We are all packed up and ready to roll in a four door Rav 4! Yes, you heard right. I’ve swapped my two wheels for four in the coming month as my Auntie Chriss from Australia arrived into Entebbe airport a couple of days ago. We have had a hectic two days trying to arrange car hire and Gorilla Permits. Gorilla Permits are notoriously hard to get and most people have to book weeks if not months in advance. Luckily for my Auntie, Mike had a trick up his sleeve and we headed straight across town to another popular backpackers to book the permit through them. Some of you will remember that my Auntie Chriss came to visit me in Pakistan almost a year ago and all in between the running around my Auntie and I talked nonstop trying to catch up with a year’s worth of news in just a couple of days, forgetting we will be together for the next three weeks.
The plan for the following week is to do a loop in the south of Uganda, heading through Queen Elizabeth National Park, down to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and then take the quick motorway back up north to be back in Kampala to meet Mike’s sister who is planning on joining us for two weeks. We don’t have much time to lose, hence the unusual hectic two days planning and arranging everything. But as soon as we hit the road we should be back into our normal chilled out travel mode. First stop is Fort Portal, Roughly 300 km from Kampala along a slightly quieter road for the night.
We head South down to Queen Elizabeth National Park, which, as its name suggests, is named after Queen Elizabeth when she came to visit in 1954. Normally you have to pay an entrance fee of $30 USD but all public roads that cross National Parks are free. One of these roads just 10km long but there was another one that travels the whole length of the park! Without a second thought we opt for the cheap option and just use the public road to do our safari on and we aren’t disappointed! Within kilometres, we see a Black and White Colobus leap in bounds across the road. Baboons are next one the list as they scatter across the road, with the large male watching them all quietly making sure we don’t hurt any of the clan. Vervet Monkeys play in the tress around us with their bright baby blue balls on display (only on the males!) and Baboons start to become a consistent feature on the road, and we start to cry ‘not another baboon!’
Then, just as we are about to give up hope of seeing one of the big 5, there in the distance stood a large elephant. As we squint through the binoculars, one we hadn’t spotted crosses the road in front of us! What luck! This is my first African Elephant and I am teeming with excitement. Mike drives the Rav 4 closer and we get our own one-on-one time with the elephant as he stands on the side of the road and stares back at us. Then, another one decides to cross the road! We drive closer to the second one. But it quickly disappears into the bushes and we are only left with a glimpse of its tail, flicking flies away from its large bottom.
I never could imagine a three to four meter tall elephant could hide itself, but this one is fully hidden within seconds, if we hadn’t seen it walking to the bush we would never had spotted it as we drove past. So, I wonder how many elephants and lions we might have passed without any knowledge from us what so ever. We spent so much time, stopping to look at the animals, we were still in the park at night fall. We drove down a long narrow road, overgrown with savannah grass until we reached the end and found a new camp ground on the edge of a small clear stream. They quickly bent over backwards to service us an ice cold beer followed by a fire and then a yummy dinner. It was a perfect ending to our exciting day.