7/5 First day in Uganda I got to Red Chilli hostel. Following the brightly colored tunnels boasting with African music made our way into the check-in/dining area. After we ordered dinner (let’s just say I only ate the avocado in my avocado and bacon on a toasted baguette) and drinks (did you know NILE beer was brewed by South African brewing company? Same as Miller...tear! Little piece of home!) we hit the hay. Needless to say my bug check of my room was extremely thorough even though I found a little lizard!
7/6 I arose from my bed the next morning as the sounds of monkeys, call to prayer, large birds started squawking. Anyway, had breakfast (I’m officially addicted to passion fruit) and headed 6 hours in the van to the Red Chilli campsite in Murchison Falls for our Safari. (Spoke to Brigitte and Norbert, two Germans who have traveled to Uganda 9 times! She is in finance and prompted many discussions on how to teach the women next week how to sustain their business and set themselves apart from others. It was so great to have someone to talk to about this!) We stopped in Masindi at this yummy restaurant and for only 6,000 shillings (about $3.00) I got a Coke and amazing cod fish and chips! It was delish!
7/7 After dodging the wild warthogs around my tent before I fell asleep, I woke up at 5:30am to catch the bus to the safari. We drove to the river and Sam, our driver, drove the van onto this crazy, we’ll call it, “carferry.” We hoped on with a prayer that we wouldn’t fall in along with men in army green uniforms with shotguns. I got very suspicious until we got to the other side and one of them hoped in our van and was like “hey guys, I’m a ranger for the UWA.” He carried the gun in case any of the animals threatened us so we were very happy to have him aboard. With a beautiful African sunrise in the background, we drove through the jungle and plains. One of our first sightings were 2 male lions walking right next to our van! It was insane. Words cannot describe. I learned that if you see a male lion by himself he was probably banned from his pride because otherwise he’d be with them. We also saw a ton of Antelope, Uganda kob, water buffalo (which chased one of the lions! Lions won’t attack the buffalo if they are by themselves,) giraffe, and warthog (pumbas.) We joked that we just really wanted to see an animal kill and eat another one to see the complete “circle of life.” The amount of Lion King references/puns made is quite sickening actually. All I can say about this safari is that you just have to go on one. It sounds like a phrase from the Wizard of Oz when I type it otherwise.
Back at camp for lunch, we ate some amazing rosemary lemon chicken and played the card game “Cheat” (Americans call it B.S.) with Jenny and Georgina. They are two really sweet girls I met from England who collected 20,000 books at Edinborough for schools in the area. We left for our boat safari. Saw a ton of hippos, elephants, and birds. Also saw where one of Hemingway’s airplane crashes was. They named an area after him; did you know he had 3 crashes? Learned some Swahili from our boat guide, Kenneth. Miawannaming kiboko! (I saw many hippos :) ) Back at camp practicing my Swahili, playing Trivial Pursuit with the group, eating cinnamon crepes and drinking some Smirnoff...ah life is good.
7/8 Watched the sunrise in the mist and ate some amazing fruit. As a side note, the showers are FREEZING so we all were pretty nast by the end of this whole thing...eh, when in Rome. (or Uganda.) We left for the rhino sanctuary. When we got there, we were able to see them roaming only 30 meters away! We learned a lot; did you know that there are only 80 white rhinos left in the world? Hence the sanctuary where they are trying to breed more. Even more interesting, rhinos are monogamous.
We headed back to Kampala to the hostel but on the way hit a huge pothole. I hit my head and jammed my finger but all is well. You think that Madison potholes are bad!? You haven’t seen ANYTHING like this before. Met Tara (the director for Sewing Hope) and her friend Becky for dinner. We had some street vendor Samosa and then headed to bed.