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9 travelers at this place

  • Day7

    Lake Bunyonyi Overland Camp

    June 15, 2017 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    I thought Red Chilli Camp was the best but this one definitely takes the cake, I cannot believe how beautiful this place is and we get to spend four nights here! We have set up our tent right on the lake and have an amazing view as you can see from the photo.

    The facilities here are pretty good, three bars (one at each level which is handy when the stairs are as steep as they are, you can stop of for a beer at each level), good showers and toilets which is important if you haven't noticed I'm always commenting on them haha.

    The next few days are going to be really busy and pretty exciting, I am going to have early mornings and long days because I going to look for chipmunks tomorrow, gorillas on Saturday and then visiting Rwanda on Sunday!
    Read more

  • Day11

    Truck Journey to Musanze, Rwanda

    December 5, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    The combination of getting up so early for four days in a row, the exhausting gorilla trek the previous day, and that it had been raining on the tent when I went to sleep and still raining on the tent when I woke up, meant that my mood and morale was low. I got up at 6am but then discovered the truck was leaving later at 9am because of the rain. I had some breakfast of oats and toast with honey, put my possessions in the truck storage under my seat, and packed up my soaking wet tent. We set off for our next destination, Musanze, Rwanda.The journey has some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen with vast vistas of mountains and hills covered with steep small fields and trees. One of the views in particular was an immense vista of hills and mountains stretching for mile after mile. The valleys were often filled with large lakes such as the long Lake Boryani which we finally left behind after about an hour's drive. The people and especially the children still waved on route, but nearer the Rwandan border the mischievous children were noticeably more aggressive in asking for money/pens and some threw sticks at the truck or tried to jump on the back if they didn’t get what they wanted. We crossed the Rwanda border without too much difficulty. The first thing to notice was that we were now in a French speaking country and were driving on the right hand side of the road. The people and culture were already noticeably different. The houses were generally more wealthy and the roads were lined with trees. The people’s waves and acknowledgements were also more friendly than the last part of Uganda. We arrived at our next place, Fatima camp, which is an old convent complex of buildings in Musanze under the shadow of a huge volcano, Karisimbi, that had been dominating the skyline of our jouney for over half an hour. We were all given twin en suite rooms rather than the dorm rooms we were expecting which was an unexpected and welcome luxury after our miserable wet camp the night before. However, I was exhausted and had been given the task and responsibility of cooking for the rest of the group along with two others – Jesse and Kristin. This made me miserable as I had cooked only two days before and just wanted to rest and sleep after an exhausting few days. Very kindly, my fellow traveller Brian, a gentle and kind Irishman with a good wit and a stutter, and who I was sharing the same twin room with, very kindly offered to take my place on the cooking group. After some initial reluctance to impose on Brian, I gratefully agreed and was able to clean my muddy waterproofs and boots from the previous day’s mudfest of a gorilla trek and was able to get a couple of hours of desperately needed rest on a comfy bed. In the evening I discovered that part of the reason for my tiredness was that I’d contracted a mild stomach virus. I did sleep well and felt a little more rested and refreshed the following morning.Read more

