Uganda 2016 Day Ten – Kyambura Gorge Chimp Trekking

Mrs Green writes:

 

My turn to write about our continuing adventures in Uganda!

Our day started at 5.30am and yes, it was still dark. Two reasons for the darkness; 1. It is another hour until sunrise and 2. Yet another power cut. One of our local friends here in Uganda describes the situation “We have power and can put on the lights, then it has disappeared again!” This amuses me as this is exactly what it is like. Electricity is certainly not something you can rely on here.

Our reason for getting up so early was that we had been given the opportunity to go Chimp Trekking in Kyambura Gorge. We left Mweya, picking up our friend Joseline en route. Joseline was making her way to Kasese for the day, so we dropped her off at Katunguru before continuing our journey to Kyambura.

We had been told to arrive at Kyambura for 6.40am. We were a little late so were worried that we may have missed our opportunity. On arrival at the Gorge, there was nobody around so we let ourselves in through the gate to wait. Mr Stanley had already experienced the trek on a previous visit and had anticipated that we would arrive super early only to wait for a long time for the trek to start. He was not wrong! I eventually found a Ranger who told me that we could not start our trek until 8am. So Henry and I took the long wait as an opportunity to view the sunrise over the Gorge from the purpose built viewing platform……. Wow! The view over the Gorge and on to the Savannah was amazing. Enhanced in awesomeness by the fabulous sunrise. By this, we had now forgotten to be a bit grumpy for getting up so early.

Not long after, we met up with our friend and Ranger guide for the trek, ‘English Robert’. So called, because he is a Ranger who has visited us and QE Country park in the UK. He guided us in our vehicles along a track, stopping for us to get out along the way. He had spotted some Chimps swinging through a tree on the other side of the Gorge. We were very glad to have seen them as Robert went on to explain that there were only 25 Chimps in total that habit the whole Gorge. I was beginning to think our Trek was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack but was optimistic as we had seen some of these Chimps far off.

After getting back in to our vehicles, we continued on to the spot where we were to leave our vehicles and begin our trek on foot down into the Rainforest that covered the Gorge. As we began our trek it was not too hot, being about 8.30am by this point. I had trekked through Maramagambo on my first visit to Uganda and there were many similarities between both terrains and environments. As with every activity we have done so far, Henry began the trek with lots of ‘Wow, Mum look at that!’ He loved it and was soon snapping away on his camera trying to record the beauty of the forest. For me, I love not only the visual, but the smells and the many different sounds contained within the forest. One being a grunting of Hippo nearby to where we were trekking. Not long in to our trek, we had to cross the river running through it. The crossing was made on an open wooden slatted bridge. It was sturdy so wasn’t too much like a scene from ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!’ We continued on climbing many steep ridges to rise up above the canopy of the forest before dropping down equally steep and sometimes slippy slopes to the bottom of the Gorge. Along the way, Robert often checked for signs of Chimps being close by. The signs he was looking for were cases of fruit that the chimps had recently eaten and fresh tracks on the muddy path. Robert found plenty of signs of chimps that had been close by, but sadly no actual visual signs of the chimps. Robert was very disappointed to not be able to find us Chimps to see, but this certainly did not put a dampener on our trek. We continued on for about another 4 miles until we came to some men lifting by hand, an 8-foot steel pillar from the river. This pillar had broken away from another wooden slatted bridge, now leaving the bridge ‘wonky’ to say the least. As we approached the bridge we were all stunned into silence as Robert announced we were to cross the wonky open slatted bridge. The bridge consisted of some slats with gaps between, that sloped about 45° down on one side. It really didn’t look safe at all and I really couldn’t see how we were going to cross this without a high risk of slipping into the water, especially as some of our trekking party were using sticks to support their walk. Robert crossed the bridge and came back again to collect us one by one. As I crossed, I had a feeling of apprehension. Henry later told me that he wasn’t sure that I would cross it as I looked quite scared. After the bridge, we climbed the steep slope up the other side of the Gorge to meet the track again where our vehicles had travelled to our starting point. Robert, our guide Ranger, had phoned ahead to 2 tour operator drivers to meet us at our finish point. He asked the tour operator of the trekkers that happened to be German, if they could give a lift back to our vehicles, to save us walking a few miles in the full midday sun. Just as we thought the tour operator was manoeuvring his vehicle to turn around and help us, he drove off and left 8 of us with no choice but to make the walk in the full midday sun. Guten tag my friend!

Soon after retrieving our vehicle, we were on the road again having finished our trek at Kyambura Gorge. This time we were heading for Kasese. Mr Stanley is a very big fan of Kasese. Personally, I prefer to be in the rural countryside, being that Kasese is a very large town. Once we arrived at Kasese, we met up with our friend Joseline, who had negotiated at a market for dresses to be made for Jessica (my daughter, and I). After collecting a few supplies and the dresses, we were met by Jackie and baby Joe. Jackie is a very good friend of the Twinning Project, so we were very pleased to see her and meet baby Joe for the first time. We brought Joseline, Jackie and baby Joe back to Mweya with us. Jackie and baby Joe are to stay with us at Hippo House for a while.

Whilst enjoying some rest from our busy day so far, yet again, our power ‘disappeared’. So we made the decision for an early visit to Tembo for our evening meal. For me, this was freshly caught Tilapia from the Kazinga Channel and some vegetable rice. Very nice it was too. Then home to bed for another early start as we have the opportunity for a game drive in the morning.

 

Mr Stanley writes:

I woke up with a splitting headache and a temperature, which is typical when my body starts to relax after a long period of working hard. My mood wasn’t improved when we got to Kyambura Gorge and had to wait for an hour. I told Mrs Green and Henry to go and look at the viewing platform as the views were amazing and they thought that I was being sarcastic.

The trek itself was great and English Robert is one of the nicest people you could meet. He was really disappointed because we didn’t get to see any of the chimps up close, but that’s nature! I would like to sincerely thank our German brethren who drove off at the end of the trek and left us, three Dutch and the two rangers to walk two miles in the midday sun. I hope the wheels fall off your vehicles!

Kasese was as fab as ever and Joseline showed us a market I’d never been to before. By then I’d taken some paracetamol and drunk a sugary coca cola so I was feeling a bit more myself. We picked up Jackie and Baby Joe and headed back to Mweya where I had a couple of hours nap. An early meal at Tembo meant that I could hopefully get a good night’s sleep before another early start to a game drive on Sunday.

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