Our travel inland was short of a David Livingstone expedition, but in our sturdy truck, with our trusted driver Kato, we made short time of our trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park. On the way we stopped in at the Equator where a magician was peddling tricks of water swirling different ways each side of the Equator. Mitch wasn’t convinced and set about some science experiments to prove the contrary. The area had a big collection of shops all selling ‘authentic souvenirs’ such as head masks, paintings, cow horns and trinkets.
The hills before QEII were lined with a sea of tea plantations and forest.After we descended to the grassland plains it all seemed to be smooth sailing. A few elephants, waterbuck and cob.
Then we hit the marsh. Our truck was sliding along a few washed out roads and became stuck shortly before noon. After closer inspection the right side had bogged down. After some attempts to get out the problem only became worse and the boys pitched in to help push. The local brigade came within a few hours (12 of them in fact, out of one Toyota Lucida) armed with machetes and shovels to dig the truck out, also with no success. A few hours later a tractor came with the same result. With the sun setting and the danger of wild animals (including the two legged variety) the decision was made to whisk the group out, leaving Kato to defend the truck.
The ride in the back of a cramped pickup was bumpy and without suspension and we had to navigate the hundreds of hippos on the road. Arriving at the campsite at 10pm (without rollers or our packs), we quickly scoffed dinner ready to rise early for our chimp trek the following day.
On our way out to the chimpanzees, we spotted more hippos on land (they come out at night when cool) and a herd of African elephant crossing the path. The trek was through thick bush. Our guide Robert used his machete to brush off most plants apart from stinging nettle and our chimpanzee trek turned more into a chimpanzee hunt, running and slipping on soft soil. Unfortunately, no chimpanzees were to be seen.
The river boat ride however, did not disappoint. With a broad variety of birdlife to be seen and some elephants, hippos, monitor lizards and water buffalo, all enjoying the afternoon sun. The boat listed side to side with the tourists all moving to the most favoured photo location. Amazing it didn’t tip over…
Once back at the campsite we cheered the arrival of our truck and driver back (he had a tough day fixing a broken hub and digging the truck out of the mud). Mitch was chuffed he got to ride shotgun the next day with Kato to Kabale after a toilet stop and Tamson panicked when she realised (after an hour) that he wasn’t in the truck with everyone else. The Kibale markets were a great opportunity to restock on all the supplies that had gone stale in the hot African sun.
Writing this entry from Kisoro, in the Ugandan highlands, while our first group are off on the first of two gorilla treks. We do ours on Christmas day in Rwanda.