As I grew up, I heard many people talking about Uganda being a beautiful and very attractive country that everyone’s vacation should be but I wasn’t so sure of what I had heard not until I visited this aesthetic country and I evidenced it by myself. It all started with me searching for a foremost tour agency in Uganda that would plan for me a perfect trip and it’s when I landed on Gorilla Photography.
Absolutely Gorilla Photography Safari was a perfect tour agency to work with right from the start. Its tour consultant, Moses, was very immediate in replying to my inquiries and above it all, he was a kind person. He helped me in designing the exact itinerary for my main interests in Uganda and Rwanda, which were tracking the endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and also viewing hippos – everything was just perfect and above my expectation!!
On my lively trip, I decided to let the agency cater for everything for me, and it really worked out flawlessly. So, I paid for everything to the tour agency, including; accommodation, food, petrol for the car, hired car, among others. Therefore, I just seated comfortably in the vehicle, on my arrival, and left everything to be done by my driver-guide who was now in charge of my entire trip. Below, takes a look at my unforgettable Uganda-Rwanda trip and how it generally went down up to its success fullness:
My first day (transfer to Murchison Falls National Park, break off at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary)
On my first day of the 11-days trip, I was transferred from Entebbe International Airport by my driver-guide, Emma, and the agency’s tour consultant, Moses, to whom I paid and cleared all the fees for my entire trip before we set off. After clearing all the trip fees that we had negotiated with the agency, we finally set off with my driver-guide in a 4X4 Toyota Prado (TX). We left Entebbe Airport at around 8:30am and headed to our first destination on the itinerary, Murchison Falls National Park.
On our way heading to Murchison Falls, we first cut our journey short at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and tracked the white rhinos there. I also found other tourists who were going to track the rhinos along with me and we really had a great time. The sanctuary is the only home for wild rhinos in Uganda and we were told, by the ranger, that the sanctuary started with only two rhinos but now there are 30 of them.
All these 30 rhinos have names and for our case, we managed to track and see four of them which included Obama, Hassan, Malaika and her son, Elvis. The animals were very huge and attractive that we were all left in a great amusement. We enjoyed the behaviors of them as Hassan wanted to mate with Malaika of which it seemed she wasn’t ready for that and Obama was also trying to defend/protect his sister (Malaika) to see that Hassan doesn’t do anything out of her wish. Observing the entire saga was just breathtaking and immediately everyone had to pull out his/her camera photos.
After tracking the rhinos, we returned back at Amuka Lodge’s restaurant for lunch which we had ordered before going for the tracking experience. Lunch at Amuka was really delicious.
Immediately after having lunch, Emma (driver-guide) drove me straight to the Park (Murchison Falls) and there are very many astonishing attractions that we passed-by, such as; River Kafu, and some bird species, among others. We accessed the Park via the Kichumbanyobo gate and drove for almost one and half hour to reach the ferry crossing spot, on the Nile River. On the way from Kichumbanyobo gate we spotted very many baboons, black and white Colobus, vervet monkeys, and various bird species – in the Budongo Forests.
I was unfortunate that we arrived in the Park late and I was not able to visit the top of the falls but actually I wasn’t all that bothered, after all that wasn’t what I mainly went for. We reached at the ferry crossing spot at about 15 minutes to 7pm and I was really glad that I was able to spot a hippo with its baby at the river banks, though it didn’t move out from water – which I eagerly wanted.
At exactly 7pm we crossed to proceed with our journey to the lodge. It was roughly a 5 minutes’ cruising on the Nile River to cross to Paraa where we drove for further 40 minutes to reach the lodge (Pakuba Safari Lodge) where I was destined to stay for my entire time in the Park. On the way, we also spotted some antelopes like the Ugandan Kob and Jackson’s Hartebeests.
We were warmly welcomed at the lodge and since we reached during the supper hours, I first checked in and then came back for supper at the lodge’s dining room. Supper was so delicious and after having it, I first stayed a bit at the reception center to enjoy the lodge’s free Wi-Fi. Sitting at the reception Centre, I spotted some animals which had visited the lodge’s compound, such as; water bucks, and warthogs. After this, I rushed to my room to have a shower and then slept curiously on what tomorrow could bring.
