Thursday, 31 May 2012

Over the border

I've never crossed a border from a country that drives on the left to one that drives on the right, and for some reason this excites me greatly.  I just cannot wait to see how the logistics work, and how many chances there are for disaster to strike.

Are the roads like a scalextric crossover?

Glad we've taken the full cover insurance.

My limited experience of African border crossings is very positive, in fact the nicest border personnel I have ever met were in Namibia and Botswana.  I have never had a border official in Europe ask me if I enjoyed their country, or tell me to come back soon - all with the biggest smiles you can imagine.  This at a place the guide book told me could take all day to transit through - total time for the complete crossing was about ten minutes.

So with this in mind I don't have any real concerns about this crossing - in fact I'm looking forward to it immensely.  As we are to visiting Rwanda, despite all the horrors of its recent history.

We will be crossing over the border using the Cyanika crossing - and heading the few miles further south to Musanze (also known as Ruhengeri)

Kibale Forest and the Queen Elizabeth National Park

After seeing the Nile at Murchison Falls we are heading south to the Kibale Forest - 800 sq km of prime African rainforest packed full of chimpanzees.  Or so we hope.

We have booked to stay at Primate Lodge Kibale - which is right next to the park visitor centre, so should be good for the various treks that can be done.  The people here seem very helpful, despite them apparently losing my deposit - they provided me with two bank account numbers to transfer money to.  The one I should have used has letters in the number - and my bank just refuse to deal with this, so I transferred to the other number which didn't have any letters.  But that seemed to be the wrong one - but in the end they found it just before I got my bank to try and recoup the loss.  Luckily it wasn't for a huge sum - it should be quite simple to do this kind of thing but banks seem to have a habit of making it as hard as they can.

I have tried to contact the Ugandan Wildlife authority to book a chimp tracking trek, but none of the e-mail addresses on their website seems to work, and the phone doesn't get answered. Hopefully we can sort stuff out when we arrive in the park.

After a few days in the forest we drive the short distance to the Queen Elizabeth National Park where we intend camping - nothing booked as I haven't found anywhere on the web to make bookings.  This should be the most "safari-like" part of our trip - lots of large mammals to see with the chance of catching the famous tree climbing lions of Ishasha.  

The Ishasha area of the park is very close to the DRC, and is not currently open to visitors due to the generally lively state of affairs across the border.  I'm hoping things may have calmed down to just "general mayhem" by the time we visit so that we may be able to camp in the area.  Probably have to take an armed guard if we do and I cannot see my wife liking that.....