MONKEYING AROUND

 

Monkeying Around is a Nature Calls Adventure that takes place in Rwanda.

Some of us begin our journey aboard the Rwanda air flight from Johannesburg and travel across four countries – South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania before arriving in Kigali for the incredible price of $266. If you would like me to book your flight from wherever you are traveling it would be a privilege.

monkeying around little girl at home 200Some of the Rwandan people you will meet on this Nature Calls Adventure have their feet in the history of the genocide that took place from March to September in 1994. This was a time of horror that tore them apart leaving many of them fatherless, motherless or without siblings – twenty percent of the nation lost their lives. The Rwandans are gentle people by nature however and once again moved away from the colonial-induced tribalism that cut between them to co-operatively re-commence protecting their resources – the wildlife and forests. The post-gen0eocide understandings they carry with them is a recognition that ‘taking dominion over the earth’ is not plundering and exploiting it. Sadly, it was through the deep struggle that initially destroyed the soul of the nation, that this realization was gained, but it is a life-lesson that has re-ignited their former peace loving ways. To meet the Rwandan people is a transforming and humbling experience, but there is more…

Upon arrival at Kigali International Airport we board a small chartered airplane, and transfer to a town near the Nyungwe Forest. From there we travel a short distance to our accommodation which is both luxurious and enchanting. The buildings that make up the Nyungwe Forest Lodge skirt the forest and from our bedroom window we can see the curious faces of the black and white colombus monkeys. They seem to be deciding whether they like the new intruders or not.

At dinner we chat about the Canopy Walk we will enjoy in the day ahead with excited anticipation. There are eight different species of monkeys who inhabit the Nyungwe Forest and a diverse variety of birds and butterflies. Our most animated discussions however take place after the Chimpanzee Trek, the last day of our stay at Nyungwe Forest Lodge. The chimpanzees are expressive, if anyone wears their heart on their hairy shoulders, they do.

After 4 days adventuring with the monkeys, resting and reflecting at Nyungwe Forest we transfer by early morning flight to Kigali and spend some time at the Memorial Museum. which is a Mindblowing visit back into the history of the Rwandan people. We overnight at the Milles de Collines, the venue at which Hotel Rwanda was filmed. ‘She’ is a gracious ‘Lady’ offering panoramic views of the city and my favorite drink – ginger tea. The tea is a recommended natural remedy to stave off the ‘mighies’ (small gnats) which we encounter when we climb the heights of the volcanic mountains of Rhuhangira Volcanoes National Park.

In transfer to Gorilla Nest Lodge to prepare for our gorilla encounter we head through the streets of Kigali and along linking roads that pave a colourful display of people, cyclists. motorbikes, goats, chickens and the odd car or taxi. Much hooting is exchanged, but not in a ‘ get out of my way’ attitude, but rather a polite, ‘hey, we are sharing this space, be careful, I don’t want to knock you over or kill your chicken’.

We arrive at Gorilla Nest Lodge which is idyllically situated on the edge of the forest with a panoramic view of a golf course. The Jack Hannah house where we stay is home-from-home with the extra pampering of a warm log fire and gracious hosts who welcome us with generous smiles and warm hand towels. We relax, have a drink and then we are treated to a dinner made by the resident chef. Talk that evening is about the climb into the Volcanoes National Reserve to spend time with a family of gorillas whose leader is the silverback, Agaysha.

Early morning, sweet milky ginger tea enables us to embrace the initial darkness before dawn as we scramble together scarves, hiking boots and jackets. A short drive to the base of the mountain and there we are greeted by willing villagers who carry our rucksacks and give us handmade walking sticks. It is true the ginger tea keeps the miggies away. the gentle hills give way to dense forest thickets and a heavy silence. A forest buffalo peers through the undergrowth deciding whether to charge or turn away. For one tense moment we stop in our tracks, waiting. He turns away and we move forward, up and up. Eventually we meet the gorilla watchers who are going to introduce us to Agaysha and his clan.

monkeying around ageysha silverback 200Then they appear: a soft, hairy face peers around the first leafy bush, then another. They look at us with intrigue. Protectively Agaysha breaks through the undergrowth, the silver across the center of his back glistening in the sun. The watcher calls to him in soothing grunts, gorilla language. Agaysha understands and stops a few meters away, and begins to eat, but still keeping us in his sight. He is a loving father surrounded by fearless youngsters. They love to play beneath his mountainous stature, cuddling, tumbling, rolling and doing head-over-heels to land at our feet. The watcher asks us to step back. Cameras whirr as we want to capture this never-to-be-forgotten moment.

It is over too soon, but we will be back the next day. On the final day we return to Kigali to overnight once again at the Milles des Collines before catching the return flight home..

Our gorilla venture ends. We are sad, but deeply grateful for the encounter. Daily we have talked with Mandy and each other. The experiences are translated into personal life insights.

We can’t believe how fast ten days and nine nights evaporate. No-one is ready to leave but we know we will be back.

Please Contact me with regards to your Investment into the Monkeying Around Nature Calls Adventure at info@naturecalls.co.za.

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