Dawn Among the Giants: A Morning in Queen Elizabeth National Park

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Sunrise on the African savanna

Awakening with the Wildlife

May 21, 2010 – Queen Elizabeth National Park. The day begins with the world still cloaked in darkness. My driver and I arrive in the park, eager to witness the first light of day. As the horizon gently blushes with the first rays of the sun, a breathtaking scene unfolds. The African savanna slowly comes to life, with herds of kob, waterbuck, and buffalo beginning their daily graze. It’s a moment of pure magic, the kind that etches itself into memory—absolutely unforgettable.

A Surprise Encounter

Amid the tranquility, a hyena and a few warthogs make a sudden appearance, darting out of the bushes and sprinting across our path. But the true highlight of the morning is yet to come. After two hours of patient searching, we are graced by the presence of a majestic elephant, his massive tusks a testament to his age and wisdom. He moves silently between the Acacia trees, a solitary figure against the vastness of the plain.

I manage to capture a few photographs, but soon I lower my camera, choosing to simply watch him in awe until he vanishes into the horizon.

The Elusive Kings of the Jungle

Our quest continues as my driver tirelessly navigates the park, occasionally pausing to communicate with other safari drivers via radio. The lions, usually a common sight in this region, remain elusive. Despite the growing heat and the sun reaching its zenith, my driver’s determination mirrors my own—we both yearn for a glimpse of the majestic felines.

As the day wears on, the heat becomes nearly unbearable. We join a congregation of safari vehicles near a popular watering hole, where the drivers huddle together, strategizing. The other tourists, looking as weary as I feel, share in the collective longing for shade and respite.

Ultimately, the decision is made to retreat from the scorching sun. The lions, we concede, are likely doing the same. There’s a palpable sense of relief as we head back, our thoughts now turning to the cool embrace of the shade.

A Reptilian Respite

On our way out of the southern sector, a delightful interruption: a savannah monitor lizard makes his way across the road. Memories of my high school pet, Monte, flood back as I excitedly ask my driver to stop. The lizard pauses, allowing me a moment to capture his image before he disappears into the underbrush, a brief but charming encounter.

Storms and Solitude

By late afternoon, the skies above the Great Rift Valley darken as a storm brews, bringing with it a welcome change. The oppressive heat begins to dissipate, chased away by the cool winds. After a restful nap, I emerge to find the safari camp deserted, an eerie silence hanging in the air.

Dinner is a solitary affair in the large open-air restaurant, the emptiness lending a surreal quality to the setting. I can’t help but feel a twinge of unease, reminiscent of a scene from “The Shining.”

A Brush with the Border

A stroll to stretch my legs leads me to a signpost indicating the proximity of the Congolese border. Earlier, my driver had mentioned the possibility of a quick visit to get my passport stamped, an opportunity to briefly step into another country. However, the lack of preparation holds me back, and I decide against the impromptu excursion—a decision I suspect I’ll always regret.

The Quiet Before the Trek

Nightlife is nonexistent when you’re the only guest in a remote safari camp. With no distractions, I retire early, preparing for the next adventure. Tomorrow’s journey will take us to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a sanctuary for the rare and majestic mountain gorillas.

Join me, Leslie Price of My Adventure Bucket, as I continue to explore the untamed beauty of Uganda and beyond. Stay tuned for more tales of spontaneous discovery and the wonders that await when you let the algorithm decide your path.

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