Yesterday we had the amazing opportunity to embark on a safari! It was an early rise at 5:30 am to make it onto the safari trucks for 6:30am, just in time for sunrise. Immediately, in the cool Ugandan morning, we got to see loads of animals going about their morning routines.
One of the coolest animals, in my opinion, was the Water Buck, which were very abundant when driving. We got super close to the Water Buck, and I didn’t realize how huge they could be! In fact, all the animals we saw were bigger than expected, especially the Water Buffalo and the Elephants.
On the evening game drive, we had the crazy experience of seeing not 1, but 7 lions! The first one we saw was walking through the tall grass, coming maybe 6 feet from our truck. The other 6 lions we found in a tall cactus tree, honestly just being super lazy and overall ignoring us.
The lion experience was probably the most surreal experience because up close, at least for me, I couldn’t even believe that a freakin’ LION was almost within arms reach. Everyone was super stoked after that encounter, and our tour guides were pretty excited as well, seeing as that many lions are usually super hard to find.
It got crazy hot really quickly, but even that wasn’t enough to draw us off the safari truck roofs. Among the animals I mentioned above, we also saw many Antelopes, Warthogs and Hippos (on our water safari). Personally, the most amazing animal we got to see were the Elephants! I was most excited to see them, and honestly they did not disappoint!
The Elephants were SO HUGE, beautiful and strong. We got super close to them in the safari truck, and while watching them they were just eating. Our driver told us that Elephants eat 300 KGs of food a day, taking up 20 hours per day, and leaving 4 hours only to sleep!
Their beauty, as well as their strength, blew me away as they stomped gracefully across the grass. While approaching the Elephants, we actually saw one of them start to charge one of the other safari trucks, as it got too close. We all laughed as the driver of that truck wasted no time in stepping on the gas. We also got to see elephants while driving on the main road, far off in the distance, as well as one elephant super close on our boat safari.
On the boat, we got the chance to see loads of Hippos (Which are called School’s of Hippos) and even a few Crocodiles. Although the Crocodiles are super strong with the ability to drag even Water Buffalo into the water, the Hippos are actually the kings of the river, being able to snap crocodiles in half!
At the end of the boat tour, we saw a loan elephant right beside the river as it was eating. Again, I was blown away, but super surprised when the elephant turned around and didn’t have a tail. The boat driver guessed that it has lost its tail in a fight with another elephant, as the males fight often over females.
Finally, this morning we got to go on another amazing adventure – CHIMPANZEE TRACKING! Every single second was amazing, beautiful and intense. We walked through a Ugandan Tea farm, which was beautiful, to get to the rainforest where we started our trek. All of our guides had big machetes, and they literally bushwhacked their way into the dense forest.
Almost immediately we saw chimps and other monkeys in the trees, grooming each other and eating fruit (which they dropped on us afterwards). The rainforest was probably just as awesome as the monkeys in my opinion. The trees were stunning, and the sounds to be heard were something out of a movie. After an hour of seeing the chimps, our guides led us through the forest for another 30 minutes as we walked back to the main site. We even saw Baboons at the main site while waiting to leave!!
In all, this safari experience has exponentially expanded my love for nature and the world (if that’s even possible) and I'm still processing some of the things I had the opportunity to see. Safaris are exactly the way I want to see animals in the world (not in Zoos) and I can honestly say that this whole experience so far has just filled me up with love for the world and an urge to share my new knowledge, as well as passion.
PS: Hey mom, dad, Jake and Kata. My phones not working, but Africa’s real cool :)
Kaleigh Bunting, West Vancouver Secondary School
March 21, 2016
Photos by Ghazal Habib, Insight Program Director