights right outside the room that shine nicely into your window. I suffer pretty badly from insomnia and those lights just killed me.

 

After the first night we went the next morning to go see some rhinos at Ziwa. I've lost track of how many times I've gone rhino tracking but its alot. Ziwa is absolutely worth your time and its quite easy to get to being about 3 hours on a tarmac road from Kampala. 

 

After arriving you get a ranger and in a group of around 6 you head out after a talk with the ranger about Ziwa and your walk and what to expect. What you can expect is rhinos, I cant imagine the success rate is much under 100%. I believe there is around 25 rhinos at present as well as other game and if you overnight there you search for shoebill early in the morning though apparently the success rate is declining. 

 

It's a very easy walk and it doesn't take to long to find a mother and her baby. Its nap time though in some pretty thick bush so we go to search for some more lively rhino. Fortunately we come across 3 more shortly after but unfortunately these guys are even sleepier. Our group jockeys around trying to find a way to get a decent picture but I doubt anyone succeeds but we appreciate the scene for awhile before moving on.

 

I always enjoy my time with rhinos so I think Ziwa is worth a visit and it will be interesting to see where they move some to as the population increases  

 

We left at lunch and because the Bradt guide says that Kabalega diner is the place to eat that's where I tell Robert we need to go. Now it's no Iron Donkey but its actually pretty good and boy did I need some pizza. Apparently the guidebook is followed by many as its packed with tourists as well although it probably has more to do with it being owned by an ex guide. 

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Hot and tired rhinos.

 

The next day is a driving day. The road starts terrible with lots of construction but the second half is smooth sailing all the way to Primate Lodge. We stop in a town called Rugombe for lunch and next door to the restaurant is a hair salon! Why not go for a haircut I say to Chris so off we go.I might be the first mzungu to ever get a haircut here but the end result is I get my head shaved, we meet some super friendly ladies and because they also run an orphanage we get to support a good cause. 

 

We arrive at Primate lodge late in the afternoon and for the next week we have an amazing time in some stunning scenery and perfect weather that coincides with both of us shaking off our stomach issues. 

 

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BRACQUENE

@dlo

 

I had my first imported white rhino sightings last September in Mosi-Oa-Tunya NP near Livingstone after a short walk with armed rangers but I have to say for me it was a bit of a disappointment after the wild experience of Kafue NP  ; the Ziwa  Sanctuary looks a bit more adventurous to me and as you mentioned there is the possibility to have lunch afterwards in “ probably the best roadside eatery in Uganda” where I would be tempted by a local curry 

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Zim Girl
20 hours ago, dlo said:

 

Thank you. Yep same guide! What a small world. We had him in 2005. When I contacted great lakes I asked for him again but I couldn't remember his last name so I sent a picture of us. The girl I was dealing with made me laugh when she exclaimed how young he was😀. Same friendly guy as before just with kids now and he finally broke down and got married last summer. 

Thought so.  I recognised him as soon as I saw that picture.  We loved him as our guide, so nice to know he is doing well.

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dlo

@BRACQUENE

 

So I actually would compare Ziwa to Mosi o Tunya. It's a small area and it's all pretty controlled. Whether you consider an area wild or not the rhinos themselves are wild so I always enjoy the experience. Probably my favourite rhino tracking was done at Grootberg in Namibia. A huge wild area, tracking the rhinos took awhile and being black rhino it was very nerve wracking when we got close. Ngwesi in Kenya also gave me that same feeling. 

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BRACQUENE

@dlo

 

Thanks for your reply those  two areas you mention would have my preference to see them ; what I meant is that I remember standing in front of rhinos together with between twenty and thirty people and three rangers ( my photos in the Kafue report give the impression that I am alone  ) which was a let down , but at least I saw them , which leaves me with only two absolute favorite creatures I have to see and if I tell you the first is the Shoebill you can guess the second !;)  

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Botswanadreams

I'm sorry to interrupt @dlo very nice trip report. @BRACQUENE my experience in Zambia was very different to yours. In 2012 we were in Livingston and went on a beautiful full day game drive to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. We ask the rangers at the gate where the rhinos are and they told us to ask again the ranger station at the pick nick site what we did. They went with us to the northern part and we had the very much protected rhinos for ourselves.
We had the privilege of visiting the rhinos again the following day. It was incredible.

 

I'm  not sure is this today possible. 

