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xelas

As the title is suggesting, there were 7 specials for Zvezda and me during this trip. As the number is not 5, the tale is not about the five travellers in our group; although all of them are special, each in their own way, And the number is not 1, so this will not be about The Special One. Which specials? Some will be revealed through the various stages of this trip report, some will be obvious, and some you will have to find yourself. Disclaimer: there were more than seven specials. And there were also some wonders. Found along the way. Just that seven is a magical number, and it rhymes well with special.

 

I will start this report with a set of acknowledgements:

- to Fred for perfect organization of the trip, and for making an itinerary that was both busy and relaxed

- to Jo for bringing and sharing her immense enthusiasm, for both birds and mammals and everything else, and being such a good travel companion

- to Emmy who was a perfect driver, but above all, a true birding pasionatus

- and last but not least, to Zvezda who once more did a great job keeping her DH under control

 

This trip has its roots back in winter of 2019, when Fred shared the idea to visit Uganda  (again) in 2020; as always I was quick to jump and grab the opportunity and after a quick discussion with Zvezda, in March of 2019 we have had our flight tickets in hands. As Uganda is a birding paradise, this one was meant to be mostly a birding trip. Not one but two expert birders have been guiding and helping us the whole time.

 

As a frequent visitor to Uganda, all organisation was done by Fred. Never before did we rely on other people to prepare our travel itinerary. We have no regrets as the trip and the itinerary were perfect in our eyes. So that one is already Special #1 revealed. 

It was also the first trip having a car&driver; every other trip we have done so far, even in countries like Malaysia or Sri Lanka, I have opted to drive myself. After the trip, I was glad someone else has done the long drives, and the tricky drives, and the muddy drives. And thus, also Special #2 is known to readers.

 

Itinerary:

we all have different flights so meeting point was in Entebbe at Airport Guesthouse. This is a short description, to wet the reader’s appetite:

09/2    Imperial Botanical Garden, Entebbe

10/2    transfer Entebbe via Mabamba Swamp to Kibale

11/2    chimp trek for Jo, birding the Kibale road 12/2    visiting Bigodi Swamp, birding along the Kibale road in the afternoon

13/2    transfer to Queen Elizabeth NP, game drive North Kazinga sector in the afternoon

14/2    game drive in Kasenyi sector, late afternoon boat ride on Kazinga channel

15/2    game drives Kasenyi sector morning, North Kazinga sector afternoon

16/2    transfer to Jacana Lodge, boat ride on crater lake in the afternoon

17/2    transfer to Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest via Ishasha sector of QENP

18/2    gorilla trekking for Jo, birding walks around the village

19/2     birding around Visitor's Centre

20/2    transfer to Ruhija side of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

21/2     birding at various sites around Ruhija

22/2    birding at various sites around Ruhija  

23/2    birding at various sites around Ruhija

24/2    transfer to Lake Mulehe, full day driving

25/2    driving to Lake Mutanda, birding at a swamp there, mokoro

26/2    transfer to Lake Mburo, full day driving

27/2    game drive in Lake Mburo NP morning, boat ride on the lake,  night drive

28/2    free morning, afternoon game

29/2    transfer to Entebbe with obligatory Equator sign selfie stop Details about accommodations will be given within trip report.

 

Below is our route, counterclockwise, courtesy by Fred.

 

RouteA.JPG.576dc32a4e8bcd04bc26e9baa442369e.JPG 

 

Our transportation vehicle was a Toyota Landcruiser, with 2 rows of 2 single seats (one each side) behind the driver. Fred occupied the co-driver&navigator position next to the driver. Jo and Zvezda having the middle row seats, and me, I was promoted to the team waterman, having the 3rd row with a fridge under my responsibility. Vehicle has a pop-up roof, and large lateral-sliding windows. Even on those full day drives, it was comfortable enough; Emmy took good care to stop often, for pit stops and to stretch the legs. And for birds, of course! The accommodations  (less Broadbill Camp) were booked locally through Churchill Safaris - https://www.churchillsafaris.com/ .  The transfer was booked directly with Emmy R.Gongo / Ranger Africa Safaris http://www.rangerafricasafaris.com/. Both are long time service providers for Fred, and both have delivered impeccable service.

 

So, here we are, ready to embark on the unforgettable journey through the (south part) of The Pearl of Africa. From left to right: Alex, Jo, Fred, Zvezda and Emmy

 

1676403512_UGN001.JPG.913d9e6e9fabf575ba6acee6157965d0.JPG

 

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michael-ibk

You´re fast, hats off to you Alex! Really looking forward to this one - bring it on!:)

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xelas

Ahh, the benefit of having 24/7 completely to myself. And as I (again) did not took notes during the trip, I need to be quick before the memories starting to fade out.

