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Living on the Edge - a long way from the Edge


UGANDA | Monday, 22 July 2013 | Views [470]


I think that the safari has to be classified as the highlight for me because it was honestly fantastic. On the Friday we left school at 12 to get lunch at the lodge, before heading over to the Queen Elizabeth National Park at Ishasha. I decided to sit in the bus VU had hired for the occasion because it looked really comfortable, and it was. Unfortunately though, it was also the disaster bus. 
Driving from Kazuru to Ishasha we got a puncture, which we had to sit by the road to wait to be fixed. Rather than replacing the tyre, the mechanic who came to help just filled in the hole using some kind of red cylinder thing. This is important for the second day of this story!
When we finally arrived at Ishaha, the campground was actually really really nice. I think it is run by a British couple, and it had flushing loos, showers (although I didn't see them, they were advertised) and a bar which was on stilts on the middle of the field. This I was not a fan of, as anyone who is aware of my fear of heights will understand. Anyway, we arrived at the campground and immediately went on a game drive, where we were lucky enough *heavy sarcasm* to see Kob, one of Uganda's national animals. Kob are small, light brown deer, and I have seen about a million of them.
After the drive wee returned for dinner which Dennis and Elie, the cooks from the lodge, had been busily preparing for us. We ate by a fire on the banks of the river which ran alongside the campground, and as we ate we could hear hippos in the water which was kind of cool and kind of terrifying. Did you know:
Hippos can't swim; hippos can run at 30mph; and a hippo will charge if you get between it and the water, and if it does you should run first one way then the other because they can't change direction easily? You do now!
We were roasting goat kebabs on the fire, which took ages, but they smelt really good so I stayed up to wait for them, and they were definitely worth it. I'm not even joking when I say I think goat is my favourite meat now!
Shared a tent with Elise (who I'm at school with, she's from Nice and she came to the UK on an Erasmus scheme and liked it so much she transferred for good) and Becky (one of the PGCE group who arrived the week before safari who's pretty cool, she's done an R.E. PGCE and she does fire dancing in her spare time).
The next morning we got up at 5 for a dawn game drive. Breakfast was served up on the high bar, so I made Laura bring me some pineapple down. Clearly I did not learn my lesson about comfort vs good van, because once again I boarded the disaster bus. We should have known it was going to end badly when we had to be jump started to leave the campsite. We did the morning game drive and didn't see any (exciting) animals and then we started the four hour (supposedly) drive to Mweya. 
The drive to Mweya actually took us considerably longer than 4 hours. The first indication we had of this was the puncture which had been fixed repunctured, so we had to change the tyre. Then, over the course of the drive, we broke down 4 times because the engine overheated. Three of these times we had to push the bus so the driver could start it, and sometimes flag down passing cars to get them to jump start us. The fourth time we were only about half an hour from the destination, so we were collected by another driver.
The hotel at Mweya was ridiculous, it was absolutely gorgeous. Apparently, it costs $300 per night to actually sleep in the hotel, but there is also a hostel and a camp ground (where we stayed). The camp ground was a massive field with a couple of toilet and shower blocks, and when we arrived there were a couple of warthogs just wandering around, which was funny. We had missed the first boat safari which had the rest of the group on, and so we had been booked on to another one at 5pm. W arrived at 4.20, and so we had 25 minutes in which to shower and change for our fancy dinner before we had to drive back down to the boat dock. 
The river cruise was actually incredible, we saw so much wildlife. I never thought I would get bored of seeing hippos but apparently there are 200 in that stretch of river, which connects Lake George and Lake Edward which are twin tributaries of the Nile. We also saw a tonne of buffalo, some crocodiles, doves and Kob. We got back to land and we went straight up to the hotel for drinks before dinner. 
For a fancy schmancy hotel, with drinks which cost well up to £15, the cocktails were not as good as they could have been. Only one of the bar staff was able to mix cocktails, and they didn't taste great. However, the food was pretty good. It was Hannah's 19th birthday, and so Laura had organised a cake and a card for her, which was lovely when it came out after dinner.
Sunday morning at 5.15 I could hear people talking outside the tent but I was really disorientated and thought that it was another group. Was almost late for the safari but made it onto the buses for our 6am game drive. This time, getting up early totally paid off, and we saw a pride of lionesses. My camera had just died when we spotted them, but I turned the batteries over and I was good to go. Honestly, it made my trip - I've done so many safaris in the past and I've never seen a wild big cat, so to see 7 in one go was just incredible. 
We went back to the campground for breakfast and then went on another game drive back towards home. I was in the van being driven by Aggrey, and being in Aggrey's van is never good. He drives so fast and it seems like he aims for the potholes. To begin with, I was sitting on the broken front seat, which swivels round and round. However, Mathilde got a concussion from sitting on the back seat and so I volunteered to take her place because she's considerably taller than me so I thought I would be safe. I was not safe. Going over one particularly rough pothole I flew out of my seat and smacked my head on the roof. On the way down I then managed to bite both sides of my tongue until it bled, before flying back up and smacking my head into the roof again. Cue panic attack all of the way home, which I'm sure was about as much fun for everyone else as it was for me.
So, that was my safari adventure. Can't wait to post the photos when I'm home!

Tags: buffalo, elephants, hippos, lionesses, lions, nile, safari, sunset


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