Wow, Wow, Wow, and many many more wows.....
we came back yesterday, late afternoon, from perhaps one of the most life enhancing experiences of our lives.... 3 days away with our fantastic driver Alex (a font of african wildlife knowledge and demon at off-roading on the hiddeous Ugandan roads) and he totally surpassed our expectations, taking us all over the difficult South Western Region and showing us as much as he could in the alloted time that we had. we left very early on the first day, 6am, as the drive would be a gruelling 10 hours or so to get to Bwindi (the impenetrable
forest). but we visited the equator and drove through the Queen Elizabeth national park on the way so it didn't really feel like such a long trip. we saw Zebra, hundreds of bird species, 3 deer species including Impala, lots of baboons, some Elephants (one was really quite close to the road too) and extra specially we saw a Leopard!!!! Alex was amazed that we saw her, she was quite close to us and we saw her in full cos she half climbed a tree when she saw us, but then kind of gave up
and just lay down instead!! he said that seeing one is sooo rare for tourists that we must be very lucky people.... i just think that it was the universe righting itself for making me wear very sweaty knickers for three days last week in the baking african sun with no toothpaste.... ;)
so we arrived in the forest and were actually expecting a very basic campsite but instead we were in the bloody lap of luxery!!! a beautifully crafted wooden hut with balcony, double bed and en suite!!! the balcony looked out onto the forest and gently sloping gardens that kind of just dissappeared into the mists... just so amazing! couldnt wait for the next day when we would start the tracking... with all the crazy noises of the forest and all the mists and vistas, it was just so unreal and like something from a movie.... *sigh*.
well anyway, next morning we were up early having a chilled breakfast on this tall balcony that overlooked the huts and the gardens. there were some monkeys chasing each other along the stairway railing so i was looking out at the gardens watching them when i thought i saw
some large baboons (there are so many of them about).... but i kind of started squeeking at maff to look because they were actually bloody Gorillas!!!! just there below us, a whole entire family wondered out of the pathways and started eating!!! no one else had seen them so i (god this makes me cringe) i started half whispering half shouting at the rest of the breakfast room (about 20 or so people) something cheesy like out of an american fight seen "everyone, gorillas, real gorillas - here!! outside... bloody look!!" but everyone stared at me like i was a crazy person - it cracks me up thinking about it now.... but i continued hissing at everyone with crazy wide eyes too and then i saw the f-ing massive silverback and i just shouted then "the silverback is here - he is here - just look!!!" oh god what an idiot i am... but they all looked then and everyone went crazy taking photos and videos and the staff were all excited because the gorillas never come into the camp - it was so rare for them to see them (once again, how lucky are we?! ) and they were
there for ages, just chilled out and letting us all watch them. there was this couple in a tiny tent squached in this one corner of the garden and last night i remember thinking 'gutted, they are in a tiny tent'.... yup, unfortunate no more!! the gorillas were literally right by them and one of the slightly older baby ones actually ambled over and stuck his head into their tent!!!! it was amazing!!!! we hadn't even started the tracking yet and we had seen them. i couldn't believe how big the silverback was - he even put his hand over his mouth and coughed like a human - madness.
so when our treck began (luckily we were actually trekking another group to the one we saw earlier - there are 4 families who live in Uganda) we had to actually drive for the first hour, then we walked for another two hours or so, and then we had found them. we were warned that this family had a 'stubborn' silverback and that he and his son, the blackback, were quite temperamental - great!! seriously, as soon as we got within watching distance of them the bloody great beast charged
us!!! roaring his head off and banging his chest and throwing tufts of grass - i. shit. myself..... i was at the back (thank god) but i still almost lost my breakfast into the bushes!!!! one poor guy at the front literally almost flung himself over the others in his unshamed fear to get away - hillarious (in hindsight). but our tracker guy stood his ground and flashed his machette at him and the silverback just stopped within inches. he kind of grumbled to himself for a bit and then wandered off. its safe to say that we all were eager to stay well behind him from then on and give him his space - but luckily the other family members were fantastic. they were moving quite a lot at first, but then at the end of our hour with them they all came over to where we were sitting and chilled out right near us for their afternoon nap - it was just magical. i had two amazingly close encounters. one with a mother and baby quite early on in the hour, and then at the end one of juveniles came down from a tree and walked right up
to me almost face to face. i was pooing myself (again) but i stayed put and crouched quietly. i thought it was going to groom me!!!! they are just so massive and powerful close up - it is just too hard to explain to you via email, but it was just exceptionally different from any feeling i had ever felt. this was a wild, endangered animal, quite capable of knocking my head off (maff said later that he very slightly wished that it had pushed me over - especially because i am so scared of all the creeply crawlies onthe forest floor - how mean is that?!!!!) and it was just looking at me - like the same way we were looking at them. it pretty much brushed passed me, behind my back and then walked over to another female a few feet away. their faces are so expressive - very calm and placid and peacful when they are resting, but so angry and fearsome when they want to be too. AHHHHHHHH we just loved it. every minute - it was worth the money and worth the drive (and worth all the scary insects that i was determindly lot looking
too hard at!!!).
i feel that i should let you know that in return for nature giving us this amazing experience i nobley sacrificed my ear to the wilds. i kindly allowed some rancid jungle bug to entwine itself into my hair, and then (once i had discovered it) i most happily ushered it with happy hands into my ear crevace and most boldly took the pain as it chomped bloomin hard on my poor vulnerable ear!!! i swear my whole head was on fire - i would have definitely cried if there was only me and maff there - but even though my ear is still throbbing like a good'un, i still feel that it was a willing price to pay for such a day. (i secretly hope that bug was allergic to human and died a painful death somewhere)
anyway, for that evening we stayed in yet another magical spot - Lake Bunyoni. i was so happy becuase i rreally wanted to go there and i didn't realise that our trip would take us - bonus!!!! we chilled out for the evening and soaked up the view of the lake and then made the long trip
home on the final day. just an amazing amazing few days which i hope i never forget as long as i am me.... pictures will be following soon - i promise!!!!!!
just a note to say that my birthday was great! i had a lush day and thank you all for my birthday messages :) :) maff took me to the beach on one of the crazy budda budda motor bikes (hahah god its so hysterical to see maff riding one - he is not a graceful mover!!! and he does NOT enjoy practically having to hump a sweaty african man) heeh hee :) it was just a lovely lovely day (even though i missed my margery, dargery, chutney and tabs lots and lots)
anyway, off for now - love to you all :) hope your all feeling festive!!! ps, maff says hi xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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