A Travellerspoint blog

February 2020

Amazing visit with the mountain gorillas of Uganda

Lee and I are 2 of the 3 Americans (out of 21 total) on our tour; the other American is a 65 year old man from Long Island who is the oldest on the tour

Lee and I are 2 of the 3 Americans (out of 21 total) on our tour; the other American is a 65 year old man from Long Island who is the oldest on the tour

The 2 year old baby was adorable; Kisoro is in the very SW corner of Uganda, next to the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The 2 year old baby was adorable; Kisoro is in the very SW corner of Uganda, next to the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The gorillas build nests on the ground to sleep in with a new nest every night; these gorillas can't live in captivity so there are none in zoos

The gorillas build nests on the ground to sleep in with a new nest every night; these gorillas can't live in captivity so there are none in zoos

The 2 year old walked right beside me where I could have bent down and easily touched him but he didn't even glance up; just totally ignored us

The 2 year old walked right beside me where I could have bent down and easily touched him but he didn't even glance up; just totally ignored us

We passed terraced fields on mountainous terrain en route to Kisoro which reminded me of the Philippines and Vietnam; subsistence farming with small plots of land created a photogenic patchwork

We passed terraced fields on mountainous terrain en route to Kisoro which reminded me of the Philippines and Vietnam; subsistence farming with small plots of land created a photogenic patchwork

The gorillas have no natural predators in the park; elephants and buffalo inhabit the park too but we didn't see them (did see lots of buffalo poo though)

The gorillas have no natural predators in the park; elephants and buffalo inhabit the park too but we didn't see them (did see lots of buffalo poo though)

This juvenile was nursing; the gorillas reminded me so much of Planet of the Apes and how similar we are to them

This juvenile was nursing; the gorillas reminded me so much of Planet of the Apes and how similar we are to them

This is a typical streetside market scene; I could find Coke but less often Coke Zero since there were few supermarkets but, more typically, minimarts with a very limited selection

This is a typical streetside market scene; I could find Coke but less often Coke Zero since there were few supermarkets but, more typically, minimarts with a very limited selection

The gorillas stayed on the ground unlike chimps and monkeys; they rolled around a great deal and didn't move from their location for the hour we were there

The gorillas stayed on the ground unlike chimps and monkeys; they rolled around a great deal and didn't move from their location for the hour we were there

We each paid $15 to hire a porter to carry our bags and help us with the steep up and downhill stretches; mine spoke limited English but some were quite fluent

We each paid $15 to hire a porter to carry our bags and help us with the steep up and downhill stretches; mine spoke limited English but some were quite fluent

Silverback gorillas are 5.5-6 ft tall and weigh as much as 350 lbs though they tend to be quite gentle and shy; they are very hairy (the hairiest of all gorilla species) with hair that is long and thick, which helps to insulate them at high elevations

Silverback gorillas are 5.5-6 ft tall and weigh as much as 350 lbs though they tend to be quite gentle and shy; they are very hairy (the hairiest of all gorilla species) with hair that is long and thick, which helps to insulate them at high elevations

African giant earthworm; it averages about 1.4 m (4.5 ft) in length, but can reach a length of as much as 6.7 m (22 ft) and can weigh over 1.5 kg (3.3 lb)

African giant earthworm; it averages about 1.4 m (4.5 ft) in length, but can reach a length of as much as 6.7 m (22 ft) and can weigh over 1.5 kg (3.3 lb)

The permit to see the gorillas is $600 in Uganda versus $1500 in Rwanda; the permit price was increased in Rwanda to bring in high end visitors but many tour companies have folded

The permit to see the gorillas is $600 in Uganda versus $1500 in Rwanda; the permit price was increased in Rwanda to bring in high end visitors but many tour companies have folded

We never saw Ugandans smoking; few had cars with most walking everywhere; the small towns had central water pumps that everyone visited with empty cooking oil containers to collect water

We never saw Ugandans smoking; few had cars with most walking everywhere; the small towns had central water pumps that everyone visited with empty cooking oil containers to collect water

Mount Muhabura, looming over Kisoro, is an extinct volcano on the border between Rwanda and Uganda; at 4,127 m (13,540 ft) Muhabura is the third highest of the eight major mountains in this range

