Entebbe and Mabamba

Emma met our next host through work. Miriam had already hosted Emma once, when she was stranded in Entebbe due to a canceled flight for work. She happily hosted Emma then and was happy to host us again. This is the great hospitality we love about Africa. People are genuinely happy to host you and it's truly something they enjoy. We planned to stay for a night or two, but ended up staying for 4 nights, which was no problem for Miriam.

We spent quite some time in Entebbe at the Victoria mall to (you would guess it) edit photos and videos and to catch up on some blog writing. This time it was to edit for ourselves. We love to put some photos and videos with the blogs, but that takes quite some time too. 

One of the reasons we stayed longer in Entebbe than planned, was the shoebill. We saw one when we stayed at Ziwa, but we were not really able to see it very clearly. Due to the high grass, we only saw the head. The bird itself is just as impressive is its bill. The bird is huge, standing up tall in the shallow parts of the swamp, and we were hoping to get a better look at this. 

Around the north-western shores of lake Victoria, in which Entebbe is located on a peninsula, is the Mabamba swamp. We had already received a contact from a friend for doing a shoebill tour in Mabamba swamp, but we were not very convinced about the accommodations in the swamp. We were planning to do the shoebill trek early morning, as they can be best seen in early morning or late afternoon. Unfortunately, every night the rains were heavy in Entebbe and those rains usually continued in the morning. We were not looking forward to camping in the rain again, then doing the shoebill boat ride in the rain and not having a good option to shower and dry our stuff.

When we called Brian, the shoebill contact, we grew happy with the alternative he offered. Although early mornings are usually best, he understood our concerns about the weather. His proposal, to have a boat pick us up at Entebbe the same afternoon, bring us to the swamp, do the shoebill trek and then have the boat bring us back to Entebbe, sounded great. The afternoons were mostly when the sun came out and this day seemed to be the same. 

And so, that is what we did. We had lunch at Miriam's place, went to the docks and take the boat to Mabamba swamp. We saw beautiful pied kingfishers do their famous hunts, diving for fish as we went for the swamp. We spent a few hours watching many different birds as we made our way through the high grass and the papyrus in the swamp. Brian (or Mabambrian as we came to call him) knew a lot about the different birds, which made the time without the shoebill great. 

We were very lucky, when we got to see the shoebill again. This time, we were a lot closer when we turned around a corner of papyrus and suddenly saw it. Standing tall over the grass, we got the view we were hoping for. For photography, the settings were not ideal, but we took some quick shots and spend some time enjoying the view, before (s)he flew off, not to be seen again. We spent some time trying to find it again, but to no avail. Fortunately, we saw many beautiful birds in the meantime and we enjoyed our time wading through the papyrus and beautiful water lilies. 

Once back at Miriam's house, it was time to give our lovely car some cleaning she needed. We added her some engine oil and spend some good time giving it a good clean, together with Miriam's house help, Catherine, who treated us like family throughout our stay. Too bad her son Simon was a bit shy for the wazungu in the house, but we are extremely grateful for all the hospitality we have received while we were allowed to stay with them!

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