It was a fairly leisurely start today as we didn’t expect it to be a very long day… we were wrong. The day started with us heading into the nearby town of Fort Portal for supplies. I was on cook duty today so helped Den with shopping in the local supermarket and also bought a few things myself such as snacks and Vodka. The shopping didn’t take long as we found everything except ice in one store so we soon found ourselves walking back to the truck which had been driven to a nearby petrol station to get its tyres checked. Den headed off to find some ice while we talked to the locals at the petrol station and some police with big guns that were stationed there about our time in the country so far. In the middle of the conversation the police had to break up a fight by hitting somebody with a big stick, but were more than happy to continue talking to us after this – TIA.
We were about an hour late leaving Fort Portal as it took Den a while to find some ice but it was nice to talk to the locals and they did give us some useful facts – for example the palace on the hill was owned by the local king, part of the Portal family, after whom the town is named. Our 1 hour drive to the Queen Elizabeth National Park ended up taking almost 4, but we did get a chance to stop on the equator for a quick photo, however we were told there would be better opportunities for photos at the equator on the way back so we only stayed long enough to stretch our legs.
After the equator we floored it to the National Park and used the side gate to save time which surprised the guards who told us that almost everybody uses the main gate. After a very fast “Ferrari safari” seeing Buffalo, Elephant and a few others we had a quick lunch before checking in for our boat cruise on the Kazinga channel.
The cruise was one of the highlights of the tour so far and despite the storm that brewed half way through causing rough water and reduced visibility we managed to see lots of hippo, buffalo, birds and one lone crocodile. The majority of the buffalo were described as rejects by the guide – they had been kicked out of their herds and were sticking together for safety. Today was also the start of a running joke within the team. The guide pointed out a Palm Nut Buzzard but some of us thought it was called a Permanent Buzzard… which doesn’t sound too funny on it’s own but you had to be there to get it.
On the way back to the port we saw some fishermen setting off for a night on the lake and also saw the mountains that were just over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo which I took photos of for my collection.
After the cruise we headed up to the campsite overlooking the channel where we were greeted by a few warthogs and a Water Buck with her baby. We also ran into some rangers who were trying to track mongoose without any success – we had better success when they walked through our campsite 2 minutes after they left.
Roast beef and potatoes followed by banana and custard for dinner filled a gap after our rushed lunch trying to get to the baot cruise on time and it was also really nice to sit around the camp fire in a lovely setting chatting with the group before heading to bed just after 10pm.
The photo above is my favourite photo of the trip so far!