Travels with Chris and Pete: 27th December 2009 - 8th January 2010
on Jason and Anna in Mbarara (Uganda), 19/Feb/2010 09:46, 34 days ago
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Our friends Peter and Christine came out to see us on the day my parents left, and we started another little tour of Uganda with them. They arrived pretty late in the evening, so didn’t get to see any of Uganda until the following morning, when it was absolutely bucketing down with rain..Airport Guesthouse, Entebbe, in the rain!The first stop on our trip was a town called Jinja, which is where the source of the Nile is. We stayed at a lovely place called Nile Porch, and had tents with a fantastic view of the river. It was great to relax on the veranda (complete with hammock!) and watch the sun set over the Nile.We went down to the source of the Nile, and I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was nothing like I had imagined! We went on a short boat trip which was pretty nice although the guide didn’t speak much English (it was just as well that we had taken our driver Herbert along with us!).We discussed going white-water rafting the next day, but Chris and I didn’t really fancy it, so we decided to go on a quad-bike ride around Jinja instead. It was fantastic, as we drove around the local villages, by fields, and eventually down to Bujagali Falls (which is probably not as impressive as it was before they built the dam). All the kids we drove past were soexcited to see us, jumping up and down and waving. I think the adults we drove past in the villages thought we were a bit mad, especially me and Chris, and just seemed to be laughing at us – but it was all great fun.View from our accommodation at Nile PorchSunset over the NileQuad Biking!Bujagali FallsAfter Jinja we had to go through Kampala to change vehicles, as we needed a big 4x4 rather than the Green Machine, and then we started the long long journey up to Murchison Falls, which took about 8 or 9 hours.We were staying at a place called Sambiya River Lodge, which is over the other side of the river to where you do game drives, so we had a very early (5:30 am) start the next morning. We had to get a car ferry over the river, and then we began our first proper safari with Pete and Chris.Ferry across the RiverMurchison Falls is a HUGE national park, with an area or 1,340 sq miles (3,480 sq km), and during the course of our morning game drive we covered over 150 km. The landscape is completely different to Queen Elizabeth National Park - more like proper savanna, and you could see for miles. Murchison Falls is the only place in Uganda where you can see giraffes, and we were lucky enough to see quite a few of them. It was amazing to see them, and they do look quite strange with such long necks! We paid for a UWA ranger, called George, to come on the drive with us, as the park is so big and he has more of an idea of where to find the animals. We'd all been hoping we would see some lions, and we weren't disappointed. - we found two lionesses sitting in the grass relaxing: they looked so cute that you couldn't imagine them being heartless predators.Amazing view of the Savanna (courtesy of Pete)The LionessesGiraffeThe following day, we went on a boat trip along the river, and up to the Falls. We saw lots of hippos, elephants and massive crocodiles. We had booked a guide to take us on a walk up to the top of the falls, which was a brilliant idea. The falls don't look that impressive from the boat, as you can't get very close, but when you walk up to the top, you can appreciate just how amazing they are. I didn't realise there were actually two waterfalls (Murchison Falls and Freedom Falls) - we would never have seen Freedom Falls if we hadn't done the walk.Huge CrocodileBaboon and its BabyMurchison FallsTired but Happy after our walkView of the Falls from the BoatAfter our stay in Murchison Falls, we moved on and went to Fort Portal. We stayed in a place called the Rwenzori View Guesthouse, not far from the town, run by a Dutch-English couple. The accommodation was great value for money, and the food was excellent. Fort Portal is in an area full of crater lakes, and Herbert suggested we have a trip to lake Nkuruba, which is apparently Bilharzia-free (meaning you can swim in it without getting some horrendous diease!). We stopped of at a place on the way, known as the 'Top of The World' which has 360 degree views of the area - pretty breathtaking.Lake Nkuruba was beautiful and has lots of Colobus monkeys in the trees surrounding it. We had a swim, then went to the restaurant to introduce Chris and Pete to local Ugandan cuisine. We had posho (made from maize flour), matooke (steamed green bananas), irish potatoes (ordinary potatoes), chapattis, beans, beef stew, guacamole - we were so full afterwards! The place is run as a community project, and we were treated to a show by a local dance troupe, which was really impressive. The funny thing was that the girls were all dressed in traditional clothing, except for a Liverpool Football Club scarf tied aroud their waists!View from the Top of the WorldOne of the Crater LakesThe Dance Group at Lake NkurubaWe drove from Fort Portal to Queen Elizabeth National Park. We had decided to stay at a new place called Bush Lodge, just outside the park, but overlooking the Kazinga Channel. Most of the accommodation in the national parks is ridiculously expensive, but Bush Lodge is very reasonable. You have a luxury furnished tent with a toilet inside, and a funky outside shower area. You really feel as if you are in the bush, especially as the hippos and warthogs keep you awake all night being noisy.Our Tent at Bush LodgeThe ShowersWe went on an early morning game drive, which wasn't that exciting - maybe we'd been too spoilt in Murchison Falls. We also went on the boat trip on the Kazinga Channel (which we did with my parents), and it was just as good the second time around. On our way back to Bush lodge, we saw a rather excited (!) bull elephant crossing the road.We drove through a fishing village, and were surprised to see an elephant there.  Apparently her name is Maria, and she's a wild elephant - she just doesn't like hanging around with a herd.  She wanders between the fishing villages, and gets nice treats like bananas (and coca-cola) given to her by the villagers. It was a strange thing to see - a semi-tame wild elephant - but nobody is forcing her to live like that, it's her own choice. All the villagers seemed genuinely happy and excited that she was there, and nobody was exploiting her, which is good I suppose.Maria, the Wandering ElephantWe had booked to do chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge on our last day in Queen Elizabeth Park. It's a spectacular landscape, and we were lucky to see chimps within two minutes of starting our walk. Unfortunately, we didn't get any decent pictures, but we spent about an hour watching them. The chimps here seemed more badly behaved than the ones in Kibale Forest, as they were throwing things at us from the trees! We then went for a walk through the gorge, although our guide was the most unenthusiastic UWA ranger we'd ever met, so it wasn't perhaps as good an experience as it could have been.Kyambura GorgeAfter the tracking, we made our way back to Mbarara, where we spent a couple of days before Chris and Pete headed back to Liverpool. We were really sad to see them go, as we'd had such a wonderful time travelling around the country with them, and would miss their company.Peter, Jason, Herbert, Christine and Anna with the 'Herb-Mobile'