Uganda advice?

Old Mar 31st 2007, 11:30 am
  #1  
Liz Leyden
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Uganda advice?

Hi -
Nothing's changed, I'm having to travel on my own, so need to join a
group, and must travel in July, when there isn't much on offer from
the established operators (other than e.g. Kuoni, Somak, Hayes &
Jarvis).
I've got one possibility to Uganda with a birding company [1] and
here's the itinerary. If anyone knows Uganda, please tell me what you
think and why (It's either yes or no, this is the set itinerary, I
can't change it):

Overnight flight to Entebbe arriving in the morning. All day birding
in the Botanical Gardens. Overnight Entebbe.

Day 2: Mantaba Swamp for a Shoebill search & other birds, overnight
Kampala

Day 3: travel to Mbarara, stopping enroute for birding with othher
chances to see Shoebill around Lake Victoria. Possibility to visit
eithr Mpanga Forest of Lake Mburo NP

Day 4: Travel to Bwindi, overnight Lake Kitandara tented camp.

Days 5 & 6: Two full days in Bwindi Inpenetrable NP. Option to do one
or two Gorilla treks.

Day 7-9: Drive to QENP via Inshasa. p.m. boat trip along Kazinga
channel. Also Kaseny Track and Maramagambo Forest. O/n Mweya Lodge.

Day 10: morning QENP; then via Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary to Kibale NP.
O/n Ndali Lodge

Day 11: Morning in Kibale NP, then to Semliki WR. O/n Semliki Safari
Lodge.

Days 12/13: Semliki WR & NR

Day 14: Transfer to Entebbe for Return evening flight.

[1] Although it's a birding company, their literature makes it plain
that their aim is not to charge around accumulating as many 'ticks' as
possible. I emailled them and they've assured me that their pace is
such as allows for photography. Besides, I'm interested in birds and
my World No 1 'Wish Bird' is Shoebill.

Please don't pimp your company here or by email: if it isn't
ABTA/ATOL, I won't even consider it. If you email me, I'll 'name and
shame' you on the group.

I don't want to travel on my own: I hardly drive at home far less
abroad and I have absolutely zero car maintenance/repair skills.

BTW:
Anyone know how much Swahili is spoken? The Teach Yourself book says
its widely spoken, but a Ugandan we met in Nairobi says they don't
like to speak it for historical reasons (which I've forgotten).
Meaning, should I start 'Teaching Myself' again (brain like a sieve)

Thanks and slainte

Liz

--
http://www.v-liz.com - Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Galapagos
Photo Gallery:
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Old Mar 31st 2007, 8:48 pm
  #2  
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Uganda advice?

Hi Liz

I think the itinerary sounds quite good. A hearty "YES" is my
recommendation.

My wife and I did a "self-drive" (with a driver/mechanic -- necessary
on those roads!) in 2005 that matched your proposed route quite
closely (but in reverse order). We had vehicle troubles, but nothing
fatal. (my 'trip report' is online, but not for the faint of heart:
http://afrikatourism.blogspot.com/20...ip-report.html)

The pace of your itinerary is also good -- not too rushed but also not
lingering too long.

Kibale is fantastic, for chimpanzees as well as birds. It's one of the
best places on Earth to see common chimps that isn't a sanctuary for
wounded/rescued animals. The guides we had were good. There are lovely
crater lakes in the area too, and the drive through the mountains (and
tea plantations) is lovely. See if you can get them to stop for local
chai along the road.

You'll have to decide how eager you are to spend 2 days tracking
gorillas in Bwindi. It's expensive and you're guaranteed to see them
(99.8% chance) on a one-day outing. On the other hand, there's little
else to do in Bwindi unless they give you an option of other guided
walks. The forest is pristine afro-montane forest that pre-dates the
last ice age, so it is FASCINATING (if you know what you're looking at
or have a guide to help). Sadly, few people bother to get to know it.
Ask the tour company or Lake Kitandara camp about the options. Of
course, you could do worse than 2 gorilla treks, given that you get 1
hour max with them.

QENP is worth the visit, particularly if you're on the channel.
There's better game viewing elsewhere in Africa, but QENP isn't bad by
any stretch. The infrastructure isn't up to some more mature "safari"
market standards, but it is adequate.

The botanical garden at Entebbe is tired but teeming with plants,
flush with birds and right on Lake Victoria. A lovely if sleepy and
poignant spot to spend a day. Good for the first day after arrival.

One thing you're likely to also spot are UN vehicles, blue helmets,
and Ugandan military, especially in Entebbe (the airport area) and
near Bwindi and up to QENP near the DRC border. Entebbe is a major
deployment site for the UN missions in the Kivu provinces of the DRC,
so there's a lot of overland transport of gear and materiel. The
Ugandan military is also out there to keep any adventuring ideas among
the various armed DRC factions contained in the DRC. They haven't had
a problem, but they also don't intend to -- tourism is too vital for
them to take any chances of scaring off the foreigners who drop $500 a
day (or whatever the permits cost now) each to see a few gorillas!

