Here’s the latest update based on our phone conversation with Laurel:
The chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park was great! We saw a lot of chimps and heard their calls. We could get as close as about 10 feet before they scampered off. We did the tracking just in time too, because as soon as we finished it started to pour! While in Kibale, we met up with one of Laurel’s friends who attended the United Nations University with her. Her friend works with the NGO Unite which does a lot of work with conservation education and training. The students enjoyed asking her all kinds of questions, including what’s being done in Uganda with environmental education and what it’s like to live as a foreigner there.
Next it was on to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The landscape we saw on our drive there was amazing. We were within sight of the Rwenzori mountains and could see huge peaks and the mist coming off the mountains. Here, on the border with the Congo, you really feel WAY inside of Africa. At the park, we saw a lot of elephants and an incredible sunrise. On our boat ride in the Kazinga channel, we saw hippos and water buffalo. Unlike many other protected parks, there are still villages here along the channel where people continue to live and fish according to traditions passed down for many generations. We were able to stop the boat in one village and make a short visit.
In general, we have been seeing so much wildlife: tons of birds, many many elephants, and a lot of kobs (really big gazelles) and warthogs. We’ve also been having really good weather with gorgeous full moons.
Another highlight of the Uganda trip has been the lessons that the students have been teaching. Each person picked a topic and taught it to the rest of us and then listened to feedback. We have learned a lot of really interesting things like sign language, the significance of circles, yoga, art, public speaking, etc.
There are a number of differences between Uganda and Kenya, most of which are subtle and hard to explain. A few that are easier to express outright are: 1) Uganda doesn’t feel as populated as Kenya and 2) Kenyans are crazy about drinking tea, but Ugandans typically drink coffee.
We just got to Lake Mburo today and are resting and enjoying the quiet and beauty before heading back to Kampala tomorrow. In a few days, we’ll be in our new homes and begin our teaching adventures!