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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens, it is now at .

Entebbe, Lake Victoria, Mabamba Swamp, and some Birds of Uganda: January 8, 2023

As a result of many flight schedule changes and flight cancellations, we ended up arriving in Entebbe, Uganda, one day before our scheduled tour was to begin. The local tour company, Adventure Consults offered several daytrip options to fill our day. We chose a morning speedboat/canoe tour of the Mabamba Swamp in Lake Victoria and a Sunset Cruise.

Ugandan Canoes on Lake Victoria
The big draw for bird watchers is to see the Shoebill Stork which is not a stork and not part of the stork family of birds. DNA findings have placed the Shoebill in a monotypic subfamily of Pelecanidae (pelican). There are just 12 Shoebill Storks in the Mabamba Swamp and we were lucky to see one. It is a very strange looking bird with pterodactyl features and a hooked bill that does indeed look like a shoe.

An adult Shoebill can reach 5' (150cm) tall, has a wingspan of about 8' (244cm) and can weigh around 13 pounds (6kg). It will stand motionless in one place for hours as it hunts reptiles and fish. The shoebill we observed had just grabbed and swallowed a lungfish as we arrived and then proceeded to stand motionless.

Our guide said Shoebills lay 2 eggs every five years (although I couldn't verify this fact). The eggs hatch at different times so the stronger, older chick gets all the food (siblicide). If the first egg doesn't hatch or the chick doesn't make it, then they have another egg as insurance. 

Uganda has 1,075 species of birds. We didn't come close to seeing that many, but everywhere we went we saw birds and heard their songs. 

Goliath Heron - the largest heron
After our swamp visit, our local guide Lovy took us on a walk through a nearby market on the shore of Lake Victoria where we saw even more birds.

A raucous Hamerkop drew our attention. One was sitting on a boat rail when two more flew in and their noisy courtship dance ensued followed by false mating. 

While the Hamerkop is a medium-sized bird, their nests are huge measuring as much as 5 feet/2 meters in depth and width and weighing up to 110 pounds/50 kg in weight. Hamerkop nests are made from 1000s of sticks, twigs, and aquatic vegetation and held together by mud. There is a belief that terrible things will happen to anyone who destroys the nest of a Hamerkop. Eric, our guide for the last week of our trip said that when the nests have been opened, pieces of bones, even a skull, and other found/stolen objects decorated the interior of the Hamerkops' nest.

A Hamerkop Nest

This market's produce was beautiful. The avocados were huge. A Qatar Air flight attendant recommended Ugandan avocados. Whenever avocados were on the menu, I indulged.

Charcoal for Sale
Most cooking is done over small charcoal stoves. 
Mending fishing Nets
Putting the nets in order after a night of fishing
Tilapia is one of the fish in Lake Victoria. Every evening, fishermen set their nets which are then pulled in the next morning. The nets are weighted down by small plastic bags filled with sand.

Grilled Fresh Tilapia for Sale

In the late afternoon we returned to Lake Victoria for the sunset cruise. It gave us an opportunity to see the market and some of Entebbe from the waterside and watch the fishing canoes head out to set their nets.

Tomorrow we move on to Murchison Falls National Park.

Lodging: Hotel No. 5 in Entebbe-A beautiful boutique hotel ten minutes from the airport with a welcoming staff, great food, a pizza restaurant, and birds everywhere. 

Our trip amazing arrangements were made by Mandy at DPP Travel.