In January, 2014, Rachel, Jenny and I took an overnight flight to Jomo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi, Kenya. It felt like a long wait for our connecting flight to Uganda. Our trip was planned by Patrick at Journeys Discovering Africa.
When we arrived at Entebbe airport we faced a big hot room filled with many pushy people, papers in hand, all aiming for the two customs agents. Thankfully we already had our yellow fever shots or would have had to stand in another line and get stuck with a needle right there! There was one guy trying to direct the crowd. He’d point to his buddies, wherever they were in the line, & call them to go first. Our little group was definitely not in his preferred list so we waited forever. When we were finally released into the sunshine, the two people waiting for us, HAZZARD sign in hand, sighed, “We’ve been waiting forever!”. No worries, we were really, finally, in Uganda!
Our very first overnight stay in Africa was at the Boma Guesthouse, a rustic boutique hotel in the leafy suburb of Entebbe. It was HOT. We skyped the folks at home in Canada, happy to be avoiding their snow covered streets, & then headed straight to the pool. We were ready to start our big adventure.
The next morning we flew to Kasese where we met our guide James, for our 2 hour drive to Kyaninga Lodge.
Kyaninga Lodge is perched on the rim of an ancient volcanic crater lake with views of the Mountains of the Moon in the distance. Raised on stilts and entirely built from hand carved eucalyptus logs, the main lodge is a stunning engineering achievement, as are the eight thatched cabins with their private terraces. The lodge is the result of six years of labour by master carpenter and owner Steve Williams who used all local people to help build his dream.
Chimp Tracking in Kibale Forest
Kibale Forest is a 766-square-kilometer nature habitat for 12 primate species, & contains the highest primate density of any area on earth. Some of the trees are 50 to 60 meters in height, & provide a canopy for the profusion of rain forest life, including 325 bird species. It is home to a large number of endangered chimpanzees as well as the endangered colobus monkey.
It was a bit of an adventure taking our scheduled flight from the tiny Kasese airfield to Kihihi.
Tracking Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
From Kihini Airfield we drive two hours to Bwindi National Park, climbing through the Kigezi Highlands that form part of the eastern wall of the Albertine Rift. We pass small villages, plantations, and fields on the way, through one of Uganda’s most densely populated regions. As we near the end of our climb, we begin to see the mountainous, mist covered forest of the park, located more than a mile above sea level.
Our base is Mahogany Springs situated in lush gardens on the banks of the Munyanga River with views of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with the sounds of the forest all around you.
We go gorilla tracking in two days. We have an early start from the lodge, walking to the nearby park headquarters where we receive a briefing and select our porters for the day. On our first day we head straight into the forest and on the second day we drive up to a higher altitude before we start our gorilla track. Initially, we walk along established paths, our ranger coordinating with the advance trackers by radio to guide us in to the gorillas last known location. As we get to where the gorillas are, we leave the paths and begin hacking our way through the slippery underbrush. Our porters stay back as only our party of 8 and our ranger approach the gorillas to spend our magical hour with them.
And then Kihihi to Nairobi and our Kenya adventure begins.
Continue on with us to Kenya