Before I start talking about today, a quick note about last night. Stu and I had been granted permission to go out on boat patrol with the rangers in order to try and catch some poachers. Both of us were very excited about this prospect. However, this did not happen as at about 10.30pm we were visited by about 20 rangers (including Kulu, who was in charge while Nelson was away on business in Kampala) who bought beer, soda and a mountain of food including my much beloved goat. This was a lovely way to say ‘Goodbye’ and it was much appreciated by all of us.
Today was one of those days which moved between the sublime and the ridiculous although sublime accounted for less than 20% of the day. We were all up at 5.30am as Stu’s alarm can replicate an American fire klaxon right down to the ear shattering volume. For the last time at Hippo House I went through my morning ritual of a bottle shower, the problems of a toilet that doesn’t flush properly, my daily dose of malarone, spraying DEET all over myself and generally getting myself ready. We had to leave at 6.30am for our game drive and for this we were picked up by Tadeo and our guide for the drive, Bernard. The drive was very interesting as Bernard has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the wildlife of the park. We watched groups of Ugandan Kob move around and monitored their behaviour before we stopped suddenly as Rebecca had seen a leopard. We all turned round and got a glimpse of it, but for not long enough to take a photo. The Kob were suddenly all on alert and we waited for twenty minutes to see if the leopard would emerge from its hiding place to chase them, but no luck. We were joined in our wait by a busload full of Essex girl guides (bizarre I know) before giving up on seeing anything else happen.
While all the other groups (girl guides included) finished their drives, we stayed behind as Tadeo had a special treat for us. He said that he had to patrol off the game drive track in case there were any poachers about and after about fifteen minutes of driving we managed to find a lion, a lioness and three cubs all in close proximity to each other. We managed to get close enough to get some good photos.
We returned to Hippo House to pick up our luggage and load up the Sunshine Wagon before leaving the park. We popped into the UWA headquarters to say ‘goodbye’ which turned into a ninety minute meeting. However, I did manage to get a copy of the park’s boardgame for the school and a few curriculum ideas.
Our next destination was Kasese to pick up some money the Twinning Project had sent us as we had had to spend so much money on fuel and repairing the sunshine wagon. Finding a bank that would accept a moneygram took nearly an hour and then another half an hour to complete the transaction. And so it was that we finally left Kasese at 4.30pm for the six hour journey to Entebbe.
At first everything seemed to be going well. The northern road to Kampala and Entebbe is in better condition than the southern road and the mountain views are spectacular. However, fate was soon to intervene as we passed through a town called Kibote and the Sunshine Wagon groaned and water suddenly poured out of the radiator. Stu and I collapsed laughing, the Sunshine Wagon has been nothing but consistent throughout our trip. Fortunately, it was only a snapped clip which had released the a tube form the radiator, but it took an hour to diagnose and fix. Again we made decent progress and reached Fort Portal (290km from Kampala) by about 7.00pm. Our next incident soon followed with the back door of the Sunshine Wagon coming open as we turned a corner and sending our luggage all over the road. This time everyone laughed apart from Charles the driver.
After putting all the luggage on the back seat next to Stu we continued our journey towards Kampala. It became obvious that we weren’t going to make it to Kampala as we were all shattered, so we made a decision to drive until 11.00pm with Charles and Stu sharing the duties.
We have stopped at a hotel in a small town called Minweya, about two hours from Kampala. Stu and I have been watching the women’s 10’000m from the Olympics before hitting the sack. Tomorrow our epic journey continues. What could possibly go wrong?