One of the things that excited me most about moving to Qatar was the travel opportunities it would afford us! By living in Qatar a whole new world of holiday destinations from Doha opened up to us! Long haul was now short haul and vice versa! In the three and a half years we have been living here we have been using every opportunity we could to try new holiday destinations from Doha. So here is Qatar’s Travel menu from short haul to long haul options and the most memorable travel opportunity we had! Continue reading Holiday Destinations from Doha aka Qatar’s Travel menu
Ahead of our trip, one of our greatest concerns was having the appropriate clothing. Those of you that have read my earlier posts, know that as we arrived in Uganda, we lost one of our pieces of luggage. Through this experience though I feel I have learnt a valuable lesson about what clothes are needed for this type of trip, especially if you have limited baggage.
While it is nice to be bright, neutral colours are recommended for trekking and safaris in Africa. Khaki is the colour-du-jour in countries such as Rwanda and Uganda. It is important to remember that blue and black can attract insects, including the dreaded tsete fly and should be avoided. We didn’t actually find this out until after we left.
We read a lot on the subject of clothing for gorilla and chimp trekking before we went, and most advised collared shirts as an essential. This isn’t something that I had for hiking before so I went out and bought a few. These were obviously in the case that didn’t arrive and I have to say I didn’t miss them one bit! Layering is one of the most important things while trekking. It is hot at the bottom, and you get hot when you are walking but as you get higher and for the hour you are with the gorillas it can get cold so layers are essential. I personally find that collars and layering while hiking, is not the most comfortable thing. Therefore I would recommend long sleeve, high neck cotton tops. This provides adequate coverage of areas that are at risk of getting scratched etc, the cotton is both cool and warming and it is easy to put extra layers over. Lightweight fleeces are the best layer, they are light to carry and comfortable to wear. We were very lucky when we were there and never had the need for a waterproof, but it was essential to have one just in case. It also works well as an extra layer if you are cold.
This is something of a personal choice. My husband wore his hat for every trek we did. Personally I found hats bothersome and only used on a bird watching swamp walk, which was far more out in the open.
HIKING BOOTS AND SOCKS
Hiking boots and socks are an essential. However one thing to stress is make sure you get long enough socks. The terrain can be exceptionally muddy and at one point both my husband and I ended up in a river so make sure your socks can tuck in your trousers before you go!
These were the only type of trousers we used and were essential for the same reasons given above. I would personally recommend the zippable version as you can then take the dirty bottoms off when you are back in the car at the end of your trek.
Not really necessary to have your own– most lodges carry these. Check before you go but I wouldn’t bother carrying your own with you
These are perhaps the most important thing to carry with you depending on how far up the mountain the gorillas are. At the top, you will be going through thicket and may need to move prickly plants aside as you continue your trek. The best type of gloves for this are gardening gloves but I would say a good second option would be goalkeeping gloves. Anything thinner and woolen wouldn’t really do the job if the terrain gets tough.
Before our trip we were told that laundry wouldn’t be available. This actually wasn’t true but I imagine you are told as not to rely on it. We had no choice but to rely on it because of our lost luggage but I would say to anyone going, double check whether this is an option for you. If it is, it means you need to pack far less. The laundry for us worked well and dried very quickly but consider the time of year you are going. The lodges we stayed at hand washed our clothes and were dried naturally. At certain times of the year, the climate can be very humid and therefore drying can take a long time. Make sure you pack enough to cope with the drying times but really we found no need to over pack or have a different set of clothes for each day.
What I ended up using:
- Hiking boots
- 5 pairs of hiking socks
- 2 pairs of waterproof trousers
- 3 long sleeve high neck cotton tops
- 1 lightweight fleece
- 1 waterproof jacket
Have you been gorilla or chimp trekking? What are your tips on what to wear?
I am lucky that in the past ten years of my travels I have only had one luggage mishap. Of course it had to happen in the worst place that it could of – Uganda! Not a country exactly known for it’s shopping! Our plan had been to trek to see chimps and gorillas in rural Uganda which obviously requires certain types of clothing. The night before our flight we had a sudden change of heart about the clothes we would wear from our flight from Cape Town to Entebbe! Waterproof trousers, fleeces and walking boots are not the most comfortable attire for a flight but we thought if the worst should happen it would be good to have at least one set of trekking clothes. Thank God we did!
As if to curse us, as we sat on our connecting flight on the Tarmac at Johannesburg airport I noticed our cases, wrapped in plastic and with the gaudiest luggage ties imaginable, being loaded onto the plane. ‘At least we know our bags have made it!’ I remarked happily feeling relieved.
Fast forward a couple of hours, we were the last off our plane and then had to contend with long queues inside the airport as we went through immigration and Ebola screening. By the time we were through, the airport had emptied out so when we saw only 1 bag left on the carousel we knew we had hit trouble!
