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Published: September 11th 2018
Tanzania day 2
Chimpanzee trekking in the jungle in Gombe, Tanzania, Africa.
Sometimes I may have a little moan and often it’s about people but today, despite confusion later....was one of the best days of my life.
Usually when we set off to do things we set off with low expectations so when we set off seaching for chimpanzees I expected to maybe see one...probably covered in scaffolding....about a mile away....with trees in the way and it be raining so hard we can’t get our cameras out. Amazingly though, this was not the case.
After a breakfast of savoury pancakes, fruit, bread and jam and omelette it was time to head out with our guide. We had paid extra (2x£9) for two trekkers to head out before us, at 4am supposedly, to find out where the chimpanzees were as there are no guarantees that you will see any animals at all.
We set off along the coastal path, if you can have a coastal path alongside a lake that is? It certainly looks like and acts like the sea so let’s just say I’m right and leave it at that eh.
It was all pretty jolly with the sound of waves
on one side and the cicadas in the trees on the other but I was keen to get off the track and get into the jungle. It wasn’t too long before I was clambering up hill, stepping over branches, being tripped by vines; being garotted by vines, trapped by vines and generally wishing I was back on the old coastal path. Jungles aren’t designed for people in the first place let alone lanky gits like me with arthritic knees. At one point we literally had to crawl!
As much fun as this was we hadn’t come just to risk life and limb battling our way through the jungle for nothing. We had come to see one chimp covered in scaffolding. We had seen baboons earlier but I think they are seen as more of a nuisance here as everyone has to padlock their belongings behind gates as they can open bolts. We saw a few colobus monkeys along the way but they wre high up in the trees and not interested in posing for photos.
After a while our guide stopped and let out a cry that I presumed was a mating call for some sort of primate. Turns out
it was what I call Jungle WhatsApp as he was actually contacting the trekkers. No phone service here and more fun than using radios I suppose.
Our first trekker said there were no chimps in this valley so we needed to go to the next one. It was just a few minutes later that we heard the sound of chimps...maybe we would be lucky after all...!! And then there they were...no scaffolding....right by us....chimps!! In the wild!! Dreams do come true! We put on our face masks, me because I might scare the chimps, Claire to stop her spreading diseases to them. And then we spent nearly 2 1/2hours with them....even though we were told we we were only allowed one hour. There are about 50 chimps in this park and we were incredibly fortunate to see about 25 of them.
At first you see one and snap away, then you see another and snap some more and then after a while you just sit and watch them. They sat near us, they walked right by us, the babies swung to show off for us, one stamped her feet as her offspring wasn’t behaving and two even tried to make
more chimps for us. They climbed the trees, they sat on the ground and didn’t seem bothered by us at all. It was just amazing, unrivalled, unforgettable. Chester Zoo will never be the same again!
I remember the last time I was here and then went back to someone banging on about West Midland Safari Park. As good as that is, particularly if you’re not as fortunate as us two to be able to afford trips like this, he had no interest in listening to me. It was beyond his comprehension. We’re not friends any more.
Sadly we had to leave eventually. Normally I can’t wait to move on to get somewhere else or see something else but I could have stayed with the chimps all day.
We headed back to camp and I managed to fall over on a path rather than in the jungle. Typical. Thankfully my camera was okay.
Our guide then told us about the snakes in the park so I told him to say it so Claire couldn’t hear. She’s not a fan to say the least. He also told us that chimps are quite evil as they attack and eat other primate’s babies, including
in 2003, a human one here in Gombe.
At the camp we were given time to urinate and get changed before we headed out to the waterfall. This was a one hour trek along a path mainly but luckily there were a few obstacles to negotiate. And it was mainly uphill of course. My Apple watch is happy with me today! Claire said it was like walking through a Tarzan film so I asked her where they were filmed. Probably Pinewood Studios she said....
The vines didn’t look very sturdy today which makes me wonder whether the swinging through the jungle is actually possible...? We stopped off at the chimp feeding station and found out why it isn’t used any more as well as lots of information about the chimps and Jane Goodall’s work.
Apparently the colobus monkey weeing from a high up tree wasn’t the waterfall we were looking for despite light bouncing off it as it fell from great height...
Anyway, the waterfall we did find was lovely with rays of sunshine hitting some of it and dropping 25 metres. Claire opted for the sensible option as always and got under it. In her clothes. She had removed
her shoes and socks of course, she’s not completely nuts! No towel though so she walked back down wet, but a lot cooler apparently.
Time for another swim....nope....we have to visit the curio and gift shop first. We bought a couple of light things as it seemed like the decent thing to do despite having to carry them round for the next two weeks. And then we went swimming in Lake Tanganyika again after tying our things to a chair so baboons couldn’t nick them.
Oh yeah, the confusion had already started as someone had said that we were going back today. I produced my paperwork which said we were spending two nights here but we had been told that our chef was going back today. He then came to tell us our food was ready. As we’d had no lunch we were pretty hungry and polished off quite a lot of food which included noodleds beans and vegetables topped off with fruit.
After going back to our room there was a knock at the door from the chef who has spoken to the boss of the company and he said for me to check my email as he thinks
we should be leaving today. I show him the piece of paper again but head for the 3 square feet where there’s a slight chance you will get some internet.
I managed to open my emails and find a slightly different itinerary from the one I have. This one does indeed say we leave today so, as the boat is here, we have to pack up as quickly as we can, including puttng wet clothes away that we expected to be drying overnight. Yuck. I can only think that I have printed out the normal itinerary and he has changed it for our trip. Anyway, we are now on the way back in the boat. The new itinerary says we have a hotel booked for us in Kigoma but we’re not sure anyone will be there to take us there as our driver said he would see us on Tuesday when he dropped us off the other day. Fingers crossed eh!
We might even get decent wifi to upload this and I’m hoping for a hot shower as today’s was somewhat icy.
No wifi but our room overlooks the lake so it was a shame we just missed
sunset. Our boat arrived a few feet from shore and somehow my dodgy knees let me jump without collapsing and making a tit of myself. Claire paddled.
Our driver was here thankfully and he drove us to the Aqua hotel which has nice rooms but only one towel again. I’ve asked for another one but I’m not holding out much hope. Do people normally share a towel?
The fishing boats were all heading out as we arrived, literally hundreds of them and they spend the night out there. That must get quite eerie but you do what you can to eke out a living.
I still haven’t got the etiquette about tipping. I never know who to tip or how many people to tip.
Damn, someone two rooms down has just got back and found all their things stolen from their room. It was locked when they left an hour ago and now everything has gone - tickets, computers, visa, money, everything. There seems to be some delay in calling the police but a lot of people coming and going without actually doing anything. The poor girl is in tears. I don’t feel very safe here.
We’re definitely not going
anywhere and leaving stuff in our rooms.
All of a sudden the tipping thing I was writing about doesn’t seem so important. It was their last day as well so all their photos and videos will be gone. As hard as it is you can get back the other things but some things are irretrievable.
Crap end to a fabulous day.
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