2nd day (game drive and boat cruise)
I woke up at exactly 6am and bathed as well as brushing my teeth and then headed to the dining room for breakfast. I found my driver-guide already there waiting for me, and at exactly 7am, after having breakfast, we went for a morning game drive on which we really spotted a variety of wildlife and bird life. Our first game drive sightings included; savannah elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, Kob, Jackson’s hartebeests, hippos, water bucks, warthogs. After the morning game drive, we drove back to the lodge and I went for swimming in the lodge’s elegant swimming pool to cool off the long day’s bumpy ride of the game drive. At a half past midday, we had lunch and then at 1pm we drove to Paraa for a boat cruise beneath the world’s greatest falls, Murchison Falls.
Emma drove me safely to where the boat cruises start from but before reaching there, he first broke off to Paraa Lodge to get the permit and after getting it, we then headed to the starting point. We cruised with the afternoon ferry (2pm) and by 4pm we were back with a lot of unfading memories as we had spotted a lot of animals, majorly hippos and the Nile crocodiles, which portrayed many amazing behaviors that we could not hold it from taking many pictures of them. The ferry we cruised on was called ‘’African Queen’’ which was generally comfortable for me, personally.
From the spectacular boat cruise on the Nile, we went ahead and did the evening game drive and it was here that I managed to spot lions and a shoe bill. We then went back to the lodge (Pakuba) for supper and overnight.
3rd day (morning game drive and transfer to Kibale National Park)
I woke up like the other usual mornings, had a bath and brushing my teeth then went to the dining room for breakfast before then setting off for a morning game drive. My main emphasis on this morning game drive in Murchison Falls National Park was to spot a shoe bill since though I had seen it earlier, it was very far from me and unfortunately the same happened still on this game drive – as I still saw it from a very longer distance.
But I actually didn’t get upset because I was first briefed by my guide that the Park wasn’t the best and recommended place for the bird and so I was just trying my luck, and since I had a very good camera, I managed to at least capture some good photos of it. I also saw many other animals that are so common in the Park and more of birds.
We then drove towards Paraa, at the ferry crossing, to proceed with the trip to the next destination – Kibale Forest National Park. We crossed at around 11am and then drove to Kibale but we first broke off for lunch at 2pm in Hoima town at Hoima Kolping Hotel. We then continued with the trip and accessed the Park via Kyenjojo and then Fort Portal, the largest town close to the Park.
It was almost 7pm when we reached Fort Portal, a very lively town in western Uganda, and from here I told Emma (driver-guide) to stop a little bit such that I can change some money to local currency (Ugandan Shillings). From here, we drove straight to the lodge which was booked for me, Isunga Lodge – this was less than a 40 minutes’ drive. We had supper immediately, with Emma, and then I went to sleep as Emma also did the same.
4th day (chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park)
I woke up as usually (bathing and brushing my teeth) and we had breakfast at 6am and then drove for less than 30 minutes to the Kanyanchu Visitor’s Centre, starting point for chimpanzee tracking trails, for briefing. We were grouped 6 individuals per tracking group and started the tracking session at around 8am. We walked for almost one and half hours to meet the chimpanzees and what I can say everything was very strange and new to me when I met these human-like creatures.
They are really amazing, absolutely impressive especially viewing their usual behaviors in their natural habitats, in the rain forests of Kibale. I couldn’t hesitate to take as many photos as I could as the chimpanzees were displaying their natural and amazing behaviors. We were also told that the Park is a home to 13 primates of which 9 of them are diurnal and the 4 are nocturnal.
In tracking the chimpanzees, we saw some of the Park’s other primates, such as; black and white Colobus, vervet monkeys, and olive baboons. After this, we then drove back to the lodge and on the way, we met a lot of olive baboons bossing in the middle of the road.
Since we reached late at the lodge, the previous day, and also left very early in the morning, it was really hard for me to see and notice the beauty of Isunga Lodge not after we came back from tracking the chimps and I actually saw how spectacular the setting of this lodge is! Isunga is situated on a hilly area offering breathtaking views of the rain forests of the Park. It was an amazing evening for me with the commanding views that Isunga Lodge offers. I had supper at around 8pm and then went to my room for the overnight.
