Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Bwindi Mountain Gorillas

As I write I'm sitting in a mountain side lodge high in the Bwindi mountains, Uganda. 
To say I am a happy bunny would be an understatement. Today I fulfilled a childhood ambition to spend time in the forest with Ugandas Mountain Gorillas. 
There have been too many memorable experiences to recount, but for me the highlight of this safari is to find Mountain Gorillas. Which is exactly what we did on our second last day.
We arrived in Bwindi after a long slow drive up into the mountains. Temperatures dropped as we progressed up the single track dirt roads often at a snails pace, but it was definately worth the journey when we trekked into the forest the next morning.
We were fortunate that our trackers located a family of seventeen Gorillas after about two hours trekking through the world renowned 'impenetrable forest'. Our Ugandan ground handlers had advised us to hire a porter to carry our back pack with lunch, water and rain coats, which was a life saver. The terrain is not easy going as this is a wilderness area with no footpaths or trails. We could only follow our team of trackers who forged ahead. Their job is two fold, first to find the Gorillas for us, but also (and once they have found the Gorillas) to record scientific data for the research team back at base.
The first indication that they had found their target was when I noticed they had stopped and were excitedly talking to each other in whispers. When we caught up to them, their big grins said it all. There, in a small clearing were the family. All seventeen, including the silver back out in the open. We had been briefed by our local guide on what you can and can't do in a sighting. For example, no flash photography being high on the list, but also things like not being allowed near if you have a cold and could sneeze in their vicinity and spread diseases.

In our case we were permitted to get to within 7 meters and just enjoy being in their company for the regulation time of one hour. As for the Gorillas, they paid no attention to us and simply went about their daily life. Eating the bark from a fallen tree, mothers breast feeding babies, kids play fighting and Dad getting grumpy with them all. Just an average family day for them and a life times ambition fulfilled for me.
At the end of our time, we reluctantly trekked back to the waiting vehicles. It was a very very happy (not to say animated and excited) group that arrived back at our lodge for a well earned late lunch!
Now you can also join one of our Ugandan safaris. Check out our website and then drop Carol a line for a lot more information.

Written by Will Fox
On safari in Uganda

what a hoot

I always get excited when we see owls in the bush, they are so hard to find and even then, they never sit still long enough for a photo. This one called at the right moment, enabling us to actually find him. He even sat for one or two photos before flying away.

Monday, 20 January 2014

A waterbuck in water?!

As odd as it sounds, we rarely see waterbuck actually in water on safari, I find the name slightly misleading! It is much more likely to see them on land feeding. We stumbled across this stunning male recently on safari who posed so nicely for us, sometimes animals just want to be photographed.

Day 6 in Uganda

Day 6 in Uganda and we've settled nicely into the rhythm of this country and the Western Rift valley. We cross the equator several times as we head to different game viewing locations. Stopping for the obligatory silly photo, standing with one foot in each hemisphere.
In the afternoon we trekked down into a gorge under the canopy of the rain forest to see if we could find the illusive chimps that live there. 
After a briefing from our guide we follow his lead along single track trails in search of signs of the chimps. The remains of the skin of some fruit, accompanied by fresh scatt indicates they are very close.  Nelson our guide leads the way, walking as quietly as possible until we find them. We keep low and quiet which allows us to spend the next 30 mins sitting in the forest watching these fascinating primates just 5 meters away, uneffected by our presence.

Written by Will Fox

Uganda day 4

Day 4 of our Uganda safari and we're game viewing by boat on the natural channel the runs between lakes Edward and George. I love game viewing from the water, animals don't feel threatened by folks approaching from the water rather than the land, which means you can observe a lot of natural behaviour, as well as get some great pics.

Written by Will Fox

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Ugandan Safari day two

Day two of our Ugandan safari and just after dawn we're crossing the River Nile by ferry. As we wait to load our vehicle, we can see hippo and crocs on the far bank about 200 meters away. I have never seen so many hippo in one place. Once across we enjoyed some great game viewing before a well earned lunch. In the late afternoon we took a boat ride upstream and then disembarked to trek up the side of the falls. A simply amazing experience. When we reached the top we were greeted by the awe inspiring sight of the river Nile roaring through a 6m gap in the rocks, that is the Mercheson Falls. Fantastic.
Written by Will Fox

Friday, 17 January 2014

Elephant Play Time

Elephants are the largest land mammal in the world, they are graceful and intelligent. They also like to share. While watching a large female ele have a mud bath, she decided that she needed to share the experience with the game viewer and all people on it! Needless to say, we got very dirty! The rest of the herd then also came to the mud bath and thankfully they all decided we were muddy enough, and were content to play by rolling round in it, and chasing each other. It was definitely an unforgettable experience. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Black Dam Pride

It has been a while since there was an update on the Black Dam Pride of lions that we see regularly at Tangala. The 4 cubs are still doing very well, they are growing fast! Two of them are now 10 months old, and two are 8 months old.

 A new male from the Timavati joined up with the resident male of the pride for a while, but once one of the females came into season, he was swiftly kicked out again. He is a stunning male and larger than the pride male, so maybe at some point soon there will be a change in who is the boss!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Walking in the Bush

While at Drifters Game Lodge, we are often able to get into the bush on foot. It is on these bush walks you get the chance to get really close to nature, see things you would definitely miss on a vehicle. Things such as this awesome looking locust and grasshopper!

And as if that wasn't enough, we saw an epic battle between a spider and an ant, unfortunately, neither survived, they had bitten and stung each other too much.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Hyena Den

While out on drive this week, we were very fortunate to come across a spotted hyena den, complete with two sub adults and a very cute cub. They were playing together and at one point, the cub seemed very curious to find out what we were and even sniffed out tire!