Mount Muhabura, looming over Kisoro, is an extinct volcano on the border between Rwanda and Uganda; at 4,127 m (13,540 ft) Muhabura is the third highest of the eight major mountains in this range

Throughout Uganda we saw many churches and mosques; most businesses were closed on Sundays and I could find nowhere to buy a postcard

Throughout Uganda we saw many churches and mosques; most businesses were closed on Sundays and I could find nowhere to buy a postcard

On the other side of the park is a family of 18 that just added a one week old baby; it takes 2-3 years to habituate a family of gorillas to where they don't flee when humans are around

On the other side of the park is a family of 18 that just added a one week old baby; it takes 2-3 years to habituate a family of gorillas to where they don't flee when humans are around

My fellow travelers were mystified by continuing US support for Trump; they couldn't understand US gun laws and the obscene amounts of money poured into elections

My fellow travelers were mystified by continuing US support for Trump; they couldn't understand US gun laws and the obscene amounts of money poured into elections

Posted by VagabondCowboy 18:43 Comments (1)

Plas Mawr - the first house built in Wales (1580)

Plas Mawr is the finest surviving Elizabethan town house in Britain, built in stages between 1576 and 1585; I was able to use my National Trust membership here for free admission

Plas Mawr is the finest surviving Elizabethan town house in Britain, built in stages between 1576 and 1585; I was able to use my National Trust membership here for free admission

The Great Chamber at Plas Mawr; 7 rooms still possess elements of their original plasterwork, which a historian has described as the most perfect and the most complete memorial to Elizabethan Wales

The Great Chamber at Plas Mawr; 7 rooms still possess elements of their original plasterwork, which a historian has described as the most perfect and the most complete memorial to Elizabethan Wales

This 1660 toilet has its original fabric cover, padded seat and pewter pot; this is a unique complete survival of a piece of furniture once common in every gentry house

This 1660 toilet has its original fabric cover, padded seat and pewter pot; this is a unique complete survival of a piece of furniture once common in every gentry house

A nice feature of Plas Mawr is there were no ropes keeping you out of the rooms; we were free to wander although docents kept an eye on everyone

A nice feature of Plas Mawr is there were no ropes keeping you out of the rooms; we were free to wander although docents kept an eye on everyone

The owner of Plas Mawr married one Dorothy and when she died he married another Dorothy with whom he had 7 kids; when the owner died he left such a complicated will that the house remained untouched for 35 years

The owner of Plas Mawr married one Dorothy and when she died he married another Dorothy with whom he had 7 kids; when the owner died he left such a complicated will that the house remained untouched for 35 years

The furniture in Plas Mawr showed the wealth of the owners such as this bed with elaborate woodwork including a carved top canopy

The furniture in Plas Mawr showed the wealth of the owners such as this bed with elaborate woodwork including a carved top canopy

Inspecting the kitchen of Plas Mawr made me wonder what I would have eaten in 16th century Wales; you couldn't be a picky/discriminating eater back then or you'd starve to death

Inspecting the kitchen of Plas Mawr made me wonder what I would have eaten in 16th century Wales; you couldn't be a picky/discriminating eater back then or you'd starve to death

View of Conwy Castle from the top of Plas Mawr; architecturally, Plas Mawr is almost unchanged from the 16th century, making it a very rare survival from this period

View of Conwy Castle from the top of Plas Mawr; architecturally, Plas Mawr is almost unchanged from the 16th century, making it a very rare survival from this period

Fortunately, the visit to Plas Mawr came with an audioguide which described the rooms and furniture in detail; I just marveled at the intricate woodwork and artistry on the chest

Fortunately, the visit to Plas Mawr came with an audioguide which described the rooms and furniture in detail; I just marveled at the intricate woodwork and artistry on the chest

This bathroom inside a 16th century home in Wales makes me wonder why Americans, my father included, had outhouses well into the 20th century

This bathroom inside a 16th century home in Wales makes me wonder why Americans, my father included, had outhouses well into the 20th century