5th day (transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park)
In this beautiful morning, I woke up and cleaned myself as always before going for breakfast which we had at 8:30am. At around 9:15am we left the lodge to head to the next destination, Queen Elizabeth National Park. As we were leaving Kibale to Queen Elizabeth, we broke off from the highway to a dirt road that saw us meet very many crater lakes on the way and many other attractions as we proceeded with our journey to Queen Elizabeth.
Before reaching to Queen Elizabeth, we cut the journey short at Kasese town for our lunch at Sand ton Hotel Kasese. And after having our lunch, we continued driving for further 50 minutes to reach the Park’s gate at Katungulu though before getting there we first broke at the Equator for some amazing experiment and then photos.
After that, we proceeded to the gate and Emma moved out of the car to make payments and then after we went for an evening game drive. On the game drive we spotted very many wildlife species, among them included; buffaloes, elephants, Kobs, water bucks, warthogs, and a variety of bird species.
We also drove down to the beautiful Kazinga Channel and there’s a very good vantage point for spotting the hippos where we spent like 40 minutes experiencing very many strange and amazing behaviors of the hippos. The hippos’ sounds as they communicate was so interesting and every time, they were opening their mouth widely (yawning) offering us with breathtaking views. We also visited many other hippo pools in the Park and it was definitely a very nice time for me.
After our game drive, we drove to the lodge for supper and overnight but on our way as we were exiting the Park we got some small inconvenience as our car got stuck in mud, since it was a rainy season, but lucky enough we were close to the gate thus my driver-guide called some immediate assistance from the nearby town, Katungulu.
Though my driver-guide really looked too bothered that I might be upset but it wasn’t actually the matter and instead it was another adventure for me personally, so I told him not to worry and of course I had also witnessed the situation and it wasn’t anyone’s fault for the car to get stuck in mud but it was because of the season I moved in, and some of the roads were really in a very bad situation.
Because of that minor issue that lasted for almost 40 minutes to get solved, we delayed to reach at the lodge that I was booked to stay at while in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mazike Lodge. It was almost 10 minutes to 9pm that we arrived at Mazike Lodge/Mazike Valley Lodge. We were warmly welcomed at the lodge, together with my driver-guide. I checked in then went for supper and after I went to rest after a long day that I had had.
6th day (Lion tracking and boat cruise)
I woke up like my other usual mornings on this trip, and I had breakfast at 6:30am and then after we set forth to enjoy the lion tracking (experimental) experience in Queen Elizabeth. It was a very fascinating experience – absolutely engrossing, as we saw many lions’ behaviors including; seeing them mating live – this was actually preoccupying to look at, wow!! We also saw many other animals more so the leopard which I hadn’t seen yet on this trip, I really felt so blessed, oh lord!! We left here at 10am and drove straight to Mweya sector of the Park to indulge in the astonishing boat cruises on the treasured Kazinga Channel, which is fully-packed with animals and birds.
On the way driving to Mweya, we met very many attractions that I at some spots used to tell Emma to stop a bit and I first enjoyed them, also took pictures and then advanced to the Mweya sector. We actually reached here before midday – therefore we had to first go for lunch. We had lunch at Tembo Restaurant. Here before food was ready, I got a lot of fun with the warthogs, regular visitors at the restaurant. After having lunch at the restaurant, we drove for only 5 minutes to Mweya Safari Lodge to get the boat permit and after, we drove for less than 10 minutes to arrive at the starting point of the boat cruise safaris at the Kazinga channel.
Actually, I reached there when the boat is waiting for only me. No sooner had I arrived at the boat, than the boat captain started the cruise safari at the beautiful Kazinga channel (it connects Lake Albert and Lake George) where we went on to spot very many hippos, and crocodiles as well as a herd of buffaloes and savannah elephants which had visited the banks mainly to drink water and chill. We really came back with a lot to be talked about with my driver-guide, everything was absolutely perfect and I could not hide it from my face that I was completely in an amusement. So, when my driver-guide looked at me, he just guessed it right that I had had a fantabulous excursion really. By the way, I went for an afternoon cruise and we were back at probably 5pm.
