Signed up with Rosada with the Red Chilli for a short safari/camping trip up to Murchinson Fall and see the Nile Victoria. Started the trip off raining in the morning so instead of taking the bodas to the meeting point, we called special hire and asked to leave a little earlier. Of course, I forgot about the Ugandan time, usually meaning double the time. So of course, with the crazy morning traffic, we were late. We arrived at the Red Chilli with 10 mins to spare before departure. This was also when I realized that to the Ugandans, Americans have the worst accent. The Ugandan say Red Chilli as “Red Chee-li” not “Red Chil-li” like we do.
First, drive north to Masindi for lunch. It took about 4 hours with the traffic out of Kampala. I slept about half of it then watched the scenery. People outside of the capital live in huts build of muc and wooden sticks as the structure and dried grass as roof. Really wonder how the huts stand the heavy rain storms and what not. The better off people or the community buildings are built with bricks. Masindi is like any other town, with shops and restaurants line the main street. We had lunch at one of the hotels there. I had traditional Ugandan food. Posho - maize flour thick porridge, so thick that it’s almost like bread. G nut sauce - peanut sauce with some chopped veggies. Chapatti - Indian flat bread. Very yummy. Rolex - Chapatti + egg with onion, tomato.
Drove into the national park. The first part of the park was tropical rainforest, much cooler and greener. Then further into the park is the savannah, much warmer and drier. It’s so vast and incredible. It’s the largest protected park in Uganda, over 3900 km^2. There were bamboons, warthogs, Ugandan antelop and lizards all along the road.
The first part of the trip started with the hike up to the top of the falls. It was hot and humid, very much like my first couple of days, non stop sweating. It was totally worth it though. It was gorgeous and amazing being able to see the rush of water pounding the rocks and the views of the fall betweens cliffs. There’s really no words to describe the beauty of the fall, thinking that God had this made so long ago and I am standing there seeing what God has created.
We then head back to the camp site and settle in the tent and ordered dinner and meet other random people on a similar trip. In our group, I met Lisa Y., also a med student from Detroit doing her rotation in Masaka. Also met a group of ladies from France. One of them actually lives in Makindye near my guest house and she’s on this trip with her friends visiting. At the camp site, I end up hanging around with a group volunteering in an orphanage in Jinja. They are from all over US and some from Canada. End up mostly talking to Sarah M. and Amy F. Also met Robyn from UK who is doing research on fair trade in Uganda. Definitely learn from everyone that I have spoken with. From Robyn, learned about fair trade and how it works. From the Jinja group, learned about Ugandan orphanage and how the kids end up there and how they are kept from disappearing.
1st night there was really loud, therefore, did not get good sleep. I ended up keep waking up every 2-3 hrs from the mosquitos flying in the tent, crazy insects chirpping also every time I opened my eyes, definitely feel claustrophobic because of the mosquito net. Also it’s cold showers weekend and trying to keep myself from being food for mosquitos.
Game drive the next day was 4 hours and absolutely amazing. We are on the same minibus but with the top popped open so we can stand and look out. Also saw an amazing sunrise over the Nile as we ferried across to start the drive to the delta. Per our guide, we were lucky that day. We saw Ugandan antelopes, leopards x2, a lionness, water buffalo, hippos, elephants, giraffes, hornbills, baboons and warthogs. It wasn’t until we stopped for break when I saw that our guide carried a pretty hefty firearms for protection. Besides that, the scenery was gorgeous, from savannah to tropical rain forest to palm tree plains to seeing the mountain lines from Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s incredible that all this is all ust one national park. The weather was great too, just slightly overcast so it was cool. We were worried that it would be raining in the morning. No picture can really capture the overwhelming beauty of the park. Really wish my brother was here, he would totally love the trip.
Random moments - once one bus found the lionness, all other buses get the text so it ended up looking like 6 buses stalking the lionness like the paparazzi. As for the leopard, once we see it, we just sit there and wait for the leopard to climb down and run with the bus engine turned off.
Boat trip to the bottom of the fall is about 3.5 hours round trip. It started off rainy but the sun came out. Throughout the trip, saw lots of hippos, some elephants and some crocs. You definitely get to see the neverending view of the Nile Victoria. I can only imagine all the history that we learn about regarding the Nile in high school. The boat took us as close as they could but not as close as I was expecting. But it was still amazing. Also saw the site where Ernest Hemingway crashed his plane and called for help. For the rest of the trip, it was nice, just spending time with newly made friends.
Throughout the day, learned lots of history from the guides. Hippos live about 45 yrs, and only 1 bull in the pod. Hornbills marry for life. Winston Churchill built a bridge across the fall 1962 but was washed out after a year. Female water buffalo has w horn shape while males have the u shape. African elephant’s ear is the shape of Africa continent. Warthogs have strong senseof smell and will digg through anything for food. Once lion tasted human, will hunt human so needs to be kill.
Last part of the trip, we went to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and track the rhino up to about 10 meters close. They are incredible animals, very quiet but huge and definitely dangerous. The purpose of the sanctuary is to rebuild the rhino population before releasing them back into the wild in Murchinson National Park. They were extinct in the 70s during the civil unrest. Here’s a little tidbit, when rhino show aggression of tail waving, move near a tree ready to climb or stand behind a large tree. That was so comforting right before we started the tracking. haha. One of the baby rhino is name Obama because his mother was the rhino from US (Disney) and the father was from Kenya. This is how big the name Obama has become. It’s become restaurants’ name, name of dishes and flavor too.
Felt like I have learned so much but still not enough about Uganda. This is only part of Africa and there’s still so much to see. It’s amazing that there is still a part of the world that still all nature and the country is working hard to keep the beauty via eco tourism.