Uganda Trip Report

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Feb 26th, 2006, 11:45 AM
  #21
 
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I just wanted to thank Maxwell and everyone else fo their comments on this thread, especially with regard to Ngamba. We have just booked our trip to Ethiopia, Uganda & Rwanda (departing 12/23/06), and we have planned to spend the night and do the forest walk on Ngamba. From my reading, I had believed that you would actually send your proof of vaccinations to them in advance, rather than having to have originals with you when you arrive!
You mentioned doing two "walks" with the juveniles -- is something you arrange in advance, or beg for upon arrival?
Thanks again.
Chris
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Feb 26th, 2006, 11:53 AM
  #22
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Chris, Definitely email Lily copies in advance and get her sign off, but then take the originals with you b/c she'll want to check the originals. Tell them you want two walks in advance, and when you get there, if Stany - the head caregiver on the island - doesn't automatically suggest that you do one of your walks just hanging out in the juvenile area like I did, just ask him about it. The reason I'd go ahead and sign up for two walks is b/c i think (and atravelynn and others may know more about this) only four people can go on each chimp walk. you are going to have such a great time...
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Feb 26th, 2006, 12:26 PM
  #23
 
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Thanks for the advice. We want to get the most out of the island visit. As an added bonus, it will actually be new year's eve, so we will be ringing in 2007 with the chimps!
Chris
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Feb 26th, 2006, 12:50 PM
  #24
 
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I haven't had a chance to look through all of your pics yet, but just wanted to say thanks for posting the link!
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Feb 26th, 2006, 04:36 PM
  #25
 
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Maxwell,

I am amazed "your" chimp did the same licking of the laces. They really have that maneuver down pat! Glad some of my comments helped send you on a successful trip.

What a health scare, especially when you don't know all will be fine in 24 hours.

Your comment about a lot of blurred primates is what the majority of my photos look like too. I'll be looking at your pics tomorrow.

Since I noted several comments on Queen Elizabeth being just so-so, I'll balance that with my enthusiasm for the place. Wonderful ele activity in big herds. Ugandan Kob are stunning antelope with their burnished coats. Giant forest hogs!! I sat within feet of a warthog family at Mweya and watched them dig and nurse. The banded mongoose there were outstanding too. A swarming bat cave in the Maramgambo Forest. I did see one tree climbing lion in the Ishasha region. And the Kazinga Channel was nonstop action, granted much of it birds, but "big" ones, using that technical term.
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Feb 26th, 2006, 05:37 PM
  #26
 
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Wow Maxwell. This is just awesome. Your photos and report have renewed my resolve to do this trip. I had downloaded the Ngamba Island handbook last year when I was pondering my Africa travel options. I think I'd like to stay there a week and volunteer if it is feasible at the time. Did you meet any weeklong volunteers when you where there?

Adding my thanks for the great report and photos...
Sharon
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Feb 26th, 2006, 06:15 PM
  #27
 
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Great report and pictures! The scenery was beautiful as were the chimps, gorillas, people etc. Would love to go there now, after reading your report and pics. Thanks for sharing! Hope you're back to normal.
Dennis
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Feb 26th, 2006, 06:43 PM
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I read your trip report so greedily that now, after viewing your photos, I must read it all again.

Wonderful, interesting report, wonderful, interesting photos. And I certainly don't think many of them are blurry at all!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 07:28 AM
  #29
 
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Hi Maxwell,

I am writing from the UK. I just read your trip report and wondered if I could ask you a few questions. I am in the process of arranging my Uganda trip with Great Lakes Safaris. The intinary they have sent me is for the 15 day Classic Uganda Safari. It looks amazing, however it does not include visiting the Ngamba island, which after reading your report is something I would really like to do. Did you also book this through Great Lakes? If not, how did you go about organising this?
I was also hoping that you may have stayed at a few of the places Great Lakes has suggested and could give your opinion of them: 1. Red Chilli Rest Camp, 2. Institute of Ecology hostels and guesthouse, 3. Rwenzori View Guest House, 4. Buhoma Community Bandas, 5. Overland Camp Cottages, 6. Rwonyo Camp.
Thanks very much, look forward to hearing from you.
Tara.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 07:48 AM
  #30
 
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Thanks for sharing so much about your trip! Welcome back... where next?
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Feb 27th, 2006, 08:12 AM
  #31
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Glad everyone enjoyed the pictures - this board has been very useful to me in the past so am very happy to return the favor.

Sharon - there were no weeklong volunteers when I was there, although there was an Australian woman there (not really a guest/volunteer) who had been involved in setting up Ngamba from the very beginning that stays there for a month every year. I appeared to be the first overnight guest in a few weeks...

Tara - I had GL set up the Ngamba visit - just tell them you'd like to do it and they'll make the reservation for you and drop you off and pick you up. I only stayed at one of the places you have listed - Rwenzori in Fort Portal. It was fine - definitely budget but one of the nicer budget places from what I gathered (and really good food). The others in my group also stayed at the Institute of Ecology hostel in QENP - they said it was fine (again, definitely budget but they didn't have the complaints about it like they did about the place in Kisoro, where I don't think you are going). The Ecology Hostel is literally right down the "street" from Mwyea, so definitely walk up to Mweya and enjoy a drink on the terrace!

