Uganda - mountain gorillas and more

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Feb 24th, 2011, 01:58 PM
  #21
 
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Hi tockoloshe!
Great report! I love the detail - so helpful for those of us planning a safari. I have printed off a hard copy to study more carefully. Then, I will head to the library to pick up Bradt's Uganda. Planning the trip in two weeks would have left me a nervous wreck - a wreck with eye strain !

Your photos are lovely, especially those of the gorillas. Very helpful photos/input regarding the accommodation - thanks!

We have been debating a trip to Rwanda to see the gorillas as an add-on at the end of our self-drive through Kenya and Tanzania. Clearly, we will have to consider Uganda instead of Rwanda. We had also debated Egypt, but that is likely out.
I am certain I will have many questions once I have read through the hard copy - brace yourself! Robin
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Feb 24th, 2011, 04:56 PM
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Thanks for all kind comments.

Jules, hope it helps with your trip planning (I'm just reading your excellent India report, sounds like the kind of trip I'd like to do, now that we are comfortable with the idea that car and driver can work!)

Leely2, if you enjoyed Rwanda then I'm sure you'd like Uganda. We've just used our FF miles for another trip to Africa - can't keep away, but feel we ought to give somewhere like India a try ... but as you say ... 'Oh Africa!'

scruffypuma, have you decided between Uganda & Rwanda yet? I found that Uganda was rarely mentioned in travel brochures so it needs a bit more research (the Bradt guides are always good.)

smgapp, is it Rwanda or Uganda you are considering? I'm sure either will deliver on gorillas!

althom112, I used a Canon 450D with telephoto lens (75-300mm)as well as a point and shoot Canon (SX130)because I didn't want to be changing lenses on the DSLR. The idea was to take close-ups with the DSLR because I like doing animal portrait-type photography, and to use the point & shoot for general wide-angle shots and back-up photos of the gorillas. In practice it was a bit difficult to juggle the 2 cameras. I needed at least one hand free to climb or hold onto trees on steep slopes, and also having the DSLR round my neck meant that it took a few knocks, especially when clambering upwards! So really I ended up putting the small camera in a pocket and using the DSLR most of the time. I don't think you need the telephoto lens to get a good photo, but as I said I particularly wanted to get close-ups. It was quite dark in the undergrowth so the lighting was a challenge, I think you need a camera which will take a good photo in low light, and telephoto lenses tend to cut out light (at least mine, which isn't top-of-the-range). I did all the camera settings the night before in preparation (high ISO, no flash etc) and I was glad I did because once you get to the gorillas you don't want to waste time fiddling with a camera. We were lucky it didn't rain, I imagine that in rainy conditions it would be even more difficult. I have to admit that I read extensively on how to photograph gorillas successfully, to take into account the black bodies and low light etc, (and watched Andy Rouse's guide to taking a good gorilla photo http://www.photoanswers.co.uk/Video-...-with-a-twist/ which gives a good idea of conditions in Rwanda too)but on the day I was too excited to bother, and was so afraid of not getting a photo at all that I forgot all my plans and I think many were taken on the automatic setting and I just enjoyed the experience - and one or two didn't turn out badly! The SX130 didn't perform very well with no flash, many shots were blurry. Hope that helps!

twaffle, your report on Safaritalk helped me make up my mind to visit Uganda, clearly some good memories albeit in difficult times. And atravelynn's more recent adventures in Murchison sealed the deal.

Robin, I remember you said that you were considering Rwanda afer Kenya & Tanzania, hope you get the chance to do either Rwanda or Uganda. Looking at a map it seems relatively easy to drive from Kenya into Uganda, but I'm guessing it would need some extensive research - at least you'll have some time to do it!
I see your trip plan for Zambia is coming along - when do you start your year in SA? If I remember you are having a return trip to Kgalagadi - was it July? We are going in June, it will be more of a 'vacation' than an 'expedition' this time (back to trusty 4x4 and rooftop tent!), but hoping to have your luck with the game spotting. Still hoping to get to Zambia & Zimbabwe later in the year. If you have any questions re Uganda please feel free to ask!
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Feb 27th, 2011, 02:49 PM
  #23
 
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Thanks again tock & glad you have had a look at my India report. Great trip.

