For eighteen years I have been traveling Africa; an obsession that started innocently back in
2001. Africa got into my blood from day one and I simply must return for a dose of African medicine as often as possible.
After seventeen trips through twelve African countries, my Africa bucket list runs short. I have taken a hot air balloon over the Masai Mara, explored the Ngrongoro crater, shark fished off the coast of Namibia, snorkeled with a whale shark in Madagascar, seen the worlds' widest water fall in Zimbabwe, wild camped in the bush of Botswana, spent over one hundred nights in Kruger National Park, been almost killed by a hippo in the Zambezi and so much more. (Being killed by a hippo was not on my bucket list by the way.)
One Africa bucket list item has eluded me up until now. I have yet to go to Rwanda or Uganda to trek gorillas and chimpanzees. In conversations with others who have been, I am told sitting with a troop of gorillas is life changing. If so, I am soon to have my life changed.
When I was in Botswana in 2004 I stayed at a bush lodge that was being run by a delightful couple from New Zealand, Patricia and Dean; both well respected, delightful
and knowledgeable people. These days, each run amazing custom safaris.
About a month ago I received an email from Patricia. She told me she was leading an all female, upmarket, small group safari to the Serengeti, Rwanda and Uganda. I don't normally do upmarket trips; albeit I don't really rough it anymore either, however her itinerary looked amazing. Rwanda, Uganda, gorillas and chimps were the final piece to my African travel puzzle that was missing.
Six women of close age from around the world were joining up for this experience which was to start in Tanzania.
The trip was above my annual African journey budget so, to save money, I considered skipping Tanzania and joining the group in Rwanda on day six. Then I had a nightmare. I was sitting with these woman on my night one, their night six and they were telling me of all the amazing experiences they had so far that I missed. I couldn't torture myself like that so I confirmed the entire journey with Patricia.
In a flash my flight was booked; Atlanta to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania returning Entebbe, Uganda to Atlanta again through Amsterdam. My deposit was paid.
If you have read my blogs of my encounters with monkeys you will know I don't have a good track record with them. Monkeys are not my friends. I can only hope I do better with apes. Today I can't imagine me sitting near a massive muscular silverback gorilla. I am nervous, but in my African travel book that is even more reason to push forward and go!
Now I fill empty moments reviewing the itinerary, researching gorillas and chimpanzees, studying the history of Uganda and Rwanda, watching anything I can find on the aforementioned and counting the days until my departure.
(I am traveling with Wildlight Safaris. You can check out their website at http://wildlightsafaris.com)