Trip Report (the best yet?): Uganda's Incredible Wildlife
Thanks to Kanise who filled in for me last week. The wifi quality in Uganda was never going to allow me to submit a blog post. However wifi was the only aspect of the trip that was poor and it probably even added to my experience as I was more focused on what was actually playing out before me every day. I've now made it to Dubai, but I owe you the entire Ugandan report and I will split it over the next 2 weeks, focusing today on the wildlife, and next week on the people and accommodations. I have really struggled in my Facebook posts to find the words to adequately describe what I have been seeing. In terms of wildlife overall, the last 2 weeks have been even better than Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa combined, all of which I was fortunate to enjoy and marvel at in 2019. So a few more of my own photos than usual below, and not so many words.
Top 5 - Ugandan Wildlife
1. Mountain Gorillas
Mountain Gorillas are what Uganda is famous for when it comes to travel, and this small triangle that includes Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo is the only area in the world you can see them. Our amazing leader, Sandy Salle of Hills of Africa ensures her clients are well aware of the immense conservation effort that has been ongoing for over 30 years to preserve this species. Once under 250 left in the world, the 2019 census now has the population at 459 and growing. You would not believe the enormous dedication and devotion that goes into making gorilla tracking a possibility. It takes round 2 years of a number of trackers shadowing and following a group (between 6 and 24 gorillas) often working 20 hour days and then sleeping in the thick forest. I could write pages about this and how tourism and the local communities are now intertwined for each others benefit. Ask me if you want to know more. However, Uganda has SO MUCH more to offer, so please read on...
PS. The photo immediately below has a 6-day old baby featured, being held by its mother.
Around the middle of our 12-day journey through Uganda we stayed in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the country's second largest. We were privileged to be able to join a conservation and research team who focus on the cat predators in the park, and they have been tracking lions and leopards since the mid 1990's. This enabled us to find the usually solitary and elusive leopard through GPS and we were allowed to drive off the main tracks to get real close. This female toyed with us for a full 10 minutes before strolling off, dignity intact.
3. Tree Lions of Ishasha
The tree lions of Ishasha are one of less than a handful of tiny areas in the world where this phenomenon occurs. I honestly thought it might be a myth.
Researchers are still unsure if it is genetic to local prides or is simply a way to cool down in the heat of the day or get away from insects. Whatever the reason, it is one of the most dramatic images that nature can provide, and we were privileged yet again on this trip to soak in this experience. There were no less than 7 lions in this one tree, though my good friend Julia might tell you it was 6. See if you can spot the tail that I think she missed.
Early on in our adventure at Murchison Falls National Park we had what can only be described as a giraffe day. It's impossible to describe the light and the air on that morning's sunrise game drive. Even all our groups spectacular photos will not do it justice or come close to suggesting what we all felt, that this place was magical. Look carefully and I believe there are 15 giraffe in just one photo and it would have been many more if I'd been able to get my panorama setting to work!
Chimpanzees are a very different experience to gorillas. It is the same in that trackers have their general location each day, but once you find them, they are almost constantly on the move so it remains a very active encounter and they can be moving at all angles and with a lot more noise. Gorillas usually stay within a very contained area each day before making their new nest for the night, and then moving on when waking up the next day.
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