LOCKED DOWN AT THE EDGE OF KIBALE FOREST
By Charlotte Beauvoisin, Diary of a Muzungu,
(Posted 24th May 2020)
(All pictures courtesy of Charlotte Beauvoisin)
March 25th 2020: ‘Lockdown is imminent in Uganda. The airport and borders are closed, and all schoolchildren were sent home two weeks ago. Bars, restaurants, markets, churches, and mosques are closed until further notice (and ban-breakers are being arrested). However, few people are taking social distancing seriously and with crowded public transport and densely populated slums, we are bracing ourselves for the worst.
Until a couple of weeks ago, most Ugandans thought coronavirus was a disease that only affected China until we had our first confirmed case — a 36-year-old Ugandan man who had traveled to Dubai.
I live off-grid on the edge of https://www.muzungubloguganda.com/travel-tips/kibale-forest-national-park/ Kibale National Park with no rent, no power bills, and water bills.
I am in an enviable position. However, we are scared too. If one of us is ill, clinics are a long drive away and poorly-equipped when we get there. Although we are in such a lucky position, deep in the village and with a good supply of food, we have lost all our business. The capital Kampala is six hours away and my travel via public transport is no longer an option.
All of my income is from tourism. Most of my clients are tour operators and lodges who have had virtually all their trips and bookings canceled. I’ve been alarmed at the lack of information online in Uganda about coronavirus, so I have published a blog about coronavirus that collates the best (verified) information.
I’m updating it on a regular basis in my attempt to bridge the information gap here. It’s given me purpose too. Overall, I’m doing okay emotionally, but my biggest worry is my 70+- year old parents in the UK; I have not seen them for over a year.
We are prepared for full-on lockdown here in Kibale Forest. I now exercise every day and try to sleep well (and act silly as often as I can manage!) We start home-schooling my nine-year-old nephew this week — there are challenges in every direction we look!‘
You can read the full article, with contributions from 20 travel writers from across the world, here on Fodor’s Travel.
The Muzungu adds: I have been in lockdown on the edge of Kibale Forest since March 23rd. I joke to Julia that we have ‘won the Lockdown Lottery’. Nature is throwing stories at me thick and fast.
Every morning I walk the forest-edge trails of Sunbird Hill. https://www.muzungubloguganda.com/adventure/sunbird-hill-kibale-forest-edge/
It is quite something to have this all to ourselves and I treasure every moment: birding, butterfly-watching, and occasionally chimp watching too! There is so much to see, hear and learn about Kibale Forest, I barely have time to capture all the stories in my ‘Coronavirus diary’.
Lockdown has given me the time to learn more bird calls, identify butterflies and Coleoptera (beetles), watch primates and teach my 9 year old nephew how to take photos. I know the trails like the back of my hand now…
When she’s not traveling around East Africa, you’ll find Charlotte Beauvoisin watching chimpanzees and birds from the balcony of her wooden cottage on the edge of Kibale National Park, Uganda.
She’s lived in Uganda since 2009 and has updated the Uganda section of Fodor’s Complete Guide to the African Safari.
You can follow Charlotte (Diary of a Muzungu) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram via https://www.facebook.com/DiaryofaMuzungu/ https://twitter.com/CharlieBeau https://www.instagram.com/diary_of_a_muzungu/