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    • Day 13

      Nkuruba Forest Reserve part 1

      August 3 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

      Vooraleer we vertrekken uit Queen, zijn we snel nog een kijkje gaan nemen bij Kyambura Gorge. Dit is een kloof van 16km lang... Wij waren zeker onder de indruk.
      Wannes zijn eerste keer local lunch onderweg & ineens de laatste keer dat hij geit eet. Emely genoot met volle teugen, maar Wannes zijn gezicht spreekt voor zich.
      Verder zijn we aangekomen bij de Crater lakes vandaag. Het eerste wat we zien: aapjes. Écht overal! Tent opgezet en onze campsite eens gaan ontdekken, want het is gelegen aan een kratermeer. Beetje gerelaxed, mensen tegengekomen van de chimp trekking. Even een praatje gedaan tot er plots een aapje de volledige tros bananen van tafel kwam pikken en dat voor onze ogen in de boom op at. Wannes ging een filmpje maken en zat heel dichtbij. Hij dacht zelfs dat hij het kon aanraken, maar besefte al snel dat de aap het er niet mee eens was. 😜
      Emely wou heel graag een plonsje nemen in het meer... tot ze een kindje hoorde wenen door een bloedzuiger...
      We hebben zelf eten gemaakt deze avond en het was een hele uitdaging om de bbq aan te krijgen, maar het is ons gelukt! Tijdens het koken moesten we onze pot verdedigen tegen de velvet monkeys, want die waren genadeloos. Heel veel gelachen voor de rest!
      (De velvet monkeys hebben trouwens felblauwe ballen #blueballs)
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    • Day 14

      Nkuruba Nature Reserve part 2

      August 4 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 26 °C

      Opgestaan, ontbeten & vertrokken op een wandeling rond 4 crater lakes met een gids. Eerst liepen we door de bananenplantages waar we verschillende hagedissen hebben gespot & veel hebben bijgeleerd over de bananenteelt... zo weten we eindelijk het verschil tussen de matoké bananen en de kleine bananen. Onderweg zijn we gestopt bij een vanilleboer. Hij was heel vriendelijk en heeft ons alles uitgelegd over zijn werk. Hij bevrucht elke bloem van de vanilleplanten manueel, waarna het 8 maanden duurt tot de vanilleboon rijp is. De plant zelf bloemt pas na 4 jaar, dus hij moet héél veel geduld hebben... We hebben een heel bosje gekocht voor een (goedkoop) prijsje 😀.
      We hebben bij lake Nynambuka (=mother lake) zeker genoten van het uitzicht. De plaats waar we stonden, staat ook afgebeeld op de Oegandese shilling van 20 000. Aan de overkant ligt lake Kifuruka (migrated), samen vormen zij de twin lakes. Een beetje verderop ligt lake Lyantonde (drop). In de buurt spotten we er 3 blauwe dieren op nog geen 30m: hagedis, vlinder en flycatcher. Onderweg hebben we nog wat koffieboontjes & verse kruiden mogen plukken. Op het einde hebben we nog lokale bananen-kasava pannenkoekjes geproefd, goe ze! Kortom een rustig dagje.
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    • Day 31

      Lake Nkuruba

      October 16, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      Leaving Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary behind, we start a long drive across Uganda to the mountains. Specifically, we're heading to the Crater Lakes, which sit in the shadows of the Rwenzori Mountains. We predict a 5 hour drive, but it ends up being around 8. It turns out that, once the nice road from Kampala ends, we have to drive on a dirt road. Which has massive potholes. And has just been washed away by the huge rain storms. And we'll be on it for 100km. It's hard going, and mostly it's a case of just picking which pothole is the smallest and heading for that one, praying that it won't pop a tyre.

      At one point, we pass a group of guys trying to fix a particularly bad bit of road, clearing a path for a massive lorry. They're up to their knees in red mud, hacking away at the road with pickaxes and ferrying mud into the deep rivulets carved out by the heavy rains. As we pass, they gesture to us for money, for fixing the road. Chris feebly shrugs as we awkwardly drive through the group.

      After hours of the deepest "African massage" we've ever come across, we reach the crater lakes. Unfortunately, Google Maps is not on our side today, and it takes us through some tea plantations, with red dirt paths barely cutting through the rows of green tea bushes. A small child waves at us as we start a particularly hair-raising descent. Rather than the ubiquitous shout of "MZUNGU!", he says simply "bye-bye". It is quite ominous.

