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Excellent Gorilla sighting and superb photos. Good to see them in the two environments, even if it involved getting wet and muddy!

Perhaps your Avatar should become a Silverback ;)

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Really lovely pictures of the Gorilla family, some beautiful portraits!

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Simply superb Gorilla 🦍 images and really liked your commentary. Thanks much. 

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That beaming with excitement look was evident on your faces.  So many outstanding gorilla shots, plus Andreas.   You really caught the prominent eyes and the brown stained teeth. The weather cooperated and so did all the members of the gorilla troop.


You are gathering animal names on all of your trips, Michael. Silverback on this one and as I recall you were deemed "Rosy-cheeked Lovebird" by the ladies in the Mara back in November.


Interesting comment about the rubber boots.  I never saw any visitors wear them, even though that's what the guides, porters, and trackers wear.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Amazing photos from an amazing encounter! Thanks for sharing, Michael.

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a beautiful report thus far @michael-ibk i especially liked the side striped jackal (unfortunately missed this species at MFNP in 2019), papyrus gonolek, cuckoo hawk, grasshopper buzzard, abyssinian roller and of course the flufftail. 


great to know you enjoyed semliki too - the black casqued wattled hornbills showed very well for you and i am very jealous of that nahan's francolin shot :)


your gorilla sighting looked spectacular with all that lively action - even coming from someone who isn't that fussed about gorillas, I think your photos really capture the gorillas' gentle majesty.  

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Many thanks @Atdahl, @dlo, @Galana, @NancyS, @pedro maia, @TonyQ, @Zim Girl@AKR1, @Atravelynn@xelasand @adamt123, appreciate the kind feedback.


On 4/30/2022 at 4:49 AM, Atravelynn said:

You are gathering animal names on all of your trips, Michael. Silverback on this one and as I recall you were deemed "Rosy-cheeked Lovebird" by the ladies in the Mara back in November.


You know, I´ll happily take the Silverback moniker then. :D

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Our accommodation in Ruhija was Bakiga Lodge. I have no wish to make these troubled times even harder for them but definitely not a place I´d ever return to.




The view was great, really enjoyed that. And I could easily see that this used to be a perfectly decent place to stay in Ruhija. But obviously a lodge not getting through COVID unscathed. Two staff members were really very nice and friendly. Two others could not be bothered to do anything. A place in desperate need of a manager - but I don´t think there was one left. Two plastic bottles were lying on the lawn close to the cabin next to us during the whole stay, nobody bothered to pick them up. Just a small example for the neglect going on. The rooms were weird if I´m generous and quite irritating if I´m frank. There was no furniture at all except three beds. No cupboards, nothing to put your stuff on. It seemed like somebody had taken the furniture. And who knows, might be the case. The plug-ins were very wobbly and probably a bit dangerous. The water in the sink was only a trickle, and the shower stopped to work during our stay. And there was almost no light at all - without our torches and extra lights we´d still be there looking for our shoes and clothes when getting dressed.




Food was sometimes pretty good (the first lunch and dinner), sometimes mediocre (second dinner and breakfast). On the plus side I´ll say that one staff member did an incredible job of cleaning our shoes after our treks. The shoes looked like we could only throw them away before, and good as new afterwards.


I don´t get worked up about little quirks easily and don´t say "would never return" easily but something very unpleasant happened to me at Bakiga Lodge. Ruhija is high up in the mountains, and it´s freaking cold in the night. Which is why the lodge provides hot water bottles. No surprise there,  I´m used to that at places like this. After dinner we returned to an ice-cold room, I got into my ice-cold bed, felt the water bottle and put it to my body. A mistake! *shsshshshsshshsshshs* My skin sizzled instantly - the damn water in the bottle was almost boiling, and I had severly burnt myself thoug this short body contact. I got three huge blisters on my belly afterwards, and was quite worried about infection. Fortunately we pack a lot of medicine and I used everything there to try to treat the burnings. Had to see the doctor back home about it, just about got through the trip, but I definitely felt the effects, and it probably was a factor in what would happen to me on our last day. I still have three burning marks on my belly from this rather embarrassing incident.


