Monday, June 18, 2007

Murchison Falls, Uganda National Park

We got back from our Murchison Falls trip yesterday. The trip was really incredible. The first day was basically a 6 hour drive up to the Red Chilli Camp right at the gate entrance of the park. They've got a fully stocked bar and a decent menu for being in the middle of the nowhere. Here's the bar/restaurant area.

Here's Laura next to our accomodations.

Greeting us along the entrance road were hundreds of baboon groups and a few warthogs... just a sampling of what we were about to see.

The next morning we got up early and headed across the nile river on a ferry. The southern part of the park is just the entrance; the park is located on the north side of the nile (as it travels east-west from Victoria Lake). We took the game drive van we had arrived in across river on the ferry, then started off on our game drive. Almost immediately, all kinds of deer-like creatures are hopping all around us. The van was full of 10 people, 8 tourists, 1 guide, 1 driver. All of the tourists listened to the guide as he described the park, the wildlife we would see and many other things. The top popped off the vehicle so everyone was standing to get good pictures. We saw everything murchison had to offer, giraffes, elephants, hartebeast, igutis, lions, etc. The terrain was very much like you would imagine the serengheti to be. There were quite a few more trees and the river was the backdrop to everything (quite a few fishermen on it also). Here's a tiny sample of the animals that we saw.

Our game drive lasted until 11 am so we went back to camp for lunch, then it was back to the ferry landing for a boat ride up to the falls. The ride lasted about 3 hours. It was the guide and 8 tourists. It was just about impossible to look in any direction and not see wildlife... hippos especially. They were everywhere and always getting spooked by the boat engine. They were massive cows of the water. There were all kinds of birds diving into the nile for fish which was really fun to watch.

We saw the falls from probably a distance of 100 yards by boat. The waters were too rough for our tiny boat to get any closer. We got some good shots and headed back to camp.

That night, I was awakened by a very strange noise. It sounded to me like a person washing clothes in a bucket. I could hear water swishing and something grinding. At first, I was pissed because this person had awoken me, but then the noise began to approach our tent... very closely. Laura said "Jeremy, are you up? What is that?". I got out from under the mosquito net to discover a massive hippo shadow in front of our tent. He was grazing right next to us. Hippos are quite dangerous, temperamental creatures so I just enjoyed the view of his fat butt from my tent. These creatures reach greater than 5000 pounds and he had to be right up there. I watched him as he cruised down to better grazing land at other tents. What an experience!

The next morning, we were off to hike at the top of murchison falls. We got great views and our best pictures of the falls. The falls were named after a guy who headed a company that was searching for the source of the nile. The name was changed during Idi Amin's tenure and then changed back. There are two main falls, murchison falls (right in picture) goes through a large gorge and the water bangs back and forth between the walls on its way down. Uguru falls (left in picture) is a falls which sometimes dries up during dry season but is much more of a traditional waterfall. Some amazing rapids lead up to the falls so just an incredible amount of water.

From there, sadly we had to head back to Kampala where we are staying now. We're taking a bus from Kampala, Uganda to Arusha, Tanzania to start our volunteer work. It starts on the 20th of June. The ride will be a quite enduring 24 hour ride. Not looking forward to it but we've got plenty of time to recover in Arusha.

Next post from Arusha, Tanzania!

See Laura's pictures at her blog. Check out the Rwanda genocide blog for picts.


J. Carrara said...

awesome waterfall!

Greg said...

Once again so fun for us to share your adventure. What the heck " hartebeast, igutis," I thought I was pretty up on Zoology. Now I have some investigation to do Thank you.

Glad you found a port to load photos. Was Laura smiling when she was standing next to the tent?

Did the hippo leace a lasting olfactory experience with which to spend the night?

Boy we are really looking forward to hearing your voices with this travel log when you return.

From some of your frineds and "co-travlers thank to you" from sunny dry Vermont. 6-19-07 10:15 AM

Greg said...

I need my Africa fix.

Where are you?

Oh yeh ... are you safe?