After here, we drove back to my lodge (Mazike Valley Lodge) but only interesting stories, mostly about the cruise, I was sharing with my driver-guide till when we reached – I was really glad that my guide was all that friendly and effervescent that I could share anything with him at any time I wished. We had supper at 8pm and then went to bed.
7th day (transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park via Ishasha)
We cleaned ourselves and then had breakfast at around 8am and after we had to set off to Bwindi immediately since we were to track in Rushaga sector, which is a bit far from Queen Elizabeth. We passed through Queen Elizabeth’s Ishasha sector to try our luck of spotting the unique and amazing tree climbing lions but we weren’t actually fortunate enough to see even one but that’s nature normally, you should only be hopeful but not guaranteed. My guide for sure tried his best to look for these tree climbing lions on almost every fig tree in the Ishasha sector but since we had traveled in the morning hours yet they are more common to spot in the noon hours, when it’s too hot, we missed them. But remember this wasn’t my main reason for this trip, even though I would surely be happy to spot them, but also, I didn’t get upset at all – instead I couldn’t just wait to trek the endangered mountain gorillas which I had much interest in.
After failing to see the tree climbing lions, we drove to the Ishasha River and the river was very charming, especially to me who was also very interested in hippos. The River is on the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo border and it is filled with hippos. Here I had a priceless time as well, viewing many hippo behaviors and more so their sounds were just adorable. From here we continued with our journey to Rushaga and on the way, still in Ishasha, we spotted very many antelopes like Topis, Ugandan Kobs, Impalas, and Waterbucks. We also spotted elephants as well and very many bird species.
We broke off at Ishasha Jungle Lodge’s restaurant to have lunch and then proceeded with our journey via the Kihihi village. Soon we accessed Bwindi via its northern sector (Buhoma) to Ruhija and then Rushaga and what welcomed us here (Bwindi) was the mist in the hills of the Park, this was just fantastic, absolutely picturesque!!! The scenery was so picture-perfect that I felt an impulse to reach for my camera and of course I took very many pictures, probably no one else will ever take them again – I really took them in abundance! For sure Uganda is such a beautiful country, and it’s here that I fully agreed with Winston Churchill to christen it as ‘the pearl of Africa’, it is surely a country with aesthetically pleasing landscapes, what a paradisiacal country Uganda is!!!
After taking photos, we proceeded to Rushaga Gorilla Camp – a lodge that was booked for me in Bwindi. One particular thing I noticed on this trip is that my tour agency knew how to select beautiful lodges because every place I stayed at had a stunning view, and this was definitely a compliment on my trip. We reached at the camp at 7:17pm and we were warmly welcomed. I had supper at 8pm together with my driver-guide and then after I went to my room for the overnight. The place was actually very cold but at least there was warm water for bathing.
8th day (gorilla tracking in Rushaga – Mucunguzi gorilla family and transfer to Rwanda)
We had breakfast at a half past six in the morning and after we drove to the Rushaga rangers briefing Banda’s with packed lunch from my lodge. Here we were first briefed about the activity (gorilla trekking) and then we were grouped 8 people and given the gorilla family each group was to track, and for my case I was put in a group which was meant to track the Mucunguzi gorilla family. After being given the gorilla family each group was to track, we then gathered together outside and we were asked if anyone of us would like to hire a porter and since I had hiked to the briefing Banda’s (just 8 minutes’ hike) and I sweated immediately and even felt tired, definitely I was the one to first raise up my hand even though I had told my driver-guide earlier that I will not need a porter thinking I was very fit and strong. In fact I told my driver-guide that porters should be put compulsory for whoever is to go for the trekking of gorillas and in turn he just laughed at me and with a smiley face, he replied that ‘‘you see, I told you it’s a difficult task’’. But anyway, I think I was also too weak because some of the members in my group didn’t hire porters but completed the trekking successfully.
We trekked Mucunguzi for almost 40 minutes before we met it. On meeting the family, I was really awed with the hugeness of the silverback (Mucunguzi), generally I was awestricken by the fantastic behaviors of this family. We saw almost all the members of this family which was so perfect for me though the silverback really failed to look straight to us at most of the times. I also got some problems with my camera but I was glad enough that I had moved with my phone fully charged, so I took most of the gorilla photos using my phone. We finished the entire activity at almost 10 minutes to midday and after here, we first passed-by Rushaga Gorilla Camp to pick up my wallet that I realized I had forgotten and after we proceeded with our next destination, Volcanoes National Park – Rwanda.
