Saturday 13 June
This morning off to Uwinka for the Igishigishigi canopy walk. Three walkways of 45, 90 and 25 metres in the forest canopy which give magnificent views but I wasn't too sure about the 'bounciness' of the walkways. A great experience though. Back to the lodge for lunch then a birding walk which seemed to be less than 300 metres long but we spotted over 20 species.
Sunday 14 June
A new experience today. A helicopter flight to my next destination, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. After a slight amount of trepidation when the pilot couldn't get the helicopter to start, we eventually took off for the 45 minute flight which I thoroughly enjoyed. The only disappointment were the hazy conditions which meant not good views of the Virunga Mountains. But a marvellous experience. Lovely seeing Rwanda from the air and easy to see how hilly the country is. Flew along the shore of Lake Kivu and over the mountains to land at Ruhengeri where my next guide Sam was waiting to take me to Mountain Gorilla View Lodge which is obviously not of the same standard as Nyungwe Forest Lodge but still very comfortable.
Monday 15 June
Another early start to get to the park HQ to register for my first mountain gorilla trek. I was assigned Susa group A which is apparently one of the oldest habituated groups. From the HQ, a very bumpy one hour drive to the start of the trek. Only 5 of us in the group and we set off through the bamboo forest to the rainforest proper and the gorillas.
We soon met up with the family and what a laid back group - ranging from a magnificent 42 year old silverback to a 2 month old baby. Enchanting!
Spent an hour with them which was over all too quickly before we had to slip and slide our way back down and out of the forest.
Tuesday 16 June
Yet another early start but this time to meet Golden Monkeys. I would have preferred a more intimate group during the trek but we did spend a most enjoyable hour with the monkeys who are extremely photogenic. Back to Mountain Gorilla View for lunch then a visit to a Cultural Centre which is run by former poachers who give demonstrations of Rwandan life in the not too distant past.
Wednesday 17 June
Left Mountain Gorilla View and Rwanda today to travel to Clouds in Uganda. On the way visited a local market and crossed the border to Uganda (a very strange experience to see a young boy grazing his cattle outside the Customs buildings). Reached Clouds about 3pm and was greeted with a glass of hibiscus and lemon grass and a hand massage! Wonderful! Shown to my cottage (Posho Cottage) by my housekeeper Jane and butler Felix! A beautiful cottage built from the local volcanic rock with a double-sided wood fire between the lounge and bedroom. Nothing seems to be too much trouble for the staff here and it's an absolutely stunning location but sadly the clouds are covering the volcanoes.
Thursday 18 June
Early start (again) to meet Agatha from Nkuringo Walking Safaris for a long (29k I think) walk to a waterfall then on to the Congo border. A very strenuous walk given the terrain but very enjoyable and Agatha is the most wonderful guide so enthusiastic and so knowledgeable. Lots of birdlife plus L'Hoest, Red-tailed and Blue monkeys. Very interesting to see the refugee camps on the Congo border.
Friday 19 June
My second gorilla trek which starts only 100 metres from Clouds. Hoping to find the Nkuringo group and after a slippery downhill walk we found them in the valley near the tea plantations. Two silverbacks in this group and a selection of youngsters who were determined to show off to the visitors. Again the hour was over too quickly and we set off up the very steep hill back to the HQ. We arrived back at the start of a terrific storm which raged for most of the afternoon. Well, we are in the rainforest!