Murchison Falls – Ugandan safari with a smile

I miss Uganda. ♥ So, here’s an older article of mine.
[I did write a Romanian version, but this piece’s perspective is different.
And it comes again on Friday - busy week again.]

Arriving in Uganda is a colour shock. Landing in Entebbe meant staring at the red earth I had only encountered in Argentina and not willing to let go of that sight.
Driving the 40+ minutes to Kampala made me realise that I wasn’t hallucinating, by any means, and that I was indeed in a very beautiful and diverse country. The following morning, after some more staring from my hotel terrace found in the Ntinda area and offering postcard sunset/sunrise views, I started to understand that I was adapting pretty fast to the hectic life of the Ugandan capital and that I felt no longer intimidated by the traffic jams. On the other hand, the fascination for the Marabou storks lingered. My first animal encounter on East African soil. So far so good.
The road out of Kampala and up north continued to be a reddish/green contrast, with some very scenic ascents and descents and a heat that was literally too much to handle. My offline map app stopped working, so my boyfriend and I had to resort to asking the locals. This was fun because they all spoke excellent English, gave us very good directions, and were extremely kind and friendly. It so goes that, in-between baboon sightings, asphalt roads turned into dirt roads and shrank in size. We had made a right turn at Purongo and the scenery was already dazzling!
‘There is a slight problem’ we were welcomed with a smile while paying the entry tickets at Murchison Falls National Park.
Everybody paused.
‘The ferry isn’t working. So, to get to your accommodation, you must leave your car and proceed by boat. From there, you will have to walk probably 600 metres.’
Aaah, only that. In a Ugandan fashion, I’ve grown accustomed to quite fast, I simply know that I needn’t fuss about it, that things will fall into place in the end.
Ugandan kobs; Murchison Falls NP, Uganda
I don’t think that we were ready for what followed, but the animals in Murchison Falls NP are nothing but shy. And there’s a whole lot of them to see! Ugandan kob, impala, waterbuck, the hartebeest you can only spot in Uganda, or the ever-watchful warthog – they all stick so closely to the road. Of course, the Marabou storks are still accompanying us and, after a turn, there’s our first animal of the Big 5 – an angry buffalo.
Buffalo; Murchison Falls NP, Uganda
Puzzled – that’s how I feel, by the multitude and beauty of the animals I see. I got so caught up in observing them, that I didn’t have a chance to look around: the park is lovely! At times, you’ve got shady parts and then valleys follow as far as the eye can see, full of tall grass and sealed by a row of palm trees on the horizon line. Quite a romantic setting!
Waterbuck; Murchison Falls NP, Uganda
We both nod and we are then in awe when I hear Marcel scream ‘Look! A giraffe!’. I know that we are not supposed to get out of the car, but we do, only for a few seconds, to feel closer to this majestic creature!
Giraffe; Murchison Falls NP, Uganda
Nature is wonderful, these moments fill you up with joy and we seldom realise how happy we get – these were my thoughts all the way to the mighty Nile. We left the car, paid for the boat and managed to cross in no time. A ranger was also heading to the other bank. His trained eyes could see the three hippos in the water in milliseconds. Humidity was stark, but we were smiling because we knew that we were witnessing a perfect ending to our day.
That night we had dinner three meters away from warthogs and slept in a tent while hearing a baby hippo delicately grazing.
We headed back in the morning and helped a very nice local get to the main road in Purongo. He told us about the Borassus trees originally from South Sudan and seemed terrified when we stopped to take pictures of another buffalo. It looked ready to charge, indeed. Animal watching in the bright morning light turned into extraordinary memories. Talking about Ugandan lifestyle completed the entire picture. We saw so many giraffes… one of them actually stood still, at the end of the trail, waiting for us to get closer and making us wonder if curiosity was instilled in our hearts as much as it was in its own.
As soon as we got through the park gate, we noticed a gracious and colourful young woman carrying something on her head, an image that screamed ‘Africa’ to me. We stopped and asked her if we could give her a lift. She said she lived two houses away and smiled.
Park exit to Purongo, Uganda
The dust of the main road seemed to wake us up and prepare us for the long drive ahead, south this time. Some sweet banana muffins in our packed breakfast bag made us linger, though, in the reality of the wilderness that was all around, not only framed by invisible natural reserve boundaries.      

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