More than a month into my second summer in Africa, I finally went on my first safari. It was so wonderful! Instead of booking a tour with a safari company, we hired a private driver, and we went to Lake Mburo National Park. Lake Mburo is in the southwest of Uganda, towards the border with Tanzania. It is the home to many zebras, warthogs, impalas, hippos, crocodiles, water eagles, water buffalo, leopards, giraffes, and more! We went on a game drive to see the park animals, and then we took a boat ride on the lake. On the boat ride we saw crocodiles sunning themselves in the sun, and eagles diving into the water for fish. We watched the sun set over the hills in the background of the lake, and then we ate dinner in a restaurant that is right on the water. The restaurant had more mosquitos than I would have thought possible. I even picked them out of my food in between each bite. One of the people I went with gave up on avoiding the mosquitos and began just mixing them into his soup so he couldn’t see them as he ate them.
After dinner, we tried to watch the hippos come out of the lake to graze, but we were unsuccessful. I learned that hippos are nocturnal animals, so they sleep underwater during the day to avoid getting sunburnt, and at night, they come out to graze. We missed seeing any hippos emerging from the water, but while we were driving back to our tents, we saw a few along the road!
During the night we had a bonfire under the stars. Because of our location in the national park, and the fact that very few places have electricity in such a remote location, the night sky was breathtaking. I have never seen so many stars in my life. The next morning, we tried again to see the hippos, this time as they were returning to the water to sleep for the day. We missed them again, though. It turns out that despite their enormous size (the biggest hippo at Lake Mburo is 3000 kg), they are incredibly sneaky animals! We could hear them snorting and moving around in the bush nearby, but we never saw them get into the water. We had one more game drive around the park, and then it was time to head home. I was really sad to leave Lake Mburo, but then I’ve been sad to leave everywhere I have visited in Uganda so far.