PERFECTLY PUDGY in every way, my first hippopotamus sighting was through bleary eyes and a dusty windshield. Past the dinner hour, exhausted from a day of traveling, and anxious to stretch my legs, our Land Cruiser sped desperately along a dirt road on a pitch black East African night. We spotted her eyes first, glowing in our headlamps. Then her rotund body came into view with curves that could not look more plump in a cartoon drawing.

On our first day in Uganda, the first “big five” sighting from our seats in the safari vehicle trumped even the best inflight entertainment and comfortable seats on our convenient Brussels Airlines flight from New York to Belgium to Entebbe the prior day. Then, without slowing much, Brian, our expert safari driver, sped off to Mweya Lodge for food and rest.

Already hooked on Uganda by the hippo experience, even sleep deprivation would not keep me from waking early — ready to absorb every minute on our schedule that allowed us to uncover unexpected adventures and new experiences in Uganda.

[Editor’s note: Andrea was a guest of the Africa Travel Association in part to attend their 39th annual World Congress event.]