      Finally, after navigating the tea fields, we reach our campsite. And it is worth it. Three species of monkey bound around the trees and scamper across the ground. On one side of the campsite is a beautiful serene lake, surrounded by colonies of black-and-white colobus monkeys. To the other side, the hills drop away to reveal the Rwenzori mountains stretching across the entire horizon.

      We get talking to the only other people there- a Dutch couple called Bas and Vera. They've also hired a car, and have almost the exact same route as us. We would end up following them across most of Uganda.

      The next day, we head out on a walk with our guide from the lodge- Good. And I'm not describing the walk there: his name is Good. Which, I'm sure we can all agree, is a great name.

      We head to a waterfall, with Good telling us about everything and anything. We ask him about the chimpanzees. He tells us that when he was small, the chimps would be all around this area. He would be outside in the garden when a chimp would chase him, crying, back inside. Now, though, the apes are confined to a small national park just north of here. It's quite sad to hear. He does also tell us a story about a mother chimpanzee stealing a human baby when her offspring had died. The villagers had to hush the (human) parents' tears, or else the chimp would get so aggravated that she might tear the baby in two. On second thoughts, I'm glad that there are no chimps around.
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    • Day 117

      Kibale National Park

      August 31, 2017 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

      Stayed the night at a campsite/lodge just outside the park boundaries, which used to be a tea estate. The views out over the tea plantations, the lush gardens in full bloom, and the many resident birds made for a very pleasant stay and reminded us that camping can be absolutely fantastic.
      During the drive here, we crossed the equator into the northern hemisphere (John was super excited, Christy felt a bit indifferent). John hoped for some sign to mark our official crossing, but as we were not on a main road, we saw nothing. For those of you who care, we will cross the equator again on our way to Kenya, so John will be on high alert for an official sign, then.
      We visited Kibale NP to see chimpanzees. The day before our trek, we stopped at the info center to ask some questions. Arriving at the security gate, we asked the ranger if this was where the chimpanzee treks left from. With a wry smile, he pointed to the gate and said ‘read the sign’ (see the photo). We felt very excited to do an all day hike to track and hang out with wild chimps in the rainforest. It started out great after being assigned to a small group of 5 (park information indicates a maximum group size of 6) and getting an early start (6:30am) as we headed off into the dense forest. There are 2 options for trekking to see the chimps: 1) the traditional 1 hour chimp trekking or 2) an all day chimp habituation experience. Soon, we realized that the habituation group’s job was to track and locate the chimps so the traditional trekking groups coming later knew exactly where to hike to see the chimps. This became clear when our guide announced after ~3 hours of searching for chimps that another group had found a family and we would be joining them. When we arrived there were ~30 people already there. Fortunately the chimps didn’t seem to mind and the other traditional trekking groups left after ~ 1 hour.
      Once we found the group, we followed them for the rest of the day – until we were exhausted at about 3pm. It was fascinating to see the chimps exhibiting a wide range of behaviors from eating, nest building, play-fighting, and resting. The good was we were able to see the chimps up close and be with them for several hours. The not so good was there were too many people being relatively noisy and getting too close to the chimps. Feeling part of the exploitation, yet enjoying the experience left us conflicted. Of course it’s critical to chimp protection that Uganda reap financial benefit from tourism around them, but it seemed much less regulated and respectful than the gorilla trekking had. However, it was another incredible wildlife experience and our ranger did a great job making sure we were usually away from the occasional large group making it a more personal experience.
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    • Day 421

      More on drugs

      February 10, 2021 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 31 °C

      At the edge of Kibale Forest I search for traces of the Kibale Forest Coffee Project and find a guy to show me around. Unfortunately, without prior announcement we cannot visit many places and also my time is short.

      But first we visit a nice tea plantation. Each professional plugger manages to harvest 50-250 kg of leaves per day which is a lot and will satisfy the Indian plantation owners but the worker gets just 71 UGX (0,02 EUR) per kg. Again, most of it is exported, all is non-organic industry and nobody knows why Indians import East African tea. They all produce only broken black tea. There is no such thing as "green tea in whole leaves" or "single origin tea" or any quality label at all. Somewhat boring.

