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EXPLORE UGANDA ISHASHA OF QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL GAME PARK

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Running tours in Uganda, we always look for something new, better and different. So, we started doing the bush camping for the first time 1 year ago. Safaris have been overdone, so does camping. Now, what if we do it differently? Let’s flip the script. Let’s go bush camping; it sounds like fun. Running a Tour & Travel company comes with its perks and challenges, like limited space, limited parks, limited activities, limited animals (or the available animals have been seen before), et al. So, you’re left with a task to look for something extra. We chose bush camping.

We decided to go to Ishasha which is one of my favorite places in Uganda; it is small with beautiful scenery yet it has a lot of animals and plenty of lions, the tree climbers. The trip was arranged with a couple from Sweden. I looked forward to doing the bush camping. I couldn’t wait to wake up in the park at sunrise, hearing the animals at night, hearing animals right outside the tent.

I do like a bit of luxury that a lodge would provide, but compared to sleeping in the tent, with the breeze coming through, with the noise of the wild up close, the hippos just outside the tent, a waking up take two steps and you are standing in the middle of the plains in the middle of the wild park, there is no feeling like it.

It’s 5am in the morning and we’re heading out of Kampala, leaving the gridlocked traffic, the bustle and hustle of the city, behind. On the road, the scenery takes a different shape as we drove farther from the city. Here, we’re headed to the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park; it’s a secluded corner of the renowned Queen Elizabeth National Park. There is always a special feeling after arriving at Ishasha; tranquility. It’s like taking a deep breath, looking out over the amazing nature and everything else goes away, you are really just there and now.

Look, Ishasha is already famous for its tree climbing lions, but elephants, leopards, hyenas and hippos are but a few other habitants. It is always fun to do a trip with people that are enthusiastic. I jumped up and down with excitement after spotting a herd of elephants. That’s what made this trip remarkable and special.

ISHASHA BUSH CAMPING

We had a minor car problem, the battery got a bit loose and we lost connection under the tree full of lions, and no phone connection. So, with one eye on the lions and the other fixing the battery, there was some extra adrenaline going there, but knowing your animals, and their behavior, you know what is safe to do and what is not. After about 5 hours’ drive, we finally dock at Queen Elizabeth National Park. We now have 2 hours of dirt road across Queen Elizabeth to reach Ishasha. Our friends at the River Lodge have everything prepared and all we need to do now is to sit down for sinner and, later on, have a good night’s sleep. We did. And early next day, we head out into the park. In the morning, we packed our cars with tents, mattresses, food, drinks, and stuff. Who said bush camping has to be basic? No. We went all in. This was unusual. The stunning landscapes of Ishasha start to come into view; they look magnificent. The old lone tree firmly twists and turns itself to withstand nature’s harsh calamities like wind, rain, et al. It stands firmly strong for decades as a landmark for explorers and adventures.

Look, we aren’t doing bush camping without a proper safari. First stop was at the hyena den. Here, hyenas come back home after a night on the hunt with a fresh kill. Next stop is the tree climbing lions and we have 5 up the tree at once. After spending some time with the lions, we head down for the river. We had lunch by the banks of the river, just a few meters from a handful of hippos with a backdrop of DRC in the background. It was splendid. In the afternoon, we head down to the river track; one of those tracks that keeps getting denser and people eventually ask, “Are you sure this is the right track?” That’s when you know you’re exactly where you want to be; off the beaten track. We saw 15 elephants, lost count of bird species and baboons later. We are finally at the plains, our home for the night. First things first, the campfire is lit.

The camping chairs are brought out. Drinks are firmly placed on the table. It’s fun time now. Tents are erected. We can now sit down, relax, kick back and watch the sun expunge from the distance. It’s glow leaving such a stunning spectacle. The scent of well-seasoned barbeque hangs heavy in the air. After our dinner, we gather once again around the campfire, a nice glass of red wine is thrown at the back of our throats. Good friends share stories from the past.

The sun has long set and the moon is slowing creeping over us. We jump in the car for a short night game drive through the plains. The light from the flash torches and car lights meet the glowing eyes from the hyenas. Now, we go finding hippos gracing the plains and mongoose luring in the bushes. The couple was amazed about camping in the wild and did not want to go home. On top of experiencing the wild up close and personal, they enjoyed doing it with all luxury of well-cooked meals, drinks and the comfort of a nice sleeping arrangement. Next day, the sun rises. It’s a new day for new adventures, for memories to be made as well.

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