East Africa 2011: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda & Rwanda travel blog

Queen Elizabeth National Park Game Drive Photos

Kazinga Channel Boat Safari Photos

The final game drive of this Africa trip for me. Kevin warned us multiple times not to have very high expectations for this Park. Queen Elizabeth National Park covers 770 square miles but it does not have the varied and numerous wildlife populations that we’d seen in Serengeti or Maasai Mara. This is in part due to past animal poaching and the history of Uganda where animals were either killed or left in search of food.

We were not to expect to see Lions or Cheetahs or any of the cats. Kevin didn’t lie; there was not much to this game drive. We came across a few giraffes and elephants in the distance and varied species of the Antelope family, buffalos and warthogs but unfortunately not enough to keep the excitement level up.

We did stop at an overlook of a lake where you could see how the ground where the water level had dropped was salt and all the workers harvesting it. I spoke about the high mineral content of the lakes throughout the Rift Valley in a previous entry.

I’m embarrassed to say that for the first time I actually fell asleep during a portion of the game drive and given that I wasn’t startled awake by people jostling for position to get photos, I must not have missed much while asleep. Kevin would later say to a group of us that this game drive is the hardest one he has to do on any of the game drive locations because there is just nothing going on and it’s hard to stay interested and focused.

The plan for the day was the morning game drive and then back to the camp for brunch and an afternoon break before we headed for a boat ride on the Kazinga Channel later in the afternoon.

Back at the camp I created a spot to sit and write with two chairs close enough to the outlet since I had to simultaneously write and charge up the iPhone. Ru and some others were working away on their laptops nearby as well and then another group were over the other side of the room on the couches.

I had plugged in the iPod to try to help drown out the chatter so I could get through some writing, now so far behind on my updates when I looked up and noticed that everyone was looking in my direction, well actually behind me and talking about something. So of course natural reaction is to look for what they were looking at, I turned my head and then almost jumped out of my chair. There trying to find some shade in the doorway behind me were three baby goats. Obviously, not frightening but until my brain registered what they were my reaction was simply to the fact that there was some kind of animal right next to me.

At the appointed time we all loaded the truck back up and headed to the boat launch for our ride on the channel. The Kazinga channel is said to contain the world’s largest concentration of Hippos. We boarded the boat and the captain gave us all instructions about the number of people that were allowed to go stand on the roof of the boat and how we all needed to keep the boat balanced. I’m sure everyone can guess how well his instructions were followed. The best part being; while we were busy all moving from side to side rocking the boat to get photos of the Hippos, we were not wearing the life jackets provided and some of us also had a mug of rum and coke for the ride. Although if I were to have fallen in with the Hippos, I think I’d prefer to be drunk.

I believe I’ve already said it but the Hippos are crazy! They are so enormous and we trolled by hundreds of them just lazing around near the shore of the Channel with only the tops of their heads bobbing out of the water. We were all on the lookout for the money shot – a picture of a Hippo in full yawn with all its enormous ivory teeth showing and the full size of it’s mouth on display. By the end of the ride I think we all managed to get at least one.

Ru was irritating the Hippos by mimicking their snorting and I think on a couple occasions a few of the Hippos were contemplating a charge. They would snort back and just generally look irritated. As has been the case whenever we see Hippos out of the water, when we came up next to a group on the shore, they all ran right back into the water.

Along the shore of the Channel we also saw a small family of elephants, a few young ones even got a bit testy and were either have a bit of a play or argument, I wasn’t sure which. When we sailed by another elephant that was wandering along on its own, he took offense and picked up the pace and tried to get away from us.

There were also Buffalo along the shore and the captain mentioned that it wasn’t normal to only see a couple of them off on their own and that it was likely that one of them challenged another male over a female and lost and was therefore cast out of the group and would be left to wander alone.

It was a beautiful day and the ride was gorgeous. We kept a lookout for some Lions but only managed to spot one female up high on a hill. But there was an abundance of bird life along the Channel as well.

It was a quiet night with no Hippo visitors!

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