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Recommended birding guides.

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Old Wednesday 17th May 2017, 08:24   #1
Tamir
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Recommended birding guides.

Hello,

My wife and I are planning a self-driving trip to Uganda in this coming July. This is not specifically a birding trip, but we do plan to do some birding along the way.

However we do want to hire a local birding guide in two specific locations: One in the Budongo Forest Reserve and especially The Royal Mile and the Busingiro area. The second is in Bwindi, the Buhoma section (a day before our planned Gorilla trekking). In each location we plan to bird a few hours, not a full day .
We are not specifically interested in the “sought-after species” or the most rare ones, it should be sort of "general birding".

If someone knows and can recommend us a local guide for those two locations it will be much appreciated.

Thanks,

- Tamir
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Old Thursday 18th May 2017, 20:45   #2
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Hi Tamir, it sounds like you may be doing what my partner and I are planning for September (Roadtrip Uganda by any chance?) - I can't offer specific recommendations, but I am aware that the UWA offer birding guides for $30. I have heard very good things about www.birduganda.com - it may be worth contacting them to see if they can assist.

I'd be very interested in hearing about birding in the Buhoma area if you manage to source a guide, I was planning on walking around the general area as recommended in Rossouw & Sacchi - the book is 19 years old now, so I'm not sure if that is an option or if you would require a guide.

I hope this helps somewhat, and you enjoy your trip.
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Old Sunday 21st May 2017, 05:52   #3
Tamir
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Hi dwatsonbirder,

Thanks you for your answer.

I tried to contact several companies:
(*) birduganda.com didn’t answer my emails (I sent three).
(*) birdinginuganda.com did answer my first email, with suggested guide for the royal mile but also suggested that we will hire a driver for the entire trip. I send them more emails with some more specific details but they didn’t answer them.
(*) ecouganda.com suggest, like you did, that I can hire a local guide on site at the price of $30 - $50. After that they send me another short email with this somewhat vague quote:
“in Budongo there is Raymond, and in bwindi, there is Mathew. Raymonds cell is 0777319865. for Mathew, you can ask while in bwindi. it will be easy to find him”.

I’m not sure what to do with this information.

(*) I also sent an email to ugandabirdguidesclub.org but haven’t received a reply.

The thing is, I think that the first 3 companies deals with a more tailor made trips with a guide which is also do the driving for you. It’s not worth for them to deals with someone who need a guide for a few hours here and there. I can really understand that, but I would expect that they will write me that answer, rather than don’t answer at all.

Anyhow, I think that I do what was suggested by you and hire a guide on site.

Thanks again,

- Tamir
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Old Sunday 21st May 2017, 21:02   #4
dacol
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I went on a birding tour in Uganda in July of 2015 organized by Uganda Eco Tours (ecouganda.com), it was led by Deogratius Muhumuza, an excellent guide. I see that they provided you with the names of local bird guides. Budongo Forest is somewhat isolated and you should try to contact Raymond as soon as possible. I don't know him, but I would trust a recommendation made by Deo who is probably the person that responded to you from ecouganda. To visit Budongo we stayed in Masindi and drove from there to Budongo, a longish drive (between 1 and 2 hours from Masindi), it didn't look like there was any place closer to stay but I am not sure. It is not a place often visited by regular tourists, foreigners that visit it are usually birders. The guard at the entrance gate was rather surly and, despite Deo having proper permitis to bring a group in, demanded a bribe to let us in. Thus I think you should try to make arrangements with a local guide as soon as possible.
The entrance to the Buhoma section of Bwindi Impenetrable NP is at the end of Buhoma village, that is the road crosses the whole village and ends at the NP. On entering the gate, on the left side of the road there is an acess to one of the lodges inside the park (this is the one run by the local community and it is pretty good, is the one we stayed, had good birding from the restaurant and from the cabin-tents). Nearby, on the left side of the entrance road is a small building where visitors to the park check in. This would be one of the places to inquiry about the recommended guide. They may also recommend others. I think it would be best to make inquiries through the place you will be staying, or at the community-run lodge. The entrance road is used by local people to travel across the park but vehicles are not allowed and there will be locals traveling on foot or bicycle. Birding is quite good along this road but you will not be allowed to drive on it inside the park. There are also side trails which usually loop around and return to this road. Birding is not feasible on the gorilla trek, the rangers keep people going at a constant walking pace and there are lots of people: 8 tourists, 2-3 rangers plus several porters. You might try during a rest and/or lunch stop but during most of the trek there is no time to search for birds.
I have a trip report at http://tucanosperch.blogspot.com/201...uly-to-16.html
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Old Monday 22nd May 2017, 11:52   #5
amears
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Details of another in here, Tamir:

