I only planned on a couple of days max in Kampala as so far the cities of Africa have not been its strong point, but Uganda's vibrant little capital city was great and the combination of a really cool hostel and the best nightlife since Cape Town kept me there longer. It was also a good base from which to explore the rest of the country, so I could leave the bulk of my gear in storage and travel light which was so much easier. But I didn't play Uganda very well and a combination of my mistakes and a difficult and tiring transport system meant I only done half the things I originally planned.
Maybe because I have been travelling so long now I seem to be getting more jaded and careless, and the most annoying mistake was travelling all the way across Uganda and then realising I couldn't use any ATM's outside of Kampala, so that cost me 2 days and god knows how many hundreds of km's extra tiring travel. Other basic mishapes include getting the different notes mixed up paying 50000 instead of 5000 for a couple of drinks, and my general planning as well was far from flowing smoothly. To finish it off I miscalculated how much cash to withdraw and ran out so had to go back a 3rd time to Kampala where I decided it was just easier to stay put until my Gorilla trekking date was due.
In between my 3 stays in Kampala I first visited Murchison Falls were I had a dangerously close encounter, stepping out my tent at night to shoo away what I thought was a noisy Warthog, to come face to face with a Hippo, that was a shock but luckily it was so busy eating it didn't notice me as I ran off. A couple of hours later I finally got back inside the tent but this time stayed safely inside when it came back for more grub. Well strange though hearing it munching away just a couple of metres the other side of the tent, it wasn't the best nights sleep ever. I also managed trips to Queen Elizabeth NP where I experienced my first ever earthquake as the still active Rift Valley had a few tremors. It didn't seem to worry the locals and was probably only 1 or 2 on the Richter scale but still sent a few cups and plates flying.
I also managed some trekking in the Virunga volcanoes which boarder Rwanda and Congo and this is real Gorillas in the Mist world, the Rwanda side was where Dian Fossey done her research, but my gorilla trek was to come the next week at Bwindi. So it was one last trip out of Kampala down to the rainforest of Bwindi for my trek. The mountain gorillas are highly endangered with barley 600 left so I wasn't sure whether the whole gorilla tourism was ethical, but the sad truth is that if it wasn't for the tourism and the money it generates then there probably wouldn't be any gorillas left now (they were nearly all lost in the 80's) and the money seems to been put to good use of preserving them and encouraging the local communities incentive to protect them. Regulations for visiting the gorillas are tight with a very limited number of permits and only 3 habituated gorilla groups visited daily. There's also time restrictions once with them and distance and hygiene rules. Reaching them was a challenge in itself as their terrain is the high slopes of the rainforest and after a hard couple hours slipping and sliding, and a few cuts and bruises later we found them. It was great, a whole family with playful and curious infants checking us out and then the when the huge male Silverback moved the group on, he came within metres of us, amazing stuff and you couldn't help but feel humbled by these immense but gracious and placid primates.