This has been a wonderful opportunity to restock, refresh and just relax. All this travelling is quite hectic and it has turned out to be a good time and Kluges is a great venue, to just catch our breath. All our clothes and bedding have been washed, the packing reorganised slightly, blogging done and shopping for fresh produce done in Fort Portal. This town has a well supplied fresh produce market which, approaching from the south, is down the main road keeping left and lies just after the road curves left and crosses a small bridge. It is well layed out with a clean and tidy sales display area. The best landmark is the Gardens Hotel which is just opposite. This hotel serves great coffee and snacks. Their buffets are apparently very good but we have not had any need for this as the food at Kluges is great.
Today we took our vehicle in for its 100,000km service at a motor workshop with the quaint name of Stitch and Sew. Although they are not a Toyota outlet they are certified service agents for Toyota and have all the service schedules and tariffs prominently displayed. They had previously helped one of our mentors and have a lot of expertise with 4X4s. Their co-ords are N00 39,433 E30 16,593 in the center of Fort Portal near the market and the Gardens Hotel. They charged us a very reasonable USh816,000 for the service and did a full vehicle check at the same time. The vehicle was ready after 3hr, perhaps because we had booked the service the day before.
Getting fresh protein in the form of meat is not easy outside the main centers in Africa, certainly not of the standard that most westerners are used to. Andrew and brother supermarket (on T4A) in central Fort Portal have a stock of frozen fillet steak at good prices as well as whole frozen chickens. The local expats say this is the only really decent outlet. Their range of groceries is fairly extensive.
A couple of milestones have been reached. We have completed 20,000km on this trip, this illustrates just how much we criss-crossed Tanzania and we intend doing much the same in Uganda and Kenya. We are relieved that we were able to solve the dilemma of getting to the meeting in the Masai Mara amicably and the time pressure is now off. Should we run out of time we would rather have it that we have explored the countries we visit thoroughly and rather, for instance, turn back before Egypt. I see there has been more trouble with extremists there, not that we are concerned with our personal safety, but there is sure to be a great fuss made by the Egyptian authorities. They make it difficult for independant travellers at the best of times.
The other first is that last night we had our first downpour of rain. The rainy season is approaching in Uganda but we should not have too much of it with a bit of luck. Our intention is to travel a little southeast tomorrow and visit the crater lake and Kibale NP areas. We have already done chimps at Gombe Streams and do not plan to repeat it in Kibale. The whole day with chimps, the so-called Habituation Hike, sounds very attractive though.
In the afternoon we went on the short hike on the Kluger property. The forest walk begins just below their swimming pool and has many of the Rwenzori bird specials and 3 species of monkey. This smallish but well preserved area is one of the few areas of the typical forest found otherwise only within the Rwenzori NP. It is well worth doing. We will be indulging ourselves again with the buffet supper at Kluges. The menu includes cauliflower soup, fish jambalaya and moussaka. We won't be seeing these for a while!
Anne has been befriending all and sundry. When she reads this she is going to kill, but she comes across as a real Mama and all feel free to approach her. All who know Anne will be nodding in agreement. This has proved very helpful and we have recieved plenty of local information helping us to make our visits, even to the most weird and wonderful places, easy and blemish free. We are constantly surprised how easily we are fitting in and how crisis-free our trip has been. All the research and mentoring has really paid off. The flow of good will from locals and fellow travellers has been quite frankly nothing short of astounding. I wonder if travellers can say this about the reception they receive in our own country? I would like to think so.
As mentioned tomorrow we are off to the south and east, not very far from here, but apparently a completely different environment. We will be visiting the crater lake area and staying at the Lake Nkuruba Nature Reserve Community Campsite. This has been recommended because of its magnificent setting and scenery. Kabale Forest and National Park are apparently easily accessible from there. How long will we stay there and where to next? Who knows! This is the great advantage of truely independant travel and the fact that we are travelling alone means that we have the privilege of changing our minds on a whim. What could be better?
Thus far we have visited 24 national parks in all and are still going strong. These visits are not cheap but they have mostly met all our expectations. Once again all I can say is that we are tremendously privileged. The only sad thing is that we have met so few other trans-African travelers, those journeying from the north seem to have dried up completely.
The main photo is of the main buildings at Kluges.
1. A more distant view of the restaurant and pub area.
2. The campground with the ablutions in the background.
3. Another view of the lawned camp with pre-erected tents.
4. The lovely ablutions.
5. An interior view of the showers, probably the best so far in a campsite.