Fort Portal and Kibale Forest: 23rd - 27th December 2009
on Jason and Anna in Mbarara (Uganda), 29/Jan/2010 07:55, 34 days ago
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The next part of our trip took us to Fort Portal, a town near the Rwenzori Mountains, a couple of hours drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park. We were staying in a place called Ndali Lodge, which is actually built on the rim of an extict volcano. The crater is now filled with water, and is called Lake Nyinambuga.Ndali Lodge is run by a very nice Englishman and his fiancee, and it felt like being in an old English country house. The rooms are individual thatched cottages with en-suite, and we were very impressed. The food was fantastic, and the staff were so warm and friendly. It was really nice to be somewhere so relaxing, as all the game drives etc had taken it out of us a bit.  On Christmas morning we woke to find that Father Christmas had visited us - there was a big basket full of fruit, chocolates, handcrafts and even some of the very nice Ndali Vanilla Pods (which apparently sell for a fortune in Waitrose). It is the little, thoughful things like this that made our stay at Ndali Lodge so special.The Sitting Room at Ndali LodgeNdali Vanilla pods growingLake NyinambugaWe left Ndali Lodge after lunch on Christmas Day - unfortunately we missed proper Christmas dinner there, as it was going to be served in the evening, which Jason was a bit sad about. Mind you, he couldn't complain too much, as my parents had brought us lots of christmas goodies like mince pies, chocolate Santas and even some chocolate coins.Our next stop was Primate Lodge, which is right in the middle of Kibale Forest. We had permits to do Chimp Tracking on Boxing Day, which we were all very excited about. Primate Lodge was the most expensive place we stayed in, although it was nowhere near the best. The Luxury tents are fantastic, although the cottages (where Jason and I spent the first night) leave a lot to be desired. The manager was very keen to listen to our comments though, and even gave us a free bottle of wine as an apology, which went down very well indeed (well, what was left of it after my Mum 'accidentally'(?) threw a glass all over Jason!).It felt good to be staying in the middle of a forest with monkeys (and possibly chimps) in the trees overhead. My parents left some christmas cake wrapped up on their balcony when we went for dinner, and when they came back, something had been eating it. We assumed it was a bush-baby, as the wrapping had been carefully opened, and surely a mouse would have just bitten its way through the plastic.Luxury Tent at Primate LodgeMulti-Coloured Lizard / GeckoThe Restaurant at Primate LodgeThe next day was Chimp Day, when we would be going Chimp Tracking in Kibale Forest. We went down to the park headquarters, only a couple of minutes walk from Primate Lodge, where we met our guide. Luckily, we managed to get a guide for the four of us, whereas some of the other people had groups of six or seven people.  We started walking through the forest, straight through the undergrowth, not on any paths. Our guide heard some chimps in the distance, so we started heading towards the sound. We saw a chimp sitting on the floor, but he moved away pretty quickly. Then we came to an area where there were a few chimps in the trees overhead, and we stayed there watching them for a while - it was an amazing experience. The chimps are habituated, and are used to groups of people being in the forest watching them, but they are by no means 'tame'. We watched them feeding from the fruits in the trees, it was fantastic to see them so close up. It was really hard to get any decent photos, but both Jason and my Dad got some pretty good video footage. We spent about an hour tracking them, and then we had to head out of the forest before it got dark.  It wasn't an easy walk, as it was very rough terrain, but it was well worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to visit Uganda. Chimp on a Branch in Kibale ForestChimp in Kibale ForestThe next day, we left Kibale and drove back to Entebbe with my parents. We'd had a wonderful holiday, and were sad to say goodbye.However, the next part of trip was just about to begin, as our friends Peter and Christine were coming out to see us!