Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pumba & Friends

A bit over a week ago, I went on my first real safari. There are a couple girls, Alicia and Keanne, staying with Ekisa right now who I know from home; in fact, one of them is one of my sister’s best friends and I’ve known her since she was in kindergarten. In regards to the whole Africa experience, a safari was on the top of their list and I figured it was the perfect time for me to experience it for myself.

We (Alicia, Keanne, myself and one of our other volunteers, Hannah) travelled to Kampala on a Wednesday morning to catch a free shuttle from Oasis Mall and had a really great relaxing evening at the Red Chili Hideaway where we’d be leaving from the next morning. It was actually the first time Alicia and I had time to catch up and it was so great to share details of my life here with her and answer all of her questions about Uganda.

The next morning at 7:30am, we headed out and spent the vast majority of the day travelling up to Murchison National Park. The only real break in the day was a stop at the top of Murchison Falls and a consequent hike that took us along falls and around to get a better look. A rain cloud that was looming in the distance took this opportunity to blow over us so all this took place while a light rain fell and thunder competed with the roar of the falling water.

We rolled into camp around 5 that evening and received a quick orientation which included strict instructions to store all food items in a large container at the bar overnight so the warthogs that roam the camp wouldn’t rip through our tents; we also received a quick warning that if hippos decided to join us, we were to keep a very safe distance. After we settled in, we enjoyed dinner and a glass of wine sitting around a fire that refused to light due to the rain; a fact we were grateful for as we instead watched an incredible lightning storm over the park that lit up the sky with sharp, jagged forks of white light.

The next day, we left camp at 6:30am to catch a ferry into Murchison Park and enjoyed a long morning driving along the labyrinth of dirt roads that weave through the 3840 square kms of the park. It wasn’t long before our cameras were glued to our faces taking shots of giraffes, warthogs, elephants, buffalo, hippos and all sorts of antelope.

After a lunch break back at camp, we headed out again, this time aboard a boat that took us on a 3 hour trip to the base of Murchison Falls. We were fortunate during that ride to add alligators and monitor lizards to our list of sightings.

The second night in camp, we played cards and got to know our safari mates a little better (2 Americans, a South Korean and 2 “lady friends” from Belgium), all of us doing our best to hold out until 9pm to retire to our tents given how tired we were from our long day; that was the time we all decided was late enough that we didn’t have to admit we weren’t 17 anymore.

Saturday morning, we headed out early again and braved another 4 hours of driving through the park, the first 30 minutes during  moderate rainfall, before heading south back to Kampala making two stops along the way; one for lunch and one for a quick hike down to Karuma Falls. The journey home ended at about 7:30pm when we crossed the bridge back into Jinja; over 12 hours from when we left Murchison. A long drive and another long day, for sure, but what an incredible time we had.

I recognize this post may read rather point form, but I wanted to share with pictures more than words (a fact I know many of you will appreciate). So, like many times before, click here. Concerning the music, was there every any question? J