Lions and hippos and crocs, oh my!

We spent a couple nights in Murchison Falls National Park before returning to Kampala this evening. The first thing we saw when we pulled off the main road, before we had even passed through the park gate, was a small group of elephants.

A little bit of back story: one of my early memories is of when my family went to the Cleveland Zoo, and I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing elephants. It was that feeling of excitement when your heart is pounding up in your throat, and your eyes are huge, and the air seems too thick to breathe. So my little girl self was hugely disappointed to look into the elephant pit and find it empty, since the elephants were on tour.

Some 15 years later, seeing elephants in real life, eating leaves from African trees instead of pacing around a pit in Cleveland, Ohio, was pretty exciting. The rest of our time there followed suit. There were not a lot of other tourists there, and even fewer Americans, but that made the experience more enjoyable. Beyond being able to enjoy the sights without unwanted company, I felt unencumbered by the loud and obnoxious reputation of the American Tourist.

On Saturday afternoon, we took a boat ride along the Victoria Nile to the foot of Murchison Falls, passing spectacular landscapes and wildlife along the way. While on the boat, I turned around to ask the couple behind me how it was on the roof of the boat, since they had just returned from there. I realized–after I had already asked–that I had automatically spoken with a “Ugandan” accent, enunciating everything very distinctly and rounding most of the vowels. And they were definitely not Ugandan. At first they just stared at me, and I thought, Good! Either they’re foreigners and they don’t speak English, or they’re American and are trying to figure out which exotic location I’m from! … but then they answered me in very good English, with distinct German accents. Rather than switch my accent, I decided to just continue and hope they wouldn’t realize the truth or think I was making a pitiful attempt to copy their accents.

We only spoke for about 60 seconds, so life was great–until we were about to leave from the ferry in our van, and the tour guide asked if we could give a lift to a couple people who were staying at the same lodge. Of course it was the German couple, and I sat next to them in the front bench the entire drive back. I’m telling myself that, over the noise of the van on a bone-rattling washboard of a road, they would not have noticed my change in accent.

I’ve pulled just a few photos from the weekend for now; I have another 900ish to go through!

We saw some small animals, like this Kingfisher:

Or this monkey, which was looking for its mama and debating whether to jump up or down:

And we definitely saw some larger animals:

We may or may not have discovered this lion through ways a little more adventurous than the dirt track, straying from which is a “suicide mission” and a “police case,” as our guide ranger termed it–in the same breath directing us onto said alternative grassy routes:

And I think this is one of my favorite shots from the entire weekend:


2 thoughts on “Lions and hippos and crocs, oh my!

  1. I was wondering if you would see hippos on this trip! You probably don’t remember the hippos at the Cleveland zoo, with the baby ducklings walking on their backs. Loved the giraffe photo! Mom

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