Day 7 : The Chimp trek in the Kalinzu Forest and camp conflicts

We got to sleep late (until 5:40) today since the Chimp Trek was just next to the camp. We just had some tea and biscuits and were off to start the trek at 6:30.

The group split into two smaller groups, with all the Aussies (recovering from last night's partying) in one group and us and the standard gang in another.

We hiked quite a bit through the forest and not at all on trails, but completely went through shrubs, bushes, tight vegetation etc. We were sooooo happy that we brought our big winter hiking boots. They are actually made for a Swedish winter, but boy was they perfect for a tropical native forest walk.

We found one of the Chimp families relatively early and spotted an individual primate here and there. They were way too high to get a good shot, at least not with Dilek's wide angle lens, plus covered behind leaves and branches. Luckily, Vedran had planned well and brought his zoom lens (Dilek's lens was mostly for landscape). He got a couple of good shots, but really the first location was not so good as we were chasing a few individuals around the same trees.

We decided to move on to find another family, and on the way, we saw a big male chimp walking on the ground less than 10 meters away. He walked by the whole group as if he didn't care, but it was a bit tricky to get a shot since there is so much vegetation. We also saw several females with babies; one ran away from us swinging to the ground. And finally, we found the alpha male and a few other chimps in a tree. They were eating, courting, and making a lot of noise from time to time. We stayed here quite some time and observed and tried to take photos.

The second group turned up at this location too, and they had not seen any Apes until this point. We returned to the camp for a delicious lunch (African naan bread), pasta and watermelon salad, and were off around noon.

Today we shared a table with Luke and Lana. Vedran had previously been in a small discussion with Luke, but it seemed OK. Luke slept or listen to his headphones almost the entire way. We talked a lot with Lana, who is our age. She is much more mature than the kids on the bus, and we could discuss anything from politics, the Balkan war etc. Very different level on the topics from yesterday. Unfortunately, during a moment while talking about Mexico, Lana was sharing her pictures and experiences, and Vedran said that there were other places that were better (or something like that). Lana became upset and did not want to talk anymore. Dilek tried to smooth the situation and probably did a bit. Lana said Dilek was much more open. It is so funny because five years back, the roles would have been reversed. Dilek got into trouble and Vedran had to smooth everything out.

Vedran did, however, have a chat with Lana, and he handled it very managerially. He apologized and made her feel good, but needed nothing in return. It was a good thing because we still have nine more days with this group.

We arrived at the camp a little before 17 and got a fantastic spot overlooking the lake. This campsite also showers that worked somewhat well and the water temperature was sometimes hot. Vedran took a well-needed shower before dinner, while Dilek updated the journal. Some people in the group upgraded to fixed tents and even cottages. There was also an info briefing to visit Rwanda, but we decided not to go; partly because it was expensive, partly because we would need Visas, and because all they would see was the genocide museum. We did not really want that.

Thereafter, we were in the tent trying to catch a bit of rest before dinner. Dilek fell asleep immediately, but Vedran would none of it, because he would be too bored. Vedran has not been sleeping well (or at all) so he gets bored when Dilek sleeps.

At dinner we sat opposite to Carl and Mel. We were in the dishwashing team, but had not had time to commence washing before our team member started. The reason was that we were still eating. Mel made a comment that we were conveniently eating instead of working, which upset Vedran. He said that he always washed his own dishes (which actually is not necessary), to witch Carl replied that he had done everyone's dishes. Vedran said that we were still eating and Dilek felt compelled to join in and support her husband especially after today's discussions with Lana.

The mood turned a bit sour. We finished eating and Vedran stood up telling Mel he had rushed his dinner because of her and then he stormed off leaving Dilek alone. Carl started to laugh and Mel rolled her eyes and said something rude. Dilek just said that Vedran was right and left as well.

We finished the dishes and went back to the tent. Dilek was very sad because this is the third incident Vedran has been involved in (perhaps due to lack of sleep), and people in the group could be getting annoyed and talking behind our backs. Note that it isn’t a big deal but we still have nine more days and Dilek was afraid that this could ruin the atmosphere and sour the trip. We talked about it in the tent, while packing and preparing for tomorrow's excursion to the gorillas (the highlight of the trip). Vedran didn't think he did anything wrong and felt Mel had it coming (exactly what Dilek would say 5 years ago), while Dilek felt he could be more diplomatic with a 19 year old girl (what Vedran would have said a few years back).

Thereafter, Dilek took a moment outside the tent to collect her thoughts while Vedran continued packing. We were supposed to go to the bar with the others, not for drinking but rather for the Wifi. Vedran had a hypothesis that his night routine with iPad had been missing and doing some surfing could maybe help him sleep. But Dilek was afraid of more conflict plus she got completely worn out after the tiffs, so she just wanted to sleep. Vedran stayed with her in the tent even though he was really looking forward to internet. Better to end this day and start with fresh light. Besides, tomorrow is the highlight of the trip - the GORILLAS, and we have to be alert for it.