Jill's African Adventure
* Rafting the Nile
* Murchison Falls
* A Day in The Life
* Hell's Gate
* Nairobi and Around (Part 2)
* Nairobi and Around (Part 1)
* A Dhow Trip From Lamu
* Watamu: Ruins, Monkeys, Shrews, and Jellyfish
* Hiking in Lushoto
* Changing E-mail Address
* The Problems of Itete
* Village Life
* Hanging Out in Dar
* Zanzibar - Music Festival & Prison Island
* Zanzibar (Jozani Forest & Jambiani)
* Zanzibar (Stone Town & Spice Tour)
* Future Plans
* Safari!!! (Part 7 - Mikumi Park)
* Safari!!! (Parts 5 & 6 -- Rodent and Itete)
May 11, 2005
I arrived in Uganda about a week and a half ago. I spent a few uneventful, lazy days in Kampala. (The highlight was going to Shoprite, a grocery store. So much food all in one place!!! I was extremely excited to find both rice cakes and rice crackers. I've been travelling a long time...) I then joined a tour group for a trip up to Murchison Falls on the Nile River.
The trip was a lot of fun. Not only did I get to see lots of neat stuff, but it was nice to be on a tour where someone else was making all the arrangements for me for a couple of days. And I was with a great group of people. There were eight of us in total. In addition to myself there were: Dave, a chef from England who had just finished a Nairobi to Cape Town overland tour; Jeff and Tannis, two Canadians who publish a gap year/ career break magazine called Verge and are here doing a story on a doctor working in Uganda; Natalia, an American working for Doctors without Borders; Darren, a doctor who just finished up doing his residency out here; Byron, an engineer from California who just quit his job to go travel; and Martin, a German doing Educational work for an NGO. One of the rewards of travelling in Africa is all the really awesome people I get to meet, whether they be travelling, volunteering, or studying assasin bugs.
We were on a three day tour, the first day of which consisted mostly of driving out to Murchison, which was a long journey, not all of which is doable via public transport (which is why I joined a tour). The only eventful part of the drive up was that we left early, an experience which I had not yet had in Africa. Actually, I think it may have been the only time in the last four months that I've left on time.
In any case, we arrived at the park in the late afternoon and went for a walk to see the top of the falls. We only walked for about 40 minutes in total, but it seemed like a difficult walk because it was so ridiculously hot (and a lot of it was uphill). We saw two falls, Murchison and Uhuru. Uhuru Falls were just created in the 60s. There was a lot of rain that year and the river destroyed a bridge in the process of cutting a new path and Uhuru Falls was created. The falls were beautiful, but what was really impressive was how massively powerful they were. We got to see the falls from a variety of different viewpoints. My favorite was one fairly close to the falls. There was lots of spray coming up from the falls which felt absolutely wonderful and kept us cool. It also created a rainbow in the spray. It was amazing, because the rainbow was now just an arch, it reached around I would guess about 270 degrees, almost making a whole circle. There was also a second, incomplete rainbow on the outside of the first rainbow. I think that it was the first time I have ever seen a double rainbow.
After walking around the top of the falls we went to our camp. From the restaurant/lounge there was a lovely view over the river and we got to watch an incoming storm. I also got to see the second double rainbow that I have ever seen. And I think that the inner rainbow was the brightest rainbow that I have ever seen -- the area it bounded was bright white while all the area outside of it was dark storm gray.
The next morning we got up early and left for a game drive. We didn't see anything particularly exciting (no big cats), but the game drive was still wonderful. The scenery was beautiful: lots of grassland, rolling green plains dotted with trees, the Nile, and a view of the Blue Mountains, which are on the border with the Congo. Then, of course, there were the animals. In addition to elephant, baboons, hippo, giraffe and warthog we saw many different types of antelope, including bushbuck (witth beautiful white fawn-like markings) waterbuck, and hartebeast, which have heart-like faces and which I think are my favorite antelope. A favorite sighting was a group of mongooses (mongeese?) running across the road. Unfortunately, they disappeared into the bush very quickly. We also saw a large variety of birds including crested egret, hornbill, fish eagle, hammercock, and a couple of crested cranes which are really beautiful and which are the national bird of Uganda.
I have become quite interested in birds since arriving in Africa. The bird here are so much more colorful and more beautiful than the birds at home. I started watching them for their brilliant colors and while doing so realized that birds can be pretty neat to watch and now even can often be found watching the less-brilliant birds. In fact, I spent much of our mid-day break back at camp watching birds. I saw bright red ones, yellow and black weaver birds, a kingfisher, some sky blue ones, and a grayish-sort of one with a really long tail. I also saw a brilliant colored lizard. It was in the same tree as the birds, so I think it counts.
In the afternoon we went on a launch trip up the Nile to the base of Murchison Falls. We saw hippos, crocs, elephants, and waterbuck, but the highlight for me was the birds. I got to watch lots of fish eagles, cormorants, weaver birds, egrets, and tons of black and white kingfishers. Alas, the elusive shoebill stork was not to be found. The falls were also beautiful. I think from the bottom I got a better sense of just how powerful they were, although I liked the view from the top better. It was also just nice to be out on a boat on the river enjoying the wind, the rain, and the fresh air.
The next morning we left at 6am to go chimpanzee trekking. There was a 50/50 chance of seeing chimpanzees and, unfortunately, we did not see any. We did hear the chimps though and although I can't quite remember what they sounded like, I knew they were chimps when I heard them. Despite not seeing the chimps we had a wonderful 4 hour (easy) hike through the rainforest. We saw a hornbill bird and a couple of black and white colobus monkeys playing in the trees. We also saw a bunch of strangler figs, trees that grow on other trees in order to get their sunlight, eventually killing the host tree. There were also various spots in the forest where trees had fallen. This created a patch of sunlight where there were a lot of small green plants growing, carpeting those small sections of forest floor.
Posted by Jillian on May 11, 2005 02:59 AM
Category: East Africa
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