Eid is a time of celebration in the Middle East and is a public holiday across the region. Many expats use Eid as a chance to get away, especially when Eid is in the summer. Private sector workers tend to get three days public holiday while governmental workers get five days so it is the perfect chance to take a break and escape the Middle East summer. Here are the perfect Eid escapes all under five hours flight from the Middle East and reachable by a direct flight. Here my favourite Middle East bloggers and me tell you the perfect Eid escapes! Continue reading Eid Escapes from the Middle East in under 5 hours
One of the things that excited me most about moving to Qatar was the travel opportunities it would afford us! By living in Qatar a whole new world of holiday destinations from Doha opened up to us! Long haul was now short haul and vice versa! In the three and a half years we have been living here we have been using every opportunity we could to try new holiday destinations from Doha. So here is Qatar’s Travel menu from short haul to long haul options and the most memorable travel opportunity we had! Continue reading Holiday Destinations from Doha aka Qatar’s Travel menu
Ahead of our trip, one of our greatest concerns was having the appropriate clothing. Those of you that have read my earlier posts, know that as we arrived in Uganda, we lost one of our pieces of luggage. Through this experience though I feel I have learnt a valuable lesson about what clothes are needed for this type of trip, especially if you have limited baggage. So here are my top tips for what to wear gorilla trekking and chimp trekking in Uganda and Rwanda Continue reading What to wear gorilla trekking and chimp trekking in Uganda and Rwanda
Located on the edge of the queen Elizabeth national park, the kyambura gorge lodge is in an enviable location. From there it is only a few minutes drive to the gorge itself where you can see a fascinating and unique group of chimps. These chimps are comepletely isolated from other groups, like no other in Uganda. You can read about our experience and find out why here
It is also a great point to jump off to see the park either by car or boat down the kazinga channel. You can read about our experience here
But the grounds itself are also very interesting. One of my favourite things was walking with Francis in the lodge birdwatching and finding out about local flora and fauna. Our guide was really knowledgeable and I particularly enjoyed finding out about plants relating to treatments and remedies they for malaria. We also got to see some amazing animals on our hike like this blue lizard.
If it wasn’t such an activity filled area I would have been happy to spend make time in the lodge itself. The lodges are separate so you have total tranquility and privacy. My particular favorite spot was the balcony where I enjoyed sitting watching animals on the other side of the gorge.
The lodge also had An amazing pool which given we went in off season was a private pool.
For me when doing such vigorous activities such as chimp trekking you want to come back to complete relaxation. On top of the amazingly comfortable bedrooms, which were all beautifully decorated, the lodge offers daily complementary massages which are amazing after long hikes.
If you want complete relaxation in and around queen Elizabeth national park then kyamabura gorge is the place for you!
This hotel also features in Top Ten Things That Make a Luxury Hotel Luxurious
For most people, trekking to see gorillas and chimps in Uganda is a once in a lifetime experience and you want to come home with a plethora of memorable shots to show your family and friends. But what is the best way of getting these snaps?
Sometimes you visit somewhere where you wish you could stay longer. This was the feeling we had when we left Ndali Lodge in the Rwenzori Mountains. Continue reading Ndali Lodge Review – Luxury in the Rwenzori Mountains
Our two chimp trekking experiences in Uganda could not have been more different.
For the up close and personal encounter we got in Kibale National Forest, with the Beta asserting his dominance and naturally interacting with humans, The experience at Kyambura Gorge, was a far more distant experience but in many ways a more natural in my opinion.
You arrive at the visitors centre in Queen Elizabeths National Park and then drive in small groups to the site where you will be entering the gorge. Now I am going to admit I am not the most surefooted hiker but even so the hike was difficult. I definitely needed a my hiking stick (For those who are interested, you might want to read our guide to what to wear for gorilla and chimp trekking).
As you descended into the Gorge, you really feel like you are descending into nature and a less sanitised experience (though the chimps at Kibale are wild, you can tell the are more used to seeing humans).
There was no guarantee down in the Gorge that you would actually get to see the chimps. The Gorge is a large area that the chimps move through, and the Gorge is split into areas by rivers, which are filled with hippos and you can also easily stumble across other wildlife while down there which means you may have to chose another route sharpish! This happened to us on two occasions. The first we found a male elephant on our path and quickly had to retreat. The second, a fresh lions footprint caused another retreat. It was both exhilarating and also slightly terrifying but the Rangers were excellent and carried weapons to scare any animals away. Our rangers told us that in all their years they had never had to fire their guns!
Down in the Gorge we came across two unexpected – the first was a 40 foot spiders web (the picture doesn’t do it justice). Not a place for arachnophobics!
The second was an elephant graveyard. It felt like we had stumbled into the real life Lion King!
Now, our trek hampered by stray elephants and lions, was further exacerbated by a constant rainfall. The perils of going to Uganda in the wet season and we were giving up hope of actually seeing the chimps here.
As we were about to give up, we noticed a flash of fur in the distance. The only problem, there was a river between us and them. Our guides were undeterred and managed to get us across the rapidly rising river, but had concerns about whether we would get back.
It was worth the perilous crossing. We got five minutes to watch the chimps at a distance – they had placed themselves on a small island in the middle of another river but we got to watch them swinging front the trees. In many ways I am glad we couldn’t get closer. The Kyambura Gorge chimps are cut off from both chimps and human contact so it felt like we were;t intruding in their space. I also feel really privileged to see these chimps as they won’t stay this way forever. There are great concerns over the chimps at Kyambura Gorge as if they don’t make contact with other groups, there will be issues related to inbreeding. However, these chimps have been cut off for so long, if other chimps were introduced into this area, the Kyambura Gorge chimps would be unlikely be able to compete. I feel really privileged to have had this experience.
