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Beautiful and Exciting Uganda

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CNN called Kidepo Valley National Park the 2nd best safari destination in Africa and said it might be the most beautiful park on the continent. As we know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!  (link)

With my newest, amazing supplier, Uganda Safari Chapter, I was thrilled when the owner agreed to fly me to Kidepo as my previous DMC client would not invest in the experience.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Wow, what a stunningly beautiful, vast expanse of earth in northeastern Uganda bordering South Sudan and close to western Kenya. You will find endless savannah plains dotted with acacia and sausage trees in the Narus Valley and a semi arid region in the northern end of the park where you will find the hot springs. Mountains frame and surround Kidepo in the distance.

This is the only park in Uganda where you will find cheetah, sadly I didn’t see one during my two days.  Four of the Big Five (no rhino) can be spotted along with wild dog, Rothschild’s giraffe, zebra, an abundance of antelope and close to 500 bird species.

What I did see: a huge herd of over 1000 Cape buffalo, a herd of 100+ elephants, over 50 zebra that came to the Apoka waterhole, giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest,   IMG_0025DSC01243DSC01176

hundreds of waterbuck, reedbuck, oribi, baboons, jackals, 2 different lion sightings including a pride of 5 lunching on a kill, vultures, rollers and other birds.

Apoka Safari Lodge is the one luxury lodge inside the park and it was lovely! You’ll find spacious bandas with an outdoor, private stone soaking tub and deck overlooking the savannah. IMG_0460  A comfortable dining / lounge area and pool overlook the waterhole. You can hang out or dine in the watchtower and Apoka has a lovely bush dinner boma.   Food was quite good and the staff friendly with big smiles!

We had a stunning sundowner with a glorious sunset immediately followed by a rising full moon – my first sundowner / moonriser!

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I flew up on Aerolink from Entebbe – please note for 4pax, this is a scheduled flight and not charter.  Also note with advance arrangement, the new Aerolink flight from the Mara will stop at the Kidepo airstrip en route to Entebbe.  It’s a long drive from Kampala but you can break up the drive with a 2-night stay in Murchison Falls where you can go on game drives and a water safari to the Falls.  Very doable if your clients don’t want to fly.

Uganda has three major national parks – Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kidepo, each with its own charms and different wildlife viewing making Uganda a complete safari destination with chimp and gorilla trekking, the only country in Africa offering this unique and amazing experience.

The only “kill-joy” in Kidepo (have to be honest, we hooted every time we saw this sign):DSC01165

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

My gorilla permit was in Buhoma where the UWA headquarters is located.  As I’ve done a few gorilla treks, I will not annoy you with the ridiculously easy trek this time to see the Rushegura family.  I’ve certainly had hours-long treks.  We were thrilled with our sightings as babies were playing, many of the family came down from the trees and sat on the ground while the silverback posed DSC01369for quite a long time.  They are amazing creatures and this is an experience I wish for everyone to have.  DSC01744

Uganda has now changed their permit policy and can assign older or unfit people to easier families.  At $600 per permit vs. Rwanda’s $1,500 permit and with more gorilla families, Uganda is the ideal place to trek.  Most of the people I met booked 2 gorilla treks and still saved money!

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I stayed at Sanctuary’s Gorilla Forest Camp which is absolutely lovely.  In the five years since I’ve been there, GFC has been refurbished and added a few creature comforts like electric blankets for those cooler nights.  Oh, and if you forget proper hiking socks you can tuck your pants legs into, they have gaiters for you – very thoughtful and helpful.  The staff is gracious and lovely.  Housekeeping was a lifesaver by cleaning our extremely muddy hiking boots – they were even dried so I could pack them the next morning.  Soups and salads were delicious and I passed along a few ideas for vegetarian meals.

Entebbe

I stayed for a night, 2 different times at No.5, an oddly named but lovely boutique hotel about 10 minutes from the airport.  It’s delightful with a pool, gym, and comfortable rooms.  The restaurant serves creative and delicious food and you’ll find the staff very helpful and friendly.

Kampala

I spent one night at the charming Emin Pasha if your travel calls for you to stay in Kampala vs. closer to the Entebbe airport.

Uganda Safari Chapter is a boutique, luxury DMC  founded by three Ugandan owners who manage and run all operations.  Together they  bring over 46+ years of hospitality experience including running Uganda’s most luxurious lodges, and guiding.  Why did they leave their careers and start Uganda Safari Chapter?  To use their insider’s knowledge and share the country’s wild beauty, wildlife, gorillas, chimps, culture and friendly peoples with attention to detail and luxury concierge service. IMG_0489

Do encourage your clients to gorilla trek and safari in Uganda…with Uganda Safari Chapter!

kiki

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