Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Camping equipment

We've had a few camping trips this year, yet still seem unable to go away for a weekend without filling the car with equipment.  So we have to try to pare it down to the absolute minimum.

Tent - North Face Rock - tiny and lightweight.  Hopefully lion/hyena proof :-).

Stove - MSR whisperlite - multi fuel, as it appears gas is not readily available.

Already been to New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Namibia, Botswana, Scotland! - bombproof

Pots and pans - aluminium - from an old Trangia set

Plates/cups - Orikaso fold flat - absolutely fantastic stuff.  Folding cups are great, and easy to wash and carry.

Torches - Petzl headtorches - only the best will do

Sleeping mats - Thermarest - again simply the best money can buy.

Sleeping bags - not sure on this one, whether to take full bags or just sleeping liners - keeping an eye on night time temperatures, currently around 18-20C.  This would be warm enough for me to sleep in a liner, but probably not for Karen.

Chairs/table - getting the car hire people to purchase these for us in Kampala, simply couldn't get them on a plane.  They do make camp life much more comfortable than trying to do everything on the ground - especially with my dodgy back  


I'm not going to bore you with camera choices - but I did buy a video camera especially for this trip.

Don't know how to use it properly or how to edit the results, but it would not be good to visit gorillas without    at least getting some moving pictures.

Will take stills with my SLR - taken a lot of memory, and hoping to get the battery charged easily enough in hotels/bandas.

Got a cool little tripod? that attaches to an open car window - for those long lens shots on safari.  Also taking a full tripod to get over the shakes.

Monday, 20 August 2012

FCO & Ebola

I've registered with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - never done this before, but as there has been a small outbreak of Ebola in the Kibale area of Uganda, I thought it best to be safe than sorry.

I doubt that the Ebola outbreak will have any impact on us whatsoever, but there have been stories in the UK press saying that people have cancelled their holidays because of it. Which probably means that the Kibale area is going to be a bit quieter than normal - good for us - not so good for the Ugandans.


It looks like Rwanda a two pin 230v type

and Uganda a square 3 pin 230v like the UK

Back to Uganda

From Akagera we want to head directly North back to Uganada.

This is where we might meet our biggest obstacle, as I have not been able to find out if we can cross the border at the Kakitumba (Kagitumba?) and get new visas there.  An e-mail has gone to the Ugandan High Commission in London, but no response yet.

I don't want to have to head across country, only to travel all the way back again - but who knows we might.

Our last night is going to be at Lake Mburo - maybe a chance to have a night drive, or even a horse or bike ride.  Who knows - we might just want sundowners and a long nights sleep.

Then it's off to Entebbe and the flight back to Amsterdam and then home.

Akagera NP

Our last few days in Rwanda are going to be spent under canvas - taking our little tent into the Akagera National Park.  This was at one time one of Africa's great safari destinations - but the genocide forced refugees into the park, with a consequently devastating effect on the wildlife in the area.

However it is now starting to be regenerated, and with a bit of luck we may get a bit of a more traditional type safari - with the added bonus of having no-one else around.  It seems that you can wild camp in the park, but I'm not sure Karen is going to be up for that!  Not after we found lion tracks beside our tent in the Central Kalahari.

Still it has rave reviews from other visitors, mainly for the peace and quiet rather than the lions.


I'm of an age when you mention the name Kigali I have images in my head that would keep you awake at night.  I can remember watching the scenes from the 1994 Genocide and being numbed by the horror of it all.

I never in my wildest moments thought that I would ever go to Kigali, and certainly never thought that less than 20 years on would be one of the safest cities in Africa.  So this will be a surreal experience, and one I'm looking forward to with excitement and trepidation.

Maybe it will just be a boring city, or maybe it will be vibrant and exciting.  I don't really know what to expect and having been out in the countryside for a while may take a little getting used to .

I've booked a room in The Guest Lux guest house - according to trip advisor it should be good.  Ahhhh trip advisor, what did we do without you.

I guess we will have to visit the genocide memorial - situated on the graves of 250,000 people.  That's more than the population of Aberdeen.  Having visited Auschwitz last year, this I'm sure will be equally traumatic, but you can't ignore it.

Nyungwe Forest

From the excitement of the Gorilla trekking we are heading for some peace and quiet and luxury and hopefully wine.

I'm not sure I've mentioned it before, but this is actually our honeymoon, although we did get married before last xmas.

So we thought this looked like a nice spot for a few days.

Nyungwe Forest Lodge is situated, funnily enough,in the Nyungwe Forest; which has been described as one of the most important areas of bio-diversity left in Africa.  There are more types of primate here than you could shake a stick at (and perhaps have one shaken back at you) and so many birds you'll need bigger binoculars.

So it looks like a great place to hang around the hotel pool and have a massage.

Gorilla trekking

The main reason for heading to this part of Africa is of course to see the mountain gorillas.

And who could resist?

This part of the trip had the possibility of being the hardest bit to organise.  I had read many tales of nightmares dealing with the park authorities in order to get permits and how to pay the fees etc.  So I followed the advice in my guidebook Lonely Planet East Africa - and contacted a tour company based in Rwanda.

This turned out to be pretty simple  - I e-mailed them, they e-mailed me back with a suggested itinerary and price, I sent them some money, and they did everything else.

Amahoro tours are their name - I've been dealing with Anne.  They have been pretty good, despite one small hiccup.  They put together the following schedule for us-

2 nights B&B accommodation in their Guest House in Musanze
Gorilla trekking for two people
Basket weaving and banana beer making in a local village
Transport to and from the trail head

Total cost of $790 per person.  Ouch.  Ohhh that hurts. But at least we got in there before the Rwandan govt increased the cost of the trekking permits from $500 to $750.