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Found 42 results

  1. Today was launched Operation Twiga Phase II in Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP), Uganda. In 2015, some giraffes were translocated South to the Nile to expand the giraffes territory in MFNP, from where they were found absent. With the technical consultant Julian Fennessy from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, UWA is currently working in the conservation of the Nubian giraffe in the country. Ugandan giraffes were formerly considered as an endangered sub-species called Rothschild's giraffe. There are about 2100 animals worldwide, and their stronghold in Uganda is to be found in MFNP Paraa sector North of the mighty Nile river. UWA decided to introduce / or re-introduce animals to build new population in Lake Mburo National Park, and MFNP Southern sector. The aim is to lower the risks if a catastrophe would happen in Paraa sector. Nubian giraffes are present in Western Ethiopia (Gambela National Park), Western Kenya, and Southern Sudan. Further information about Operation Twiga can be found here, and details are provided concerning the different populations of this vulnerable sub-species: https://giraffeconservation.org/programmes/uganda-programme/ Giraffe taxonomy is pretty difficult and new discoveries are not yet all widely accepted by the international scientific community. It was formerly recognized a single giraffe species with 9 sub-species. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation started a genetic analyze of all the giraffe sub-populations and proposed that instead of a single species, there are 4 different species: - The Northern Giraffe divided in 3 different sub-species (Western giraffe only to be found in Niger, the Kordofan giraffe located in Central Africa, and the Nubian giraffe now also including the Rotschild's giraffe). - The Masaii giraffe. - The reticulated giraffe. - The Southern giraffe divided into 2 sub-species (South African giraffe and the Angolan giraffe). UWA is also working in reinforcing Kidepo National Park kob population. With only 40 animals estimated in this park located in the Karamoja region in North Eastern Uganda, it was decided to translocate between 100 and 200 animals from MFNP where Ugandan kobs are thriving. http://www.ugandawildlife.org/news/item/453-uwa-starts-translocation-of-kobs-to-kidepo
  2. Greetings! So: I have been reading and stalking and think I have a general outline for what I'd like to do; however, I would appreciate any/all feedback/suggestions. I can't book flights yet (insert eyeroll) so this is the proposal and I hope I'll be able to book the content once the flights open. Anyway, onward! Who: Parents (70s), self and husband, son (will be 3.5). All fairly experienced travelers, all have been to Africa before, none have been to this region. Mom happy to be on the trip, most wants Giraffe Manor and to see whatever there is; Dad is participating because he's a good sport, would prefer not to move too much and too often at a time; husband wants to see gorillas and go in a hot air balloon to see the great migration; I want to see everything and it's probably reflected below. This will be my parents' last trip to Africa and they want to go big. We care most about good food. I don't want to break the bank, but I want it clean and high end. My husband doesn't do "outdoors"--he's a former submariner so "camping" is not a thing for him. Ha! When: September 2018 Proposed plan: Not sure how I will route us from the US, so we'll start counting days from when we land Concerns: - Too much movement? Not enough (i.e. am I missing anything you'd recommend? There is no shame in our tourist game). This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing--my mom won't be able to get my dad to go back to Africa, so she wants to leave no stone unturned . . . - I've found five places we would like to stay (Wildwaters Lodge, Giraffe Manor, Hyatt in Zanzibar, Masa Fairmont, Clouds), looking for feedback on those and suggestions for the rest. Will mention chances of changing my mind on Giraffe Manor is zero since it's my mom's wish ;-) My husband prefers a chain so he has a venue to complain if stuff goes wrong (*sigh*) c'est la vie. -21 days on the ground is probably the max I will be able to get out of my dad so I technically have a few extra, but if we don't use them, that's okay, too, since my husband's leave will be at almost zero . . . Day 1: land in Entebbe, rent car (I'm the driver--have driven in a lot of places so feel comfortable on both sides of road with all types of terrain) to stay at Wildwaters Lodge, sunset cruise on Nile; overnight -- this is one of our only 1 night stops, is that okay or would you recommend 2? Day 2: Drive to Nkuringo; overnight at Clouds Day 3: Husband and I gorilla hike (a must for husband); overnight at Clouds Day 4: Second full day at Clouds--suggestions for what to do? Parents don't want to hike, I think it might be nice to stay 3 nights in one place to ease on movement; however, I don't want to spend a day just to spend a day . . . ; overnight at Clouds Day 5 (Assuming we stay a third night): drive to airport drop off car, end independent travel. Fly to Nairobi and transfer to Fairmont Mara Safari Club Day 6: Masa hot air balloon (a must for husband); overnight Fairmont Mara Safari Club Day 7: Safari; overnight Fairmont Mara Safari Club Day 8: Transfer to Serengeti; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 9: Safari (should we plan a second hot air balloon in the event it's not possible in Masa?); overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 10: Safari; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 11: Transfer to Ngorongoro Crater; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 12: Explore Ngorongoro Crater; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 13: Transfer to Amboseli; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 14: Safari; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 15: Transfer to Nairobi airport, flight to Zanzibar; overnight at Hyatt Day 16: All day Zanzibar; overnight at Hyatt Day 17: All day Zanzibar; overnight at Hyatt Day 18: flight to Nairobi, transfer to Giraffe Manor; overnight Giraffe Manor Day 19: All day Giraffe Manor; overnight Giraffe Manor Day 20: Transfer to airport; flight home Very sincerely thank anyone who reads and/or is able to provide suggestions and advice. Also: I finally got around to uploading the earlier video: Michelle
