The writer and her father took a family vacation to Uganda. // © 2015 Thinkstock
I first caught the travel bug on my fifth birthday, when my dad surprised me with a weekend trip to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. (I had asked for a Razor scooter and was initially disappointed by his choice of gift.) We headed to the border from our home in Austin, Texas, and took two days to explore the city. This whirlwind weekend marked the beginning of what would become a longstanding tradition of annual “daddy-daughter” trips.
Although Mexico first sparked my interest in travel, perhaps the most meaningful of our family trips was a weeklong safari in Uganda during my freshman year of college.
My dad, who is a travel writer, was invited to tour a few safari lodges in the country. He had visited the continent before, but this was a first for me. We toured the Kampala Serena Hotel, Chobe Safari Lodge and Paraa Safari Lodge, all owned by Ugandan entrepreneur Roni Madhvani.
Our accommodations featured breathtaking views of the Nile, and we would often sit on the front porch of our tented cabin for hours, taking in the scenery until the threat of mosquitos eventually forced us inside.
We consider ourselves active travelers, so this was a perfect trip for us. Our week was full of early morning and late-night game-viewing drives, where we saw lions, giraffes and baby elephants. Our viewing experiences even extended past these drives — one night, we returned to our cabin to find an adult hippopotamus taking up residence on our porch.
During the day, we hiked near the waterfall at Murchison Falls National Park and through the jungle in hopes of spotting a chimpanzee swinging from the treetops above us. We also cruised among the crocodiles of the Nile in a motorized canoe and even stood face to face with rhinos at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola — our guide assured us that if one decided to charge, there were plenty of trees for us to climb.
My dad and I have been on our fair share of trips over the years, but nothing compared to this first visit to Africa. Although only one of the many African countries that offer safaris, Uganda served as the perfect place for an adventurous father-daughter duo like us.