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xelas

By the looks of your photos, the training days in Costa Rica were successful! I feel like being there right by your side (just not when the silverback has been passing by :o). Hard work yielded excellent results. And the adventure is still to begin :) ...

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Towlersonsafari

lovely lovely lovely @Alexander33  Jane had a slightly similar experience ( but without the fear!)  when a youngster appeared from nowhere and grabbed her coat.she was backed up by the bamboo and had to sit down in it to try to avoid the gorilla and its mum who had come to investigate. Looking forward to read about your further adventures as we also went to the Nyungwe forest and stayed at some very entertaining accommodation but another wonderful place

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amybatt

What a wonderful final trek!  It seems very much worth the effort in getting there.  And good glory, may that baby gorilla someday grow into that head of hair!  So cute!!

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Atravelynn

That paradise flycatcher will remain etched in your memory forever!  If I were told, "Don't fall down, you don't want to scare him," I think I'd probably trip and fall down.  Great shots of the mother and baby, silverback and more on this trek.  How nice the sliverback loves his celery so much.  It's ok, but nothing I'd hum about.

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Alexander33

 

16 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

Each and every photo is superb. The light looks challenging though.

 

@Dave Williams

 

Thanks.  The light was a challenge, especially on that third trek, when we had fast-moving clouds and a lot of glare.  I kept having to adjust the negative Exposure Compensation, and then I got so caught up in just dealing with the terrain that I forgot to increase my shutter speed for a whole batch of photos, and ended up having to try to fix the problem in post processing.  Oh, well!

 

 

14 hours ago, cjt3 said:

What camera equipment did you use for the gorilla treks?

 

@cjt3

 

Thanks for following along.  For the gorilla treks, I was shooting with a Nikon D7200 and the new 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, plus I had another D7200 with the 16-85mm lens for wider angle shots.  J. was shooting with a Nikon D750 and the 80-400mm lens.  We actually purchased the 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens and the D750 in anticipation of this trip, and they both added a lot of value. That lens l gave me a shallow depth of field when I needed it and it let in a lot of light, which was necessary given the D7200's limited ISO capabilities.  And the D750, a full-frame camera, helped make up for the smaller aperture on the 80-400mm lens by letting us hike the ISO up higher (4000, even 6400 in a pinch) than we could have with the D7200s.

 

 

@monalisa

 

Thank you for your kind remarks.  On the bird photos, I find that adding a touch of Clarity and Contrast in post processing helps give them a bit more "pop."

 

Edited by Alexander33

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Alexander33
13 hours ago, xelas said:

By the looks of your photos, the training days in Costa Rica were successful! 

 

@xelas

 

Actually, I think the "training days" in Costa Rica that helped me were not those with the camera, but those spent hiking the mountainous trails.  They helped get us in shape!

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Alexander33
13 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

Looking forward to read about your further adventures as we also went to the Nyungwe forest and stayed at some very entertaining accommodation but another wonderful place

 

@Towlersonsafari

 

I don't think I knew that you had been to Nyungwe.  Fantastic.  There are more Nyungwe alums on here than I thought.  I look forward to our comparing notes.

 

 

12 hours ago, amybatt said:

And good glory, may that baby gorilla someday grow into that head of hair!  

 

@amybatt

 

Oh, yeah, it was all about the hair.  I kept telling Patrick, our driver/guide, that we wanted to see a baby "with the curly hair."  They have to be fairly young for that.  We had to work for it, but we finally succeeded.

 

 

10 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

That paradise flycatcher will remain etched in your memory forever!  

 

@Atravelynn, yes, in both good ways and bad!

 

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Alexander33

Before I continue with the second half of our trip, I’d like to share some of the practicalities, as well as a few personal thoughts, with respect to the gorilla treks – although I need to hold off on my opinions about the increase in the gorilla permit fees until the end of the report.  I’m not trying to string you along, I promise, but my comments on that particular subject can only be put into context by taking into account our entire experience.

 

Gear and Clothing

 

At a minimum, for each trek you need to wear a long-sleeved shirt and a sturdy pair of long pants, and comfortable yet stable footwear with adequate ankle support. 

 

Oh, and socks.  Definitely socks, and with some heft and length to them.  Each day our guides stressed that we needed to tuck our pants legs into our socks to protect ourselves from ants.  We saw a few swarms on the trails, but never had any trouble with them.  However, a woman at our lodge whom we had befriended did not take heed on her Golden Monkey trek, and had quite a story to tell us over wine later that evening.

