For the next week Bills linebacker Kawika Mitchell is teaming up with New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka in a charity effort to help villages in Kiwanuka's native Uganda, while also taking in some of the unique experiences that the African nation has to offer. In this installment of Mitchell's blog from Uganda, the Bills linebacker provides details of their two-day safari, which included a trip across the globe's middle parallel.
Hey Bills fans. The last two days have been nothing short of amazing. As I mentioned in my last entry we were taking a two-day safari. Our trip to reach safari was very, very, very long. It was supposed to be a six-hour drive, but it ended up being 10 hours. At most it should have been seven.
We stopped to ask someone for directions, but the person was trying to get a ride so she told us the safari lodge was in the direction she needed to go. Well, it wasn't, and no we didn't give her a ride. It took us three hours out of the way on a road that was one of the worst roads I've ever seen… EVER.
Some good did come out of getting lost. Before we even got to the actual lodge we saw baboons, elephants, monitor lizards and other monkeys. It was pretty amazing to see these animals just walking across the road we were traveling.
Another cool part of the long journey to the Mweya Safari Lodge was we passed over the equator on the way. The lodge is very close to the border of Congo.
In the end we left at 5 am and finally got to the lodge at 3:45 pm. We checked in, grabbed some food and headed out on our safari at 4:30.
The safari was like a dream. I've always been extremely interested in animals. How they live, where they live, how they interact. Everything.
There were two major rules on safari, no walking on the reserve and no driving off the path. Needless to say we didn't walk.
Anyway, we saw a lot of warthogs, impala, elephants, over 30 water buffalo and some other animals, but I don't remember the names.
The best of all was of course the lions. We saw a pride of lions that consisted of eight females and one young male. Most all the animals ran when we approached except the elephants and the lions. The lions were laying down and only lifted their heads to check us out. It was an unreal experience. I'd say the elephants were my second favorite.
With most of the animals we got as close as five yards or so. We had a great vantage point as we rode the entire safari standing up with our bodies sticking out the top of the vehicle. It was great experience.
After the safari on the first day they bring you back and you stay at a lodge on the reserve. There are a lot of warthogs wandering around and elephants and some other animals, but thankfully I didn't see any lions or leopard taking a stroll.
The park doesn't have rhinos or giraffes. Rhinos have been protected due to all the poaching. I think there is only one place in Uganda that is trying to bring the population back, but there aren't any in the wild.
Even with all there was to see on the ground it was hard not to appreciate the landscape on the safari. We were surrounded by mountains, lakes and just wide open land that can't be compared to anything else, except maybe Hawaii. Actually, it's very hard for me to decide which place is more beautiful.
The second day we were there was Wednesday and we went on a boat tour. During this trip we saw at least 30 hippos, 10 crocodiles, a lot of water buffalo and plenty of different species of birds. Again, we were able to get close to all the animals, but not too close to the hippos since they can be extremely dangerous.
The crocs were younger small Nile crocs and they mostly ran away when we came near. The birds were very cool, lots of different colors and sizes. That tour lasted about two hours.
After the boat tour we got our stuff together, grabbed a bite to eat and headed back on our journey to Kampala. It only took seven hours on the way back thankfully. Although the drive was very long and extremely bumpy, we got a chance to see a lot of Uganda. It was just as amazing as the safari itself.
There were many villages and markets along the way. We saw a lot of the kids walking to school. In some cases they walkmiles. Every single person we saw along our trip was doing something productive, such as, farming, school, running the markets, riding bikes milesto fill water buckets, cleaning, building furniture, building homes and stores, cooking.
Everyone had a job to do and it seemed everyone was doing it to the fullest and I saw all this before it was even noon. They may not be making lots of money but the people of Uganda know how to survive and make do with what the land gives them.
Also on our way back we stopped and bought some freshly caught fish from some people on the highway. About 12 men approached the van with fish and other meats and from there it was a bidding war. That was an interesting experience.
On tomorrow's agenda, we are going to work out in the morning and in the evening we're going to a formal event at St. Josephs where we'll get to see some traditional dances from different tribes. The trip is only half over and already it has been life changing.