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Uganda 2020 - Primates, Big 5 and 30 minutes with Obama


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On our departure day we left the camp for the morning drive, had a nice bush breakfast, explored the southern parts of the park until we reached the main road towards Buhoma. The game drive in the park delivered a final nice impression. We were scanning a number of fig trees for lions, but it was obviously too early for the lions climbing on the trees.





Final encounter with Topis




Egyptian or Large Grey Mongoose



Pin-tailed Whydah



African Openbill






White-browed Robin-Chat



Jacobin Cuckoo



Black-headed Heron



Buffalos pinnte grass




The final sighting was a lonely Elephant who did not wanted to be disturbed






Because of him and his friends the southern border of the park is surrounded by a ditch.







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On 4/10/2020 at 11:19 PM, Galana said:

Nobody quite knows why lion do this and many theories abound


My assumption has always been that it is a way for them to catch the breeze and stay cool.

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35 minutes ago, Soukous said:

it is a way for them to catch the breeze and stay cool.

One theory. Another is to avoid the ticks and flies down in the grass.

All cats will climb. Leopard to hide prey and keep safe, maybe to keep a good lookout. Cheetah use termite mounds and even tourist vehicles for a vantage point. They have 'play trees' for territorial purposes but whilst young cubs can and do climb a modest tree, adults don't. Their claws are not designed for it.

So why not lions? Prey weight and pride numbers rules out that reason. It cannot be 'just' relaxation and the feline equivalent of lying back and putting ones feet up.

It seems to be a fairly recent development of the last 70 years or so and contemporaneous throughout Africa. i.e. they have not just learned it from others.

Having seen how the whole pride will flee from humans on foot, especially Maasai herders, is it perhaps with more 'enlightened non dangerous' tourists they just feel safer? Did it always happen but they made themselves scarce long before possible observers with guns got close?

Do you know anybody to sponsor my research for a couple of years?:D


Apologies to @ELIL for highjacking the thread.

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27 minutes ago, Galana said:

Apologies to @ELIL for highjacking the thread.

 You are very welcome. One of the many good things of this forum is that you always learn new things or get new insights.

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Last stop Buhoma:


The landscape changed from African Savannah to a lush green and mountainous terrain. A view that one would not necessarily associate with Africa at the first moment. If I ask some friends about the location of the picture below, Africa will not be in the Top 10 of the answers.20200215_IMG_2343.jpg.a3961e51e457bd00b1be516b205d407e.jpg


We stayed at Mahogany Springs Lodge where we arrived in the early afternoon and took our lunch on the balcony of the main building overlooking the big garden. Later in the afternoon we did a walk through the gardens with a little bit of birding.


African Blue Flycatcher



African Thrush



Streaky Seedeater



Ross's Turaco



Olive Sunbird



Northern Double-collared Sunbird



Green-headed Sunbird



Bronze Sunbird



Yellow-billed Barbet



Speckled Mousebird



Grey-throated Barbet



Yellow-throated Greenbul



African Emerald Cuckoo



Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird



Vieillot's Black Weaver



Blue Headed Tree Agama



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Fabulous  photos not in the least one of my personal  favorites the Ross's Turaco and those Sunbirds  ! 

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2 hours ago, ELIL said:

A view that one would not necessarily associate with Africa at the first moment.

I agree. That view could be just around the corner from where I live.  Even the black and white cows.


Some nice photos as usual.

Looking forward to more.

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Finally, the big day arrived - Gorilla trekking in Bwindi. We decided already during our planing phase at home, that Gorilla trekking may be too difficult for Ghada due to her limited mobility and she stayed at the lodge. Looking back now, trekking the group I was assigned to would have definitely been too challenging for her. However, we met an older lady in our lodge who did the trekking on the same day. She mentioned as soon as the rangers realized that she might get problems to keep up with the rest of her group, they called another ranger to escort her to the possibly easiest group. And it was indeed an easy 20-30 minutes walk for her to see the Gorillas. It seems that the rangers try to assign people to the different groups based on their perceived fitness and are even flexible enough to re-organize during the first part of the trekking, but you never know before.


Official starting time at the headquarter is 8 am. After a few songs and dances by a local school, visitors were distributed to the different Gorilla groups. I was assigned to the Katwe group.



Our assigned ranger gave us a short introduction about the group and made sure that everybody had the three important things with him: water, lunch package and hiking stick.

We could start directly from the headquarter, no need for transportation to another starting place. At 8.30 we left the compound, crossed the small river behind it and went up into the mountains.



We had to climb up the mountain until the top for about 1, 5 hrs. Just interrupted by 2 short stops and some sprints for passing aggressive ants. Our guide explained the high number of ants with the dry weather during the previous days. We stayed on the trails for the whole time. The trails were in quite  a  good condition during the first hour. The higher we got the more difficult it was to identify the actual trail. The terrain got much more rocky. Fortunately enough, it was dry. During rains, this trail may become quite slippy and more difficult. When we almost reached the top of the mountain, our guide motivated us that " the next 20 minutes will be the steepest part". After reaching our highest point, it took another 20-30 minutes on flat but sometimes very muddy terrain when the guide told us that we were very close to the Gorillas. A few minutes walk through the dense thicket and we met the trackers. There we left our bags, took our cameras out and followed the trackers towards the Katwe group. It was 10.30 am, almost exactly 2 hours after we left the headquarter.


The Gorillas of the Katwe group prefer to stay in thicket. The first member of the group was an old female. This female was already one of the older members of the group when the started the habituation of the group more than 10 years ago.