  3. Hello everyone, I've been away from the forum for quite a while, hopefully will be able to stick around and complete the S. Africa (Madikwe and Entabeni game reserves) trip report I have started plus publishing reports for the next two trips that I have done in the meantime - Namibia + Kgalagadi TP in 2016 and Serengeti / Ndutu / Ngorongoro Crater in Feb. 2017. At the moment I am thinking about a possible trip to Uganda in January - February, 2018. It will be somewhat limited time / budget trip, so I will skip the main highlights - the mountain gorilla and chimpanzee tracking in Bwindi and Kibale national parks. Main target would be Kidepo Valley National Park with Karamojong people village visit. There are several local safari agencies that provide road trips to Kidepo Valley NP. It takes 2 days to get there by road and another two days to return, but this will reduce the overall cost of the safari and there will be opportunities to see the countryside up north. Before I write to any local safari outfitters, I would like to see your valuable opinion and get some advise here on Safaritalk (as I have always done before). My rough idea about itinerary: Day 01 - Early morning departure from Kampala to Kidepo Valley. Possible visit to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for an hour or two of Rhino tracking on foot - do you think that this is a good idea? I have seen quite a few rhinos (both black and white in the wild) and I am not sure how interesting this would be for me. Overnight - either in the town of Gulu or in Kitgum (just to break to long transfer). Day 02 - Morning departure to Kidepo Valley NP, game drive, overnight at Apoka Rest Camp - UWA self-contained bandas. Apoka Lodge is kind of expensive, the only mid-range option (Nga'Moru Wilderness Camp) is outside the gate. The bandas at Apoka Rest Camp are basic, but the location seems to be nice - wildlife is coming into the camp, UWA headquorters are nearby. I would assume that night game drives can be booked there. Any comments on the accommodation choice? I am thinking about 3 or even 4 nights in Kidepo Valley NP, giving the fact, that there is quite a lot to explore around: Narus Valley, Kidepo Valley, Karamojong people village etc. Any comments about number of nights there? Day 03, 04, 05 - Kidepo Valley NP. Day 06 - Leaving Kidepo Valley NP for Gulu, overnight (to break the long transfer to Murchion Falls NP). Day 07 - Leaving Gulu for Murchion Falls NP, game drive, overnight. I would seek advice about accommodation options - looking for moderate to mid-range properties. How many nights would you recommend in Murchison Falls NP? 3-4? Would be nice to do the upstream boat safari to the falls and also the downstream boat ride to the Lake Albert Delta (in the morning) and explore the various parts of the park. So, if I stay for four nights, that would be days # 08, 09, 10, 11 of the trip. Kind of the most important question is whether to try to squeeze in Queen Elizabeth NP or not. I am aware that this park is quite far away from Murchison Falls and it might take one or two days to get there. I could cut a day in Kidepo Valley NP and a day in Murchison Falls NP and add one more day to the total number of days in order to accommodate QENP in the itinerary. Any suggestions about this? At first glance it looks to me that it would be better to spend more days in the first two parks. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I have read the comprehensive and very informative trip reports of @Paulo, @pault, @bushbaby and @TonyQ, but still any advice and ideas here would be very useful. Thanks in advance for your input! Cheers!
  4. I am considering a trip to Rwanda/Uganda in December with my partner. We would be landing in Kigali early in the morning on the 22nd and departing at 5 am on the 1st from Entebbe. We are primarily interested in a 4 hours gorilla trecking and a 1 hour chimpanzee trecking. We would like to stay at a limited number of lodges making the days on the road few (we drove 3000 km in Namibia this summer). My idea of an itineary would be: 3 days Bwindi 3 days Kazinga Channel (hippos) 3 days Kibale I need to convince my partner, that we can do this trip without spending a fortune. So... Where would you say that money can be saved? Do we need a driver/guide for the full trip or are there any alternatives? Which lodges would you recommend? It would be great if we had the chance of seeing wildlife from the lodge and a swimmingpool would be great. In terms of activities other than the gorilla and chimp trecking, we would like the opportunity to decide upon arrival. I hope that this makes sense - and REALLY look forward to your opinions! Thanks a lot. All the best Kirstine
  5. I am considering a trip to Rwanda/Uganda in December with my partner. We would be landing in Kigali early in the morning on the 22nd and departing at 5 am on the 1st from Entebbe. We are primarily interested in a 4 hours gorilla trecking and a 1 hour chimpanzee trecking. We would like to stay at a limited number of lodges making the days on the road few (we drove 3000 km in Namibia this summer). My idea of an itineary would be: 3 days Bwindi 3 days Kazinga Channel (hippos) 3 days Kibale I need to convince my partner, that we can do this trip without spending a fortune. So... Where would you say that money can be saved? Do we need a driver/guide for the full trip or are there any alternatives? Which lodges would you recommend? It would be great if we had the chance of seeing wildlife from the lodge and a swimmingpool would be great. In terms of activities other than the gorilla and chimp trecking, we would like the opportunity to decide upon arrival. I hope that this makes sense - and REALLY look forward to your opinions! Thanks a lot. All the best Kirstine
  6. I posted my question in the wrong section of the forum. Sorry about this! Moderators, please delete this post, I will re-publish it in the appropriate place.
