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MMMim

Uganda - Mixed Emotions

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MMMim

@BRACQUENE

In August I had gone on a 4 hour hike in the Alberta badlands (rugged terrain, climbing involved) to gauge whether I would be able to manage Uganda.  The badlands were no problem so I was lulled into a false sense of security. Yes, I had not anticipated just how difficult it would be to get to the top of the mountain.  The heat and humidity really played a factor for me.  I had hoped we would be a lucky group and find our gorillas quickly.  One group found their group within 40 minutes!  Just luck of the draw.  I just look at my gorilla trek and think that I really got my money's worth as far as a "full experience" was concerned!

 

@Zubbie15

Yes it was very disappointing not to be able to do our second trip (and an expensive mistake not realizing our limits).  But we recognized that we would hamper our group and perhaps ruin it for them, and more to the point, one of us would likely injure themselves, more likely on the descent, and end up in a hospital for the rest of the trip.  I was not going to jeopardize Kenya.  We had seen the gorillas and spent a lovely hour with a large group of them, so I was well satisfied.

  

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BRACQUENE

@MMMim

Thanks for responding .

Could be a problem for me as well the humidity ; even on a flat terrain in Ruaha Tanzania walking in 2017 just before the rains it was very demanding but I suppose you have to suffer from time to time  to see those great animals !

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dlo

Very enjoyable report @MMMim. I'm so happy for you that you did get to see them but it's disappointing you got such a hard group. In both Rwanda and Bwindi they seemed to gauge the difficulty pretty well. I saw some guides pushing very hard for there clients to get easier groups. And those porters really are lifesavers aren't they? They are tragically underpaid. 

Interesting comments on the local food. I've always tried a few local dishes but it's hard to do so in the tourist bubble. We stopped at a few places and grabbed some street food as well. Actually quite enjoyed my bbq banana.

 

@BRACQUENE I haven't been to Ruaha but I've been to southern Tanzania and I don't think it's near as hot in Bwindi as there. I was definitely sweaty but it was manageable though it was so much hotter in Kidepo and Murchison that Bwindi was a breeze for me.

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MMMim

@dlo

Thank-you for your kind words.  I know our guide spoke with the ranger, Mandela, but I'm not sure he was pushing for an easy group.  I know some people do petition to try and be assigned an easy group, but we didn't bother.  We 'trusted' them to take one look at me and automatically put us in an easy group - like if there was a gorilla group in the parking lot, that would be my choice!  The group that found their gorillas in 40 minutes had to drive up the road about an hour (I think) to get to their trail head, but told us that they walked across their parking lot, up the trail a bit and there were the gorillas.  All kidding aside, as difficult as our trek was, I just feel I got a real experience that I will never forget!! 

 

You are right about the porters, I would not have made it without our 2 porters.  Their initial fee is low and they really rely on the tips they receive.  I can't stress enough how awesome the guys were - treated me like precious cargo - and they want you to get to the gorillas as much as you do.  It all benefits them if tourists see the gorillas, their tips are better and there will be more work for them.  I feel bad when people don't tip accordingly, as some tourists don't believe in it (another forum I saw some really awful comments about tipping on safari).  We were told that the porters only get 1 or 2 days work per month, that there is a rotation so that all the local people interested in this work will have a chance to work.  I can't confirm that for sure.  I will confirm that our 2 porters were tipped very, very well, especially Emanuel, as I felt that they went above and beyond to help me.

 

BBQ banana sounds good (as long as it wasn't flambeed in banana gin).  Street food kind of scares me.  I think that if you have time to become accustomed to it (and its own little world of micro-flora and fauna) you would be fine, but I would be scared that my gut biome wouldn't be able to adjust quick enough and it would cause problems.  Particularly so when I saw how the street food in Kampala was stored and cooked.:unsure:

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Atravelynn

P1

It's not just a Cape Town - Uganda combo, but a Cape Town - Uganda - Kenya Odyssey!   Even though your first attempt at Africa did not pan out, this trip sure has been a success.

 

That puppy incident would have bothered me too, even when understanding the broader context.

 

Red tailed guenon--lots of great views and shots!  Were you told this was unusual?  I don't think these are common.

 

After the shark diving, the gorilla trek was another feat.  So glad you made it and you were wise to stick with the one trip, based on your experience.  Day 2's trek would have started with already sore muscles and you don't want to be the one taken down by stretcher.  I have been with people who decided to forego gorilla trip #2, also.  While the permits are not transferable directly, you did open up 2 spots for others on the waiting list, so you likely made their day. 

 

You may have slowed the group, but with only 1 hour of viewing, look at the nice shots you got during that set time frame.  Had you arrived earlier, the gorillas might have been less visible and your hour would have been spent peaking through the Impenetrable Forest at them.  You'll never know, but your hour was a productive 60 minutes, so the timing worked out.

 

You have described the  whole trekking experience well and it will be useful for others wondering about the level of difficulty.

 

A swimming sitatunga is fantastic!

 

 

Edited by Atravelynn

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MMMim

@Atravelynn

 

The little red tailed guenons were a surprise addition to our birding expedition.  I got the impressions from our guide that they were nothing special, and that they were there all the time.  We also heard them and caught a brief glimpse of a tail in Mbira forest our second day of birding, so they appear to be around.  I loved seeing them.  The sititunga also really neat to see.  I have a picture after it made it to a floating island, but it is very distant.  It is funny, that both in SA and Uganda, our guides placed value in certain sightings and not others.  In SA, I couldn't get our guide to stop for baboons - no value, just pests.  In Uganda, if it wasn't a bird, not worth stopping for, so we just motored past that sititunga.

 

Glad to hear that my cancellation may have turned into someones blessing.  I didn't realize there was a waiting list like that.

