Particularly in Uganda where charter flying remains in its infancy, a comprehensive safari has to include long drives. Today we traveled from Ishasha to Bwindi.
Forget about asking me how many kilometers we had to travel; that’s useless. Consider that Alex calculated that for much of our safari from today on we were averaging 18k per hour.
So we left Ishasha in two different groups: Steve led four people who wanted still another game drive, and boy what a wonderful decision that was. They saw 8 lion, and together with the three we saw the day before, this has to be a record for Ishasha.
The rest of us left before Steve and crew returned from the game drive. Sarah had discovered a community cooperative that would give a tour of the contemporary village. It took us about an hour to weave through the last of the park to the village.
Bakorwe is located right on the border with Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). In fact, a part of the tour is the inspection of the “elephant trench.” This 10k trench, dug 2 meters deep and 3 meters wide, was intended to keep elephant and other wild beasts out of the village.
In the past I’ve written about a number of other attempts in East Africa to protect farms and villages from the growing elephant population, but I actually think based on Bakorwe’s record, this might be the best.
Of course it takes enormous man power, but it seems that once dug, it was remain in tact through terrible rainy seasons for at least three years without too much maintenance.
Our guide, Barnard, was a self-taught man who enjoyed the title of Community Liaison Officer and earned every bit of it. His English was impeccable. He grew up in the village, had to leave school when both his mother and father died so that he could care for his siblings, and was now the spokesman for the village.
In addition to the elephant trench, we visited a craft center and watched traditional dancing. But the highlight for me was visiting a local healer, who was also a beekeeper. It was absolutely fascinating to see how he created bee-hives from large baskets.
We left the village around 11 a.m. and proceeded towards the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, making a stop at the Kayonza Tea Factory to buy local Bwindi tea (more about that in subsequent blogs).
And we pulled into our Gorilla Resort Lodge around 1 p.m. after a pretty harrowing but spectacular drive in, around, back and forth through the “Impenetrable Forest.”
In the afternoon, people enjoyed the cute little town of Bwindi, with its internet cafes, coffee shops and local hospital.
Tomorrow, it’s off into the forest!