I decided to have a different night and day, a wild and adventurous one. Murchison Falls National Game Park was the chosen destination.
When you are having a different day in Uganda, you either stay in the city or drive to the village……your home village! I was doing neither of the two so, when people asked, I didn’t really know what to say, because I was actually going to a Game Park with friends: Jan, Rowe, Dan, Amanda, Rico, and Will.
It seemed such a foreign idea to me, to be going to the Game Park for a different day……but then again, how many opportunities do you get to take time off with your friends and take a trip out of town?
The friends who accompanied me on the trip had visited the park before. But I was a first-time tourist. We set off with a driver to the north western district of Arua, to spend a night and a day in the scenic comfort of Murchison Falls National Game Park.
The trip started from Gulu Town where my friends and I had visited my family members a day after Christmas. The traffic jam that led us out of Gulu Town all the way to down to Arua should have prepared me for the hordes of people in every town we entered, but I did not expect this to be the case in the Game Park. With hind sight, I realize I should not have had any misgivings about telling people where I was headed.
There were numerous other Ugandan and white families spending their holiday in the Park. Apart from it being a learning experience for the children and a fun activity for the family, this experience opened my eyes to how much we had all been missing out on by sticking to un-written rules in Uganda of what one can or cannot do during a different day.
By the time we arrived at the Park, we were already late for the evening Game drive. But on the way entering Park, we had seen antelopes, didicks, kob and we had also managed to catch several close-range sightings of elephant families as they returned home grazing.
The driver and I headed back to the Murchison Safari Camp Canteen to buy some chapartis and drinks for dinner for the gang. The staff at Murchison Safari Camp, our home for the night, were friendly, and the accommodation and scenery so amazing.
A different day dawned bright and beautiful but we were running late for our early morning Game drive. Our object of affection on this day was the Lion pride. we saw three of them lying beside the path yawning normally. I can almost say I know how the three wise men from the east felt as they followed the bright morning star to find Baby Jesus. The question on the tourists lips was, ’’Have you seen the Lions?’’
The peaceful giraffes were also lovely to look at and there were many other wild animals to see. There was also the nice green vegetation and lovely savanna with bright cloud cover up in the sky and the cool air blowing freely. The weather and the landscape were absolutely fantastic.
We were lucky to have seen the three yawning lions as we had to cut our game drive short to catch the 11:00am ferry ride across the Nile. Our plan was to put the van on the ferry, cross the Nile, have breakfast on the other side, and then to head to the Murchison Fall.
Luckily, we managed to get to the ferry crossing point in time and we secured seats on one of the two launches headed out at the time. Several families were left stranded as all the day’s planned trips were fully occupied by those who came earlier. They had to settle for a tour of the visitor’s information center, where they got a brief history of the park.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that our ferry was almost equally filled with both Ugandans and foreigners. This showed me how much we have come to appreciate our indigenous holiday destination.
While we were on the ferry we saw, on the far shores and in the waters of the Nile, hippoes, buffaloes, several species of birds flying on top of the water, and beautiful scenery of the cliffs alongside the Nile. Our driver and guide had interesting tid-bits of information on the different things we saw. I was really excited to see several real life pumbas (warthogs) and timmons [merkats].
We enjoyed a tasty, special different-day breakfast at Chillie Restaurant before embarking on our next adventure to Murchison Falls.
At the Falls, we only saw a handful of people!! The Falls were a cascade of sparkling water against the rocks, causing water vapor to be blown by the strong wind and falling over us, even though we were almost 15m away. For me, this was like snow falling over me.
Suffice to say that a different day in the National Game Park was an interesting day. The other tourists who didn’t get to see the lions were like King Herod looking for the elusive baby Jesus.
I can hardly find the words to describe the beauty of this area. A typical Kampala dweller would kill to have the cool weather Murchison has to offer; the fresh air, the lovely sound of streams rushing over the beautiful Rift Valley as they flow towards Sudan and Egypt to water the refreshing greens of the Murchison river flats; the feeling of being at the shore of the famous River Nile as you look north and imagine the water flowing into the Mediterranean Sea beyond Egypt!!It was all breath taking.