Our joy at this experience, was soon replaced by slight fear as we realised the river had risen even more rapidly wile we had been watching. There was a great hurry to get back. Wandermust Daddy ended up wearing the female rangers wellington boots, which were about seven sizes too small while I was carried over by the male ranger. It was an exciting way to end the day.
Most people who go to Uganda go to see chimps and gorillas, not realising the amount of biodiversity in the country. Now I will be honest, I have never been a bird watcher but one thing about Uganda is that if you didn’t arrive a bird watcher you will definitely leave one!
The swamp walk was billed as a great opportunity to see an array of Ugandan birds. Unfortunately for us, we only got to go in the afternoon. Now as any experienced birder will tell you, the best time to see birds is in the morning. Even by going in the afternoon though we still managed to still a lot.
On top of that we got to see pretty much every primate (barring gorillas and chimps) in our one walk. Uganda is home to so many types of primates including the black and white colobus, the red tailed monkey and baboons to name just a few. We managed to see them all on our swamp walk.
There was also a great opportunity to see how people in the rural communities live.
The walk, on the whole was like a gentle stroll through the park, however the swamp lived up to its name and as we passed the half way mark we discovered that the boardwalk that was there in the morning was no longer there in the afternoon. The perils of travelling in the wet season!
We didn’t do a very good job of fixing it however and Wandermust Daddy ended up in the swamp!
Perhaps my favourite part of the walk was going up into a hide and having an opportunity to sit and watch the wildlife in silence.
Overall, if I were to do this again, I would probably go in the morning but it really was an unforgettable experience
Chimps are psychopaths! There I’ve said it. Aggressive, loud psychopaths! That was the impression I came away from Kibale National Park with. Now, don’t get me wrong – I loved the experience! It was truly magical and one of the rawest natural encounters I have ever had but it doesn’t change the fact that chimps are like the Jason Statham’s of the animal kingdom (well his movie characters anyway)!
We did two chimp treks while we were in Uganda. One in Kibale National Park and one at Kyambura Gorge, both in Uganda. It amazed me how different the two experiences were.
Kibale National Forest Chimp Trekking
The first trek was at Kibale National Forest. We arrived in the morning, and were promptly split into small groups by the Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger. In the initial briefing we were told about how to behave around chimps, to observe distance rules and that we would only be spending an hour with the chimps once we had found them. Our groups then set off!
The trek here was actually pretty easy, inclines weren’t overly steep and the undergrowth not too troublesome to get through. Completely different to our experience in our second chimp trek and gorilla trek.
It took us about an hour to find the chimps. At first you couldn’t see them but the sound of the chimps is a haunting and unforgettable noise. The noise of chimps screams filled the air so even though you couldn’t see them you knew you were surrounded!
Then all of a sudden a flash of fur was seen in the undergrowth and off we ran. I can’t tell you how many logs and fallen trees we jumped over as we ran in the direction of the chimp.
Then we found him! We were told he was the Beta of the Group, the alpha keeping himself up in the trees. You could tell he had become moderately accustomed to human presence. We stayed at the regulated distance but he came very close to us. On one occasion he hit both me and another lady in our group, expressing his dominance. He did not however like Wandermust Daddy, and he ran ever time Wandermust Daddy was near.
It was great that we were able to get so close and he allowed us to get some great shots. We have some great tips here on how to take amazing photographs while gorilla and chimp trekking.
The next group we found, was a group of three females, grooming themselves in the undergrowth. This was a really special experience to watch and far more peaceful than our interaction with the males
It was amazing how quickly the time with the chimps went and we had a pleasant hike through back through the forest.
Our next experience of the Chimps was at Kyambura Gorge. Click here to read part 2 in our chimp trekking series.
When you think of safari, you think of open topped jeeps driving through the vast expanse of wilderness. I had never even considering taking a safari by boat until it was suggested for us to do in Uganda.
The Kazinga Channel. This is the channel that links Lake George and Lake Edward and runs through the Queen Elizabeth National Park
Why You Should Do it?
I had never really considered the benefits to this type of safari until we actually did it. Being on a boat offers a unique perspective to other types of safari.
Firstly it allows you to get up close and personal to many animals that for safety reasons you couldn’t do in other mdoes of transport. One of our favourites was getting to see Hippos really close. Hippos are really dangerous on both land and in water so having a sturdy boat was the only way in which to get close. We saw entire herds of them and even saw a baby out of the water!
Other than hippos, we also saw crocodiles, elephants, water buffalo and wart hogs.
But perhaps one of the best bits was the ability to bird watch from the boat. As you can see from this picture, the variety of birds you see here is pretty unbeatable.
Some birds have their nests in the muddy embankments of the channel, a view that would have been impossible to see if not by boat!
Another great aspect of the boat trip was getting to understand more about the local life and social history. As the sunset over the Kazinga Channel we sailed alongside boats full of men going out to fish. It was humbling to see how people live.
It also gave an interesting perspective on how animals and humans coexist. The guide here told us about the villages that remain inside of the national park and how the Ugandan Wildlife Authority are trying to make it so these villages thrive off tourism more than poaching.
This is my favourite picture showing how the villagers and wildlife coexist.
Have you ever been on a water safari? I would love to hear your experiences.
This post was part of the #MondayEscapes linkup