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Trip Report Uganda Visit - A beautiful Country

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Our latest trip consisted of a visit to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. I will share the Uganda experience here and then write about Rwanda and Kenya in their counties forums.

We arrive in Entebbe, Uganda for our briefing before heading out to see this beautiful country. We booked our trip through Born Free Safaris & Tours as we had used them before and everything about our last trip was picture perfect. We arrived at the airport, greeted and taken to our hotel, the Protea Hotel Entebbe Resort for an overnight stay. Our guide Lydia gave us an overview of our stay in Uganda & Rwanda along with more written information and maps to enhance our information on the area.

The next morning we were escorted back to the airport for our bush flight to Kasae, Uganda, where we were met by our driver Habib. As we drove through the country we passed roadside villages, banana centers (one of their main products, along with tea) and smiling children everywhere. We were driving along the Rift Valley and the landscape was just beautiful. As we entered Kibale Forest we say Grey Cheeked Mangabeys, Red Tailed Monkeys, Baboons, Black & White Colobus Monkeys and Red Colobos Monkeys. I don't think I have ever seen so many different monkeys in one area before. We arrived at Tinka's Homestead to learn about life in this area and have a most delicious lunch made by products grown on the farm. Life here is still very simple and the people warm and friendly. I felt like we could stay forever. But we had to get going for our first Chimp Trek. Our guide Jessica, was knowledgeable and friendly. We had an easy walk into the forest to find our first chimps. Two male chimps way up in a tree. We were eager for them to come down, but they were eager to stay put. Then all of a sudden the rain started. It was a deluge and I'm glad we were prepared with our rain gear (as we were were told this could happen at any time). It kind of added to the ambiance. Then all of a sudden one of the chimps came jumping down out of the tree, right next to my friend, nearly scaring us all half to death, and went running around. Of course because of the rain, no one had their cameras ready, but oh what an exciting moment. He was quickly followed by his friend. They ran around banging into trees and then as quickly ran back up into the tree. It all happened so quickly, but I will never forget the action. The rain stopped, our trek ended and off we went to get cleaned up at our lodge. We spend the night at the Kyaninga Lodge, a beautiful lodge with great views and a roaring fire in the main room, cocktails and dinner.

The next morning, sadly we were off to our next destination. We drove passed Lake George, Lake Edward and the Kazinga Channel. Picture op at the equator, corny, but fun. We enter Queen Elizabeth National Park. We see Martial eagles, Marabou Storks, Greyheaded Kingfishers, Black headed Gonelek, Pin tailed Whydah. We have a picnic lunch by the lake and then board our worthy boat for a 2 hour cruise on the Channel. Nile crocodile, monitor lizard, Black-headed weaver, Malachite Kingfisher, Cape Buffalo, Pied Kingfisher, Lapwing, Hippos, White winged Terns, Bush buck, Egyptian Geese, African Jacana are some of our wild life. On our way to our next lodge the animals are all around again. Defassa waterbuck, elephants, lions Uganda kob. Tonight we are staying at Kyambura Gorge Lodge. The entire lodge is made from recycled material. Some people say they don't like the look, but I love it. Everything is clean, it's just eclectic. Our banda (cabin) is decorated in orange & red. We have a lovely patio over looking the gorge. Sitting outside I am visited by a baboon. He starred me down for a while before running off. Our banda is named Njuuko, which means "Princess" and is named after one of the female chimps that lives nearby.

The next day we go on our 2nd chimp trek. We have learned that this trek is going to be more difficult so we decided to hire porters. They are there to carry our backpacks and help us through the thick bush. Our guide is Scholar and she is also friendly and knowledgeable. We hike down into the gorge and we find a mother chimp and her baby (6-7 months) in a tree. The baby decides to entertain us and climbs down to swing and show off for us. While we are intently watching her, we realize there is a male chimp in the tree just behind us that is watching us, must be the father. Lots of fun watching their antics and then we move on to see the most wonderful pond of hippos, splashing and romping in their safe little area in the forest. The hike out of the gorge isn't too bad. We go back to our lodge to clean up for lunch. Our afternoon game drive includes many more animals.

The next day we are on the road heading for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Lots of animals along the way. We've been to Africa before, but I think we are seeing more roadside animals in Uganda then I could have ever dreamed of. The drive is long, but we arrive at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, just beautiful. Our cabin has a living room with a two sided fireplace, one side of course is in our bedroom. Nice at night to take the chill out of the room, and very romantic.

The next day we are going on our 1st gorilla trek. We drive to the Uganda Wildlife Authority to be briefed on the rules. We all opt for porters again, and boy am I glad I did. This trek is long and difficult. Our guide uses a machete to hack through the bush and clear a path. We have to traverse some small streams and then one rather large one. Our porters offer to carry us across. We meet up with our gorilla family, Njuringo. Amazing!!! We get to spend an hour with them (our guides are wonderful and so it's a long hour), but you really can't stay longer, it's not good for the gorillas. We watch the juveniles romp, play and just act like kids. Observing their actions is so similar to humans. The dominant Silverback is being very lazy and just sleeping, but the rest of the family puts on a great show. Sadly we must move on. The trek back out of the gorge is long and tiring. An afternoon rest is needed. Before dinner we are entertained by a local women's group. They sing and dance for us. But more importantly they share their lives with us. The plight of the locals is very difficult. Tourism has helped a lot, but they are just learning how to make their lives better. I am very touched by their cause and decide to donate to their organization.

The next day we have our 2nd gorilla trek. We are in a different area of the forest and it proves just as strenuous. We are in search of the Nshongi Family. Lots of climbing and walking is rewarded when we meet up with them. Each family is different so this one is no less impressive. We watch them eat, play and even sleep for a while. Another great trek. Another night at the lodge, this time being entertained by a children's group from a local school. Can't help myself, must help this group too. They are all so wonderful.

Our next day we depart for Rwanda. The drive is interesting and I will share about our stay in my next story. Look for it under Rwanda. On a side note, I must add, the roads in Uganda were very rough. Be prepared if you go. Also, the food was wonderful, but you "must" drink a lot of water. The lodges and our driver provided us with lot of bottles and we heeded their warning. Drink, drink, drink. Our visit to Uganda was amazing, I'd love to go back, but it is a trip you should do only if you can handle the physical requirements. Go before your can't

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