Well hello everybody from Zambia, hope you are all well! Apologies for the delay in adding this update, the internet has been absolutely appalling until now but now at last we can fill you in on the brilliant events of the last 5 weeks! So when we were last in touch we were in Jinga, the source of the Nile, in Uganda going to via Kampala to see the gorillas in Parc des National Volcans, Rwanda. After Jinga we spent a night in Kampala before setting of super early to Lake Bunyoni, on the border with Rwanda. The lake (the deepest in Africa) was beautiful, there was mountains all around it with terraces and little huts dotted on them, the campsite was super posh and as soon as we arrived we jumped into the lake. Early the following day a matatu arrived to take us into Rwanda cos our big overland truck wasn't insured to take us. The matatu (think v. scruffy minibus taxi) was called power of God (they all have religious names here) commonly known as POG, it was quite novelty, kind of pimped up with burgandy cushions etc but falling apart. We had an interestiung experience crossin gthe border...we all had to be checked by the doctor because of the ebola outbreak in Uganda which is a pretty horrific disease that is spread by bodily contact (even shaking hands). Once we got the stamp we were en route to Kigali (the capital) to the genocide museum. The first thing you notice about Rwanda is it's beauty, it is so mountainous and suprisingly all of them are terraced with tea plantations etc. The second thing that struck us was the poverty of the place, it was much less westonised than uganda if you compare Kampala to Kigali. The ride to Kigali was painstakingly slow as the roads are horrific and once we arrived we went to the museum whioch was terribly moving/horrific. It was the personal accounts that struck us most and the photographs of the dead, it was very odd to come out into the glaring sun and look at the city thinking it all happened right here. Thousands of people are burried on the museum site too, i won't forget that experience.
On a happier note we then set off to Parc des Volcans, sleeping the night at an old nunnery below it. This national park was the most spectacular place i have ever been too, the mountains are enormous and we got there early enoug to see them covered in mist. The mountains are 2500-4000m above sea level and the park borders uganda/congo/rwanda and is home to 700 mountain gorillas, all of the remaining gorillas in the world. Infact Diane fosse studied at the part we went to. We were split into groups of 8 and every group saw a different family, ours was called Amahoro meaning peace and consisted of 17 gorillas with 2 huge male silverbacks and 4 babies. We started at 3000m then had to trek for an hour to their exact location there are trackers who located then for us in the morning so the guides knew where we were going. We had armed guards cos of elephant/buffalo. The scenery was amazing, through terraces/daisy/potato fields then rainforest. The rainforest was AWESOME completely overgrown with bamboo and tropical trees so it was an adventure, everyone was was told to stick together but we felt safe with the guides/guards. We saw one big teenage gorilla alone at first and he just wasnt bothered about us but then we scrambled up a hill and in the clearing we came out into sat the entire family!!! we were literally about 4m away it was amazing, they just sat eating while the babies played and the teens fought. The dominant silverback weighed 200kg and was MASSIVE but he just sat eating not bothered at all! It was so surreal to see them all. Themale heard a baboon and he and his second in command started beating their chests and literally jumped down the hill absolutely crashing through the trees, the others followed and so did we. Things were a lot calmer at the bottom and we got within 2m of the dominant male who just sat and ate loads of bamboo. The babies were playing the trees above us and none of them were bothered by us. We got bit scared when a female came chqrging out of the bush for us snarling but the guide told us al to stay still and he made a 'calming' noise at her and she ran off. We sat and watched them all for an hour which went so quick before trekking back. It was the most amazing thing i have ever done the gorillas were lovely, and suprisingly dosile, we got so close but obv. couldnt touch them it was certainly worth the money!
From Rwanda we went back in the POG to Jinja (which popped it's tyre in the middle of the night in the middle of some Ugandan mountains in the middle of a thunder storm...this journey i could write a whole capter on, it was AWFUL everyone was ill after it!). For New Years Eve we went raftig on the Nile which was awesome, the rapids were grades 3-5 (terrifying!) i have NEVER doe anything so scary in my life but it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately of the 11 that started only 3 (1 being Neal) completed the day, we lost Rich to pneumonia after he was under 45 seconds in a whirl pool, he actuially ended up in intensive care but is ok now thank god. I did half the day and ended up vowing to never do it again but Neal loved it. It was very hard cors and fast and surreal as the boat flips all the time. New Years eve night was a bit of a downer as everyone was ill or sick from rafting but we made the most of it. From here the troubles in Kenya started really escalating, a church with 40 ppl in had just bee burnt down in Eldoret (where we camed previously) and there was huge rioting. Acacia (our company) were then going to drive us through Kenya back to Nairobi with an armed escourt but luckily changed their mind and took us bk to Kampala to fly to Tanzania thus missing out returning to Kenya. Our driver was of the Kikuyu tribe so this was defo the right thing as otherwise he would have had to be hidden at every road block. We explored Kampala, went to some markets etc and went on a night out after a lovely japanese meal.
The next day we were v hungover flying to Arudha Tanzania, my hangover made me sick hehe. We met our new truck in Arusha (after passing Kili...awesome!) before meeting the new group in Snake park (literally fuill of snakes and crocs which we held, infact a baby croc weed on Neal)... from arusha we went on a 7day safari- to Tangarire national park- were we got attacked by small monkeys which was funny unitl baboons also attacked (not funny!!). from tangarire we went to the Serengetti which is hard to explain- it is HUGE beyond words and beautiful. we were lucky enough to see All of the big 5 and All of the big cats (Lion, Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Rhino and Cheetah, we also saw hippos, giraffe zebra etc etc etc....) it was brilliant, the highlight was seeing a lion hunting impala and a pride of lions re-inacting the lion king on a rock or maybe it was seeing the FAMOUS wildebeest /zebar migration- which was out of this world!!!!.... we camped in the park for three nights, which was quite scary as lions and buffalo etc were literally roaming between the tents at night and we weren't allowed to get out!! we stayed here an extra night instead of going to Masaai Mara- due to the toubles in kenya. we finished the safri with a tour round the Ngorogoro crater- which is mad, all the animals are confined to a HUGE volcanic crater and there is no cover so they are easy to spot- this is probably our favourite national park i think...