Another, younger, female was sitting next to her feeding on the high plants.







I forgot the name of the younger female, just remember that it means "aggressive". And she soon showed us why. Since the group prefers to stay in the thicket, the views were sometimes restricted by the high grass. The tracker tried carefully to remove it for a better view. Most of Gorillas did not care much about them , but this female charged  the trackers several times.






Most of the group members were feeding on the gras. There was not much of interaction between them.




The unanimous star of the group was a young baby that tried to improve its climbing skills, sometimes fighting with gravity.
















Another young male was sitting up in a tree.20200216_5DII7954.jpg.0a18b9c1e4ea3e049eac3550ac14d173.jpg






The silverback did not sit with the group. Our guide mentioned that he had some fights during the previous days. In such cases he always stays a little bit away from the group. Just we the guide told us that, one of the tracker discovered the silverback further inside the thicket. Since a silverback can get quite aggressive during these days of fighting, we kept some distance and got only a glimpse of him in the thicket.





The hour with the Gorillas passed very fast. It was a great experience, definitely worth the steep hike uphills to reach them. When we were back at the main trail we stopped for lunch. Although the members of our group were staying from at different lodges, it seemed that the lunch boxes are quite identical everywhere. Samosas, one banana, sandwiches, a muffin and juice was the common menu for everybody. Before we started our return downhill, I made a picture of my hiking stick.



The hiking stick turned out to be very useful for our way down. In particular, for some of the steeper parts it was more than helpful. As already mentioned above, we were lucky enough that the ground was dry in most parts. But I can imagine that this trail gets really slippy when wet. 



Edited by ELIL
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I need some time to find the Yellow-billed barbet :huh:. That garden has some nice birds, good to know for next visit. The gorilla photos are excellent !

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2 hours ago, xelas said:

I need some time to find the Yellow-billed barbet

Me too. But then I often did.

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12 hours ago, xelas said:

I need some time to find the Yellow-billed barbet :huh:. That garden has some nice birds, good to know for next visit. The gorilla photos are excellent !

Hahaha - it looks really terrible in the browser. I don't know why I posted it. I made a few adjustments that show at least that there is a bird :D



Needless to say that I have many pictures where it took some time to identify at home what the subject is 

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13 minutes ago, ELIL said:

Needless to say that I have many pictures where it took some time to identify at home what the subject is 


Welcome to the club :D; luckily there are very supporting fellow Safaritalkers out there to help me (us).

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A really precious Gorilla encounter, love the shots of the little one.

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On our last day we had time for final walk along the forest perimeter where we found (again) some birds.


White-eyed slaty Flycatcher



Chubb's Cisticola



Cassin's Flycatcher



Bronzy Sunbird



Brown-throated Wattle-Eye



African Yellow-White-eye



Dusky Flycatcher



Willcock's Honeyguide



Lühder's Bushshrike



Blue-throated Brown Sunbird



Northern Double-collared Sunbird



Grey-capped Warbler



Dusky-blue Flycatcher



Narrow-tailed Starling



Bocage's Bushshrike



We left Buhoma around 11 for our return flight from Kihihi to Entebbe. Our international flight back was at 23.59. So we had a day room at the Karibu Guesthouse. This gave us the opportunity to get a better impression of the guesthouse. It has a nice garden with a small pool and is apparently quite popular with expats in Entebbe for a short after- work swim or later for having a drink or diner. Our diner was excellent and we can recommend this place without any doubts. After diner and a last shower we went to the airport for our flight back to Munich.


Some final birds from the guesthouse's garden

Black Flycatcher



Red-chested Sunbird



Eastern Grey Plantain-eater



Edited by ELIL
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Ghada and I enjoyed this trip very much. On the whole, Uganda over-delivered. Even considering that some sightings were not as close as one would wish for, the variety of sightings made it an excellent trip for us. We both like to go on safaris and at the end of every safari we did so far, we said that we definitely want to return to this place. But for Uganda, this wish is much more intense and we are pretty sure that we could arrange for a tour to places in Uganda we had not visited this time and would (again) be overwhelmed by the beauty and variety of sightings.


Just a final note: I usually make many photographs of birds during such a trip. I am not somebody who likes to write down all the different names of the birds or tick off a checklist during a safari. This makes it sometimes difficult to identify or remember the name of the birds. This time I had the app „Birds of East Africa“ on my iPhone/iPad and I found it very useful. It is the electronic version of the Helms field guide by Stevenson/Fanshawe, but it allows to save your sightings with basically just one click. For me, it was very handy and it saved a lot of time during the cleanup of my photos later at home.


Thanks for following this report and I hope that the current travel restrictions will be reduced soon and ,more importantly, the impact of the current pandemic on the African countries and people will be less than some experts are currently predicting.

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3 hours ago, ELIL said:

but it allows to save your sightings with basically just one click


I wish I would have such app. But then, browsing through various bird books at home helps with "lockdown syndrome" :D.


Thanks you very much for taking the tame and taking us on the trip; even though I have "been there done that" at about the same time, yours is a fresh insight, and as such it shows that every trip is a different one.

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Same thanks from me for sharing your journey.

Not sure about the App. I can just about cope with a camera and some would even say that is too much for me..

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Thanks for sharing, you really had a good and varied trip. I agree about the app, as someone who isn't very much of a birder I find the ability to narrow things quickly based on characteristics to be very valuable. 

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My desire to go to Uganda , already very prominent  , has grown even more intensely with this great TR !

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