Gill of the Jungle (Part 2)

And so on to describe one of the most anticipated highlights of the trip – chimp tracking near Fort Portal.  My anxiety antennae started quivering when we were summoned for a briefing on what to wear the day before the big event.  Rosie was her usually blasé self, assuring us that her friends had had a lovely time chimp tracking in floaty skirts and flip flops.  Anyway we decided to go with the official advice and not with Rosie’s confident and it turns out hopelessly optimistic assertion, as far as our limited wardrobes would allow.  So, bright and early we turned up at the chimp place, followed by more and more would be trackers; antennae started to quiver even more.  There was the man with a ‘tracking stick’ and the woman with the professional looking huge camera – and us! And everybody else seemed to have stour walking books and combat style trousers.  Anyway, after a fair bit of waiting around, we were off, plunging into the depths of the rain forest. We were in  a small group with a nice but young and nimble Austrian guy (thankfully not tracking stick man or big camera woman)and our guide Robert, who did not inspire confidence by spending most of the time on his mobile phone chatting with his friends.  He seemed to be leading us round and round in circles (Angela’s theory was that this would make us think we had got value for money). Then disaster struck – Robert took us over some perilously placed wooden struts over a bog; the struts ran out before the mud, and in trying to find some solid ground, Angela’s foot disappeared into the bog and she nearly lost her Toms shoe. She then did the same thing with the other foot and then almost fell over backwards into the mire. And dear Diary, I do not wish to brag, but to my astonishment I managed to catch her before total disaster struck. And it should be recorded dear Diary, that Angela, now squelching along in her beige linen trousers and muddy Toms, did not utter one word of complaint.  And a marshy half an hour later we were rewarded. We finally made it into a clearing already populated with our fellow stalkers (Angela and I did note that none of them had any mud at all on their stout walking boots). Whatever.  The clearing was also populated with chimps! Up in the trees at first but after a while they slid down the tree trunks and gave us plenty of photo opportunities.  Amazing!

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