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An Ugandan Urge- Gorillas & Chimps in the midst

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Here I go again.Leaving for Uganda. 12 Days this time.3 Nights Bwindi ( Buhoma sector ), 1 Night Ishasha, 3Nights QE NP and 3 nights Kibale.Still working on logistics, almost done.Hiring a 4x4 with driver and guide for the whole trip.Its off season and will be expecting heavy downpour. Tips , suggestions , recommendations welcome.

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    Oh, I am jealous Inquest ! i LOVE Uganda!! In fact, earlier today was reminiscing about it. There's something about its warm, welcoming, down to earth "vibe" that reminds me of India.

    Have you chosen your accommodations?
    In Buhoma, I stayed at the excellent Buhoma Lodge (NOT Buhoma Community Rest Camp). The lodge is right IN Bwindi, a quick walk to where you start the trek, if you do it.

    At "Queen" as they call it, of course you'll to take the Kazinga Channel trip. Closest lodge to where you get the boat is Mweya. I went there for drinks and wished I'd stayed--the place I stayed was too far from Kazinga, which is the highlight of the park.

    Have a fantastic time--you can't avoid it!!

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    Thanks Cali. Been wanting to do Uganda,so its next month. Its said to be 'off season'. I believe in building my 'nest' first, before setting off, looking for the gorilla's.Though I can rough it out if the need arises, I admit I have a weakness for comfort and wouldn't compromise,if and when its available.

    Yes of course I'm staying in Buhoma Lodge in Bwindi (3 nights, a standby day if one trek gets washed out). One night in @ the River Ishasha Lodge.3 Nights in Mweya Safari Lodge and 3 nights in Primate Lodge, Kibale.

    Need to know more about the gorilla trek. Its said that its likely to get soggy wet and slippery. This the reason I was recommended the Buhoma sector,said to be less ardous/strenuous.Would you recommend layered clothing? How cold can it get?

    Clothing - Thermal inner wear,a full sleeve shirt/ Tee, trousers 9 water resistant material, rain wear poncho, garden gloves and hand-towel.

    Backpack- Camera body with 2 lenses, 18-105mm and a 80-400mm(birding),binocs, water,energy bars,nuts and raisins for protein & instant turbo.

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    I found that the gators were great to keep mud off pants etc. It was very slippery where we were, the porters and walking sticks were a must in my opinion.
    You have to leave your packs with the porters when you get to the gorillas and it is so exciting I didn't think straight.
    It started to rain and I was worried about my camera. You can't have plastic bags but a dry bag or something to put over your camera in case of a downpour is a good idea.

    I took off my raincoat and wrapped it over my camera. It was more important than me getting wet. the downpour only lasted a few minutes I think.

    Not for the trek, but we brought almonds and protein bars for the rest of the trip which was a great idea.

    I was there in Feb and it was not cold. I layered however and peeled off during the hike. I always had long sleeves though. It seems when ever i took off my rain coat it would rain a bit again.
    We hiked Ruhija so not sure how it compares to Buhoma.
    IT was amazing none the less and your hour is up in no time.

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    I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and your photo narrative on Kenya,Uganda and Ethiopia.thanks for the tips. I'm concerned about my camera and the rain.Changing lenses would be a problem and carrying 2 bodies for the 2 lenses is going to be painful,apart from juggling the backpack. Your suggestion of hiring a porter is a very practical option.Think I'll consider it seriously.

    Any idea if one could carry a small umbrella (convenient to shoot from under one) or it would possibly alarm the apes.There is no mention of it in any ' dos& don'ts '. Or is it simply a stupid idea.

    Ruhija,I'm told is a steeper and an arduous sector as compared to Buhoma.

    Live42day, which is the lodge you stayed in Queen Elisabeth.The camps looks very nice.

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    I think an umbrella is a silly (not stupid) idea. You're in the rain forest, of course it's going to rain and it'd doubtful they'd let you take the umbrella anywhere near the gorillas. You can't even take your walking stick or bag. Just wear a rain jacket with a hood and get a sleeve for your camera. I had this with me in case I needed it:https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/870829-REG/LensCoat_LCRSMBK_RainCoat_RS_Rain_Sleeve.html There are much cheaper ones than that; this one came as part of a package when I bought my camera. Ultimately I didn't need it. All three days we trekked it didn't rain until late afternoon after we'd returned to the lodge.

    Hire a porter even if you don't think you'll need it. Many of them are former poachers and this is a legal way for them to make money now. For all you've paid for the trekking trip, another $10 for the porter is nothing. Plus, when it gets muddy or steep, they will quite literally pull you up that mountain. Not to mention they'll carry your stuff. One of mine kept reminding me to drink and eat along the way. He didn't want me getting dehydrated!

    Also do not forget to tip the trackers, the guys who go out long before you get there to find the gorilla groups. Without them, you'd be trekking a lot farther looking for them. That was one tip I wasn't told about ahead of time.

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    I gave my porter double, he earned it. Inquest I can't imagine any hike steeper than the one that we did. We booked a year in a advance and thought I had asked for Buhoma, we were staying in that area, and found out the day prior we were hiking Ruhija which I was ticked about. I think they didn't get around to booking it till later or something.

    We stayed at Bush Lodge in QE park. We were supposed to be in Kasyeni but for some reason we ended up in Bush Lodge, not sure why. We met some people who were staying at Kasyeni and loved it. I would be happy in either.
    Thank you for comment about my blog.
    I don't think I would consider, nor probably need to, change lens on the gorilla hike really. I just took an 18-200 Lens and really didn't need to zoom much we were so close.

    And as Amy said, I doubt you can bring an umbrella. and it would be more of a pain anyhow IMO>

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    Live42day, I'd have been beyond "ticked" about the apparent delay and not booking you into the hike you'd requested a year before. Who was in charge of this--the agency? That wold b e a future red flag for me, although that agency does have a generally good reputation. Would you use them again?

    Inquest, at Buhoma Lodge, ask if Frank Turuhuki is on staff there. A member of the local Batwa tribe, he's a wonderful young man whose kindness will add greatly to your time there. All of their staff were excellent in fact,, and the chef at the time ( summer 2012) turned out fantastic meals.
    The lounge there is a great place. Employees of nearby Bwindi Community Hospital (an amazing community effort) in "downtown" (-: Buhoma village sometimes stop there in the evenings, so there's a warm, welcoming local "flavor" there.
    Gorillas occasionally wander on to the grounds at Buhoma and another nearby lodge!! Have you seen the video of the man being nuzzled by a baby gorilla ? If not, I'll post it here next time.

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    Cali. Yes, I was very ticked . I sent numerous requests over the year to the tour company to make sure we were booked in, but never got an answer. Would I use them again? Hmmm.....not sure. There were a few things that I was not happy with but none of it ruined our holiday. I guess if I was a different person I could have let it, but we were in Uganda and seeing gorillas so in the end it was fantastic. After our amazing driver guide in Ethiopia the bar was set very high anyhow.

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    Thanks, Live42day. The thing is, most people are there only once or twice in their lives, and pay a large amount of money for the trip and the trekking. So to have that happen, even if the overall experience was good and you wisely don't want to remain angry, is disappointing. I know from your blog which company you used, and I, based on your experience, would not use them. Besides, that company's Uganda driver sounded kind of iffy as well.
    My driver later that yr (2012) in Kenya was NOT good--quite arrogant in fact--and because of it, i would never use or recommend the company I went with. He was a "contract" driver...but the company chose him, and failed to tell me that the driver I'd specifically requested was not available. Heck, once you are there, ti a bit late to do anything about it!
    Even if an overall trip is good, there are so many companies in the East African tourist economy that is hurting. feel strongly about not using a company that dropped the ball. It is great that you had the amazing Ethiopian driver guide, but I'd expect no less from a well-reputed company in another country to whom you've given your $ and your trust.

