African Adventure- from Hoima to Kibale Forest

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A woman and child carrying water on a bicycle

May 17, 2010 – With each sunrise on this African escapade, I find myself more enmeshed in the continent’s embrace. The remnants of jet lag are shedding like an old skin, revealing a fresher, more vibrant mood. The journey from breakfast to Hoima is a breeze, with stretches of road that are a delightful surprise of smooth pavement. The wildlife is a spectacle in itself; baboons, vervet monkeys, and a charming black and white colobus monkey grace our path, alongside Ugandan kob, Thomson’s gazelles, and a comedic ensemble of pigs. But the true stars of the show are the goats—six million of them, give or take—and my driver’s laughter is infectious when I express my newfound goat admiration. I muse about the potential of a local petting zoo, a concept that seems utterly foreign to him, sparking a curious conversation about the luxuries of air conditioning, both at home and on wheels.

The Hotel KonTiki greets us with its serene landscape, a haven for horses, cats, and a noticeable absence of fellow tourists. My room is a welcome contrast to previous lodgings, boasting a double bed that promises a night free from dreams of sleeping on stone. The bathroom is spacious, though a hole in the ceiling suggests a possible primate intrusion later on.

As the day wanes, I’m reminded of Africa’s unpredictable electricity supply. The power flickers on just long enough to breathe life into my phone before plunging us back into an unplugged reality. It’s a lesson in gratitude—for every moment of electricity and hot water is a gift not to be taken for granted.

The hotel’s open-air restaurant serves up a modest selection of curries and rice. I opt for the vegetarian dish and soon find myself in the company of a skinny cat, which seems content with a single curry mushroom and my silent companionship.

As night descends, the construction nearby persists, their generator offering a sporadic lifeline to my electronic devices. The television, limited to a fuzzy British sports channel, becomes my white noise against the backdrop of hammering.

May 18, 2010 – Anticipation stirs me before the dawn. Today’s destination is Kibale Forest, a sanctuary boasting the highest diversity of primates in Africa. The road is unforgiving, a relentless jostle that leaves me wondering about the long-term effects of sunburn and bumpy rides. Despite protective measures, my skin seems to sizzle under the African sun.

En route, we encounter a couple with a motorcycle, engaged in a desperate attempt to coax the last drops of fuel from their tank—a stark reminder of the daily challenges faced by locals.

Children’s excited waves and yells punctuate our drive, a heartwarming reminder of our shared curiosity.

Kibale’s fame for its chimpanzees and monkeys is well-deserved, but it’s the butterflies that capture my heart. They rise in flutters with each step, and one particularly bold butterfly seems enamored with its own reflection on my phone screen.

The Primate Lodge is my retreat—a stone-floored banda with a porch that opens to the jungle. Here, I’m a solitary guest, dining alone but surrounded by the whispers of the forest canopy. A family of L’Hoest’s monkeys, complete with a newborn, is a sight that makes the journey worthwhile.

The jungle’s sudden downpours are as powerful as they are unexpected, lulling me into a deep sleep that lasts through the night. Dawn reveals a half-eaten papaya on my porch—a missed opportunity to witness my nocturnal visitors.

After breakfast, I trek to the lodge’s famed treehouse, which overlooks an elephant wallow. Although renovations prevent me from staying there, the view from the top is unparalleled. No elephants today, but the distant trumpet and fresh tracks hint at their presence. The symphony of chimp calls fills the air, and I sit, immersed in the wild chorus, content in the heart of the jungle.

Join me, Leslie Price, as I continue to fill My Adventure Bucket with unexpected encounters and the raw beauty of Africa. Stay tuned for more tales and tips from the road less traveled.

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