Posts tagged Queen Elizabeth National Park


Mar 31, 2011
@ 10:30 am
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A Warm Welcome from Uganda

Jambo from Kenya, where, sadly, it’s time to say goodbye to yet another group of travel companions. I have been with many of these friends since Cape Town so it’s definitely hard to imagine this last leg of the Africa trip without them. We said our goodbyes hurriedly in the parking lot of their Nairobi hotel so that was kind of strange, but I guess it’s better than a long and lingering goodbye.

Bye, Janet, thank you so much for making our trip so memorable and fun. Your uplifting thoughts of the day and sunny outlook made each day a pleasure…yes, even the seemingly never ending days in the truck. Enjoy your time off in Nairobi and please keep in touch. I have every confidence that our paths will cross again. Take care chief, chief, chief and I’ll see you in the not too distant future…inshallah! 

A few of us made plans to have a final farewell dinner at Carnivore, which is known for it’s tasty game. Gobble, gobble, oink, oink, moooooooooooo sister is ready to eat!!!

When we arrived we were greeted by the mouthwatering aroma of grilled meat.

grilled meat, Carnivore, Nairobi, Africa

I was salivating within seconds of my arrival, but taken aback when I looked at the menu and noticed the glaring lack of game! 

Don’t get me wrong, the options sound delicious, and I fully intend to eat my face off, but where was all of this tasty game I had been hearing about? Where were the warthogs, zebra, kudu, and springbok?  I mean, I like beef and pork as much as anyone, but bring on the game, rafikis! 

As it turns out, Kenya outlawed game somewhere around 2004 so heads up that Carnivore doesn’t include much game on the menu anymore.  We did have some ostrich meat balls that rocked my world and the beef and pork were also tantalizing so all in all I’d call this a win.  Of course we got this meat fest started on the right foot with a proper cocktail.

Whoa, the Dawa isn’t playing around. I think I grew hair on my chest after this drink. I have to say that despite the glaring lack of game, I still managed to shove my face like I was a contestant in an eating contest. Even though I didn’t really save room for dessert, I made made it work to make Tim Gunn proud. Who are we kidding? I practically licked my plate…

Sadly, it’s time for me to say goodbye to my sky diving buddies and dear friends, Rami and Line.

They are headed to India and then Thailand so there’s a chance our paths will cross again in the Land of Smiles. I certainly hope so. Bye, you two, and save travels through India. You are going to love it!

As for me, it’s back to camp and time to meet my final group of travel companions for Kenya and Uganda. I have lucked out with 2 fabulous groups so far and I have every confidence that this next group will be equally as great.

We headed back into Nairobi in the AM to meet our new crew and as luck would have it, only a few new people were actually meeting us in Nairobi so we had the new truck, the best of the entire journey, to ourselves for the first 2-3 days. I’m not going to lie, after traveling with 22 people packed to the gills, it was total luxury to only travel with about 9 companions. We each had our own seats and took great pleasure in draping ourselves over every available surface, especially the 3 of us who started in Cape Town.

I met my new tent mate, Lotta, from Sweden.  She was incredibly sweet and full of energy so I knew I’d be all set there.  Africa, part 3, here we go. 

Our first game drive in Kenya was through Lake Nakuru National Park.

zebra lips

eye of a zebra

Is that a rhino? Oh yes, I believe it is! Score!!!

Do you remember Gargamel from the Smurfs?  I totally get that visual when I look at this bird. 

Marabou Stork, AKA Undertaker Bird

Gargamel’s real name is the marabou stork, but he is also known as the undertaker bird since he is the last to arrive after a kill, picking away any remaining parts.

He’s not really a looker, is he?

marabou stork, undertaker bird

bird that looks like Gargamel from Smurfs, marabou stork

How about some more birds?  

I love the facial expression of the sitting bird.  He definitely looks wigged out. 

pelicans, mid-flight

flying pelican

Awww, it’s another adorable baby zebra. It looks like a doll, doesn’t it? So cute! How could anyone think of this little guy as a weak link? What sick and deranged people….kill, kill, kill

baby zebra

baby zebra

You’re terrible, Muriel…

Here are some more scenes from the park.

