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an AB3 Ugandan Christmas

January 1st, 2010 · 7 Comments · Phil

One more African Christmas before we move back to MN in January - our previous three being in Rwanda, Zanzibar and Ethiopia. Since it was relatively short notice that we were even going to still be in Africa for xmas we decided to stay in Uganda this time. A week’s trip with two nights at a tres chic wilderness camp in Lake Mburo National Park followed by three nights over xmas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Lots of photos and adventure ahead!

The trip started off inauspiciously, with a slight delay between the turning of the key and the starting of the engine. That delay was more than slight after our first stop at the equator to top up on coffee. So we did what we have done three times before when driving along this road: break down in Lukaya at the shop of mechanic Sam. In 35 minutes he had rebuilt our starter and after another 30 of reinstalling and testing, we were back on the road. Our pockets $40 lighter.

Here the crew watches Sam work while the kids watch Paige change Odin in the front seat.

Today’s destination was Mihingo Lodge, a luxury wilderness lodge on the edge of Lake Mburo National Park. Other than two nights in Zanzibar, this was our first luxury experience in Africa. Having been to Lake Mburo five or six times before, we had no need to go for game drives or boat trips or walking safaris. We were here to relax.

Eating good food.

Enjoying the view of the landscape and wildlife at the salt lick and water hole from poolside.

Did I mention enjoying the food? We had almost decided against a luxury lodge for this trip because we weren’t sure if we’d be able to enjoy the meals, having to deal with Odin outside of a comfortable baby setting. He’s obviously free to make a mess at home and we eat out mostly at places where we’re not concerned about ambiance. However, Mihingo was decidedly kid friendly. They offered fish fingers before we even asked and had high chairs and utensils for kids. When we asked about dinner time, (we assumed that we’d just eat early, 6ish, then paige would put Odin to bed and we’d hang out in the room after that) they told us that dinner was at 8. Then they told us that one of the housekeepers could babysit Odin while he slept and call us on the cell if he woke up. Score. These two nights were maybe the second and third time that Paige and I have eaten out on our own since Odin.

Morning on the balcony of our room.

A view of the bathroom with the shower on the left and Odin exiting the toilet.

And here is the view back from the shower. Pretty sick.

We spent our mornings playing in the pool.

And the afternoons napping in our room. Not bad, huh?

Here is the view from our balcony. All the other buildings of the lodge are almost entirely hidden from view.

A closer look at the salt lick and water hole. Plenty of Zebra and Impala. And we got to see our first Eland in our entire time here.

Odin shows off the sign that he pushed over and broke. The rock broke right down the middle between the painted names of the rooms. Good boy.

From Lake Mburo we planned to drive direct to Bwindi, but when I turned the key - nothing. I was parked facing uphill but when I tried roll-starting in reverse as I had seen others do, I failed miserably. So they had to get the Land Rover to pull me to the top of a hill and off we went. Ugh. I found a mechanic in Mbarara who basically did the same thing that mechanic Sam had done but took three hours longer. We stayed at a guesthouse in Mbarara and continued on the next morning. The starter was sketchy but at least this time we were at the top of a driveway, so no issues. We drove the entire way to Bwindi without turning the car off, just in case. It was a long, bumpy drive and I was definitely glad to be done with it once we arrived.

Stopping along the way to nurse definitely attracts a crowd. Babies here tend to live on the mom’s breast until age 3+ so it’s kind of funny that they’re so entranced by a mzungu breastfeeding.

Odin likes children here.

And they like him.

Finally in Bwindi. And as an added bonus, someone has made a cancellation so we get our own covered tent. Not the one with the great view we had last time we were here. But it’s still a welcome end to the day. Odin unwinds on the deck.

Christmas morning we go for a birding walk on the main path through the park which decades back used to be a road. It’s a great way to view the forest. We¬†serendipitously¬†met a birding guide the day before who is friends with and worked for one of our best friends here in Uganda. He was an amazing guide. Paige and I were never quite sure if we were hearing his whistles or the bird’s calls. He found 15 new species for us. We’re up into the 450 range for our time in Africa. A life-list’s worth in 3+ years.

Odin found a bouncy log. In the background are the rangers that accompanied us on the walk.

L’hoest’s Monkey

The Christmas family portrait looking out from our tent onto the balcony and across the forest.

The original plan was to make it back to Kampala in one day, but we decided early on that wasn’t going to happen. And even if we had wanted to, there were a few factors outside of our control. Waiting for a lorry that was stuck to offload all its soda bottles, then get pushed out of the mud. This is driving in Uganda.

Stopping in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park to let Odin play. He was a good sleeper, but the car seat was starting to get old. All the while the car is running because we don’t have a starter.

Once we got underway again, we discovered a lone bull elephant in the savannah to the right just past that second tree. Yikes. Maybe Odin knew it was there, and that’s what he’s pointing at.

Final self portrait in the Hotel in Fort Portal. Though wishing we were home, this night turned out OK, because it was Saturday and there were back to back to back English Premier League matches on TV. Got to watch my boy Torres and Liverpool. Odin, he supports Arsenal and Fabregas.

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  • 7 responses so far ↓

    • 1 Jim // Jan 1, 2010 at 3:46 pm

      Great post, Phil! Loved every word and pic of it!

    • 2 Jim // Jan 1, 2010 at 4:04 pm

      It also occurs to me that it’s sad that Odin will probably remember nothing of his fabulous first 1 1/2 years, but marvelous that you have such a wonderful photographic record of them for him to enjoy in the years to come!

    • 3 Emma // Jan 1, 2010 at 7:50 pm

      Wow! Amazing. The resort looks heavenly, and I’m glad that you two had the chance for a couple of “grown-up” dinners. :-)

    • 4 Tonny // Jan 8, 2010 at 8:00 am

      ooh wonderful yaaah its good here am in minesota now. thanks for visting my district

    • 5 Emily // Jan 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm

      Re. the dinner w/o Odin–get ready for more of those! Unending babysitting in Minneapolis, straight from me to you!

      Safe travels to the 3 of you, see you soon!

    • 6 Saul Ampeire // Jan 17, 2010 at 2:55 pm

      Re: Waw look a happy family like this of how Odin born from .I wish if my Doughter Daphin mybson Ricky was born at the same time as Odin.
      Traveling the all over Uganda at that age and oher countries, I hope he will have a very good education.

      I wish him all the best in his all lfe time.Travel well back home!

    • 7 Ampeire Saul // Dec 20, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      Its nice to see the pictures of Odin ,I remember the time you visited Bwindi with Odin young boy as the same age as my son Ricky when some people of to interact with him and cries but me agrees to hold him.

      Its very good to see your website again.Stay well with the all family and keep it up with a such kind a lovely Heart.

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