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Trip Report Uganda, Rwanda, and Zanzibar-Brief Trip Report

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We recently returned from a three-week trip to Uganda, Rwanda, and Zanzibar. Our primary focus on this trip was trekking to see the Mountain Gorillas, Chimps, and Golden Monkeys. We flew into Entebbe and then flew to KIdepo NP in Uganda. We stayed at Apoka Lodge. We had a great experience there. Our first drive the evening we arrived resulted in seeing lions in trees at very close range! We did not expect this at all. Later, we also saw a pride sitting on high boulders which was an incredible photo op! Kidded seems rather new to the tourist industry and the guides were so gracious and informative. The highlight was doing a walking drive where we walked between a "tower" of giraffes while they all watched us but never shied away!

We then flew to Murchison Falls. This park is just gorgeous! We saw so many birds as well as lions, giraffes, and hippos. The boat ride on the Nile was great as was hiking to the top of Murchison Falls. It is really awesome to see. One thing we would probably do differently is to stay in Paraa Lodge which was our original choice. Although we were advised that it is a large hotel with little local flavor, it is on the same side of the river as the park which is a major time factor. If you are staying across the river and doing game drives as we did, your day revolves around the ferry schedule. Our driver tried to do his best to show us everything but we ended up "flying" to the ferry to make it back across the river.

We next drove to Kibale where we did the Chimp trek. We saw many Chimps at very close range and loved every minute of it.

We then drove to QENP which we enjoyed. In addition to the Kazinga Channel boat ride and the tree-climbing lions. we really enjoyed the landscape with all the volcanic craters/lakes.

We then drove to Bwindi for our first gorilla trek. We actually ended up trekking at the Ruhija entrance but saw many gorillas and loved the scenery and the experience there. We stayed at Buhoma Lodge which we loved.

The people in Uganda are so gracious. Everyone went out of their way to be helpful and encouraged us to return.

We drove across the border to Rwanda where we did the gorilla trek at Volcanoes NP. We saw many more gorillas for a longer period than in Uganda. It was a great experience and the bamboo forest that you hike through to reach the gorillas is really beautiful. We also did the Golden Monkey trek which is at the same locale and enjoyed it as well. There were so many monkeys moving all around us; terrific!

We flew to Zanzibar where we stayed two nights in Stone Town before taking a boat to Chumbe Island for 3 nights. Stone Town is a very different place but we enjoyed it. The Islamic culture was new to us. After having very little shopping sites in Uganda and Rwanda, it was great fun to shop in Zanzibar.

Chumbe Island was all we had dreamed it would be with respect to the accommodations, the beautiful Indian Ocean and the incredible reefs. It was a very relaxing end to our trip. Don't expect to be pampered as the service is rather basic. We were three women traveling together so maybe it was a bit of a gender/culture issue but don't expect much help schlepping your baggage in and out of the boat or wading across the water to the pier in low tide. Anyone with mobility issues would have a difficult time.

Anyone who is considering this trip, do it! It was a great experience and very easy to book the itinerary and our driver through an agency in Kampala. It seemed that everyone we met was following the same itinerary through Uganda/Rwanda.

We were told that we needed USD in $100 bills to pay for visas and also to take only large bills. This is not accurate. The agents were accepting $10's, $20's etc. for the visas and we were kicking ourselves for not taking smaller bills to use for tips and incidentals as US dollars were accepted widely throughout.

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