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    It wasn't just you, Live42day. Read the company's Tripadvisor review--the one rated "poor"-- and you'll see the same driver mentioned, as well as similar but more serious "ball-dropping" by the company.

    Inquest, what company are you using?

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    This is what I like about the fodorites. Always helpful coupled with the detailing, makes planning so much more easier.You guys are fantastic.I feel completely prepared.Thx Amy,live42day and especially you, Cali where your contribution to the asia board is invaluable & immeasurable. All finer points noted.I feel so confident and its seems it'll be a perfect trip.

    You see, my planning has always been in the last minute ( a month or two before departure) as my profession prevents me from thinking or planning too far ahead.Time too, is critical, so a 2 week break is my upper limit.Practically everything has to fit into the period.Then again I don't believe in cramming.I love lolling around in leisure travel, pace it in a way so that I also have the time with the locals, their culture and cuisine.Though I can do Murchisons, I've decided to skip it.

    In this case I have not uses a travel company but an 'individual'-a guide, driver and a chimp/birding expert who is based out of Fort Portal. Kibale seems to be his backyard.He owns a 4x4 and drives himself.On his request,I have only sent him money to book the gorilla permits.The rest (lodges) he says is already arranged and can be paid on arrival( he has used his 'good offices').I have also spoken to the individual lodges and reconfirmed bookings.Strange as it may seem to many of you,I presume, because its 'off season', I think I'm getting away with it.Not to mention huge cost cutting( I've listed the lodges )

    I have spoken to him several times(the distinctive & heavy Ugandan accent is hard to follow),so we had settled down with Whatsapp. Communication has never been better since.


    This man came with recommendations from a reliable source.I'll be back here with my experience before i recommend him.

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    That sounds great inquest. That is what I did in Ethiopia, booked an independent driver and it worked so well. Please report back on your experience. I am not a birder, but my friend and I both remarked how Uganda was a birders paradise for sure.

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    Inquest, you are wise to skip and not try to cram in Murchison,within your time frame.The drive between Murchison and QE is an entire longggg day. While glad I saw the Falls, as well as the animals, I had longer for traveling then. Now, like you, I have a two week limit on trips, and if I had to choose one of the two parks, it would be QE instead of Murchison. Incidentally, did you know the great movie "The African Queen" was filmed at Murchison Falls?

    Also, your plan sounds like mine for a (fingers-crossed) future trip. Is the driver/guide perhaps Ivan Kaganzi? (If so, it would be a wonderful "small world!") I met him at Bigodi Swamp, where his personality, interests, knowledge, and skills as a guide, were most impressive. His grandparents live in Fort Portal, and he is an expert on spotting and describing birds and chimpanzees. I email him since the time he guided me at Bigodi.

    The accent will seem less heavy once you meet your guide in person. There's something about seeing the lips move, and the facial and other expressions, that makes it easier to understand than via phone where you have only the voice, and not the entire person, to go by!

    Finally, thank you very much for saying you find the info on the Asia board (India specifically) useful. Reading that means a huge amount, as it keeps me motivated. (I'm still slowly but surely posting about Gujarat--added another album of photos a couple days ago.)

    I'll wager you will love Uganda!!!

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    Just back from an incredible 14 days in awesome Uganda.Arrived on Rwandair, Bombardier, from Kigali,a small aircraft with 30 people on board mainly Ugandans getting back home.As we descended from the skies through heavy clouds, got a glimpse of the huge Lake Victoria dotted with islands.The vastness was a sea of water as far as the eye could see.

    Touch down at Entebbe was at 10.30 am, immigration was a breeze. Barely any air traffic barring an Emirates on the tarmac,so the airport was practically empty.As i normally do, I picked up some South African wine in the duty free and made my way out.There was Howard, a young man in his late 30s, in a red tee with the silhouette of a silver back printed on it.Identification on arrival was predetermined with previous exchanges of photos on WhatsApp. Communication too had eventually become a lot easier.Loaded my duffle and my camera pack into the Toyota HiAce 4x4, a large safari van with pop-up roof and plenty of room.I was the only other occupant.
    I had booked to stay in Alison & Dave's guesthouse.Its in a suburb of Entebbe, winding through the traffic into shanty town, a steep mud road led us to the guest house. The couple were very warm, showed me to my room. Ensuite and rather small with a double bed,it was part of a remodelled house with 3 rooms on the ground floor,which is the B&B.The owners themselves live upstairs.Well kept garden and plenty of avian heterogeneity.

    A good catnap and a hot shower,got going,to stock up for the journey. The first stop was to top-up currency for the MTN sim card,Howard had got me.I needed big bytes for work related communication.Once done, headed straight to Victoria Mall.Changed currency in the forex counter at the entrance. Got UGX 3600 to a U$D, much better than UGX3410 quoted by Barclays.Soon after bought flipflops from Bata. I found them great to wear while travelling, especially in a car/van. Shoprite was down the passage where we stocked up some fresh fruit,cookies,instant coffee/tea, mugs and a thermos for the pit-stops on our long road trip.A late lunch at a local restaurant was flavoured rice and goat curry washed down with a Nile Lager.The evening was spent around town,early supper by the Island Beach Cafe & restaurant on Nambi road, on the shores of Victoria.

    Early to bed for a 6 am departure to Bwindi......more to follow..

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    An early rise,some toast and hot coffee served by the hostess,packed our bags and were off.As per the plan we were to take the Kampala Byepass and hit the Masaka- Kampala road which take you south-west towards Kabale and Bwindi.The traffic in and around Kampala is notorious,stuck in one of them means loosing valuable time. Hit upon a plan. I had 2 different downloads of the map of Uganda of which one would work off-line too.So convinced Howard to hit the dirt track,of which he was reluctant and finally conceded.I was feeling adventurous.The effort paid off.The added advantage was we got to do a lot of birding driving in the hinterlands.

    Uganda is a birder's haven.Well over a 1000 species recorded. I myself got to see and tick around 250 during my whole stay.Howard himself is a good bird guide.He has downloaded over 150 bird calls onto his mobile which came in handy,as birds would come to us as he re-played through the bluetooth speakers!! Among the notable species were Shoebill,Green-breasted Pitta,African Green Broadbill,Great Blue Turaco,Goliath and the Purple Heron,Fish eagle,Crested Serpent Eagle...plenty more.

    We approached the Masaka-Kampala highway.A single road twin track had lots of traffic.The average speed was around just 50-60kmph. The total distance to be covered that day was around 600kms. Approached the town of Masaka. A little hungry, so stopped by a wayside cart making 'Rolex". Rolex is an omelette rolled into a Chapati (an Indian flatbread). In other words,I guess Rolled Eggs were corrupted to Rolex !! 2 eggs are beaten with chopped onions, tomato and cabbage,a pinch of salt and poured onto a hot pan.Once the "Spanish Omelette' is done a chapati is placed over it and rolled over.A rather filling snack.We packed ours and moved on to find a picnic spot by a riverside.We had our instant coffee too.Re-energized and on our way towards Mbarara. Mid-way to Bwindi.

    Uganda is truly a 'Banana Republic'. Bananas and Bananas every where.Everyone were carting bananas,on their heads,on shoulders,in trucks,on cycles.There is Banana Whisky, Banana wine.Food too is served with bananas.The Gorillas & Chimps love Bananas.I too went went bananas over ananas (pineapple) and bananas.I'm convinced 'Man' first originated from the heart of Africa, i.e Uganda. No wonder the country has a rich diversity of primates apart from the great apes, there are the Olive Baboons, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, De Brazza's Monkeys, L'Hoest's Monkeys, Patas Monkey, Red Colobus Monkeys, Red Tailed Monkey, the Mangabeys,the nocturnal bushbaby and the potto.....Now you see,its all because of the bananas !! :)

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    Inquest, I'm savoring eery word of your report--as much as you savored the "rolex."!
    Mbarara--"M7" country. I loved how that's the nickname for Pres. Museveni!
    Glad to hear it was a great 14 days, and looking forward to more stories.