So no Bakiga Lodge ever again for me. I really don´t blame Uzuri I´d like to add - Bakiga must have been a good choice to stay before the pandemic, but they really need to pick up their game if they want to do become that again.


At least they had some nice birds in the garden - Variable Sunbird here:




They were obviously breeding here - this is the youngster:




The (surprisingly) only Baglafecht Weaver of the trip:






Cheating a bit here - this snake was actually seen at the Gorilla assembly point. Harmless - it´s an Angolan Green Snake. Not that I have suddenly become an expert herpetologist - this awesome FB group happily IDs all creepy crawlies.


In the afternoon we met our last local birding guide - Gordon Tukwasibwe, an incredibly nice guy and really super guide. Highly recommended!




Again the weather was not really cooperating but we still picked up some nice species. We used a very easy side road leading through a steep slope.




Mountain Masked Apalis




Levaillant´s Cuckoo




Grey Cuckooshrike


TR_0689_Uganda_2901_Northern Puffback (Gambie-Schneeballwürger)-Bearbeitet.jpg






And the highlight, Gordon´s favourite bird. Easy to understand why, the name is justified: Regal Sunbird




A gorgeous bird!


Edited by michael-ibk
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If you think Gorilla trekking is tough try trekking Grauer´s Broadbill. That´s what we did, an all-day-long trek through Ruhija´s wonderful forest, using the "Mubwindi Swamp trail". It was exhausting - very steep at times, lots of roots and entanglements, sometimes very muddy. And all of that for some birds, often just getting short glimpses through the foliage.






Loved it, loved it! One of my favourite days of the trip really, even in my somewhat battered state. We walked 14 km in total, so really earned our dinner this time. Like in Buhoma we had a full expedition crew again. Emma of course, birding guide Gordon, an armed ranger and a porter. This felt much wilder than Buhoma though, the treks were much more "middle of the jungle" like, and we did not see or hear any other human soul all day long. (Unlike Buhoma where we encountered plenty of locals all the time.)




Our armed escort really got into this, and enthusiastically pointed out each and every Bulbul we saw. :)


Tough as forest birding is we did find some nice species.






Black-Billed Turaco


One of my main targets was Doherty´s Bushshrike, a bird I have been running after for days in Kenya´s Aberdares. Found one but the little bastard did not comply with my photographic requirements.




There you go, just to show what most of my bird pictures really look like. :D




This stunning Blue-Headed Sunbird, an Albertine endemic, was more cooperative.






The morning especially was gorgeous, probably our best one weather-wise.




Rwenzori Hill Babbler




I´m not drunk YOU are drunk. ;)




Stay still, will you!




There you go - I was delighted to get a better shot of a Banded Prinia. Just love the Zebra look on this one.






Where is that damn Crimsonwing you are talking about Gordon?




Rwenzori Batis - really like this bird family, although almost all Batis species look exactly the same.




Another important trip target bird in the bag - Narina Trogon. Not a Uganda specialty, this is a very widespread species that has always eluded me.






When we came closer to the swamps we were warned the going would get really tough now. Extremely muddy and slippy so we should prepare to fall and get dirty (or worse). Elephants being the main culprits, their tracks made the trek quite challenging.




So did we really need to see a Grauer´s Broadbill? Or a Grauer´s Swamp Warbler? Absolutely, I did. Unfathomably Andreas decided to stay back with this porter, and he enjoyed two very peaceful hours without having to look at a single bird. :)






Though I suspect he did appreciate the White-Headed Wood Hoopoes hanging around this very nice resting place.


The rest of us soldiered on, with some more goodies on the way.




