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Travel Pictures - UGANDA - 1999

All images Ron Miller

       Before I traveled to Africa, the mere mention of Uganda evoked thoughts of the brutal dictator Idi Amin and a civil war in which Ugandans were savagely burned alive on piles of car tires (not to mention the country's international airport at Entebbe, which of course calls to mind "Raid on Entebbe"). However, nearly every traveler I met who visited the country raved about the friendly people in Uganda and its relative safety compared to other African countries. Many went so far as to suggest I forgo visiting the rest of East Africa and head straight to Uganda!
       Uganda has many wildlife parks that are home to an abundance of Africa's famous wildlife. In addition, Uganda was the only location (at the time) where the tourist could "safely" trek to see the mountain gorilla. However, in spite of the relative safety and peaceful disposition of the Ugandan people, my trek to see the mountain gorillas would be the closest I would come to getting killed during my many years of travel.

Beer advertising not only dominates the huge billboard at left but the nearby high rise building as well.
It seems that some aspects of culture are almost universal -
Kampala, Uganda
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Mom and Brian strolling the Ugandan capital's busy streets. Uganda truly had a peaceful feel about it, and the friendliness
was even felt on the crowded and chaotic streets of the capital city. I think the people had grown tired of civil war
and eventually arrived at peace through exhaustion. As the Israeli statesman Abba Eban said,
"men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all the other alternatives." -
Kampala, Uganda
A picture is worth a thousand words and, on occasion, a single image might encapsulate an entire society.
This photo of a smoking dumpster with Kampala's skyline in the background seems analogous to the
majority of Africa's societies that seem to loiter desperately somewhere between civilization and chaos -
Kampala, Uganda
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More amazing than the density of buses in this bus station is that it worked efficiently. Even with the complete absence of display
boards it was easy to find the bus to our destination. We simply asked one of the waiting bus drivers and he pointed us
in the right direction. We then walked through the maze of buses and found the next bus heading to our destination,
which departed the moment it filled (but not a moment sooner) -
Kampala, Uganda
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Another form of transportation in Kampala is the bicycle taxi in which patrons ride on the padded rack over the rear wheel -
Kampala, Uganda
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This comfortable resort sits on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake -
Entebbe, Uganda
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Many folks consider this very spot, the natural outlet to Lake Victoria, to be the source of the Nile - the world's longest river.
Although Lake Victoria's outlet is often considered to be the Nile's source, the lake does have feeder streams as far away
as Rwanda. Therefore, the Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda is the ultimate source of the Nile. The water exiting this lake
must travel about 4,000 miles to reach its outlet at the Mediterranean Sea -
near Jinja, Uganda
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A Ugandan artist at work -
Jinja, Uganda
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These young men are proof that even a bicycle can be used to haul cargo -
Jinja, Uganda
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I wonder if this man's PETA membership is up to date? -
Jinja, Uganda
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A friendly mother and daughter greeting the camera -
Jinja, Uganda
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These two women shoppers are utilizing a variety of methods
to tote their goods at the outdoor market -
Jinja, Uganda
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One of the most common tasks in the Third World is collecting firewood, and these these three young girls are experts -
near Kampala, Uganda
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Bright smiles from the Dark Continent -
Jinja, Uganda
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Even during the dry season it is clear why many refer to Uganda as the "Switzerland of Africa." The air was quite smoky from
seasonal burning. One of the towering volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (13,540 foot Muhabura) can be seen through
the haze at right. The Virunga Mountains were made famous by the American zoologist Dian Fossey
through her heroic efforts to save the mountain gorillas -
near Kisoro, Uganda
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Before commencing our trek, we were given a brief overview of the park and
the do's and don'ts once we meet up with the mountain gorillas -
Bwindi N.P., Uganda
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Our first challenge was this tricky stream crossing as we left camp. The habituated mountain gorillas move constantly
as they forage in the forest, and the troop could be a short ten-minute stroll outside camp or, as in our case,
seven hours away requiring bushwhacking through dense jungle and steep terrain -
Bwindi N.P., Uganda
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We are beginning our ascent into the Bwindi impenetrable forest -
Bwindi N.P., Uganda
Here are our guides and trackers for the trek to find the habituated troop of gorillas. We first hiked to the location where the gorillas
were last observed and then followed the trackers who skillfully discerned the path of broken limbs
and foraged vegetation to meet up with the troop -
Bwindi N.P., Uganda
The trek was just a bit too much for mom, primarily because of the humidity that
caused her glasses to fog up. Therefore, while attempting to negotiate the
rough terrain, she could not see with or without her glasses! -
southwest Uganda
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Only ten more hours of hiking to go! -
southwest Uganda
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The author in a rare moment of reflection? The rare and endangered mountain gorillas
are larger than the more numerous lowland gorillas, and they exist only within three
isolated locations in the neighboring countries of Rwanda, Congo, and Uganda -
Bwindi N.P., Uganda
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Peeping Kong? The famous photos showing the gorilla named "Peanuts" touching Dian Fossey's hand was the first recorded
peaceful encounter between a human being and a wild gorilla. Dian Fossey's extraordinary work was essential in dispelling
the Hollywood, "King Kong" myth that the gorilla was nothing more than a savage and aggressive beast. The insight
into the true nature of the gorilla has led to empathy and public support for their preservation -
Bwindi N.P., Uganda
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Our rondavel just before it was burned to the ground by the murderous, Interahamwe rebels. While our clothes
were drying on the line, the rebels were preparing to invade the camp and kidnap all of the tourists -
Bwindi N.P., Uganda
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Our escape vehicle receives a flat tire -
Butogota, Uganda
While we were savoring our breakfast at this comfortable safari lodge, the tourists at
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest were beginning their death march -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
Brian, Me, and Mom as we begin our search for wild chimpanzees in the Kyambura Gorge -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
