When Lonely Planet list a safari as one of the most budget-friendly in East Africa you just have to check it out don’t you? In the word budget friendly, there’s something that triggers my backpacking instincts
And besides, after a long pause from the animals of South Africa I felt like it was time for a second visit into the animal kingdom – this time to the Murchison Falls National Park in North-Western Uganda. The park itself is named after a place where the 50meter wide Nile narrows into a 6m gap in the rocks, and then drops 40meters. We went both to the top and to the bottom of the falls. You really witness true power by Mother Earth standing on that edge, hearing the roar, tasting the moist, and seeing the forces of the white water. The geeky parts of Karl thinks of MWh produced if commercialized, the adrenaline junkie-Karl thinks of rafting possibilities (HELL NO!), while the normal Karl just enjoys another magnificent moment on his world trip.
There was also time for safari; we did a morning game drive (in a 4WD matatu-style vehicle!), and spotted the full range of animals – where the most amazing being a lioness and her two cubs. Even though I actually would have preferred not seeing them, since we did interfere too much with wildlife at that point. What happened was that our park-ranger and driver suddenly drove 250meter off the park roads (not allowed) and then stopped 3 meters from the cubs and the lioness (who was chewing up a prey). And we weren’t the only ones, soon after, 6 cars where circling the big cat and her two kittens. If I was a lion I would certainly felt that my comfort zone was being invaded. BUT, well well –what can I do about it? We had a park ranger, and it was because of the communicating park-rangers that the spot got crowded. Nevertheless, to see two cubs in the wild, that close, was THE moment of the safari-trip. I feel extremely lucky (and a bit guilty).
Of course there were other animals in the park as well. Actually in my opinion this park had more wildlife than the Kruger Park, strange – because not many have heard about Murchison Falls as a prime park for wildlife, while everyone knows that Kruger is a must-see.
The afternoon the second day we had a Nile River Cruise, which led to some close-up meetings with dangerous wildlife (hippos are the animal that kills most people, so I’ve heard) When we was close to the Nile-Crocodile I actually in a jokeful way asked the boat captain if he wants the tourists to tap the Crocodile on his head. Not too much laugher from that guy – But damm, we were close!
The last day of the trip was devoted to Chimpanzee trekking. We were going to trek trough another tropical rainforest in search for mans closest relative! I was exited, and well prepared for what was supposed to be a three-hour trek. Almost disappointed we actually located the chimps after 30minutes, but the “disappointment” of too little effort soon vanished when we actually got to spend almost 2 hours watching these amazing animals, and listening to their classical “pant-hoots”. Unfortunately they are not that easy to photograph, but I’ll remember the experience a long time. My neck also remember those two hours, constantly looking up means seldom used neck muscles get pushed into action. Chimp trekking is on par with their bigger genealogical brothers in the Rwandan Mountains, absolutely recommended!