Queen Elizabeth National Park

Wiki here as I wasn’t able to find any local site/reference. The Park is located 375 km westerly from Kampala as the Jeep travels. It is noted for serious numbers of mammalian species and lots of birds.

I’m holding out for a leopard…..

Meanwhile

Flame tree with locally believed medicinal properties

Flame tree with locally believed medicinal properties

As you drive along the roads in Uganda in those rare areas where there are no houses you could be almost anywhere in the world. Anywhere that British driving rules apply. For the most part the roads are two lanes with a yellow painted line down the middle to suggest that keeping to your side might just be a good idea. There are ditches on both sides, green grass, occasional wire fences, trees and bushes. It is raining this morning leading to fogged windshields, huge puddles and a significant decrease in traffic.

The cars, trucks and buses are still on the roads. What is missing is the rest. The Bodas are not on the roads nor are the taxis. It is raining, no one wants to stand out looking for a ride; no one certainly wants to ride exposed on the back of a motorbike. I keep mentioning them – the Bodas. If you haven’t wiki’d them – here is the information. A number of years ago at one on the inter-African borders you cleared one side then faced a significant distance of no-mans to get to the other country’s border. People got a ride to one side and had someone waiting on the other. To get between, you had to walk. Carrying packages, suitcases, small children that .5-2km could be a difficult challenge in the mid-day sun. Enter the bicycle owners. For a small fee, they would toke your “stuff’ or you from “border to border.” This became shortened to border-border and then to boda-boda. Just let the accent roll in your head. Spreading beyond the border, personal transportation is a major business. From bicycles to motor bikes to motorcycles, over the years the Bodas have become integral in a country with dense traffic.

There are a few long distance bus routes between the major cities, but city routes are non-existent . A Boda does point to point service, even door to door just for you. Share with a friend and it will cost you a bit less than going by yourself. Unlike the Taxis which run along the main roads, the Bodas seem to go just about everywhere. Some routes are individually negotiated; others have fixed prices. The 70,000 registered Bodas also contribute heavily to the goods transportation equation. Want to carry your pig to market or have it transported?  Pack several dozen kilos of green bananas on your head or have someone with a bicycle move them for your?

It is extremely expensive to have a car or truck. Most families will never have that kind of money in a country where the annual family income is 1350$/US. Even with oil assets, the fuels are refined in Kenya and trucked back in order the road. At more than the = of 1$/E a liter, it is not as expensive as all of us assume but well more than most can afford.  Remember, this is a country where most everyone does laundry by hand and hangs it out on the roof/a fence/a line/trees.

Where was I? Oh yes, riding shotgun in a bus along the Mbarara-Kasese Road in the rain.

The leading edge of the Tea "Estate"

The leading edge of the Tea “Estate”

The rain effectively stopped as we headed deeper into the mountains. This is a volcanic area studied with crater lakes (well stocked often with both hippos and schistosomiasis) and heavily agriculture plantings of banana and tea. There are huge tea plantations covering extensive tracts and the mountain sides with terraced plantings much where I would expect to see vineyards at home.

acres and acres of tea

acres and acres of tea

All of which is being harvested by hand

All of which is being harvested by hand

Winding through the mountains we stopped and looked down

The Rift Valley

The Rift Valley

The main road runs through park of Queen Elizabeth Park – we entered at the Katunguru Gate. Along the drive to the Mweya Safari Lodge some of the usual suspects presented themselves: Hippo, Elephant & Striped Mongoose to be specific.

Baboon

Baboon

Waiting for a ride?

Waiting for a ride?

I didn’t take any pictures of Fisheagles since I have seen more than a few of those before. We are going to do a drive late this afternoon which should prove to be interested. The roads are fairly decent; rules are that you stay on the road so why not go in your comfortable bus where everyone is at a decent height and can take photos out the window?

Candelabra Tree

Candelabra Tree

Hippo out grazing

Hippo out grazing

And if you don't believe they are around...

And if you don’t believe they are around…

May I present a striped Mongoose...

May I present a striped Mongoose…

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