Africa – Week 7 Back to News List

Leaving Mbala we drove north through the Tongwe Forest Reserve, this was the Central Africa from my distant memories of 30 years ago, a thin red dirt track that wound its way through a verdant green forest, we eventually reached the spectacularly located Hilltop Resort in Kigoma. Before retiring to the Hilltop, we couldn’t miss the Livingstone Memorial built on the very spot where a reporter from the New Yok Times, Stanley, uttered those immortal words, “Doctor Livingstone I presume”, the museum itself was terrible but strangely enticing given the remarkable history that was all around.

The following day was an exciting day as we boarded a boat for a 2-hour trip north to the Gombe Stream National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. It is in this very park that the renown Jane Goodall spent 30 years of her life studying chimpanzees, it remains the longest continuous study of any animal species on earth. After surviving a ferocious storm that raced toward the Congo we clambered up into the surrounding forests in search of the chimpanzees. After a few hours of rigorous searching, we found a troupe of chimps. It was indeed a remarkable experience to be amongst these chimps whose numbers, in the wild, have descended to 1500 worldwide, it was indeed a rare moment.

Leaving Kigoma we continued due north and into Rwanda. This tiny landlocked country was a complete revelation. Beautiful roads that ascended & descended amongst an incredibly fertile verdant landscape with every inch covered in banana plantations, rice paddies, pineapples and other crops. Rwanda was jaw dropping and incredibly clean, we delighted in cinnamon rolls being washed with real coffee at a roadside diner and apparent order to the sometimes-crazy Africa

We spent 2 nights in the capital Kigali allowing us time to visit the incredibly moving, yet almost obligatory, Genocide Museum. In 1994 the Hutu led government enacted a carefully planned genocide of the Tutsi minority, killing 1 million people in 100 days, all the while the world stood by and did F##K all to stop it, in fact the UN pulled out the remaining UN soldiers and let the government slaughter its own people. The museum once again highlights mankind’s capacity to inflict unimageable suffering on its fellow man.

Rwanda has, incredibly, bounced back from the darkest pages of history to become one of Africa’s shining lights, its people are incredibly friendly, infrastructure magnificent, and scenery jaw dropping, we were sad to be leaving this wonderful country where it is illegal to discuss what tribe you belong to, everyone is Rwandan, irrespective of what you are, Hutu or Tutsi, perhaps a lesson could be learnt from Rwanda?

We crossed into Uganda, and it was like stepping back in time, the roads disintegrated, typical African craziness ruled however the scenery was utterly stunning. We drove under the shadows of the Virunga Ranges Volcanoes and along a road high above the shoreline of the breathtaking Lake Mutanda. This lake is surrounded by volcanoes and mountains laden with banana plantations and forest and dotted with tiny mud hot villages that clung to the steep mountainsides. It is within these very forests that some of the most endangered animals on earth remain, the Highland Mountain Gorillas.

30 years ago, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the greatest wildlife experience of my life, sitting with a family of the endangered Highland Mountain Gorillas, in the then Zaire, fast forward to November 2022 and once again I sat with these, now critically endangered, highland mountain gorillas, this time in Uganda, and it remains as one of, if not the most spectacular wildlife experiences there is. 

After an epic 1.5hour 4×4 ride though breathtaking scenery we trekked for 2.5hours before finding a family of 13 gorillas going about their daily business, they were totally unconcerned by our presence with baby gorillas clambering amongst the trees while mum and the massive silverback wandered amongst lush vegetation seemingly posing for photos. We sat in silence for an hour just taking in this rare and utterly unique moment. It is days like these that are truly life affirming. 

We continued west through the “pearl of Africa” Uganda, through a breathtaking landscape of volcanoes, mountains and valleys with virtually every inch under cultivation. Our final night for this magnificent week in Africa spent amongst the “primates” (chimps & gorillas) was in the wonderful Hyena Hills Lodge set high on a ridge that overlooks Lake Mburo. 

Next stop will see us briefly cross into the northern hemisphere when crossing the equator, Africa, it seems just keeps getting better.  

Read about Africa Week 8 or check out the Safari Africa tour itinerary!

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