  7. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/06/13/1701582114 https://www.inverse.com/article/33138-chimpanzees-reward-altruism-community http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4622774/Warrior-chimps-use-death-patrols-rivals-out.html ~ A May, 2017 research article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presents the findings of a study of territory-patrolling habits of the Ngogo chimpanzees in Uganda's Kibale National Park. Male chimpanzees patrol, despite no immediate gain, as “patrolling enhances group size”, thereby increasing the possibility for future reproduction.
  8. https://academic.oup.com/zoolinnean/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx005/3836902/Integrative-taxonomy-of-the-Central-African-forest?redirectedFrom=fulltext http://www.sci-news.com/biology/three-new-chameleon-species-central-africa-04969.html ~ This June, 2017 research article published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society describes the discovery of three chameleon species in the mountain forests of the Albertine Rift in Central Africa. Specimens were collected between 2009 and 2014 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were subsequently analyzed using geographical, morphological and DNA data.
  9. Am kenneth Karuhanga Director of Bushmemories Safaris, i was born and raised in Uganda the pearl of Africa. I was very lucky to have been born to Perie kakuliremu who had passion for travel and nature.We visited many parks and places in Africa when i was young.This made me have many Bushmemories.IAt university i did Environmental science , this helped me to know more a bout nature.I got change to work with both local and international organisations,during this time i world with mountain gorillas in bwindi national park with ecotourism projects and got involved in habituation of mountain gorillas and this earned me the name Bushman since then my life has never been the same. This lead to the birth of Bushmemories Safaris .Am happy my mum now 76 years(18/05/2013) can see me my dream come true and all my clients once in the Bush always in the Bush. Now i run a small camp site at the base of rwenzoris and named it after my son Hunter called Eco-hunters planet. Below is a brief info to get to know more. WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF BUSHMEMORIES. Travel in East Africa encompasses a vast array of experiences, many memorable moments are expected from any of our safaris from this magnificent part of the magical Africa, that continues to bring smilies.Its a time of discovery and wonderment, were unlimited wildlife, culture and people delights both parent and child from dawn to dusk. BUSHMEMORIS is the manufacture of quality adventure tour packages, truly a unique tour operator offering African Tours with a special flavour to experience the real Africa with a full range of possibilities from traditional safaris with game viewing, birdwatching, mountaineering, to specially designed tours for a greater immersion into African nature, culture and traditions. As a company that truly believes in sustainable tourism, we aim to preserve the beauty and character of Africa with emphasis on the unique character of its heritage ecology and art, making tourism a way to protect and support the areas we visit instead of altering and transforming them, thus our Moto CONSERVATION THRU SUSTAINABLE TOURSIM. We respect local cultures and make sure that our visitors will understand and appreciate the African way of living, its incredible closeness to the roots, the lack of stress, the joy, the simplicity and the complete acceptance of life that all Africans seem to have. Our proudest calm in all our destinations is that BUSHMEMORIES has been there our Safari specialists have stayed at the Campsites, Tentedcamps, Homes, and Hotels, walked the Trails, Tracked the game and snapped the photos. Our dedication and long established relationships with local guides and wildlife managers through out the region has earned us a great deal to our clients, were you come as guest and leave as friend. Our passion about Africa is our promise that you will have a life time experience which you will never forget. Please join us for one or combination of those special safaris where your holiday makes a difference to you, the people and the place you visit, enrich the mind and stir the soul for years to come thus you craft BUSHMEMORIES to last a life time. Safari enjema Ken Bushman. Director. Why BUSHMEMORIES? It is our aim to provide you with the experience of a lifetime in East Africa. To ensure this all personal itineraries are carefully planned in accordance with your individual requirements. You may consult our team to make alterations to your itineraries or ask any questions. BUSHMEMORIES Safaris guarantees: Fast, Personal responses to enquiries Expert, English Speaking Guides Superb Safari Food Quality Service Many people go to Africa and then wish that they had talked to someone who knew the area in question first. Our staff provides a friendly, up to date source of information prior to your departure. Several of the team has worked out in the bush on scientific research expeditions, giving them even deeper insight into Eastfrica incredible diversity. All our East Africa safaris are private. We provide a high staff: client ratio, ensuring personal service no matter what size your group. Each member of safari staff speaks good English and has been carefully selected for their professional experience and detailed local knowledge, from bird watching to botany. Bush memories Safaris will take you to remote, ecologically and culturally important locations, which have been developed in cooperation with local communities. Many of these are offered exclusively by Bushmemories Safaris and are always the highlight of our clients' trip. There will also be the option of having a photographer on hand to help you how get the best from your photographs. There is even the option of having a digital or slide photo-documentary made of your holiday. We issue safari certificates and our prices are competive, there are no hidden costs, no surprise, no options sold thus excellent value. Dinning is an important and delight full part each day in Africa, while on dinner every night we invite a guest speaker normally a Naturalist or wildlife Manager to talk to clients . As a company we are dedicated to the promotion of conservation, community education and sustainable resource use. Your tailor-made East African safari will directly help fund Various