Archer´s Robin-Chat




Really liked this awesome looking male Striped Love Beetle. Another proof FB is not totally worthless, IDed by some insect group (forgot the name). The presence of Elephants was palpable but luckily we did not stumble upon one. Also heard Chimps several times and saw some of their nests. The coolest sighting was a Yellow-Backed Duiker. Just a few seconds, and I was too slow (and too tired to be honest) to get my camera up in time, but had a good clear view on this enormous Duiker for a few seconds.




Token D´Hoest´s Monkey just to prove there were some mammals.


Gordon runs a little souvenir shop in Ruhija, and really does sell "I trekked Grauer´s Broadbill in Ruhija" T-Shirts! Of course I promised to buy one should we find the bird. We did not however - the known nest was deserted, and no trace of them. Well, next time, and I bought some other stuff just to make Gordon happy since he is such an awefully nice and decent chap.




The swamp. Really loved being there, it felt so, so far away from everything.




This totally non-remarkable LBJ is the reason dedicated birders are coming all way here through an Elephant-infested jungle. Grauer´s Swamp Warbler. I confess, even having become not a totally undedicated birder I remained slightly underwhelmed about the coolness of this sighting. :)




But really did not need birds to absolutely love this place!


Phew, this was a "There and back again" expedition, I found it harder and harder to muster the energy to lift my camera.




Black Cuckoo




Stripe-Breasted Tit




African Cuckoo


We had started about 07:15 (shortly after sunrise), and only made it back to the main road at 17:30. A long and exhausting trek - and an absolutely great day.



Edited by michael-ibk
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Your enthusiasm pours out in every sentence. Would I be correct in suggesting you had a good day down that track? You got a fair representation of what the more impenetrable areas of Bwindi's Impenetrable Forest can produce on a  good day and even more on two or more. Sorry Doherty did not co-operate which is quite surprising really as it is virtually guaranteed. You will just have to go back.

Are you letting that Puffback go passed with only half a name?

Unbelievable that your Ranger and @xelascan find those Bulbuls. I wonder if they are related?


Pole sana about the hot water bottle. Sounds nasty.

Edited by Galana
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Glad you had such a great (if very tough) day after your horrible burn.

You did see some beautiful birds, but I think I might stay with Andreas:)

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So now I know what the injury was.  Of all the possibilities, I would not have expected a hot water bottle.  The pain and worry of what kind of infection might arise had to be awful.  I'm sorry you had to go through that.  You managed very well the next day, both physically and birdwatching-wise.  Those bright feathers must have lit up the jungle!

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Agree with Lynn. 
You certainly bounced back seamlessly after the injury. At least the day appeared to be excellent in terms of a remote birding experience.
But I have to say you have been quite restrained and generous of your assessment of this lodge. I doubt I would have been as nice. COVID was really bad for much of remote Africa but it does not excuse dangerous incompetence - also your agent should have been more more aware of the deterioration of the place. Enough said. You are obviously a very nice and forgiving person. 


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So pleased you were able to enjoy that long birding day after the horrible experience with the hot water bottle.

I certainly enjoyed looking at the pictures!

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22 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

enthusiastically pointed out each and every Bulbul we saw. :)

That's my man!! Must get in touch with him on our next visit to Uganda. Only that 10+ hours treks are not what a doctor prescribes  to me :o! Luckily we have Michael and thus a never ending flow of rarities from deep in the jungle (or swamp) :D.

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1 hour ago, xelas said:

That's my man!! Must get in touch with him on our next visit to Uganda. Only that 10+ hours treks are not what a doctor prescribes  to me :o! Luckily we have Michael and thus a never ending flow of rarities from deep in the jungle (or swamp) :D.

I also smiled at the Bulbul finder.  I'm sure he was a delight.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks everybody!


On 5/9/2022 at 11:41 PM, TonyQ said:

You did see some beautiful birds, but I think I might stay with Andreas

 You would miss out. ;)



On 5/9/2022 at 10:07 PM, Galana said:

Are you letting that Puffback go passed with only half a name?