http://www.avianwatchuganda.co.ug/Tr...tober_2011.pdf
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Old Tuesday 23rd May 2017, 10:57   #6
Tamir
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Hi dacol,

Thank you for the valuable advices and tips.

I saw another recommendation about Raymond as an expert bird guide to the Budongo so I’ll try the contact him as soon as we land in Uganda.
We also plan to overnight in Masindi and in the morning drive to Budongo. I wasn’t aware that the driving takes so long.

About Bwindi, I was planning to take binoculars with me to the Gorilla trekking but as I read from your comments, there is no point in doing so. I guess you can’t win them all.

Amears, your report was quite knowledgeable. Hopefully the roads improved since 2011 since we are going to do the driving ourselves ().

Thanks again,

- Tamir
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Old Wednesday 28th June 2017, 19:45   #7
dacol
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Hi Tamir,

I did not mean to discourage you from bringing your binos to the gorilla trek. I certainly brought mine, as well as a camera, and don't regret it. Just don't count on having time to specifically look for birds.

Hope you have a good trip,

Dalcio
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Old Sunday 9th July 2017, 11:34   #8
Tamir
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I Just wanted to give an update since we returned from Uganda two days ago.

For Budongo we did called Raymond and arranged a tour and it was amazing. Raymond is highly experience birder, very knowledgeable and an excellent guide. He knows many bird sounds and can imitate them, but he also has great knowledge about the forest history, the monkeys and the butterflies. If you plan to bird in Budongo Forest, I highly recommend him as a guide.

In Bwindi we decided not to arrange a birding tour because in the two nights we stayed there it was raining in the afternoon and on the second day we were a bit tired after the Gorilla Trekking. However we did a short walk between the main gate and south on the main road until the point where you are not allowed to walk without a guide and just enjoyed the few common birds we saw and many butterflies.
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Old Saturday 30th December 2017, 21:08   #9
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I'd like to add some recommendations for birding guides in Uganda.

We travelled on a Naturetrek "tailormade" trip in November 2017 and had a great time. The local agent was Let's Go Travel and they provided our bird guide, Paul Kaggwa Kibirango. He is a very friendly and helpful chap with excellent birding skills - very sharp-eyed and good on calls. He is on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-kag...rango-31588450.

Jude Ainomugisha (also from Let's Go Travel) took over from Paul for the last few days of our trip. He is also an excellent birder and found us our Green Breasted Pitta in Kibale. His email address is [email protected]

I would also like to mention two young local guides:

Nicholas Majani Tugumisirize, based at Buhoma in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. email [email protected]

Musinguzi Rodgers, known as Rodger, based at Kibale National Park. email: [email protected]

They were both enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and sharp-eyed, able to spot and identify near-invisible skulkers in the rain forest, usually without using their binoculars. Like Paul and Jude they were excellent at mimicking calls to bring birds closer. They are both at the start of their careers as birding guides and by recommending them I'm hoping I can support them in becoming the top bird guides of the future. The more we can support local birding guides the more we help ecotourism, which is so vital for the conservation of the amazing primary rainforest with its Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees and other primate species not to mention the large variety of birds.

Mike
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