Published: January 14th 2012January 14th 2012
First off, love, love, love Africa so far!!!
Second, thanks to all best wishes and comments so far - PhillyLama, Firth, Tim, Paul F. (yes I am barely keeping up with the PGA Tour!), Paula, David S. (thanks for the ice visual), A&D (yes that coffee was very drinkable), Phil O'R, Anna and Sherri. It is so good to hear from you all and glad to know that you are enjoying our adventure. Sorry that we have not responded to date via the blog - internet access a bit dicey and we are putting all efforts into just writing and 'posting', often late at nite (e.g. we have been completely out of internet range for the last 4 days - yet many here have cell phones). But know that we are thrilled to see them and keep 'em coming.
And the adventure continues. After a night in Kigali as per Mon's last posting, we headed to the south of the country on Saturday (7 January 2012) to Nyungwe Forest National Park. We passed countless villages and farms growing produce of all kind, livestock (mostly sheep and goats) and waving children everywhere. We drove thru the entire length of the
approximately 1000 sq. km park to arrive at our lodge. What a sight!
Situated in the midst of one of the many southern hillside tea plantations, it rose like an oasis amongst the most peaceful beauty I have ever seen. Tastefully decorated in what we can only describe as 'Afro-Japanese', every detail of function and design served to soothe and calm. We enjoyed a swim in the infinity pool situated on the edge of the forest and listened to birds and primates of an unknown sort serenade us. Whoever described the biblical Garden of Eden must have visited this magic place.
As you can discover for yourself (at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyungwe_Forest
), our main interest in Nyungwe was the largest variety and concentration of primate species on the continent. So the next morning (at an uncivilized 4:45 AM no less) we set out to track and view the Common Chimpanzee. Not so exciting you say - after all we have all seen them in zoos, circuses, on TV. But it was significant in that we were viewing them in their natural habitat and not as someone's pet or trained toy. We got to them after a 30-40 minute 'hike' through steep
and thick forest vegetation and somewhat muddy terrain - a bit tiring as we were still acclimatizing to increased elevations and a few weeks of riding around in safari trucks. We spent time (the requisite one hour) with two lovely old boys up in the trees as they ate, groomed, snoozed, pee-ed (being careful not to be directly underneath them) and just hung out. A great treat to see them and even the 'walk' in such different forest from what we know was interesting.
The next day, we trekked to view the beautiful Angolan Colobus Monkey. These black and white beauties are plentiful in Nyungwe and our group, situated in what is called a 'fractured forest' (a small patch of forest surrounded by tea fields) was fascinating to watch from our front row seats. As they moved through the trees at a leisurely pace, we moved along the edge and up and down the nearby slopes, walking among the tea plants (sort of like walking through hip-deep snow or fall leaves - you just gently pushed your way through the fragrant plants). We were blessed with a view of two babies in the group, easily recognisable as they are
born completely white except for their tiny little black ears. What a treat!
Both afternoons after our treks were spent quietly reading on our balcony facing the forest, swimming and enjoying wonderful meals (Note: the best coffee to date enjoyed here - Rwandan of course). A true church of nature.
Too soon, our forest meditation was over and it was on to Lake Kivu and the Parc National des Volcans - the home of the Eastern Mountain Gorilla. But I'll let Mon tell you about that next time! Take care.
There are more photos below