We’ve arrived at Queen Elizabeth National Park! We’re staying at Mweya Lodge, which has an absolutely amazing view of a lake on one side and a channel on the other. I don’t think anywhere around the perimeter of this resort has a bad view, including our room. You can even see the water buffalo and elephants on the other bank hanging out by the water. There’s even mongoose/mongeese? who live right outside our room and butterflies EVERYWHERE you’d think you were in one of those movies during the honeymoon scene. It’s awesome.
We drove here on Friday and passed by all of this great scenery along with a giant market, the only cement factory in Uganda (run by the HIMA company!), Kesese (sp?) city, and the equator! It was sortof funny because the only thing that marked the middle of the globe were 2 arches missing some letters proclaiming “Ig_n_a Equator”. The driver didn’t even know it was a landmark. xD
There are 2 types of safaris here: land and water. I went on the land excursion twice (once during sunset, once during sunrise) and then in the water right before sunset.
If you ever go on a safari and you need multiple vehicles, make sure you’re in the first one. The roads aren’t paved and SUPER dusty so by the end of the 3 hours, the people in the second van had literally changed skin tones from sticking their heads out of the sunroof. Luckily, our van was actually meant for safaris so the roof completely lifted up and we could stand on the seats and have a great view of everything! This park really is the Africa you imagine with the tall grass and classic crooked trees. The savanna is mostly yellow and brown with random patches of green. I wouldn’t say it’s “gorgeous” like Kyaninga because of this sad lack of [the best] color, but it’s definitely regal. And the animals are so majestic!
It was exciting snapping photos of everything. I completely drained my camera battery the first ride. In the morning the sun was the classic red beauty you see in pictures and in the evening, there are amazing streaks of pink and purple in the sky around the tangerine sun. On the ground, we saw hyenas, elephants, wart hogs, water buffaloes, water buck, cob, hippos, and so many different bird species. Including Uganda’s national bird! An elephant herd was in the midst of crossing the road and we heard it trumpet and that was possibly the coolest sound I’ve heard this trip. 🙂 Sadly no lions were seen, although there was apparently one hiding in the bush. There are no rhinos or giraffes here either but leopards are spotted every once in a while. The vegetation was unique too, with cactus-trees and bushes with 3-inch long thorns. Diversity is fantastic. I love it.
For the boat tour, I decided to break out my awesome Mickey Mouse hat because we’d heard that you see the most animals on the lake. And we did in terms of numbers, but they were mostly hippos. Did you know they’re tied with mosquitoes as the #1 human killer in Africa? And they don’t have any predators because they’re so big and strong. I think they may be climbing my list of favorite animals. 😀
Anyways, we saw tons of hippos and water buffalo, a few crocodiles and elephants, and a larger variety of birds that were taller and more colorful. The high point was when a hippo almost charged our boat. First we saw a few large bubbles in a line on the surface and we were confused. Then we see this rush of water and a hippo burst out of the water and open its mouth as huge as possible and our driver (Robert) calmly tells us to sit down as we quickly back away. Apparently we’d gotten too close to its baby because the previous group had said that they had seen a pregnant hippo just give birth.
Apart from that we didn’t see anything too exciting besides a lion’s kill (but again no lion) and a fishing village. Apparently the park’s made a deal with them that they don’t fish in the channel and in return, they get 20% of the profits. They’ve used this money to build schools and a water purification plant and all that good stuff. Honestly, the coolest part was knowing that they lived their lives so close to all the wildlife.
So this weekend was definitely one of the more memorable by far. But tomorrow we’ll be heading back to Kaihura and Bringing Hope to the Family. DukeEngage is halfway over. Wow!