Communication confusion is always a possibility, but this was just ridiculous. We were about 50km away from where we were meant to be and all because somebody had used a term loosely! When we spoke to our team they said they were based in Ntoroko. Ntoroko as it turns out is exactly where we were (the village rather than the district with the same name), but now it transpires that they are in a town called Nyabusokoma in Ntoroko district. So we had just driven from Fort Portal through the Semliki Valley and the entire length of Semliki Wildlife Reserve to this filthy little port village on the shores of Lake Albert for nothing. Not only was it a long drive, but the village was the biggest dump in Uganda. A small, poor, hot and dusty fishing village located on the lake shore, and strewn with rubbish. We told them we would turn around and see them in a couple of hours time. The only consolation is that we would be passing back through the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve and get to see the animals again.
I love African wildlife and it still fascinates me, whether it be a tiny sunbird eating nectar from a flower or an elephant pushing a tree over to get to the tasty leaves at the top. The Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve is Uganda’s oldest park dating back to 1932. It has faced its own problems from poaching to all out industrial slaughter during the civil war when it was used as a larder for fighting troops, but despite this it is still surviving. It is the Ugandan kob (an antelope only found in Uganda) that it is most famous for now. The numbers have soared and the park has massive amounts of them. It also harbours forest elephant, lion, leopard, waterbuck, large herds of buffalo, baboon, red-tailed monkey and vervet. Lion are slowly increasing in number since nearly being poached to extinction but the numbers still remain low. Hence the reason we were not lucky enough to spot any. They also host the beautiful black and white colobus monkey. As we passed over a very narrow and rickety bridge, we noticed about 20 colobus monkeys in a tree at the side of the road. They are very shy animals, so it was a treat to watch them for a few minutes before they retreated into the bush. There were also large herds of buffalo, warthogs and antelope to watch as we made our way back.
We met the team and after an hour or so set off back to Fort Portal. Half way up the enormous Semliki Valley we noticed the temperature gauge in the car had soared to maximum. We pulled over and popped the bonnet to be greeted to the sound of boiling water in the radiator. After an hour of letting it cool we filled the radiator back up and continued on our way. But only after we tried and failed to start the car for 10 minutes! Once again we were driving long distances in a car that was far from reliable. It massively increases your stress levels as you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken vehicle. It is difficult to find a mechanic and usually extortionate to repair. We are having second thoughts about using our own vehicle for long and difficult drives across difficult terrain and in constantly hot temperatures.