However, there's more to QENP than meets the eye. Indeed, we got a rather different perspective on our most recent visit to western Uganda. As is often the case, accompanying visitors to an area means that you see different things and see the same things differently. For a start, we approached the area from an unfamiliar road. Once at Mbarara, instead of continuing up by Bushenyi, through the savannah and across the Kazinga channel, we took the Ibanda turning and drove due north to Kamwenge.
|Gambians Lynn, Tawsu and Materr at the equator on the Mbarara road|
Now, however, the Gambians' astonishment knew no bounds. Instead of a modest minor country road, a broad tarmac thoroughfare (one of only about five in Uganda) stretched all the way to the small town of Ibanda, a road shared only by a scattering of banana lorries, a few herds of cows, the odd boda boda and us!
|Volcanic core on the road to Kamwenge.|
|For Stuart, not much different from driving in the Highlands|
|Chickens enter by the back door|
|One alternative to school...|
|What's going on here?|
|Mmm...Mint Imperials, our favourites...|
Our visit to Lake George was supposed to be a quick detour of a few minutes en route to a couple of primary schools. Visitors rarely get a view of Lake George beyond a glance from a boat on the Kazinga Channel which joins it to Lake Edward.
However, we were lucky enough to be able to visit a fishing village at the opposite side from the Kazinga Channel, miles from anywhere. The boats had already been out on the lake and brought back their catch.
|Talapia in banana fibre basket|
|Fishing village with wood-burning stoves in the centre mid distance.|
|Another alternative to school...|
|Maribou stork on the look out for scraps|
|Black-and-white sacred ibises with huge curved beaks searching for shell fish|
|Brown hamerkop looking for any left overs|
Easier said than done, however. Fred aimed for the road, accelerated...and stopped. The pick up was stuck in the mud for it had rained the night before. Very embarrassing. No matter how much we revved the engine, we would need help.
But where was the Landcruiser? Ah, there....
|Meanwhile our Landcruiser sank ever deeper - well and truly stuck|
|Watching was certainly more interesting than going for water|
|A bit frightening, those strange mzungus|
|Mmm, she has some doubts.|
|Stuart and Edith wisely standing clear.|
We were soon on our way again, rather late, to be sure, but then this is Uganda: everyone's late all the time! And we were all happy: Stuart and I would not have to own up to Derek, our Link boss, that his precious Landcruiser was at the bottom of a swamp; the children had got to see exotic mzungus at close quarters, a rare treat; and the fishermen had ended up with a bit more money for beer. Above all, our Gambian friends had got to see that Uganda is not just nice restaurants, tarmac highways and beautiful scenery. It is also muddy, dirt-poor villages and execrable country roads.
But yes, it is beautiful, all the same.
If you would like to read about our more conventional visits to QENP, you may find the following posts interesting:
Speechless in Kazinga
On safari through Uganda's Great Rift Valley