So my Fiance is bailing out on me because of her fear of travel during corona, due to compulsory quarantine upon return… but on the bright side, she’s allowing me to go alone ;-P
I’m planning on flying to Uganda in late Jan for a 14-day tour of Uganda, and I’m looking for a partner. I’ll present: 1. the itinerary, 2. ballpark cost, 3. the logistics of travel during Covid-19 and 4. target species:
- Here’s the itinerary:
Day 1: Meet in Entebbe
Day 2: Mbamba Swamp (Shoebill) to Murchison Falls, staying in Pakuba Lodge. Afternoon and night drive in Murchison Falls
Day 3: Murchison Falls all day, including river ride on the Nile to the falls, and night drive. Staying in Pakuba Lodge
Day 4: Early morning in Murchison falls, and then transfer to Semliki Wildlife Reserve. Stay at Semliki Safari Lodge, and explore both savanna and forest habitats for regional specialist which don’t occur in other places in uganda, such as the Pousargue’s mongoose, Dent’s monkey, De Braaza’s monkey, the recently observed Semliki Red Colobus and many many others. Technically, even Central African Oyan (linsang), red river hogs, and many other species occur in the area. Stay at the luxurious Semliki Safari Lodge and night drive to find more animals.
Day 5: All day in the Semuliki National Park, hiking up to Semliki river which borders the DRC on the other side. The other side of the river is Itury forest (home to Okapis, among others) and many animals inhibit this park which don’t occur anywhere else in Eastern Africa. Night inside the park, in Ugandan Wildlife Authority cottages, with option to hike back through the forest after dark/spend the night in the forest. Alternatively, a night hike.
Day 6: Early morning in Semuliki and then transfer to Kibale. Afternoon exploring the forest habitat for any of 13 primates which occur in the area, and even for some birds.. Night drive/hike in the Sebitole section of the park, which based on (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303381973) has as healthy a population of golden cats as anywhere, and is the only place other than Gabon where an extensive research has been done about the cats. Stay – Kibale Primate Lodge
Day 7: Chimp Trekking. Afternoon primate and bird watching. Night hike or drive.
Day 8: Bigodi Swamp primate and bird watching, in hopes to see (among others) L’hoest monkey and others. Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park, to Bush Lodge. My personal targets in QENP are servals, otters, and the odd extreme rarities. Night drive in QENP – Mweya area.
Day 9: All day in QENP, transferring from Mweya area to Ishasha, game driving along the way, and Chimp trekking if, for any unlikely reason we were not satisfied with the Chimp experience in Kibale. Stay in Topi lodge, and night drive in Ishasha sector.
Day 10: Morning drive in Ishasha sector, and then transfer to Bwindi national park to Buhoma Sector, staying at Silver Back or Haven Lodge, and exploring the area afternoon and night hiking.
Day 11: Early morning in Buhoma and “the neck” of Bwindi (particularly good for some birds…), then continuing to Ruhija sector for mammal and bird watching, staying at Broadbill Forest Camp. The road that runs through Bwindi and passes Broadbill camp is also where Patrick Gijsbers saw his golden cat right in the middle of the afternoon. Which BTW – according to all research, golden cats are equally active all parts of the day, excluding perhaps the hottest part of the afternoon. We will extensively mammal-watch this road and the area day and night.
Day 12: Gorilla Trek in the morning. Afternoon and night mammal watching Ruhija sector – Broadbill Forest Camp
Day 13: Early morning we will do some…. birding. Yes. Search for African Green Broadbill, and other birds and primates. But also Rwenzori Duiker and other forest animals. Afternoon and night try our luck with the golden cat and other creatures.
Day 14: Early morning Ruhija section mammal and bird watching, and then start the journey home. Either drive back to Entebbe (10 hours) or fly via either Kisoro or Kihihi to Entebbe, landing in the afternoon and connecting home (or wherever).