 

She was standing with her group, struggling to see the monkeys, which were high up in the bamboo forest and very obscured.  Suddenly, she began crying in agony, feeling sharp stings all over her legs.  She had been standing in an ant bed, and was now under attack.  The ranger quickly escorted her away from the group so that she wouldn’t scare the monkeys away with her yelps of pain.

 

It took her awhile to deal with all the ants.  They had quickly reached up to her stomach.  She had to start removing layers of clothing to get to them all. Maybe 10 minutes had passed before she could even pause to look around her, and when she did, she saw that a few of the monkeys had moved in her direction and had now come down close to eye level.  About the same time, she heard someone in her group say, “Over there!” 

 

And, with that, 24 people made their very determined way over, hoping, finally, to get a decent look at the Golden Monkeys.  Instead, what they got was a decent look at a woman stripped down to her bra and panties.

 

 

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So consider yourself warned.  Just saying….... 

 

 

Edited by Alexander33

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Alexander33

Although I was tempted to wear lightweight, drip-dry pants, I opted for something a little more substantive (midweight water-repellant brushed cotton) to protect against stinging nettles, which can pierce flimsier materials.  These worked out well. 

 

We did buy gaiters for the trip, and I was glad to have them, not necessarily in order to keep my pants dry (as we didn’t have that much rain), but, rather, simply to keep them from getting absolutely filthy.  The dirt trails generated a lot of…..dirt. 

 

Definitely bring a waterproof backpack.  It all starts with drinking water, and you may very well need more than you think.  But we also added our camera equipment, rain jacket and light snacks to the mix, and, as I mentioned earlier, we each hired a porter to help carry the gear.  (Because we had packed our camera equipment in Pelican cases for air travel, we packed our backpacks, filled with smaller items of clothing, in our checked duffel bags.) 

 

I wore my rain jacket perhaps half the time, as we did have occasional sprinkles, plus the jacket helped protect against the stinging nettles, which can be as tall as you are.  Speaking of which, we also brought gardening gloves to protect our hands and wrists from the nettles.  As it turned out, we didn’t really need them, but they nevertheless brought us peace of mind as we trekked – just one less thing to have to worry about.

 

Me, all decked out for trekking (sans gloves at this point).

 

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Alexander33

How Strenuous are the Treks?

 

One of the positive aspects of gorilla trekking in Rwanda is that, rather than simply being assigned to a family group, the visitors’ driver/guides and the park rangers attempt to match visitors’ physical abilities to the locations where they expect to find a particular gorilla family, based on the latest information they have from the trackers.  The challenge lies in the fact that the gorillas may be on the move, and in these cases, what initially appears to be an “easy” trek ends up being anything but that.

 

As I’ve recounted, the family groups on our first two treks were pretty static, and the rangers and trackers knew where they were by the time we reached the park boundary.  On our third trek, the situation was more fluid.  The trackers knew where the gorillas had spent the night, but they had not located them by the time we crossed the wall and began our hike through the forest.  As we all now know, they found them, but it took more time and was a much more challenging hike than we had the previous two days.

 

On our first day, two unfortunate ladies staying at our lodge (both probably around 70) had requested an “easy” trek, which turned into a 4-hour ordeal – one way.  The gorilla family group to which the ladies had been assigned had awakened from their overnight spot near the base of the mountain and then spent the morning trundling up to the very top – with 8 expectant tourists in tow.  The ladies didn’t get back to the lodge until almost 6:00 PM, looking like death warmed over.  (They have my undying admiration, though.  They were up and at it the next morning, and ended up having an easy trek to a family group with a baby that had been born only the day before).

 

In general, though, I would say that a moderate degree of fitness is all that is required.  The guides set the pace according to the abilities of the slower visitors in each group, and there are frequent stops and rests.  Take brisk walks around your neighborhood, take the stairs whenever you can, visit a local refuge or wild place and spend a morning hiking there, and, in the end, you should be in decent enough shape to go gorilla trekking.

 

Edited by Alexander33

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Alexander33

Gorilla Mountain View Lodge

 

Actually, the name has now been changed from Gorilla Mountain View Lodge to Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.  Um, okay.....

