Friday, November 3, 2017

Intrepid Travel Gorillas & Game Parks - Day 7

And indeed there were hippos in the night through the camp, with evidence left behind. Just as well it had been mind over bladder in the stilly watches.
We set off early again for another game drive through the park but though we saw some wildlife, we spent much more time gazing at lush green vegetation while bumping and lurching along the side roads. Rainy season is the wrong time of year for good game viewing, that’s just the way it is, but it’s still hard not to feel some disappointment.
We did though get close up to a solitary bull elephant, who was feeding right beside the road and then crossed behind us. Elephants here look much darker than I’ve seen elsewhere, but that’s probably because of the deep red soil here that they happily cake themselves with as sunblock and tick eradicator. It’s always splendid to get up close to such a magnificent animal.
There was waiting while administration was done, or at least attempted in the absence of a working generator; and shopping. The group Shopper has identified herself and is happily accumulating a mass of souvenirs, many of which are tempting even to a shopaphobe like me. I’m holding out for a carved gorilla in Rwanda.
In the interests of full disclosure, it has to be said that there is growing dissatisfaction with our guide Edwin, who began very serviceably but has become oddly sullen and silent over the last couple of days, leaving us wondering if we have somehow offended him. He’s answering questions, but not talking to us at all, and there is already dark muttering about his not getting a tip. Ben the driver and OT the cook, all agree, are doing their jobs splendidly.
After a highly starchy lunch – chips, plantain bananas and beans (we’re doing it African today) – we headed out again to take a cruise along the canal that joins Lakes Edward and George. It was a birder’s delight – from pelicans to pied kingfishers and heaps in between; and also well supplied with wallowing buffalo, sunbathing crocodiles and mostly submerged hippos. 
The challenge here for me was to get the cliché shot of the yawn, and I missed it again and again; but finally, you’ll be relieved to hear, cracked it. And just in time: then the rain came, and wind, and the windows were rolled down so that all we could see were the terns and kingfishers following the boat, hovering and diving on the fish our engine was stirring up in the shallow water.
On the way back to camp, we encountered a solitary bull in the road – a one-elephant jam – and politely watched while he drank from the puddles on the road and eventually moved out of the way. So after a fairly blank morning, we ended the day feeling pretty well served with wildlife.
Dinner was more African fare – maize meal, chapatti, lentils and lamb – and then everyone repaired to the open-sided bar to talk about Tasmanian devils, kangaroos and koalas, amongst other things, in light so dim that faces were invisible. Tomorrow we have – surprise! – an early start before a 250km drive to our destination, Lake Bunyoni.

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