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Have Orthotics Will Track...12 Assorted Primate Treks in a 3 Week Safari


Sep 16th, 2009, 06:29 PM
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Paraa Lodge:
When I got my key to Room 105, the receptionist stated, “That’s the best room.” Entering the room and looking out the window, I knew why. The room itself, furniture, bathroom was great too. The Paraa setting in general, regardless of the room, is one where you know you are privileged to be in a very special place.

Paraa’s buffets were extensive with many vegetarian possibilities and a fish entrée each meal. The vegetable lasagna was exceptional. I always rejoined the line at least once per meal. Sometimes the lines were long from not only Parra guests, but other visitors who came to see the wildlife on the desirable north side of the park and then stayed to eat. The Paraa guests were always given noticeably better seating in a separate area with the best views. If the main course buffet line was too long, I started with desserts, where I could step right up. The pineapple and other fruits made my practice of desserts first a healthy choice.

I found Paraa to be big and bustling, beautifully decorated, quite luxurious, and in a superb location. There were always plenty of helpful staff members at the desk. For a small fee there was even Internet access. A very fancy spot.

Chimp Tracking at Kaniyo Pabidi in the Budongo Forest Reserve:
After crossing on the ferry, which was 20 minutes late that day, the drive to Pabidi = 1.5 hour

It had been raining all night, we drove in morning rain, and Guide John and I departed for chimp tracking in full rain gear under dripping skies. I envied the lodge guests who were dining leisurely on the protected patio and could wait out the weather.

Since I arrived about 9:00 am, five chimp trackers had already departed with their guide, but radio reports indicated they had found no trace of chimps. This was my only primate trek of the trip in wet conditions and it was definitely slipperier going, but he glistening forest was gorgeous.

Guide John was one of the founders of the sanctuary, a highly skilled tracker, and a very nice guy. He showed me knuckle prints in the mud that meant the chimps had been on the ground and moving in the area. We examined chimp excrement that had dropped from the trees above and had gone splat. John showed me the juicy residue on the rind of a half eaten fruit, indicating it had been consumed not long ago. In the trees we spotted nests that were both old and recent, but no chimps huddling inside. We were definitely on the trail of the chimps, but time was not on our side since I had to be on my way by noon, at the latest.

John felt bad that I did not get to see the chimps but I consoled him that I had had better luck earlier in the trip. He explained to me about the habituation program (where you stay with the chimps all day) and I decided I’d like to go tracking with John again as part of that program and spend a couple of days in the cozy lodge, dining on the patio, with a brownie for dessert. I saw a sign that said they sell brownies.

Abraham and I departed Pabidi at noon, bound for Entebbe. We had no time to spare, especially since the dirt roads were rain soaked, since we knew we’d encounter about a mile of continuous speed bumps due to road construction, and since it was important to be at the airport a full 3 hours before my Entebbe-Nairobi flight because there could be lingering disruptions from the Kenya Airways strike.

I had anticipated this possible lack of an opportunity to freshen up post-tracking, and had packed accordingly. I asked Abraham if he thought changing in the vehicle was a good idea in order to maintain our tight schedule of or if that was silly and getting carried away. He responded that he was concerned we did not have any extra time and that it was a good idea. So before we left the park, I hopped to the rear of the vehicle and changed from primate tracking outer clothes to my airport attire. Orthotics were an essential component of both ensembles. The bumpy roads made the transition a bit of challenge. That was a first in Abraham’s guiding career and I thought it was a hoot to perform a discreet Superman-like transition in the back of the Landy.

Once changed, I could concentrate on the box lunch packed by Paraa. We arrived right on time at the Entebbe airport after our 5-hour drive from Pabidi and I sadly bid farewell to Abraham but hoped to return with him as my guide someday. I’m already eagerly anticipating Abraham’s perceptive greeting at that distant reunion.

On a previous primate trek-laden trip in 2004, I jokingly made the comment that two treks is typical, four is exceptional and eight is a cry for help. The 12 treks on this trip continue my cry for help. So far help has not arrived.

Here is the link to 76 Murchison Falls photos. The last 8 are of Paraa and environs. http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLan...localeid=en_US

I’ll stick the other photo links here, so they are all in one spot and it is not necessary to scroll 7,238 pages if you want to try to look at a picture from one of these places.



atravelynn is offline  
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Sep 16th, 2009, 07:57 PM
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Good pictures , what kind of camera did you use.?

Keep posting ,I am following along !
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Sep 17th, 2009, 05:49 PM
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Thank you Percy, maybe Rwanda and Uganda are up next for you! I use an image stabilization, 12x - 15x optical zoom Point and Shoot. One is a Sony DSC H2 (12x zoom) and the other is a DSC H9 (15x zoom).

The report is all done at last.
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Sep 17th, 2009, 06:31 PM
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You are now free to go on your next trip!
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Sep 18th, 2009, 10:10 AM
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Thanks for another great report, Lynn! Lots of helpful planning advice and drive times.

I thought that was a dead buffalo at first. Glad to know it was only rolling in the mud. I've never seen so many giraffe together. Nice bee eaters! Murchison was very productive for you. What was the terrain in Budongo like and did you get a look at their accommodations?
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Sep 18th, 2009, 11:50 AM
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Thank you, Lynn! This report brought back so many happy memories for me, and also provided lots of helpful nuts and bolts details for anybody planning a trip to Uganda and Rwanda in the future. I think that means you get a Perfect Trip Report Award! (Not many of those out there.)