2. The cost:
I’ve talked to 2 companies which were highly recommended on here, and got a very attractive cost.. which got even better due to a special promotion by the UWA in the first quarter of 2021. I can’t put an exact price here as I’m not a tour operator, but please contact me for the exact number. If we share a room, it’s under four thousand USD for everything on land, including ALL night hikes and drives, game drives, Gorilla and Chimp permits, lodging, guide, meals, park entrances, river rides, etc. If we don’t share a room, the price will go up quite substantially, but we can ask for another quote. Of course international flights aren’t included, and if we choose to fly the last day, it’s not included either (about $350 per person for domestic flight from last time I checked).
Also, if we want to add chimp trekking in QENP it’s another $100US if I’m not mistaken with the UWA promotion.
3. COVID Travel:
Landing in Uganda requires a negative COVID test less than 72 hours from the landing time in Uganda.
Based on the global assessment, Uganda is actually doing pretty well with COVID, plus we will only spend 1 night in Entebbe prior to venturing out to very little-populated areas. Of course if you get a chance to vaccinate before, it’s highly recommended, as the vaccines are starting to make their way across the globe.
The actual dates I’m looking at are: 18-21 of January for the starting date, but it’s Flexible. Note that End of January is the driest period of the “short dry period”, which is a great time to visit Western Uganda. Bwindi is the only park that is more rainy in the Short dry period than the Long dry period (peaking July-August).
4. Target Mammals:
So obviously chimps and mountain gorillas!
But going out every single night for 14 nights with my thermal camera and the guide, I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of many interesting and perhaps rare animals.
I’m also interested in potentially scoping out Giant Otter shrew, and of course putting in substantial efforts into golden cat, giant pangolin, etc.
I put together a list of some interesting mammals in Uganda, and numbered species which I’m specifically interested in seeing. I used lodge and parks mammal list, and did a lot of research on my own. Some comments on that at the end:
|Murchison Falls||Semliki & Semuliki||Kibale||Queen Elizabeth||Bwindi|
|1||Ruwenzori otter shrew||Micropotamogale ruwenzorii||?|
|2||Giant otter shrew||Potamogale velox||X||X||(X)||X|
|3||Chequered Elephant Shrew||Rhynchocyon cirnei||X|
|4||Western Tree Hyrax||Dendrohyrax dorsalis||?||X||X||X||X|
|5||Dusky bushbaby||Galago mastchiei||X||X||X||X|
|6||Patas Monkey||Erythrocebus patas||X|
|Vervet Monkey||Cercopithecus aethiops||X||X||X||X|
|7||Red-tailed Monkey||Cercopithecus ascanius||X||X||(X)|
|8||L’Hoest’s Monkey||Cercopithecus lhoesti||X||(X)||X|
|Blue Monkey||Cercopithecus mitis||X||X||X|
|9||De Brazza’s Monkey||Cercopithecus neglectus||X|
|10||Dent’s Monkey||Cercopithecus denti||X||X*|
|11||Uganda (grey-cheeked) Mangabey||Lophocebus ugandae||X|
|Olive Baboon||Papio anubis||X||X||X||X|
|Black-and-White Colobus||Colobus guereza||X||X||X||X|
|12||Angola Colobus||Colobus angolensis||X|
|13||Ugandan Red Colobus||Procolobus tephosceles||X||X|
|15||(Mountain) Eastern Gorilla||Girilla beringei||X|
|16||Striped Polecat||Ictonyx striatus||X||X||(X)||X||(X)|