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dlo

Primate Lodge is located in a prime location just minutes from the start of the chimp habituation. Arriving late afternoon we had a chance to relax by the bar and watch a few monkeys up in the trees. 

 

While relaxing a lady from New Zealand came by and we struck up a conversation. A short while later during our chat her handsome young guide comes up and as Chris swoons she asks him "are you from Wildeyes". I thought the wildeye logo on the the shirt gave it away but yes he answers I work for wildeye. Chris follows wildeye on Instagram and their work so she quickly adds Andrew and Margaret and we end up chatting for awhile before letting them work on some of her photography.

 

After dinner we end up staying up way to late talking to Andrew and Margaret and I admit I may have swooned a little myself as we have a great guy talk. He also has completely sold me on Mana Pools as he is a Zim guide and I think its finally time for me to go there.

 

We get to the ranger station to start our habituation day at 6:30. We are sorted into a group of 6 hiking with Wayne and Kate from the UK and very much enjoy our day with them. We also have a nice older couple from Israel and our ranger Jessica. We decide to bring a porter here but it is definitely not needed. We definitely prefer to carry very little in the heat and we like to support the local economy so we hire a very friendly young man who is in the process of becoming a ranger himself. Chris ends up leading the way walking with Jessica as much as possible and she absolutely adored her. 

 

The walk is pretty easy for the most part early in the day but it takes about 90 minutes to spot our first chimp. We spend a bit of time with Bwiso before he moves off to the main group and we now have to bushwack alot to keep up so the walking difficult does increase. The older couple does struggle a bit and I saw her fall once in seeming slow motion that I thought she would be unable to get up from.IMG_1687.jpg.7a2b1ffc4b3893d0a06db2d3c72da6ef.jpg

 

Hot and sweaty after another short walk we catch up to a small group of chimps feeding in the trees. At this point we can move around them and try for some photos and relax for awhile. The group fed, dropped food and peeded above us for about 2 hours. Fantastic! We were worried about the habituation but this was really great and we knew how lucky we were as many people had very poor results on the habituation walls. After our lunch Bwiso decided to move on and we decided to follow. This proved impossible after awhile and we would eventually lose him in some very thick forest.

 

We finally end up circling back to where we started and we move off in another direction where chimps can be heard. We run into some other people tracking and we rest with them for awhile before deciding on our next move. Our next move is definitely a surprise to me. .....IMG_1654.jpg.1731ff163cab40af87779a299337de80.jpgIMG_1790.jpg.302430adb4fe7773e876ffaa5bbe17f7.jpgIMG_1906.jpg.57c06969eb9319a842b0da975defbfa0.jpgIMG_1928.jpg.531c808db64b2647a7807b2ebfb343e2.jpgIMG_1943.jpg.aaa2ff644a84d8a5cfb2b4b0598c1666.jpgIMG_2066.jpg.e7a44d4acdd563811b5ee745e9d9da34.jpg

 

 

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BRACQUENE

@dlo

 

Great Chimp viewing but what I remember also is your intention to visit Mana Pools ; I think we might go there in 2021 or 2022 at the latest and combine it with Gonarezhou so let me know what your planning is and who knows we ever meet in the African bush !

 

 

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pault

You're really getting around. I am exhausted just reading it - must be age catching up with me. You did well over double the distance we did and my wife was complaining about that! And you are really getting some good sightings. Clearly it is not Mara-easy viewing in northern Uganda but really very worthwhile. 

 

Must have been really nice to see the chimps relaxed in the trees like that - sore neck no doubt, but totally worth it. I am surprised you two didn't manage to find an elephant in the forest, but you've yet to find the primordial bog either, so perhaps there is time?

 

Notes: 

After reading of your "experiences" in the forest at Royal Mile I was going to make a joke about how you'd be as useful as a chocolate kingfisher on a real jungle expedition, but decided not to do so as, although "useful as a chocolate kingfisher" has a ring to it, it actually doesn't make any sense.

 

Coincidentally, my wife decided we're going to Mana Pools for the first time this October for her 50th birthday. Since she was allowed to choose anywhere and has a bit of a phobia about elephants (well it is more logical than bats!*) that was a surprise. With @BRACQUENE ready to go again it seems Mana Pools' star is not dimming here. 

 

 

 

* Said a little too quickly and a bit too loudly.....

Edited by pault

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