I'm glad you had such a great time in Murchison. I really loved it there, too... and it could have been dangerous to go on safari after all those primate treks, in terms of sheer emotional impact. I'm glad Uganda came through for you with flying colors! After the recent news about Kampala, it's nice to hear good things about a country I love so much. I wish more people would go there.

I'm with you about wanting to return to Budongo someday and stay at Kaniyo Pabidi to do the habituation day with the chimps. We stopped there to meet with one of the JGI folks and see their visitor center, and wished we could have stayed the night. Maybe the chimps were hiding from you so that you'd be forced to return someday. I'll go with you!

As always, it's a delight to read about your adventures and see your pictures. So yes, please start telling us about your next trip!
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Sep 18th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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This is a really great report Lynn. Saves me ever having to buy a Rwanda guidebook. I don't see how I could have any questions after all that (useful) detail, but I may try later, after I get a chance to look at your pictures.
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Sep 18th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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I'll echo everyone else and say great report Lynn.I've just started browsing your pics and the Murchison ones bring back great memories. We were thinking of doing the chimp habituation in Kibale in the future,but Budongo presents another option.We pretty much saw nothing in Budongo though except for a few Hornbills.I believe you went to Kibale before,what would you're preference be if you could only return to one place(as if!)

Thanks for the info on Ziwa as well,another option that did'nt exist before.
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Sep 18th, 2009, 04:44 PM
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My next trip MyDogKyle? Joining you in the habituation visits in Pabidi! Well, probably not next, but maybe someday. Then I'd head up to Kidepo, which I think is fine now. My next trip is bears in Alaska in July 2010. Brooks Falls by foot and Katmai Coast by boat and foot. Anybody interested? I don't have a next Africa trip yet, just lots of trips I'd like to do sometime in the future.

Kimburu, a guide book would have shown me that Aug 15, Assumption Day is a National Holiday in Rwanda. But thank you for the compliment.

Patty, my stop-action camera setting was so good that it made the buffalo look dead. I'll take that as another compliment.

Kibale or Pabidi for chimp habituation? I think I'd let logistics be the main determination. How would one vs. the other fit with the rest of the trip and the places you were going. I did not get a look inside the accommodations at Pabidi but the bathroom for guest use was very nice. I believe it is possible to go from Kibale to Pabidi in one day if you wanted to do both.

The terrain in Pabidi was rolling hills and Kibale was flat. I saw several other monkeys in Kibale, L'Hoest's and red colobus.

I almost passed on Ziwa and even took it out of the itinerary, but added it back last minute when I learned more about it. We also saw oribi and some other antelope there.

Thank you for the permission Leely! I'm glad you granted it since I had already booked the bears.
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Sep 18th, 2009, 07:14 PM
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What a wonderful trip. And a most wonderful trip report.

I loved your photos. I felt like I was right there with the gorillas. The faces, their hands and feet; The baby.. I could go on.

And all the bird photos. You had some wonderful sightings, and great photos. I could not believe how big the vultures were. The only ones I saw were up in trees, they looked big, but in your photos they were huge.

Thanks again for posting your wonderful trip report.


many thanks for all the time you put into your report, it made wonderful reading, and a great reference to those contemplating a trip like yours
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Sep 19th, 2009, 06:12 AM
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Thanks for another outstanding trip report! Your gorilla pictures gave me goosebumps!
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Sep 20th, 2009, 05:04 AM
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A fabulous report from a fabulous trip!!!

Valuable info, lots of anecdotes and some humour makes this such a joy to read.

You took some stunning images (especially your gorilla and colobus monkey close-ups).

I always thought about going there and after reading this, there is no excuse anymore.


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Sep 20th, 2009, 02:37 PM
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Thanks Amycyma, Lillipets, Skimmer.

Though I went for primates, one of the vulture shots ended up being one of my favorite pictures. So interesting you'd mention them Amy.
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Apr 17th, 2010, 12:30 PM
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Not trying to throw my report back in your faces, but I noticed some of the photo albums required a sign in. So I reconfigured the 4 albums with no sign in required.

PNV Gorillas (85)

Nyungwe Colobus Monkeys and a few chimps (65)

Akagera Rwanda (27)

Murchison Falls Uganda (76)
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Apr 17th, 2010, 04:57 PM
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Thanks, just in time! I am looking at all the gorilla reports and photos again.

How big of a daypack does one need for gorilla trekking? Normally I use a messenger-type bag, so the world of backpacks is new to me.
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Apr 17th, 2010, 06:53 PM
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See? I knew there was a reason. Most people took the standard sized backpacks (large) and had their porter carry them. In the backpacks were:

-wadded up raingear, in case it was needed
-spare water bottles because we carried close to a gallon worth of water
-your lunch box that many of the lodges provided (we ate sometimes after seeing the gorillas)
-spare camera batteries
-some people carried their camera(s) and others put them in the backpack and let the porter carry them
-any medications you wanted to bring
-spare socks in case mine got real wet and irritating to the skin on my feet
-layer(s) that people took off as it got warm
-at least in mine I had the waterproof bonnet-thing that goes over the backpack so if it rained my camera gear remained completely dry
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May 23rd, 2010, 02:01 PM
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Lynn, I see you didn't see any of the "Swiss" plugs. Did you take a converter as well or just adapter(s)?

Details, details...
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May 23rd, 2010, 02:58 PM
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Adapter only. My camera battery charger showed a wide range of input Vs. Rwanda was within that range. No conversion necessary.

Those details can be crucial.
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May 23rd, 2010, 03:57 PM
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Thank you. I am really going over your thread with a fine-tooth comb. Countdown time!
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May 23rd, 2010, 05:41 PM
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This is a great report. We're going to Rwanda too, so this one is very helpful to me! Thanks.
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