BirdingPal Group Departure

BirdingPal Group Departure

BirdingPal Group Departure 24th Jan - 7th Feb 2014

I joined the fixed date birdingpal tour of 6 people from January 24 to February 7 2014. It was a truly memorable trip. Apart from all the birds and wildlife, Uganda is a beautiful country. The group gelled really well, and lots of fun was had along the way. Deo and Robert were not only great guides, they were great hosts. The value of the fixed date tour is extraordinarily good, as everything is supplied. You only need a little cash for guide tips, alcohol and snacks, plus souvenirs.

LOGISTICS
Pre-tour, Deo's communications were prompt, clear, and informative, giving me great confidence that I was booking a trip with a competent organisation. Deo, an accomplished birder, accompanied us on the whole trip, along with specialist bird guide Robert. In addition to this, we were accompanied by armed park rangers and security on our treks in the National Parks, as well as specialist guides in places. Accommodation was from basic (Mburo) to comfortable, with ensuite bathrooms in all but the raised, covered tents at Lake Mburo NP. All were clean. Transport was by pop-top 4WD Minibus, over roads which were rough in places, but there were no dramas, and almost all driving was done in daylight hours. Meals were healthy, though not particularly memorable, though there was great food at Nyanz'Ibiri Eco Camp. Luxuries Forget about free wifi most of the time, expect power outages, and warm beer at times. Deo's mobile internet was available in case of need. 

THE TOUR
Entebbe, Mabamba Shoebill boat trip, Lake Mburo NP, Bwindi Impenetrable NP; (Ruhiija and Buhoma), Queen Elizabeth NP, Nyanz'Ibiri Eco Camp and School Visit, Semilki Forest, Kibale Forest, Royal Mile, Entebbe. if you log into your google account, you can see this annotated map of this tour
https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zgxsnE9Gp4Wg.kQZAI_g-vMB0

BIRDING

photo by Deo Muhumuza

Mackinnon's fiscalThat is what the tour was all about, and the birds were delivered relentlessly. Both Deo and Robert proved to have excellent knowledge of where to find birds. They also have great tracking and identification skills. Robert's skill in finding birds in the rainforest gloom was exceptional. My tally was 444 different species and a further 12 heard. The total group list would be higher. To see that number in the 15 days requires some dedication, and only fleeting glimpses of some birds were made, especially in the rainforests. Our guides were very keen to make sure that we saw as many of the birds as possible. Deo and Robert were genuinely excited when a rare bird was spotted and gave crippling views, possibly more excited than the group.The Long-tailed Cisticola springs to mind. Highlights for me were the Touracos, Trogons and Sunbirds, and the sheer diversity of birds on our walks in Bwindi, where we managed to see 15 of the endemics and hear another. 

COMMUNITY and PEOPLE
The school that Deo supports is very needy, and the donations of school materials were very well received. We walked away thinking that so much more could be done. The Ugandans are very friendly and positive people, and I always felt completely safe. Uganda is a beautiful rich country, but corruption seemingly means that funds do not get where they should.

OVERALL
I thoroughly recommend Uganda Ecotours, and hope to go back one day and see the parts of the country I missed out on, and maybe some of the birds as well. I am happy to answer any queries. 

Mark Taylor, Melbourne. mataylor9999 AT gmail DOT com

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