On the western side of Uganda, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo lies one of the most famous National Parks in Africa. Its history is rich and its roots lie in the previous colonialism that ran through the country. It was in this park that Princess Elizabeth was holidaying when she became Queen. The terrain is unlike many that we have seen. Crater lakes dot the landscape and two larger lakes on each side of the park, joined by a channel of wide hippo filled water.
Days are spent game driving the northern sections of the park, where predators roam through the open spaces, inhabited by the Kob Antelope. The Kob is an unusual antelope, not seen in many areas, and a staple food source for the predators of the park. The abundant water in the area has resulted in a healthy buffalo population as well as literally thousands of hippo. An afternoon boat cruise down the Kazinga channel is one in which you simply lean back and give up trying to count the grey snorting mounds in the water.
The Mweya Peninsular is a small headland that juts out into the vast waters of the lake and forms the entrance to the channel. Water surrounds you as you sit on the terrace of the famous Mweya Safari Lodge (it was here that the current British Monarch was informed that the Crown was now hers), enjoying an afternoon aperitif and laughing at the antics of the large families of banded mongoose jostling along the lawns at your feet.
As you move further south through the park the wide-open savannah and lakeshore stretches morph into dense forests, and it is here that the entertainment begins. These forests are home to multiple species of monkeys, all curious to observe newcomers to their domain. We found a secluded and very rustic park campsite, deep within the forest. The camp supervisor seemed shocked to see anyone arrive and threw himself enthusiastically into building a campfire that could have sustained an entire village.
Within minutes of arriving the tree tops surrounding us began to rustle. Black and white faces appeared, with long tails dangling from branches high up. Tails that are tipped with fluffy white ends. The black and white colobus monkeys are a wonderful sight. They are not common elsewhere and their acrobatic abilities defy belief as they literally soar from branch to branch.
Amongst this circus performance other stars arrive. The red-tailed monkeys differ massively from the colobus. They seem shyer and more cautious, their incredibly expressive faces look at you with eyebrows raised, as they attempt to figure it all out.
Whilst all this activity has your rapt attention drawn skywards the baboons almost seem to sneak up on you, traveling at ground level, and before you know it, every tree top is moving and every path of grass is inhabited and you are in primate heaven! Luckily none of these animals seem too habituated to humans, and as such they do not raid or intimidate. As long as one remembers to keep food well stored and out of “arms reach”, they simply seem to enjoy spending time with you. It is a wonderful way to while away an afternoon, with each minute bringing yet another humorous moment, a giggle and a laugh.