Maybe “Going South” is not an appropriate title for this part, maybe “Chimpanzee trekking” would be more appropriate which would completely ignore that fact that we were also trying to find the “tree climbing” lions … Let’s just see how it goes.
After Murchison Falls we decided to continue to the south of Uganda into the areas with rain forest. The first leg was a rather long drive where we had to make another tough decision: Add 100km of distance on tarred roads or instead go for 30 km of supposedly bad gravel road. We decided for the 100km which turned out to be just 80 km tarred with a bonus of 20km gravel road.
And what gravel road means I have described in details before. Here is the proof:
At the end of the day the interior of the car looked like this … To be fair, this dust is not from one day but from the whole journey. And to be even more fair: It would have looked the same after just one day …
We arrived at our new camp when it was already dark. It was another perfect place to stay! Here is the picture from the next day when we were already starting to pack and move on.vWe got the recommendation for this camp from a Dutch couple which was camping with us at Murchison Falls. Talking to other travellers is a perfect source of information as the people you met tend to have the same taste as you have so their recommendation is usually very good.
From now on we didn’t have to cover big distances anymore which allowed us to spend more time exploring things.
Out of cloths? No problem, here is all you need! Sorry, women only! The men’s department is around the corner and has just 3 colours and 2 sizes ….
Georg’s two-trousers strategy didn’t work out as expected due to Uganda’s dust and rough road conditions so he had to go shopping. I was on a more conservative three-trousers, didn’t have to do any shopping and I could document everything.
After investing 9€ for new trousers he had to invest another 1.25€ to get it into the proper shape.
A real Singer sewing machine! Worked like a charm.
Our car stared to feel the dust. The cigarette lighter refused to work so we could not charge anything anymore while driving… Slowly all our electronic devices were running out of power… Not acceptable! Therefore we had to active plan B: Our power inverter can be directly attached to the battery of the car and that is what we did whenever we stopped somewhere. The only drawback of it is that the battery might be empty when you want to start the car again. But we decided that we would deal with that problem when it would happen and not do any scientifically inaccurate calculation of how much power we could drain. … Later on we even managed to attached the cable in a way to the battery that we could charge while driving.
One of the beautiful crater lakes in the area.
Maybe a future champion at Tour de France.
Eventually we reached the equator. 3 different devices were all indicating that we are at 0.0° south or north.
If you are expecting anything spectacular at 0.0°, sorry, nothing is there. It is just a virtual line, crossing a bumpy road and continuing into a bush.
Why did I add this photo here? Well, I want to show a bit how live looks in the streets of Uganda. First Georg was buying some water in the shop in the back and them some very delicious fried fish from the women in the foreground which we used as an appetiser while looking for a place to stay during the night.
We wanted to do Chimpanzee trekking. Finding the place turned out to be very tricky. Neither google maps nor any other navigation tool new about it and asking local people about the direction didn’t bring us any closer. Eventually we found the place where the Chimpanzee trekking would start next morning and could register. Next on our todo-list was thinking about a place to stay for the night. Even though camping was possible at the same location where we registered for the trekking they didn’t offer dinner so we had to look for another place since we didn’t want to cook for ourselves. We got a recommendation for a place where camping was possible and food was provided.
Luckily this time google maps knew about the place and 30 minutes later we were standing in front of a locked gate. Even after using the horn a couple of times, nothing happened. We somehow managed to open the gate ourselves and could drive into the compound. And what we found there could have been stolen from some of those end-of-the-world movies: There were a couple of huts and a main building. In between cows were grazing but nobody was around. We entered the main building. Still nobody around but loud music was playing … Mankind had been obliterated, only the cows and us survived … After this we started to search the huts for survivors … first hut … nothing … second one … still nobody around. Then we found someone, and another one and a third one. Good! So this was not the end of time …
The poor guys were obviously not expecting anyone and first had to borrow some money from us and then go to the village to buy food for our dinner which was served with the usual Uganda delay of 1 hour.
The Chimpanzee trekking was announce to take 3-4hours. At first we were walking on well established paths through the forest. But once we could hear some “uh-uh-uhhhh” we started to zigzag into deep forest, up and down, back and forth. Our guide was using occasionally using her machete to clear the path.
It felt like this was aimless but we always ended up close to some chimpanzees. Now the problem with Chimpanzees in their natural habitat is that they are either sitting on trees and are eating or they are on the ground and moving around at high speed, too high to follow. And if they are in the trees, they are well above you and there are 10 millions leaves in between. So Chimpanzee trekking is definitely not something for the impatient as you have to invest time and effort to be successful.
We found some mothers with their baby.
And another one.
Obviously not a Chimpanzee!
In the south of Uganda you can find a lot of tea plantation. We stopped a couple of times to take pictures. What was puzzling me a bit is the fact that when you take one of the leaves it doesn’t have any special smell or taste. I am wondering where the taste of the tea is coming from?
Harvesting the tea is done manually.
Today we stayed in a camp close to the border of Congo and very close to the Ishash Park. Reaching the camp site was a little bit adventurous but less than this picture would suggest.
I was also mentioning the tree climbing lions. Now this is where it gets tricky… Yes, there are lions in the Ishash sector of Queen Elisabeth Nation Park where we were. And yes, I have seen pictures of them on trees. Finding them is a completely different story. The place is probably 100 km2 and there are, according to our guide book, 20 of them around. Do the math and you can figure out yourself that finding one of them is not like going into a zoo and looking for the lions. Someone could argue that you just have to check the trees to find one of the tree climbing lions which ignores the fact that a tree climbing lion can perfectly well just stay on the ground. Bottom line is the while we drove around in the whole park and checked many trees we didn’t see a single lion, neither on a tree or on the ground.
What we saw was a possible track of a lion. And guess what? It was going into an area where there are no trees…
As a small compensation I can only offer a picture of a not-tree-climbing Impala. Anyway the park had a nice scenery with or without those lions…
Another behind the scene picture: This time featuring “writing the blog” while charging from the car’s battery and dodging the falling branches from a thorn tree.
I was promising some green landscape with a lot of trees and other stuff. This is what is coming next!