On our way heading to the Cyanika border (Uganda-Rwanda border), we met very many interesting things including; Mulehe River and spectacular quarries. From Rushaga, we drove like for an hour to reach Kisoro town, the last largest town in Uganda when heading to Rwanda, and from Kisoro we drove for only 10 kilometers (30 minutes’ drive) to reach Cyanika border. At the border, we moved out of the car to wash our hands and then after I paid US$ 30 for a Rwanda visa then we later proceeded after Emma also finished what he had to accomplish, the most unique thing here is that Rwanda they keep right well as Uganda they keep left and still Uganda is one hour ahead of Rwanda. We first drove to Musanze town to change some dollars to the Rwanda amafaranga (local currency) and after we drove to Kinigi, straight to the lodge that was booked for me in Volcanoes National Park, Le bamboue Gorilla Lodge. We reached at the lodge at 4pm, Rwandan time. We first had some coffee at the lodge as we waited for supper, which we had at 7:30pm and then rested as I was eagerly waiting for the sun to rise – next day.
9th day (gorilla trekking in Volcanoes – Muhoza family and transfer to Lake Bunyonyi)
After cleaning ourselves, we had breakfast at the lodge’s dining area and then went for briefings at Volcanoes National Park’s headquarters, passing via the Kwita Izina grounds – Kwita Izina is the naming ceremony of baby gorillas and the ceremony occurs annually in early September. Here we were first served a cup of coffee as we watched the documentaries on a very big flat screen TV – documentaries were mainly up to President Paul Kagame (Rwanda’s president) and Volcanoes National Park as well. After, we went for briefings and then grouped into 5 individuals per tracking group (as we were 10 people) and my gorilla family this time round was called Muhoza gorilla family.
We drove for some 15 minutes to reach the starting point for the gorilla trekking expeditions for Muhoza gorilla family. Here is where I hired a porter from and we tracked the gorilla family for almost an hour before we came into an eye contact with it. And yes, we finally met it and everything was just impressive, absolutely magnificent! My camera didn’t get any inconvenience like it did in Rushaga (Bwindi) and the gorilla trekking here was so superb! I experienced very many behaviors of this gorilla family and I could not yearn for more really. We saw many members in this gorilla family and they portrayed very many strange and amazing behaviors. I actually didn’t regret to do double gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda because I saw and experienced many things of these endangered mountain gorillas. I really witnessed that every amount of money that I paid for each particular place I went to was worth it. I was so, so happy after finishing the gorilla trek in both Uganda and Rwanda, I took many good pictures of the mountain gorillas – I took more than enough!
After the trek, probably I was the happiest person on earth that day. We went back to the lodge for lunch and then went back to Uganda (Lake Bunyonyi). We still stopped at Cyanika border before we crossed and as I did when heading to Rwanda, it’s the same I did when heading to Uganda – washed the hands and paid US$ 50 for a Uganda visa. At Lake Bunyonyi we stayed at Arcadia Lodges, and probably among the lodges I stayed at, on this trip, this one had the most spectacular view, so photogenic!! Here we were served supper at 7:30pm and then enjoyed some of the property’s free Wi-Fi and went to bed thereafter.
10th day (boat cruise on Lake Bunyonyi and transfer to Lake Mburo National Park)
I woke up at 8am then cleaned my body. After I joined my driver-guide in the dining room to have breakfast and at a half past 9am we drove to the starting point at Lake Bunyonyi for the boat cruise along Uganda’s deepest lake. Actually, I was the only one on the boat, maybe because it was an off season, and I really enjoyed the cruise. I was told the interesting history of this beautiful lake and indeed I learnt a lot about it. Some of the things I still remember include; the boat guide (George) told me that the lake measures 25 kilometers long and its width is 7 kilometers well as its depth is 900 meters – making it world’s 3rd deepest lake.