How was it that you decided on Gorilla Tours to use for Uganda?
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Feb 28th, 2011, 03:57 PM
  #24
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Hi Jules
How did we choose Gorilla Tours? As I said we've never used an agent before so were a bit apprehensive.

We looked in the Bradt guide at the recommended local agents which had websites. We narrowed it down to between Gorilla Tours and Churchill and got similar quotes from both. We leaned towards Gorilla Tours because they answered emails promptly and didn't require payment in advance (except for permits). I checked on Trip Advisor to see if anyone had used either agent, and contacted directly people who had used them - a couple of people wrote back with good experiences of Gorilla Tours and kindly answered some of the mundane questions I had, like: "Did the quote you paid cover everything you thought it would or did you find yourself paying extra for unexpected expenses? / They have suggested to allow US$20 pp per day for meals - did you find this realistic? / What kind of vehicle did you use and was it comfortable for the type of travelling you did? / Where did you do the gorilla tracking? / Was the guide open to your itinerary suggestions or was it very much ‘we go A to B to C’ without any consultation? (I’m thinking particularly that we would like to spend as much time game viewing or walking etc as possible and don’t want to be left sitting around doing nothing in our accommodation)/ Did your guide join you for meals, - lunch & dinners? / Generally were you happy with Gorilla Tours?"

In the end we didn't have time to do alot of research because we wanted to secure the gorilla permits asap, so we just went for it. And as I said before it worked out exactly as quoted, no hidden costs or surprises.

Hope that rather long-winded reply helps!
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Feb 28th, 2011, 05:05 PM
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That is a great reply tock. Thanks for taking the time.
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Mar 1st, 2011, 12:33 PM
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Hi Tockolshe! We head to Africa at the end of June - 3 months, 28 days, 4 hours, 17 minutes and 10 seconds from now, to be exact....but who's counting! My DH kindly put a countdown on my computer for me.

We do have a trip to Kgalagadi and the dunes planned for August - we are taking some Canadian friends. Then Botswana and Zambia in October. Thinking Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda or Uganda the following August (2012) - I think we will likely do either Rwanda or Uganda with a guide. Our self-drive through Kenya and Tanzania in 2009 is our favourite of all of our African trips, and we long to return. Haven't heard much about security issues in the Mara for a while - need to go back and see if there have been any more incidents.

It is -24C without the wind chill here today - way below normal for this time of year. Africa can't come soon enough! Robin
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Mar 3rd, 2011, 06:46 AM
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Hi Robin
Not so long until you'll be enjoying the SA winter in July - but I don't imagine it's ever been as cold as where you are! We are complaining here because it's zero degrees at night! The weather throughout the world isn't behaving as it should, Botswana & north Namibia looks like it's in for another long wet season.

About Kgalagadi - can I pick your brains about the shop at Twee Rivieren? I can't remember at all what it was like, and it's hopefully improved since our last visit anyway with many more visitors. Do they have the basics like eggs, milk, bread, beer, firewood, - anything fresh? We'll be taking most of our supplies but will probably run out of something. We'll be sure to take the thermal underwear for those cold nights though! I've got your trip report with 'x marks the spot' for some of your best viewing (I know it can't possibly be the same after all this time but it's a start!) Also there were some good articles on the Kgalagadi in 'Go' magazine by Villiers and suggestions about routes. Yes, this one will be more planned than Uganda! We'll be doing more of the Botswana side this time so it'll be different. We had hoped to do the 4x4 trails but can't do it with one vehicle.

