I decided to skip doing a nature walk today and just walk the road. While I ate breakfast I met Nelson, an Aussie who was waiting for his sister and nephew to come back from chimp tracking. They were staying at the Chimps nest. Nelson said (mistakenly) that Gerran, the Dutch owner of Chimp’s Nest, who I met yesterday, was coming to pick them up after they finished their chimp tracking. Gerran, overheard me yesterday complain that there was no water left in the shower at the campsite and said I should come stay at his place. They always had water and accomodation and food was half the price it was here at the park. I had stayed the 4 nights of camping I paid for upfront and thought I would move to Chimps nest today. I waited for Richard to come back from chimp tracking and we packed up to move to Chimps Nest. Richard paid $90 for the chimp tracking and only saw a chimps ass from a distance and was understandable pissed. I’m glad I had seen chimps before I came to Kibale. Nelson’s sister told us they were not getting picked up by Gerran so we had to find a way to get there. The Chimps Nest was about 3km from the park and then another 40 minute walk on a back road to the middle of nowhere. I was ready to walk but Richard suggested we wait for a vehicle. We didn’t wait long before a huge truck with a crane and large square cargo came along. We hopped on the back and got dropped off at Bigodi hotel for some lunch. I offered the driver money but he refused. We ate a huge lunch of beans, rice and beef and started to walk to Chimps Nest. Richard didn’t want to walk because he was carrying all his stuff. I was too but I was feeling energetic and really like walking. I thought it would only take an hour or so. Richard suggested hiring a boda boda and I told him to do what he wanted but I was going to walk. He caved, and started walking with me. He kept calling me ‘Rambo’. It was really hot and sunny and we took a few breaks before arriving at the Chimps Nest. Our first break was under a tree at the bottom of a hill. As we were getting ready to leave, a bike barreling down the hill with a passenger and almost out of control. Maybe we were a bit in the way but we moved quick and the bike rocked violently from side to side but the driver kept it on the road. The passenger sitting over the back wheel wasn’t as lucky and fell off the bike and rolled into some weeds on the side of the dirt road. I thought he was a kid wearing really ratty and dirty clothes. At first the guy didn’t move and we thought the worst, but I mountain bike and have taken some bad spills and thought this wipeout wasn’t that bad. Richard tried to move the guy and as he rolled over a bit I could see that it wasn’t a kid but an older guy and he was piss drunk. After a minute he had not moved but began to snore! He was already sleeping! I figured they were both drunk and probably bound to crash if we were there are not. The driver came back and we left the guy passed out on the grass.
The Chimps Nest has only been open for 10 months. It’s situated on a grassy scruby hill with the forest in front of it and a view of the Rwenzori mountains in the distance. The site consisted of the main reception/restaurant/lounge, some spaced out bandas, a self contained treehouse in the forest and a terraced camp site. I would have loved to stay in the treehouse but at $100 a night was a bit too expensive. Even though the dorm rooms were the same price as camping, I choose to camp. I found an excellent spot close to the forest and under a big acacia tree. It was the furthest away I could get from everything. I really liked how everything was so spread out. I set up my tent and just relaxed. I ate a delicious homecooked meal of grilled fish, mixed veggies and boiled potatoes. It was a fun night with Richard and the Aussies. We stayed up drinking and talking.
I slept in the next morning till 9 and went for breakfast. The Chimps Nest puts on a good spread of eggs, bread, toast, fruit, juice and coffee for $2.50. I hung around the restaurant for the morning and then walked to Bigodi hotel for lunch. The road passes through some swampy areas that are good for monkeys and I was hoping to have some luck with l’hoest. I didn’t but I did have great luck with red colobus and got some close up face photos. I arrived back at Chimps Nest for 3 and Richard and I took a mandatory guide to explore some of the Chimps Nest private forest bordering the park. I don’t know if Richard is bad luck or what ( remember he didn’t see any chimps were almost everyone does), because we didn’t see anything. I almost always at least see a few monkeys on any walk I go on. The walk was cheap though and I know it was just bad timing because half hour after we got back I was reading in my tent and a troupe of red tailed monkeys appeared in the trees in front of me.
It was a quiet night in the restaurant. Only Richard and I were staying at Chimps Nest now. I ate the same dinner and went to bed early. There is no electricity at Chimps Nest. They have solar power but its not enough to keep drinks really cold. Maybe I’m a bit of a wimp but I can’t drink beer unless its really cold. I mostly just drank water for the whole week I was at Kibale except for the coffee and juice in the morning. An ice cold beer always goes down nice in a warm climate but I would have to wait until I got back to Fort Portal for that. Before retiring to my tent I noticed my towel on the clothesline was covered in moths. They loved it and I was feeding about 2 dozen species.
My last full day at Chimps Nest began like all the rest, sleeping in a filling up on a huge breakfast. I was going to concentrate on the road around the swamp looking for monkeys. I set up my tripod and got comfortable. Black and white colobus monkeys were feeding low in the trees and provided some of the best photos I’ve had of them so far. Richard joined me for a while after he did a tour through the swamp but then went back to Chimps Nest. I hung out on the road for a few hours and then had my last meal at Bigodi hotel. I read and relaxed back at Chimps Nest till dinner. No new guests had arrived, it was still just Richard and I. It was another quiet night with a tasty dinner.
Richard has been on the road for a while arriving from Rwanda and before that Tanzania, Malawi, Madagascar and India. He had no guidebook for Uganda and wasn’t sure where to go next. I told him I was going to an area of crater lakes near Fort Portal and he thought that sounded good and is going to join me.
I packed up my tent and was in the restaurant for breakfast at 8.30. Richard didn’t feel like walking the 40 minutes to the main road so he hired a boda boda. I was again in the walking mood and left 10 minutes after him. I waited on the main road for 30 minutes before getting a free ride in a tour company landrover to the headquarters of the park, where I was camping before. I would have a better chance to get a ride from here. A guy pulled in driving a small Toyota, the typica share taxi car. He said he would give me a ride back to Fort Portal for the same price as the share taxi. He just had to pick up someone and would be right back. He picked up what I thought was his wife who worked at Kibale Primate Lodge. It was just the 3 of us in and I had the whole back seat to myself. It was a rare luxury. About halfway back to Fort Portal, we stopped and the woman turns around to me and says’ I have forgotten something. Can we go back?’ Well, what was I to do, they were my ride. So, we drove back to the park. What was it that she forgot? Her celllphone.
I finally arrived in Fort Portal after having left Chimps Nest over 3 hours before. I met Richard at the Continental hotel, where he had been already for 2 hours. I went out to find internet, I had a lot of writing to catch up on but was frustrated to find the 3 internet cafes in town were all having connnection problems. So, Richard and I watched Death Race ( awesome movie!) on his laptop in our twin room. The internet was working better in the evening and I was able to write for a while. We watched Bangkok Dangerous ( not so awesome) before crashing. I am a bit of a movie junky and was happy to be able to watch a few movies again.
The driver I had that took me out of the park gave us a good price for the crater lakes and I told him to meet us at our hotel at noon, Jan 7. I will be staying at the crater lakes for about 5 days or so, more about them when I return.
Jan 07 2009