Singing songs by Joni Mitchell, whose album Blue turned 50 this week (Joni Mitchell’s Blue: my favourite song – by James Taylor, Carole King, Graham Nash, David Crosby and more, 22 June), kept me going as I trekked through lion country in Uganda in 1981. As a solo traveller, I had been frustrated by my attempts to visit safari parks in Kenya – no pedestrians allowed. But people told me about Chobe, a reserve on the Nile in Uganda; once fashionable with chic Europeans, it was now down on its luck after Idi Amin’s disastrous regime. After hitching through dusty and dangerous country, I reached the derelict gates to find that there was no transport and I would have to walk the five miles through the bush to get to the lodge and a bed for the night.
I summoned up my courage and prayed a that lion wouldn’t consider me tasty as I warbled my way through Ladies of the Canyon and Blue. The horizon eventually filled with the sea that was the Nile, half-submerged hippos glistening in the shallows. This was one river I didn’t wish to skate away on.
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