Well, we are here at Mweya Safari Lodge in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, in Western Uganda very near to the border with Congo, and it is brilliant! We set off very early on Saturday morning and it took about 7 hours and 5000 potholes to get here! On the way we stopped at the equator and took some photos - but it was pitch black still and freezing so we didn't stay long. Dad and most of the men enjoyed 'going to the toilet' on the equator line. Us girls were a little more sophisticated than that J, except someone had just been when she saw 2 pigs coming towards her and was glad they didn't come sooner!
We drove past loads of tiny little villages, as in one street only, which all looked quite similar. We could easily see the difference from Kampala though, as none of the kids in these places seemed to go to school and we saw some without clothes and shoes working. There were also cows and goats everywhere, but the funniest thing was when we had to stop to let about 6 huge storks cross the road! Eventually we climbed up past a beautiful lake in an extinct volcano crater, past lots of tea plantations and endless banana trees. We then dropped down into the rift valley, crossed the bridge over the Kazingi Channel which separates lakes Edward and George and is the site for our safari lodge.
On the road up to the lodge, we saw a monkey, herds of elephants, warthogs and water bucks. This was before we had even checked into the place! There were warthogs wandering around outside the hotel, not at all bothered by us being there - it was mostly the other way round. There are also mongoose playing on the grass which is a strange sight when you leave your room! The hotel is really lovely, there are fantastic views over the Channel and everyone can see it from their rooms. Across the Channel we saw elephants coming down to drink and buffalo from afar, but then in the afternoon we went on a game drive and saw much more. It lasted about 3 hours and we went in our usual buses accompanied by a guide. He told us he could not guarantee that we would see any cats because they are so rare here. But…. WE SAW 2 LIONS!!! We got a tip-off from a group and when we arrived there were 2 lions - one female, one male - about 20m away from our bus! They looked just like they do on Lion King which made us happy. We watched them for about 10 minutes and got some brilliant photos, but then they got up and moved away when the other half of our group arrived so they missed them. We also saw a big group of baboons. There was one on the roadside but when they heard the bus about 20 came out from the bushes and came close to our bus. We also saw more elephants, buffalo, hippos and various forms of buck. It was brilliant!
We then came back for dinner and all fell exhausted into bed! Before Jenny and I reached our bed, we had a surprise encounter. We were walking out of the restaurant and noticed some people standing quietly and looking at something. When we got closer, we noticed the HUGE hippo standing about 2m away from us! It was eating the grass but we were shocked by the size and how close it was to us. Our guide, Rogers, told us to touch it but we told him 'after you'! We then ran to bed in a panic.
During the night, a few of us heard hippos munching the grass right outside our rooms which was very odd. Ruth Donnan thought it was a warthog coming to steal her washing and got a shock when she opened the curtains to a hippo!
After a very good night's sleep we met for breakfast and had the biggest variety of food you could ever see on a buffet! It was lovely and suited everyone very well, especially Ami. We went on a boat trip on the Channel after breakfast and saw loads and loads of hippos - so many we became blasé about them: 'oh it's another hippo'. Mum - the place is CAKED in hippos! We also saw some baby crocodiles and buffalo, fish eagles and pelicans and a hyena! It was brilliant but we still preferred the game drive, of which we have another this afternoon.
The rest of the day has so far been spent eating and lounging around and in the pool, which has been a nice restful time for us. We have taken to eating on the veranda and yes, it is a bit similar to Wild At Heart! Lots of little birds fly around the tables and one pooed on dad's arm at breakfast! I had got up to get my camera when another pooed on my chair - so I was thankful my head had not been there. We also had a visit from a massive marabou stork which was about 4ft high and extremely ugly (no offence!). It was only about 2m away from us though.
We are enjoying our time here and will definitely be sad to leave tomorrow, but we still have lots ahead of us. Hope you are all well and not feeling too jealous of us seeing all these animals!
Lots of love,
Naomi and Stuart
P.S. We have also seen huge lizards which Rogers thinks could be poisonous!
P.P.S. Thank you for all your messages, we do read them even if we don't have time to reply!
P.P.P.S. Beth - I think it is either 8 or 10 Wansbeck according to my dad!