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Published: October 18th 2018
In Fort Portal the gateway town for the Kibale Park we find the Dutchess restaurant/hotel. Run by a Dutch couple the LP considers this to be one of the best restaurants in the whole of Uganda. Not wishing to miss this opportunity we stop for a light lunch and then are delayed as - no surprise - after lunch the Rav 4 won't start.
We call the hire company and within 15 minutes a local mechanic arrives and after some good diagnostics traces the problem to a poor transmission connector. This meant that the electronics dig not detect that the transmission was in Park so disabled the ignition circuit. He easily fixes this, but leaves me a wire so I can short this out just in case we have the same problem again. It turns out we don't have any more car breakdowns!
Whilst the mechanic is at work my travelling companions enjoy the Dutchess hospitality. We're not expecting to return here, but our pre-booked accommodation near the park turns out to be unavailable (this is very unusual and booking.com are extremely responsive when we highlight this, even though we've already found an alternative) so we decide to take
a room in the town which is walking distance from the Dutchess, so we end up eating here another 2 times!
We've come to Fort Portal to do a chimp trek in the Kibale Park. The setup is generally similar to the Bwindi gorilla trekking but not quite as exclusive, and fortunately only a quarter of the price. Again we're in small groups- in our case 6 people- but there is really only one habituated chimp group (but this is very large with almost 200 individual chimpanzees) so most of the visitors end up watching the same chimps for most of the time. It's also more difficult to take good pictures as it's quite a bit darker in this forest and the chimps are much more agile than their larger cousins. Though chimps do spend some time on the ground, the majority of the time they are hanging in the trees so much harder to see.
Like the gorilla trekking we get about an hour to watch the chimps and overall it is a very good encounter. One male chimpanzee in particular sits quite close to us for several minutes. The rangers are also entertaining - our guide
is a cool AK47 wielding girl with a trendy hairstyle and hip attitude.
After the trek we have lunch at the local lodge and then drive back to Fort Portal via the Crater Lakes - one of the recommended scenic areas nearby. This is almost our last stop in Uganda and it has been a great week and the wildlife viewing has not disappointed.
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