Pearls of Africa
I expected to see abundant wildlife whilst in Kenya but I wasn't prepared for sleeping in a campsite by a lake with hippos and in the Masai Mara with baboons, buffalos and man-eating lions roaming around outside! It wouldn't be adventure travel unless there was some element of danger involved…
It was my first experience of travelling in a specialist overland vehicle but my second safari. Although I enjoyed my experience of the Ngorogoro Crater, it didn't compare to the Masai Mara. I was mesmerised by the variety of wildlife and how close we actually got to the animals in the Mara. The roads can very dusty and bumpy, but we swapped vehicles to a safari van, which had a roof that opened up. Ideal for comfort, the panoramic views and plenty of space to move around and attempt to take that perfect photo without bashing into each other!
Our first game drive was incredible; we saw three of the big five in the first few hours. Numerous herds of buffalo, elephants, giraffes and zebras everywhere but the most exciting part was watching the buffalos chase after the lions. It was a tense moment and totally unexpected which made it all the more special.
We learnt some interesting facts about the Masai people, the men stay at home guarding the animals (doing very little!) while the women bring up the children, clean, cook, work all day and also share their husband with other women. The Masai men can have up to ten wives, all living within the same community.
The journey to Uganda was incredible, the scenery was stunning and I felt on top of the world. The people I met in Uganda were the most welcoming, happy people you could ever imagine. Despite many of them losing family members in tragic circumstances, there were happy smiley faces everywhere I went. I can understand why Winston Churchill described Uganda as “the pearl of Africa”.
Lake Bunyoni, Uganda, is a picturesque and tranquil setting to really unwind. On arrival, the heavens opened up so we all upgraded to cottages that night; strangely enough none of us fancied camping in torrential rain. We took a village walk to visit an orphanage school, taking in breathtaking panoramic views at the top of all the islands and lush green hills. It truly was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
Rwanda took me by surprise as I never knew what to expect, it's so mountainous and there's still sadness in the air from the genocide, which is impossible to ignore. The hike up to the Mountain Gorillas was quite challenging as we trekked up to 3200m through a rainforest but as soon as I saw the fluffy black fur sticking out through the leaves, I squeezed my friend's hand, as it was a magical moment. The nine members of "Humba" family were resting so most of them were laid on their backs or checking us out, we were only about five metres away from them and it felt surreal. Humba is the chief, the head of the family and the alpha male. He had to fight to get to that position and is well respected.
My whole experience on this trip left with me with a deep sense of sadness as my time came to an end and I said goodbye to my new friends, the incredible leaders and cook, the overland truck "Izabella" and Africa. At least I can look at my photos and the Trip Notes whenever I feel nostalgic.