Bwindi Dark Forest and Thunderstorms


Published: September 8th 2023

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We left Irungu Forest Safari lodges at around 7am. They’ll be getting a good review from me as it’s a nice place and the main guy was very attentive. Amazingly (considering all the people in and out of that place) he always remembered our names and welcomed us back personally from our excursions. It was a wonderful location, had cats and fancy birds, plus a nightly herd of waterbuck. What more could you want?
Our first destination today was the Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park, however the safari started long before that. This is because although large areas of land are accessible only with a permit, it doesn’t mean that the animals don’t wander further, as there’s lots of land between each section of the park. So it’s one big safari everywhere. The other day, Zedius had asked me what issues did I think that the locals regularly face and one of them was lions visiting their communities and causing havoc. Also, we’d seen some lions the following day. Now today, those very same lions have done exactly that and caused some havoc in the community, no lions or people were hurt but rangers were called in. The


road to Ishasha was a long, almost straight, dirt track that was mostly in good shape. As always, warthogs were spotted first, then vervet monkeys, baboons of course, stacks of kops and buffalo, many birds. Plus quite a few elephants. Waterbucks and a small green snake. They were all crossing the road, so thankfully there was minimal traffic. At times, we were the only people on the road. Zedius thinks he saw a leopard crossing too, but it was so quick, Glyn and I missed it. We passed a turning to the Congo which was only 20km away. Ishasha was very quiet and we were the only jeep in there – as far as we could see. It was meant to have lions and leopards, but today they weren’t letting me see them. I guess the cat safari gods gave me all of my cat luck yesterday. However. We saw more of the listed above and for the first time, Topi, which are similar to Hartebeest. There was also meant to be hyenas, but not for us. We only got stuck once and with a lot of revving, Zedius got us out of the giant pond-like pothole without a need


for pushing. We left Ishasha around 11.30am to take the long road south to Kisoro which is around 40 kms from where we go to track Golden Monkeys tomorrow. Well we were told three hours and so expected lunch at about 3pm, and bought some snacks as suggested, to keep us going. The journey was pretty stunning as we continued though areas with wonderful African Wildlife. We eventually rejoined tarmac after some hours in a small town, only to turn onto another track to go up to the mountains of Bwindi where the gorillas and various monkeys dwell. Bwindi means ‘Dark’ as when it was all forest, it was very dark. At first, much of the area was farmland, mostly tea. A lot of it growing on treacherous looking steeps and we all agreed we would not like to work there. So much of the original forest had been cut away, which was rather sad and no longer dark. I saw a lot of cattle, goats and for the first time, domestic pigs. Lots of children smiled and waved, a few shouted ‘give me money’. I asked about the locals’ attitude to us and Zedius said they like white people

Elephants Elephants Elephants

because they bring money and aid to the community. However, I did say it’s really the least we could do considering what Europeans have historically done to African people. Zedius agreed but left the conversation at that and so did I. I think some of the older children and adults may also not be as fond of us as the children are. And as in all places worldwide, adults gain inhibitions that children haven’t learnt yet, so would be less inclined to wave. I’m not sure where exactly, but we passed a turning to Rwanda which was 5km away. Eventually farmland gave way to the forest as our jeep took us up and up around numerous twists and bends, as is the norm on a mountain road. Glyn spotted our first monkey, a black and white colobus. And then we found our first L’Hoest monkey. Here it began to rain and there was a bit of thunder. After a lot of mountain road driving, we came out of the forest and back down. It was around 2.45pm when Zedius announced we were almost there. ‘Almost there’ when defined was 50km along many more hairpin roads and steep hills. Zedius is

Black and white colobus monkeyBlack and white colobus monkeyBlack and white colobus monkey

very good at under estimating time and so it was 4.30 when we actually arrived. Kisoro is quite modern in comparison to other towns we have passed through. It has billboards! I noticed that the teenagers dressed a bit more like teens in Europe and the USA. I saw girls in hoodies, which was new. But like everywhere, there were gangs of young men hanging out on their motorcycles watching the world go by. I don’t think they ride together, just meet up on their bikes to hang out. Our lodge, Ikaze Cottages was more like a compound and though nice enough, not the same warm greeting as we had left. It was painted white and Zedius didn’t seem to like that, he told us to let them know it should be green. He was annoyed because he hadn’t got their contact details and they were meant to call in advance to plan lunch so it was ready upon our arrival. I was ok, but Glyn gets shaky when he was hungry. We ordered ‘lunch’ and took our stuff to our room. When we returned to reception, Zedius said he’s cancelled the lunch because they will take too long. So

Skulls at entrance of IshashaSkulls at entrance of IshashaSkulls at entrance of Ishasha

he took us down the road to a friendlier place. However, the food took a while and we finally got fed at 5.30 pm. I wish we were staying there, it seemed nicer. A polish couple recognised us from the first chimp trek and we may be going on the same tour tomorrow. They saw the gorillas today and were blown away by it, but said it was quite a tough and intense trek. We returned to Ikaze where they asked us if we were ready for our meal! Zedius had gone as he’d been told there was no room for him and had to stay with a mate, I think he was annoyed about that. We explained it was cancelled but the waitress didn’t speak much English and said Zedius had not cancelled it. Glyn ate his, but there was no way I could fit in another meal. Then we were meant to order breakfast in advance as we are leaving early. The waitress thought we were ordering to have it now! Bloody hell, I think she wants us to explode! I had to call Zedius and get him to explain. I would have forgone breakfast with these chumps,

Husband finally gets fedHusband finally gets fedHusband finally gets fed

but Glyn wanted to pursue it. All the breakfast options were huge and full of meat, I’ve asked for just egg and mushroom, we’ll see what happens. We only had one towel, I said Glyn could have it and I’d use my travel towel, but he decided to go through the trauma of asking for another. More fool him. They couldn’t just give us one, some guy had to meet us back at our room with a set and remove the other one for no good reason. Glyn ordered an African tea and I had a beer. In the previous place a beer was 5,000 Ugandan shillings but here it’s 7,000. I could cope with that as 5,000 is only just over £1, so neither is expensive. But Glyn’s African tea was 15,000! He is aghast! The evening ended relaxing with said drinks listening to the thunderstorm and being excited for tomorrow.


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#Bwindi #Dark #Forest #Thunderstorms

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