Mweya Safari Lodge is, as

by francine Hardaway on February 24, 2005

Mweya Safari Lodge is, as George MacDonald who has been here before says, “Ralph Lauren does Africa.” This morning we got up at 6 AM and left in a van with a roof that lifts up so we could stand to take photos. We saw a hyena resting in the grass, and untold number of deer, and the back ends of alot of hippos running away from us. Apparently, the hippo population has been decimated by anthrax lately; on the other hand, the elephant population has grown because refugee elephants from the Congo are coming to the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

I missed photographing every animal due to slow reflexes, but my daughter has some photos that are unreal in their resemblance to the Discovery Channel in HDTV. She actually caught a baby elephant in close up with his trunk raised to our van.

There are hundreds of varieties of birds here, some of whom migrate back and forth from Europe (they are banded, so the park can tell). There are also 56 kinds of animal, although I’m told we will not see a giraffe.

On the other hand, this afternoon I saw everybody in the park — hippos, buffalo, a gazillion birds, elephants, and even a male and female lion — at distances as close as ten feet. We were on a cruise through the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake Edward and Lake George (how British). Everybody has a happy hour in the afternoon when they come down to the lake to have a drink, and we joined them from our boat.

The hippos are basically submerged, except for every six or seven minutes when they come up to breathe. They flap their ears in a little circle (range of motion exercises?) and flare their nostrils, and then they go back under. The water buffalo stare at you, not even bothering to run away.

The female lion was behind a bush, and when she saw our boat she retired to her tent. The male, however, with his big mane, stared at us from behind the bush, refusing to give up the shade for us interlopers. Eventually, we pissed him off and he vacated for a while, but he wanted to go back to his spot, so he did. He looks and acts just like my chow Emmitt, the scourge of Esplanade Place.

The elephants were the best. According to Sam, they’re enormous and wrinkly. I thought they were surprisingly agile for something so large. Yes, they have wrinkles, but don’t we all?

The cormorants sat in large groups facing the wind, cooling themselves by flapping their throats. I found this bizarre the first few times, but then it got to look natural.

It is wonderful to be so close to the animals. On the cruise we saw a fishing village, where men were bathing in the river about a dozen feet from a half-submerged hippo. There are also crocodiles, but we didn’t see them.

Now we’re at the patio part of the day. where you sip your vodka and passion fruit juice while looking at the water. Are you jealous?

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