Early Saturday morning Al and I got up to get on a boat with a group of people to Gombe National Park on Lake Tanganyika – this is where Jane Goodall studied chimpanzees.
We met up with the other 7 South Africans, 1 New Zealander, 1 Dutch lady and a Frenchman (those that we had met previously) at Jakobsen’s campsite. It was still dark as we hopped onto the boat and prepared for a 2 & 1/2 hour boat trip. Along the way we passed fishing villages that were very different from the ones in Zambia, and a couple of water taxies.
The terrain changed once we were in the park, it is a jungle forest area and very beautiful allowing us to see what the whole area must have been like.
Baboons sat on the sandy beaches watching us as much as we watched them!
It’s the first time that I have ever seen baboons kneeling down to drink water. The lake at this point was so clear we could see to the bottom of it. Finally we were there!
We were allocated guides and off we went. After a short walk we found the chimps. A mother named Gremlin with her son Gizzmo (6 years) and new baby of a month. They passed right next to me (Denise) with Gizzmo brushing up against me- totally unfazed by our presence. We tracked them and watched as they climbed up a palm tree to get the fruit, swung around the tree branches and finally came back to ground a little drunk as the fruit they had eaten has that effect on them.
Then we sat with them as they lounged around on the ground, groomed each other and scratched. All with the baby hanging on to the mum. The jungle itself is beautiful with lots of butterflies but not many birds as the chimps disturb their nests. We had really great guides who made sure that everyone got to see the chimps. It was amazing just to sit with them.
Once back after a 3 hour trip because the wind was blowing we took a detour to the market. It is hidden in the center block of Kigoma and was found through a hole in the wall between the shops facing outwards. Fresh fruit and vegetables, fabric, eggs, tinned goods, electrical goods just about anything can be found here. The stalls are all tightly packed together in spaces about 1.5 by 1.5 m. incredible to see. The people don’t hassle you which makes it a pleasant experience.
Next morning we were off on our way to Kigali but knowing that we would have to find an overnight place. The dirt road started out okay, but ended not so well. It was quite an education and at times frightening to see how the local busses hurtled down this roads not deviating to the right or left and not slowing down as they head towards you. We had no choice but to find a way off to the side and let them pass. The amount of dust generated by the road traffic is extraordinary. We stopped to take photos of the trees along the roadside – they look like something else until you see that underneath the rust color is actually a banana tree!
We arrived in a town to find the only campsite was at an old German Fort (called Boma Guest House) and we camped in the courtyard. We were happy to see some of our travelling companions of the last week who had arrived before us. The place is a guesthouse and many local workers for NGOs in the area also stay there.