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Didas’ Mount Gahinga Adventure!

Volcanoes Safaris recently planned a special adventure weekend for residents of Kampala at Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge in Kisoro, Uganda, which I was put in charge of organizing on the ground!

Co-ordinating such a trip is always great fun and a very fulfilling experience as it is a chance to directly interact with our guests, but as I arrived at the lodge ahead of the guests to assist in setting things up, I also had to help construct the special campsite we were using as well as make sure that supplies were ordered and delivered in time for their arrival.

Three days before the guests were due to arrive I woke up early in the morning heading from Kampala to Volcanoes Safaris Mount Gahinga Lodge to start arranging logistics for the adventure weekend. Mobile toilets, mobile showers, mobile lighting to mention but a few had to be found, loaded onto trucks and ticked off. It was quite an interesting assignment and when everything goes as planned it is always fun!

The day before the guests were due we headed south to Gahinga together with the advance team including a stand-by chef, a stand-by vehicle and other manpower needed to help. It is a meandering journey where you traverse hills and green valleys in what I might call the Switzerland of Africa. Journeys like these are not common living in the city and they are well worth the experience!

On the morning of the guests’ arrival, the entire team awoke early to prepare the camping ground and to make sure that everything had been set up that had been arranged in the office back in Kampala. The campsite needed to be cleared and trimmed, showers and toilets needed to be erected for the campers while warm water shower buckets needed to be prepared for the bandas so that the guests would be comfortable on arrival. At exactly 1:00pm all the groundwork was done, food was ready and all the drinks chilled were ready to meet the expectations of adventurers.

On arrival, the guests were briefed and the allocation of rooms sorted. Campers were assisted in setting up their tents. The entire exercise was a busy one for all but the guests were certainly appreciative of their hot showers, as it can get cold in the mountains!

At suppertime the guests enjoyed their meals which were ordered in transit and telephoned ahead, it was a new system to all at the lodge but everyone coped well and the guests all received what they wanted and were very satisfied, which is good as the next morning was full of activities; golden monkey tracking, hiking Mt. Sabinyo, Mt. Muhabura and taking community walks in the local villages.

I participated in escorting our guests to hike Mt Sabinyo. At the beginning of the trek it is quite flat and easy but it definitely gets tougher as you approach the first peak. You are trekking with a walking stick, packed lunch, a bottle of water plus a camera for those who had one, so it was sometimes hard to balance! We trekked as a group of eight people and two UWA guides. By chance, it was seven women and I was the only man in the group apart from our guides, so I felt quite lucky! Despite it being tough it was fun and the Uganda Wildlife Authority guides were helpful in directing all of us.

I was proud that I was on top of field organization and the overall client expectation was met; all the guests were happy and full of smiles by the time they left. It was not as easy as some would expect because it was setting up a home away from home and we wanted to make the guests as comfortable as they could be. It was fun, though, and truly it was a lifetime achievement to have escorted our guests to the peak of Mt. Sabinyo and something I will not forget!

Didas, Kampala Office

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To protect gorillas from disease, no children under 15 years are allowed to go gorilla tracking. For guests booking a stay at Virunga Lodge, please note that the minimum age limit for children at Virunga Lodge is 12 years.

Safari Activities

Chimpanzee Tracking

Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.

Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.