Chimpanzee Trekking

These past few days have been packed full of activities! First off, however, as promised, here are a few photos from rafting on the Nile:

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Rafting down the Nile

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I also forgot to mention that afterwards as we were chatting with some of the other tourists who also went rafting on the Nile, I met some people from Nebraska… yep, we met halfway around the world while rafting on the Nile… the world is incredibly small! Anyways, as I mentioned these past few days have been quite busy. We picked up six more passengers in Kampala so we are now a pack of fifteen… nearly double our original eight. It surely makes a weird dynamic when a few of us have gotten to know each other so well but have to start at the basics again with others… but we have managed! We are not a bit slower as a group and the truck is a bit more crowded… so no more sprawling out for us… well, for a bit anyways! The passengers that we picked up are staying on the truck until Arusha so just over a week. Unfortunately we lose all but five people in Arusha so it will be a very sad goodbye come that time. As mentioned, I am still the only American–we now have 2 people from New Zealand, 6 from Australia, 6 from the UK, and myself. Being surrounded by such a strong English influence, I have found myself using nice in my everyday language and I quickly learned not to say fanny pack as fanny doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere… well, you learn, ha! We traveled from Kampala towards Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, seeing a few things along the way. Kampala is located in the Northern Hemisphere so at some point recently we crossed over the equator into the Northern Hemisphere. On the way back to the Southern Hemisphere, the equator had a big stopping point… so of course we stopped for a few pictures and a demonstration. The guy showed us how water spins clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, and literally remains at a standstill on the equator line… pretty neat! We stayed the night at an isolated campsite for a night before waking up early to go on a chimp trek through the jungle. Fortunately it was a bit overcast on the day of the trek and I am very grateful that I bought proper (ha, another English word) hiking pants (or trousers…) in Jinja otherwise I would have nearly died in jeans. We followed the calls of the chimpanzees and other monkeys for about three hours before we finally came across them. The hike gave us all a great workout as the forest was incredibly hilly. Further, we began our hike on paths but as soon as we heard the chimps, we were making our own paths through the jungle… fortunately, our guide Rachel was leading the way with a machete. We were all sweaty and dirty by the time we found the chimps but grateful for the opportunity to rest. The chimps were quick movers so we had to stay pretty active to stay with them but luckily we were no longer running around the forest following only voice calls. We were able to get about 30 feet away from the chimps as they scaled the trees and jumped between them. It was definitely a neat thing to see! On our hour long hike back to the campsite, we passed by a cobra… it was long, black, shiny, and far too close… I wasn’t so thrilled to see him. He slithered off the path but I was on high-alert from then on out. When we got back to the campsite, we packed up and headed to Queen Elizabeth National Park on the western side of the country. When we set up the campsite and such, we headed out on a boat cruise on the two lakes that are apart of Queen Elizabeth National Park–Lake Edward and Lake George. I believe it is Lake George that separates Congo and Uganda so to my surprise we were only about 20 miles from Congo… don’t worry, we stayed on the Ugandan side!! On the cruise, we saw water buffalo, antelope, hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and many other animals. We all soaked up the sun on the top of the boat after our long day and simply enjoyed the cool breeze! That night for dinner, V (our tour guide) had a special surprise for us. As I’ve mentioned, there are lots of cows and goats along the roads that we pass and tonight was our night to try fresh goat… and when I say fresh, it is not an understatement! When we got back to the campsite from the cruise, a male goat greeted us that V had just bought for $70. Fortunately I didn’t have to see the killing and skinning of our meal but twenty minutes later, there was meat being cooked. The dinner was actually quite incredible. I’ve never had goat meat before but it tasted pretty much like beef. We only used about half of the meat which means seventeen of us (V and Charles, our driver, included) were able to eat for just over $35… not too bad! We have been going to bed quite early as we have full days and begin quite early. During the night, many of us heard chomping noises and we were informed that there are hippos that wander through the camp at night… good thing my exhaustion outweighed my curiosity and I stayed in the tent! This morning we were up at 5:30 and on the road by 6:30, with our tents packed up and breakfast finished. We were off on a morning game drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park. We saw a beautiful sunrise before exploring the enormous park. The grasses here were a yellow-green, making for some very pretty scenery! We had a successful six-hours of game driving as we saw elephants, buffalo, antelope, warthogs, and hippos along with other birds and mammals. The next seven hours were spent in the truck as we made our way to Kabale, our longest drive of the trip thus far. Fortunately the drives aren’t too bad as we keep ourselves busy reading, listening to music, talking, playing games, etc during the drives… I even had enough time to write this blog during the drive. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the scenery along the way isn’t too bad either–our windows fold up and down so I’ve found that my favorite thing is to simply sit at the back and stick my head out of the truck like a dog as I take in the scenery… so wonderful! Alright, off to more adventures–we were told we might not have internet for awhile so I will update when possible but until next time, best wishes!
~Susan

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Equator with the group

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Kampala

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Chimp Trekking

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Beautiful forest

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Chimp

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Cruise with Olivia

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Sunrise in Queen Elizabeth

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Antelope in Queen Elizabeth

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Elephant 🙂

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