Re: swahili, it is widely spoken, but the lingua franca is Luganda in
the region you'll be in, and rudimentary English is commonly spoken by
people with more than a few years' education. The history of Swahili
in the region is complex -- British colonial authorities, Arab slaving
routes, Indian merchants, Ugandan exiled elites and the highly
educated versus the rural poor are all dimensions from what I can make
of it. I don't believe it's as highly charged an issue for foreign
(white?) folks (called 'mdzungus' -- get used to hearing it).

HTH

Kurt

--
afrikatourism.blogspot.com
 
Old Mar 31st 2007, 9:13 pm
  #3  
-Jan
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Uganda advice?

Liz Leyden <[email protected]> wrote in
news:[email protected]:

> Hi -
> Nothing's changed, I'm having to travel on my own, so need to join a
> group, and must travel in July, when there isn't much on offer from
> the established operators (other than e.g. Kuoni, Somak, Hayes &
> Jarvis).
> I've got one possibility to Uganda with a birding company [1] and
> here's the itinerary. If anyone knows Uganda, please tell me what you
> think and why (It's either yes or no, this is the set itinerary, I
> can't change it):

> BTW:
> Anyone know how much Swahili is spoken? The Teach Yourself book says
> its widely spoken, but a Ugandan we met in Nairobi says they don't
> like to speak it for historical reasons (which I've forgotten).
> Meaning, should I start 'Teaching Myself' again (brain like a sieve)
>
> Thanks and slainte
>
> Liz
>

I did a trip (with a group) in june 2004.


The group got local tourleaders. One of them spoke Swahili, the other
didn't.
I would guess Swahili is not spoken widely, may be it's more near Rwanda.

For birds, there is a nice walk near (15 minutes driving) Kibale forest
(Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary). It helps also the local community.
This walk is famous for the great blue turaco. Red colobus monkeys are
also seen there.

In the southern part of the QENP there are tree climbing lions, but this
part wasn't considered safe in 2004.

If you have a permit to see the gorillas there is no real need to stay 2
days, but may be the group is too big to have all members on the same
gorilla trek.
I almost missed the gorillas because there were elephants too close.

Murchison Falls is missing in your trip. Here we saw 2 shoebill storks,
but none of them close.
A trip report is online (but it's in dutch.. But the pictures give an
impression):
http://www.familie-aarts.com/jan/ug/html/index.htm

Uganda was one of the greatest wildlife trips I was one, but be prepared
when you visit QENP, the number of wildlife is less then in Kenya (too
much hunting). On the other side, we saw a lepard here lying in the grass
at a few meters.

Jan
 
Old Apr 1st 2007, 2:31 am
  #4  
Corn
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Uganda advice?

> Anyone know how much Swahili is spoken? The Teach Yourself book says
> its widely spoken, but a Ugandan we met in Nairobi says they don't
> like to speak it for historical reasons (which I've forgotten).
> Meaning, should I start 'Teaching Myself' again (brain like a sieve)
>

Hi Lizzie,

do not travel with Habari (heard a lot of negative stories). Swahili is
widely spoken in East Africa, but in Uganda (in the bigger cities) you can
also try.. English!

Good luck and... slainte.

Corné.

www.amukela.com
 
Old Apr 1st 2007, 4:16 pm
  #5  
Scott Elliot
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Uganda advice?

Liz,

My wife and I visited my daughter in August 2006 when she was working in
Uganda. We did a similar trip, but the other way round. You mentioned
Ishasha, but seemed to just pass by. That is one place where we did not
leave ourselves enough time because we had to get to Bwindi for our gorilla
trek reservations.

As Jan mentioned, Murchison Falls is another worthwhile park, both for birds
and game. It is only a day's drive north of Kibale Forest.

Most of the people we talked to spoke English, but my daughter arranged for
a driver who supplied his own car and picked a man who had good English
skills. The cost was quite reasonable, but I don't know how you would
arrange that type of trip without a local contact.

We found the people to be very friendly and had no real problems.

It is too bad you don't have time for a trip to eastern Uganda as well.
There are some great rapids on the Victoria Nile north of Jinja with some
running water bird species. The area around Mt. Elgon seems to be another
ecosystem as well. There are some very beautiful waterfalls in the area.

