23.12.2007 - 26.12.2007
After our hastily reorganised accomodation last night, staying at the Lake View Hotel, rather than the now defunct Katatumba Resort Hotel, we had a day wandering around Ian's old haunts from when he lived here. We spent the morning wandering around Katatumba Academy, which also (like the Katatumba Resort) looked like it had seen better days - probably the Katatumba family are now on the wane rather the gain, as befits the banana republic the Katatumba family area used to be - and as a result we wandered through the Banana plantations around the area, picking up a number of small children who followed us shouting Muzungu (white person).
We then wandered around Mbarara town, visiting the market, and after seeing the butchers area, I think Angela has become a Vegetarian...
We then spent the rest of Christmas Eve looking in shops and mixing with all the people who were there shopping and eating.
Come Christmas Day, we had an early wake up call at 0630, as we had the long drive to Bwindi ahead of us. Around 2 hours on tarmac and then many more on the dirt roads.
The drive was fabulous, and the sights we saw were amazing, with the many towns and villages we passed along the way. We drove along the edge of an amazing river cut gorge - the river rises in DR Congo over the boarder and flows into Lake Victoria.
We then completed the long drive to Bwindi and arrived at the Abercrombie & Kent Gorilla Forest Lodge on the edge of the National Park. After a few drinks and a fabulous BBQ we settled down for a good night's sleep before another early rise for our first day tracking.
Come the 26th we were up early, with our packed lunches to go tracking Group R, which consists of 13 Gorillas. Luckily it also happens to be the one closest to Bwindi village and the walk was no where near as long or arduous as we had feared (However tomorrow may be another story :-( ). Ian has tracked the gorillas previously, however it was Angela's first encounter. She was overwhelmed with this experience. It was one of the most incredible sights she has ever seen. One Gorilla walked passed her and she was absolutely petrified, but at the same time it was exhilarating. Angela moved a branch near one Gorilla that was sitting on the ground, and it looked at her and stared obviously in absolute disgust that she had moved its dinner out of easy reach. Their expressions and behaviour is so clearly human like it is just so wonderful. Seeing the Silverback in the tree above us, pulling branches off, while his offspring swung about below him, chucking fruit and leaves down at both us and the other gorillas on the ground was incredible (as were the Silverback's farts - god knows what he eats but they went on for minutes at a time and the forest reverberated with the sound). It was so amazing that Angela even would forgo a Gucci Handbag for the privilege of seeing these amazing animals again - which is about right as it is 500 pounds a go per person. It is truly worth it.
We are now resting again, enjoying the balmy weather - about 30 degrees, but with a gentle breeze keeping it nice, before tomorrow, when we have our second chance at tracking the gorillas. Angela has been passing time with some local children...