Uganda/Rwanda - Any questions

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Jan 10th, 2007, 06:02 PM
  #1
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Uganda/Rwanda - Any questions

We just came back from 11 days in Uganda/Rwanda. It was one of the best trips of my life. It will be a little while before I can post my trip report. Does anyone have any questions I can answer in the meantime?
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Jan 10th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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Welcome back! Glad you had a great time.

I have lots of questions. How long were the drives between Kampala, Murchison, Kibale, QENP, and Bwindi? Could you compare Murchison and QENP and did you prefer one over the other and if so, why? Did you track chimps in Kibale? Did you do all 3 of your gorilla treks in Bwindi? What did you think of each of the camps where you stayed? What were the temps like at this time of year? How was Travelust?

By the time you finish answering these, you'll almost have a trip report done
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Jan 11th, 2007, 08:57 AM
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And PICTURES PICTURES PICTURES
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Jan 11th, 2007, 09:20 AM
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Travelust? That name just came up elsewhere. Never heard of them before Is that who you used and how were they?

Any news on the twins in the Suza group in Rwanda?

Welcome home. I'm sure it was a fantastic trip.
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Jan 11th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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Did you see Meddy from Travelust? He guided my group around Uganda in early December -- what a treat!
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Jan 11th, 2007, 10:33 PM
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Am considering Travel Lust for our trekking in Rwanda in early Sept.....any comments/recommendations concerning their service?..thanks, Bob
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Jan 12th, 2007, 07:24 AM
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Sorry for the delay. I decided to make this my trip report as well. I would love to attach photos but don't know how to do it. Can someone please explain to me?

First, let me start by saying we were all very pleased with Travelust. Tripster - Meddie was our driver and we loved him.

By using an African company (opposed to a UK company) we were able to stay in all of the same lodges - on the exception of one - for less money. We were able to negotiate with Travelust on the price and it appears we paid about half of what others paid that went with the bigger tour companies. All of our meals and unlimited water were included.

Our driver/guide was always on time and consumate professional. He also understood our sense of humor and laughed with us a lot.

We drove from location to location around Uganda (opposed to flying which some tour groups offer). The roads are wild but I loved every minute of it. I loved the people and villages just as much as the animals we saw, so if you fly around you will miss all of this.

Below was our itinerary and my comments about the trip.

23rd December 2006: Tour of Kampala including the Tombs of the Buganda, a museum, churches, and our favorite - the market! Stayed at the Windsor Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe - very nice and clean. The hotel had electricity and internet access (for a small fee).

24th December 2006: Tour of the Entebbe Botanical Gardens in the morning and after lunch, we transfered to the Lake Victoria Shore for a speed boat to Ngamba Island for a visit to the Jane Goodall Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The boat ride was approixamtely 40 minutes. We spent another night at Windsor Lake Victoria Hotel.

25th December 2006: Drove Start 5 to 6 hours to Murchison falls National Park. The roads are unreal. They are dusty, filled with potholes, and sometimes washed out. You have to drive slow most of the time, but what an adventure! The Nile can be viewed at different points up to the Baker's Summit . Dinner and overnight at Inns on the Nile Camp. This was my favorite lodge. While Jacana Lodge was technically nicer, I thought having the Nile run past your balcony was special. Plus, we had a family of monkeys living above our roof and a hippo under our balcony grunting!


26th December 2006: We started our morning with a game drive in Murchinson National Park. Among the many animals there, we saw many giraffes, kob, waterbuck, oribe, hippos, and some elephants. After lunch, we went back to our hotel, rested for 2 hours and then took a Nile Cruise. It was wonderful. We saw crocodiles, hippos and even an elephant.

27th December 2006: We drove to Kibale forest. The drive, as usual, was 4-5 hourse. That evening we did a nocturnal forest walk in the forest. This is the one event I would recommend skipping. Although it sounds cool, it was very difficult to spot anything in the dark, and when we finally did, all you saw were two little eyes. We spent the night Ndali Lodge which was lovely. It is run by a British ex-pat named Aubrey who was very friendly. The views are spectacular and the service was excellent.

28th December 2006: We drove to Queen Elizabeth National Park. We were supposed to do a Chimpanzee trek in the Chambura Gorge on this day, but it looked like it was going to rain, so we put it off until the next day. Instead, we did a nature walk in the Maramagambo forest to the bat caves. Not exactly my scene, but the others in my group loved it. We stayed overnight at Jacana Camp. This is arguably the nicest hotel we stayed at.

