Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lake Mburo National Park - Days 2-3

Day 2 at Mihingo started with an early morning knock on the door with coffee and Coke (my caffeinated beverage of choice).  We dressed quickly and headed for the car park for a morning game drive.  We were in the park by 6:30 and had a pleasant two hour drive.  No big surprises, but we did have fun watching a buffalo use his horns to dig himself a perfect mud hole and then proceed to coat himself with the stuff. 

After a hearty breakfast we all went in different directions; I went part of the way to the lodge's hide, but I hadn't realized quite how far it was and was in flip flops and didn't have sunscreen, so I opted to head back.  I spent a couple hours trying to nap, falling asleep minutes before my alarm went off.  There was intense thunder at this point, which was worrying for the later activities.  It held off apart from a drizzle though.

We met back up for a late lunch and lounged until it was time to head to the lake.  We arrived early, bought our boat trip tickets, and had sundowners in a little lakeside cafe.  I got close to a warthog who was busy eating his fill of grass to try and get some good photos, but he apparently didn't notice how close and did a mock charge at me when he did.  No contact, thankfully, and we both went on our way.

Our boat trip on Lake Mburo was very pleasant - lots of hippos active, one baby crocodile, and a lot of birds.  We didn't see the elusive shoebill, sadly, but we saw numerous fish eagles and hundreds of pied kingfishers.  It was quite a sight to see tree branches literally bowing under the weight of dozens of kingfishers.

The highlight was a two week old baby hippo who didn't have much lung capacity and kept bobbing up and down in the water.  Many attempts at photographs were made, none were successful.  S/he was quite the charmer!

We headed back to the lodge after the boat ride, enjoying the sunset in the park.  We saw a peculiar red light near the lodge as we exited the park and came up with all kinds of theories of what it might be.

When we reached the lodge, we hurried down to the bushbaby platform to meet the resident bushbaby family.  They've been coming out to get fruit (papaya) every night at 8pm for five years and are relatively 'tame'.  Bushbabies don't have eyelids and are exceptionally sensitive to light, so no flash photography was allowed.  A guide had a bag of papaya pieces and a red light to illuminate the animals, which were on the platform's fence.

Sarah the bushbaby was the only one we saw, her having chased her teenage daughters farther up the tree just before our arrival.  Their crime: wanting papaya.  Sarah doesn't like to share and is, apparently, not the world's best mother. 

After Sarah had her allotted papaya and headed back into the tree, we headed back up to the dining area for dinner.  We were joined by another American we knew tangentially from Kampala, and it was a pleasant evening.

Neither my roommate nor I slept well that night, kept awake by a herd of zebra at the salt lick.  At several points it sounded like they were very close, so I got up to investigate.  Sure enough, they were right outside the veranda but ran off when I came to the tent's screen.  A herd of zebra grazing outside your tent sounds exactly like you would think it does.

I had a leisurely breakfast in the morning followed by a massage in the lodge's small spa.  Their massage proceeds go to buying livestock for local farmers who lose theirs to leopards.  Mine bought half a goat!

After a quick shower and packing, I met up with the others and we bid goodbye to Mihingo.  Our drive to Kampala was uneventful, thankfully, except for the interest of the additional roadside butchers with their prepared goats, sheep, and cows for the next day's Eid festivities.  Every small town had dozens of animals on display, live and dead, ready for the holiday.  Quite interesting to watch, reminding me of Eids al-Adha in the Middle East.

We got home before rush hour (it was a work day for everyone else) and had the added bonus of a holiday the next day as well.  What a lovely weekend getaway, highly recommended.  Lake Mburo is not a high thrills safari park, but Mihingo is lovely, and the park has plenty of game to view. 

Fuzzy baby zebra to start the morning

He put on a lovely mud show for us

Unusual antler directions

Formerly a zebra

Guinea fowl!

A camera-shy Topi, one of many

Ahh, zebras running in the road


The idyllic view from Mihingo

Our own private impala herd

My tent's exterior

The main room's interior - impala visible through the far screen (if you look closely)



About 3 seconds before he charged me...

Weaver birds


African fish eagle

Ibis (I forget which type)

Baby (but not the littlest baby; though still cute)

So many kingfishers!

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