Thursday, 23 April 2009

The inpenetrable forest

Apologies for the three week absence. Internet connection in the ‘impenetrable forest is limited’.
It has been an extraordinary time.
Our days have started at 6, when we wake in the chill air and shovel down some porridge and tea. Then its gaiters on and kit prep. Day 1 we had two porters and more filters and polorizers and sun cream than you could shake a stick at. Day 2, 4 porters and half the kit!
The walk in was ……hard. First we descended about 300 metres and arrived at the guide’s camp. Here we met kaleb, Dennis, Ambrose and Gad. Then we walked for two and a half hours. Up hills that went on for 45 minutes, up ridiculously steep slopes and then descending gradients that required hanging off vines. We were also at an altitude of 2500 metres.
I was HANGING. But oh so excited.
But then we got to the gorillas. The first I met was Rukina, the silverback. He was MAHOUSIF. Really quite an impressive being. He then ambled off and we followed and there we saw the rest of his gang of 12.
Our main characters are of course Rukina, then there’s Happy and Thursday the two toddlers. Tindermanyere the mum with pinoco the tiny too cute infant! Matu the old lady of the group. Biazu the black back male who loves to sing and fart and one to be wary of. And Marembo the good looking teenager.
They are gorgeous creatures who are wonderfully laid back. Filming is a horror, when you’re off the track your dragging camera and tripod through 6 ft vines down crazy slopes, then you’ll spot something and desperately try and set up quickly to film through whatever leaves and branches are in the way.
But we have seen some incredible stuff. Lots of playing, grooming, feeding, tree climbing, sleeping and even Rukina mating with a female called Siato!
Are expert and guide has been Martha Robbins a Gorilla scientist par excellence. She has been amazing and great fun. More importantly she makes excellent coffee and pancakes.
We have been living just within the boundaries of Bwindi ‘The impenetrable forest’ on the outskirts of a lovely village called ruhija, which is perched along the spine of one of the exquisite hills that roll away to the distant volcanoes that sit astride Rwanda, Uganda and Congo.
Finn, Becs, Loren and Nigel turned up after a week on Finns birthday. It was wonderful to see them and we had a lovely birthday tea.
Finn has taken to here like a fish to water, him and Loren go into the village every day and get gawped at and watch the monkey's that nick Rosie's pants of the line! There are making fresh bread and cakes and keeping morale high.
We are living in two cottages, one with an open fire which we congregate around in the evening to drink beer and eat beans cooked by Valentine and Alex.
Well tomorrow we head off to Rwanda for the second stage of our trip. Hopefully the internet will be slightly easier there.

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