Vignette: Congo Border Tales

Just a little thing that happened five or six years ago in Uganda. A Congolese Border Tale:

Whenever I read a story with news like this“Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have taken a major border post after clashes with government troops….” I think about a visit to a safari camp in Uganda a few years back, just near the border with Congo. It was small, only ten tents. The proprietor, a stereotypical grizzled white African character I’ll call Dave, said he’d take out three of the tents and only have seven if he had his way but he was only working for the man, just like everybody else.

This place was down along a river, nice location. Oil had been discovered in the ground nearby, but recently enough that not a lot had been done yet; They were still mobilizing to get at it. Just over a ridge was the Congo border.

A four-wheeler drove up and Dave went to see. Came back after a while and told us it was the head of military intelligence for this sector. Said he drops by to buy a beer now and then, but of course the beer’s on the house. The military man makes every visit a “family visit” (Dave sticks quotes up in the air). This time he brought his wife, last time his sister.

I give them some beers, maybe a bite, and we visit a half hour, Dave says. Even though you have to do it, it’s not a bad idea. I mean, it’s calm over there now (thumb in the direction of the DRC), but it only takes them three or four days to cook up a civil war.

Not that this isn’t the safest place you can be, right here. Because it is, he thinks. They’ve got all the oil guys here. They’ve doubled the military presence. Never be the same. Still, it’s good to have a phone number for the head of military intelligence.

 •••••

Uganda is one of my favorite of the countries Donald Trump characterized rudely. Really a pretty place with nice, easy-going people. There are more photos in the Uganda Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

Impenitrable Means Impenitrable

There is a nice article at TheAtlantic.com today called Mountain Gorillas at Home. My gorilla photography pales before it so I will spare you of anything more than a link, below, but the area around the gorillas is interesting in its own right. Here are a couple of shots of where the Uganda gorillas live (there are also gorillas in Rwanda and Congo). This is a place called the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Strictly speaking, it’s not quite impenetrable. There is this road through it:

Adjoining the forest are heavily farmed, terraced fields. The hills are really steep, as you can see here:

We visited the gorillas in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, farther down the road (See the Mountain Gorillas Gallery at EarthPhotos.com). Here are a few things I wrote at the time, when CS&W was on Typepad. I guess they ought to still work: 12345678.

And while we’re here, apropos to nothing except that I just ran across this photo, and it’s also from Uganda, here is the only galloping hippo I have ever seen:

Click ’em all to enlarge them. And have a look at more in the Uganda Gallery and the Rwanda Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

Best Photos

This guy lives in the Munich zoo. He’s from my other web site, EarthPhotos.com, where there are some 20,000 photos from over 100 countries. Check it out.

Here are the four most viewed photos there, as of today:

Tree climbing lion, Ishasha, Uganda

Vegetable market alongside the huge fish market in Hoi An, Vietnam

Balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey

And here, masters of the(ir) universe, in an office block along Oxford Street, London at quitting time

Explore all 20,000 photos.

Three Friday Photos – Wildlife

elephants

First is a family of elephants from the Amboseli park in Kenya.

colobus

Here’s a Colobus monkey just somewhere along the roadside in Uganda.

hippo

And this guy popped up to say hello in Lake Oloiden, Kenya.

Click ’em to enlarge, and see the Kenya, Uganda and Wildlife galleries at EarthPhotos.com for more. Cheers!

Congo Intrigue

gorillas

Battles for resources, outright wars and jockeying for power never seem to stop in eastern Congo.

Four men were jailed for eight years each in South Africa on Wednesday for attempting to murder a former Rwandan general. The Kagame government in Kigali disavows knowledge of the plot, sort of.

A tweet from Anjan Sundaram (@anjansun) points to this scary story involving a Belgian prince, AK-47 fire, a British-registered company based opposite the Ritz in London’s Mayfair and ongoing efforts to save the Virunga Park – and its small population of mountain gorillas – on Congo’s eastern border.

One tiny personal anecdote from the Congo border, albeit from the much safer Ugandan side.

•••••

And if you’re looking for an off the beaten track travel/adventure for your next read, I recommend Anjan Sundaram’s book called Stringer, A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo.