What Did We Do?

Dennis and Jenny Hacker's Year in Africa

Uganda #4

October 11, 2017 | The final portion of an amazing adventure.

We were up, had breakfast and finished packing before Abdallah arrived. With cherry goodbyes to the folks at the lodge, we were off. I was coughing quite a bit in the last few days. As all homes use wood fires for cooking, heating, and making charcoal, my opinion was I was having allergic bronchitis due to the air pollution. I felt fine. Jenny was alarmed with all my coughing and it kept her awake at night. I promised I’d get it checked out if it wasn’t improved after we got home.

“On the road again…”

Children on the side of the road were selling a Jackson’s three-horned chameleon.

He has 3 horns just as claimed!

We also saw:Blue monkey.

This wasp nest was bigger than any I’ve ever seen. It was a meter wide and 1.3 meters high! It had been there for years.

This is a L’Hoest monkey. These little buggers are quick and skittish.

The land is extremely steep, up to 60 degrees of slope. I took pictures, but it is hard to appreciate how steep the land is. The people have tea plantations all along the mountains.

Looking down the slope from the road above gives an idea of the steepness of the hills.

Driving in Uganda, we saw people living in brick houses a-la Zanzibar. Abdallah told us that the community comes together and makes bricks when they need to do construction. Then, they stack the bricks into a kiln-shape and bake the bricks. Everyone takes what they need for their individual construction. If they need more bricks, they make more.

A brick stack.

Finished baking and ready to use.

This was a short day of travel. We reached the Mgahinga National Park and the Volcanoes Mghinga Lodge right after lunch. We had a relaxing time in the afternoon until dinner.

Golden Monkeys

The following day, Sara and I were going to trek to see Golden Monkeys. Jenny remained very weary from the gorilla trek and decided to stay home. After breakfast we headed off with Abdallah driving. Arriving at the forest, we waited for our guides and my porter. The trek up was much easier than the Gorilla trek although the altitude was hard to deal with. On the trek, we saw the largest earthworm I’ve ever seen.

This worm was a meter long and 2.5 cm in diameter.

This is the start of the virgin bamboo forest at 8900+ feet up. We’d climbed over 500 meters (1600 feet) to this point. We weren’t there yet. Another couple hundred meters to go! Sara was doing great. I was tired.

As we arrived in the bamboo forest, three researchers were already there following the family of Golden Monkeys. We found them after a bit. Ensconced in the bamboo, the monkeys were quick moving and hard to see clearly. They weren’t like the Chimpanzees or Gorillas, habituated to human presence.

This Golden Monkey was tearing into a rat nest to see what was present.

No blue face, but they were very beautiful.

This critter is eating a bamboo shoot.

Sara and I, with our guides, departed after about an hour of observing and photographing. We stopped outside the bamboo forest and had lunch. A beautiful butterfly sat on Sara’s lunch.

Going down the mountain was considerably easier than going up, yet it was still tiring. Having learned a lesson a couple days before with the gorillas, I had 5 water bottles with me for a total of 2.5 liters. I needed every bit of it. Whilst we descended, we saw a Bushbuck and a Duiker. Unfortunately, they are very shy and I couldn’t get a photo of them.

Batwa Camp

We rested the remainder of the day and I needed it. I guess I’m getting old. The altitude of roughly 3000 meters was rough on this old boy.

The following day, we met our new guide, Apollo, who was going with us to the Batwa camp.

Apollo, our guide to the Batwa.

The Ugandan government removed these bush people from the forest to protect the Gorillas and Golden Monkeys from being used as bush meat. The Batwa, used to living in caves, were given land to farm. Unfortunately, the land was either on the top of mountains or in valleys with no access to water and thus untillable. They were then settled into this camp, they originally lived in huts made of leaves and sticks.

This is an original hut for the Batwa people after being removed  from the jungle. Up to 5 people lived within. They slept spooning. If one person rolled over in the night, they all had to roll over.

This is the first “improvement” of the huts. Unfortunately the tarp confined smoke from cooking inside the hut causing a lot of respiratory problems.

Next, the government removed the tarps and added metal roofs. This resolved the smoke issues and helped keep the Batwa more dry.

The second improvement…a metal roof with air vents beneath let the smoke out.

Brick homes are now being built with metal roofs and cooking areas located outside the houses for health reasons.

The guy in the green jacket was plastered. Apollo is there in the background with the women. He could be the center of their basketball team, if they had one.

After we’d been there a while, they started singing and dancing. A few of the older folks were visibly drunk. Apollo told us not to give them any money as the’d use it immediately for drink.

The guy with with the red turban is the village elder…93 years old! He was out dancing with the children.

93 and going strong!

I know these events are presented to give us foreigners a taste of what “true” native culture is like. I felt differently. The Batwa were really tragic. No land to raise crops. Just a camp. They live off handouts and donations. With nothing to do, men and women drunk at 10 AM.

As we left, Apollo told us that if we wanted to help, we could buy a bag of rice (50 kg) for the village. Sara, Jenny and I bought 3 bags. I felt good actually giving them something that was good for them.

On our way back to the Lodge, we stopped at the Travellers Rest and had a drink.

Where Dian Fossey stayed when she was in town.

Going Home!

Our last day in the bush! We arrived at the Kisoro Airport at about 9:30 AM. Even at this tiny airport there was a baggage check. The police closed the main road in both directions when a plane landed or departed because of the way the runway crosses the road.

It was a two hour flight to Entebbe airport or a 12-hour road trip. We flew. After an overnight at the Protea Hotel, we left Uganda for our flights to Cape Town, arriving about 3:30. We went out for dinner with Sara to celebrate a wonderful African trip. She was leaving at 9:30 for the airport. We put her in a car for the airport and began our rest and recuperation. We were so happy that Sara enjoyed her trip so much.



FILED IN: Sighting Lists, Travel Notes, This and That

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