After an hour at the airport describing our case and full of the sense of dread of never seeing the case again, we left the airport hopefully looking for our ride. With the delay getting through, our driver had left so there was another 30minute wait. When we eventually arrived at the hotel to assess what we had left our patience was somewhat frayed. After assessment, we found we only had pants for only half the holiday, no extra hiking gear but 4 very nice bottles of wine that we had bought during our South African wine tour.
Daddy Wandermust was particularly pessimistic about the chances of our luggage being returned. I thought if we hadn’t heard anything in 24hours then we were in trouble.
Fortunately for us the next day, our case turned up after someone rang us up having mistakenly taking our case. It took a further three days for us to be reunited with our case after it had been flown around Uganda on a plane taking stocks to far flung lodges.
So after this how would I prepare to lose my luggage in future
- Wear the essentials, obvious I know but not always done. Trekking gear did not make for the comfiest of flights but we were so glad we had done it at the other end!
- Have whatever you can’t live without in your hand luggage – for me it was malaria tablets, hand sanitizer, sun cream and my camera but in future I would put a lot more underwear in there! Now travelling with a baby our hand luggage essentials is obviously a lot longer.
- Split your clothes between the cases – again another obvious, but something when you are travelling a lot can be forgotten.
- If all else fails, I can say by experience that having four nice bottles of South African wine doesn’t hurt!
What advice do you have to be prepared in case of luggage disasters?
For most people, trekking to see gorillas and chimps in Uganda is a once in a lifetime experience and you want to come home with a plethora of memorable shots to show your family and friends. But what is the best way of getting these snaps?
Ok so just plane or car but that title is no where near as catchy. Uganda safaris are something that we always wanted to do. When we knew we were headed towards becoming a family, we decided to have one last blow out holiday to somewhere you can’t take kids. I am all for travelling anywhere with children but my line in the sand is a malarial zones. Therefore chose Uganda safaris and gorilla trekking as our last couple holiday.
When we were initially looking at doing a safari one of the things we found is that if you want to be remote you need to take a small plane. I am not a fan of small planes. One of the big appeals of Uganda was the ability to drive across it. When we announced this most people thought we were mad. That our time would be wasted driving between locations. That the roads would be arduous and really hard going. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
The hardest part of our journey was leaving Entebbe, the busiest part of Uganda we experienced. The roads here were congested and I imagine rush hour would have been a nightmare. Fortunately we left after the main morning rush hour so our experience wasn’t too horrific.
Actually seeing the city was itself quite interesting. Watching the markets was a fascinating insight into life in Uganda. Such an interesting contrast to the markets we saw in the more rural areas. My favourite part of was looking at the local merchants who were making their products on the street. We saw a local merchant making coffins, pork shops and fabric dyeing stalls. The most interesting however was a demonstration a local merchant treated us to showing us how he made clothes with paper bark. Paper bark clothing is Uganda’s only representation of the UNESCO world intangible heritage list and was truly a delight to see first hand. All this in our first hour in the car!
By driving across Uganda I think we got to see more of Uganda in terms of both people and wildlife. Driving through the villages, it was fascinating to see how each village had grown up around one type of ‘industry’. Whether it was coffee bean drying, tea picking, banana or cinnamon production. We even saw how these products were brought to market where traders came from all directions congregating on one small town to exchange their goods on market day. In some ways it was quite medieval to be driving along the road and seeing merchant after merchant carrying the goods to the nearest market day to sell or trade but gave a real insight into what everyday Ugandan village life is like.
One of the most surprising things I found about the drive was how built up the Ugandan countryside was. I had expected wide expanses where we saw no people but in fact Uganda is heavily populated throughout the countryside and the roads not as bad as I had expected.
Friends of ours who had flown across Uganda said that they found a lot of begging when they left the local airports to drive to their lodges. Whether this was because perhaps areas around the airports saw more tourists and had the expectation or whether we had just been lucky but his not something we experienced in Uganda. The most begging we saw was one girl on the road shouting “Give me Sweeties!”
The other highlight for me of driving rather than flying across Uganda was the wildlife we saw this way. From the road we spotted a variety of birds, to many to name in this post, baboons, several varieties of monkeys, elephants and even lions.
For me the greatest concern about this option was the toilet facilities. However even this was not as bad as expected. Most toilets were squat toilets which as a European I was not use to. On reflection if I did again I might take a she-wee as an aid and additional loo roll but other than that it was for the majority fine.
Some may see the additional time taken to travel between lodges as a downside however the experience for us was well worth it. I think we got a better overview of the social history of the country and the people who live there and truly immersed ourselves in the landscapes and wildlife it has to offer. Overall I have no regrets about driving rather than flying as I feel I have seen more of the country and and would certainly choose to travel overland again.
We booked our tour through Steppes Travel. Again flying was the primary option for travel between lodges but they were more than happy to tailor a driving safari to our needs. Why not read more in our Uganda safaris series here