  • Day10

    Gorilla Trek - Bwindi Forest Park

    December 4, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    It was another early start at 4.30am for a 5.30 two hour drive in a 4x4 vehicle with our driver Amos to the mountain gorilla trek in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park. We started in the dark, but the final section through stunning mountain scenery with cloud filled valleys is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. You could see why the film about Diane Fossey was called ‘Gorillas in the Mist’! The people in the rural villages we passed through had a the rugged, impassive look of mountain people. The women wore traditional, patterned sarong like dresses with similarly patterned scarves. The children were delightfully cute and waved eagerly at us as we passed by. The people lived in humble mud brick dwellings and were clearly very poor. They worked hard long days in the fields, but also had a lively and energetic disposition which was apparent later in the evening when they congregated in their villages where there was quite a buzz. We arrived at the starting point of the trek where we received a debriefing from one of the park rangers. We learned that there is no longer any poaching of gorillas thanks to the funding that the park receives from trekking permits and that the gorilla numbers are slowly increasing. He also let us know that there are elephants in the park which were cut off from their natural habitat of the savanna grasslands when the park was created in 1981. There are also monkeys, antelope and many species of birds in the park which is around 350 square kilometres (check?). There were about 40 people at the debriefing and we were all split into smaller groups. I took another 45 minute drive through even more stunning mountain countryside and rural villages in the 4x4 car with my fellow travellers with Brian, Jemma (tour leader) and Grant. We were also joined by a Dutch couple. Our trekking guide, Benjamin, put a lot of pressure on us to take a porter to carry our bags – we resisted this, but could later see why he wanted us to take one. We started the trek with a punishing mile long climb up a track to where the ‘community forest’ began – the community forests are on the edge of the park forest and are set aside for the local people to use and maintain so that they don't damage the wild forest (there used to pygmys living in the park forests but they were controversially removed when the forest was created). We entered the wild, lush and verdant rainforest and descended a long way down the path to the valley floor. It had rained heavily overnight and the path was extremely muddy and slippery which made the going very difficult. The Dutch woman particularly struggled, fell several times and then became very anxious about negotiating difficult sections of the path which made our progress as a group very slow. We all got very muddy very quickly. The consolation was that the rainforest views were beautiful, primal and densely packed with trees and plants. We trudged through this challenging, steep sided terrain over many streams for three hours and all became quite weary. At last we entered the area where the ‘spotters' who had already found the gorillas were waiting for us. The guides hacked through the dense Bush up a steep incline to where a forest family of eighteen gorillas were methodically and contentedly feeding. I caught my first glimpse of an adult female gorilla passing through the undergrowth below. After some more hacking by the spotters, we came out to where the lead silverback male gorilla was stripping foliage and having his fill. He looked towards us to acknowledge our presence and continued eating. However, as we got closer to take photos, we clearly got too close for his comfort and he made a sudden and very dramatic mock charge, and we were faced with an intimidating wall of gorilla muscle with his huge arms planted in huge fists on the ground. To say that this was a frightening encounter with a wild animal would be an understatement and and I couldn't stop my instinct to step backwards even though we were told not to move or run away if a gorilla came towards us – easier said than done! The dominant silverback had clearly made his point and he returned to eating. I got some nice photos and videos before he moved gracefully and easily into the undergrowth where we were staggering, stumbling and falling. The spotters hacked through more brush and we followed. We came across a young female gorilla eating contentedly and expertly stripping all the leaves from a stalk in one go, folding them into her mouth and devouring. Apparently, gorillas have very tough tongues so that they can eat foods such as thorny brambles with blackberries which is one of their favourite foods. We then moved on to a very touching family scene where an infant gorilla was clambering over his/her mother and the mother gently picked him up by the legs and tended to him. We went on to have lovely views of the family group who were all around us. I watched the male silverback again munching through copious amounts of leaves with a young gorilla nearby. Our final view was of a young female gorilla with her back turned but she looked around briefly for our final encounter with the mountain gorillas – it was hard to leave this very special moment which felt like a great privilege to witness. It was now time for the long trudge back out of the rainforest. We quickly stopped to eat our packed lunch and then continued back along the very challenging, wet and muddy path. By this point most of the group had gone onto the wet mud and strand over their shoes. Brian and the Dutch woman really started to struggle with tiredness and dehydration. Just to add to our woes the heavens opened and it poured down with rain for over one and a half hours. I perversely enjoyed being in the rain and experience the rainforest in one of its frequent climates (however, I wasn’t looking forward to trying to dry my wet, muddy clothes at the rainy campsite later!) The views through the rainforest were beautiful and evocative of very ancient times. We saw a small antelope name? across the river feeding with it’s small tail spinning like a tiny white propellor. We then had the long wet climb back out of the valley to the starting point – again the Dutch women really struggled even with the help of her porter and progress was painfully slow. We finally got back to starting point very late in the after very exhausted after our tough six hour trek. The guide then proceeded to give us a talk on the gorillas and had organised singing and dancing by local women which was very nice, but felt uncomfortably colonial and we were all feeling too exhausted to enjoy. We were given a certificate of our success on completing the gorilla trek – just about in a few cases! We were then invited to tip the guides and buy trinkets on the craft shop on site. I have found the expectation of tips for every service in East Africa very challenging. I only had large 50000 shilling notes (approx. $13) and had already given one to the spotters who hacked their way to give us views of the gorillas but then felt guilty for not having enough to give the other spotter! I had the same dilemma about giving tips to the many guides present and took time deciding whether to buy small fridge magnets of gorilla faces. Suddenly, everyone was getting in the car to go and I had to join them without buying anything or tipping the guides and felt even more guilty. I will try to keep smaller denominations of notes for future tipping to try and avoid this in future. We started the long drive back through the mountains to our campsite and passed the vibrant villages in the evening. The driver, Amos, got lost in the fading light a couple of times, but eventually brought us out at the other end of the lake Buryani which is so long that it took over an hour to drive its length. We arrived back at the rainy campsite wet, cold, tired and a bit miserable. I found somewhere in my tent to put my wet and muddy clothes and shoes and got a well needed meal of chilli beans and rice at the campsite restaurant. I then got a hot shower and went to bed. I reviewed my gorilla photos and finally got to sleep at about midnight to dream of gorillas in the mist.Read more

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