by Natalie Valaki & Ioannis Ampazis
The main reason it is so unique is because you get so close to them and you get to stay with them for some time. You are not just driving by as it is with the wildlife safaris. You sit next to them, watch them, watch their reactions and behaviours.
Safari Operator Performance
We found African Jungles Safaris through the internet.
They were great! We had a 100% professional response from them right from the beginning, when we sent the enquiring emails.
They were extremely detailed in the safaris they recommended and they had the best price vs. value lodges recommendations.
Maria and Geoffrey, the owners of the agency, were extremely hospitable and very, very nice people – when we arrived we were taken by them to a dance and music show in Kampala which was a wonderful experience.
The guides were excellent and we had a very good time with them. Musa in particular, was very knowledgeable of the area and its people, the parks and the animals and he was very inspiring on how we could help in the development of the areas we visited.
In general, it was most probably the best experience of our lives!
In Bwindi we stayed at the Engagi lodge which had a great view since it was right in the rainforest. The food was very good and the sitting area was very relaxing and welcoming. The rooms were basic, their verandas however wonderful.
In Queen Elizabeth we stayed at the Katara Logde which is most probably one of the most unique places we have ever stayed (and we have travelled a bit)! It is on top of a hill with a great view of the savannah and some uniquely build houses that overlook the park. The food and the service is excellent! It was really one of the top places we have ever seen.
In Kampala we stayed at the Golf course hotel and at the Emin Pasha hotel. The excellent service at the Emin Pasha is worth mentioning: our flight was to depart late at night and even though we were supposed to check out at 11 a.m. they just let us keep the room until 11 p.m.
The food was wonderful everywhere.
In all hotels and lodges all meals were rather European than local – this was also one of our sorries. Most places had different meals to choose from (meat, fish etc) so we would have really liked to get one choice of traditional Ugandan food.
Our chance to taste Ugandan food was on the road from Bwindi where we stopped at a road restaurant. We would recommend it to everyone!
Mountain Gorilla and Other Wildlife
In Bwindi we saw the gorillas of course and in Queen Elizabeth we saw elephants, hippos, hyenas, buffaloes, zebras, warthogs, baboons and various antelopes such as kudus, waterbucks and impalas.
The highlight was definitely the encounter with the gorillas!
They are such great animals! So peaceful and shy! And huge!
It is definitely an experience worth the effort!!
In Bwindi we woke up early in the morning and had a good breakfast. We drove to the entrance point of the forest where the rangers explained the basic rules.
Then we started the trekking through the forest. We were extremely lucky since we tracked our gorilla group in less than an hour.
We got to spend approximately an hour with them where we had time to watch them, sit next to them and take great pictures.
After that we returned back and then drove to the lodge. There we had some time to relax and enjoy the view from our lodge with a cool drink.
In Queen Elizabeth we had almost the same experiences. Excellent breakfast early in the morning and then a drive through the park and the thrill of spotting an animal.
Disappointments, Tips and Advice
One of the minor annoyances was the road to Bwindi, which was in a really bad condition. The government should do something about it, particularly since it is the main road to one of the most touristic areas of the country.
Be prepared for a possibly long trek but a unique experience in Bwindi, take your camera with you and an empty memory card, you will practically take hundreds of pictures in the forest.
Stay at the Katara lodge in Queen Elizabeth, you won't regret it!
Bring some books and pencils and toys for the children or buy them in the villages. You will be amazed with their joy! This was a highlight for us (we bought books and pencils and gave them to children in the villages in Bwindi. They were really excited about it!).
Our trekking boots
were very useful in the forest.
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