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Uganda, a trampse along the equator. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   


Bringing my accumulated time in Africa to over three years, this latest month on the continent took me to one of the region's lesser visited pearls - the relatively small, but bird-rich, Uganda. In a diversity of habitats from high mountain to equatorial rainforest, extensive papyrus swamp to semi-desert, the country packs in over 1000 species of birds in a land area barely larger than the UK. Add onto that, a wealth of mammals, landscapes that are spectacular and a welcoming people and the ingredients are all there for an excellent adventure.

Mountain GorillaMany persons visiting Uganda tend to employ drivers and guides throughout and visit all the key sites on a loop out to the west, taking in the Ruwenzori Mountains and the fantastic Murchinson Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks. This approach, especially if Semliki is added to the itinerary, could result in over 600 species being logged on a fairly intense three to four week trip, though 450-500 is more usual. My trip, however, was rather different - as always, I travelled independently, did not use drivers or guides and, furthermore, did not visit two of the country's premier birding localities - the Ruhizha highlands at Bwindi and Semliki National Park. Ruhizha was not visited simply due to laziness on my part,  but plans to visit the remote Semliki had to be shelved due to an outbreak of the highly contagious and incurable Ebola disease in the area, killing many persons, particularly in the village of Bundibugyo, just 14 km from Semliki.

The end result was I also had ample time to explore the east of the country, rarely visited by foreign birders, but including some fantastic destinations in their own rights. Climbing the lower slopes of Mount Elgon, hiking into the arid north-eastern savannahs and spending several days in Mabira Forest, I managed to add a number of unexpected species and, by the trip's end, had accumulated a total of 512 species, a very respectable total and higher than I had expected.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 15 November 2008 )
Uganda, part one. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

Mostly in the relative luxury of a rugged landrover, the first part of this trip took me through 2850 km of potholes, ravines that passed for roads and occasional dustbowls to enjoy some of the best landscapes and birding opportunites that Africa can throw at you. CrocodileBeginning with a couple of days in Entebbe and the Mbamba wetlands, the route first took us northwards to Murchinson Falls, a locality of spectacular birding to the stunning backdrop of the mighty River Nile plunging through a narrow gorge as it empties into a bird-rich delta. With an abundance of mammals and birds, and chimpanzee-filled forests to the south, four days were spent here, before enduring the diabolical road southward to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The drive was well-rewarded, the southern Ishasha sector in particular is amongst the most beautiful localities in Africa I have yet to visit and, camping on the Congolese border, full of birds and mammals. From Queen Elizabeth, it was up into the highlands and to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to the Mountain Gorillas and a potential 350 species of birds. Spending four days in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi, but skipping Ruhizha, it was then a hike back westward towards Kampala, but with a stop over at Lake Mburo, an excellent locality with a range of species, both mammal and bird, not easily found elsewhere in Uganda.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 01 March 2008 )
Uganda, part two. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   


ShoebillEntebbe eastwards, including Mount Elgon on the Kenyan border, arid savannahs on the route to Moroto, plus the lush lowland forests at Mabira. This segment of the trip, totalling almost two weeks, saw me squashed onto occasional buses, sitting atop trucks fully laden and hitching on the back of motorbikes, travel by my favoured means, backpacking all the way. After two days back in the Entebbe area, my route first took me to Sipi Falls, a very scenic area and the gateway to both Mount Elgon and the arid semi-deserts that extend northwards. After several days there, the superb Mabira Forest beckoned and the amazing birding there held attraction for a good few days before I finally returned yet again to Entebbe, spending my last days exploring the general area and slightly wider afield, stumbling by chance upon the stunning Lutembe Bay.

Last Updated ( Monday, 26 May 2008 )