<<This trip report is an edited version of the one published by the client M. Samuel Marlin who was one of the two participants on the trip>>

My wife and I have been looking to visit Uganda for many years to see chimps and mountain gorillas but it was always postponed for good (or bad) reasons… Having heard that Rwanda recently increased their gorilla permits up to 1500 USD and that Uganda is no longer proposing permit discounts during the low season, we thought it was really time to visit this country before the gorilla permit cost in Uganda also becomes too insane to afford.

We organized a 14-day trip to Uganda with Royle Safaris. The trip organization was very good and we decided to focus on a South West itinerary to avoid too much driving time and allowing us more time in the parks for guided walks or game drives. The tour consisted in the following: Entebbe – Mabamba swamp (for shoebill – yes we’re also interested in birds J) – Kibale NP – Semliki NP and Game Reserve – QENP – Ishasha – Bwindi – Lake Mburo – Entebbe.

We knew we went to Uganda during the raison season and we were not disappointed as we had rain everyday: from short showers to heavy thunderstorms with rain pouring for hours at 3 different occasions, once being during our Chimp Habituation Experience (CHEX) tracking in Kibale.

Uganda is a lovely country with beautiful landscapes and some pristine parks like the Ishasha section of QENP for example. I also found the hilly region near Bwindi very scenic to drive through. Globally, Uganda has very different landscapes to offer compared to the other Eastern African countries we visited like Kenya or Tanzania, which is good. People are also very friendly and welcoming. We had very nice accommodations throughout the trip. Uganda is developing quite well and from past trip reports I could read online, the roads are now fully tarmacked in Kibale forest and to get to Semliki forest. This probably has a consequence to see less wildlife than before. For example, the Kibale Primate Lodge is still a great place in terms of comfort but not deep in the forest anymore. Although there are still some monkeys wandering around the lodge during the day, we did not see any animals at night during long spotlighting. On the other hand, the tarmac road is not preventing animals to cross it and we had great views of forest elephants on the road side on a very early morning start. Wonderful!

As I said earlier, we were a bit disappointed by the CHEX experience in Kibale for chimps mostly due to the weather (heavy rain) that prevented us from observing chimps in good conditions. However, our guide booked us later another chimp tracking walk in the gorge section of QENP where we saw very well and close of several male chimps so all in all, chimp observations were globally good. For the mountain gorillas, we were booked in the Buhoma section of the Bwindi impenetrable forest. Buhoma is a nice location and both gorilla groups we visited on 2 consecutive days had the good idea to be close to the starting points of our trek, which considerably limited the time and make the trekking easy. Lucky us J ! On the other hand, I believe Buhoma is less wild than the Ruhija section and therefore, beside gorillas we did not see much other mammals. However, birds were plentiful. We could see some tree climbing lions in Ishasha and it looks like we had the chance to see many leopards in QENP as we saw 4 different individuals in 3 days, which was the first time ever for our guide. We don’t complain J

Beside the well-known parks of QENP, Bwindi and Kibale, I found that the less visited Lake Mburo and Semliki forest parks were also very interesting and worth visiting. Lake Mburo has a healthy population of ungulates, not only in numbers but also in diversity, plus has a nice lake for boat tours offering very good birdwatching opportunities. The Semliki forest is great to walk through for unusual/rare primates like Dent’s mona or De Brazza monkeys and it also contains lots of forest birds we don’t see anywhere else in the country. The Tooro Game Reserve part of Semliki is also interesting with both forest and savanna allowing us to see different biotopes and animals. I did not regret to spent time in those parks.

The night safaris were not overly productive unfortunately. We indeed saw quite a few animals although we did night spotlighting on 5 occasions. I can’t tell if this was due to our bad luck or if just animals were not there.

Finally, if Uganda is definitely a prime destination for primates (we could see 13 different species during our trip – even 15 if I count glimpses of 2 other species as explained in the table below), the national parks we visited in this country don’t offer the same concentration / diversity of other wildlife compared to Kenya or Tanzania for example. It is good to be aware of this before visiting Uganda to avoid any disappointment.

Bottom line, we were very happy about this trip to Uganda even if we did not see so many different mammal species with only 39 recorded (see table below). However, we had 4 main targets before this trip: shoebill, chimps, mountain gorillas and tree climbing lions and we saw all of them very well with great photo opportunities so by itself, this makes this trip successful.

Species List                      Uganda Wildlife Adventure / Feb 2018

Mammals

 

  Common Name En Français Binominal Name   Where Seen Pic
 

 

