For our first full day in Kasese, we hired a driver and a guide to take us down to Queen Elizabeth National Park for a safari and boat ride. One of Jay’s friend’s sister used to live in Kasese and recommended the driver whose name was Morris. Our guide was arranged by Morris and his name was Dan. We headed out on the ~40 min drive down to the park. Dan told us a little about the history of the park on the way down.
We we arrived, we paid our fee and headed into the park. There were dirt roads and it had rained yesterday, so they were quite muddy. We slid around a lot which was kind of fun.
The first animals we saw were a huge heard of water buffalo. We learned from Dan that the weak males are run out of the heard by the strong males and become “bachelors.” The bachelors all join up and form their own heard. These are the most dangerous heards because they have already been run out of their pack, so they have “nothing to lose.”
The other large heard animal we saw were impellas. We learned from Dan that the males sat in circles with the strongest in the middle. This signaled to females which one was the strongest.
We also saw a lot of birds including Egyptian geese.
We saw many warthogs as well. They ate kneeling down on their front two legs to get the best baby grasses low down to the ground. He also told us that they are not very smart. They will run away from a predator for a couple of minutes and then just stop and forget that there was a predator in the first place.
One of the highlights of the safari drive was seeing a leopard and its cub. There were about 6 or 7 cars of people all crowded around this leopard and it’s cub taking pictures. It finally got tired of us and went up and hid in a cactus. But it was so neat to see this big cat in the wild. We didn’t see a lion, but apparently you only see them if you’re very lucky.
We drove all the way out to Lake George in Queen Elizabeth National Park. There we saw a very large pelican and a couple of schools of hippos. The hippos eat on land in the morning, and then they head back to the water and huddle in a group. Dan, our guide, said it was like a morning meeting. And once the meeting is over, the hippos will spread out in the water. I’m not sure what their morning meeting was about, but they eventually did leave and spread out around the lake.
Another very nice thing was that there were hundreds of small white butterflies throughout the park. Dan told us that butterflies were the original inspiration for fashion.
Next we drove to a salt lake where a small village of people harvest salt. There is a volcanic crater which has a source of fresh water that fills the crater. Salts from the volcano come up and mix with the fresh water. The village people buy plots and then create little salt flats. Layers of salt form when the water is evaporated by the sun. We did try some of the salt that they made which was used in the local food.
We were able to taste the salt in the Rolex (egg, vegetables, rolled in chapati which is African flat bread) we bought in the market near the village. Then we headed over to Kanzinga chanel for the boat ride.
The boat dock was next to a small fishing village, so we watched the locals get ready to go catch fish while we waited for our boat to leave. We also tried some fresh fried cat fish.
The boat ride was very cool. We saw many many hippos who would swim under the boat. They were also able to swim as fast as the boat which was impressive. We also saw elephants, a crocodile, a large lizard, water buffalo, and many birds.
After the boat ride, we ate the lunch of bread and cheese and banana chips that we had packed. We also had some beers with Morris and Dan. Then we headed back to Kasese.
On the way back, Dan showed us where we crossed the equator from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere. So we can now say that we stood on the equator.
Back in Kasese, Morris dropped off Jay, Dan, and I, and we went to go play some pool. Uganda has a lot of pool halls, so we thought it would be fun to play some games. It was America vs Uganda. I played 2 games and lost them both. Jay played the rest. In the end, the score was 8-6 with Dan winning for Uganda. Jay has already requested a rematch when we get back from our trek in 8 days. We had a great time playing and got a taste of the local pool hall scene.
Tomorrow, we will head up to the hostel at the trailhead for our Ruwenzori trek. We are really loving Uganda and are excited to see what we have in store for the trek.