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    Thanks Cali. Glad you are enjoying the report.Of course Mr.M7 as he's called has notched up 7 presidential terms. Probably will soon be called M8. Interestingly another,irrelevant fact,when in Mbarara, that was told to me was about the BAHIMAs. This tribe is found in western Uganda in Mbarara, Kiruhura and neighbouring districts and they are known for their biggest 'behinds' :)LOL !! The trivia that you collect while travelling.

    Rolled into Mbarara. A bustling town,the traffic was chaotic.Filled up fuel.A sit down lunch of chicken curry and rice at a restaurant which seemed popular with locals.We left Mbarara 'behind' and proceeded towards Rushenyi. From here we did have to head west towards Buhoma.Rain and slushy mud tracks slowed us down.The hilly terrain of countryside was beautiful. The landscape changed to terraced fields towards Rukungiri and Kihihi,almost close to Ishahsha.

    It was half past 6 pm when we reached Bwindi. I had booked to stay in Bwindi Guest House and particularly at the Lower Gorilla House,just at the entrance of the Bwindi Np. This property belongs to the Church of Uganda and is managed by Bwindi Community Hospital,which is doing a commendable job in health care in Buhoma.The Lower Gorilla house has 2 double rooms with a common pantry and dining. The rooms open out to a large deck which overlooks the forest. Daniel,a young American along with his wife have been involved with the hospital for over 2 years.He has been entrusted with the task of hospitality while his wife looked after the affairs of the hospital.Sarah,a young girl was the care taker,was assigned to the cottage.Breakfast,lunch and dinner would be cooked at the community centre brought here and served by her.I was the only guest for the next 3 nights.

    http://www.bwindiguesthouse.com/

    The view from my deck is the photo on the homepage of the website.Daniel showed me to my room.Its was large,with a queen size bed and 2 single beds.The view from the deck was magnificent.Tired after a long day.A hot shower,laid down on the hammock on the deck watching the full moon rise over the hills.The the night in the jungle came alive.A chorus of insects and frogs. The smell of the rain forest was unforgettable, the fragrance of the bloom floated in atop the earthy, composty jungle odours.
    Melody and cacophony.
    Time for dinner and bed.For tomorrow is to be a big day!! A date with the big apes.

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    Up early,the next morning, some hearty breakfast on the deck.The sky was a little overcast and it had rained during the night.My spirits were low when it started to drizzle again.My much awaited trek could be washed out I thought.Sarah assured that thing will be fine soon.Its the rain forest after all.Lo and behold the sun was out in about 30mins. The assembly at the Park headquarters was at 7 am for the briefing. Packed my camera gear and all the other required paraphernalia and reached. We were split into 4 groups and were assigned the Habinyanja Group. A dominant Silverback Makara, with his family of 18 gorillas.Soon after the briefing, we a group of 6 drove for 45 minutes to reach the trail head at Nyamishaba village. Just off the road was the steep track taking us down to a gorge.The going was tough,slippery as it had rained. The weather was brilliant,the skied had cleared and the moss covered the sun-dappled floor of this ancient forest,we trudged on for close to an hour and a half.Streaks of gentle light filtered through the openings in the canopy.The morning mist cast a magical veil over the contrasts of green.

    Anticipation and anxiety was high,it was getting warm.The greenhouse effect was evident,removed a layer of clothing.By now the beads of sweat had to be constantly wiped off.Not a whimper from anyone,till we herd a strange howl at a distance.Immediately our tracker,cupping his hands answered. The advance party had tracked the Habinyanjas. The calls went back and forth.A good one hour later,as I climbed just over a small embankment saw the tracker as he pointed out to a massive Silverback barely 15 ft away. My heart skipped a beat.Pulled out my camera and got some great pics.He was soon joined by more of his troop. there was this female with a baby. Absolutely adorable.We saw 12 in all or maybe more, lost count,as they would vanish into the thicket, then to surface again.

    By this time we had followed them for close to an hour and a half. I could sense that the big boy was occasionally getting irritated.There were 2 charges,when on the second occasion he was peacefully enjoying his time in the bush about 20ft away.Then all of a sudden with a might grunt and a chest thump, came straight for me, I froze. If it wasn't for the tracker,who came in between,he would have had knocked me flat. In a flash,he tugged at the trackers trousers and tore it.Good Lord that was close...and that was as close as one can get to wetting the pants.These incredible apes are extremely powerful.Like they say..in the wild, expect the unexpected..and i lived to tell you the tale :)

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    OMG Inquest, this report is brilliant, evocative, wonderful!!!! i admire you for writing from the road, so to speak. Yes, Bwindi Hospital is amazing!! A sa nurse, i was fascinated and impressed by all they have done there. That was 2012---it has become even more remarkable, and has its own RN school affiliate now. Do they still have the big computer "room" tent?
    LOL the big behinds.
    And WOW, what a gorilla experience!!!! Yours was one of the more challenging treks i've read about! Kudos to you for surviving it intact!!!!
    Hope you had a nice relaxing drink back in Buhoma village!!!!
    How are you enjoying the people you're meeting?

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    The guest house looks amazing!! It's on my "list" for next trip.
    There is simply no describing the lush scenery and hills and forests, is there? Soooo beautiful!! I so hope I make it back there some day, and am elated you are loving it too.

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    Though there are distance restrictions of 7mtrs from the apes, that the trekkers have to adhere to,its clearly violated.Its us to blame. In the eagerness to get better photos/view one simply oversteps.On many counts I realised the big Sliverback was clearly irritated and showed his displeasure by an occasional chest thump, grunts and hoots which are meant to say 'back off '.
    These are signs clearly read by the guards,who in turn must warn the visitors,which they don't do,for fear of displeasing them.This I feel is a dangerous trend.Hope someone won't get hurt in the bargain.As in my case,it was a close shave.

    Cali,I'm reporting from back home.I was there in the 2nd&3rd week of May.The downtown Bwindi Community Hospital is a bustling place.There are resident doctors,nurses,young adults in their 20s, all volunteering there.The hospital its self is well equipped and a big establishment.One level above the hospital is a community house , the Monkey House,with a kitchen,a dining,a couple of rooms and a courtyard. Around the premises is lodging ( B&B),the Blackie Shackie.I wouldn't recommend staying there unless one plans to volunteer to help around the hospital.Its too busy & noisy a place.
    I would recommend the Lower Gorilla House, barely meters from the Np entrance,has a fantastic view of the Bwindi forest.Gorilla do sometime are seen from the deck,though I didn't seem to have the luck.The food, the service and the hospitality were very good. I was the only occupant and that was the case in all the places I stayed in Uganda !! Seriously off season.
    I'm sure you'll make it back soon,that day don't seem far.
    Live42day, I literally relived your photo-narrative.As brilliant as it was, it was Deja vu !!
    More to follow... To Ishasha...

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    Well,on second thoughts..Ishasha can wait.

    I'll continue to bore you with more from Buhoma. The trek itself lasted about 4hrs, till we were picked up where we were dropped off. Back to Np headquarters, there was a small initiation ceremony, each one were given a certificate for successfully tracking the Gorillas,which included a sales promo of a printed copy of the pictorial history and details of the Habinyanja Clan. All for $10.