On our way into the Kyambura Gorge, we passed fresh paw prints from prowling lions, which made the dense foliage of the gorge seem like
nothing more than the ideal setting for an ambush. In addition to the habituated chimpanzees, the gorge is home to many species of monkeys -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
The village of Mweya, located within Queen Elizabeth N.P., is essentially a cage-less zoo. Upon our arrival at this village, we came
upon a hippopotamus at the front door of the restaurant! On another day, we saw hyenas prowling the grounds at dusk.
Even more troubling was the knowledge that leopards were said to move through the village at night! -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
Two words you will never see together - warthog and cute -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
Queen Elizabeth N. P. has a variety of landscapes including forests, savannah, and water-filled calderas such as this lovely soda lake.
Although the animals cannot drink the lake water, many will travel here specifically for a "soda bath" and to roll in the mud -
This picture answers the question, "What do hippopotamus do when their waterhole dries up?" -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
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The Kazinga Channel is a long body of water that connects the larger Lake Edward with Lake George -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
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An unusual type of safari available in the park is a cruise along the Kazinga Channel where tourists can view wildlife from the water.
Since the animals must frequent the river to drink, a boat safari is a guaranteed method to view a high concentration of wildlife.
In fact, it almost seemed like cheating, because the density of animals was akin to a safari park -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
Fishermen along the Kazinga Channel -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
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Fishermen repairing their nets -
Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
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A man and woman in a tangle -
Kazinga Channel; Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
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Mom says "Swim at your own risk" -
Kazinga Channel; Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
The highly territorial hippopotamus is responsible for more human deaths in Africa than any other animal - that is - except for man!
The channels shoreline teemed with wildlife including countless birds, monitor lizards, hippo, buffalo,
bushpig, wart hog, and even the elusive leopard -
Kazinga Channel; Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
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A big fish out of water -
Kazinga Channel; Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
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These bushpigs are very hairy members of the pig family, and they are rarely seen due to their nocturnal habits. These animals
have a very dark coat which provides better camouflage in their natural habitat - forests and riverine environments -
Kazinga Channel; Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
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Of Africa's "Big Five game" animals, the leopard is perhaps the most difficult to find in the wild. The phrase "Big Five game" was coined
by big game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot - and not the animals' size. The Big Five game
animals include the lion, the African elephant, the black rhinoceros, the Cape Buffalo, and the leopard. This leopard
was seen in the early morning hours lurking near the river to ambush any unwary prey -
Kazinga Channel; Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda
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Many small towns in Uganda seem to exist somewhere between civilization and chaos. Although the run-down, unkempt streets
can make the visitor feel uncomfortable, the friendly people seem to eliminate all concerns -
near Fort Portal, Uganda
We stopped our vehicle to gaze at the amazing horns on this herd of Ankole-Watusi cattle and quickly drew the attention
of these school children. The children in this remote location were fascinated with the foreigners and
continually called out the word Mazungu, which our guide translated as "white man" -
near Fort Portal, Uganda
These curious children can't help but stare at the Mazungus -
near Fort Portal, Uganda
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Even the cows seem more dangerous in Africa. The Ankole-Watusi breed of cattle can be traced back more than 6,000 years to
ancient Egypt where its image was etched into the pyramids. These regal animals, often referred to as the "cattle of the kings,"
sport long, thick horns that are utilized for defense. The horns have a second benefit - temperature regulation - as the
massive horns act like radiators by allowing the blood flowing through them to cool and disperse body heat -
near Fort Portal
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Me watching an erupting geyser near the Congo border -
Semliki N.P., Uganda
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Our wonderful and enthusiastic guide -
Semliki N.P., Uganda
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Our guide demonstrates how to take reeds right out of the jungle and weave them into a basket -
Semliki N.P., Uganda
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We traveled to this remote corner of Uganda (on the Congo border) to visit with Pygmies but,
upon our arrival, soon realized that we had entered a refugee camp! -
Ntandi, Uganda
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It was quite odd to meet up with the pygmies because we quickly became a spectacle for the hundreds of
African refugees also trying to survive in this unstable part of the world -
Ntandi, Uganda
Pygmies performing a dance -
Ntandi, Uganda
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Mom dwarfs these African pygmies. A pygmy is defined as a member of any human group whose males grow to less than 4'11' inches in height.
Pygmies are native to not only Africa but southeast Asia and South America as well. Although it was commonly believed that Pygmies
were direct descendants of the Late Stone Age hunter-gatherer peoples, evidence from archaeology, linguistics,
and genetics indicates that their small stature may be an adaptation to the forest environment -
Ntandi, Uganda
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The pygmies' very primitive (and tiny) huts -
Ntandi, Uganda
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Outside the pygmy chief's hut -
Ntandi, Uganda
The pygmy chief in his mansion -
Ntandi, Uganda
As stated by the Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore, "Man is worse than an animal when he is an animal."
Eight of the tourists and several of the park employees that we met during our visit to
Bwindi Impenetrable forest were murdered in the most savage way -
Fort Portal, Uganda
The highly acclaimed Crater Valley Kibale Lodge, on the shores of Lake Nkuruba, is a virtual Garden of Eden. The lodge was built by a local
African couple, and their entrepreneurship was recognized with an award from the President of Uganda. However, we were not able to
enjoy the tropical setting due to the horrible tragedy at Bwindi - the senseless murder of eight tourists and at least one park official -
Fort Portal, Uganda
The cornerstone? A creative Building edifice -
Jinja, Uganda
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All images Ron Miller
For authorized use of these photos, please contact Ron Miller at TheHappyCannibal@gmail.com