Home' Travel News : December 2-17 - January 2018 Contents 46 travel news october/november 2017
october/november 2017 travel news 47
In the morning the leaves drip after light rainfall. Lingering over tea on the veranda eyes
naturally drawn to the waterfall as its gushes over the precipice, and early morning mist
snag on cliff-ridges. After breakfast it is time to get back in our vehicles and head to the
Kenya border. Where would I return to? The gorillas and Murchison Falls are thrilling;
as for scenery Kidepo Valley NP, way off the beaten track and mass tourism—trumps
Diversions along the way: of introduced rhinos and the elusive Shoebill stork
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has become popular especially with tourists en route from
Kampala to Murchison Falls, who stay just for lunch after a morning or afternoon walk
to see the rhinos, (accompanied by a ranger). The 65km2 sanctuary is situated in the
Nagasongola district of central Uganda with ideal Rhino habitat and adjacent to the
northern most extension of Lugogo Swamp. This is also my preferred place to see
the critically endangered Shoebill stork. If you do visit Ziwa it is approx. 77kms (1 .25
hours) from the Murchison Falls NP south gate.
White rhino were re-introduced to Ziwa in 2005 starting with four from Solio Game
Reserve in Kenya, and Ziwa is the only place to see white rhino in the wild in Uganda.
The first rhino born in Uganda after an absence of 26 years was born in 2009, with a
father from Kenya and mother from America, there was only one name that the calf
could really be called—Obama.
Although we saw one Shoebill stork at the Murchison Falls NP delta and another
spiralling in the hot sky at Mabamba Bay, the swamp, adjacent to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
offers one of the more reliable places for seeing Shoebills anywhere in Uganda.
Shoebill storks are a soft, sherbet grey, with close-set citron yellow eyes and a clog-
shaped bill rather like a grinning whale giving them a comical expression (although
to some bizarre), their gait might be stiff-legged and slow, but when airborne they
are graceful. The Shoebill is related to the pelican family rather than storks and they
can live up to 50 years. The adults are five feet tall, weigh 6kgs, feed on toads, baby
crocodiles and lungfish and build messy nests on 3m wide floating islands; the eggs
take a month to incubate. However, sadly the shoebill is globally threatened due to the
usual litany of threats, and on CITES Appendix II list: habitat loss/ from rice schemes,
agriculture and deforestation; artificial flooding of dams, sweeping away their nests and
eggs; persecution by local fishermen who are superstitious about them, and the bush
meat (bird) trade. In the 70s there were 10-15,000 who knows how many birds remain
We set the alarm early to optimise the possibility of seeing one of these rare storks.
Luck was on our side and we saw seven, one close up. In calf-high wellies (supplied by
Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch) we waded with into the Swamp after our keen sighted
guide Martin having spotted a distant Shoebill. More than once we sank knee-high into
the marshy water, which oozed into our boots. On the way we saw a Sitatunga, a first
for all of us.
For more information on Ziwa click HERE. There are also 10 individual comfortable
rooms at Amuka Lodge nearby, it is good value for money, and the food is homely and
copious. Click HERE to visit.
Where to stay...
Apoka Safari Lodge, Kidepo Valley National Park
Accommodation: 10 luxury cottages, lounge, dining room and bar is basically one
expansive raised deck overlooking a waterhole and beyond to savannah plains and far
horizons rimmed with jagged peaks. The swimming pool carved into the natural curves
of the kopje offers a cool place to relax after a dusty game drive. Click HERE to visit.
Sipi River lodge, on the northern flank of Mt Elgon
Accommodation: there are three large rooms that sleep five with views of Kapsurur Falls,
a large cottage that sleeps seven, two rustic bandas and a bunkhouse, with shared
bathroom facilities. Activities that can be arranged include rock climbing/abseiling,
mountain treks, fishing, bird watching, rock art (two-hours dive away) and coffee tours.
Click HERE to visit.
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