 

Whatever you want to call it, we were very comfortable here.  Yes, the electricity sputtered on a few evenings, but they have back-up generators, so we were never in the dark for long.  And, yes, one day they lost water pressure and we couldn’t take showers until later in the evening, but they worked tirelessly to fix the problem.  And, yes, yes, once the water was back on, the bathrooms were still a bit odd, especially with the bright yellow- and green-painted rocks surrounding the shower area, and the water did splatter all over the floor every time you used the shower, because there was no shower curtain.

 

However, the food (buffet style) was good and plentiful, with a generous variety of choices.  They had an espresso/coffee bar, as well as a fully stocked bar with decent South African wines at fair prices, in the lobby area.  The grounds were well-maintained and nicely landscaped in a natural, not-too-manicured way, which attracted birdlife.  The location is good, as well, as it is only about a 20-minute drive to the park headquarters, where everyone who is trekking that day, no matter where they are staying, must first go in order to get their permits.

 

Accommodations are single cabins, decent-sized, with fireplaces.  We hated to see a precious resource like wood used for the fires they built for us each night, but we needed the warmth in our cabin.  One night we declined a fire, and shivered through the early morning hours.  They are building some new rooms, but these are connected and not nearly as charming as the older, single cabins, so avoid Cabins 40 and above.  We were in Cabin 6, which was fine, even if it was a little distant from the main lodge building.

 

 

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I was a little worried that the place would be too big for my tastes, but because there’s a good deal of space between cabins, we never felt crammed in.  And because we’re fairly social, we enjoyed meeting and visiting with other guests, most of whom were like-minded nature lovers.  In fact, later in the trip, we would end up regrouping with several other couples we had befriended whose itineraries were similar to ours, and that was enjoyable.

 

So, overall, Gorilla Mountain View Lodge – sorry, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge – is not a luxurious accommodation, but it had everything we needed and the staff was very friendly, so no complaints here.

 

 

 

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Pamshelton3932

I am enjoying every word of your report.  It brings back so many memories as some of,your experierences mirrored mine,  What an adventure you had.

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BonitaApplebum

Wonderful report! It's really taking me back, not only because of the gorillas but because you stayed in the same lodge as well. 

 

Glad to have played a role, however tiny, in motivating you to get to Rwanda. Judging by the incredible photos, it was well worth it.

 

 

 

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Zubbie15

The evil part of me was happy to see that your third trek was more difficult, you got off too easy with the first two!  Lots of great photos.  I'm impressed by the bird life you saw on the hotel grounds, I didn't have much luck (although to be fair it poured one of the afternoons we were there, so I didn't have ,I had time to explore).  This part really brought back great memories, I'm looking forward to more for the other areas of the country we didn't have a chance to visit.

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Alexander33

@Pamshelton3932 and @BonitaApplebum

 

Glad to have brought back some fond memories for both of you.

 

@Zubbie15

 

On 9/24/2017 at 6:53 PM, Zubbie15 said:

The evil part of me was happy to see that your third trek was more difficult, you got off too easy with the first two!  

 

The good part of me admits that you are right.  It was well worth the effort, nonetheless!

 

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Alexander33

When I initially started planning this trip, I had envisioned combining the gorilla treks with a safari in the Serengeti or the Mara, which is what many (most?) people do.  But with the allotted time we had for vacation as well as our penchant for a relatively slow and relaxed travel pace, I was not satisfied with the itineraries that our travel agent could produce for a combined trip.  It always seemed like we were shortchanged for time in both countries, whether Rwanda/Tanzania or Rwanda/Kenya.

 

It was at this point that I turned to Safaritalk for help. @inyathi and @Sangeeta won't remember, I'm sure, but they came to the rescue, reinforcing an idea that had already started to creep into my mind.  Why not just limit the trip to Rwanda?  Unconventional perhaps, but it just made sense to me.

 

I always hate the notion of a “trip of a lifetime.”  It seems so limiting.  But I had to face reality.  With all the other places in the world that I hope to see before this life of mine comes to an end (hopefully many, many years hence), it was very unlikely that I would have another convenient opportunity to visit some of the less well-known parts of Rwanda if I didn’t do it now.

 

Akagera National Park on the eastern side of Rwanda near the Tanzanian border is a very interesting place with a lot of potential, but it has its similarities with other traditional East African safari locations. 

 

Nyungwe National Park, on the other hand, is completely different.  Located in the southwest part of the country near its borders with Burundi to the south and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the west, Nyungwe preserves the largest remaining tract of pristine montane forest in the Albertine Rift, providing refuge to a number of endemic bird, mammal and plant species. 