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TonyQ

Excellent, I am looking forward to this!

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Galana
48 minutes ago, xelas said:

After the trip, I was glad someone else has done the long drives, and the tricky drives, and the muddy drives.

Now you know why I resist the temptation to self drive in East Africa. Better by far to sit in the back and pass out the bananas and water on request whilst keeping the other eye out for wildlife. (Or sneaking a crafty snooze from time to time!;))

A good start and looking forward to more.

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Atravelynn

" obligatory Equator sign selfie stop "

One of the 7 specials, no doubt? ^_^

 

What a happy looking group!

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Kitsafari

Great to put a face to Fred! obligatory group shot, which I always forget to do while in a group. 

 

A very prompt start to the TR, putting some of us (me!) to shame for always starting late.

But...

Where is the rest? :P

 

I'm keeping a very close watch on your every stop and sighting.....

 

 

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xelas
2 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

Where is the rest? :P

 

Work in progress :D

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Soukous

I'm curious Alex, if you & Zvezda are together on a birding trip, how do you decide who gets what equipment? I assume you don't have 2x 500mm lenses.

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shazdwn

Very much looking forward to this already entertaining report 

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kittykat23uk
19 minutes ago, Soukous said:

I'm curious Alex, if you & Zvezda are together on a birding trip, how do you decide who gets what equipment? I assume you don't have 2x 500mm lenses.

 

That is a very good question! It provided hours of entertainment let me tell you and I did suggest to Alex and Zvezdana that they might want to consider doubling up on their equipment in the future! 😂😂😂

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Galana
21 minutes ago, Soukous said:

how do you decide who gets what equipment? I assume you don't have 2x 500mm lenses.

I know the answer to this. There is usually a bit of grabbing, a somewhat fiery exchange in a language I don't speak  but can get the gist of and Zvezda emerges holding a camera while Alex counts more Bulbuls!:o

Posted before Jo's .

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Soukous
32 minutes ago, Galana said:

There is usually a bit of grabbing, a somewhat fiery exchange in a language I don't speak  but can get the gist of and Zvezda emerges holding a camera while Alex counts more Bulbuls

 

Whilst there are plenty of Bulbuls in India, and some of them are quite attractive, I could offer the loan of a lens. :)

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pedro maia
1 hour ago, Soukous said:

I'm curious Alex, if you & Zvezda are together on a birding trip, how do you decide who gets what equipment? I assume you don't have 2x 500mm lenses.

 

Yes Dear comes to mind regarding Alex final saying in that situation...

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xelas
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Soukous said:

I'm curious Alex, if you & Zvezda are together on a birding trip, how do you decide who gets what equipment? I assume you don't have 2x 500mm lenses.

 

Easy enough: Zvezda is the photographer and I am the sherpa :D. However, sometimes I bring AF-S 300D prime + TC14 to be used on D610 (full frame), as it was the case on this trip. And no, we do not have 2 x 500 primes, only one 200-500 zoom. Plus a "fake" 420 and 510 mm lens (300 prime with 1.4 or 1.7 TC). So anyone willing to give me a loan prime, I am all ears.

 

As for the "grabbing" and "language", they both have missed the gist. It was all about giving Zvezda's camera the right settings for that particular moment, and some instructions about positioning etc :rolleyes: .

Edited by xelas

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Soukous

Like you my main prime lens is 300mm. I also have 1.4 & 1.7 tc, but don't really like using them.

I do have a Sigma 120-400mm zoom though. Which is a few years old but still a good lens. As a Sherpa you should be able to handle the weight. I also have D7100 or D300s bodies to go with it.

If you'd like me to bring any of those to India for you to use, just let me know. 

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Galana
1 hour ago, xelas said:

and some instructions about positioning etc

True. It was where she told you to "position it" that I found amusing!:o

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xelas
2 minutes ago, Galana said:

True. It was where she told you to "position it" that I found amusing!:o

 Oh my, here goes my reputation :wacko:.

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kittykat23uk
38 minutes ago, Galana said:

True. It was where she told you to "position it" that I found amusing!:o

:lol:😂😂😂😂

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xelas

AIRPORT GUESTHOUSE

 

 

It is located only about 10 minutes by car from the airport. Super convenient when one arrives at silly o’clock time, like we did (04:00 am). Although close to the airport, I have not heard any planes during night time.

