On The morning of our 3rd day, it was Kerry’s turn to tryout his last attempt of his long awaited “milking a cow”. He was up by 6:30am ready with his jag and headed to the kraal for the milking session that was scheduled for 7am. This day seemed quite impressive, looks he had already started mastering the art or dreamt of his “most sought” task of his adventure. Oh yes he did try his best and did quite well this time round.
After our own prepared breakfast with the help of my mother, we did make cocktail juice with the very fresh harvested fruits from my mother’s garden, Kerry was the breakfast chef who this time around made us a kind of “American omlette” that was more like the Spanish amlette. With break and African tea, our breakfast was good for the morning and good to take us through the journey.
We checked out of my village home about 10:30am and started the drive to Bwindi forest National Park south of Uganda for the Gorilla tracking experience. The journey took us through the Queen Elizabeth National Park and through the stunning sceneries of ishaka-kagamba road.
Through the kabale rolling hills and spectacular sceneries, we were able to reach the Gorilla valley lodge in Rushaga on the outskirts of Bwindi forest. The Lodge is a mid-range accommodation facility nested on top of a hill on the outskirts of the Bwindi forest overlooking the green thick forest canopies. Its of no surprise that this lodge is often visited by the Bweza family of mountain gorillas due to the lodge premises stretcheing into the gorilla family territory. This is one of those basic reasons this lodge is one of our recommended facilities in the Bwindi even for the self drive in Uganda visitors. Not only does it spice up the mountain Gorilla trekking experience but is also a mixture of luxury, tastefully decorated to offer splendor views of the great forest, oh yes and the sceneries are breathtaking.
On arrival at the lodge, Kerry was able to get one of the best cottages with closer and great views of the forest. The dinner was a well organized buffet in typical African pots, oh yes that was delicious. Nevertheless, it was time to go to bed because Kerry was in for his long awaited experience off his bucket list.
Trekking the mountain Gorillas.
On the Gorilla tracking day we had to be up early so we could drive about 22 kms to Nkuringo group of gorillas for the briefing. We were unlucky with getting hold of the rushaga gorilla permits because we were unable to purchase in advance. We did buy this the first day Kerry arrived in Uganda. After a bumpy and “African Massage” experience on the road up to the nkuringo hill about 2200m A.S.L, we arrived at the Uganda wildlife authority banda 5 mins to the scheduled briefing time. We were joined by other tourists from around the world who had come to track the mountain gorillas as well. Because the gorillas had moved a long distance in search of their favorite food the wild fruit, we had to drive more 12kms again to the Nteko ridge just a kilometer and a stone-throw away into the Congo.
From here is where Kerry and the group had to embark on a serious hike descending into the forest with Park Ranger guides. Now the smiles all the trekkers had when they returned back was enough to tell how incredible the experience was. They couldn’t stop talking about it. Maybe I will tag him here and you can follow him and the story.
Previously in our conversation, as we were drove to start the trekk close by, the low plains of the Congo were just a stone throw away and Kerry jocked about how he was on competition with his brother on who visits the many countries. I told him I would take him to Congo for free with no visa, and he awkwardly stared at me with a “its not possible” look. He probably thought that was one of my many jokes I made. Well, we were supposed to drive back to the Briefing Banda for the “graduation” ceremony but that is not what I did. Instead i turned round the vehicle opposite to where others headed and started driving, now this Tour guide from California, now a tourist in Uganda locked his glowing eyes on me wondering what I was trying to do. He had forgotten about the Congo issue. After 4 mins of driving, I stopped where the road ended and there was no more way to proceed, got out and asked him, “so Kerry do you think you still in Uganda? This is another country called the Democratic republic of Congo. He wouldn’t believe this was the Congo and it’s real.
At this point, is the end of the road in Uganda, beyond the road is the Congo. Only a small uganda roads authority signpost stands to mark the boundary of Uganda and Congo. Beyond this point is no way through as it’s a walkway for persons who do petty trade in Uganda and cross back to Congo. The excitement of being the first American to cross into the Congo without Visa was evident. He probably enjoyed the play with the kids on the Congo side. This was enough time for us to drive back and find the other crew at the Banda for the Graduation ceremony. The graduation ceremony is a certificate awarding souvenir in appreciation for having trekked the mountain Gorillas of Uganda and for having made it. (Some don’t make it).
On arrival at the UWA Banda, the days Gorilla crew received certificate souvenirs as a thank you token for tracking the mountain Gorillas. As later navigated the bumpy muddy road back to rushaga the way we came in the morning. Great views of the Nkuringo escarpments were a good windup for the day. We stopped on several occasions for scenery shots as we proceeded back to the Gorilla valley lodge. Of course we had a great evening in the lodge in preparation for the next day’s activities out of the forest to Lake Bunyonyi.
Join me next time as I blog about our experience with the batwa community at lake bunyonyi and the second African experience at my wife’s village home and how Kerry Freaked-out on cutting off a chickens head but prepared the local traditional Ugandan food the Luwombo.