BirdingPal Group Departure

Wonderful trip!

Deo – let me add my thanks to Lisa’s for a wonderful trip. Uganda really is a pearl and the people so happy and friendly. Brian and Gerald really helped us get the best out of it all. Adding Gerald was a master stroke and I am grateful to you for doing that. We had a lot of fun the three of us birding and once we got into Gerald’s home turf in the forest his skills were really invaluable because that is when you really need the call id skills and he really knew them.  There were many highlights – shoebill and pitta of course and the white naped pigeon at Kibale and the white spotted flufftail flying over the river from congo to Uganda but what was really amazing was the variety – on this kind of trip in Borneo or costa rica or brazil I see around 250 species but this was the record with 323. So that is testament to the avifauna variety in Uganda but not least to some excellent bird guiding. It was a pity not to meet you but we did very well despite.

All the best and warm thanks to our guides when you see or call them next. Please pass this on too.

Best wishes

Ian, UK

Birding in Semliki National park

Birding in Semliki National park can never be exciting without sighting these beautiful birds. Tips: Make sure you spend considrable amount of time birding the forest edge along the Bundibugyo road before you enter the forest. Most of the forest specials can easily be seen here

Orange-cheeked waxibill
Photo by Deo Muhumuza

Bruce & Ulla Greenfield - USA

Deo Muhumuza and Saul Ampeire were our two guides. Deo organized the trip for us and Saul was the driver. Both are Uganda Safari Guides and birding specialists. These two exhibited amazing bird-spotting skills but were also spirited dynamic leaders. Travelling with them was an unparalleled learning experience, not only about Uganda's amazing birds including the Shoebill, the apparition of the papyrus swamps, the Martial Eagle in its military garb, the forest dominion of the Great Blue Turaco with its raucous calls and behavior, the legendary Green-breasted Pitta, the Semiliki Hornbills found nowhere else in Uganda such as the Black-Casqued Wattled and the White-Crested, Twinspots and Flufftails (called in with Saul's whistle), but one day devoted to Mountain Gorilla trekking which was an amazing counterpoint to 14 days of dedicated birding. Deo is an amazing organizer. The accomodations he lined up were affordable and excellent. He is 31 years old and speaks 9 languages. Since English is the official language of Uganda, virtually all of the signage is in this language. These two have bounding enthusiasm, the country can be grateful for Deo and Saul. Try to line up both of them, they compliment each other beautifully.
Bruce Greenfield, MD and Ulla Allyn Santa Fe, NM, USA.

 

 

Deo Muhumuza and Saul Ampeire were our two guides. Deo organized the trip for us and Saul was the driver. Both are Uganda Safari Guides and birding specialists. These two exhibited amazing bird-spotting skills but were also spirited dynamic leaders. Travelling with them was an unparalleled learning experience, not only about Uganda's amazing birds including the Shoebill, the apparition of the papyrus swamps, the Martial Eagle in its military garb, the forest dominion of the Great Blue Turaco with its raucous calls and behavior, the legendary Green-breasted Pitta, the Semiliki Hornbills found nowhere else in Uganda such as the Black-Casqued Wattled and the White-Crested, Twinspots and Flufftails (called in with Saul's whistle), but one day devoted to Mountain Gorilla trekking which was an amazing counterpoint to 14 days of dedicated birding. Deo is an amazing organizer. The accomodations he lined up were affordable and excellent. He is 31 years old and speaks 9 languages. Since English is the official language of Uganda, virtually all of the signage is in this language. These two have bounding enthusiasm, the country can be grateful for Deo and Saul. Try to line up both of them, they compliment each other beautifully.
Bruce Greenfield, MD and Ulla Allyn Santa Fe, NM, USA.

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

Uganda Birding Trip Report - July 2013

Our 6-person group of birdwatchers from Poland (among us there were 3 professional ornithologists) have taken the trip to Uganda, proposed on www.birdingpal.org site by Deo Muhumuza. We arrived in Entebbe 2nd July 2013 in the afternoon and departed 16th July in the noon. Due to the zeal and efforts of our guides, Deo and Emmy Gongo, also these first and last days, of arrival and departure, were very fruitful and abundant with new species. The itinerary prepared by Deo – from Entebbe’s Botanical Gardens and Alexander Park, via Mabamba Swamp, Lake Mburo National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Ruhija – Neck – Buhoma), Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kazinga Channel, Semliki Forest, Kibale Forest National Park to the Royal Mile in Budongo Forest – was excellent, giving possibility to get acquainted with many Ugandian bird habitats: first of all, tropical forests, but to some extent also to water habitats (swamps, lakes, channels), savanna and agricultural fields. However, different types of forest in Western Uganda were definitely clou of the itinerary.

Such forests habitats are extremely difficult for birdwatchers; however, with the priceless help of our guides, due to their incredible perceptivity and amazing knowledge of the forest species, we manage to find, see, recognize and shot (by cameras) many very difficult and desirable species – among them such rarities as 13 of 24 endemits of Albert Rift, Crowned Eagle, Green-breasted Pitta, African and African Green Broadbills, White-starred Robin, Shining-blue, Dwarf, African Pygmy and Chocolate-backed Kingfishers, Red-faced, White-headed, Yellow-billed, Double-toothed, Grey-throated, Spot-flanked, Yellow-spotted and Hairy-breasted Barbets, Red-rumped, Yellow-rumped, Yellow-throated, Yellow-fronted and Speckled Tinkerbirds, African, Western and Montane Orioles, African, Red-chested, Levaillant’s, African Emerald, Diederik and Klaas’s Cuckoos, Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons, majority of Greenbuls, Apalises, Crombecs, Sunbirds, Weavers, Widowbirds and many, many others (total amount of species is a bit above 420 species in 15 days).

Itinerary proposed by Deo is excellent, seeming optimally to give opportunity to have „best birds of Uganda” in two weeks. He himself is not only excellent guide and organizer but also wonderful man, joyful and very helpful. Our second guide, Emmy, also joyful, helpful, wonderful man, is certainly one of the best guides we have ever met in our birding trips around the world: amazingly perceptive, quick-reflexive, with imposing knowledge of the birds and forest. Both Emmy and Deo as guides, and the Uganda itinerary proposed by Deo, should be strongly recommended for all birders around the world.

Tomasz Klys, Tadeusz Stawarczyk, Andrzej Wuczynski, Jan Lontkowski, Marcin Sidelnik, Marcin Solowiej – Poland

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