projects around East Africa. It is possible to visit many of these projects in action, just asks your personal safari agent for more information. OUR MISSION: At BUSHMEMORIES we provide holidays with a focus on adventure, conservation and sustainable tourism. We are unique in that we can also arrange for you to undertake volunteer work at local organizations. This will allow you to fully experience the country you are visiting, while supporting local communities in Africa. We are very aware in how our choices impact wildlife and the planet; we therefore promote and encourage making sound ethical travel choices. Our business is the result of our passion for life and our inherent love of nature and wild places. We will arrange for you to explore the most fascinating corners of Africa in the way that suits you best. Just a few of the experiences that we can provide are: Gorilla trekking White water rafting Relaxing beach holidays Kilimanjaro climb Classic safaris Family holidays Honeymoons In short, we aim to give you more than just a holiday in Africa. We aim to give you an experience, to make you feel the wonder and beauty of the continent, to give you extraordinary memories as well as photographs to take home, and we aim to do this in a way that benefits local communities and sustains the environment. Sustainable tourism is our primary commitment. Sustainable tourism is achieved by working closely with local communities and making the best use of local resources. We are in open talk with the governments and international organisations to make sustainable tourism an important consideration for African economies. We are fighting to keep Africa beautiful, unspoiled and real, not to turn it into a giant amusement park. We love Africa and we hope the service we provide will make you love it too. You don't need to be a religious institution or a non-profit organisation to actively help development, conservation and prosperity in Africa. At BUSHMEMORIES we want to prove this - help us rise to the challenge! . I would love to hear from any one who is interested to know more a bout my country or any topic a bout nature ,conservation and safari around the world. Thankyou. Ken Bushman +256775123140 kenneth@bushmemories.net www.bushmemories.net
  10. To Gorilla or not to Gorilla, had been my question in late 2015... http://safaritalk.net/topic/15609-to-gorilla-or-not-to-gorilla-that-is-the-question/ ...and the answers had been overwhelmingly for us to "go for it"!! So we did. While researching the trip, I stumbled across this post on Kabiza's website: http://kabiza.com/kabiza-wilderness-safaris/gorilla-habituation-experience-rushaga-area-bwindi-forest/ and I was sold! The chance to spend FOUR hours with the family, rather than the one, which everyone said flew past too quickly, was one I couldn't pass up. It meant that we would travel to Uganda for our gorilla treks rather than Rwanda, where I had originally thought we would go. We had to sell a couple of kidneys to cover the cost (well, actually, funny story - I fractured my humerus 3 months before we left and the insurance payout paid for it....) but we thoroughly enjoyed it and I am very pleased that we took everyone's advice and did the trip. Our preparation saw us shed a combined total of 30kg in weight, and had us walking 4 mornings per week with some bushwalking at the weekends, and while my broken arm did limit my preparation near the end, we both managed the experience physically very well. I am still working through the photos, but thought I would make a start.
  11. Hello! I’m working on a paper about cultural valuation/traditional ecological knowledge surrounding pangolins in East Africa: specifically, in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, or Burundi. If you have any information on sightings, photographs, field reports, encounter rates, presence/absence data, mythology, local folk beliefs, religious practices, or cultural valuation related to any of the African pangolin species, please reach out!
  12. Interesting report in today's FT. Four hours for $1500 rather than the usual one hour for the $600 Gorilla tracking permit in Bwindi, "The good news is there are more gorillas now, though their numbers are still worryingly small. Bwindi has now been designated a national park, protected from encroaching farmland. The first census in 1997 suggested the forest contained 294 gorillas, a number that had edged up to 408 five years ago. A census being carried out now is expected to show 500 or more. The reason for the steady recovery is that gorilla tracking is now big business. Tourists purchase a $600 permit entitling them to visit the gorillas for a strict limit of one hour. Numbers of visitors are restricted to eight per day. Even so, each gorilla family is bringing in $4,800 daily in permit-fees alone. And in Bwindi, there are a dozen families available to visit. (There are about 20 more wild gorilla groups.) Under a new programme, visitors to Bwindi can spend four hours with the Bikingi family group, which is midway through the habituation process. That means the gorillas are shier, wilder and more unpredictable...."
  13. As I was debating which destination in Africa to go to in 2016 for my summer "big cat" fix, I saw the seminal Uganda workout report from pault in ST. One look at the chimps and I was hooked (even more than the gorillas). I had to go to Uganda ! I posted for advise from the STers http://safaritalk.net/topic/15691-solo-trip-to-uganda-for-2016-too-late/ and got many useful tips / counsel from folks like MAC, atravelynn, inyathi and others. Reached out to Churchill tours and travels and arranged for two gorilla tracking permits plus one chimpanzee habituation experience. Finalised the trip around those. The route (Mostly through south western tourist corridor of the country): Entebbe – Kampala – Fort portal - Kibale – Kasese – Kasenyi (Queen Elizabeth national park) – cutting through the Kazinga channel connecting Lake George and Lake Edward onto Ishasha – Bwindi. Took a bush plane from Kihihi air strip close to Bwindi back to Entebbe. Unsurprisingly, it ended up as one of my most memorable safaris ever. What a beautiful country, amazing lodges and parks and variety of primates apart from the two iconic primates that it is well known for. With that introduction done, will get into the detailed day-day report !
  14. I have been informed that as from 01 August 2016 (today) it will no longer be possible to obtain a Uganda visa on arrival. All visitors must get their eVisa online before travel.