The painted plasterwork above the fireplace was a status symbol showing guests the family crests and their heraldic heritage; the national symbol of Wales is the leek

The painted plasterwork above the fireplace was a status symbol showing guests the family crests and their heraldic heritage; the national symbol of Wales is the leek

I found a variety of PowerBar I had not seen before!; vaping seems very popular here, especially among young people, despite the recent reports on possible dangers

I found a variety of PowerBar I had not seen before!; vaping seems very popular here, especially among young people, despite the recent reports on possible dangers

This plaque shows how impossible it is to learn Welsh; school kids in Wales still learn in Welsh as well as English to ensure that the language doesn't die

This plaque shows how impossible it is to learn Welsh; school kids in Wales still learn in Welsh as well as English to ensure that the language doesn't die

Posted by VagabondCowboy 05:55 Comments (0)

Marilyn and Dorothy showed us the best of Venice, Florida

We really enjoyed catching up with Dorothy and my mom's sister, Marilyn!; when not wintering in Florida, they live in one of the best beach towns in America, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

We really enjoyed catching up with Dorothy and my mom's sister, Marilyn!; when not wintering in Florida, they live in one of the best beach towns in America, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Unlike beaches elsewhere that are made up mostly of pulverized coral, Siesta Beach's sand is 99% qartz, most of which comes from the southernmost tip of the Appalachian Mountains

Unlike beaches elsewhere that are made up mostly of pulverized coral, Siesta Beach's sand is 99% quartz, most of which comes from the southernmost tip of the Appalachian Mountains

My parents flew down and we stayed at the Hard Rock Casino; we found the machines to be very tight and weren't even tempted to try the video poker machines in the high stakes room that cost $100 per hand

My parents flew down and we stayed at the Hard Rock Casino; we found the machines to be very tight and weren't even tempted to try the video poker machines in the high stakes room that cost $100 per hand

Lady Gaga wore this custom, colorful, one shoulder dress backstage during her 2014 world tour; the first show of that tour was in Sunrise near the Seminole Hard Rock Casino

Lady Gaga wore this custom, colorful, one shoulder dress backstage during her 2014 world tour; the first show of that tour was in Sunrise near the Seminole Hard Rock Casino

This is the newest part of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and not the section we stayed in; the rooms on the side with the balconies would have been cool

This is the newest part of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and not the section we stayed in; the rooms on the side with the balconies would have been cool

This great blue heron is the largest heron in North America; at the Audubon Rookery there is an island used by the birds that is relatively free from mammalian predators thanks to the alligators in the lake

This great blue heron is the largest heron in North America; at the Audubon Rookery there is an island used by the birds that is relatively free from mammalian predators thanks to the alligators in the lake

Little blue heron joins two snowy egrets; the Venice Audubon Rookery is crucial habitat for these birds with so much of Florida being demolished for new residential construction

Little blue heron joins two snowy egrets; the Venice Audubon Rookery is crucial habitat for these birds with so much of Florida being demolished for new residential construction

The windshield on this 1957 Ford Thunderbird is blocking the Elvis mannequin; the cars were for sale but no prices were posted so we knew they were expensive

The windshield on this 1957 Ford Thunderbird is blocking the Elvis mannequin; the cars were for sale but no prices were posted so we knew they were expensive

Ideal Classic Cars (free admission) in Venice offers the full array of high quality investment-grade restorations as well as driver-quality collectible cars from the 1920's to the 1970's

Ideal Classic Cars (free admission) in Venice offers the full array of high quality investment-grade restorations as well as driver-quality collectible cars from the 1920's to the 1970's

The ruddy turnstone (lifespan 8-10 yrs) is one of the most widespread shorebirds in the world; while foraging, these birds often explore the tide line or piles of debris, flipping and turning shells, stones, and driftwood to seek out prey

The ruddy turnstone (lifespan 8-10 yrs) is one of the most widespread shorebirds in the world; while foraging, these birds often explore the tide line or piles of debris, flipping and turning shells, stones, and driftwood to seek out prey

Siesta Beach is not only long, but also super wide; the beach is so wide the city installed walking mats to help beachgoers get to the shore, where they can then walk on firmer wet sand