1 Impala Impala Aepyceros melampus A lot seen in lake Mburo NP X
2 Marsh mongoose Mangouste des marais Atilax paludinosis 1 seen during a night drive in Semliki game reserve X
3 Red-tailed monkey Cercopithèque ascagne Cercopithecus ascanius A lot seen in Kibale, Semliki and Bwindi X
4 Dent’s mona monkey Mone de Dent Cercopithecus denti 4-5 individuals seen in Semliki forest X
5 L’Hoest’s monkey Cercopithèque de l’Hoest Cercopithecus l’hoesti 1 seen in Bigodi swamp and several in Bwindi X
6 Blue monkey Cercopithèque à diadème Cercopithecus mitis Several seen in Semliki forest and Bwindi X
7 De Brazza’s monkey Cercopithèque de Brazza Cercopithecus neglectus A glimpse observation during a walk in the Semliki forest. It was so quick that I could only see a fairly pale grey fur disappearing in the trees but no face to be certain which monkey it was. However, our local guide (Moses) said it was a De Brazza monkey due to the sounds it made.
8 Vervet monkey Vervet bleu Chlorocebus pygerythrus Several seen in Lake Mburo NP X
9 Tantalus monkey Vervet tantale Chlorocebus tantalus A few seen in Semliki game reserve X
10 Guereza colobus Colobe guéréza Colobus guereza A lot seen almost everywhere X
11 Spotted hyaena Hyène tachetée Crocuta crocuta 1 seen running in the distance in QENP
12 Topi Topi Damaliscus lunatus A lot seen in Ishasha + a few in lake Mburo NP X
13 Savanna mongoose ? Mangouste de Dybowski Dologale dybowskii We went to the Semliki Safari Lodge where J.Woolgar saw them in 2013. We quickly saw one individual with a cute little face starring at us near the kitchen area but it ran away by the time I had a chance to take a photo for clear identification. It was small in size and had a dark fur. According to our local guide, it was a savanna mongoose. We unfortunately did not see any others during that day
14 Striped ground squirrel Ecureuil terrestre du Sénégal Euxerus erythropus A few seen at the Entebbe botanical gardens X
15 Demidoff’s galago Galago de Demidoff Galagoides demidoff Some red eyes seen in trees during our night walk at Kibale. According to our guide there were of Demidoff’s galagos but to me, seeing only eyes doesn’t count J
16 Thomas’s galago Galago de Thomas Galagoides thomasi 1 seen well during a night walk in Kibale X
17 Rusty-spotted genet Genette tigrine Genetta maculata 1 seen during night drive in QENP and another one during night drive in lake Mburo NP
18 Rothschild’s giraffe Girafe de Rothschild Giraffa rothschildi ~10 seen in lake Mburo NP X
19 Mountain gorilla Gorille de montagne Gorilla beringei beringei 2 groups visited in the Buhoma sector of the Bwindi impenetrable forest X
20 Red-legged sun squirrel Héliosciure à pattes rousses Heliosciurus rufobrachium 1 seen in Semliki forest X
21 Ruwenzori sun squirrel Héliosciure du Ruwenzori Heliosciurus ruwenzori 1 seen at Bwindi X
22 Dwarf mongoose Mangouste naine du Sud Helogale parvula Plenty observed in lake Mburo NP X
23 Common hippopotamus Hippopotame amphibie Hippopotamus amphibius A lot seen in QENP and lake Mburo NP X
24 Waterbuck Cobe defassa Kobus ellipsyprimnus Quite common everywhere X
25 Uganda Kob Cobe de Buffon Kobus kob Very common in Semliki game reserve and QENP X
26 Scrub hare Lièvre des rochers Lepus saxatilis Several seen during a night drive in QENP X
27 Ugandan mangabey Mangabey à joues grises Lophocebus albigena Several seen in Bigodi swamp, Kibale and Semliki X
28 African bush elephant Eléphant d’Afrique Loxodonta africana Plenty seen in QENP / Ishasha X
29 African forest elephant Eléphant de forêt Loxodonta cyclotis Several seen very well early morning in Kibale and in Semilki game reserve X
30 Banded mongoose Mangouste rayée Mungos mungos A few seen in Ishasha and lake Mburo NP X
31 House mouse Souris grise Mus musculus Quickly seen running in the Kibale Primate Lodge dining area. It had a black fur and a long naked tail.
32 Chimpanzee Chimpanzé Pan troglodytes Several seen in Kibale (mostly females and juveniles) and another great sighting of several males in the gorges sector of QENP X
33 Lion Lion Panthera leo A group of 6-7 seen poorly in the thick bushes of QENP and 3 seen in a tree in Ishasha X
34 Leopard Léopard Panthera pardus 4 great observations in QENP and Ishasha X
35 Olive baboon Babouin anubis Papio anubis A lot seen almost everywhere X
36 Alexander’s dwarf squirrel Funisciure d’Alexandre Paraxerus alexandri Several seen in Semliki forest X
37 Common warthog Phacochère commun Phacochoerus africanus Common everywhere X
38 Central African red colobus Colobe bai d’Ouganda Pilicolobus oustaleti Only a few seen in Kibale forest and Bigodi swamp X
39 Egyptian rousette Roussette d’Egypte Rousettus aegyptiacus 1 roosting under our cottage roof in Kibale X
40 Lake Chad buffalo Buffle de l’Ouest Syncerus brachyceros Plenty seen in QENP X
41 African buffalo Buffle de Cap Syncerus caffer Common in lake Mburo NP X
42 Common Eland Eland du Cap Taurotragus oryx Several seen but shy in lake Mburo NP X
43 Bushbuck Guib harnaché Tragelaphus scriptus 2 seen during night drive in QENP and common in lake Mburo NP X

 Note: This client is not particularly interested in bats and rodents and so no special attention was made to find and identify more species.

Chim

1 Comment
  1. Awesome post

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