Thursday, July 19, 2007

From glaciers to the deepest jungle...

Here we go again. Due to organizational changes at work, I was compelled to take another leave almost right after the Elbrus trip. Nice, although this will mean a longer break before the next chance to see anything else than desert.

Initially I had planned on doing the technical ascent to Mt. Kenya next. For that one finding the right teammate and a competent guide is essential so I decided to first take on the technically less challenging Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda. Albeit strenuous, only some parts of the routes up to the peaks there require more than just crampons and an ice axe.

I will arrive at Entebbe airport early on Wednesday, July 25th. I will take the bus from Kampala to Kasese right away and prepare for the Rwenzori Central Circuit Trail starting the following day. My goal is not only to reach the summit of Mt. Stanley but also Mt. Speke and Mt. Baker. This expedition is offered commercially by e.g. Jagged Globe Expeditions and at grade 2B it's supposedly both physically and technically more demanding than Kilimanjaro. Considering my experiences at Elbrus I believe neither the altitude nor the temperature will be a problem but consecutive long and strenuous days will inevitably take their toll.

Earlier this week I managed to secure a gorilla tracking permit for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Southern Uganda. There is usually a long waiting list for these very much sought after permits which cost nowadays USD 500. The only problem was that the single one available during my vacation was for August 3rd. Taking travel time into consideration I will have to finish the circuit on August 1st the latest giving me a total of seven days for the trail. I will have to see if insisting not to have porters for this trip will prove out to be a mistake at least when I reach the infamous Bigo Bog...

I'll try to update the blog en route and to compile it in a way that an independent traveler will get good information how to do the Trail. I suspect as little as 1000 EUR (climbing permits alone are 680+44+44=788 EUR) will be sufficient while e.g. JG Expedition charges USD 4000 for the same thing that I plan on doing myself. In the end, however, the most important thing for me is that I don't feel like a lemming in a line when I'm out in a place like the Rwenzori Mountains.