Friday, March 10, 2017

Traveling up North

Wednesday morning we started our drive up towards Gulu and Lira, the two cities where Rick had audits to finish up.  He was able to meet with both of the Gulu Branch Presidents yesterday and today he is meeting with the Lira Presidents.  

On our drive up North we saw signs for a Rhino sanctuary and thought we would see what that was about.  Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is about 7 KM off of the main road.  It was started with the intent of bringing the rhinoceros back into Uganda.  The last one seen in Uganda was in 1983.  In the early 2000's they brought in two male from South Africa and two female from Disney Animal Park in Florida with the intent of having them repopulate here in Uganda.  They are up to 19 of them at this point in time.  When they get around forty rhinos they will transport 1/2 of them to Murchison Falls National Park and let them reside there while the other half will keep reproducing to be able to fill other National Parks as well.  The Park is 70 square kilometers and there are six different families.

As we got into the sanctuary we were able to secure a guide.  He looked at me in my skirt and flats and said, "Do you have better shoes for hiking?"  (......Oh, we are going hiking?  I thought we were just gonna see these things from the confines of our vehicle? )   It's a good thing I threw in a pair of jeans and my much used tennies.  I quickly changed into my pants and away we went.  We only drove about three Km and then parked the truck.  We headed off toward a small herd of Ugandan Kob (a type of antelope) and after about 10 minutes we saw our first rhinos.  We slowly got closer and closer until we were about 50 ft from them.  These animals are wild so I was nervous about getting too close but we didn't seem to bother them at all.  They are habituated to humans, so we were able to watch them and take all of the pictures we wanted for about an hour.  They were constantly grazing, so we followed them as they moved.  

Rhinos are interesting creatures.  They have HUGE heads and two horns on their snout.  The white rhino has a flat mouth whereas the black rhino has a pointed mouth.  That's how you tell the difference between the two.  No black ones here though..... they are all white.  

With us being able to see these Rhino we are now able to say that we have seen "The Big Five" here in Africa.  The Big Five are referred to as the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.  They include:

1. African Lion
2.  African Elephant
3. Cape Buffalo
4. African Leopard
5. The Rhinoceros

We feel very privileged to have been able to see them all!

Here are a few pictures of the rhinos (and us:)  Very cool!

At the sanctuary we saw a baby warthog that was rescued from a fire.  

We made it to Chobe that evening.  We stayed in Chobe back in December for our Couples Retreat.  It is about an hour and a half drive to Gulu and Lira but we decided to stay there because if there's any chance to see wildlife my husband is all over it!  Plus, it is beautifully situated on the Nile River.  

This is the view from our room:)
There were monkeys and warthogs running all around the grounds and of course, hippos in the water.

While Rick was off Thursday doing the audits I was able to spot this elephant from where I was having my lunch.  He walked right past the restaurant and I didn't even see him.  When I noticed he was walking by I watched him as he got to the pool area.  See those people standing on the pool deck?  The elephant was curious and walked right over to them and had his face just 6 feet from where they were standing.  I thought, "I better get down there and get some pictures!  It was a ways away and Mr. Elephant was on the move so by the time I got down all those stairs to the pool area he had already passed.  He was just standing there eating from a tree and all I could see was his behind so I didn't take any more pictures.  It was pretty cool though that he just mozied around the complex like it was his personal restaurant.  Haha.  I guess it is:)

Rick was able to get back early from his audits and he wanted to go on a game drive.  We got a guide to come with us and we went into the bush.  We again were able to park the car and go on foot to find the giraffes.  We found them, and they are such beautiful animals.  They were a little skiddish of us so we didn't get super close but I loved just watching them.  They move so gracefully.  I love to watch them run.  It's like they do it in slow motion.  Just really cool!  We saw about twenty of them.

This one was right close by the road.   We had gotten back in the car to go find some luck there.  We stopped and watched her just eat the leaves off of the trees.  Giraffes have beautiful long eyelashes.  They are vey majestic!
After about an hour and a half Rick wanted to get back to the lodge to go for a swim.  He took this great panorama of the pool area and the Nile River as the sun was going down.  
We sure enjoyed our time there:)

Elder Phelps is finishing up the audits today in Lira and then hopefully we can get home to Mbale tonight!  

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