Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Off into the wild...

Together with Alison's brother and his girlfriend, we headed out to the West of Uganda towards Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, one of the few remaining habitats of the rare mountain gorilla. En route, we encountered the tree-climbing lions in Ishasha, one of the few places in the world where they exhibit this behaviour.

The girls are too young to actually track the gorillas, but they were able to join us on a walk through the Impenetrable Forest, which they attacked with gusto. Armed with a walking stick and a backpack containing lunch, a waterproof and a dry change of clothes, they hiked for 5 hours each way on 2 consecutive days. Admittedly, Bella did get rather attached to her guide (physically and emotionally!) for sections of the journey, but it was thoroughly enjoyable and we avoided the rains for the most part.

Since someone had to stay with the girls, we split up to track the gorillas. Jonathan and Siobhan visited them in Buhoma on one side of the forest, and Alison and Alan visited them in Nkuringo. On both trips we got up very close and personal to the big fellas and it was an amazing experience all round.
Visiting a rainforest in the wet season does bring certain challenges. We hired a vehicle to take us the last part of the trip to Nkuringo as it was too far for the girls to walk the whole way. The driver duly turned up in a saloon car and struggled to make it up some very steep and slippery mud roads. After a rather hairy slide towards the road's edge we exited the vehicle shaking and watched as the driver over-revved the engine and blew up his radiator.

We were grateful to arrive unscathed in Nkuringo and enjoyed the amazing views from there in to Rwanda (our next destination) and the Congo. We were also entertained with some fabulous cultural dancing by the local children, including some scary gorilla dancing to get us in the mood!

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