    Cali your precise prophetic prognostication.....went back to my cottage, a hot shower, decided to go straight to the Bwindi Bar, down the road.Sat on the porch and had a chilled Nile Lager. The menu card was very interesting. They served combo ' Rolex ' here.Woah !!!
    This is how it went ;

    The Rolex : The Ultimate in 'Ugandan Fastfood' ask your server for more details.All 8000 USh each

    Traditional : with ham ,onion,garlic & tomato
    Italian ;Mozzarella , tomato and fresh Basil.
    Vegetarian: Green pepper ,onion ,tomato and grated cheese
    Gourmet : Goats cheese and red onion chutney

    Exotic indeed !!! Chose the Traditional.It was splendid. Awesome.

    The bar & bistro also offered,Cappuccino,Latte, Americano,Fresh fruit juice and homemade cakes and matooke crisps.

    The sign boards in Uganda (like in India) are extremely hilarious.It has a somewhat angelic innocence, simplicity and candidness to it.
    A 'Say it as it is'.
    I've a great lot of pictures of it,here is a few I could recall from Buhoma..

    The Great African Pork Shop - Grilled & Flied
    ( absolute truth,it has flies on it)

    Engineer Alex & Sons Saloon and Electric Company LTD
    ( An engineering degree with specialised hair stying skills)

    The Great Pork Joint- Bwindi For the Best Meal Ever Contact:xxxxx

    The next day was spent entirely birding on the edge of the forest.It would often rain.Relaxing on my deck with my telephoto zoom ever ready.Plenty of good photo ops

    The third day packed and was off towards Ishasha...

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    Oh Inquest, so many wonderful stories from you, which bring great memories.

    You phrased it exactly right:
    "The sign boards in Uganda (like in India) are extremely hilarious.It has a somewhat angelic innocence, simplicity and candidness to it."

    There's something about Uganda--in addition to the signs--which reminds me of India. The gritty down-to-earthiness mixed with the warmth and welcome and openness of its people , and something else which i can't quite describe. Funny, because neighboring Kenya and Rwanda do not remind me in the least of India!

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    Absolutely.Both the cultures are uniquely/eerily similar. One other parallel that I stumbled upon is a Millet bread/dough dish called Karo.Its had with cowpea curry, chicken,goat or fish curry.It a staple food along with matooke in predominantly southern and western Uganda.Popular dish with the agrarian societies of the Ankole. After its cooked a lump of dough is rolled into a small ball,dipped in sauce/gravy and swallowed whole..take a look what wiki has to say

    https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Mujje_Tulye_from_Uganda/A_special_dish_of_the_Ankole_tribe:_the_karo

    Now, the very same dish is a staple diet in agrarian societies of Karnataka,parts of Andhra and Tamilnadu. There too millet dough aka Ragi ball and chicken/muttom/pea/greens curry are made and had in the same fashion...take a look here

    http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Ragi_mudde

    Another unique characteristics is the use of ghee ( clarified butter) with both, the Karo/Ragi ball.Primarily for taste, secondly a lubricant as its easy to work on.

    Juxtapose the two cultures separated by an ocean and thousands of miles, they share the same receipe? Coincidence !!

    Probably these are unpolluted & untouched civilizations. Handing down traditions and culture for generations.

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    Back to the sign boards.All of them border on a style distinctive of a certain 20th Century's famous artist's 'African' period.
    Figuratively speaking borderline grotesque,disproportionate and disfigured.Visually there could be an eye or an ear missing,a twisted nose, its dosen't matter at all.As long as the message is conveyed & the sense of humour is intact.Dont forget to keep an eye on them on the next visit. Its every where.

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    Some of the cultural (food?) similarity could be due to the large number of Ugandan citizens of Indian descent. They lived for generations in Uganda, until that monster idi Amin ordered them to leave.
    I'm checking Fodors Africa Forum every day for your updates. Thank you for these interesting and thought-filled posts. Wonderful!!!!! Weebale nyo nyo, Inquest!

    (ps.IF you need some down time r and r, I recently posted my last 'album" of Gujarat photos on Fodors, including lots of "people pix." Not self-advertising (-:just think you will enjoy.)

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    Cali its as though you could read my mind ! That's what I've been doing..Googling to going to Gujarat, thoroughly enjoying you photos along with the report urging me to get back on the road. LOL the switch board snap,looks like you had the power supply to the whole town on it :) Not to mention the portraits,absolutely wonderful.

    Reading it is certainly R&R.This time it'll be the north eastern states of Assam, Arunachal( keen on birding there) & Meghalay. With the PM of India inaugurating the 9km+ bridge across Lohit a tributary of the Bramhaputra, getting to Arunachal Pradesh will quicker. This on the radar.
    Incredible India.The vibrancy you'll get no where on earth.In India, you are like on a permanent psychedelic trip.

    As you rightly mentioned as large number Indian immigrants primarily from Gujarat have been in Uganda(and East Africa) for generations.Their dietary habits have had a great influence on local cuisine. The Phulkas,Parathas,Nans,Rotis or simply Chapatis (which I'm sure you must have tried in India,as also used in the Rolex) are of Indian origin.So is the tandoor and the Biriyani. These are here to stay.Worldwide.But what was intriguing was the curious case of Karo/Ragi comparison,is strictly restricted to a small pocket in India.

    Weebale Nyo Nyo to you too Cali for encouraging me.here ,its not quite like the Asia forum.Can't find much interaction here for TRs as either the traffic is less and/or the report is utterly boring with irrelevant trivia.I ended up aborting the the Kgalagadi TF TR a year ago.But must admit and admire the great info & help I've got here,as in this case and present topic.

    I also do seriously suspect the reason is that this thread is not marked as a "Trip Report"..

    What ever the reason I'll complete it,for it could be of some help for future visitors to Uganda.

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    Thank you for you comments. Exactly right on your last sentence, above, Inquest! I think of trip reports, and replies to standard questions, as a reference for future visitors as well as present readers. As for Fodors Trip Reports, the who why and when of people's replies is quite an enigma. You can get a hundred replies to someone who writes only one sentence report entries where they ate and shopped, but almost none to more detailed descriptions covering larger areas of interest. Oh well. One person's trash is another's treasure, as the saying goes. I do hope you'll continue and complete this report, and some day, someone will "google" a question about Uanda, and find an answer here!! There were many times I almost stopped the Gujarat report, but the interest of the few people who stayed along to the end kept me motivated.

    Your "psychedelic trip" (-: India future plans sound fantastic. I hope to make it to some villages in Odisha next time.

    Back to the subject at hand: Wonderful Uganda!!! To anyone with a true interest in Uganda, or Africa in general, this is not the least bit boring or overly detailed.
    Where did you go after leaving Buhoma??? More please!!!

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    Cali, I've been to the culturally rich Odisha ( Orissa as it was formerly known ) and it was a magical experience.That was close to 20 yrs ago.Still can recall a lot. Will post on your Gujarat thread.

    For now, let me focus on finishing the rest of the journey through Utopic Uganda.

    3 nights in Buhoma,on the 3rd day had a roughly 100km drive north to Ishasha NP.Stopped in a town called Kihihi,replenished our stocks and moved on.To our left was Lake Edward beyond which lies the Parc National des Virunga in Democratic Republic of Congo.Known for the Mountain Gorilla population.Unrest and insurgency in DRC makes it a dangerous place to visit.My initial plans were the Virungas, but was advised against it.

