While in Uganda, we took advantage of the fact that we were driving across the country and planned a small detour after visiting the Gorillas to drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park. Famous and expansive as the Serengeti ’tis not, but beautiful it certainly was in its own right.
We witnessed a truly drop-dead gorgeous landscape, with scenery that would make any Hollywood director jealous to the core. The Diploman kept saying, “this is what I imagine when I picture Africa“. It had a lot to do with the light, which was gorgeous and plentiful, and also the weather, cool and comforting, and finally the trees: majestic, umbrella-like beauties home to dozens of bird species. We didn’t see many cats or dogs, but plenty of elephants and monkeys, and after dark we were amazed at how many hippo sightings we were privy to on the banks of the rivers next to the main roads. What strange, huge, and blubbery creatures!
After an overnight at the park’s Hippo Hill Lodge, we organized a river ‘cruise’ the following day—getting us closer to hippos than normally would have liked. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the famed national bird, the Ugandan Crane, beady blue eyes, mohawk and all.
We also saw herd after herd of water buffalo and lining the banks of the river, and learned (witnessed, too) that the older adult male water buffaloes are exiled from their herds after a certain age; these small clan of 5-10 old elder states-buffalo wind up living together in retirement-home-like groups down the banks from the rest of the groups, giving proof (and a bit of relief from guilt) that we humans aren’t the only ones who disregard our elders.
We cruised down the river until we witnessed the DRC horizon just beyond us. We saw a local village, existing in the area far before designation of park borders and thus who were left in relative peace— as peaceful as one would be surviving among hundreds of pods of hippos, I suppose.
Africa, you always trick me with your crime-ridden statistics and your dusty, packed cities, but ultimately you win– big wins, for your majesty, your gentle giants, and your natural grace.