  15. After I had read about the habituation experience with gorillas I got hooked . I am thinking to have a very gorilla-centric tour next year. I am still not sure it will be Feb, Jun or Sep (it will depend on work schedule). Ideally I would want to fly into Bwindi and have 4-5 tracks on daily basis (3 habituation tracks and 1-2 normal tracks). But my question is if I am going to die with the schedule like this? I mean I am in pretty good physical shape, I did Patagonia hiking (90-100 kilometers in 4 days) but it is obvious that Uganda jungles are not comparable to Patagonia mountains . What do you think? Would you recommend rest days in between? The other question is how wet the hike is? If I track gorillas on daily basis do I have to have the second pair of hiking boots or I will be fine with one pair? I am still thinking if I should or I should not include chimpanzee tracking? Is it worth it? It is more about logistic. With only gorilla tracking I will just fly in/out but I am not sure how to add chimpanzee tracking without adding too much travel time. Normally, when you track in Bwindi do you have a lot of nice sceneries around? I mean should I have a good wide angle lens with me? Which one would you recommend for Nikon but within let's say $900-1000 price (better cheaper )
  16. I guess this question is really for those who have been to _both_ places for the mountain gorillas... Which one did you prefer? I know that the treks can vary widely, even from day-to-day, etc... And there are a lot of factors that go into deciding which place to go to. But ignoring all that for a moment, and just focussing on the experience.. it does seem that in Rwanda, when you reach the gorillas, the terrain there is just.. more "open", so you would get a better viewing, and I guess less jostling from other trekkers. Is that a fair comment?
  17. And onto the second trip report on my blog page - this one's from Uganda. http://safarijunkies.com/2016/03/western-uganda-of-mountain-gorillas-and-tree-climbing-lions/ p.s. @@Tom Kellie check you inbox - I'm figuring out how to get the reports to you since you can't see them - anyone else have this problem?
  18. Here is my trip report from my last trip. I thought I would share this as I am now preparing for my next adventure in February. It is always nice to reread one's memories to remember what we love and don't love about going on safari. 31 December, 2013 I left on my East African safari adventure on New Year’s Eve, 2013. It certainly was a fortuitous day to start my journey, which I had changed at the last minute because I was hoping to see the fireworks in Abu Dhabi. I arrived promptly in Abu Dhabi after a great Etihad flight, which I had used my points to upgrade to business class. A wonderful way to start my trip! My only problem is that the champagne is never cold enough when they offer you a glass at the start of the flight (first world problems). The staff were great, because they put the bottle on ice as soon as we were airborne and it chilled down nicely for when the food arrived. Abu Dhabi has become my main airport hub whilst I am based in Kazakhstan and I find it to be an easy transfer between gates and departures. I was out of the airport within 20 minutes and getting into an Etihad chauffeured car (complimentary when flying business/first class) for my quick drive to The Park, Rotana. The driver was new and had some problems actually locating the hotel but the comfort of the car allowed me to feel relaxed and to not worry about the extra time spent looking for the hotel. I was on vacation and not working so I had nothing to be stressed about. It was my first time at The Park, Rotana and it was conveniently located about 20 minutes from the airport. My late arrival (approximately 9.15pm) on New Year’s Eve meant that there was little wait for my check-in. I made the booking through PointsHound who contacted the hotel prior to my physical check-in to make sure I had a room on a high floor away from any parties that may have been on that night. The staff at the hotel were great and gave me an upgrade to my standard room although it was on a smoking floor. I was reassured that the room would not smell and it was agreed upon that if there were the odor of smoke they would change the room immediately. It turned out that the room was fine and I enjoyed the opportunity to freshen up before investigating the hotel further. Unfortunately, my plan to go and see the fireworks was put on hold when I was advised that I would be guaranteed a taxi to get to The Corniche (main road) but that it would be very hard to return afterwards due to traffic and people. I then had a look around the hotel which offered a number of dining/partying opportunities for New Years but being dressed in attire suitable for an African safari and not for a night out on the town I decided room service and sat tv were a better option. I relaxed in my room and then went to bed without hearing any of the noises from the parties downstairs. I woke up to a New Year’s Day in another country (I seem to make a habit of this) and then caught a metered taxi to the airport earlier than I needed to try and secure another points upgraded ticket. Suggestions: The Park, Rotana was conveniently located (about 60 DHS in a metered taxi). The staff were great and the rooms were spacious and clean. I found a great price on www.pointshound.com with an added bonus Etihad Guest points which made me choose this property. Ask for a high floor to avoid any noise from the entertainment areas located on the lower floors of the hotel. Room service was well priced and decent.