|17||East African Striped Weasel||Poecilogale albinucha||X||X||X||X|
|Honey Badger||Mellivora capensis||X||X||(X)||X||(X)|
|18||Spotted-necked otter||Hydrictis maculicollis||X||X||X||X||X|
|19||African clawless otter||Aonyx capensis||X||?|
|Congo clawless otter||Aonyx congicus||X||X||X|
|Small-spotted Genet||Genetta genetta||X||X|
|20||Giant Genet||Genetta victoriae||X||(X)?|
|Servaline Genet||Genetta servalina||X||X||X||(X)|
|Rusty Spotted Genet||Genetta tigrina||X||X||X||X|
|21||Central African Oyan (Linsang)||Poiana richardsonii||X|
|African Civet||Civetticus civetta||X||X||X||X|
|African Palm Civet||Nandinia binotata||X||X||X|
|Marsh Mongoose||Atilax paludinosus||X||X||X||X|
|22||Pousargues’s Mongoose||Dologale dybowskii||X|
|Egyptian Mongoose||Herpestes ichneumon||X||X||X|
|Slender Mongoose||Herpestes sanguineus||X||X|
|White-tailed Mongoose||Ichneumia albicauda||X||X||X|
|Banded Mongoose||Mungos mungo||X||X||X|
|23||Alexander’s Cusimanse||Crossarhus alexandri||X||?|
|Spotted Hyaena||Crocuta crocuta||X||X||X|
|26||Golden Cat||Caracal aurata||X||X||X|
|27||Giant Pangolin||Manis gigantea||X||X||X||X||X|
|White-bellied Pangolin||Manis tricuspis||X||X||(X)||X|
|Black-bellied Pangolin||Phataginus tetradactyla||X||(X)||X (?)|
|African Elephant||Loxodonta africana||X||X||X|
|Forest Elephant||Loxodonta cyclotis||X||X|
|29||Red River Hog||Potamochoerus porcus||X|
|Giant Forest Hog||Hylochoerus meinertzhageni||X||X||X|
|30||Water Chevrotain||Hyemoschus aquaticus||X|
|31||Rothschild’s Giraffe||Giraffa camelopardalis||X|
|African Buffalo||Syncerus caffer||X||X||X||X|
|Blue Duiker||Cephalophus monticola||X||X|
|Bush / Grey Duiker||Sylvicapra grimmia||X||X|
|Defassa Waterbuck||Kobus ellipsiprymnus||X||X||X|
|33||Ugandan Kob||Kobus kob||X||X||X|
|Bohor Reedbuck||Redunca redunca||X||X||X|
|Ruwenzori Duiker||Cephalophus rubidus||X|
|Yellow-backed Duiker||Cephalophus silvicultor||(X)||X|
|Black-fronted Duiker||Cephalophus nigrifrons||X||X|
|34||Jackson’s Hartebeest||Alcelaphus buselaphus||X||X|
|36||African brush-tailed Porcupine||Atherurus africanus||(X)||X||X||(X)||X|
|Crested Porcupine||Hystrix cristata||X||X|
|37||Lesser Cane Rat||Thryonomys gregorianus||X||X||X||X|
|Common Cane Rat||Thryonomys swinderianus||X||X||X||X|
|Lord Derby’s Anomalure||Anomalurus derbianus||X||X||X||X|
|38||Dwarf Scaly-tail||Anomalurus pusillus||X||(X)||X|
|Beecroft’s Anomalure||Anomalurops beecrofti|
|39||Pygmy Scaly-tail||Idiurus zenkeri||?||?||?||?||?|
|40||Bunyoro Rabbit||Poelagus majorita||X||X|
|41||Four-toed hedgehog||Atelerix albiventris||X||X||X|
Some mammals like the oyan/linsang haven’t actually been recorded in Uganda, but according to the IUCN distribution maps it occurs well into the Semliki and Semuliki ecosystem, which is also one of the least-explored ecosystems in Uganda. Okapi distribution technically ends about 8km west of the river into the DRC, according to the IUCN distribution map… so obviously the chance of an animal coming to the river and visible from the Ugandan side is extremely low, no matter how many hours we may spend sitting there. But it will definitely be interesting to see what animals we pick up, as there are not very many reports from night activities from these ecosystems, especially using a thermal imager.
If you’re interested, please contact me soon so we can close in on the dates and get this trip going 🙂