All in all, pretty wildlife light…until now!

OK, a rhino…2nd of the day and better than the 1st, and totally awesome since they are heavily endangered, but it’s still kind of hidden under a tree.  Do you happen to have anything a little better than that? 

That’s what I’m talking ‘bout! 

The rhino is extremely endangered and often difficult to see up close. As you can see, we got the major hookup here with 3 right in front of our faces. It was pretty spectacular.

up close rhino shot

rhino profile

rhino in tall grass

all up in this rhino's grill

Can you believe how close we are to these prehistoric animals? Wow!!! This is a major coup.

rhino

rhino mania

rhino eye up close

eye contact with a rhino

Amazing! As you can imagine, we were pretty fired up after these rhino sightings! We totally lucked out and happened to be at the right place at the right time. That’s what it’s all about, really, when it comes to safari. Yay for the rhinos!!! Thank you, Lake Nakuru. This was awesome!

After the game drive it was time to leave Kenya and cross into Uganda, the pearl of Africa, where we’d be meeting up with the rest of our crew. Word on the street is that we’d be at full capacity with 24 people so we took full advantage of our last few hours on the truck to stretch out and relax.

Uganda market

Uganda sunrise

girl selling bananas, Uganda

Uganda street scene

Uganda town

Uganda meat market

Uganda meat market

village, Uganda

Check it out, we’re on the Equator!!!

Equator, Uganda

Kind of awesome! I actually took a bathroom break not far from this very spot. How many times can a girl say that she went to the loo right on the Equator? For me, it’s not that many so you better believe I’m going to say it to the world right here and right now.

OK, back to the game drives. Up next…

That’s right, it’s Queen Elizabeth Park, our first game drive in Uganda. Fingers crossed we see some great stuff.

Really? That’s it? Um…I don’t know what to say except “sawa, sawa,” which means go, we’re finished here, next…” I felt kind of sorry for the new peeps on the truck who had never been on safari before because we really didn’t see much.

Coming off of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater this was pretty weak.

The veterans on the truck really couldn’t do much to hide our lack of enthusiasm, barely craning out necks to look out the window, no cameras in hand. With drool hanging from our mouths, we’d announce sawa, sawa before the truck even came to a stop, as in I know you aren’t stopping the truck for an antelope….

water buck

But it appears that, yes, we are really stopping for a water buck.  I know I must sound like a total snot face, but after 45 days in Africa, most recently in what some may call the Mecca of game drives, I just couldn‘t get fired up for another antelope type animal.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the “game” we encountered, I did my best to be patient for the new peeps who were ecstatic for every animal we saw, including the antelope type animals, remembering that I was that person, excitedly bouncing from window to window to get the best possible shot of whatever was in front of us, not that long ago.

We did cap the drive with this warthog sighting, which was pretty cool. 

After a kind of bust for a game drive, we decided to try our luck on the water with a ride down the Kazinga Channel. Queen Elizabeth National Park, take 2.

standing hippos

Check out the face on the baby hippo.  Insanely adorable! 

baby hippo with funny facial expression

skeptical hippo

buffalo kiss

eagle with its prey

baby hippo

hippo family

row o' buffalo

water buffalo

crikey!  it's a crock

These birds were making this crazy noise with their throats, which were undulating rapidly up and down as they croaked.  It looked pretty cool with thier throats moving in unison.  

I think we made the right choice with the boat ride. This is definitely the closest I have come to hippos.

baby hippo snuggling with its mom

walking hippo

Um, mom, you are getting ready to poop on my head.  Please don’t…

mom hippo pooping on baby's head

Caroline, that shot is for you! 