 

Ultimately, the desire to compare and contrast the forests in Central and South America that we had been visiting over the last two years and the Afromontane forest of Nyungwe, which would be altogether new for us, won me over.   A stay on Lake Kivu, about halfway between Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe, would help us maintain a comfortable schedule.

 

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Alexander33

Lake Kivu

 

After four consecutive mornings of very early alarms, it was nice finally to sleep in a bit.  We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then departed Gorilla Mountain View Lodge, with packed lunches in hand, for the approximately 4-hour drive down to Cormoran Lodge, which is situated on the shore of Lake Kivu, near Kibuye.

 

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What used to be a full day’s drive has now been shortened immensely by the construction of a modern new Chinese-financed and -constructed highway running north-to-south along the far western side of Rwanda.  Portions of the highway were still under construction, and large crews of local citizens worked on the project, all overseen by Chinese foremen wearing identical large white brimmed hats that almost – almost – looked like pith helmets.

 

Throughout most of the drive, on one side we could see the immense Lake Kivu and, occasionally, the mountains of the DRC, and on the other, the fertile farmland of Rwanda. 

 

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Cormoran Lodge is a charming place with 7 cabins nestled into the steep hills overlooking Lake Kivu.  We were in Cabin 1, at the farthest end of the intimate property, which has a small deck overlooking the lake. 

 

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There are two pathways terraced into the hill linking the cabins to the main lodge building and restaurant/bar, which served good food (I took advantage of fresh lake fish both at dinner and for lunch the next afternoon) and, perhaps best of all, offered nice French wines for only $20 USD a bottle.

 

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The temperature was quite a bit warmer here, and we immediately changed into shorts and short-sleeved shirts (although evenings quickly cooled down to a very comfortable temperature). 

 

The bird life here was noticeably active.  We strolled the grounds (although the steep terracing made positioning for photography a challenge) as well as some adjacent vacant land along the road outside the lodge grounds.  Since this was our first trip to eastern Africa, almost everything was new to us (even many of the birds that are much more widespread), although we had seen the same sunbirds at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.

 

 

Northern Double-collared Sunbird

 

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Bronze Sunbird

 

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Scarlet-chested Sunbird

 

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Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu (Male)

 

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Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu (Female)

 

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Violet-backed Starling

 

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African Pygmy Kingfisher (I'm distinguishing it from the Malachite on the basis of the faint violet wash on the cheeks?)  

 

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But my favorites were the Double-toothed Barbet pair and their one successful fledgling, which teetered between independence and calling for Mom

 

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If I’ve misidentified anything, please let me know.

 

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Alexander33

As I mentioned earlier, we originally had been slated to stay here for two nights, but to salve my disappointment at the closure of Nyungwe Forest Lodge and our relocation to the next-best option, Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel, I had swapped one of those nights for another at Gorilla Mountain View Lodge and the third gorilla trek.

 

That decision turned out to be the best of the trip.  Although Cormoran Lodge was lovely, there wasn’t that much to do.  There is a small beach for swimming, and kayaks are available for those interested in exploring some of the nearby coves.  The next morning, we took a boat ride out into the lake and hiked a small, uninhabited island (although, after that last gorilla trek, we declined to climb all the way to the top of the hill, deciding that the view halfway up was just fine for us).

 

 

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The boatmen get a kick at pulling up at one of the islands, where a small troop of Vervet Monkeys live, and feeding them a banana on board the boat.  We didn't linger.....

 

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Those wanting a few days of quiet, sunny rest and relaxation on the shores of a beautiful, picturesque lake would find Cormoran Lodge the answer to their needs.  The birding in this area actually looked quite promising.  But for us, under the circumstances, one night was enough, and we were ready to move on after lunch for our final destination in Rwanda: Nyungwe National Park.

 

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Alexander33

Nyungwe National Park

 

We arrived at Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel around 4:30 PM.  The main lodge building is an immense circular stone turret, with various balconies on the second level providing a vantage point for the landscape (or invading armies).  We were seated in the cavernous reception area, lined with intricate carved and black-and-white painted Imigongo paneling. 

 

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The place was obviously built to impress, but everything seemed just a bit "off."  