I´m saving the ID process for the Big Year. ;)

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Time to get this finished!


We left quite early next morning for the longish drive to Lake Mburo. It had been a rainy night, and it was still pretty dark and gloomy when we said Good Bye to Bwindi.




Long-Crested Eagle




An unusually cooperative Cuckoo




African Dusky Flycatcher - almost Bulbul-like common in Bwindi.




Just outside the park




Augur Buzzard


It was quite a pleasant drive through a very fertile but densely populated landscape. Around noon we arrived in Mbabara where we did our COVID tests needed for leaving the country. Fortunately that requirement has been lifted since. A quick and easy process, we were out in 20 minutes. Received the results about one day later - we both were negative. :D




We arrived at Lake Mburo NP around 14:00. Eagle´s Nest Lodge was our accommodation here. An OK place. Nice staff, the tents were alright and it does have a good view.










The downside was it´s quite close to a village. The people there had a party going on that night. Good for them, but not much "African Bush feeling" coming up with disco music thundering up from below the hill.




Arrow-Marked Babbler




Long-Tailed Starling

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I guess most people don´t really visit Lake Mburo because it´s such an awesome place but simply because it´s a perfect stop-over point to break up the long drive from Entebbe to Bwindi. The park has lost much of its original area  and was degazetted to a fraction of what it once was. Encroachment is still going on though. Lions have gone extinct a couple of years ago. That said we quite enjoyed our afternoon drive. Not spectacular by any means but still not a bad place to be at all.




Our last two Crowned Cranes.




Trilling Cisticola - the bird family everybody loves, no? :D




Not completely sure if these are Vervets or Tantalus Monkeys. Apparentyl there´s quite some hybridisation between these two, and frankly I could never see much difference anyway.




Mburo has Zebras - nice to see these iconic African classics after all.






"Our" Barn Swallows preparing for the long flight home.








Another safari staple not present in most of Uganda.




Elands are another Mburo specialty.They kept their distance from the road.




We had seen the impressive Angkor cattle a lot during the trip but I was never sure if it was ok to take a photo. Here I snapped a quick one. Those horns really are cool.




Striped Kingfisher, common in Mburo.




Lesser Masked Weaver




Unremarkable photo but for some reason Emma told me this is a super-important target for most birders coming here - Long-Tailed or Tabora Cisticola.




Another old friend. Lilac-Breasted Roller is missing from most of Uganda. I was quite delighted when we found one at the end of the drive. You cannot go on safari and NOT see an LBR, just wouldn´t feel right.










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I wish I could say our last day was a high but the opposite was true. Quite the opposite in fact. I woke up in the night and felt terrible. Shivering, sweating, a very painful headache, and sick. I had to put on more clothes because I felt so cold. And had a fun night switching between the toilet and my bed. I don´t really think I slept at all. In the morning I felt even more sick. I was dizzy, very weak and definitely feverish. I tried to drink some Ginger Tea but that only made things worse - I had to lie down again. At that point it seemed pretty unthinkable to get through a 300 km drive to Entebbe or do a final excursion to the Lake. The only time I had ever felt like that was in Ethiopia after an Injera-induced food poisoning.


But then I "enjoyed" *please excuse me* the most liberating throw-up of my entire life. After that energy came back to me, and I felt much better. Definitely felt like food poisoining, but the weird thing is Andreas and Emma had had exactly the same dinner, and were both totally fine.


Anyway, after some discussion I decided to give it a try with the morning excursion, and to do the boat - which I had been looking forward to.




We used the vessel on the left - again we had arranged a private outing. Fortunately the water was calm, but it still was not the brightest idea to do that in my state.






But as always the birds made me forget how I felt. :)




Goliath Heron




Malachite Kingfisher




Pied Kingfisher. Huge numbers of them here.




The Reed was productive for Weavers.




Northern Brown-Throated.






