Location: Lake Bunoyni Overland Camp
Miles travelled: 174 Miles (89 miles Kigali to Kinigi, 85 miles Kinigi to Lake Bunyoni)
Weather: 26ÂºC, a wee bit chilly
Today we mostly listened to: Prince
We picked up Will from Kigali airport late on Thursday night and because we were booked in to see the gorillas first thing on Friday we had to do the 2 hour drive up to Kinigi in the dark. Not something we like doing, but it couldn't be helped. We arrived at the Kinigi Guest House around midnight to find no-one around. After banging on a few door and generally making quite a lot of noise a blurry eyed man in his boxer shorts came out of a hut and showed us to our rooms.
The next morning we were up at 6am, ready to meet at the gorilla trekking headquarters at the unreasonable hour of 7am. Being the only people there not part of an organised tour we watched everyone else get in to groups and start their briefings. Eventually we decided to ask which group we should be in - I think they had forgotten about us. As it turned out this was a very good thing as we ended up in a group with just the three of us - perfect.
So after a short drive on a terrible road we started the long trek to see our hairy friends. We were told at the beginning that it could be a 1 hour trek, it could be 2, it could be 6!! The rainforest was much harder terrain than what we experienced in Gombe. The route we took was steep and dense - the worst part being the huge stinging neetles. After about 1.5 hrs we started to hear the gorillas and we met up with the trackers that follow them all day. So after leaving our bags and sticks behind we moved in closer to spend our precious hour with the group.
The particular band we were visiting was run by one silverback - Charles, a few black back males and an assortment of females and babies. What can I say about Charles. An imposingly large character, he spends most of his time eating, beating his chest, being groomed and farting (loudly). They were a lot calmer than the chimps at Gombe, and also a lot bigger. A couple of times Charles came extremely close to us, leaving us all clinging to a cliff edge to let him pass - it was extremely exhilarating, but a little scary.
For the hour we were with the group they moved around quite a lot so we had to move quite fast to keep up with them - not the easiest thing in the thick jungle environment. All too soon our time was over and just as it began to start raining we headed back down the mountain to the start point.
As we were finished around lunchtime we decided to drive on to the Ugandan border as we had heard about a lovely place to stay at Lake Bunoyoni. The roads on the Rwandan side were perfect, however the same cannot be said about Uganda! I really really like Rwanda - the people are very friendly, corruption isn't as bad as in other East African countries and the infrastructure is pretty good. Just goes to show what an African country can achieve with strong anti-corruption laws, strong leadership and foreign investment.
The Ugandan border was pretty straight-forward, although i nearly got in to an arguement with the immigration guy because he wouldn't take a 100 dollar bill that was printed in 1998. For some insane reason some f@*kwit officials will only take dollar bills after the year 2000. I had to leave his office pretty sharply before I said something I'd regret. Ric was left to smooth things over and get us all in to the country! Probably not my finest hour.
The drive on to the lake was longer than expected due to the awful roads, but we got there eventually and set up camp. Many gin and tonics followed.