Siesta Beach is not only long, but also super wide; the beach is so wide the city installed walking mats to help beachgoers get to the shore, where they can then walk on firmer wet sand

Casperson Beach is known as the best place to find prehistoric sharks' teeth; we did not have good beach weather with chilly temps and gusty winds

Casperson Beach is known as the best place to find prehistoric sharks' teeth; we did not have good beach weather with chilly temps and gusty winds

The common moorhen is a familiar bird throughout Florida, sometimes referred to as a marsh hen; moorhens are excellent swimmers in spite of having no webbing on their toes

The common moorhen is a familiar bird throughout Florida, sometimes referred to as a marsh hen; moorhens are excellent swimmers in spite of having no webbing on their toes

The Venice Audubon Rookery, internationally known to bird photographers, is free to all visitors from dawn to dusk every day of the year

The Venice Audubon Rookery, internationally known to bird photographers, is free to all visitors from dawn to dusk every day of the year

Posted by VagabondCowboy 05:02 Comments (0)

Mountainous Lesotho a destination for the adventurous

We had a relatively easy hike to this waterfall; there are higher and more impressive waterfalls not far away

We had a relatively easy hike to this waterfall; there are higher and more impressive waterfalls not far away

Lesotho is 11,583 sq mi in size and has a population of 2.2 million; it declared independence from the United Kingdom in October 1966

Lesotho is 11,583 sq mi in size and has a population of 2.2 million; it declared independence from the United Kingdom in October 1966

Lesotho is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 m (3,281 ft) in elevation; its lowest point of 1,400 m (4,593 ft) is thus the highest lowest point of any country in the world

Lesotho is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 m (3,281 ft) in elevation; its lowest point of 1,400 m (4,593 ft) is thus the highest lowest point of any country in the world

Lee and one of our guides showing off their balance; as of 2016, Lesotho's adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 25% ws the second highest in the world (they also have the second highest TB rate in the world)

Lee and one of our guides showing off their balance; as of 2016, Lesotho's adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 25% was the second highest in the world (they also have the second highest TB rate in the world)

We were on this road for 7 km to reach our lodging; South African rand are generally accepted so there is no need to get Lesotho currency

We were on this road for 7 km to reach our lodging; South African rand are generally accepted so there is no need to get Lesotho currency

Along with Vatican City and San Marino, Lesotho is one of only three independent states completely surrounded by the territory of another country

Along with Vatican City and San Marino, Lesotho is one of only three independent states completely surrounded by the territory of another country

Traditional Lesotho houses although many now are cinder block with most having outhouses; life expectancy at birth in Lesotho in 2016 was 51 years for men and 55 for women

Traditional Lesotho houses although many now are cinder block with most having outhouses; life expectancy at birth in Lesotho in 2016 was 51 years for men and 55 for women

This hill just amazed me with its perfect peak; Lesotho has been suffering from prolonged drought but both nights of our visit they had thunderstorms (and even hail)

This hill just amazed me with its perfect peak; Lesotho has been suffering from prolonged drought but both nights of our visit they had thunderstorms (and even hail)

Approximately 85 percent of women and 68 percent of men over the age of 15 are literate; as such, Lesotho holds one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, in part because Lesotho invests more than 12 percent of its GDP in education

Approximately 85 percent of women and 68 percent of men over the age of 15 are literate; as such, Lesotho holds one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, in part because Lesotho invests more than 12 percent of its GDP in education

Erosion is a major problem throughout the country with only 12% o the land arable; 2018 film Black Panther director Ryan Coogler stated that his depiction of Wakanda was inspired by Lesotho

Erosion is a major problem throughout the country with only 12% of the land arable; 2018 film Black Panther director Ryan Coogler stated that his depiction of Wakanda was inspired by Lesotho

A great find for the license plate game; the economy of Lesotho is based on agriculture, livestock, manufacturing and mining, and depends heavily on inflows of workers' remittances from South Africa

A great find for the license plate game; the economy of Lesotho is based on agriculture, livestock, manufacturing and mining, and depends heavily on inflows of workers' remittances from South Africa

Posted by VagabondCowboy 00:24 Comments (0)

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