Friday, July 24, 2009
by Emily Darling

A little extra sleep came our way because we did not have to eat breakfast until 6 instead of 5:45, although the sun was still down so it did not feel that much later. We had our first breakfast at the Mountains of the Moon Hotel and it was quite delicious. They fruit was excellent as were the potatoes. However, Hailey and Lauren did not have warm water in their showers so their mornings started off with a bit of a freeze. We then loaded the busses and started the 3 hour trek to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Along the way, we got a little scare when a hissing noise started coming from the front of the bus, we stopped, the bus driver checked it, then we continued on towards the park. About halfway to the park we stopped right on the equator. We stopped and took pictures of all of us putting a leg on each side of the bar so we were in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere at the same time. Andy even got a bit more adventurous and decided to go answer the call of nature in two hemispheres at the same time! After everyone taking pictures with the signs we loaded back onto the buses and continued onto the park. Along the way we saw some Water Bucks and some Ugandan Colbe on the roadside. We then arrived at the gate to Queen Elizabeth National Park. We got off the buses and headed to a little roadside gift shop that a young Ugandan lady was running. Some just browsed; others actually bought some souvenirs with their shillings. The shop was full of really nice stuff that was also quite cheap. We then proceeded to board a boat called Simba and put on our flattering orange life jackets. After settling down on the bottom deck of the boat our guide Bernard began telling us quick facts about what we were going to see. We set off on our lake voyage and first came to some Hippopotamus then were hiding in the water. Then we took off and all of a sudden, Barnard says he sees one of the few and elusive leopards of the park asleep in a tree!

Throughout the rest of our voyage we saw some large elephants and baby elephants at very close proximity, many types of unusual birds, huge water buffalo and even some crocodile! After about a 2 and a half hour boat ride we return to the docks and reload the buses to head to lunch. We had the choice of chicken or fish and both came with fried potatoes and a very salty slaw. We sat on an outdoor patio and there were two warthogs dining right next to us. We then hit the dirt roads to continue our bumpy safari through Queen Elizabeth Park. We saw lots of Ugandan Colbe and antelopes. What we all wished for finally happened…our scout found a lion! We follow her off the road (and we are not supposed to) and travel through knee-high grass. Then we spot on another sickly lioness! Unfortunately, this lion had been attacked by a bull and you could see her bones exposed and cuts everywhere. Then, we spot a mother walking away with a bloody animal in her mouth. Then we see three little cubs following her for their dinner! We stop only about 20 feet from the mamma lion and the cubs! We took picture quickly and then quickly left, we did not want to get stopped by the park rangers. We eventually make is out of the 2nd largest national park in Africa and started to head towards the hotel; However, the hissing in continuing in the front of our bus. The hissing then turns into a loud pop so we have to pull over to the side of the road. We break down on the edge of a town and it starts to get hot inside the bus while the boys are trying to fix it (with the little pocket utility knife Claire’s dad gave her for the trip!) so we all get out and stand on the side of the road and all of a sudden a bunch of kids start to gather around us so we start talking to them and asking them if they were coming home from school because they were in uniforms. And then all of a sudden Andy says “Hey Claire, look over there.” However, I turned around first, as just as I did I see an adult Ugandan male chopping off the leg of what looked like a goat. It was completely traumatizing. Then another crazy thing happened! After another 15 minutes they say we are good to go, so we load back onto the bus. But, as we do, someone throws an empty water bottle out the window and the children flock to it like its candy. So we then decided to throw all the empty water bottles out to the kids so they could fill them up. It was so sad to see a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds fighting for an EMPTY water bottle. We threw out many and a happy frenzy ensued.

We then take off and about 10 minutes down the road we break down again. We get out, although there are only a couple of kids around this time. Lauren and Hailey make friends…again. We play some silly games and then all of the sudden the bus is filled with smoke from the broken radiator hose. As this happens, typical teacher Claire passes time by asking one of the kids if she can see his school books to see what he is learning and talks to him about his school. Lauren and her new friends then start making funny faces and taking pictures. We load the buses again and Andy says “I give it 3 miles to break down again.” Less than a mile down the road, it breaks down for a third time! This time was much quicker. We didn’t even get off the bus. We then make it all the way back to the hotel and everyone is starving and needing a bathroom. We were all covered in a coating of dust and had enough of the 5 speed bumps in a row every 40 feet on the way home…back of the bus…we were airborne sometimes! This was probably the most exciting day of our trip so far! Heading off to Tororo tomorrow! Good night all.

by Renee Roberts:

Today was so exciting because we were able to stop at the Queen Elizabeth National Park on our way to Torroro and True Vine. There at the park we had an all day safari adventure! I wasn’t sure what we would be seeing, but I’d heard a lot of great things about this location. Apparently, it is the site that Disney modeled the Jungle Cruise after. Let’s just say that Disneyland didn’t do it justice!

We first went on a boat ride around Victoria Lake. We saw so many hippos, and elaphants, lots of water buffalo, worthogs, all kinds of beautiful birds, and we even saw a leopard sleeping in a tree (which we were told was very rare)! Next was safari on land in our buses. This terrain reminded me a lot of “The Lion King”, a lot more dry than places we had been so far. Here we saw a lot of antelope, which were beautiful to see running along our bus. The most exciting part of the land safari was when we saw lions! We had to go off-roading a bit (but if any Afircan officials ask you, we were on the road the whole time… hehe) to see them; I saw two females, and two babies. One of the females was eating an antelope. Nature at it’s finest! :-) All-in-all, the safari was a once in a life experience that will be fun to relive when we get home as well and share all of our amazing pictures!

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