Jessica Sunter travelled in the northern part of Uganda near the Congo and Sudan borders in February, accompanying Canadian experts who were working with local cooperatives. The group decided to take a weekend break at Murchison Falls National Park.
Uganda is a land-locked country in East Africa. It is said to be one of the poorest countries in the world and it was certainly very poor where we were travelling. Generally there was no running water, no power, the toilet just a hole in the ground. Towns were little more than roadside stops for trucks that were travelling through to the Sudan. The roads themselves were narrow and rough.
The country has seen a lot of tragedy, both under the dictator Idi Amin and during the civil war with the Lord’s Resistance Army. But the people are very friendly and quite willing to discuss the past. There were few tourists, at least where we were.
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest park in Uganda. I have been on other safaris so seeing the “big five” (buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, and rhinoceros) was not particularly important although I have always had a special love of elephants so always like seeing them. This park has four of the “big five”; there are no rhinos.
There certainly are many hippopotamuses and we passed them as well as giraffes and elephants just on our drive in.
And there are all kinds of birds including the rare shoebill stork.
After we arrived, we took a cruise down the Nile to see the falls. There were lots of crocodiles and hippos in the water and along the shoreline but I probably would never had noticed them if it were not for the guide who seemed to spot everything. You can take a walk around the falls and I would certainly do that another time.
The Paraa Lodge where we stayed was amazing and the service and food were great. We all could have stayed another day just to lounge around the pool, which looks over the Nile. After dinner there was this fantastic show of dancing, singing and music. They got us all up dancing too. When I went to bed, someone had pulled the mosquito netting around my bed and I felt very well taken care of.
We were up super early the next morning to see the sun rise and go on a safari. We used our own pickup trucks and drivers (we sat in the back so visibility was good) so it was inexpensive. There were few others in the park.
We saw giraffes, impalas, baboons, water buffalo, crocodiles, hippos, warthogs, and lots of monkeys. Someone saw a leopard in a tree. We didn’t see a lion, which was disappointing to some. We watched the sun rise over this very beautiful landscape.
The other tourists we met were just about as interesting as the wildlife. Not the sort of people you would run into every day at home.
Altogether, it was a very good trip.
Read about other safaris
A safari in Bundala and Yala National Parks, Sri Lanka
Safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Stuck in the mud on a Tanzanian safari
By Jessica Sunter
Photo credits Jessica Sunter
© Riding the buses 2013