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Trip Report: Rwanda,Uganda,Kenya,Tanzania,Dec 05-Mar 06

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Mar 4th, 2006, 01:25 PM
  #1
dlo
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Trip Report: Rwanda,Uganda,Kenya,Tanzania,Dec 05-Mar 06

Well i better get started if i ever want to finish this.It was a long trip and the report might take just as long so those who are interested please be patient.I am also far from a talented writer unlike some of the reports i have read but i will do my best.If anyone has any questions about anything please ask if i skimp on the details.

We will get our pictures back today so i will post some on Imagestation.They also have video on that site so i might put some of that up as well.

To summarize my locations were as follows

Uganda-Rwanda Dec 07-25.Great Lakes Safaris.
Kenya Dec 26-Jan 01. Samburu Trails.
Kenya Jan 01-Jan 18. Kenya Wildlife Trails.
Tanzania Jan 19-Feb 09. Tropical Trails
Zanzibar Feb 10-Feb 20.
Tanzania Feb 20-Feb 27. Foxes Safaris
London and then home on March 01.

I started planning this trip almost as soon as i got home from Africa in 2002.We were supposed to go in 2004 but real life got in the way and we had to wait another year.Having just got home i can safely say that my next trip will be to Namibia and not South America as planned.Our trip was spectacular and surpassed all my expectations.I can honestly say there were only about 5 or 6 days that i did not totally enjoy.

I also learned a tremendous amount on this trip and will be able to plan the next one even better.

If i had to list my favorite moments i would start with Gorilla Tracking,Summiting Kilimanjaro,witnessing a wildebeest give birth,seeing chimps,and all of my firsts including Cheetahs (12),Leopards,Serval,Giant Forest Hog,and about 20 birds.Oh yeah and getting married (sorry honey).Also all the cultural moments were amazing as well and the genocide memorial and orphanage were heartbreaking moments but must do's.I know i'm forgetting a bunch of things but i'll remember as i write.

I will start the report on my next message.
dlo
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Mar 4th, 2006, 02:23 PM
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Wow. The mother of all East Africa itineraries. My hat's off to you and your wife, dlo.

I'm patiently looking forward to the report.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 03:32 PM
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I'm looking forward to the report too (impatiently!). Can't wait to hear all the details. I can't even imagine the luxury of having that much time in Africa and am green with envy just thinking about it.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 04:13 PM
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A comprehensive trip indeed! Welcome home. Looking forward to the details.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 07:11 AM
  #5
dlo
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We arrived in Entebbe after the looooong flight from Canada which included a 12 hour layover in London on Dec 7.Unfortunetly my bag would not arrive for 4 more days(thanks Kenya-airways).We were met by our guide Robert from Great Lakes Safaris who would be excellent throughout and would be extremly helpfull when we had to make a couple of changes to our itinerary.

After a night in Kampala we made the 7 hour drive to Murchison Falls.We used budget accomodations throughout Uganda and stayed at the Red chili campsite here.Murchison was far better than Queen Elizabeth and the game was good with loads of Ele's,Giraffe,Kob,Warthogs,and Hippos.I am not a birder but the birdlife was excellent in Uganda.The falls themselves are very beautiful and the pontoon ride to the falls was probably a highlight of the park.While the game can't compare to Tanzania we really enjoyed M.F.

Next up was Budongo Forest for chimp tracking.Budongo and the areas around it are gorgeous and we would later really appreciate the green forests after seeing the drought stricken areas of Kenya and Tanzania.

Because of my baggage problems we did not arrive untill lunch so we ended up going on a later walk.We saw nothing as it was smoking hot and i would only return at the right time of year.The success rate varies from 50% to 90% depending on the season.

Next up Kibale Forest.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 08:43 AM
  #6
dlo
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We stayed at the Rwenzori View guesthouse and enjoyed a good dinner with a few South Africans.I thought this was a nice place to stay and the cold night was welcome after the heat of M.F.

We got an early start and headed to Kibale Forest for Chimp tracking.Chimp tracking here is brilliant and a definate highlite.I really wish we had done the full day habituation though.We met a couple gorilla tracking who did this and they saw the chimps kill 3 colobus.

