Exploring the impenetrable forest
FORT PORTAL, Uganda – Sunday Bwindi: After a 2 1/2-hour drive through savanna, through rain forest, and back and forth again, through a 180 by Yusef during which we almost rolled the jeep, a wrong turn that took us 12 kilometers out of the way, and me loosing the fish I had for dinner last night, we arrived at the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It is an incredible rain forest and truly impenetrable. It was also quite hot. We found a small camp by the entrance and booked lodging – $7.50 per night for a dorm with six beds. Fortunately none of the other beds were occupied. We checked out another camp down the road. They wanted $100 per night for a double room with a self contained toilet and shower. The quality of the beds and the shower were the same. The toilet was a step up. I felt that at that price I would have no problem with the first camp.
After wondering around the camp for a while I met a couple of Swedish women who seemed friendly. We talked for a while and then about 60 children began to assemble. We went up to watch what turned out to be an amazing performance of singing and highly animated dancing. Afterward, we were told that they were orphans from the area and had started this dance troupe to raise funds for a school they have built and for food and clothing. Then they sold their crafts. It was quite an impressive performance. Now it was time for dinner. Not feeling like much I had some onion soup. I was sitting in the dinning room alone when a man came in and ask if I would like to join him and his associate. He was doctor from Boston working in Kampala. His associate was a young doctor from Canada. So there were three of us sitting on the lawn and soon part of a group from Austria joined us, then a Brit, then more Austrians.
What had started out to be a rather lonely evening turned out to be a nice meeting of folks from several different countries. Some friendships were made and I was invited to go for a forest walk with the Austrians in the morning. Morning came and as it turned out they wished to go on one trail and I wished to go to the waterfalls. Their thinking was that they would go to the falls in the afternoon and it will be refreshing when you get there. Mine was, do it in the morning when it’s cool and relax in the afternoon – so I went off with two British couples toward the waterfall.
We began our hike on a modest trail through the jungle, then it turned into an incredible jungle of vines, tree ferns, monkeys and tall trees. We walked for an hour on flat ground, then up to the first fall, then two the second fall, then finally to the third. Each one getting larger than the last. The final waterfall was 100 feet tall and was truly refreshing. I’m glad I did it in the morning. I had a small hand towel with me for the perspiration. It was soaked half way through the hike. The guide said that the gorilla tracking tomorrow would be much steeper and through the bush. You must go to where they were spotted the day before and track them till you find them. I hope my energy level is up by tomorrow. I’ll report after the tracking. I have been invited to lunch by my Austrian friends and then I may go into town for a while.
Town must be defined here: The town was two rows of souvenir shops and a couple of small stores selling a little of what you might need here. This is the deepest, darkest part of Africa I have experienced yet.Vail, ColoradoVail, Colorado