In Nairobi all my remaining 11 fellow travelers left and others, both new arrivals and participants on other Gadventure tours filed the gap. After a relaxing day in a nice hotel in Nairobi (a proper bed after many nights in a tent is invaluable), we startedl moving West towards Uganda. We first stopped at Lake Navaisha, a birders paradise with lesser and greater flamingos, pelicans, fish eagles, cormorants, storks and kingfisher. And a healthy population of hippos, that leave the water and walk inland for grazing during the night. Our campsite was protected with an electrical fence, but this protection failed due to power shortage. Therefore during the night armed guards assured that no hippo enters the campground. Hippos look harmless, but they are by far more dangerous than for example sharks (3000 fatalities per year by hippos, but only 5 by sharks). They have long sharp teeth, run like the wind and do not like to be disturbed and threatened, particularly when they move back to the water. Better not to cross their path!
Few days later we pitched our tents at beautiful Lake Bunyoni, close to the Bwindi Impenetrable Mountain National park. Wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world flock here to see Mountain gorillas (population of less than 1000 animals in Uganda and Rwanda). Both governments are highly protective of this natural treasure. Only few tourists are allowed daily to visit them, and dozens of park rangers protect the gorillas from poachers. The exclusivity has its tolls and a visit permit to see the gorillas costs between 350 and 750 USD per person per day (depending on season). Before the tourists arrive, rangers search the gorillas by using last known position and their tracks. By radio the tourist groups, accompanied by a guide and some armed rangers, are guided to the exact location. It can take from 1 to 8 hours to find them, depending on their movements during the night. We were lucky, after just over an hour of easy hiking we reached “our” family, consisting of 11 animals, among them 2 old male Silverbacks and a two months old toddler. As they are visited regularly by tourists, they became habituated to people and do not fear them. In rare occasions, particularly young gorillas even interact with humans. We were allowed to go as close as few meters to the resting animals. Some of them were dozing and yawning, two teenagers were wrestling for a while, the mother was nursing her baby and the Alpha male Silverback was watching the family. After 50 minutes the group dispersed into the trees, but anyway the visit time is strictly limited to one hour, and we got most out of that.
In Jinja at Lake Victoria we camped at the “Source of the Nile”. Sure there are many smaller rivers that flow into Lake Victoria that are basically sources of the Nile, and the most distant sources are still undetermined but located in either Rwanda or Burundi. But at Jinja the Nile flowing from Lake Victoria is for the first time a massive river. While most of us decided to do river rafting, I opted for river boarding. Equipped with a wave board and flippers you swim directly into the rapids. Close the mouth, open the eyes and try not to lose the board, helmet or the flippers when you hit one of the “wash machine” like rapids. Great fun, but exhausting and sometimes even scary, when you feel the power of the water pushing you under the surface. Unfortunately my flippers were too tight, and due to fast swimming I got grazes on both right and left feet.
On the long journey back to Nairobi we visited the small but beautiful Nakuru National Park. Four white rhinos grazing at a lake next to the road, and flanked by white egrets and zebras were the ultimate highlight.
Next destination: Mozambique
Previous destination: Tanzania