  19. 1) Name of property and country: Sanctuary’s Gorilla Forest Lodge, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda 2) Website address if known: http://www.sanctuaryretreats.com/uganda-camps-gorilla-forest 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). January, 2014 (Shoulder season) 4) Length of stay: 3 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I saw that there was a possibility that the gorillas go through camp and wanted to be inside the park. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did my own research on prices and then contacted Sarah Borman from Sanctuary directly. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was my second trip. 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None, this was my first forest lodge. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 8 tents 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Rooms were private due to the landscaping but they were close and I could hear my neighbor. There was no views from the rooms but lovely views from the main communal areas. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The tent had wo queen size beds, wardrobe facilities, large bathroom as well as a bath. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes the food was simple and good. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?). There was a multiple choice for the mains. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables, no hosting. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Lunches were supplied and were fresh and filling. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Enclosed safari cars for transportation to the hiking area and for transfers. 19) How many guests per row? 2 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Hikes could last between 3 – 10 hours. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? 6 hours. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? N/A 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? People density is strongly controlled for all hikes to see the gorillas. Maximum 8 guests per visit per day. 24) Are you able to off-road? No 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. You only have one hour with the gorillas. You need to convey to people in front to move if you are at the end of the line otherwise you will miss out. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Gorillas. Excellent sightings. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Very happy with the gorilla guiding and assistance from the paid porters. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? Had an issue when on my waterfall hike about expected tipping. The guiding on the first day’s hike just needed to take into account everyone’s ability at hiking and to wait for all guests to be ready before going to see the gorillas. 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The dining/wait staff were not very proactive or as helpful as other properties I have stayed at. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes but I am not sure. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: “Expected more” Beautiful camp but for the price and company it is associated with I did expect more with things being a little basic for a "upscale/luxury" property. It is not 5 stars so as long as people know this before arriving then you won't have a problem. Great location and views over the national park, friendly staff although they all seemed a little "lost" and lazy but that could be because there were only 5 guests staying and they felt they didn't need to really be pro-active. If I went again to Bwindi I would check out other options in the area to see if you can cut costs and enjoy an extra day trekking because the license costs $600. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  20. Hi Friends I,m a bit late in planning for 2016 Africa trip. Idea is to do Chimp tracking at Kibale (full day x 2), one Gorilla trek at Bwindi + any other suggestions for primates. (QENP is not mandatory, wouldn't mind skipping it). My questions 1. Is it too late already ? 2. Which tour operators would you recommend given Im doing solo and would want to use mid budget options 3. What can I add to increase chances of other primates ? Many thanks to all in advance S
  21. Last Chance Safaris has put some different itineraries together for 2016. Our emphasis is as much on conservation as it is on getting that unique picture in a phenomenal setting. All our trips do more than just search out the big game. Our participants also get to meet and interact with the conservationists who are actively involved in saving many of Africa's most endangered animals. Our Painted Wolves Expedition explores Zimbabwe's best wild dog destinations, including Hwange, and culminates in the magical Chitake Springs of Mana Pools. Remote and unique the chance of footing it with wild dog (and other predators) is high. The Great Apes Expedition is more than just gorillas & chimps. We take a tour of beautiful Uganda off the tourists' beaten track. Starting with Kidepo Valley National Park (voted by CNN as in the top 3 of Africa's national parks!) and ending with a bang high up in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for two gorilla treks. Chimps, forest elephant, shoebill and a variety of primates are all to be seen - not to mention some of Africa's best birding. Want to walk with Rhino? Our Rhino Expedition takes participants on a walking safari that focuses on these critically endangered animals. Hwange, Matusadona, Matopos or Pamushana - all fantastic wildlife locations in their own right, but also the strongholds for Zimbabwe's rhino population. Big cats and elephants your thing? Try out the Africa's Giants Expedition. From the Chobe to the Okavango, we visit the best Botswana destinations to get a fill of lion, leopard, cheetah, and of course elephants. A mix of national park and private concession ensures that the best areas are covered. You can contact us directly through Safaritalk, by emailing reservations@lastchancesafaris.com, or via our contact form.
  22. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12538/full This Conservation Biology article presents research done in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park concerning the effectiveness of park ranger patrols in dealing with pastoralist encroachment and poaching. Utilizing data from handheld GPS devices, Bayesian hierarchical modeling was employed to analyze the spatiotemporal distribution of illegal activities within Queen Elizabeth National Park. The authors suggest improved, scientific management of ranger patrols to increase effectiveness in addressing such issues as ongoing incursions by 10,000 to 20,000 cattle from DR Congo.
  23. http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/651777-cheetahs-return-to-kidepo.html ~ This January, 2014 article from New Vision in Uganda describes increased cheetah sightings in Kidepo Valley National Park in northeastern Uganda, near the border with South Sudan. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is investing in a four-year conservation project in and around Kidepo, aided by support from the African Wildlife Foundation, USAID, and the United Nations Development Program.
  24. I was inspired by recent retrospectives, and by posts in other threads’ talk of Gorillas, to look back through my photos. As you will see from the title, we went on this trip in 2005 – August – so many of the practical information will not be of much use to those planning a trip now, (but I have put in information which could be of help). However, if you like looking at Gorillas, the occasional chimp or monkey and some Ugandan animals (such as the Kob, and the Forest Hog), I hope you enjoy the pictures! I had always wanted to see chimpanzees since reading Jane Goodall’s “In the Shadow of Man” as an A-Level Biology student (yes, it was a long time ago!). We had both always wanted to see Gorillas. We stayed 13 nights. All arrangements were through Discovery Initiatives (now taken over by Steppes) – all ground arrangements were by Volcanoes Safaris. We had a car/driver guide throughout the trip. We were picked up at Entebbe Airport and drove towards Fort Portal – on the way we saw some of the famous Ankole cattle with extraordinary horns. We went to the Ruwenzori Guest House (3 nights) to visit the Kibale Forest. This was a fairly basic guest house with charming hosts and wonderful food. Kibale Forest National Park is an evergreen forest. We visited the forest on 2 days to track chimpanzees. The light was difficult, and the chimps moved quickly as we tracked them through the forest with specialist Uganda Wildlife Authority guides. The chimps were incredibly noisy, screeching as they ran through the trees – it was exciting seeing them and being close to them as they went about their lives. (Though difficult to photograph!) Chimpanzees above us And around us And finally in peace... I believe it is now possible to have an "habituation" experience where you can spend all day with chimps - we would have done that if it was a vailable at that time!