The most exciting part for me is hearing the chimps long before you see them.It is a spine tingling moment when you first hear there screams.We had maybe 15 minutes with them on the ground and the rest of the time they were feeding pretty high on the trees.A great experience though and one i will do again.

From here we drove to Queen Elizabeth park.After taking the required cheesy equator crossing photos we drove to the Institute of Ecology Hostel.Not a good place to stay but we met some really cool people here and had a good time.The best part of staying here are the resident Warthogs and Mongoose who provide the daily entertainment.The poaching in the 80's has really hurt this park but if they continue to protect it it could be a very good park.One other thing to remember is that there are villages in the park.This removes any illusion of wilderness.We did another boat trip here that was pretty good but when you pass the fishing village you will hear some profanity you don't expect to hear from 7 year olds in Africa! You get pretty much the same suspects as in M.F. esp ele's and Giraffe.

We spent 2 nights here and then drove to the Ishasha sector to find some tree climbing lions.We found nothing but tetse flys though.Its funny but my wife got bit at least 10 times throughout our trip and i did not get bit once.We stayed at Ishasha River Bandas and it was interesting to say the least.I got maybe 4 hours sleep as a bat flying around the room kept me up half the night.I should add that bats scare the crap out of me!

I would def skip Q.E.next time but our safaris were so good in Tanzania i am probably spoiled.For me the highlight so far has been the people of Uganda who are the friendliest in Africa.

Next up,we drive to Rwanda to see the gorillas twice(we only had to pay once though!)
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Mar 5th, 2006, 10:01 AM
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Welcome back!
Congratulations on your marriage! (Don't worry, "honey" will soon get used to African trips generating more excitement than himself!)
Enjoying the report!
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Mar 5th, 2006, 10:54 AM
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Thanks for starting your report so soon!

How hot was Murchison Falls? What were the day and night time temps?

Your comments about the game viewing at QENP seem to mirror others I've read recently.

Impatiently waiting for the next installment and looking forward to your photos!
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Mar 5th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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Sorry about the lost luggage and the bat. Glad to hear Murchison Falls was such a hit. So it's a 7-hour drive from Entebbe. I see you enjoyed the mongoose and warthogs at the QE lodging also.

"same suspects as in M.F." you are referring to the park, Murchison Falls, not the swearing of the 7-year olds, right?

What were the chimps doing for you in Kibale?

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Mar 5th, 2006, 11:51 AM
  #10
dlo
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Ok i have started putting pictures up.It will take forever and they are not professional but i think there are some good ones.I put them on Imagestation,so just search dnickel in the members category.

Murchison was probably around 32 but it seemed worse because i was coming from the cold.It would get much hotter in other areas.Also the bandas we stayed in had the generators go off from 12-6 so it was very hot for sleeping.The mongoose were actually crawling on top of the warthogs while they tried to sleep.The cook at M.F. also provided entertainment by feeding the Marabou Storks which usually caused quite a commotion.

The chimps were pretty much feeding for most of our time.Our pics our ok but a little disapointing here.I have video that turned out well with some grooming and hand holding going on but they were on the move or high in the trees for the most part.I will return to Kibale or go to Mahale some day as it was a definite highlight for us.

I know i'm an idiot but how do you do the smiley faces?

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Mar 5th, 2006, 12:49 PM
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the following is a link to dlo's photos. it tried on a computer without even signing up and got access. good luck!

http://www.imagestation.com/member/i...=dnickel&c=201
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Mar 5th, 2006, 01:01 PM
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hi, yes i was able to check these out.
the uganda album i really liked the early croc pics-really nice.
the gorilla pics- oh too bad that silver back is out of focus.
but most are really cool.
thx, d
ps, i also used greatlakes in june-using again starting march 11th.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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Thanks for the link, stakerk. dlo, we are looking forward to the next part of your report! We especially enjoyed the fact that you included people and places, too.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 01:27 PM
  #14
dlo
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Just a quick comment.I am going over our pics and we had some problems with our camera the first couple of weeks.The pics later on are alot better but we had lots of error messages early on.We played around with the camera and it started working but i have no idea why some pics are so fuzzy.

Katt the people i met on this trip were amazing and as much a highlight as anything.Whether i stayed at a hostel or a 5 star camp i had a great experience.