29th December 2006: We went for our gorilla trek at Chambura Gorge first thing in the morning. Warning: when we got to the bottom of the gorge, there is a small river. I didn't know this before going down, but you have to cross this river. They do this by making you cross a tree that has fallen over the river. There is nothing to hold onto and the trees are usually wet from all of the rain. It was very difficult and I felt relatively unsafe. We all made it across, but many of us were not to pleased with the "bridge."

When we found the chimpanzees they were way up high in the trees. I think this is just luck of the draw as I heard others tell me they saw them on the ground. Other than the "bridge" it was a nice hike.

After the trek, we departed for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Home of the Mountain Gorillas. Once again it took at least six hours to get there but I loved the drives. You go through many small villages and many people were excited to see you drive by. Children were always running over to greet us. We spent the night at Gorilla Resort which I have learned is owned by James who owns Travlust. This lodge was a little more rustic than the others we stayed at. The rooms are tented but very clean. In fact, this place had the cleanest sheets and blankets out of all of the places we stayed. It is run by a man named Milton who we adored. He made us feel very welcome and even gave me a pep-talk the morning of our gorilla trek. As an aside, we were the only guests there.

30th December 2006: Our first gorilla trek! There were four people in my group (including my mom - who is 63 and did great) and trying to get us on the same trek was a bit of a harrowing experience. It is not determined until you get there, but in the end it worked out. We trekked the largest of the families (26 gorillas in total and we saw 16). Our trek ended up being the longest that day - two hours each way. At times it was difficult, but I enjoyed this trek very much. We had porters who not only carried our bags but helped us up and down the mountains.

The gorillas were amazing. Although the first one we saw actually charged us. However, he quickly backed off and we had no further incidents. We saw plenty of the silverbacks (there were two in this group) and toddlers and little baby.

That afternoon we checked out the town of Bwindi and watched the Bwindi orphans perform in the local ampitheater.I believe they do this everyday so keep your eye out if you go - it is not to be missed! We spent the night at Gorilla Resort.


31st December 2006: We travelled to Kisoro and then on to Rwanda. Crossing into Rwanda took a good amount of time as they decided to heckle our driver for a while. As always, Meddie kept his cool and worked it out with the border guards. We spent the night at Gorilla's Nest Lodge in Rwanda. I didn't love this hotel but I understand there are limited options. The hotel is bigger than the places we stayed in but had electricity.

01st January 2007: Today we trekked the Volcanoes/Virunga Mountain gorillas. This trek was very different than the one in Bwindi. The entire trek up into the mountains was through stinging nettles. Now, not everyone has the same trek, this I guess was bad luck of the draw. This trek involved a lot more bushwacking and so, picture it, you are walking through stinging nettles (no way to avoid them) stepping on wet branches just bushwaked down, and slipping and falling into stinging nettles. Luckily, it only took 30 minutes to find the gorillas. And, as to be expected, it was worth the trek. This family was smaller, but more docile than the ones we saw in Bwindi. The gorillas get very close. At one point the silverback came right to us. We had to crouch and look down. You could literally reach out and touch him (although you would be crazy to do so).

At the recommendation of our driver, we left Rwanda after our trek and drove to Lake Bunyonyi. We spent the night there and it was beautiful and relaxing.

02nd January 2007: Today we drove the long, long way back to Entebbe. The drive was approximately 9 hours. We made very few stops, except for the market at Kampala which we had to hit one more time. That evening we began the 20 hour journey back to New York.

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Jan 12th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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It's good to see some info on Travelust. Your guide's name was Tripster-Meddie? That's a mouthful.

I'd be interested in knowing more about the Tombs of the Buganda.

I've always wanted to go to Murchison Falls. I am sure the Nile Cruise was great and having monkeys as neigbhors is pretty cool.

Never heard of a nocturnal forest walk in Kibale. You did not do a day walk I take it.

I recall the Chambura Gorge hike being more difficult than the gorilla treks and I only saw chimps in the trees not on the ground.

Glad you had some good gorilla vists and thanks for the hint about the Bwindi orphans performing.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 10:44 AM
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Actually, our guide was named Meddie. I was responding to a previous post with the name Tripster. Sorry for the confusion.

