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Uganda - Gorillas in the Mist (18 Feb 2022 departure)
Post: #1
This was certainly a holiday of a lifetime! Uganda is a great country - varied scenery, amazing wildlife, and such friendly people!

We were a small group - just seven of us plus our extremely approachable and efficient Tour Manager, Damien - and from the time we arrived in Entebbe until drop-off for our return flights we had two vehicles (with roofs that opened for wildlife viewing) and driver/guides (Tony and Africano from Speke Uganda Travel). These guys had eyes like hawks, and could spot and identify wildlife even while driving!

I loved the different hotels/lodges we stayed in (looks like one change for the rest of this year’s departures - we stayed at Turaco Treetops and not Mountains of the Moon in Kibale). All had friendly and helpful staff and very comfortable beds! 

The advance information from JY was detailed and informative with regard to visas, covid testing requirements, and clothing/equipment necessary for the trip, etc.

It’s so hard to choose my highlights, but it has to be the chimpanzee and gorilla tracking. We were lucky that conditions were relatively dry. (We had one very wet afternoon after the chimp tracking and Tinka’s homestead when we had to abandon a walk in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.) 

I’d say the chimp tracking wasn’t too difficult - despite several of the group stumbling - but have to admit I was extremely worried about how I’d cope with the potentially longer and more difficult terrain of the gorilla tracking. My worries were compounded when I fell (tripped over a ‘Caution - Slippery Surface’ sign!) after breakfast the previous day and hurt my knee. By the time we arrived at Silverback Lodge I could barely walk and had decided I’d have to opt out. However, the lovely lodge manager went to the local pharmacy to get gel and a crepe bandage for me - and wouldn’t accept payment! - and those - plus lots of painkillers - meant that the following morning I decided to give it a try.

As there were just eight of us it had been agreed that we’d be in our own tracking group and aim for one of the closer groups identified by the spotters/rangers and we each hired our own porter (essential!). We had ‘entertainment’ plus a briefing at the park HQ before being transported by our drivers to the start point to meet our porters - and to learn that the group we would track was on the move! We set off and tramped for maybe a couple of hours before finally catching up with the group. My bad knee made it incredibly hard, and there’s no way I could have done it without my porter (and sometimes one or more of the others too!) and the amazing support and encouragement I had from the rest of our group. It was worth the agony - I’ve never been so knackered, or hurt so much! - to spend the hour allowed watching the antics of the gorilla group, before heading out of the forest to be met by our drivers to transport us to that night’s accommodation.

Unfortunately we didn’t manage to see any tree-climbing lions, but I did see many animals new to me in the wild - my third highlight has to be the distant leopard resting high up in a tree in QENP!

Overall the holiday was well balanced - tracking interspersed with more leisurely game drives and the two very relaxing wildlife cruises at Murchison Falls and QENP, plus the opportunities to learn more about local life - and Uganda is certainly a country I’d love to revisit!

I’d be happy to (try to!) answer any questions anyone going on future departures of this trip would like to ask and attach the link to the photo book I’ve made of my holiday if you’re interested: https://www.bonusprint.co.uk/view-online...4204a5f150
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Post: #2
(13/03/2022, 01:45 PM)SharonT Wrote: This was certainly a holiday of a lifetime! Uganda is a great country - varied scenery, amazing wildlife, and such friendly people!

We were a small group - just seven of us plus our extremely approachable and efficient Tour Manager, Damien - and from the time we arrived in Entebbe until drop-off for our return flights we had two vehicles (with roofs that opened for wildlife viewing) and driver/guides (Tony and Africano from Speke Uganda Travel). These guys had eyes like hawks, and could spot and identify wildlife even while driving!

I loved the different hotels/lodges we stayed in (looks like one change for the rest of this year’s departures - we stayed at Turaco Treetops and not Mountains of the Moon in Kibale). All had friendly and helpful staff and very comfortable beds! 

The advance information from JY was detailed and informative with regard to visas, covid testing requirements, and clothing/equipment necessary for the trip, etc.

It’s so hard to choose my highlights, but it has to be the chimpanzee and gorilla tracking. We were lucky that conditions were relatively dry. (We had one very wet afternoon after the chimp tracking and Tinka’s homestead when we had to abandon a walk in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.) 

I’d say the chimp tracking wasn’t too difficult - despite several of the group stumbling - but have to admit I was extremely worried about how I’d cope with the potentially longer and more difficult terrain of the gorilla tracking. My worries were compounded when I fell (tripped over a ‘Caution - Slippery Surface’ sign!) after breakfast the previous day and hurt my knee. By the time we arrived at Silverback Lodge I could barely walk and had decided I’d have to opt out. However, the lovely lodge manager went to the local pharmacy to get gel and a crepe bandage for me - and wouldn’t accept payment! - and those - plus lots of painkillers - meant that the following morning I decided to give it a try.