I'll try to post on the gorillas tonight.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 04:27 PM
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great pics! enjoyed looking at them, thanks!
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Mar 5th, 2006, 05:50 PM
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The chimp photos are so often nowhere near what the actual experience was. It is usually dark and they are fast moving. I recall a post not long ago asking if anyone had a good chimp in the wild shot. Have not seen yours yet, but will.

You didn't just have the privilege of seeing mongoose and warthogs. No, you had warthogs crawling with mongoose. Oh my goodness! I wonder why the mongoose would want to climb on the warthogs?

Smileys: that wink is semi-colon followed by a right paranthesis. ; then )

A smile is colon followed by a right parenthesis : and then )

A frown is a colon followed by a left parenthesis : and then (

But I want lessons from Nyamera who has a cast of smileys. I am afraid to download these from sites that offer them because when somebody did it at work there was all sorts of spyware that infected the computer and messed it up. I don't want that to happen to my personal computer because I don't have a technician to fix the problem.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 07:14 PM
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dlo, atravelynn:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/smileys
no downloading, just print out and you can make all the smileys you want! (there's over 2 pages!) >-
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Mar 6th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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Enjoyed your pictures dlo! Am sorry I didn't get to make it to Murchinson on my trip.
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Mar 6th, 2006, 07:43 AM
  #19
dlo
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Today we drove to Rwanda and it was not one of our better days.The border crossing on both sides was great but we had to wait on the Rwandan side while our guide got insurance for the vehicle.All hell broke loose here as we had brought some soccer balls to donate and they had become visible in the back of the vehicle.It was funny when 1 kid offered his little brother for 1 ball but it became very aggressive and we were glad to get out of there.The drive to Kinigi guest house was even worse as a couple of rocks were thrown and a couple of people spit at us.I've been to 8 countries in Africa and many different areas.It was the first time i ever felt unwelcome but it would be the last as everything got better after this.

Kinigi was decent and the food was good or so i thought(more on this later).We made the bumpy drive to PNV to see the gorillas and would end up with the Umubano group.This is a group of 8 led by Charles who had broke away from another group to start his own group.Our guides were Pascal and Francois who were excellent.We also had a good group of people with us,as everyone made sure that everyone else had good picture opportunities and good sightlines at all times.I had heard stories of people being uncooperative on these treks which could certainly ruin the experience.

It was a long 2 hour trek straight up and we would end up 11100 ft. high.We treked with an American couple who saw all 5 groups in Rwanda and 1 in Bwindi.They said our group was easily the toughest trek they did,including the Susa group as we went straight up and the forest was so thick and slippery.I ended up slipping and sitting in some thorns which provided an interesting reaction to say the least.

We finally stumbled across the silverback who was happily munching away.We would spend most of our time with 1 of the juveniles who was playing in a tree and would beat his chest at us every few minutes.It was an amazing day and i am now addicted to Gorilla tracking.It is simply the best wildlife experience i have ever had and it is impossible to describe how it feels when you look into there eyes.If you have even the slightest interest in wildlife then this is a unmissable experience.

I have about 20 minutes of amazing video but disaster struck when we were finished and i realized i had lost my spare camcorder batteries in the forest.Amazingly when we got to the bottom the trackers had found me batteries,absolutly amazing!

We then drove back to Kinigi and watched a very good cultural performance that was probably the best 1 I have seen in Africa.It was a perfect day and has convinced me of the need to return to Rwanda.

The next day we returned to see Diane Fossey's grave.More on this in a bit.
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Mar 6th, 2006, 09:04 AM
  #20
dlo
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So we headed up to her gravesite when about 15 minutes into the walk we get a radio message that we are close to the Amahoro group.5 minutes later we are in the middle of the group,what a lucky day,a free gorilla viewing!

We only got a couple on minutes before we had to move on though.We had to detour around and then come back out on the path.Then the silverback walked onto the path in front of us and we had to stop.A few seconds later we are told to sit down and he charges maybe an inch past me,holy s...!!!!

We managed to finally move on and we arrived at her research area and gravesite.There wasn't much of the research area left as it got destroyed in the genocide but the gravesite was nice.Our guide was also very defensive about Diane Fossey when someone asked if some of the stories about her were true.He said Rwandans loved her except for those like poachers who profited by the gorillas death.

It turned out to be a really good day before heading off to Lake Kivu where things would go a little off schedule.

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