Uganda

January 2, 2014

This hippo did not like having visitors and pretended for a second to charge us.
Don't think I'd ever seen a hippo in the wild that was not submerged.

Young Winston Churchill, after visiting British colonies in Africa, famously called Uganda "the pearl." It has lakes, fertile land, and is elevated enough to have fairly mild weather all year long.
Above is the view of a corner of Lake Victoria (the largest lake in Africa) from my Kampala hotel's hilltop.

Uganda, like Burkina Faso, has had a single ruler for over a quarter century, Yoweri Museveni. But Uganda's most infamous tyrant was Idi Amin, who ruled only eight years in the 1970s but killed some 300,000 people.

A half mile down the hill from the Mengo Palace is one of Idi Amin's old torture and killing chambers.

I'd been on safaris in Kenya and South Africa, so I didn't plan a big safari in one of Uganda's more prominent national parks.

Instead, on the road from Kampala to Rwanda, I stopped off for two nights at a camp in the less famous Lake Mburo National Park for a mini-safari. This park was not overrun with hundreds of Land Rovers and had a nice low-key ambiance.

One morning I joined knowledgeable park ranger Lawrence (plus rifle) and we walked a quarter mile down the hill from my tent. Everywhere we looked Africa put on a private show for us.

Kobs stroll past zerbras.
Impalas graze near waterbuck.
This is Uganda's only park with impalas.
The capital Kampala got its name from the impalas that were common there.

Left: dangerous Cape Buffalo
Right: Two topis battle for supremacy

It was a thrill.
And having it all to myself that morning, with the ranger's excellent narration, made it even more exhilarating.

Also took a boat ride around Lake Mburo.
A pod of hippos always look awfully conspiratorial in the water.


I'll stop with these highlights, rather than post dozens more photos of birds, warthogs, oribi, and so forth.

I do have to add one more animal that a Texas farmboy thinks is pretty impressive ― the Ankole longhorn cattle (aka Watusi) found in this part of Africa.

Those huge horns can grow to over three feet long and look like they belong on wild, ferocious beasts, not domesticated cattle.

Left: These two boys came over to introduce themselves and welcome me to Uganda.
Right: Sunset on Lake Mburo (January 1, 2014)