We woke early on Saturday morning after heavy overnight rain. The track out from the house was still trafficable but the hire-car was instantly muddy. We collected Lyn and Ian from Danma Gardens about 0800 and headed off on the dirt road that connects our highway with the Masaka highway to the south. Within minutes we were stuck as we tried to get around a truck stopped in the middle of the road. The truck driver stopped because in from of him a Toyota Noah had slid into a ditch. I could go forward but not back. Going forward threatened to slide me into the truck so there we sat until a couple of local lads (and low range 4WD) got me out.
|Impala at the water point below Rwakobo Rock lodge dinging room.|
Once past this delay we reached Rwakobo Rock Lodge in time for lunch. We rested, swam and birded around the lodge that afternoon, had a lovely dinner, a few drinks and retired.
Sunday and Monday we spent in the national park. A game drive on Sunday morning was followed by a lake cruise. Monday saw another game drive to the western side of the park and more afternoon swimming and birding. We haven’t been to Lake Mburo at this time before and it was wet, often drizzling and lush with green grass 60-100 cm high. Some of our favourite tracks were impassable due to bogs. It didn’t matter because we mostly had the park to ourselves and crawled along the main roads seeing excellent birds and mammals. Jenny and I mostly left the photography to Lyn and Ian and just enjoyed the park. I even got to be a passenger on Monday when Lyn drove us around. A highlight was finding the Giraffes that have eluded us on our previous visits.
I think we were all reluctant to leave but we came back to home and Danma Gardens for Tuesday night then headed out Wednesday morning for two nights at Kipling Lodge on the Nile below Jinja. An easy trip with one interesting incident - for the first time in East Africa were asked for a bribe by a police officer. We were stopped and the officer informed us that a brake light was out (lesson - don’t put your foot on the brake pedal while the cop is looking at he rear of your car.). She told us the ticket would be $60,000 UGX ($A22) but hinted strongly that this could be reduced. I asked for the ticket then remembered that we were in a hire car. I explained this and she looked totally baffled as to how to proceed. “I will excuse you this time” she said and off we went!
I’ve already told you how nice Kipling Lodge is. The view over the river, the gardens, the rooms and the food make it a great way to end your stay in Uganda. Our hosts Alex and Sandra and their staff were professional while easy going. I have put together a set of a 100 of my bird photos for lodge promotional material and these were much appreciated. Jenny, Lyn and Ian went on the boat trip up to the rapids but otherwise it was a time for relaxing with a good book with the binoculars and a lodge dog or three snoring at your side.
|Jenny, Lyn and Ian heading up The Nile.|
Friday morning we had an early breakfast and headed off to Kampala to the School For Life office. The hire car was returned and full deposit refunded (I recommend Roadtrip Uganda by the way) and the limo (upmarket taxi) came to collect Lyn and Ian for Entebbe airport.
Bosco (the amazing SFL fixer/logistics/driver) was looking after our car while we were away and I asked him to get a couple of things fixed if he had a chance. The car has become tired recently and I was unsure if it was worth spending much on it. Number 1 priority was the driver’s electric window no longer working. Other problems were the hissing noises (present since we bought the car), the exhaust starting to sound like an MG, the horn not working when you really needed to let another driver know how you were feeling and the right front wheel feeling like it was about to fall off. Today when we headed off it was like driving a new(ish) car. All the aforementioned issues have gone away. We paid $US5000 for the car last October. A week ago we would have been lucky to get $3000. Today I would ask $6500. The repairs cost just over $200.
So the two weeks were voted a resounding success. Over 250 bird species. All the arrangements worked out. The lodges delivered comfort and great food. We survived the roads and other drivers. We saw some parts of Uganda few tourists visit and had some exciting wildlife experiences. The three boat trips were all different but great value. The hire car was a great safari vehicle and the fact that it was 25 years old just added to the traditional African safari feeling - if it was an old Land Rover it would have been perfect.
Six weeks now of school then Rob and Lou Drummond from Hamilton arrive in late June to join us on a three week safari to western and northern Uganda with Gorillas!
For more photos (birds mostly) see my Flickr site.