      The coffee (Robusta) in turn is growing scattered between outer forest trees and banana plants and processed in organic ways. In order to keep the animals from leaving Kibale Forest and securing their crops the locals plant bands of coffee, tea, pepper and tobacco at the forest boundary. All these crops are not eaten by the wild things. Additionally, in order to keep elephants from raiding around they establish bee hives because somehow elephants don't like bees around their ears and return into the forest. This is mainly financed by the national park fees. Interesting! But the coffee marketing could be improved. Difficult to buy in the place, I don't know where all of it is going nor the locals seem to know. Also the coffee processing is inefficient. They do this home-roasting on fire but with that you cannot process large quantities after a harvest. Also the roasting is very inhomogeneous. I bought a pack of which more than half of the beans are coal - crushable to powder between my fingers - and the others are still light brown. This is not tasty. Grinding is another issue. There are no grinders around. The people totally freaked out when I showed them my Turkish-style hand grinder. They even did not have any clue how such a thing works. I see some potential ...
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    • Familienleben und Fahrt in den Süden

      January 28, 2021 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

      Nach einem ausgiebigen Frühstück mit Pancakes fahren wir heute weiter Richtung Süden, wo unser erstes Tracking (Schimpansen) stattfinden soll. Unterwegs machen wir Stopp bei einer Familie, die Robert gut kennt. Seit letztem Frühjahr waren aufgrund des Corona-lockdowns keine Touristen mehr hier vorbeigekommen. Wir werden vom Hausherrn herzlich eingeladen, die Lebensgewohnheiten seiner Großfamilie kennenzulernen.

      Hier leben mehrere Generationen, Brüder und Schwestern mit vielen Kindern auf einem großen Grundstück zusammen. Der Hausherr hat zwei Frauen. Es sind etliche Hütten und auch größere Häuser zu sehen. Eine Kleinfamilie lebt unter einem Dach, bis die Kinder 12 Jahre alt sind und damit in die Pubertät kommen. Dann bauen sie ihre eigene kleine Hütte, womit auch die Privatsphäre der Eltern geschützt wird.

      Ein Sohn des Hausherrn zeigt uns eine Küche, die in einer eigenen Hütte untergebracht ist. Die Feuerstelle befindet sich außerhalb, was anders als bei den Massai im tansanischen Hochland ist. Ein Grundnahrungsmittel ist hier Maniok, aus dem die Menschen auch Mehl gewinnen. Die weißen Maniokwurzeln werden dazu in einem Mörser zerstampft und dann gesiebt. Das feine Mehl unterscheidet sich äußerlich kaum von unserem Weizenmehl. Ich bin fasziniert vom Prozess und dem Ergebnis!

      Während der Rest unserer Gruppe weitergeht und sich die anderen Hütten erklären lässt, bleiben Justina und ich bei den Kindern. Wir machen Selfies, dabei haben die Jungs großen Spaß, weil sie sich selbst sehen. Wenn ich versuche, sie direkt zu fotografieren, schrecken sie zurück.

      Dann fahren wir weiter Richtung Süden. Es wird immer grüner, große Teeplantagen breiten sich vor unseren Augen aus. Die Teepflücker werden nach Gewicht bezahlt, erklärt uns Robert. Gepflückt werden die hellen zarten Blätter. Teilweise arbeiten die Teepflücker mit großen schalenförmigen Scheren. Auf diese Weise landen jedoch auch die minderwertigeren kräftigeren Blätter im Sack. In diesen großen Säcken werden die Teeblätter dann in die Fabrik gefahren, wo die Fermentation und Verarbeitung stattfindet. Für die Teepflücker und ihre Familien gibt es eigene Dörfer.

      Das Teepflücken ist ein anstrengender und gering bezahlter Job, stundenlang der Sonne ausgesetzt, teilweise an recht steilen Hängen. Hier wird einem mal wieder krass vor Augen geführt, unter welchen Bedingungen viele der Produkte hergestellt werden, die wir so einfach und günstig im Supermarkt kaufen!

      Am späten Nachmittag kommen wir an unserer nächsten Unterkunft - dem Kibale Forest Camp, kurz “KFC” - an. Welch ein toll gelegenes Camp und ganz naturnah mit vielen Bäumen und anderen Pflanzen. Colobus-Affen und Meerkatzen springen von Ast zu Ast. Alles ist saftig grün und es duftet tropisch, wie schön!