Slender-Billed Weaver






Swamp Flycatcher




Striated Heron




Water Thick-Knee




Emma was enjoying as well. :)




How could anybody even think about eating?




Lots of different species on the shore.




Village Weaver




A bit too distant but I finally got a Ross´s Turaco






And the main target here - African Finfoot. Female ...




... and male. Both unusually confident.


Unfortunately after the boat my returned energy had gone again, and I felt quite terrible again. Still got up my camera for this Crested Barbet on the way out of the park.








The drive back to Entebbe was a blur to me. Tried to lie still and rest on the rear bench seat - not too easy with the state of the road and all the speed bumps. Emma insisted he wanted to get me to a hospital but I flat out refused to do that. Still, it was definitely not the most fun drive I´ve ever had. But - we made it, and late afternoon we were back at the Airport Guest House in Entebbe. I could get some rest now in a bed since we only had to leave for the airport at 2 in the morning. And fortunately I recovered quite quickly. Had been afraid of the travel home but it was actually no problem at all - smooth flight, and when we touched ground in Munich again I was even fit enough to even do the two hour drive home again.


Well, obviously not the best way to conclude the trip (or the report), but it was what it was. :)


Important to add - Edris (head of Uzuri Safaris) came to see us off at the Airport Guest House, really appreciate when an operator does that. Very nice guy as well.




Edris, Emma and Andreas saying Good Bye. Again, really was very happy with Uzuri and Emma. Please do consider them when going to Uganda, they are fantastic people.


Trip Report concluded hereby. Despite some hiccups I really fell in love with Uganda, its nature and its friendly people. Definitely not my last trip there, I´m sure of that. :)


Thank you for following!

Edited by michael-ibk
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Thanks for taking us along with you to the Pearl of Africa and sorry to hear of your last moment problems. Good to learn it has not put you off going back again sometime. There is much more of this little country to see and enjoy.

Of the last batch of photographs I liked your Ross's Turaco in action.

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Thanks for sharing your Uganda adventure, what a wonderful country and one I am very keen to visit. The Ross’s Turaco is a splendid bird, showing off its dramatic colouring in flight very well.


So sorry to hear of your illness late in the trip, both inconvenient and worrying. Emma really looks to be enjoying the cruise, it’s great to include the guide on safari, it makes me sad to think that many of the locals have had few opportunities to see and appreciate their own country.  


Where are you off to next?

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Thank you for a great report. You had a tough end to the trip but your positivity and enthusiasm shines through.

Excellent photos throughout. I am glad you were able to do the boat trip at the end and to see the Finfoot.

We visited Uganda a long time ago, before we were birders but you make a return look appealing!

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Excellent report as usual Michael, glad you decided to share. As @Galanasaid there is plenty to see in that little gem. Like you im sure i will be returning sooner than later.


Also taking pics of ankole cattle didn't go well for me and led to quite an argument with the herder. 

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18 hours ago, Galana said:

Good to learn it has not put you off going back again sometime.


Not at all, and if it all was smooth sailing it would be a too boring trip anyway. :)


17 hours ago, Treepol said:

Emma really looks to be enjoying the cruise, it’s great to include the guide on safari, it makes me sad to think that many of the locals have had few opportunities to see and appreciate their own country.  


He did, he enjoyed the whole trip after a too long period of not being able to guide.


17 hours ago, Treepol said:

Where are you off to next?


A return to Mana Pools and a first visit of Gonarezhou in October with @Atravelynnand @Doug Macdonald- looking forward to that very much. And I managed to sneak in a solo trip to Ecuador before that in summer.:)


3 hours ago, TonyQ said:

We visited Uganda a long time ago, before we were birders but you make a return look appealing!


I´m sure you´d both would love it Tony.


1 hour ago, dlo said:

Also taking pics of ankole cattle didn't go well for me and led to quite an argument with the herder. 


I can imagine. Most of the time Emma also said "better not" when I asked about taking a photo.

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