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Dispatch from East Africa Part 3: The Gorilla Edition

Date: March 3, 2022 | By: Ashish Sanghrajka | Category: Travel Blog

Dear Advisor Partners,

 

I am back in the office after my final week experiencing Africa again, bringing the trip to an end in Uganda. If you have been following my dispatch from East Africa, you saw my adventure start in Tanzania, where the rains are great and the upcoming migration season is expected to be spectacular. The highlight, of course, was visiting the Ereto Primary School and seeing all the success being achieved there. From there, it was an adventure into Uganda, a place I love going back to. You see, a friend of mine, James Curry, who many of you know, often calls Uganda and Rwanda modern miracles. Countries with such a traumatic past, that it’s hard to fathom tourism even being a driver in the economy. Yet, here they are, clear examples of how sustainable tourism can transform a failing economy into a thriving one. My wife and her family know this better than most as her father and grandparents were exiled from Uganda by Idi Amin. I got to hear about their arduous journey out of Uganda during a stop in London on our way to Africa when I first got married. Their story and my past experiences in Uganda endeared me to this country, as much as my native Kenya. This journey was going to happen, no matter what.

 

Landing in Uganda, the joke in Entebbe is, ‘3 minutes’. Everything is 3 minutes away, which is insane compared to the traffic in Nairobi. While in Entebbe, you take in the relaxing atmosphere, the amazing food, then you also realize, even from my first visit to Uganda, that this is a country still transforming. The gorillas bring you in, it’s everything else that keeps you there, from the chimpanzees and forest elephants to the mouth of the Nile River and beyond. It was a great first stop before flying out to Kisoro to start my gorilla trek and the gorilla habituation. Some of you know from my January blog, I was supposed to do this journey with the amazing Lisa Freeburg and her family. However, Covid and a damaged shoulder sadly kept me back. So while I have recovered from Covid, my shoulder is still technically “busted,” but nothing was keeping me from returning. Much like Flat Ash made an appearance while Lisa was on safari, Flat Freeburg joined me on my safari!

 

Heading towards the trek, my adventure begins in Rushaga. I chose to avoid Nkuringo this time considering I was attempting to trek with one arm and knew that if I damaged my arm more, I would be too stubborn to stop trekking. We headed to Rushaga, which is not a cakewalk itself. Wearing a GoPro on my head, the documentation of the adventure begins. The first contact with the Kahungye family arrived a few hours later after a few steep inclines, avoiding giant footsteps of forest elephants that make Shaq’s feet look like toddlers’ in comparison. The interaction was amazing, including one little guy that snuck up behind me and tried grabbing my leg to pull me in with the family as he walked by. If I was a kid, I would never wash those pants again. The second day was a habituation experience with the Bikingi family, a wild group that is still not used to human interaction. The four hours that habituation allows you is worth its price in gold since the regular trek allows you one hour. This family is more elusive, constantly moving around, so our machete got good use as we cut a trek through the dense forest while keeping a respectful distance from the family. What a day.

 

Remember my shoulder? Well on day one, a slight hiccup transpired. You see, porters are included in all our treks at no extra cost. Unfortunately, when your dominant arm is the injured one, it’s a bit complicated to navigate a walking stick and use their hand for leverage. At one point I must have moved the bone, so when I went to push up against a tree, the arm gave out and I found myself in excruciating pain. Even that wasn’t going to deter me from what I had just witnessed and the privilege I felt to have been back here with these amazingly intelligent primates. My arm could have been falling off, (it certainly felt like it was), and I would have still had the massive grin ear to ear that I did. 

 

Please enjoy this GoPro footage of my trek for this week’s blog video.

 

If you want to be seen gorilla trekking, there are great options for you. If you want to do the real thing, Uganda is for you.

 

Want to go back and see where I was before Uganda? Check these out below:

Dispatch from East Africa Part 1: featuring the Ereto Primary school

Dispatch from East Africa Part 2: featuring the Serengeti 


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