MAKING A BEE LINE TO QENP
25 June 2008
Jinja - Kampala (Red Chilli Hideaway campsite N0 19.209 E32 37.796)
BRUCE: Last night I felt the start of a cold coming on and this morning it had arrived! We spent the morning updating the blog and backing up our photos and headed for Kampala at about 2pm. We saw some great fruit and vegetable stalls on the side of the road and stopped at one. As we pulled in we were swamped by people selling chicken and meat on sticks, fried bananas and fresh fruit. This treatment is not just for tourist and they swamp every taxi, bus and car that pulls in. We bought some fruit and I bought some braaied bananas that turned out to be some sort of potato that looks like a banana. Se taught me to think that it was a sweet potato and then it tasted good but if you think it is a banana it tastes like s***!
The traffic coming into Kampala was a nightmare but we made it to the Red Chilli Hideaway unscathed. We met another pair of South African overlanders there, Mike and Bonny, who had driven from London to Ghana before shipping their cruiser to CT and are now driving back to the UK up the East coast. I was feeling crap and tried to turn in early but Mike kept me up chatting about Ethiopia, Tanzania and Malawi.
26 June 2008
Kampala - Fort Portal (UWA Kibale NP Campsite N0 38.732 E30 23.128)
SARAH: We're making a bee line for Queen Elizabeth NP to meet Ian, Karin, Duncan and Murray so were on the road early. We stopped at shoprite for a supplies shop and feel food and diesel is cheaper in Uganda. After mango juice and a muffin for breakfast we drove to just outside Fort Portal where we were able to camp in Kibale NP without actually paying entrance fees. We've reached the East African jungle which is alive with sounds. It's seriously thick green bush like nothing we've experienced yet. I'm looking forward to doing some chimp trekking in QENP but sadly the gorillas are too expensive for as at $500 each!
We camped in the thick forest and Bruce rested on the grass to try and get rid of his cold. An elephant crashed through the bushes breaking branches which startled the guard and he went off to investigate. The bush was so thick we didn't see the elly but we certainly heard him. We got an early night after simple soup and bread for dinner followed by delicious pineapple and banana fruit salad. After a game of scrabble we hit the sack.
MEETING THE MACLARTY'S IN UGANDA
27 June 2008
Kibale NP - Queen Elizabeth NP (Mweya Campsite S0 11.862 E29 54.227)
Park entrance fees: $50 pp (for 3-7nights)
10,000Ush pp camping
BRUCE: I decided to cook some oats this morning which was great and we only left camp at about 9am. Stopping only to draw some cash and buy an armful of woven baskets we left the rain forest and the landscape changed to African Savannah. It was only about 140km on good tar and we got to Mweya at 2pm where we ran into Duncan birding on the road! WE chatted and then Se and I went for a disappointing game drive only seeing Buffalo, Waterbuck, Warthog and Kob. We had sundowners on the roof of the Landy and were late for dinner with the Macs as a heard of elephant kept pushing us back up the road away from the lodge. We had a great dinner with the Macs and they really spoilt us. We were really having a bad elephant day as another heard of elephants kept us from reaching our campsite and we had to reverse most of the way back to the lodge as they insisted on using the road. It was a noisy night with hippo and hyena in competition for the loudest!
CHIMPANZEE TREKKING AND BIRD WATCHING BOAT CRUISES
28 June 2008
QENP (Mweya Campsite)
SARAH: My uncle and aunt, Ian and Karin, had kindly treated us to Chimpanzee trekking with them which we were super excited for. We met them at 6.30am to drive to the gorge where the Chimps live. The gorge is 16km long but only about 1km deep and covered in thick green forest. Walking in the forest with our guide, Jack, was as much as enjoyable experience as was finally finding the Chimps. They were in the tree tops and unfortunately never came down to the ground but it was fascinating watching them playfully swing from the branches and munch on berries. They really are so human like. I could have watched them for hours but our 3 hours was up and my neck was feeling it, so we made our way out of the gorge. Of course the Macs were also bird watching the whole time so frequent stops were made.
After a quick lunch and nap we joined the Macs on a boat cruise along the Kasinga Channel. It was surprisingly far more enjoyable than we expected as we got really close to hippo, buffalo and crocs all in the water together and our guide and Ian pointed out hundreds of different birds. It was so lovely game spotting from the water. We finished off our day back at the posh Mweya Lodge and had drinks with the Macs looking over the gorgeous channel. It's been so special spending time with family and I was sorry to say goodbye. Back at our campsite we had to get used to the simple camping life again and had a braai for dinner.
NO TREE CLIMBING LIONS!
29 June 2008
QENP Mweya - Ishasha (Ishasha Campsite S0 36.839 E29 39.474)
BRUCE: We decide to go down to the south of QENP to an area called Ishasha that is famous for its tree climbing lions. It is only about 70km but we'd heard that the road is horrendous! The stories we'd heard about the road were true and we crawled through ditches and holes for about 40km of the 70kmroute. Before setting up camp we did a game drive but there was not a lion in sight let alone one in a tree. All we saw was more buffalo, more waterbuck and more kob. Se has picked up my cold now and is feeling terrible so she headed to bed early after curry mince and pasta for dinner. I boiled some water on the fire and made a flask for the early morning game drive tomorrow. This part of the park is really beautiful with Savannah plains and trees. The DRC is literally 30 meters away over a small river so we really are in the middle of Africa!
30 June 2008
QENP (Ishasha campsite)
SARAH: I was desperate to see these tree climbing lions but no matter how hard we looked we saw nothing. Their favourite trees for 'hanging out in' were obvious with tracks circling them, but the lions were nowhere to be found on our 3hr morning drive. In fact we saw very little game generally. The savannah plains were very scenic though and back at camped we cooked a brunch and relaxed around the campsite in the hot sun. Another 5 camping parties joined us in the late afternoon, who'd all been gorilla trekking and raved about it. Bruce and I are seriously considering it but at $1000 total it's a hell of a lot of money and means we will have to cut our trip short which neither of us want to do.
The afternoon game drive was about as exciting as the mornings and we are convinced the lions have been scared off by the Congolese lions who have been reported to have crossed the border. We couldn't get closer to the Congo if we tried and there is a massive forest fire burning on the other side of the river in the Congo. This is the heart of Africa and we enjoyed another campfire talking about gorillas.
BRUCE: I was having a cold beer while driving through the Savannah looking for tree climbing lions and ranting to Se about what a kak day it had been, when I realised just where we were and what we were doing. Hell, if this is a kak day then we are doing ok!