Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Some weekends are simply perfect - and this past weekend was one of those. Eight of us Mercy Shippers headed off on Saturday morning to the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, located deep in the heart of the Western Area National Park in the hills above Freetown, for a weekend away from the bustle of ship life.

When we arrived at the Sanctuary we went and watched some of the chimps playing whilst our lodges were prepared, and then waited some more for a massive thunderstorm to subside before heading to the Eco-Lodges. These were some of the best self-catering accommodations I have encountered in West Africa, and we spent most of Saturday afternoon in the girl's lodge (the biggest one), chatting and playing Mafia while the storm raged outside. By 16h00 the rain had finally let up and we trekked out to do some exploring. We walked down to the Kongo Dam and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of this largely unspoiled area.

After a while we strolled back to the Lodge and Tim cooked an amazing Thai feast (I helped a little too) and we all sat around the table enjoying good food and fellowship together. It was the perfect end to an amazing day.

Sunday dawned much brighter than the previous day, and after a hearty breakfast we decided to have a guided tour of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and that was very interesting. We witnessed the rangers feeding the chimps and saw how they communicate with them too!

Our final adventure of the weekend was a lovely hike to the large waterfall in the valley. It was really picturesque. While we were finishing up taking photos and marvelling at the scenery, a man approached us holding some handcuffs. Now this could instill a number of emotions in one, but thankfully he wasn't there to arrest us. He informed us that they were about to shoot an action scene for a new Sierra Leonean movie, Digging His Own Grave, which required the police actors to chase another actor down the side of the waterfall. We were asked if we all wanted to be extras in the scene, but we politely declined, as we needed to head back to the Sanctuary. It would have also perhaps been a scriptwriter's headache having to write in a new scene with eight white people randomly standing around - at short notice, too.

Walking back we came across thousands of termites flying into the air, which was pretty spectacular. We were back at Tacugama by 14h30 and shortly thereafter our taxis arrived and we were speeding back to Freetown and the ship. And so ended a magical weekend - yet another amazing weekend spent in beautiful Sierra Leone.

The Wildlife Office at Tacugama.

The lodge where Tim and I stayed.

Really comfortable accommodation.

The rain really came down hard on Saturday afternoon...

... Which meant for fun times chatting on the veranda.

But it did let up long enough to allow us to go exploring...

This is Kongo Dam, one of Freetown's water facilities.

It's really pretty here.

The next day the weather was lovely and allowed us to see the chimpanzees!

Here they are in one of the larger enclosures.

After seeing the chimps, we went off on a hike to a nearby waterfall.

The power of the water is phenomenal!

Group shot by the waterfall. Good times!

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