      Beim Abendessen geht es heute etwas ernster zu. Der Besuch bei der Familie wirkt noch nach. Wir diskutieren über die Armut der Menschen hier, die mangelhafte Infrastruktur und scheinbare Ausweglosigkeit. Und den Kontrast zu dem “Luxus”, wie wir ihn hier in den Unterkünften erleben. Ja, hier treffen Gegensätze aufeinander, das ist erstmal ein Schock und erzeugt ein schlechtes Gewissen und Schuldgefühle. An diesem Abend lese ich noch in meinem Buch “ The Wonderful Wild”, ganz passend zu unserer Diskussion. Schuldgefühle bringen keinen weiter, damit schaden wir uns nur selbst. Wir sollten dankbar sein für das, was wir haben und uns leisten können. Aus dieser Dankbarkeit heraus und dem Mitgefühl für unsere Mitmenschen können wir versuchen, das zu ändern, was in unserem Einflussbereich liegt. Keiner von uns kann die ganze Welt retten.Vielleicht reicht es aber auch, wenn jeder von uns dafür sorgt, dass die Welt ein bisschen besser wird.
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    • Day 420


      February 9, 2021 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

      After loosing precious time in Fort Portal because I am blended by unmet expectations and apart from that I fill up my tank without having enough cash, I find a wonderful community campsite at Lake Nkuruba Nature Reserve in the Kyatwa Volcanic Field. Wah! Just in time for sunset. What a pretty, clean, grassy place surrounded by tall trees with black-and-white and red colobus monkeys and vervets. I am warmly welcomed by Good (later I will also meet a girl named Fortunate and a soldier called Innocent) who works here for several years and park the car under one of these trees next to the ridge which steeply descends into the crater lake. There is a path down to the water with a boat, bathing possibility and many places to hang my hammock. The trees are full with colourful birds and I can spot Ross's and Great Blue turacos for the first time. Yeah! Until now most of all my visited camps were run-down due to the lack of tourists but not this one even though I am the only foreign guest. Locals like to hang out here for a swim or dinner. The staff is young, fresh, friendly, passionate and the whole place looks very alive but calm and cozy. The campsite has been established more than 30 years ago by a European couple and is now in religious hands. Wonderful climate to hang out for at least a whole day which I need to work up on all the mapping I have done during the previous days of exploration. Hence, a nice day with the laptop in my hammock down at the lakeside. The colobus monkeys harvest only leaves and basically stay in the trees for all the time without interfering with me even tough they are not afraid to sit on the branches next to me. The vervet monkeys prefer a human’s diet and are very clever in trying to steal from my rations. They go totally crazy for bananas! They sit down next to me and patiently take single pieces from my hand. It is more funny than annoying because they never stay longer than for an hour in the mornings and continue their neighbourhood route in search of food. In the evening they come back and play in the trees. Outside of this tiny nature reserve monkeys are generally non-existent because people hunt them down for meat and for protection of their crops and fruits in the fields. The campsite managers established a banana plantation dedicated only to the vervet monkeys in order to keep their population stable in this area. They also had many avocado trees but unfortunately the colobus monkeys did not only eat their leaves but also the bark which killed all trees. This experiment emphasizes what happens when you try to introduce plants into an ecosystem where they are not necessarily native ;-)

      The first night I wake up at 0500 in the morning because somebody is throwing “things” at my car. Later on at 0630 “things” get really tricky because they also get wet and sticky. Apparently two football teams of colobus monkeys decided to have their morning toilet just above my car. And sleeping with open windows results in being shitted and pissed all over from the outside and the inside. My car quickly starts to stink like a festival toilet. The first time during these two months I feel like having reached my final destination, yet another home! It’s the first place where I really think that I will be coming back another day. Good helps me with cleaning the car the next day :-p
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    • Day 8

      Kluges Guestfarm

      November 13, 2021 in Uganda ⋅ 🌧 20 °C

      Beeindruckende Anlage, die von einer Ugandarin und einem Deutschen (Stefan) betrieben wird. Das Abendessen ist superlecker (unbedingt Beef bestellen) und die Übernachtung im eigenen Auto kostet rund 20$. Stefan bringt 40 Jahre Afrika-Erfahrung mit und hilft gerne bei allen Fragen rund um Land, Leute und Tagesplanung weiter. Die Straße zur Anlage ist aufgrund ihrer Rutschigkeit bei Regen etwas herausfordernd.
      Stefan ist definitiv eine Institution in Uganda und jeder Gast sollte seinen Geschichten lauschen!
      Ein Muss 10/10!!!
      Wir haben hier vier deutsche Weltenbummler mit eigenen Jeeps getroffen, die enorm viel über Afrika zu berichten hatten. Solche Erfahrungsberichte von anderen Reisenden sind immer super spannend und bereichernd - zumal Michi und Alex schon 3 Jahre und 80.000km in Afrika unterwegs. Es ging bis halb 3 - gute Nacht!
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