Heather

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pault

Banana gin does not make you go blind - well not the good stuff. On the contrary it opens your eyes to other worlds!:D


And if you do go blind, you know the best cure for such blindness is a few drams of the finest scotch you can find? Win!!!
 

Having said that I wouldn’t want to drink the stuff too often - or perhaps more than once (more).

 

I think people of our sort of age (and definitely up) should be advised to take a day off between gorilla treks, in case they have a day like you. It should be automatic. You and everybody else reading should share this new rule as it is such a shame (although a blessing for someone) that you didn’t have a second, easier go at it. I know what happened to you, and how massively exhausting that day must have been. I was already thinking “How is she going to go again?” when I saw the rain gear.
 

Lynn’s observations I shared and your reply.is very interesting. Speechless at the situanga. Baboons I sort of get, although I am with you that they are much more interesting than they get credit for. 

 

This is a really good report - a different story from mine but also a true one (some say my trip reports might include tall tales and exaggerations but even if that were true, the Uganda one required no embellishment at all). 
 

I am looking forward to seeing Kenya with you.

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MMMim

@pault

I'll pass on the scotch, that's my husband's poison!  That was in fact how he helped get over his aches and pains from our trek :) A day off is advisable for sure.  There was a lady and her friend arrived on what was supposed to be our second trek day.  The one lady was a bit older than me (10 or so years) and built about the same.  There was a 20 something trekker who we had flown in with giving her advice and regaling her with tales of how easy the trek was.  He was one of the lucky ones who had been there done that within 3 hours the first day, and just under 4 hours the second day.  I did not feel he had any right to be passing out advice!!  When he wandered off, I felt it was my 'duty' to provide her with the real advice and what the reality of a trek might entail (they hadn't been considering porters, didn't think a walking stick would be necessary, etc.).  They trekked the day we left, we left the lodge 1:30, and we never saw them before leaving.  They were still trekking, so I hope she made it ok.

 

I'll have to go back and read your report, it was posted before my time.  Just had a quick look and the photographs are stunning!!

 

Thanks for following along

Heather

Edited by MMMim

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michael-ibk

What a well writen and engaging report, i really enjoyed reading this. Love the Gorillas in the rain photos, very expressive. But oh my, really suffered with you just now - so sorry that your trek was that hard and you could not do a second one, that must have been very disappointing. Totally agree about the porters btw, they are lifesavers on a difficult trek. Appreciate all the bird pictures, one of your Herons is actually a Rufous-Bellied, not a very common sight.

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MMMim

@michael-ibk

Thank-you.  Yes, it was disappointing not to be able to go on our second trek :( but it was a wise decision I believe.  Did I call that lovely grey/red  heron the wrong name?  Oops, I thought I had the right name.  I will edit appropriately.  Thank-you for pointing that out.

Cheers

Heather

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adamt123

A thoroughly engrossing trip report @MMMim. Your experiences in Uganda - both the pleasant and otherwise - were relayed beautifully, and I am well pleased you were able to capture such stunning gorilla photos despite the difficulties. 

 

ps. I am no birding expert but I think your id of the Baglafecht weaver (race stuhlmanni) is right on

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MMMim

@adamt123

Thank-you for your kind words and for confirming my/my husband's iffy identification of the Baglafecht weaver.

Cheers

Heather

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xelas

Reading this trip report while seating on a balcony in Bwindi waiting for @kittykat23uk to return from her gorilla trekking. Your words about the trek both gave me (us) comfort but those photos ... well, there is always a next time. At least we have got the consolation reward at Mahango Wetlands.
 

Oh, Jo has just returned, smiling from ear to ear. Now I am officially kickin’ my rear. 
 

Lovely report, specially all the photos from daily life.

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kittykat23uk
1 hour ago, xelas said:

Reading this trip report while seating on a balcony in Bwindi waiting for @kittykat23uk to return from her gorilla trekking. Your words about the trek both gave me (us) comfort but those photos ... well, there is always a next time. At least we have got the consolation reward at Mahango Wetlands.
 

Oh, Jo has just returned, smiling from ear to ear. Now I am officially kickin’ my rear. 
 

Lovely report, specially all the photos from daily life.

 

Yes indeed and wow, what a different experience I had with this very group! Our trek was mercifully short in comparison to your hell of a climb! 

Edited by kittykat23uk

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MMMim

@xelas

Thank-you for your kind words.  Did you not gorilla trek?  Your consolation prize - did you see the shoebill?

 

@kittykat23uk hooray!! Can't wait to hear how your trek went.  Glad to hear your trek went well.

 

Heather

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kittykat23uk

@MMMim I was the only one who did the trek in our group of four. @Galanahas done them already and @xelas and Zvezdana didn't fancy it. I'm very relieved that I did my trek yesterday as it is currently pissing down and looks pretty set in for the day...! 😮

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xelas
16 hours ago, MMMim said:

Your consolation prize - did you see the shoebill?


You, and others, will have to wait for the trip report :D.

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pault
On 2/18/2020 at 5:59 PM, xelas said:

Reading this trip report while seating on a balcony in Bwindi waiting for @kittykat23uk to return from her gorilla trekking. Your words about the trek both gave me (us) comfort but those photos ... well, there is always a next time. At least we have got the consolation reward at Mahango Wetlands.
 

Oh, Jo has just returned, smiling from ear to ear. Now I am officially kickin’ my rear. 
 

Lovely report, specially all the photos from daily life.

 

What????!!!! Oh dear.....…… I hope Jo has told you all about it at least twice already.  Kick from me, too.

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shazdwn

From those photos it seems the trek was worth it. I did it many years ago and the gorillas are awesome 

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MMMim

@shazdwn It was an experience I will never forget for more than one reason.  Yes - awesome experience with the gorillas!

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