Just returned from a 3.5 week trip to Uganda and Rwanda- and found your guidebooks (the new editions) invaluable, so thank you! I thought I would write a trip summary and highlight some of the things we felt could be updated or edited- please let me know if there is any further questions or information you need.
Our first travelling night was spent in a tree house in Uganda, in a place called chimps nest in Kibale forest. It was phenomenal; you walked for 15 minutes through the forest away from anything else and in the middle of the trees, stood our unique stilted tree house. It was incredible, with the tree bark running right through both floors of the house; we felt so at one with nature, being at the same level as the birds and the monkeys! They also offer several activities here inlcuding chimp tracking and community walks.
We moved on to Queen Elizabeth Park for a game drive, and did get to see the unbelievable tree climbing lions in Ishasha. During our time here we stayed in the beautiful thoughtful jacana lodge, which served lovely meals, including being attentive to our allergies and had a pool overlooking views of the lake.
We then moved on to stay at the buhoma community camp in Bwindi, which in my opinion was the most beautiful area we passed during the trip, the views of banana plantations, tea and coffee fields and lush mountainous forest were stunning! Most people just stop by for the gorilla trekking but as we were seeing the gorillas in Rwanda, we spent our time visiting community projects. One of which was a dance performance and selling craft group of orphaned children who perform everyday on a stage ebhind the craft shops by the buhoma camp, they were amazing and what a successful programme, as not only do those children now have a community and support, but also begging in the area has totally stopped, as they have seen the merits of making money and gaining support through their talents (bwindi orphans development center-www.bwindiorphanage.org).
We also visited the local Bwindi hospital, which was very impressive with numerous services, including dental, medical and sexual health. One of the most interesting things for me (mainly due to my thesis in HIV and pregnancy) was that they had a hostel for pregnant women to stay in for a few weeks prior to labour, this is mainly due to the high amount of deaths during labour as women in the villages have to walk and struggle to the hospital during labour (www.bwindihospital.com).
The buhoma also arranged a community walk where we visited a traditional healer, saw how banana beer is made, and visited the batwa pygmie tribe, a minority tribe of people who have suffered from years of hardship, their difficulties have worsened in recent years when they have been made to leave their homes in the forest, hence why there are many charities trying to support them.
Then we went to Lake Bunyoni, we stayed at natures prime island, which had a lovely communal area with a central fireplace and beautiful views. The permanent tents were pretty basic but perfectly adequate, and the staff were so accommodating and friendly. On xmas day they arranged for some local children to come to sing and dance with us. We went on a wonderful dugout canoe ride on the lake, passing other fisherman and beautiful views.
We went to Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, and got to stand metres away to these amazing prehistoric animals which was very special.
That evening, after a long drive we got a very bumpy fair ride boat to ngamba (also known as chimpanzee) island. We were met by the carers and straight away led to participate in the infant integration programme- it was beyond phenomenal and words can’t describe how special and privileged we felt, unfortunately it was strictly prohibited to take any photos so those amazing memories will have to be in our heads, as opposed to in an image. We sat amongst the bushes while 8 chimps ranging from 2-9 years old came running in towards us, we could kiss, cuddle, hold, tickle them and equally they sat grooming us, whilst we did the same in return, they were so intelligent and affectionate (could defo see how we are 98.7 % the same). We couldn’t get over their noses; they felt like silk and were beyond adorable. We were even luckier, if possible, that we were the only people on the island so were treated like royalty with a candlelit dinner, and personal bonfire and amazing food (courtesy of wild frontiers)! The next day we dressed in our green overalls and black wellington boots and journeyed into the forest with another 8 chimps, this is part of a staged program to teach the orphaned often traumatised chimps about the forest, they rode on our backs, wanted to be held, or have the hands held, they sat in the middle of the forest on our laps, wanting to be cuddled and groomed- it was amazing- to top it off on our way back we were honoured to meet the vice president of Uganda and his numerous security guards.
Our last few days was spent in kampala in the Serena hotel, which made up for the previous lack of hot water, we spent most of the time wandering through the national theatre and buganda road craft markets.
Hope you find this useful