Aww, have you ever seen cuter buns? 

hippo butts, mom and baby

hippo family portrait

As you can see, there are tons of hippos in the water. That being the case, I don’t think I’d really want to go swimming in the water, but that’s just me.

deep thoughts

swimming children, Uganda, Queen Elizabeth Park

Obviously the locals have way more experience than me because they were whooping it up and having a grand old time in the water even with the hippos nearby. 

Uganda countryside

Like everywhere we’ve traveled in Africa, the locals were very friendly, waving to us with huge smiles and words of welcome.

a boy and his boat

Uganda woman carrying wares on her head

full belly

sitting on my boat

elephant blowing water

baby elephant

Here are some scenes from the Uganda countryside.

waving children, Uganda

Uganda countryside

Tea, glorious tea!!!

tea plantation, Uganda

tea plantation, Uganda

street scenes, Uganda

Uganda village

Could I interest you in a little meat?

slab o' meat

Uganda countryside

waving children, Uganda

Uganda countryside

At long last we have arrived at our next stop, the stunning Lake Bunyonyi.

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi would be our home for the next 3 days. It’s proximity to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest makes it a nice jump off spot for gorilla trekking. Woo Hoo!!! I have wanted to see the gorillas since I was a little girl so you can imagine how thrilled I was to finally be in Uganda, home to 340 of the mere 700 mountain gorillas left in the wild. Wow, what a privilege.

Uganda is very protective of the gorillas and places rigorous restrictions on the treks to see the gorillas, allowing only groups of 8 people to go at one time. As a result, our group was broken into 3 separate groups, traveling on 3 separate days. My group would not be trekking until the final day so I decided to spend my first day visiting a nearby pygmy village.

To get to the village we took to the water and rode in a boat for about an hour. The scenery along the way was stunning.

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

village, Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Once we reached land, we hiked for about another hour to get to the actual village.

village, Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

drying seeds, Uganda

village life, Uganda

Uganda countryside, Lake Bunyonyi

at the Uganda/Rwanda border

We just so happened to be on the border between Uganda and Rwanda. Do you want to see Rwanda? OK, here you go.

Rwanda crops

Wow! I wish I had time to visit Rwanda, but, sadly, my days in Africa are numbered. Just one more hill to climb and we’ll be at the village.

Our first guests welcomed us at the base of the hill.

pygmy children, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

When we climbed the hill we were welcomed by the chief and one of the elders.

pygmy chief and elder

The pygmies welcomed us with some traditional songs and dance.

get down, get down

dance, pygmies, Uganda

clapping hands, pygmy woman

pygmy woman, Uganda

pygmy dance

pygmy children

pygmy woman, Uganda

The kids were busting some serious moves.  Adorable!  

dancing feet, child

pygmy children dancing

pygmy elder

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy woman, Uganda

pygmy woman, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy woman, Uganda

pygmy children, Uganda

pygmy children, Uganda

dancing feet, pygmy children

pygmy child, Uganda

pgymy mother and child

pygmy child, Uganda

kanga wrapped head on pgymy child

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

I just couldn’t get enough of this little girl.  She was a dancing machine! 

dancing pygmy girl, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

baby's butt

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy woman, Uganda

peek a boo, pgymy girl, Uganda

Wow! What an afternoon. We all felt a little conflicted about our visit to the village because it did have a bit of a human circus feeling to it, but the laughter and smiles were genuine and I felt very privileged and lucky to have been able to meet these folks. The pygmies are not allowed to own land and do not attend schools with the other kids.  They are definitely an underprivileged group and I hope that our small contribution made a difference. 

Time to head back to the boats and our camp.

uganda countryside

It appears that we’ll be taking some winged guests with us back to camp.

Our new travel companions didn’t seem very excited about their sea voyage and kicked up quite a stink from the back of the boat. They continued to express their displeasure for a few minutes, but then settled in for the hour journey.

When we returned to camp we were regaled with stories of the gorillas from our fellow travelers. Only 2 days to go until I get to see the gorillas myself. I cannot wait! Stay tuned, folks, because the gorillas are up next.

Until then, big hugs from Lake Bunyonyi and I’ll see you soon.