Kavey - Leaning toward Ethiopia in Sept.! Am am trying to talk myself into tackling Kili on the same trip since I am planning to be gone for around 6 weeks.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 08:42 AM
  #32
 
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Saw your pictures. They were great and quite clear. Some good face shots of both gorillas and chimps.

I know that spurwing plover at Ngamba.

Which gorilla group did you visit?
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Feb 27th, 2006, 11:59 AM
  #33
 
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I finally had a chance to look through all of your photos. You certainly saw a lot of chimp action on your walk, more than I would've expected. Was it just the 3 of you along with the ranger?

I liked that you included so many photos of scenes along the way and really enjoyed your detailed captions.

Did your vehicle from GL have a pop top or fold back hatch? If the latter, was there a canopy that could be put up over the open top?

Thanks again for sharing your pics!
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Feb 28th, 2006, 05:45 AM
  #34
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atravelynn - it was the Nkuringo group...i think there's only one group there that they track but I could be wrong about that.

Patty - there were just the four of us on the walk in Kibale, however, we sort of lucked out - there were several other groups (probably six in each group) that day...we did bump into the other groups a few times - I'm curious if they saw as much as we saw...we could not have asked for a better "show" from the chimps!
oh, and the vehicle from GL was poptop.
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Feb 28th, 2006, 10:10 AM
  #35
 
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Thanks, maxwell. I hope you're recovering from your Lake Victoria drenching.
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Feb 28th, 2006, 12:55 PM
  #36
 
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Maxwell-

I really enjoyed your trip report. My wife and I are taking our first trip to Africa this August and we'll be on safari with Great Lakes for 7 days before spending a few days in Kenya. Ngamba Island sounds great and I really wish we could fit it into our itinerary (especially since it sounds like the walking option may not be available in a few years).

Thanks for commenting both on your accomodation and those of the budget-minded members of your group. I had some misgivings about just accepting some of the GLS recommendations w/o a nod from Bradt or Lonely Planet. We're slated to stay at the Olympia the first night (after the same ATL-AMS-EBB flights). I think we'll probably stick with it because we're just looking for a bed. My larger concern was our Kisoro accomodations; I don't want to be in the same place that your fellow tour members hated!

We are slated to stay in the Virunga Guest House in Kisoro. Does that sound like the bad hostel place? Thanks for your advice.

-Matt
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Feb 28th, 2006, 01:49 PM
  #37
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Hey Matt -
I actually think that is the same place in Kisoro. I pulled back up my itinerary and saw that I paid 70$ extra to stay at Travellers Rest over the budget place (which does seem like a lot considering I saw online they charge 35$ for a single and they are very basic rooms). In addition to the cleanliness complaints from the others in my group about their hotel(although I think they complained and got the bathrooms cleaned up), they had major complaints about the dinner they ate there the first night. (Can't recall the exact story but I think their dinner consisted of rice and bread or something ridiculous like that.) If it is the same place, it is just around the corner from Travellers Rest - they paid our guide a few extra dollars to be able to eat dinner at TR the second night, which has great food (assuming those same managers are still there, who have totally revamped the menu from what it was before they arrived earlier this year). If you didn't want to spend the extra money on the room, after your gorilla trek definitely walk over to Travellers Rest and have a drink and stay for dinner. (even if for some reason the guide can't switch your dinner to TR, I think dinner was only about 7 dollars).
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Mar 1st, 2006, 07:52 AM
  #38
 
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Maxwell-

Thanks for the heads up. I contacted GLS to check on the Kisoro hotel. Their original offer was for a traveler's rest upgrade for $40 per person. From the start of my planning with Great Lakes, I was struck by their mark-ups for lodging. The base costs of budget accomodation seemed padded as well, but since we were doing a private safari it was hard to figure in vehicle costs and guide lodging. When comparing upgrade costs, however, the discrepancy becomes more obvious (especially when you deduct the cost of the original lodging).

Having said that, I don't mean to begrudge them turning a profit. Since they might be the only Ugandan operator to combine moderate rates with excellent reliability they are entitled to some premium. I don't think I've ever heard someone report a negative experience on the trip itself, and that's obviously the most important thing in the end.

By the way, Maxwell, what kind of camera were you using?

-Matt
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Mar 1st, 2006, 10:21 AM
  #39
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Hey matt - I completely agree re GL & pricing - they were definitely one of the more moderately priced operators out there that had consistently positive reviews.
As for my camera, it's an Olympus C-750.
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Mar 1st, 2006, 10:45 AM
  #40
 
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Wow, great photos. I really regret not having made time to visit Kibale when I was in Uganda. Funny, I didn't see a single elephant in Queen Elizabeth NP, but did see a few lions -- in fact, the very first animal we saw was a very large male lion.

Thanks, Michael
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