 

Gardens are nice, and rooms are located in a detached building. Both of our rooms (#6 and #1) were clean, with comfortable bed and good shower with hot water. We have dinner there twice; our first one was a bit of a disappointment (pork chops were very well done, nice to who likes them to be crispy), our second one (mile perch fillet) much better. Fred has had good birding within the property. We would stay there again.

 

This guest house is owned by company Gorilla Tours: https://www.gorillatours.com/accommodation/airport-guesthouse-entebbe/; later during the trip I have seen several of their vehicles on different locations. They all looked well maintained, and those travelers I have communicated with were all pleased with their drivers.

 

Building with rooms

1335233499_UGN002.JPG.0375ced3111bbdd035c77e058d6f0066.JPG

 

Room and bathroom

339179761_UGN003.JPG.6f5d2ede43864ba224b3e05c49432d37.JPG

 

1040633633_UGN004.JPG.50b1eebec149e704fb3c05f965475322.JPG

 

Main building and garden

1153429336_UGN006.JPG.8b01a32adf167c4901291b005721dd82.JPG

 

1926037203_UGN009.JPG.abd4d1ae2574bf27ffe5b80d8f7f91da.JPG

 

Outside and inside dinning

2028239626_UGN007.JPG.dcef6b6df035d88f3f1949df7e5cef3f.JPG

 

993829298_UGN008.JPG.7fa62a8e5c8639f60a7a31953db7368e.JPG

 

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kittykat23uk
Posted (edited)

Well there isn't much to add to @xelas's great introduction, except to say that I thoroughly enjoyed travelling with our expert guide and safe driver Emmy Gongo, the venerable @Galana, chatty @xelas and of course the lovely, patient Zvezda. I myself only had three specials in mind and all were achieved in spades. As far as anything else we saw, well that was just the icing on top of a very large and tasty cake! 

 

One doesn't need to go far to see some great birds, in fact the Airport Guest House delivered a few lifers for me before we even ventured out to the Botanical Gardens. Just as well since we had a leisurely start to allow Alex and Zvezda time to recover from their silly O'clock arrival time. 

 

Please feel free to correct any incorrect IDs as I did scant research for this trip and had a rather fraught few weeks leading up to departure. 

 

49635602663_6ebd69c7c4_b.jpg

P2090048 Eastern grey plantain-eater, Crinifer zonurus by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Alex's friends:

49635602353_04db4714b6_b.jpg

P2090055 (2) common bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

49635602113_410c1a34e6_b.jpg

P2090108 scarlet-chested sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

49635601798_46aa689d9d_b.jpg

P2090166 red-cheeked cordon-bleu or red-cheeked cordonbleu (Uraeginthus bengalus) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

49636125591_0c44a31366_b.jpg

P2090199 Red-eyed Dove (Streptopelia semitorquata) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

49636402977_41b334ffa8_c.jpg

P2090229 (2) green-headed sunbird (Cyanomitra verticalis) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

49635600603_fe2a6aef2b_b.jpg

P2090320 grey-backed camaroptera (Camaroptera brevicaudata) by Jo Dale, on Flickr (Not sure If I have the ID right on this one)

 

49636124771_7064f83451_b.jpg

P2090397 Red-chested Sunbird (Cinnyris erythrocercus) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

49636402032_cf6b589328_b.jpg

P2090455 (2)  black-and-white shrike-flycatcher (Bias musicus by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

49636401672_0bcfda5476_b.jpg

P2090479 (3)  black-and-white shrike-flycatcher (Bias musicus by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

Edited by kittykat23uk

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Kitsafari

what a productive garden! that green=headed sure looks luminous-blue-headed to me, but what do i know? i don't discover birds and certainly don't name birds. 

 

The hotel looks lovely. 

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kittykat23uk
7 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

what a productive garden! that green=headed sure looks luminous-blue-headed to me, but what do i know? i don't discover birds and certainly don't name birds. 

 

The hotel looks lovely. 

 

I think it's green-headed, there is also a Blue-headed Sunbird, which we saw later on the trip, but they live at a higher elevation. :)

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Galana
2 hours ago, kittykat23uk said:

I think it's green-headed, there is also a Blue-headed Sunbird,

Correct. The green often looks blue in some lights.

Best way to split them is location. Blue is only present in the very far west, Bwindi/Virungas so if you are not there it's a Green headed. also Blue headed has a much darker body and belly.

 

Blimey.

14 hours ago, kittykat23uk said:

the venerable @Galana

 Never been called that by a young lady before. Should I be worried or am I in line for Saint Hood?:)

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Soukous
14 hours ago, xelas said:

Both of our rooms (#6 and #1)

 

you & Zvezda had separate rooms? Who had the camera in their room? :ph34r:

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