    As we entered the Ishasha Np.The landscape dramatically changed from the lush Rain Forests and the mountains,in the morning to the Savannah plains by noon.Similar to the Serengeti minus the Acacia trees.Stayed at '@ the River Ishasha , just outside the NP.Its on the river Ntungwe.Around ten log cabins built along the river I would give the resort a *** rating. En-suite with comfortable beds, clean linen, a porch over looking the river.As it was off season, I was the only guest in the whole resort.Had leisurely lunch, a siesta and by 3 pm went hunting for the tree climbing lions.

    http://attheriverishasha.com/

    The $20 that was paid at the park office for the entry permit is valid for 24 hrs with any number of entries and exits.We drove the length and breadth of the park.Plenty of elephants, Ugandan Kobs, Buffalo and a lone male leopard crossed our path and disappeared into the tall grass.No sign of the lions.By sundown was back in the camp.

    Dinner was served by the 'Beach', a sandy shore by the river,Lit by lanterns,a fire raging, a glass of Stellenbosch Pinotage, roast chicken and creamy Irish mashed potatoes.

    Setting off before day break,after some tea and cookies,the sun rose over the Ishasha.The same herd of Buffalo we had see the previous evening had not moved far.Birds aplenty came alive.

    Scanned every tree and bush.Absolutely no sign of the lions. By noon we were exhausted.Gave up and got back to the camp.Soon after lunch, driving north,left for Queen Elisabeth NP.

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    Yes, they say seeing tree-climbing lions of Ishasha is hit or miss, and I too missed them, despite the eagle-eyed driver's search. This was at the turn off road from QE toward Kihihi!. What a road!! "African massage"! This was 2012. How is that road now (between Buhoma--Kihii-Ishasha)? I suspect it is just as challenging and rutted! We detoured around washed-out bridges which were being reconstructed. Five yrs later, they should b completed...but this being where it is, who knows?
    The setting of the place you stayed looks magical. So even without lions, it was worth the stop!
    Looking forward to hearing about "Queen" and , assuming you took it, the boat on the Kazinga Channel with its truly spectacular sightings!
    there's another thread going about the costs of login in Africa. i 've written that people shod check our report. You prove that a person can stay at wonderful places for a LOT less than the private tented camps in Kenya

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    Cali,I guess Uganda has not changed since your visit.Your description of the Buhoma- Kihihi- Ishasha road as of an absolutely intense 'African Massage' is bang on!! It's badly rutted.All the aches and pains from the Gorilla trek to swampland birding completely vanished and manifested in another form.A nagging lower back ache and on 3 occasions my head hit the roof,which had to be treated with a dose of pain-killers and an extra shot of whisky just before bed-time.Not to mention the profuse apologies each time from Howard.

    The conditions have worsened as heavy vehicular traffic on this only arterial road keeps damaging it. Minor repairs continue,but it seems inadequate.

    I seriously suspect its been deliberately kept this way, considering the fact that the road traverses through environmentally sensitive zone, where speeding trucks could kill wild animals.The Max average speed on this road is around 25 kms/hr.

    What surprises my about Ishasha was that despite its lush vegetation, plenty of green cover,the density of wildlife,as compared to other parks in Africa, is rather poor.The same with Queen.Probably because of the fact that DRC being very close and animals migrate back and forth across the border.

    I did run through the thread where you've recommended reading my report.Thank you.I refrained from commenting there as I've realised its a very touchy subject.Different levels of comfort/luxury and the relative money spent is a completely individual choice.Different people have different expectations and different travel styles.Suggestions/ recommendation in the past have snow-balled into senseless arguments, which I consider an absolute waste of time.
    Like in here I've post links to the places I've stayed with my experience in earlier TRs too.This is up to anyone and everyone interested to make their own assessment.There is also a good possibility that the very same good recommended place could fall into bad times.
    Cali,yes,I'm glad,it has appealed to you,since you have considered trying them on your next trip.

    My point of view :
    To me, when out in the wild,I personally prefer staying as close to nature as possible.I do not need luxury as I'm not here for it.Prefer leaving luxury at home.The places selected has to have a minimum level of creature comforts which translates into clean comfortable beds, good and clean linen,Private/en-suite loo.A place with a good porch and a great view.Small intimate lodges/camps where you can interact with locals.They are a great source of info.Of course decent food ( preferably local cuisine ) Howard too was surprised when I told him I was staying in these places I'm referring to.He was unaware of them as he only suggested the well known ones.

    ON this bad road towards Queen, misjudged time and distance and arrived at around 6 pm.....without accommodation and too late to travel into the park... a goof up..

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    Decided to find accommodation.The Bandas in Nature lodges were full up.Only availability were the Lazy Camping. I kept its as a last option. Irungu forest Safari lodge and Engiri were full up.We had another hour of daylight,so decided to cut across the channel,across the bridge,spotted a lone cottage,perched on the edge with a great view of the channel.Went through the village to investigate the property,especially the Cottage.

    Entered a gate which had a sign on it which said Tembo Safari lodge.As we pulled up at the reception and foyer/dining, a lady stepped out.One enquiry,she pointed to a row of rooms which looked like dorms & which it was.At $25/night, there was only one left,the rest being occupied by a group of Canadian girls ,volunteering in Uganda.Decided this was not for me, as I turned to the lady ( who happened to be the owner) and pointed at the cottage,on the other end of the property.Asked her if I could take a look at it.
    Initially she was a little reluctant,saying it wasn't ready for occupation yet,as little finishing touches were still pending.She unlocked the door to a large unfurnished room, en-suite and the door to the balcony opened out to a deck with the most magnificent view of the channel.'This is it'I said'I'm staying here'!! She was perplexed. "Are you sure? the floor is unpolished".That was least of the problem,its was already getting dark and wanted the room with a view.She said she needed an hour to get it ready. I said please take two !!

    I picked up a Nile Lager at the bar and sat on my deck,while the room was being furnished!!Could see the fishermen getting back with their catch to the pier by the bridge at a distance.Pods of hippos in the water below me and kids playing in the water barely 50mts downstream,completely heedless and unmindful of the most dangerous animal in Africa. A herd of buffalo were right next to my cottage,relaxing after a days grazing,waiting for the kids to get out of water so that they could quench their thirst.That was the only path,next to my cottage,barely 20 mtrs away,leading down to the water that both man and animal used.It turned into a hippo and elephant highway by night.The sun set on the Queen Elisabeth NP

    The lady opened the door,as I finished the second pint of Lager and invited me to take a look at the room. Woah !A room freshener sprayed,it, by now had a queen size bed with a mosquito net,a couch with a side table, a writing table, a table fan,a rug on either side of the bed.Curtains on the window.Its was complete in all sense.Thanked the lady.The day's special was fish curry and rice, which was served in the room. Thankfully,an eventful day had come to an end.With much need rest,I fell asleep.

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    Suddenly,in the dead of the night I was rudely woken up by a deafening grunt from the hippo right next to my window.I was shaking.I could clearly see the hippo silhouetted,a 2 ton brute,in the moonlight,grazing.The grunts, was answered by another,bellowing back and forth, a distance away.The chorus continued.I sat up laughing,listening to the cacophony.
    Peered at my watch, it was 2 am in the morning .Couldn't get sleep so went out on to the deck.the grazing hippo must gave seen me, he moved away.Shortly afterwards an family of warthogs took the 'highway' down to the river followed by the Kobs and about 20 mins later a lone bull elephant walked right past.This was fantastic.A virtual parade of the denizens of Queen !!

    Cold wind was blowing across the waters of the channel.Got back to bed.Not sure how long I was asleep.A knock on the door,coffee had arrived.The sunrise across the channel was brilliant abuzz with activity in the waters below the day began. Howard arrived with the vehicle.Time for the game drive in QENP.

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    Your entire report Inquest continues to amaze and delight!! Plus, I'm learning so much! I'd never heard of Tembo. (Ended up two nights in a quite overrated place.)
    WOW!! What a discovery!!!!!
    Those NOT reading this don't know what they are missing!!