As there were just eight of us it had been agreed that we’d be in our own tracking group and aim for one of the closer groups identified by the spotters/rangers and we each hired our own porter (essential!). We had ‘entertainment’ plus a briefing at the park HQ before being transported by our drivers to the start point to meet our porters - and to learn that the group we would track was on the move! We set off and tramped for maybe a couple of hours before finally catching up with the group. My bad knee made it incredibly hard, and there’s no way I could have done it without my porter (and sometimes one or more of the others too!) and the amazing support and encouragement I had from the rest of our group. It was worth the agony - I’ve never been so knackered, or hurt so much! - to spend the hour allowed watching the antics of the gorilla group, before heading out of the forest to be met by our drivers to transport us to that night’s accommodation.

Unfortunately we didn’t manage to see any tree-climbing lions, but I did see many animals new to me in the wild - my third highlight has to be the distant leopard resting high up in a tree in QENP!

Overall the holiday was well balanced - tracking interspersed with more leisurely game drives and the two very relaxing wildlife cruises at Murchison Falls and QENP, plus the opportunities to learn more about local life - and Uganda is certainly a country I’d love to revisit!

I’d be happy to (try to!) answer any questions anyone going on future departures of this trip would like to ask and attach the link to the photo book I’ve made of my holiday if you’re interested: https://www.bonusprint.co.uk/view-online...4204a5f150
A great review Sharon. The photos in your photobook together with your comments told the story of your trip very well. Sorry to read about your other trip but you still managed to trek to see the gorillas. I am tempted to put Uganda  on my wish list but have been put off by trekking through impenetrable jungle for hours to see the gorillas.
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Post: #3
Hi Sharon
Your photo book is amazing, it tells a wonderful story of your amazing trip. Thank you very much for sharing it.
Rose x
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Post: #4
Hello Sharon

Thank you very much for posting the review and also the link to your photobook. Truly amazing. I can't wait for June and hope we too see the gorillas within a couple of hours' trek.

Kind regards

Jaya
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Post: #5
(15/03/2022, 12:27 PM)Jaya Wrote: Hello Sharon

Thank you very much for posting the review and also the link to your photobook.  Truly amazing.  I can't wait for June and hope we too see the gorillas within a couple of hours' trek.

Kind regards

Jaya

Hi Jaya!

I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time too! There’s a maximum of 8 participants in each gorilla tracking group (not including porters, ranger, guard) so we were just the right size. Our local guides from Speke appeared to have a very good relationship with the NP staff and already knew our (lack of?) abilities by then, and it was them that ensured we weren’t split up and were able to track a close(ish!) group. I guess it depends how many are on your tour and age range/abilities - we were on the oldish side, mostly in our 60s (I’m 69, and was the second oldest) - but I’d have been fine without my painful knee!!
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Post: #6
Thanks for a wonderful review. Really enjoyed hearing about your adventures and especially seeing the beautiful pictures!
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Post: #7
Hi Sharon

thanks so much for posting your review.
And your photo book is a great read/look through.
It certainly gives an excellent insight into the tour as a whole.
My anticipation is getting even more eager now !

Perhaps you could help with a couple of queries I have ..?
Have you any advice re currency requirements (shillings & dollars) ?
Also, covid protocols are continually changing, as we know, and hopefully come June things will be even more straightforward. I was wondering, though, what was needed on your trip re negotiating Heathrow/Dubai/Entebbe ?

Thanks once again

Regards,
Roger
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Post: #8
Thanks for the review Sharon, sounds like you had a brilliant time.
I'm going in June and the countdown has really begun now.
Paula
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Post: #9
Hi Sharon

many thanks for your wonderful review and i must say i really cannot wait more than ever now for our trip in June and very well done to you in completing your trek to see the Gorillas despite your unfortunate accident the previous day and a great deal of appreciation to all those that helped you get through it, on reading Mike W's post he did mention of the dangers of trekking in Kibale forest in his write up so hopefully we'll all get there

loved that book you did and reading your story, was a wonderful presentation so thank you for that

just a couple of questions: regarding the gorilla trek what did people wear basically, ie: gaiters for your trousers did many have these on though i have purchased a pair anyway so shall use them, garden gloves to fight off the terrain, waterproofs etc

and my other question how close to the gorillas/chimpanzees, just wondering which camera to bring, i have my 60xzoom bridge camera or my smaller 30xzoom Lumix although i'll prob take both on the trip but if i could leave my bulkier bridge camera behind for the Gorillas this would save a bit of space in my bag and yes i will be hiring a porter, sorry you didn't see any tree climbing lions but at least you get a Leopard

Thank you very much and hope your knee has fully recovered

Best Regards

Dave
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Post: #10
Hello Sharon, just wanted to say thank you for sharing your album of all the animals you have seen on your adventure holiday, looks amazing and such wonderful memories. I wish I did something like this when I was younger as I don’t think I could cope with all the trekking and changes in lodging. I’m glad you had such a wonderful holiday with a small group.
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