Thursday, May 10, 2007

Back From Equatorial Africa

I got back from Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya safely, and will download pictures and provide details about what I saw in the days to come. In brief, it was a great trip! Seeing the chimps and the gorillas in the wild was really fantastic. Checking up on the baby elephant I saw born, and being back in Kenya, was also really great. I met some wonderful people and it was a nice break. I love traveling where there is no McDonald's, and no reminders of home other than Coke.

Almost everyone in the U.S. thought I was crazy to be going to Uganda and Rwanda, fearing safety concerns. Actually, both countries were quite safe where I was, security was present everywhere, and both governments seem quite cognizant that tourism is money and they want tourists to feel safe. People in both countries were friendly, especially Uganda, and they are actually more pleasant to travel in than Kenya, because you are not constantly harassed for money or to buy things. I was able to stand on a corner in a city in Uganda for 30 minutes without incident or hassle - which would never happen in Kenya!

I was concerned about how hard the hiking to see gorillas would be. I am pleased to report it was manageable, though it can be a challenge! It was easier in Rwanda than Uganda, but the setup in Uganda is a bit better, so both places have their bonuses. If you want to see the wild mountain gorillas while there are some left, go soon! Permit fees rise from $375 a day to $500 a day in both countries as of July 1, 2007. Yikes! Worth it - but a trip to save up for!

Africa is hard to leave, though its good to be home with the pets again. More to come soon as the photos are downloaded, etc. I will say primate photography has challenges! Monkeys are fast and there is never good lighting, and in the forest with the great apes the light is very hard to work with and there is camera fogging from the humidity. But, I got a few good shots I think!

No comments: