I am not really an outdoor pursuits kind of person, but standing at the top of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, I couldn't have been more excited. I was about to become one of the few privileged people to track the mountain gorillas in Uganda.
Crawling through the undergrowth, monkeys and parrots above, biting ants at our ankles, we knew we were soon to be face-to-face with our ancestors.
A cloud of flies and the noise of branches snapping were the first clues that we had found them, but nothing could have prepared me for the moment the guide peeled back some vegetation revealing a massive silverback taking a nap.
We spent an hour with the gorillas; my favourite was a playful teenager they call "King Kong" who at one point looked like he might attack before being swatted away by one of the elder gorillas they call the "Peacekeeper".
As well as the gorillas, Uganda has some other hidden gems, and has the benefit of being less touristy than neighbouring Kenya. White river rafting the Nile in Jinja through rapids worryingly named things like Dead Dutchman, and watching lions climb trees (amazing) are just a couple of the highlights that have made Uganda a favourite of mine.
Diving in East Africa
The only box left for me to tick on this holiday was to dive, and a week on Diani Beach down the coast from Mombasa in Kenya was the place to do it. A deep dive surrounded by barracuda, with morays poking their heads out of the cracks was a good start. The day before a group had seen a whale shark and manta rays at this site but no such luck for me (again).
Having not been in the water for a while this was a good start. I only had time for one more but it was a goodie, with Eagle Rays, Lionfish and all manner of life darting amongst the corals. The visibility was great, the water warm and while this was perhaps not the best diving I have ever done, I loved it all the same. The fresh coconut and mango in the surface interval probably helped!
If you're thinking of diving in East Africa, do think about combining it with the gorillas.