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We left the lodge on the third day and drove to Bwindi lodge getting there in the evening to a totally different atmosphere. As we walked down to check into our rooms we saw the vast impenetrable forest looming in front of us - such a beautiful sight. We quickly got ready for dinner in main building while sipping African tea and exchanging stories with the agents and guests around the fire. After dinner, as we walked back to our rooms we beheld a million stars in the clear sky. This was wonderful, it felt like the sky was right before us and we could almost touch them.
The next morning we were awake by 6 am to go track the mighty mountain gorillas. Fully dressed in our tracking gear we headed out to the park office for briefing. We hiked into the forest for a while and before we knew it we could see a gorilla up in the tree. The guide told us to get our cameras ready and leave our luggage behind but only carry our cameras since were drawing close to the gorillas. We walked only a few steps and there were the gorillas feeding. We visited the Mubare group that had an 8 months old baby and a 1-month-old gorilla. It was exciting to see the mother carefully carrying and guarding its babies. We could hardly see the baby gorilla as the 8 month old kept climbing onto the silverback and playing with the mother. As we were watching them the silverback got up and walked towards us the guides told us to stand still and let it pass by us. The enormous silverback strode right up to us, looked at us briefly and passed, as if he knew exactly who we were and that we meant no harm. The guide told us that when you respect a silverback it will respect you in return. We took lots of pictures and spent an hour with the gorillas. It was thrilling to be so close and watch them in the wild.
The next day we drove to Mount Gahinga Lodge and along the drive we enjoyed the beautiful hilly scenery. The evergreen vegetation and crops planted by the people of the communities. As we were approaching the lodge we could see mount Muhavura, Sabinyo and Gahinga. We were welcomed with a warm cup of hot chocolate as we were briefed near the fireplace. We then checked into our beautiful rooms each with its own fireplace and unique brightly coloured interior. As dinner was being prepared, we went up to the main building where we sat by the fireplace. We had a delicious dinner and after playing some board games around the fire, went to bed. We woke up the next morning to a lovely breakfast and hiked up to the batwa settlement. At the settlement we experienced the life of the batwa “pygmies” and saw how they now live. We walked backed to the lodge and enjoyed the batwa experience where they illustrated how they hunted, made fire and generally lived in the forest. We had a quick lunch and headed out to Virunga lodge.
We drove for about 40 minutes and we were in Rwanda. Before we knew it we were climbing up to Virunga Lodge. The drive up is beautiful. You overlook the lakes Ruhundo, Kivu and Bulera plus the virunga volcano chain in the distance. We were served the famous tree tomato juice, which is extremely yummy! Checking into our rooms we took a tour of the lodge. Each room has its own unique view of either the lakes or the volcanoes, which is totally breathtaking, and the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day. Later in the evening we sat around the fire and exchanged stories and ideas with clients as we waited for dinner. At dinner we were enjoyed the meal and talked about life as we know it.
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.