Lots of update info from Fred Hodgson

Collected over Jan 09, more or less in order of Travel.

  1. Windsor Lake Victoria. Disappointed this time . New Owners and management lacking. Still OK but at this kind of money you could do better.
  2. Banda Inns- Kampala. Did not stay there but they look very clean and well run. www.bandainns.com.
  3. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Always a fun place to visit and walk with their 6 Rhino. Even better now as they have some very nice Bandas to stay in overnight. I did not know this when booking the trip but having seen them I shall be there next time. There is a Canteen/Restaurant to use too. Food looked good, and friendly staff. With the Accommodation this is a realistic place to stay over on the way to/from Murchison if Masindi is not your thing.
  4. The Masindi road from Kibangya JT is now a beautiful 40km of smooth tar. It is raised up above the land so you get some great views of the adjacent wetlands and great birding.
  5. Masindi Hotel* is as good as ever but some of the rooms are a little tired. Good Food.
  6. Paraa.* Always a nice place to stay. Beware the ‘new’ launches. The object seems to be to get you to the Falls and back a.s.a.p. You get little chance to wildlife view if the driver does not see it first. Even spooks the ellies. Take the UWA boat. One major problem is the litter in the Park. We picked up nearly 50 plastic Water bottles in a short stretch of the road to through Pandera woodland toward the Kiruma Gate. Tempting to blame “tourists” but it was not. It was Oil workers from Giraffe Rig. How do we know? Because the labels on the Water bottles said so! So much for the Oil company’s “Green protestations!”
  7. Nile Safari Lodge* is good. We took their launch down to the Delta. Ellies and other wildlife from the Bar or your cottage. Great birding on foot.
  8. Road from Paraa via the ‘coast’ (Lake Albert) in good shape.
  9. Lake Albert Lodge.* An excellent development and worth the trek to find it. Turn right just north of Hoima if coming south and follow your nose for about 50km. There is a dodgy bridge of planks but large trucks were using it. Well signed from the Escarpment. This deserves to succeed although the Oil exploration is worrying. Plenty of game, few Ellies where there used to be hundreds, but give it time. The forest above is a birders paradise. Resident birder on site.
  10. The drive back through the forest to the main road south of Hoima is very scenic and deserves exploration. Watch this space.
  11. The main road south from Hoima is the worst I have experienced in years. 5 hours to get through to Kyenjojo. Never have I been more pleased to hit tar.
  12. Mweya Lodge.* As good as it gets. Do take the guided walk to the Bird Observatory (now closed and moved) as the wildlife viewing on foot is exceptional. Now two or more Launches on the Kazinga which again can be hurried.  However we did head upstream first so maybe we were just short of time.
  13. Jacana Lodge.*. There are two types of cabins now . The new ones are not so large and accessed over rocky path. Not good for less able bodies. Birding in the forest is excellent. The ‘Bat Cave‘ walk is closed following some tourist getting bitten. Black Morphs of African Paradise Flycatcher now common.
  14. Ishasa Wilderness Lodge.*. This is a nice development since my last visit. A pity the night security staff sleep in the Lounge instead of answering your alarm whistle.
  15. The Riverside Campsites are closed due to Security Issues with DRC only a stone’s throw over the river. Camping is now up by the two UWA Bandas and was very crowded at the time I visited. Too much off piste driving too. A visit to Lake Edward flats yielded Pacific Golden Plover. Only the 2nd record for Uganda. Plenty of other stuff up there too.
  16. Buhoma. The riverside walk was closed due to Gorilla activity. The spelling is correct. We ran into them two days in a row up the main track. As we had not paid the $500 fee we did not look! We stayed at Gorilla Resort* which was very nice. They even cleaned my muddy Boots without being asked.  This is yet another new Lodge in this village. I count 10 Lodges now. As only 32 people can Gorilla track per day the number of beds is now questionable. One wonders if they are not heading for over capacity. Could bring the prices down a bit. Had dinner with the Head man responsible for the excellent conservation practices that have taken place.
  17. Ruhija. Due problems on the ‘old’ road, this road is now the only way in from Kabale. Pity. There is a new habituated group of Gorillas in operation up here (Yes, we met them as well.) and another to follow. Coupled with the ‘new’ group at Nkuringa this should ease the pressure a little. There is an excellent new place to stay up here owned and operated by Hassan Mutebi’s “Access Uganda”. It is called “Trekkers Tavern cottages”* and is really worth a stay. We loved it for its simplicity and Julius’s excellent cuisine. When finished, we were one of the first, it will be excellent. There is a larger rival springing up ‘in front’ but I doubt they are in the same league. Needless to say the birding is superb with 3 AREs in the garden. Coming from Buhoma, turn left up the track from the college just before the famous bird rich ‘School track’ turn off. We had poor reports of the UWA Bandas at the main gate. There is also a new ‘easier’ trail being pioneered down to Mbwindi Swamp. Nice White-starred Robins too.
  18. Major road improvements from Kabale to Kisoro in course. When complete this road should be a doddle.
  19. Lake Bunyoni. We thought we would try Heritage Lodge* on HaBuhara Island. A very nice set up but lacking in adequate Management. Despite a firm booking AND telephoning to advise our imminent arrival from Kabale they totally failed to either send a launch OR tell the staff. Having hijacked a passing Makoro our eventual arrival was met with amazed stares. Nothing was ready so we chose our rooms from the totally empty camp. Our driver had been refused accommodation as ‘they were full’. We were the ONLY guests for Pete’s sake. So we had to wave him good bye and look for him in the morning. This never happened so we checked out in disgust and never got the promised refund for the night not taken either. What a place. Sadly had things not been as bad, it is a really nice place with comfortable tents on platforms and stone cottages. We know because we had the choice of them all.
  20. The road from Kabale to Mbarara is now badly potholed making progress very slow.
  21. We arrived unannounced and unplanned at Mihingo Lodge* in Lake Mburo NP rather late in the day. We were made most welcome and really enjoyed this place. This, from someone who did not like the concept of a Lodge up on the scenic Ruroko Kopjes. It really is done in good taste and an excellent place. Even boasts habituated Bushbabies coming to dine. Initial reservations withdrawn! They offer guided walks, Horse riding etc., Sadly some other outfit seems to want to inflict Quad bikes on the hard pressed wildlife. Very sad. They deserve to fail.
  22. Back on the tar from the Nashanga Gate Junction, the new road works have created a very large wetland which, traffic permitting, is worth stopping at and picking up a few nice birds.

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