 

An interior balcony held court over the front entrance, but was inaccessible except from the exterior balcony on the second floor.  It currently was doing the honors of holding some spare chairs and a few cleaning supplies. The restaurant and bar were both on the second floor and faced one another across the atrium, but, unless you went outside or through the kitchen service area at the back, they weren’t directly accessible.  Instead, you had to go down one set of stairs, walk five paces, and then ascend another set of stairs, both of which had uneven treads and risers and lacked railings.

 

It felt as if this was someone’s idea of a fancy hotel, and they weren’t about to confess that they had absolutely no idea of how a fancy hotel actually functioned.

 

Tea was ordered for us, even though we really didn’t care for any.  A woman at the front desk, who pecked at the keyboard of the computer with one index finger and never looked up or uttered a word, was handed our passports.  And then we waited in silence.  And waited.  And waited.

 

Was there a problem, we finally inquired?

 

Oh, no, everything was fine.

 

Then can we go to our cabin now?

 

No, not yet.

 

And why not?

 

Because you haven’t had your tea.

 

Well, where is it?

 

They’re still making it.

 

The concept that the main activity here was our checking in, and that one has tea while waiting, rather than completing the check-in and then waiting for the tea, evidently was a foreign notion.

 

That was our first clue that this place would be, um, a little weird.

 

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Alexander33

Chimpanzee Trek

 

We arose the next morning very early, at 4:15 AM, for a chimpanzee trek.  We needed to be at breakfast at 4:45 in order to make it to the Park headquarters by 6:00, and I was a little anxious about this.

 

A brochure in our room stated the following:

 

“Breakfast is served from 4:00 Am to 9:00 Am.  Whereas there is no restriction on the time of having lunch and/or dinner, Lunch and dinner are served from 12:30 to 2:30 and 6:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M respectively”

 

Huh? 

 

There were similar other rules, as well.  For example, “Whereas there is no restrictions in terms of guest check out, the official time for checking out is 11:00.  Thus late checkout is charged full amount” (sic).  Interesting interpretation of “no restrictions.”

 

It reminded me of a joke my Dad used to play with me on weekend mornings when I was a little kid.

 

“You want pancakes or eggs for breakfast?” he’d ask.

 

“Pancakes!”

 

“We don’t have any pancakes.  You want pancakes or eggs?”

 

In any event, dinner (a buffet) the night before had not been available until after 7:00 PM – not a problem for us, as we hadn’t wandered in until after that.  But we couldn’t have a similar snafu at breakfast. 

 

Thankfully, breakfast was ready and we were soon on our way.

 

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Alexander33

Nyungwe has two families of habituated chimpanzee families, one of about 20 and a larger one of about 40-45 individuals, which reportedly are more challenging to see than the other group.  The treks start early, because by mid-morning the chimps are usually on the move, so the best sightings are shortly after first light, when they’ve just awakened and are concentrating on eating.

 

We picked up our guide, Christian, at the park offices near the lodge and drove about 30 minutes to the trailhead for the chimpanzee trek.  We were joined by a very nice French couple, and as we had with the gorilla treks, we hired porters to carry our gear and set off down the trail.  We were pursuing the smaller group, which live in an area of the forest that, unfortunately, has become isolated due to the construction of a road and, now, surrounding farmland.  I am not sure how park officials will deal with this issue in the future, as the group grows in size and the need for more biological diversity becomes apparent.

 

I had expected a difficult expedition, but the terrain was very manageable and we had no problems.  The forest was beautiful, and, to my surprise, different from what we had seen in the north.  The vegetation, while extremely lush, did not seem to be as dense, and the mountains were not as tall as the Virungas from which we had come.  The weather was warmer and more tropical-feeling as well.  It was a more "friendly" forest to traverse.

 

 

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We soon met with the trackers, who led us into a ravine. 

 

 

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There, at the bottom of the ravine, in an enormous fig tree, were two male chimps, feasting on the fruit.

 

 

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Photography was exceedingly challenging because, unlike our experience with the gorillas, the chimps were high up in the tree and we could not get particularly close to them.  In addition, our “luck” with the weather had ended.  Instead of clouds, we had bright sunshine, and even in the early morning light, the light cast shadows across the chimps’ faces.

 

We were only able to see these two independent males.  The rest of the family were not around.  But we had never before seen wild chimpanzees, and these two kept us entertained for a full hour before they descended to the ground and disappeared into the forest. 

 

While chimpanzees obviously are present in Nyungwe, it is not reputed to be the best place to see them.  (Kibale National Park in Uganda and Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania reputedly would be better choices for those who want to focus on chimps). Christian said this was probably his best sighting in a week. 