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    Yes Cali,for me too.Uganda was indeed a journey of discovery and I thought I should load the TR with as much information as possible.

    Every day brought in new challenges because it was unplanned right from the beginning (accommodation wise),as I had not pre-booked any,I seemed to have got away with it.I suppose it was 'off season'.I would certainly not recommend it.Its always better to be prepared.
    But then, what the heck,what was the worst that could happen. Fortunately things went my way.My gamble of picking a place 'on arrival' paid off.

    The Tembo website too has no information of the cottage(s) till date.They have still not updated it. The accommodation part only talks of $25 budget doubles,twins and singles rooms and camping and no mention of the cottages,probably because they are still not decided/prepared to give it out.
    But I've already cut the ribbon !!The food was good,often fresh catch from the fishermen below,the dining area just ok, but the gazebo with the waterfront view more than compensated for any drawback.So much so, I decided to stay for 3 nights !!By the following morning all minor glitches in my cottage were ironed out.Food would be served on my deck on request.I was allowed to participate in the kitchen,and cook the dishes of my choice. Well. I made myself at home !!

    http://www.tembosafarilodge.com/

    Its location was what interested me. First of all its not exclusive.It sits on a high embankment with a panoramic view the channel.To the right of the property there is a busy pier a little distance away where bidding and buying of the days catch carries on.To the left is the unfenced Queen Elisabeth NP, where animals roam wild often taking the path,along with the many others which lead to the waters edge below.This made it an ideal location and this is what impressed me.

    In other words,I had the best of both.I could sit and observe an African rural way of life on one-side, while the wildlife would make dramatic appearance on the other-side.Man and animal,here,live in close proximity and in absolute harmony.To an extent,on the first day, I presumed the grazing herd next my cottage were domesticated buffalo,till I was told otherwise.I was also told not to step out of the cottage after dark,except on to my deck.
    A refreshingly new experience. QENP @ my doorstep!! :)

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    Will I recommend this place ? Not as yet. Still a lot desires to be done.I would probably give it another 6 mths. Let the dust settle.
    While I was there,I did contribute to some planning when asked for.The promoters.The lady and her husband,apparently bought this piece of land and have been living there for a while with a family of 4 children.I was told that it was at the lady's behest and initiative they put up a few rooms and let it out as dorms.The open area served as a campsite,I did not see anyone camping during my stay.The lack of occupancy I feel, is a lack of any form of promotion.Even the sign-board on the road leading to the Mweya is pretty inconspicuous.AS I mentioned earlier the dining area is just ok. A small pantry which served as a kitchen need to be tucked away some place else.Probably the gazebo overlooking the waters is the only place which was desirable.I largely restricted myself to my cottage and I was content in doing so.They have plans.If I suppose they implement it,it will no doubt be a sellout.When?Not sure. On the final day when I was presented the invoice for the 3 night stay I was in for a surprise. She charged me $25/day B&B,$75 in all !!!! What a steal !! I did ask her if she had made a mistake,with a nod she said that is how much she wanted to charge.

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    Thanks Inquest for your honest feedback on Tembo. It sounds like a great effort and investment by the owner, which hopefully will soon pay off!
    Did you take the boat up the Kazinga Channel? One of THE great African experiences, imho...I followed mine with a drink at the wonderful lounge/bar at Mweya. with its bird-filled terrace overlooking the Channel. You?

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    What I infact did was drove to the peninsula,in our vehicle.It was about 2.30 pm when we set off from Tembo and made our way towards the peninsula.Barely drove about 15 mins,realised we had a flat tire.Took us close to another 45 mins to set things right.

    Its a game drive in itself.The mud track runs all along the channel upto the Peninsula.Practically every animal that intends to quench its thirst has to cut across this mud track to and from the QE NP.There was plenty of wildlife.Grazing hippos, elephants, Kobs, Buffalo,Reed buck and countless birds.The drive was about 45 mins. As we reached, the view was spectacular.360 deg panorama of the lake and the Rwenzori mountains,the channel below, Absolutely ethereal.

    At the Mweya lodge I was told that only one cruise was launched as there were not enough tourists.It was disappointing,I didn't make it on time.I saw a motor boat with a few tourists had already set sail. I literally 'missed the boat'.I sat in the veranda of the Tembo Bar.A cold lager,in hand, I sat there,the outstanding views and the ambience was incredible.Could see buffalo,as tiny specks, at the water's edge.A little further away was a lone elephant in the water.My binics came in very handy.As the orange winsome skies slowly turned scarlet,it was time to return to my cottage at Tembo Safari Lodge...

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    The next morning as I sat on my deck with morning cuppa, I saw that there was a motor boat down in the pier.I hit upon a plan.Since I had missed the boat the previous day at Mweya,thought I'll take a chance by hiring this boat.Soon sent Howard, the 'Emissary' down to the boatmen to negotiate the price and check its sea-worthiness.Back he came, with a beaming smile.$25 for a 3 hr ride up( and down) the channel.

    My camera pack, some packed breakfast,was soon sailing across on the channel towards Mweya. The hippos were everywhere,plenty of them,eagerly guarding their territory. Birds were aplenty,Pied Kingfishers,Goliath Heron,Pink-Backed Pelicans, Yellow Billed Stork,African Fish Eagle Great and Long Tailed Cormorants, Open-Billed Stork, Saddle Bill Stork, Darters,Hammerkops,Weavers.A birder's paradise !!

    Buffalo wallowing in the water, groomed by ox-peckers. Further up were a herd of elephants frolicking.The ever nervous Kobs too were at the water's edge.Nile crocodiles basking.This was the best wildlife showcase ever !! The cruise turned out to be close to 4 hrs!Didn't quite realise how time flew.So engrossed with birding and photography,breakfast turned into 'brunch'.Out came the Spanish omelette,bacon,sausages and beans with a chilled Lager.Back to the cottage by 1pm,afternoon siesta and by 3pm off towards QE np....

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    Sounding like a broken record, I have to say this is a wonderful report with great evocative details! So true that sometimes the unexpected hassles can lead to memorable experiences--e.g. your flat tire!!
    Indeed, the bar/verandah (I hadn't remembered it was also called Tembo!) at Mweya Lodge is a great place to chill. Loved the view, and the omnipresent yellow birds! Delicious lunch there too--difficult to tear myself away from the setting. Glad you enjoyed it too!!
    Your guide Howard sounds like a prince!!
    Great motorboat story! Were you ever nervous? Three hippos emerged from under the much larger group boat I was on, nearly knocking the vessel on its side. Scary! On your little boat, the hippo encounter would have been from IN the water!
    You sure found great ways to have a blast at prices 1/20th of what many people spend!!

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    Wow. Wow. Wow. What can I say except Wow! I have not yet been to Africa but my dear friend CaliNurse has definitely inspired me to think about a visit (or 2... or 3), and reading your experiences has me enchanted!

    I was bug-eyed, as I read the following:
    <<Suddenly,in the dead of the night I was rudely woken up by a deafening grunt from the hippo right next to my window.I was shaking.I could clearly see the hippo silhouetted,a 2 ton brute,in the moonlight,grazing.The grunts, was answered by another,bellowing back and forth, a distance away.The chorus continued.I sat up laughing,listening to the cacophony.>>

    What an opening to a great story! You have sold me and I'm following you for the rest of the way, wherever this may lead! And while I don't know when, I do know that you've gotten me hooked on thoughts on Uganda!

    FWIW, I love the choices of places you stayed in - your description of what you're looking for suits me just fine. And I'm intrigued by the influence of India in the Ugandan culture, as I'm also bitten by the India bug (though only one trip under my belt so far).

    So another devotee following your great adventures!