Speaking of Villiers, he's in the Ngorongoro Crater now, lucky *** . REALLY makes me want to follow in their footsteps, it has to be a target! (for anyone interested in a self-drive blog from South Africa to Serengeti it's an interesting read: http://www.serengetitrip.com/p/our-route.html). I don't doubt that Kenya and Tanzania was your favourite of all of your African trips. I've seen your diary is up on the SafariDrive website. I spoke to the guys at SafariDrive at a travel show and they said they are cautious about sending people to Kenya at the moment, and that the logistics are a nightmare. Poaching seems to be increasing across Africa generally and a constant threat to rangers.

Sorry to anyone expecting to read about Uganda, but we are still on the topic of safaris! (it's the 'more' in the title!!)
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Mar 3rd, 2011, 03:54 PM
  #28
 
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Hi tock
Thought I might find you back here on the Africa forum (!)
Can you nip back to the Oz forum, I have a question about your 2010 trip Broome to Perth?
So you managed Uganda as well as Australia, it sounds a great trip, but no camping this time, I guess you'll get your camping in KTP soon enough!
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May 8th, 2011, 04:35 PM
  #29
 
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Wow! In depth report or what!! Going to uganda in 4 mnths so will be reading this and the links!! cheers!!
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May 9th, 2011, 06:17 PM
  #30
 
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So glad this got bumped to the top. I missed it the first time around, and am now booked for a fast and furious Uganda extension on one of my trips. Bookmarking for later.
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May 13th, 2011, 03:38 PM
  #31
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JonWong, Femi, I hope you enjoy Uganda as much as we did!

Rather sad to hear that Uganda too is seeing political unrest, as a country it has such a lot to offer, I hope it will all blow over soon.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13357185
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May 13th, 2011, 03:58 PM
  #32
 
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Wow indeed! You got some fantastic pictures, the first I've seen since I signed up for my trip. The thought of being able to see a hippo give birth takes my breath away. And that shoebill! Wow.
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May 13th, 2011, 04:35 PM
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I have a free day in Entebbe, so I'm glad you mention the wildlife center as that's probably where I'll spend it.

What sort of insect repellant did you use that worked so effectively against tsetse flies?
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May 13th, 2011, 04:42 PM
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...adding Ngamba island to my list...
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May 14th, 2011, 08:14 AM
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Hi Femi
I use a natural repellant called 'alfresco' which is a UK company but I see they ship anywhere. It's got a lovely fragrance and it's the only one I've been comfortable using round my face. It has to be said I don't usually get badly bitten by anything - I'm not sweet enough (!) - so the DEET repellants might be more suitable for some people.

www.alfresco.uk.com

Thank you for the kind comments on the photos - you'll get to see a shoebill close up at the Entebbe wildlife centre. The photos don't do justice to the experience of actually seeing the birthing hippo - magical!
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Sep 23rd, 2011, 07:05 AM
  #36
 
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Thanks Tockoloshe for this unique description of my beautiful country Uganda. Indeed we have not done much to market our country as one of the favourite destination for tourists yet we have alot of potential. No wonder when Sir Winston Churchil visited Uganda, He nick named it the "Pearl of Africa" because of its immense beauty. It is good to see many people responding to your article. All I can say is that they are welcome to the Pearl Of Africa. FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.
Denis
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Dec 20th, 2015, 09:19 AM
  #37
 
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Hi,

I work for a charity that is campaigning to Save Kafuga Forest, which forms a buffer zone on the outskirts of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Kafuga is in danger of being felled to make way for tea plantations. Clear felling the forest will negatively affect the livlihood of those that live close by and residents may be forced to work on the tea plantations which are notorious for paying below a living wage and in some cases for employing children. Felling the forest, further, will negatively affect local water catchment & carbon sequestratiion and local biodiversity.

We are looking for a video taken in the Bwindi Forest (Gorilla's would be great,) and also possibly another in that part of Uganda to show how beautiful the country is.

We are seeking someone who can donate raw footage that we can cut, annotate and add audio to. This will be used to raise funds for the campaign to save the forest. Would you be able to help? Of coures we would list you in the final credits

Thanks,
Sandra
(International Tree Foundation.)
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