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Uganda, Kibale Forest National Park, Kanyanchu River Camp. Sunday 16 August. Week 17, day 126.

Once again we only had a short distance to travel and so it was a leisurely start to the day. I was able to get some reasonable pics of a troop of black and white colobus monkeys entertaining us in the trees surrounding the camp. These and other species of monkey are easily sighted in troops around this scenic camp at Lake Nkuruba. We enjoyed our stay here despite the fairly basic amenities as the setting more than made up for any deficiencies as far as amenities were concerned. My only possible complaint is that the community staff and their wives and children are a little in your face at times as their dwellings are right within the camp. Few of us enjoy being gawked at. I would suggest one or perhaps two nights here. Two nights if you want to take a guided hike to local scenic highlights such as “The top of the world viewpoint”, Mahoma Falls or other nearby crater lakes. I am not sure how Anne and I managed to resist the urge to stretch our legs.

After retracing our route back to the Y-junction 7km away we made our leisurely way to Kibale Forest NP and the Bigodi Wetlands where we wanted to book a guided bird watching walk for the following morning. This was not only to prove that we were not bone idle but was highly recommended to us. As we would have to backtrack a little to the Kibale area this gave us an ideal opportunity to look over the possible campsites on the way.

First we visited the well-known CVK Lakeside Resort. This is not a community camp site although one could easily mistake it for one. The facilities and campsite were somewhat shabby despite the camp’s lovely outlook over the crater lake Nyabikere. The camping area is set back and has no such view. Camping (including breakfast) was US$15 pppn. The flush toilets and donkey-boiler warmed showers were too rustic and neglected for even our hardened standards. Next we visited Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse and Camp just down the road. This was far more impressive with lovely lawns to camp on and well manicured grounds. The ablutions were good but there were precious few level areas to camp on, especially with a rooftop tent. Unfortunately there was no view of Lake Nyabikere but the surrounding tea plantations are picturesque enough. We would have been happy to camp here had we not found the campsite within Kibale NP far more appealing.

After entering Kabale NP one is surrounded by dense indigenous forest and the drive is something special. We had seen quite a few forests during this trip but this was the first not on a mountain range. All along the way the dirt road was being worked on extensively and I suspect the plan is to tar it. The turnoff to Kanyanchu River Camp, the Kanyanchu UWA park office where the chimp walks begin (present prices US$150 for normal hike and 1hr contact, US$220 for so-called habituation visit, which lasts all day, a bargain), as well as up the same road, Kabale Primate Lodge, are not well indicated on T4A which began to dither a bit again around Kibale and Bigodi. The details will be in the next post.

Well we decided to camp at the Kanyanchu River Camp. Sometimes less (facilities) is more (surroundings). The facilities at this camp have completely deteriorated and are no longer in use. The rondavel shelter has lost all its thatch and the ablutions are largely out of action. We were offered the use of a hot shower in one of their rooms at Primate Lodge who now administer the campsite. Later after they had opened a connecting tap we were able to have cold showers. We prefer our own bush toilet to shabby camp ones in any case. This campsite is up the same short road as the UWA offices and Primate Lodge, about 500m away. We have full use of the facilities at Primate Lodge, namely free wi-fi, pub and restaurant. A 5 course set-menu dinner costs US$19 there and we will avail ourselves of this tomorrow night. Camping here is expensive considering the complete lack of facilities (US$14 pppn), but the surroundings are priceless. The campsite is of course right within the forest and park and is a grassed clearing of about 50X40m, hemmed in with the towering trees of Kibale Forest. The place is alive with butterflies and those that I know like photographing butterflies, would surely run out of memory cards. The forest is alive with strange bird calls but it is difficult to spot these habitually shy forest species. We have already been visited by a group of inquisitive black and white colobus monkeys and unless I am badly mistaken are hearing regular pant-hoot chimpanzee calls. There are plenty of olive baboons but fortunately none of these primates appear to be camp pests. We are of course all alone in this camp and all that is missing are some fig leaves for us to become alike to Adam and Eve. I hope the kids do not misinterpret this allusion.

There is plenty of wood for a fire which somewhat to my surprise is allowed. You are not allowed to walk in the forest on your own, but there is the nearby road which apparently can be very rewarding to walk along. In fact this road, which is the main thoroughfare through Kibale, is the obvious disadvantage of this campsite as it is only a couple of hundred meters from the camp and the vehicles travelling it tend to break the impression of total isolation. If I am not mistaken, this campsite is the one in Kibale NP formerly run by the Uganda Wildlife Association.

The rains in Uganda are fast approaching and yesterday evening we again had a short downpour. As it grew dark all the tree frogs burst out in song like a massed Welsh choir, but just as suddenly suddenly a few hours later they all stopped and we were left with the sounds of crickets and other unknown insects. We lit a fire to cook our supper and had the most peaceful evening imaginable.

PHOTOGRAPHS.
Main. Campsite at Kanyanchu River Camp.

Thumbs.
1.Road through Kibale Forest NP.
2. Campsite and forest at Kanyanchu.

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