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    Progol,Uganda is a beautiful country with beautiful people and beautiful flora and fauna.Words are not enough to describe the land, filled with large lakes,towering mountains,dense rain forests,lush green countryside,fascinating culture and delectable cuisine.A country very unique.Very much recommended.I barely scratched the surface in the 13 days I was there.So impressed, I plan to return some day. Thx for appreciating the report.I'll do my best.

    Cali,if it wasn't for your encouragement,I would have aborted this long ago. Thx for egging me on and I'm enjoying re-living the experience.Yes,I was absolutely nervous about the hippos,they are really scary.Our dingy,had a reasonably powerful motor,capable of out running a hippo in the water but no guarantee/assurance if we had been knocked from under. I've earlier been on the mokoro in the Okawango and the dug out canoe in Mana Pools.Far more scary as you paddle close to the pods.Fortunately, nothing untoward happened there. This in comparison was a smooth sail.
    There is a case,way back in 2003,where former Miss South Africa,was attacked and bitten by the hippo in the Okawango. In a related incident,a month earlier,a couple on a honeymoon was attacked, where the woman lost her life.Its essential to give them a wide berth. Unfortunately,it isn't the case in the channel in Uganda,people risk their lives daily,existing in dangerously close proximity, to which, I'm a witness.

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    The visit to the QE Np , was nothing exceptional, practically most of its denizens would take the path next to my deck to the channel,the first night at the cottage I saw the bull elephant,kobs buffalo, a hyena and a family of warthogs. The park is savannah grassland,is home to over 600 species of birds, buffalos in large herds roam the np. Saw elephants in small groups.To the south is the Mweya Peninsula at the confluence of the Kazinga Channel with Lake Edward to the west,bordering DRC.The northern Kasenyi plains have a good game viewing network with Lake George, the region is dotted with Craters lakes and dry caldera,to the east is the Kyambura gorge, also has a habituated population of Chimps.

    There was barely any traffic in the park too. We soon spotted a land cruiser parked at a distance.All the eyes were on a patch of bush.Realised that they must have spotted something interesting,closed in. Soon could see a lioness fast asleep in a tree !!While her pride were lazing in the bushes.So, finally, here was my encounter with a 'tree climbing' lioness :)

    Watched the pride for quite a while, looks like they had had a mighty meal as they seemed disinterested in the Kobs nor the lone buffalo wallowing just 50 mtrs away.B sundown was back to Tembo.. the following day we were driving towards Fort Portal on the way to Kibale....for a date with the chimps....

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    We refuelled at Kasese and drove towards Fort Portal,to our left all along were the mighty Rwenzori mountains or the fabled 'Mountains of the Moon' which straddle Uganda & DRC.My initial plans were to spend a night at a community lodge in the mountains.The area known for its dramatic landscape and spectacular scenery.Frankly, I was a little impatient to get to Kibale and the chimps.

    We were in Tea country now, as we neared Fort Portal.Its a bustling town at an altitude 1480m,at the foot hills of the Rwenzori range, has a very salubrious climate.Lunch was at the The Gardens restaurant,set in a colonial building,as the vehicle had developed starting trouble,Howard dropped me off while he went to get the problem fixed.With a chilled beer the Beef curry served with rice was sumptuous.Its a little pricey,worth it as the ambience was beautiful.

    I had heard that there was renovations happening at the Primate Lodge.I was sceptical.Its located in the sanctuary, next to the UWA offices,park entrance,was just perfect.Thought I'll give it a skip

    The other option I had was the Rweteera Safari Park.Called them up and and the offered me a Banda for $50/n B&B.Its location was excellent,at the entrance of Kibale, the resort is on the rim of a crater lake,Nyabikere.It was most serene,its emerald waters were mesmerising.Birds were aplenty.The Great Blue Turaco,Ross's Turaco,Pelicans,Plantain bird,Flycatchers,Sunbirds. Black-and-White Colobus monkeys in the tree tops.It was a lovely place where I would spend the next 3 nights.

    http://www.rweteerasafaripark.com/

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    Thanks for the response, inquest. I'm absolutely taken by your trip as well as your approach to traveling here, and making decisions about accommodations as you go. You have a far more adventurous spirit than me!

    I'm now adding to Uganda to my "someday" list! And maybe we will actually visit - one day! In the meantime, I'm thoroughly enjoying your trip.

    Do you post your photos as well? Would love to view them!

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    Still "WOW"ed by your great descriptions, Inquest. Love learning new things, and being reminded of the familiar. You have a knack for choosing great lodging, off the beaten path of standard (and far more expensive) recommendations. Sooo glad you did not "abort" this continued report.

    Agree, the wildlife sighting in the "official" part of QE was just so-so. Itis the Kazinga Chanel which makes the place a do-not-miss!, and would make it, if people have to decide from em reason between the two big national parks, the choice over Murchison. And now I'm intrigued-- about the animal-filled track you described.
    Yes, Fort Portal is a great, typical in the best way, town! Full of life, and red dirt streets! Did you see the Kabaka's round palace up on the hill?
    Have you come across, in your Uganda research, the website Diary of a Muzungu, by Charlotte Beauvoisin, an English woman who fell in love with Uganda--its people and culture and physical beauty-- and moved there full time? It would give you an interesting read and may empathetic laughs. muzungubloguganda.com

    Again, a huge weebale nyo nyo to you! I hope others researching Uganda--whether on Fodors or via web searches, now or in future-- find this report. a a wealth of wonderful information.

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    Yes Progol. Some day would start a photo blog. I've got some some good pics in my DSLR of not only Uganda but of all the countries in Africa I've been to.I admit its sheer laziness.

    Cali,I was told that wildlife was decimated during Idi Amin's rule,animals slaughtered for meat, forests cut down. The same anarchy existed in neighbouring DRC,where bush meat is still in great demand.I was also told that Murchisons,about 25 years ago was almost barren,elephants and rhinos wiped out.Slowly, with time the forests are back with conservation efforts,animal population are making a comeback.Conservation efforts in Uganda is relatively nascent as compared to East Africa.

    The gorillas too are not safe, Bwindi borders DRC and the Virunga population of the apes often migrate/ cross-over,back and forth.The Govt. forces in DRC are fighting a long battle with the rebels.In fact, the gorillas are surviving in a lawless area. UWA is fighting a tough battle to save these mighty apes and other wildlife, they are doinga great job at that.

    Eventually, the $$$ we pay to do the Gorilla/ Chimp trek invariably go to saving them.Through UWA of course.

    Yes of course I did come across Diary of a Muzungu while I was researching on Uganda before the trip. Very interesting and inspiring. Helped me a lot for my planning.

    The Tooro Palace, beautiful, with a 360 deg view. The best property in town.

    Back to Rweteera lodge.The Banda had two large queen beds,didn't see the logic,hardly any space to walk around.Behind these two large beds was a low wall built which was an open shower, a wc and a basin.Room itself was cramped,unless you lie in bed all the time.A couple of steps from the banda your on the lawn.Funnily designed.If it rains ( which it regularly did), you get back into the room.The lawns were manicured and well kept. The lawns over looking the lake had lazy camping twin tents, the ablution block was about 25 mtrs away.Didn't particularly like the distribution of the tents. Privacy, for the occupants was compromised. I'd have to walk past the tents to reach my Banda.Fortunately, I was the only resident in the whole resort, form 3 nights...My lugguage tucked in the Banda decided to get back to Fort Portal for dinner...the Forest Bar..

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    For over 10 day of having been cut away from urban existence,' The Forest bar' in Fort Portal, was a welcome relief.An eclectic place.It had a dance floor with a DJ belting out hip African rock. Cocktails being dished out from the bar counters,beer flowing from the taps.Young men and women gathered around tables chatting away,over the din of the speakers.Dressed to impress,gals with short(not sweet) skimpy outfits and boys,nattily dressed often button-downs.

