Great to chat on Skype – sorry I lost you to the abyss that is MTN wireless internet connection. There are people all over Uganda holding one sided conversations with a frozen image of their loved one mid air kiss … makes me giddy with frustration.
I lost Woelf in what I can only assume was the finale of an impromptu skype dance and had a very disjointed conversation with my nephews, which involved a lot of stuffed animals vying for camera time and a frozen close up of Buzz Light Year screaming ‘to infinity and beyond’! Gave me nightmares …
We crossed the border from Rwanda to Uganda on foot, pausing briefly to herd V via the correct channels and obligatory, yet completely ineffective security check – she bolted for the barrier unaware that security were readying their AK 47s; we were forced to rein her in.
We stayed two nights in Gahinga, trekked with the Batwa (pigmy forest people who are no longer small – disappointing both for me and the marketing team; short sells people!) and did a fantastic community walk before an ass numbing, and apparently endless journey to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Desperate to pee and in search of a sports bra (ambitious I agree) we got out at the park gate and walked. The single track road is sandwiched between dense tropical forest and offers the most spectacular views across the canopy, which as day turns to dusk is scattered with wisps of white mist and alive with monkey calls. A little eerie.
We arrived to a warm welcome in Bwindi and dropped into a sofa, fire roaring, cold beer in hand. The following morning I met the gang in my pyjamas on the front lawn to stare, wide eyed and bed headed at the Gorillas, who apparently decided to have breakfast at the lodge.
From Bwindi we travelled north to Queen Elizabeth National Park, dubbed the ‘Pearl of Africa’ because of its rich biodiversity and phenomenal views across the savannah and papyrus swamps.
Basically on the equator, the park is divided by the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake Albert and Lake Edward and encompasses the Ishasha Sector, with notoriously difficult to spot tree-climbing lions and the Kyambura Gorge, a 13km 100 metre deep gorge that has a family of habituated chimps.
Let’s just say it’s a very cool spot! The bats at sundown are less cool and forced high pitched squeals and a lot of bob and weave/ frantic head ducking from my colleagues – I would have preferred peanuts with my beer.
We cruised the Kazinga Channel, which included a brief, but butt clenching encounter with a hippo and her calf, and surfed the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo in search of the big five … of which we saw four.
We disappeared into Kyambura Gorge in search of the chimps in pouring rain and ankle deep mud. Three hours later we still hadn’t seen them. Caroline did a comedy running without moving ascent up the gorge wall, which left me crippled by extreme hysterics and completely unable to move. Chantal eventually put her shoulder in and with the help of V pushed Caroline up the remainder of the wall. We were all subject to sporadic bouts of hysterics thereafter at Caroline’s expense. She took it very well.
We spent our last night set precariously on the rim of a crater lake before a seven hour journey back into Kampala, which Caroline (who’s ear piercing I’ve-just-seen-a-tree-climbing-lion scream in QE brought animals large a small to a shuddering halt) spent glaring at me while I slowly and meticulously perused the only magazine we had between six … which in a rare moment of stealth, I had smuggled out of Ndali Lodge.
Some piccies from the trip – I’ve been pain stakingly selective. I took close to 800 photos (loving the sports setting on my camera!) so count your blessings.
More news to follow ….
Big love, B