  25. Uganda - gorillas and more (I had hoped) [Warning: This will be written up as time permits; and there's precious little of it] First Part Let me mention a wonderful side benefit of this safari: our preparations for Uganda and gorilla trekking (all those hours spent hiking up and down hills in HK) made us lose some weight that had stubbornly refused to budge for years. I left Uganda a while ago already (many more than 21 days and ebola free, not that I was concerned but so many people did ask). Three long haul business trips later, I am going to try and put some stuff down. As usual, I hope my information is useful for those who are thinking of doing something similar. I am again grateful to all those on SafariTalk who have written about their travels, and especially those who chipped in with such useful information when I wrote on the trip planning forum prior to going. To recap, here is my Uganda itinerary. Our 10 nights looked like this: (starting end-September and into early October 2014) Arrive at Entebbe Airport via Doha from HKG on Qatar Airways 1 Night at Serena Lake Victoria Hotel, Kampala Flight from Entebbe Airport to Kasese Airstrip 2 Nights at Kyambura Game Lodge, Queen Elizabeth National Park (about 1,100m above sea level) Road transfer from Kyambura Game Lodge to Bwindi 3 Nights at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (1,160 - 2,600m asl) - for 2 separate gorilla treks (being a masochist) Flight from Kihihi Airstrip to Kasese Airstrip 4 Nights Ndali Lodge, Kibale Forest National Park (1,100 - 1,600m asl) Flight from Kasese Airstrip to Entebbe Airport Leave Entebbe Airport, via Doha to HK on Qatar Airways Also to recap, these days we try to stay within a country for our safaris as we think all the border crossings really chew into our previous few safari days, especially when one factors in the hurry-up-and-wait times for usually inconveniently-scheduled flights and/or long long drives. First up, just a quick note about the Qatar lounge in Doha airport. They have a free flow of premium Bordeaux reds for those who are interested in such things. Downside? We arrive after an 8-hour flight from HK and it's 4:30am local time. Taste buds are shot. Not to mention red wine for breakfast is not a common pairing. Still we had a 3 hour layover before the Qatar flight to Entebbe and the Lounge was better than a poke in the eye :-) On arrival at Entebbe, two officials in protective garments make us all "wash/rinse" our hands in a bucket of bleach. All the usual signs are looked for (fever, etc). All this before we join the queues for immigration. All this is as much to reassure us tourists as it is to keep ebola out I think. Getting into Entebbe at 1:05pm meant that the daily scheduled flight out from Entebbe to Kasese airstrip would have already departed. This required an overnight, and we were booked into the "Lake Victoria Serena Resort Hotel ", just under an hour's drive from the airport. It's nice enough but there's nothing there. You get to see Lake Victoria in the distance but you can't get to it, the resort grounds being fenced off. We had an early dinner. We over ordered and had two fresh tilapia from the lake, done differently. I guess each fish must have been more than a kilo each. Those and couple of local beers set us back the grand sum of US$30. Wines are horrendously expensive in Uganda (for what they were). The morning pick up for the airport was at 6am, just as the restaurant opened for breakfast so we had to forget about that. The scheduled flight out of Entebbe was at 7:45am (Aerolink 111) and took us to Kasese or Mweya (I now forget which) Airstrip in Queen Elizabeth National Park. A word about the National Parks we visited in Uganda. They all have public roads cutting through them. So we have all sorts of traffic going through the Parks; cargo trucks, buses, mini-van buses/taxis, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians, ... and the odd elephant and buffalo. I now have the feeling that Mweya Safari Lodge is sort of like the centre of gravity for QENP safari drives. It brought to mind what Namutoni Camp was in Etosha in Namibia. The drive from Mweya to Kyambura Game Lodge takes an hour (if memory serves), with a dreadful part where there are so many potholes all the vehicles weave to avoid them and so it looks as if everyone is drunk. Kyambura Game Lodge is outside QENP, and the drive into any part of QENP for the animals takes at least 45 minutes (30 minutes of which is due to the drunken weaving pothole avoidance part). It's a smaller lodge than Mweya and generally pleasant but nothing to write home about. I could hear the sound of the big trucks on the public road well into the night, and starting up again in the early hours. So, even if they get around to filling in all those pot holes, there's still not a whole lot to recommend it. Following the advice that had been proffered on ST in the planning forum, we booked a private boat for the Kazinga Channel. All the boats seem to use Mweya (just down from the Mweya Safari Lodge) as their terminus. Maybe this is just for Mweya as the operator. For the record, I pre-booked and paid US$300 for my wife and I (they charge per person !) for the 2 of us in one of their smaller boats. The guy who "drove" went through his spiel, but I had the feeling it was a "by the numbers" recitation. We were enthusiastic enough with the birds, especially when we sighted and got really close to a Malachite kingfisher. Mweya Safari Lodge did provide us some "entertainment" for a couple of hours. There were enough birds flying around to keep us occupied prior to our boat ride. And their resident, habituated pack of Banded mongooses did not disappoint when they made an appearance just before we had to leave. QENP had lots of Ugandan Kobs, and the odd lion up a tree (we had two separate sightings of this). Other highlights were primates and birds not seen in southern Africa. The monkeys were a treat - but so often they were hard to shoot, having all that foliage to throw off the auto-focus. We spent 5 hours on the drive from Kyambura (QENP) to Bwindi, but that was because we had our share of stops. Highlights for us were our first Double-toothed barbet, an African crowned eagle and a pair of the national bird of Uganda, the Crested crane. A cute Blue monkey showed itself, as did a shy but even cuter Red-tailed monkey, which stayed a lot behind foliage. There was a lioness up a tree which we managed to get closer to than earlier in QENP. As usual (for us) it clambered down on the "wrong" side, behind the tree trunk. