Uganda wildlife

I was saddened to read in the “News Watch” section of the January ’06 issue about the shooting of the tourist on Nov. 8, 2005, in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. I had completely missed any mention of it in my local newspaper, The Washington Post, so I looked it up online.

It seems that the tourist, a Brit, was farther north than tourists usually go in the park. Nonetheless, it is frightening that, despite Uganda’s best efforts, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is still operating within the park boundaries.

I was in Uganda for three weeks in September-October ’05 and in Murchison Falls National Park about three weeks before the fatal shooting. The newspapers I read while I was there claimed the LRA had been driven back into Sudan and Congo. So my guide, my driver and I did cross the Nile into the northern (unsafe) part of the park for a day of game driving on the tracks in the delta region. It seemed safe enough; there were plenty of armed rangers around. But apparently it wasn’t so safe as we’d thought.

And I thought we had more to fear from the herd of Cape buffalo that I thought we’d gotten too close to than from the LRA!

I arranged my trip over the Internet. I was interested in a 3-week birding tour, with one day for a gorilla trek. (I saw 558 bird species and, of course, lots of mammals too, including 13 gorillas and three chimpanzees.) And I wanted the best birding guide in Uganda, who is Alfred T. At the time I arranged the tour, he was working for Kabarole Tours (offices in Fort Portal and Kampala, Uganda), but now he is freelance. He can be contacted by e-mail at

For the three weeks, with guide, driver, 4WD safari vehicle, Gorilla Trekking Permit, all meals and accommodations (including a 5-star at Queen Elizabeth National Park and some fairly luxurious tented camps), it cost me $8,600 plus tips. (For a couple, it would be cheaper per person.) Alfred has shorter trips, too. Airfare from Washington, D.C., to Entebbe was $1,500 on British Air, with a stopover in London on the way over.

Anyway, it’s a shame about the LRA attack. Uganda is a beautiful and rewarding country filled mostly with friendly, hardworking people. I had a great time, and the hour I spent sitting with a gorilla family in Bwindi National Park is ineffable. Believe it or not, I got a lot of great food, too.

Oakton, VA