Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our first early morning drive into the grasslands was quite rewarding, revealing hyenas, kob, cape buffalo, monkeys, elephants, warthogs, tons of beautiful birds, and three lions in the far distance.    Little yellow weaver birds and their straw-colored nests are found everywhere, especially in trees and vegetation along the water and are always found in clusters. Kingfishers dart in and out of holes along the mud banks and African eagles perch on branches along the channel waiting for a fishing opportunity. Storks are quite large and easy to spot and the cormorants gather in large groups and are always seen facing in the same direction, a typical bird behavior.  Seeing these creatures in their natural habitat truly never gets old. 

The African crested crane was not as social, numerous or as easy to see as some of the other birds but was certainly a joy when we did! Nature has a way of putting things together creating these stunning spectacles of color and grace.

The soil here is more sandy and browner than it was in South Africa where it was a much redder earth, yet much of the vegetation is similar.  Because the lodge is located on the water and is up on a plateau where the hippos and elephants roam, the frequency of the trips to the water's edge of these behemoth creatures have cut paths in the hills that lead down to the water.  You can see evidence of this while cruising on the lake all along the coast.

A small fishing village is located along the lake, as well.  Homemade boats and nets are used to catch tilapia and other fish  and all fishing is done at night.  Because of  the presence of so many hippos, @ 2,000, the tilapia population has decreased making this once very lucrative pursuit not as profitable as before.  A constant stream of people can be seen hiking up and down the hills with jerry cans to collect the water they need for drinking, cooking, and washing.  Laundry is done in this lake, as well, but with no chemical additions being put into the water in the process.  Naturally, all laundry is hand-done by slapping the wet clothes against rocks and scrubbing them manually.  These wet clothes and fabrics are then stretched out on the ground to dry in the sun or hung on fences, trees, bushes, and, sometimes, clothes lines, too.

The cruise revealed another wildlife member not seen on game drives - the crocodile.  They are quiet, yet well-respected, reptiles among the fauna with most smaller animals understanding they are part of the circle of life and conduct themselves with caution.  Crocs can be seen sunning along the beaches of this lake among birds, elephants, hippos, and cape buffalo or quietly slipping into the water to disappear and lie in wait for their next meal.  We did not see anyone swimming.
Elephants were a constant sight and we saw all ages of these pachyderms eating, grazing, walking  and munching their way through the grasslands.  However, I have so many photos of them I am going to dedicate one post to just elephants.  It is impossible to pick just a few photos to share!

We had dinner on the patio overlooking the lake and channel accompanied by a welcome breeze,  the pretty little yellow weaver birds, the low guttural grunts of hippos and the roar of lions.  This lodge is pleasantly quiet whose international occupants are groups of people looking to explore the area, enjoy the wildlife, and discover a little bit more of Uganda and, perhaps, themselves.  These groups consist of a wide range of ages, as well, all searching together for some new memories to share.
Tomorrow we start our journey back to Kampala to spend our last night in Uganda before our flights home on Tuesday.

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