Friday, December 31, 2010

Holiday Break 2010

So Uganda has the system of taking two weeks off from doing most things during the holiday season. To my benefit my work follows this systemas well. I was granted two weeks off while the Youth Center was closed for the holiday season. It has been the first time since high school that I have had a break from school/work and had to figure out what to do with my time. It was an uplifting and amazing feeling to know that I could just have fun for two weeks and not have to worry about assignments, work or getting anything on my to-do list done.

The beginning of my holiday break I decided to spend in Jijna. Jinja is only a 40-minute taxi ride from me so it was definitely time to take more advantage of that! I went camping at Nile River Explorers (NRE), which is the rafting company that I did the Rhino Race with. They have beautiful facilities and a beautiful view of Bujagali Falls.

Bujagali Falls

After a night of good food, drink and camping I woke up the next morning to a day filled with one big first: I was going to ride a horse. Now I have always wanted to ride a horse, but just have never made an opportunity to do so. I would also say, as I have gotten older the idea of riding a horse have seemed scarier and scarier, but I decided to tackle the fear and just do it! The people at Nile River Horseback Riding were wonderful to me. They knew it was my first time and took care to make sure I was comfortable on my horse, knew the commands and was set for my two hours of adventure. I rode an Ethiopian Pony named Domino and though he was very good to me I think he was a tad bit irritated throughout the ride because all I was comfortable doing was walking him.

The horseback riding took place on Kigali Falls, which is the opposite side of the Nile River from where I camped at NRE. The ride was beautiful – it started by riding through the villages and nature around the Nile. It was great to ride, get to know our guide and to talk with the locals with the minimal survival conversational Luganda that I know. The end of the ride was along the Nile River itself. The breathtaking views I will never forget and it was fun to watch the people starting their rafting adventure, the fisherman fishing and kayakers play boating in the water down below. It was an amazing two hours that I will definitely want to repeat again while I’m here and perhaps even start trying to get better at riding when I get back home!

The middle part of the week I went up towards Masindi in central/northern Uganda to go to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to go rhino tracking. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to nine white rhinos (the three females are pregnant). I learned a ton about rhinos while I stayed there: white rhinos are less aggressive then black rhinos, both types of rhinos have humps on the back of their necks which makes it hard for rhinos to move their head and almost impossible to swim, but white rhinos have smaller humps, and white rhinos can run at about a speed of 35 mph while black rhinos can run at speeds up to 30 mph and this speed difference is due to the fact that black rhinos weigh about a ton more then white rhinos, and lastly white rhinos have a boxed mouth which makes it easy for them to eat grass while black rhinos have a beaked mouth so they prefer to eat shrubbery and bushes.

White rhinos used to be abundant here in Uganda up until about the late 1970’s. During Amin’s political regime he supported poachers to hunt the rhinos to extinction. The goal of Ziwa is to reintroduce rhinos into Uganda so hopefully one day the population can support itself and rhinos can roam the grasslands once again.

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully that Rhino photo was taken with a zoom lense, eh? Pretty amazing that a ton only makes a 5 mile impact since i do believe or rather am experiencing that a pan of peanut butter squares is way more damaging-Holly-Jolly:-) Plus, glad the Rhino's are herbivores.