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GREAT ESCAPE Uganda

A trip of a lifetime awaits in this adventure-filled African country. Go on safari at Lake Mburo, come face to face with man’s closest relatives in Kibale, track gorillas in Bwindi, stay on a ranch in Mbarara, then take to the water at Mabamba Swamp.

@amandacanning

PHOTOGRAPHS JONATHAN GREGSON

@jonathangregsonphotography

ILLUSTRATION: STELLA ISAAC

Safari on foot and by boat

IT IS NOT EASY TO NAP ON THE DRIVE FROM Entebbe to Lake Mburo. The view outside the window puts paid to any attempts to doze. Our Land Cruiser trundles through hills planted with sweet potatoes, yams and banana palms, passing villages where small kids run out to wave, men gather round to ix beaten-up old motorbikes, and goats nibble at the verge. Vendors at roadside tables sell watermelon, pineapples and jackfruit, and grilled tilapia freshly yanked out of Lake Victoria, a strip of gleaming blue visible across the ields. The sweet smell of warm dust and wood smoke wafts through the open windows. At the turning to Lake Mburo, tarmac turns to mud, and goats are replaced by zebra and giraffe. A national park since 1983, the area is not fenced, and cattle constantly wander in and wildlife out. Stopping to pick up a guide, Bonny Baloiganikiya, at the park entrance, we bump along an orange track through a landscape pocked with candelabra trees and termite mounds. Baboons casually move off the road to stare at us from the thickets. Warthogs match their indifference for a while, then whirl off through the bush in a panic.

A black and white pied kingisher ater a successful ishing mission.

‘Wild animals, cattle and humans compete for food, land and water here,’ says Bonny. ‘The secret is for people to beneit from the park, to support them by putting up a school or a health centre. You can’t have conservation without the community.’ Lake Mburo is a success story, with high numbers of zebra and antelope, among which are topi and eland. ‘The population is crazy because they have no predators,’ says Bonny. ‘There is only one lion, and one lion cannot do much against 3,000 zebra.’

One of the 300-plus hippos that live in Lake Mburo.
The park is home to most of Uganda’s zebras
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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - April 2019
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