Leaving Ishasha Camp, we follow the elephants, spot some colobus monkeys, find more baboons along the road, and come upon the cleanup of a big crash.  Two trucks with double trailers tipped over several days ago on a narrow road that’s under construction and has ditches instead of shoulders.  The trailers have been emptied and the contents are stacked in the road (Fanta cola in one) and today about 50 people join in with winches and wooden poles to get the trucks upright.  While we wait along with others they are successful.  Everyone cheers and we’re able to continue on the road.

 

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We see a hyena as we leave camp, but it is too dark to take photos.  Next we see cape buffalo, topis, warthogs, waterbucks, the ever-present baboons, and, finally, elephants! Our driver, Moses, leaves the trail and takes us to within 100 feet of these huge beautiful creatures.  We hear the flapping of ears and some breathing. Their tusks are bright white and they move to protect the youngest from our view.  We marvel at their magnificence.  We also befriend a praying mantis.

 

 

For our afternoon game drive, JP took us to a picnic spot on the river where we saw lots and lots of hippos in the water, snorting and splashing and cruising with just their eyes and snouts above the water line.  Soon a troop of over 30 baboons came down the road to visit and a bunch of red tail monkeys swung by overhead.  On the way back to the lodge we stopped to watch the vultures savoring the remains of a cape buffalo.   All under an endless African sky.

Our lodge, the Ishasa Wilderness Tent Camp, is in the southern, Ishasha, sector of QENP.  It’s on the Ntungwe River, with hippos, hyenas and elephants known to wander through the camp. We’re not allowed to walk outside at night without camp staff  at our side.  We have two lovely nights here, learning to use and enjoy bucket showers,with the most excitement being hippo noises by night and vervet monkeys on the roof by day.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is in the Great Rift Valley of Africa and we’re off to see animals, common and uncommon, such as the tree climbing lions of Uganda.  Soon after we enter the park, on our way to the lodge, we see three big male lions in a tree.  They’re sleeping and, from their extended stomachs, have just had a big meal.  We spot antelope, a baboon in a tree and many more on the road, lots of birds and the magnificent cloud formations in the huge African sky.

 

 

We leave Bahoma Lodge and travel north to the Isasha section of QENP.  On the way we stop at Agartha’s home for a visit to her garden house and a demonstration of turning millet into porridge.  She also explains the process of keeping food warm for men who come home late for their meals.  Their methods are madness to us women from the US. We roll our eyes.

Our adventure continued in the afternoon when we went to a Bwindi village to visit the Batwa Pygmies, a banana factory turning banana juice into beer and gin, Henry’s  coffee making business, the village store, and the community hospital founded by Dr. Scott Kellerman of CA. Our guides are Alexander and Jackson, who interpret and explain the activities.

The Batwa Pygmies were removed from the Bwindi Forest, where they’d lived for centuries,  in the 1990s because of conflicts with the gorillas. Without the forest animals and plants that they depended on, they soon began to die off.  Efforts to allow them limited access to the forest were unsuccessful; they confused to kill game animals and hide the meat in caches in the forest.  They are isolated in their designated villages and avoided by other villagers.  They are just beginning to accept medical care from the community hospital, but rely on gifts of food from tourists and others. They performed a dance for us, demonstrated their hunting skills , their way of making fire, and invited us for dinner which we graciously declined. We told them we would buy food for them, and they arrived later at the community  store to carry it home.