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Trekking in Uganda & Zaire (Congo)

Nikki Grosse‘s trek in Central Africa takes her through the dramatic and remote landscapes of Uganda and Eastern Congo (formerly Zaire).uganda_trek

Nikki’s route begins in South West Uganda in the ‘Switzerland of Africa’, where she travels on the back of a truck to Bwindi National Park, also known as the “Impenetrable Forest”. Bwindi is one of the last remaining habitats of mountain gorillas in the world, and the current gorilla population is estimated at 320. With the help of guides and slashers who cut at the dense undergrowth with machetes, Nikki tracks a gorilla family for hours through difficult terrain and is finally rewarded when she finds herself only metres from a Silverback.

Nikki travels north through the wildlife havenQueen Elizabeth National Park, en route to the small town of Kasese. Kasese is situated at the base of the Rwenzori Mountains and is the last place where trekkers can buy provisions before setting off into the mountains. Nikki buys a pair of wellies for the infamous Bigo Bog and organises a team of Ugandan guides and porters to accompany her on the trek.

image: uganda villageThe Rwenzori Mountains are also known as The Mountains of the Moon because of the glaciers at the summit which can be glimpsed through a veil of cloud. They are a true African wilderness and Nikki treks through impossible undergrowth, along slippery paths, through knee deep bogs and thick mud, under towering giant heather forests and over snow covered peaks and glaciers, ending her journey a few hundred metres of Margherita Peak, the third highest in Africa.

For the final part of Nikki’s journey she crosses the border into the Congo and travels to Beni, where she is diagnosed with Malaria. After a course of medical treatment and a few unplanned rest days, she heads off into the Ituri forest in Eastern Congo.

image: mbuti childrenShe travels in a truck along some of the worst roads in Africa; the recent rains have turned it into mud-filled potholes.

Leaving the vehicle and setting off on foot Nikki eventually reaches a Mbuti Pygmy community. The pygmies are the indigenous people of the Ituri forest, which provides them with nearly everything they need.

Here Nikki helps the children collect caterpillars and crabs for the evening meal, has ticks removed from her hair and on her final night is invited to listen to their traditional music.

Places Mentioned - Congo (Zaire), Uganda

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