    Colourful lights set the mood,the greenery around was abundant too.Sofas line the walls if you’d rather people-watch.
    A live band,soon after kicked off, energizing the ambience,large screens telecast live soccer match.Al fresco dining in a designated area for a primal cooking.. with meat on the spit, the aroma of marinated lamb,chicken kabab,spiced pork being grilled.'Rolex' too was on the menu.A wood fired oven was churning out pizza at amazing speed.The fare was very reasonable.A beer or a shot of whiskey was under UGX 6000 i.e around $2.A splurge here wouldn't probably cost anyone more than U$D 10-15 !!

    A couple of stiff Bourbons(it was good old Jack), the roast pork seem irresistible,finished it off with a double Rolex.A 45 min drive back to Rweteera.Done for the night...

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    The chimp tracking was the following morning at the Np UWA offices at Kibale at 7am. As the day dawned,breakfast was served,in the morning sun and a panoramic view by the lake.A couple of sunbirds were flitting around the hibiscus sipping nectar.The woodland kingfisher perched on a branch all set to dive after the fish below.A couple of noisy Plantain Eaters were grooming themselves.I was pepped up thinking about the trek,while I re-checked the camera equipment.I noticed Howard frantically trying to fix something in the vehicle.

    Curious, I walked up to enquire,when he told me the batteries were dead and it wouldn't start.Panic.I has to be at the park hq at 7am for the briefing.He was trying all possible options.Howard is from Bigodi a town on the other side of Kibale. He called a friend for help.I was getting restless.I soon spotted a bike parked near by.On enquiry, it happened to belong to the chef.Said, 'this is it'. Got behind the chef and were off,riding towards Kibale on his Chinese made two-wheeler.Hoping against hope it wouldn't conk.Racing at its max speed of 35kmph, the noise the machine made would seem to someone,that,it was travelling at the 'speed of sound'.Clinging on to dear life,managed to reach just in time. But the briefing was over...'never mind' said the lady tracker.As she briefed me,about the dos and don'ts while we walked along the tarmac road before we entered the forest....

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    Chimp trek/tracking is relatively a 'walk in the park' as compared to the Gorilla tracking.The forest is not as dense. Its penetrable.These intelligent apes nest in the trees.Each group consists of over a 100 individuals.They split into smaller bands to forage.The have their favourite trees,leaves and fruit,grubs and ants,depending on the season.The walk was along a well trodden path,about 30 mins,when we met up with a another group of ape seekers.All of them surrounding two chimps,just a few feet from them,astonishingly close to them.While one chimp lay on its back the other was grooming him. Very human.Absolutely nonchalant and unconcerned of our presence,the weird humans staring at them. In fact they made great photo ops.In all, we were following a group of close to 40 chimps.

    There were playful youngsters,agile and nimble,walking on knuckles they were amazingly fast to follow.In a flash they would be up the tree 60ft high.Brilliant trapeze artists,their acrobatics is mind numbing.At staggering heights they would sway from tree to tree with absolute grace.

    The only missing link was Tarzan,no where to be found :)

    Soooo true are the visual description in the comic strips of Edgar Rice Burroughs,the forests of Kibale brings back fond memories of childhood.The fantasies built around the dark forests a handsome apeman with a six-pack, swinging on the vines with grace.Tarzan,a well known fact,was of British descent,son of a British Lord and Lady,was eventually referred to as Lord Greystoke....and for sure an American in the picture came in the form of Jane (Porter) who fell in Love with this bronze 'Adonis'.In fact it was Jane who was suppose to have taught Tarzan 'English',an American accent I guess.The other theory is Tarzan taught himself English from a book and the fact that he had not heard human speech before he learned to read is a bit intriguing.Never mind,this is how tales are spun and meant to be everlasting,in mist of time.

    That's another story..back to these apes,so gentle and caring with the little ones,the bonding,social grooming,loud frequent vocalisation,the 2 hours spent following them was fascinating.I absolutely recommend it !!

    Back to the HQ where Howard was waiting for me,profusely apologising for what had transpired.Made me a hot cup of tea and proceeded towards Bigodi... for the the swamps and birding

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    Thanks for continuing this Inquest after your return from out-of-town!
    Eagerly following and hugely enjoying!
    Love the description of the Fort Portal Bar/. There's nothing quite like a local African bar- (I'll bet you agree) learned from long-ago experience.
    Interesting about Tarzan I just assume it was entirely fictitious but will now research more to read about the possible real connections!

    Look forward to your report of Bigodi. In one of your earlier posts, i'd mentioned a friend named Ivan Kaganzi who is one of the guides at Bigodi, and started an orphanage in the village there. Walnut be surprised if Howard knows him

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    There was a new restaurant in Bigodi town.Its called the Bee Hive- Bistro & Bar. A great place to hangout.It on the edge of town by the road,overlooking the Kibale forest and the Swamps to the left.Driving into Bigodi from Kibale,you can't miss it.Painted bright Yellow Ochre and the highlights are dark chocolate.

    Its a great place to hangout. Breakfast,Lunch & dinner is served.
    The restaurant on the ground floor has a pool table,an open kitchen and the bar counter and a couple of tables.Up a wooden staircase,an upper floor,open on three sides and with a fantastic view,where the food is also served.Howard introduced me to a very friendly young man,who was the manager,along with a couple of young enthusiastic girls,ran the show,before he was off to fix the vehicle again.He said he'd be back in a hour's time.

    Upstairs,in no time my chilled lager was out,spent about 2 hrs on the net and my phone. Lunch was Karo with goat curry.They were bewildered when I asked for it,claiming its purely a local dish and it was not normal for travellers even asking for it.They were curious. How on earth would I even consume it.When I rolled the Millet dough into a small lump,dipped it into the curry and swallowed it whole,their jaw dropped !!
    By now I was familiar,as I have also described in my earlier post,Karo and the reference to the South Indian Ragi Ball Curry.Local flavour has always been my consuming passion.Even though I know,not everything is palatable,I'm not averse to trying new dishes.

    Post lunch,Howard arrived with his brother Hillary,said he was an authority on birding,probably knew more than himself.He too had recording of over 300 bird calls recordings on his mobile.He too had bluetooth speakers through which would entice birds.

    We drove through town,into mud track towards his fields.By 3 pm we entered the swamp onto a boardwalk,.It was very humid.Verdant vegetation,the tall papyrus reed towered over us,wild Palms,Polita Fig Trees,there where primates such as Red Colobus Monkeys, Gray Cheeked Mangabey’s, L’Hoest Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Baboons, Black and White Colobus, Red Colobus, plenty of birds.The swamps are best known for being home to the Great Blue Turaco, many varieties of birds such as Papyrus Gonoleks, Hornbills,Sun birds, Waxbills, Weavers,White-winged Warblers,Bishop birds,
    Cuckoos,Kingfishers, Flycatchers Plantain Eaters were practically everywhere.The list was endless.Brilliant experience in this completely awesome eco-system.

    Sundowner was back at the Bee Hive.Jack Daniel's was inviting.
    Sunset over the forests.Darkness fell....Decided dinner would be here as we had not placed orders at Rweteera,drove back by 10pm..too exhausted..

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    MORE great information!! MORE great memories!! BIgodi Swamp boardwalk, etc. Incidentally, note my typo above: "Walnut" should be "wouldn't" as in wouldnt be surprised if Howard and other locals know my friend Ivan Kaganzi. Bigodi area also has a few local crafts shops with beautiful woven baskets, etc.
    The Bee Hive sounds fantastic!!

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