 

While we had not seen the entire family, we also had not organized the trip around chimpanzees, either. Therefore, we saw this opportunity as a delightful bonus.  In addition, the fact that there were only four of us on the trek made the sighting more intimate.

 

The ancient forests of Nyungwe had made a notable first impression.  We were looking forward to see what more they would reveal of themselves during the next four days.

 

 

Edited by Alexander33

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Towlersonsafari

Splendid Barbet and Chimp photos! At the time we went-2005- from memory the chimp treking was in its infancy and we opted instead for forest walks with a lovely guide called Aime. Our accommodation was also rather odd-it was the government run-down-camp with very friendly staff who kept promising that the lodge was due for refurbishment. the bathrooms had very strange brown and red coloured markings that we did not explore too closely but it seemed clean but very threadbare.Jane is a veggie and so she had a diet of potatoes and tinned veg-until the last day when they offered chips and tinned veg. Luckily Jane does love potatoes in all its forms! To this day I am convinced we saw a Serval crossing the road as well! You are exactly right @Alexander33, the forest was  more open and friendlier! We did the trip from the gorillas to the forest in one day, stopping off at a museum. a fascinating country

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offshorebirder

This is a superb TR @Alexander33!

 

Question for you:    what did you do to secure valuables like passport, cash, memory cards, etc.   when you were out trekking / leaving all your packs and luggage behind?

 

 

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Alexander33

@Towlersonsafari

 

15 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

We did the trip from the gorillas to the forest in one day, stopping off at a museum. a fascinating country

 

I agree.  Was the museum you visited the Ethnographic Museum in Butare (Huye) by chance?  We stopped there on our way back to Kigali at the end of the trip, and it was excellent.  I was planning on mentioning it.

 

 

15 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

To this day I am convinced we saw a Serval crossing the road as well! 

 

Okay, this stopped me in my tracks, cold.  Here’s why:

 

As we were driving to the trailhead for our chimp trek, with secondary forest on one side and a neatly cultivated tea plantation on the other, a blonde-furred streak of lightning flashed across the road in front of us.  Patrick, our driver/guide saw it, but he didn’t know what it was, and unfortunately, Christian, our Park guide, had been looking out the passenger window and didn’t see it at all.

 

I suggested that it might be a genet, and Christian concurred.  But then, after a pause, he asked me if it had black rings on its tail.  When I responded “yes,” he said it likely was a serval.  He explained that they liked hunting in that area, where they could take advantage of the cover in the forest, but have quick access to the tea fields, where it was easier to find rodents and other tasty morsels.

 

We’ll never know for sure, as the genets have black rings on their tails also, and I didn't have time to evaluate the size of the animal.  I settled on Servaline Genet as a compromise :P, and decided not to even mention it in my post last night because the sighting was so speculative.

 

And then you posted your comment!

 

So I’ll make you a deal:  I say you saw a serval if you say I saw one. :lol:

 

Edited by Alexander33

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Alexander33

@offshorebirder

 

10 hours ago, offshorebirder said:

Question for you:    what did you do to secure valuables like passport, cash, memory cards, etc.   when you were out trekking / leaving all your packs and luggage behind?

 

Thanks for following along.

 

The cabins at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge do not have safes.  We left all our valuables at the front desk each time we departed the premises.  They place them in a large safe in the room behind and give you a ticket for you to pick your things up whenever you need to retrieve them.  We had absolutely no problems with this. 

 

The situation was a bit different at Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel, and I’m so glad you asked this question, because it gives me an excuse to tell another story.

 

Each room there is outfitted with an enormous metal safe – and no wiring to enable the keypad to work, thus rendering it completely useless.

 

No problem, I was told.  We have a key.

 

Oh, each of the 12 cabins has its own safe key?

 

No, there’s one key for all of the safes in all 12 cabins.

 

Ah, so I can either use your one key (assuming no one else has gotten to it first) to operate the safe in my room, as well as all the other safes in everyone else’s room, or not use the safe.  And what happens if someone avails themselves of this one key and then accidentally loses it?

 

Blank stare.

 

Fortunately, Tito, the tirelessly hard-working manager there, readily agreed to let us leave everything in the accountant’s office, which is kept locked, just as we had at Mountain Gorilla View.  This solution worked out just fine, as well.

 

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