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
One of the conditions I had when booking a gorilla and chimp trekking safari in Uganda was that we did it in style. I wanted luxury lodges, five star service and great locations. And this is exactly what I got when I visited Kyambura Gorge Lodge. Continue reading Kyambura Gorge Lodge – luxury hotel review
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. The first experience at Kibale National Forest was more up close and personal encounter with the Beta asserting his dominance and naturally interacting with humans. Our second experience at Kyambura Gorge was a far more distant experience but in many ways a more natural in my opinion. Continue reading Kyambura Gorge Chimp Trekking Part 2 –
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.
Ok so just plane or car but that title is no where near as catchy. Uganda safaris are something that we always wanted to do. When we knew we were headed towards becoming a family, we decided to have one last blow out holiday to somewhere you can’t take kids. I am all for travelling anywhere with children but my line in the sand is a malarial zones. Therefore chose Uganda safaris and gorilla trekking as our last couple holiday.
How to travel around Uganda – plane or drive safari?
When we were initially looking at doing a safari one of the things we found is that if you want to be remote you need to take a small plane. I am not a fan of small planes. One of the big appeals of Uganda was the ability to drive across it. When we announced this most people thought we were mad. That our time would be wasted driving between locations. That the roads would be arduous and really hard going. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
What is it like to drive across Uganda?
The hardest part of our journey was leaving Entebbe, the busiest part of Uganda we experienced. The roads here were congested and I imagine rush hour would have been a nightmare. Fortunately we left after the main morning rush hour so our experience wasn’t too horrific.
What is life like in Uganda?
Actually seeing the city was itself quite interesting. Watching the markets was a fascinating insight into life in Uganda. Seeing the markets of Entebbe was such an interesting contrast to the markets we saw in the more rural areas. My favourite part of was looking at the local merchants who were making their products on the street. We saw a local merchant making coffins, pork shops and fabric dyeing stalls.
The most interesting however was a demonstration a local merchant treated us to showing us how he made clothes with paper bark. Paper bark clothing is Uganda’s only representation of the UNESCO world intangible heritage list and was truly a delight to see first hand. All this in our first hour in the car!
Why I loved driving across Uganda
By driving across Uganda I think we got to see more of Uganda in terms of both people and wildlife. Driving through the villages, it was fascinating to see how each village had grown up around one type of ‘industry’. Whether it was coffee bean drying, tea picking, banana or cinnamon production. We even saw how these products were brought to market where traders came from all directions congregating on one small town to exchange their goods on market day. In some ways it was quite medieval to be driving along the road and seeing merchant after merchant carrying the goods to the nearest market day to sell or trade but gave a real insight into what everyday Ugandan village life is like.
One of the most surprising things I found about the drive was how built up the Ugandan countryside was. I had expected wide expanses where we saw no people but in fact Uganda is heavily populated throughout the countryside and the roads not as bad as I had expected.
Friends of ours who had flown across Uganda said that they found a lot of begging when they left the local airports to drive to their lodges. Whether this was because perhaps areas around the airports saw more tourists and had the expectation or whether we had just been lucky but his not something we experienced in Uganda. The most begging we saw was one girl on the road shouting “Give me Sweeties!”
The other highlight for me of driving rather than flying across Uganda was the wildlife we saw this way. From the road we spotted a variety of birds, to many to name in this post, baboons, several varieties of monkeys, elephants and even lions.
Uganda toilers – the truth for travellers
For me the greatest concern about this option was the toilet facilities. However even this was not as bad as expected. Most toilets were squat toilets which as a European I was not use to. On reflection if I did again I might take a she-wee as an aid and additional loo roll but other than that it was for the majority fine.
Some may see the additional time taken to travel between lodges as a downside however the experience for us was well worth it. I think we got a better overview of the social history of the country and the people who live there and truly immersed ourselves in the landscapes and wildlife it has to offer. Overall I have no regrets about driving rather than flying as I feel I have seen more of the country and and would certainly choose to travel overland again.
Details of our travel
We booked our tour through Steppes Travel. Again flying was the primary option for travel between lodges but they were more than happy to tailor a driving safari to our needs. Why not read more in our Uganda safaris series here