I was also told that the lake has 29 islands/islets with Bwama Island being the biggest. I visited the beautiful and peaceful Sharps Island (Sharp Island Gorilla Lodge) which was named after Leonard Sharps. There were documentaries showing who Leonard Sharps is and meant to the island of which I tried my level best to read through these documentaries and everything was just breathtaking! I was also told that the Sharps Island was volunteered by an Australian by names of Walter Inman. There were also interesting stories about the Upside-down Island and also the Punishment Island where young Bakiga girls who conceived before marriage were put and left to starve, it was really a very touching and shocking story though I was again so glad to know about it.
I saw very many birds, through which even the lake derives its name ‘’Bunyonyi’’ – which loosely mean ‘many birds’. We then cruised back and, on the way, we passed-by people crossing from one island to another using a zip line, which also looked fascinating. We finally cruised back and I really thanked the guide for the interesting stories he had told me about Lake Bunyonyi – for sure I was so impressed. Thereafter, Emma drove me back to the lodge (Arcadia Lodges) to have lunch and after having it, we then left for Lake Mburo National Park. To access the Park, we passed via Kasese to Mbarara and then Lyantonde town where the Park is nestled.
We accessed the Park via the Nshara gate where we reached at 3:52pm and of course we had to do the evening game drive where we spotted very many zebras, impalas, waterbucks, and Topis. We also visited some of the hippo pools and I was so fortunate that we spotted some hippos there, though my driver-guide had told me earlier that seeing them is not an easy thing unless on a boat cruise. I was also able to spot buffaloes, mongoose and a very huge python. Warthogs were also all over the place as well as Olive baboons. After the game drive, we drove to our lodge (Rwakobo Rock Safari Lodge) for check in and then supper as well as an overnight.
11th day (morning game drive, boat cruise and transfer to Entebbe Airport)
After all the happiness I got on this trip, it seemed to have come to an end on this day and I wasn’t happy at all after reflecting through the things I was going to miss in Uganda – sincerely I had become a wildlife addict and I was used to waking up with the only thing on my mind being going in the wild. It was really a pity but I had to accept it. However, before being transferred back to the airport, my day switched off with a morning game drive and what I can say, it was a perfect way for me to end my fantastic trip as I viewed a lot on this last day. Obviously, we saw all of the Park’s antelope species (impalas, bushbucks, elands, waterbucks, topi, and kobs). Since it’s the main attraction here, zebras were of course all over the Park. On this day we also saw many herds of buffaloes (including a newly born buffalo), warthogs, baboons and giraffes as well.
And my last day was really summed up perfectly especially when I had a close eye to eye contact with a hippo moving on the ground, this is by the way a very rare thing as hippos are always viewed relaxing in the waters, though of course they live on the ground as well. It really looks obvious for the hippos to be found moving on the ground but I assure you it wasn’t as you think, I only saw them on not more than two occasions despite meeting many of them in various places.
After a game drive, I went for a midday boat cruise and spotted a lot of crocodiles and hippos plus an abundance of birds. We came back from the boat cruise at 2pm and then I had to say ‘’bye-bye’’ to Uganda wildlife and birdlife, what a saddest moment of my magnificent trip! We drove back to the lodge to get our lunch and then after we drove back to the Airport but on our way heading to the airport, we cut the journey short at the Uganda Equator (Kayabwe) and I bought many souvenirs for my family. Afterwards, Emma drove me straight to the airport and we reached there at almost 9pm then I went for check in and waited for my flight at 11pm.
Hope you have enjoyed my trip and thanks for the time you have spent reading it. I really can’t wait to go back to this beautiful country with a great climate, vivacious people, and varied wildlife. I also encourage you to take your vacation to Uganda and spend it in the wild, I promise you will never stay the same and don’t expect any regrets – especially when you are a nature enthusiastic. Definitely this was my best vacation of all time besides having many and it’s from this trip that I made Uganda my favorite country and I assured my driver-guide (Emma) that I will soon be back till when I explore everything in this treasured country – Uganda. My tour agency I booked through ‘Gorilla Photography’ which I later came to know that it was under Nature Adventure Africa Safaris Limited was also a convenient agency for me that I didn’t get any interruptions in the entire trip. Everything was planned perfectly and the driver-guide was just fabulous for me. What an unforgettable trip this was!!!
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Author : admin
Publish date : 2020-01-13 09:31:27