Here is a site with some of my pictures from Uganda if you are interested:

http://www.pbase.com/selliotca/uganda_2006

Scott
"Liz Leyden" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> Hi -
> Nothing's changed, I'm having to travel on my own, so need to join a
> group, and must travel in July, when there isn't much on offer from
> the established operators (other than e.g. Kuoni, Somak, Hayes &
> Jarvis).
> I've got one possibility to Uganda with a birding company [1] and
> here's the itinerary. If anyone knows Uganda, please tell me what you
> think and why (It's either yes or no, this is the set itinerary, I
> can't change it):
>
> Overnight flight to Entebbe arriving in the morning. All day birding
> in the Botanical Gardens. Overnight Entebbe.
>
> Day 2: Mantaba Swamp for a Shoebill search & other birds, overnight
> Kampala
>
> Day 3: travel to Mbarara, stopping enroute for birding with othher
> chances to see Shoebill around Lake Victoria. Possibility to visit
> eithr Mpanga Forest of Lake Mburo NP
>
> Day 4: Travel to Bwindi, overnight Lake Kitandara tented camp.
>
> Days 5 & 6: Two full days in Bwindi Inpenetrable NP. Option to do one
> or two Gorilla treks.
>
> Day 7-9: Drive to QENP via Inshasa. p.m. boat trip along Kazinga
> channel. Also Kaseny Track and Maramagambo Forest. O/n Mweya Lodge.
>
> Day 10: morning QENP; then via Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary to Kibale NP.
> O/n Ndali Lodge
>
> Day 11: Morning in Kibale NP, then to Semliki WR. O/n Semliki Safari
> Lodge.
>
> Days 12/13: Semliki WR & NR
>
> Day 14: Transfer to Entebbe for Return evening flight.
>
> [1] Although it's a birding company, their literature makes it plain
> that their aim is not to charge around accumulating as many 'ticks' as
> possible. I emailled them and they've assured me that their pace is
> such as allows for photography. Besides, I'm interested in birds and
> my World No 1 'Wish Bird' is Shoebill.
>
> Please don't pimp your company here or by email: if it isn't
> ABTA/ATOL, I won't even consider it. If you email me, I'll 'name and
> shame' you on the group.
>
> I don't want to travel on my own: I hardly drive at home far less
> abroad and I have absolutely zero car maintenance/repair skills.
>
> BTW:
> Anyone know how much Swahili is spoken? The Teach Yourself book says
> its widely spoken, but a Ugandan we met in Nairobi says they don't
> like to speak it for historical reasons (which I've forgotten).
> Meaning, should I start 'Teaching Myself' again (brain like a sieve)
>
> Thanks and slainte
>
> Liz
>
> --
> http://www.v-liz.com - Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Galapagos
> Photo Gallery:
> http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/g...?memberID5111
>
 
Old Apr 2nd 2007, 11:42 am
  #6  
Liz Leyden
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Uganda advice?

Thanks to everyone for chipping in.
Looks like a good itinerary. :-)

In message <Ds%Ph.31144$x9.10988@edtnps89>
"Scott Elliot" <[email protected]> wrote:

> Liz,
>
> My wife and I visited my daughter in August 2006 when she was working in
> Uganda. We did a similar trip, but the other way round. You mentioned
> Ishasha, but seemed to just pass by. That is one place where we did not
> leave ourselves enough time because we had to get to Bwindi for our gorilla
> trek reservations.
>
> As Jan mentioned, Murchison Falls is another worthwhile park, both for birds
> and game. It is only a day's drive north of Kibale Forest.
On a 'set' trip, I won't have any option.
>
> Most of the people we talked to spoke English, but my daughter arranged for
> a driver who supplied his own car and picked a man who had good English
> skills. The cost was quite reasonable, but I don't know how you would
> arrange that type of trip without a local contact.
There are lots of UK companies who can arrange tailor-mades, but I'm
travelling on my own, which would make it very expensive, especially
in peak season and with single supplements.
>
> We found the people to be very friendly and had no real problems.
>
> It is too bad you don't have time for a trip to eastern Uganda as well.
> There are some great rapids on the Victoria Nile north of Jinja with some
> running water bird species. The area around Mt. Elgon seems to be another
> ecosystem as well. There are some very beautiful waterfalls in the area.
Oh, I've got the time OK, I've got over 6 weeks, but no-one to travel
with. My husband doesn't want to go anywhere and no-one else wants to
pay the price hike to travel in July.


I checked out the sites mentioned in this thread and it all looks
good.
I'll have one last chance at twisting D's arm, but I don't think that
will work.

Since I notice that the itinerary says 'optional gorilla trek', I will
email them tomorrow asking if they can definitely get permits - this
is quite short notice for peak season. I know there are only a certain
number issued each day. I also know that they won't let you go if
you've got a cold or anything worse so you can sometimes get a
returned permit on the day, but I wouldn't want to go without a
definite permit (Just my luck if I had a late 'summer cold').
If not, they have a trip to Namibia on exactly the same dates, which
only has some of the places I've been before on it.

Slainte & thanks again to all.

Liz

--
http://www.v-liz.com - Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Galapagos
Photo Gallery:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/g...?memberID5111
 

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