After having said goodbye to our friends Tom and Jemina we set off to investigate the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. The area is situated just outside Kibale National Park on the eastern side, and is basically a swamp with a forest on it. It is also a haven for birds and monkeys.
We arrived at the visitors centre just before 10, just as the day started to get really warm. The morning clouds were parting, and the sun peaked its head out and started shining from a clear blue sky.
At reception we were met by one of the local guides. He ran us through the different walk options and left us to decide what we wanted to do. We settled on a swamp walk, and stressed that we would like a guide who knows the birds in the area. “OK” he said, “that would have to be me then”. Before reaching Bigodi our bird count for Uganda stood at 80. We challenged him to find us at least five new birds to add to our list. “No problem” he said.
Off we went with water at hand and hiking boot on foot. We hadn’t even gone 100m and we had three new birds on the list. Off to a very good start.
The walk follows a trail that encircles the swamp. On the other side of the trail is local farm land, so contact with farmers and the locals is frequent. We also came across a few young boys selling carvings of chimps and gorillas. Our guide ensured us that they are only allowed there during school holidays – the rest of the time they have to go to school. This is part of the local community focus on education. As the centre and swamp tours are run by the community, 50% of the proceeds are ploughed back into the community to maintain the boardwalks (which are used as a main route to the market) and to equip the guides with binoculars and reference material.
We had a lovely walk, although quite hot (our own fault for starting so late…). When we recapped what we had seen we ended up with 14 new birds on our list. Very good result for a hot mid-day. We also managed to see five different species of monkey.