We left Kisenyi and the second days drive took us further south along the Queen Elizabeth National Park border, it was a beautiful drive through Savannah type country and we saw lots of Buffalo along the way. We arrived at the community of Buhoma on the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and soon after we arrived the heavens opened with torrential rain so we made the decision to book into a cabin at the Community Camp. We have been having a lot of trouble with our new roof top tent leaking whether it is open or closed and are in negotiations with the company for a swap for a different model. Then we headed next door to the ranger station to see if we could secure permits to do a Gorilla trek the next day but were told that we would have to return the next morning at 7.30am and if there were two spots we could go.😳. We returned the next morning and while waiting to find out if we could go we were entertained by some women from a group called Ride 4 a Woman who danced, sang and played some drums which was superb and they really wanted us to join in but knowing how big a trek we could be in for we refrained! . Just before the trekkers all left I was called up and told that we were lucky because they had two spots available so we were put with three others, William from England and Lauretta and Jeff from the USA along with our guide Medi (spelling?) and four men carrying guns, two at the front and two at the rear! There were already four trackers who had gone out early in the morning to find where the Gorillas were.
We were also given the option of a porter who would carry our backpacks (lunch, water and rain jackets) but would also assist if you needed it to push or pull you up the hills! We all took one because amongst other reasons it was good to give these community members a job for the day. We set off first in our vehicles to a point where we could go no further and then the trek started in earnest with a long steep climb! It was very steep and uneven climbing right to the top of a tall mountain before descending into a valley of rainforest where we eventually met the trackers, who then led us to the Gorillas. We first came upon two Black Backs who are males but not the Alpha male and they stay with the group but tend to keep out on the fringes not wanting to be confronted by the Silverback.
Further in we found the Silverback relaxing in the shade and then a bit beyond him were three females who amongst them had three babies. We then had one hour with them but unlike the Chimpanzees we didn’t have to follow them through the rainforest. The Gorillas were very relaxed about us being there and didn’t appear annoyed by our presence at all and in fact just ignored us. At times they came within a metre of us but again were just quite relaxed about it all.
All too soon the hour was over and we were scrambling back up to the top of the mountain where we stopped, had our packed lunch and a rest before starting the trek back down to the cars. Just before we reached the cars the rain came but we made it into the cars before the really heavy rain came down. On the way back to the headquarters it really bucketed down and at stages we couldn’t see more than a few metres in front of us. Interestingly we even had some hail even though the temperature at the time was 16c. That night after dinner we had a long chat to a couple Gary and Debbie who live in Karen, Nairobi but had just come in from Rwanda. It was a great night and we really enjoyed their company and some great advice about our next country of travel, Rwanda.
The next morning we visited the Ride 4 a Woman refuge where many women have been helped out of living within abusive relationships. No sooner had I jumped out of the car and i heard a male voice saying “No Aussies allowed here” and it was Jeff and Lauretta!
They are put up in safe accommodation, receive training in many different fields and get support from one another. It is amazingly successful and we were made most welcome there, spent way too much in buying some of their home made wares but really loved the women and their positive attitudes to life.
We then made for a campsite on the shore of Lake Bunyonyi and travelled along the boundary of the Bwindi Impenetrable National park over some incredibly high mountains with gob smacking views.
This was one of my favourite drives in all of our trip with parts of it through lush farming country and other parts through thick rainforest. We stopped at a view point that gave us a good perspective of where the farming land ended and the National Park started.