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp was a cut above Kyambura. Unluckily for them, a tour group had cancelled ("ebola") which meant that we shared the camp with another couple the first night but then had the run of the house the next two nights. This Camp is the one which is visited every so often by the so-called Rushegura gorilla troop. It is situated just a few minutes stroll away from the staging/starting point for the gorilla tracking. In this part of Bwindi, there are three habituated troops. For our first track, we (8 tourists per group) were assigned the "medium" distance Rushegura troop. This turned out to be a 2 hour 30 minute plus hike through the hills to get to them. As had been stressed so frequently, the porters are from the surrounding villages and this was a direct way for them to benefit from tourism. They have to take turns (not sure who gets to play god) and they do not get to do this every day for what is good income. The standard rate is US$15 per porter and we had two. Our camp mates had told us they tipped US$25 on top of that per porter. I thought this a bit rich, but I have to admit I paid that myself at the end of the day to the lady who was assigned to Jill. I saw her volunteering, asking the ranger's permission, and following us down to the gorillas to help us and others even as the other porters stayed behind at the pre-contact point (which is the norm). One note I'd make to others of you. I strongly suggest you convert US$ into Uganda Shillings for the porters (paid directly to the porters) and the expected tips for the rangers (goes into a tip box) at the end of the trek. Especially for the porters. The porters have to go to the only dude who is the money changer. (The nearest bank is hours away). While I do not know if this forex king is a shylock, the milk of human kindness may well not be flowing too strongly through his veins. I feel that it has to be better to give the porter the full amount in Ugandan Shillings (whether it be US$15 or US$40 equivalent) than to have another middleman take away yet another cut. For this first trek, Jill and I made it just fine in the 2 and some hours it took to get to the "pre-contact" point. Here is where we had to leave our hiking sticks (I highly recommend two each, as that really helps for any slippery downhill bits) and our water bottles, and take our own cameras from the porters. And this is where I got into trouble. I thought we were "around the corner" - so to speak - from the gorillas. It turned out it was another 15 minutes before we made contact (to be fair, the gorillas were not staying still), and mostly through thick foliage (slippery from dew/moisture) and downhill. I must have fallen three times on this part. And I was now sweating buckets, without replenishment. All of this did me in. Which really surprised me as I had not minded the hike at all. I felt like I had just been hit with (mild) altitude sickness. I stayed with the whole group (tourists) mostly, but the gorillas were quite spread out. They also continued feeding and moved quite a bit - through thick shrubbery, and out in the sun (for us). There were some good moments. One of them walked right past me (close enough to touch). On another occasion, another walked past behind me. Too many people, too close in, too much foliage. Jill couldn't get those shots of the close encounters. As it turned out, the photographic opportunities were limited. For comparison, we have three times as many photos on the trek the next day. After our hour (borne out by photo time stamps which say 11:05am first shot and 12:04 last shot of a gorilla) we hiked back. Fortunately, the movement of the gorillas meant that we could take a different, easier route back to the starting point. So instead of another 2.5 hours, we made it back in less than that (after we had stopped for our packed lunches of course). For the trek the next day, we were assigned the "easy" (nearest) troop - Mabare. We had an elderly gentleman of 78, who had not planned on assistance other than just a porter (or two). One can arrange to be carried (they assign 12 porters to the carry-team, rotating them in and out of the 4 actually hauling the chair, for a fee in the range of US$350 depending on weight and such I was told). While he looked like he could walk OK while we were at the level ground of the starting area, his advanced age was also pretty clear. So his was the pace for all of us. There was a feeling that he felt under pressure when he was with us (not sure why he would not have expected this), so our ranger/guide told his porters to walk ahead, with us following after giving him a good many minutes head start. When we inevitably caught up, we would see him being mostly pulled/pushed and almost mostly carried by his porters. So an easy hike became easier still as we were really slow. It turns out we got to the Mabare troop later than we had the harder-to-get-to Rushegura. Time stamp says 11:48 am for the first gorilla shot versus 11:05am. The Mabare were mostly settled in for the morning. The head honcho was eating underneath some bushes, and soon laid down for his siesta. But we were hugely entertained by their 10-month old baby. There was also a 2-week old who was mostly clasped close to mommy's body the whole time. Two little babies make for a lot of excitement amongst tourists of course. I had a 70-200/f2.8 on one camera body and a 50/1.4 on another body. Jill used the 24-120/f4 lens. This turned out to be the best lens for those circumstances. On the second trek, I left the 50/1.4 and just used the 70-200. And that's the two lenses we settled on (for the second gorilla trek as well as for both chimpanzee treks). For the first trek, I had the cameras and lenses dis-assembled and inside protective covers inside the backpacks. When we got to the pre-contact point, I assembled them. They worked fine. For the second trek, I had the two lenses attached to their camera bodies inside respective backpacks during the trek. This created a totally unexpected problem. For reasons which still escape me, the 24-120 lens got fogged up - at both ends - AFTER some minutes of shooting. On the front, this was behind the protective glass and could not be reached. On the back (the side you attach to the camera body), the lens was also fogged up - which I only discovered after I had had the camera & lens held out in the sun to help with evaporation. Once the front had dried up (which took too long), I then had to remove the lens from the camera and Jill held the lens back-side-up to the sun to help the fog evaporate. This took even longer. Jill had to waste lots of shooting time with the gorillas because of this. Thankfully, the 70-200 did not have this problem so I could continue shooting. [i thought I'd just post what I had so far. If I were to wait again for time to write more(the writing time had already been broken up enough), I might never get this in ...] More to come (I think)

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