Travelust was great. I highly recommend them. I am happy to answer any questions anyone may have.

I found Chambura Gorge pretty challenging. Especially because we had to carry our own backpacks. It was difficult to negotiate the over the tree with your bag pulling you backwards.

Murchison falls was beautiful but I much preferred the Nile boat ride.

Finally, the Tombs of Bugunda were very cool. Our tour guide there was difficult to understand, but it was definitely worth seeing.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 12:57 PM
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Do I feel foolish with the name question!
Thanks for the additional info.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Dr. Gough,

If you had to decide between visiting Murchison Falls National Park or Queen Elizabeth National park.... which one would you choose to visit?
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Jan 12th, 2007, 08:44 PM
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I would definitely pick Murchinson National Park. I say this because there were many, many more large animals to see. In Murchinson, we saw at least 30 giraffes, some elephants, and hippos.

In Queen Elizabeth, we saw two tree climbing lions, which is very cool -believe me, but that was it with respect to the bigger animals.

PS: I am not a doctor, they are just my initials. Don't want to give the wrong impression.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 10:19 PM
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I'm happy to hear that you tracked with Francois at PNV. Isn't he a kick? I did 2 trackings with him just 2 weeks before you did. I wrote about it in another thread.
I was at Murchison Falls during Christmas for 3 days and in QENP for 3 days before that. I had wanted to see MF for 10-15 years at least, so my expectations were maybe too high, but I found it disappointing. Maybe it was all the people during Christmas, I don't know what it was. I much preferred QENP. I found the Kazinga Channel cruise much more interesting than the Nile cruise to the bottom of the falls. Sure there were some hippos and big crocs there, but I had expected to see hundreds of them lining the shore all along the way and I saw maybe 20, all in one place and yes they were enormous.
The game viewing was about the same in both parks. I wouldn't go to either park for the game viewing though, unless you just must see Giant Forest Hog, which we did, but the grass was so high I couldn't really make out any details. There were 8 of them. I did enjoy all the Rothchild's giraffes, oribi and Uganda Kob that you don't see in East Africa. We saw one leopard in each park and some lions in both. Yes, the female lions in MF have started climbing trees the week before we got there according to Dennis, our ranger, maybe because the grass is so high? We didn't get to take the Delta cruise as they were using all the boats for the Bottom of the Murchison Falls cruises and if I had gone there and seen a shoebill stork, maybe my story would be different. I will go back there when the grass isn't so high and when the Serena Camp/Lodge is built where the ruins still stand from the Pakuba Lodge.
Also, I didn't find the chimp tracking difficult at all in Chambura aka Kyambura Gorge. We did have to cross the stream on the log, but it was nothing really, just 2 steps supported by the ranger. Compared to the gorilla trackings (I did 5) this was a piece of cake. However, you are correct that the chimps were high up in the trees and difficult to see. I say impossible to photograph. I also tracked chimps at Budongo Forest with the same results, except it was pretty much flat terrain there. I was told the chimps stay in the treetops when it's wet below. The gorge was steep going up and down, but it was a very short distance.
Isn't it amazing how views differ between people who visited at about the same time? that's why I had to chime in.
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Jan 16th, 2007, 09:58 AM
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Meddie is the man!!!
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Jan 24th, 2007, 04:04 PM
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When I went to Chamboro gorge, we had to cross on a fallen tree, which spanned a stream and was, at least 40' long, And there was a hippo in the water below. The taller (and younger) people were able so side step their way across, but I am 4'11 and could not reach up the grasp the upper branch of the tree. I tried scooting across on my butt, but finally just got "stuck" and had to be rescued by our reluctant guide, Ven/Van - something like that. NOT my favorite guide in this situation. i was terrified that I would fall in the water! The trunk was slippery and uneven as well. However, I made it, walked the gorge, saw little black dots in the trees, and then back across another fallen tree, which we all did the butt scoot to traverse.
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Feb 3rd, 2012, 06:26 AM
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ttt Just for info purposes and to illustrate the advantage of booking a package vs trying to do it in pieces. What may be a good way to save money in Kenya or Tanzania or even Botswana, maybe isn't as confidently done in Rwanda unless you've done lots of travel in Africa.
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