The sun has risen on a beautiful day. Last night we arrived too late to
see the beauty of where we were staying, but now that I have I am already anxious at the thought of having to leave. This place is astonishingly gorgeous.
We slept in safari tents at a cool little backpacker lodge called ‘The Red
Chilli Rest Camp’ and throughout the night we could hear the calls of various wild animals… It’s not something that one ever gets used to. Conversation over our early morning stretches and coffee was all about identifying the various night sounds and guessing at how close the various animals had been. Sounds travel in the bush at night so there’s no way of knowing for sure, but the laughing of the hyenas and the bellowing of the hippos sounded like they were right outside my tent. It was a little unnerving if I’m to be perfectly honest.
After dressing we left camp and caught a fairy across the Nile (Yip, that river is everywhere) to the side of the national park where most of the animals reside. We were immediately greeted by a large pod of hippos, bathing in the shallows against a the back drop of a rising sun. not the worst way to start a day – and confirmation on the distance and identity of at least one of the sets of the calls from out of the darkness last night.
The game drive on the other side was really beautiful – which sounds daftly obvious, but one runs out of sufficient words to praise the splendor of this continent and it’s myriad life forms. Too add to the hippos in the river, we saw buffalo for days, all types of buck (antelope), elephant and giraffes teased and more species of bird than I previously new existed. Like every tourist on safari, we were hoping to see some big cats, but alas we weren’t that lucky this time around. Animals aside though, there is a special feeling that you only get in the African wilderness – just being in such vast and timeless space overcomes one in a big and quiet way that is impossible to describe.
As if all that was not enough, we still had a boat ride along the Nile waiting for us…
Unlike the boat ride through populous Jinja, this boat ride was mostly silent once we got underway, but it did start off with a few words… a pre briefing on how to behave on a little boat when surrounded by hundreds and thousands of crocs and hippos and the occasional bathing bull elephant. It was a little sobering, but necessary obviously. Whatever risks there may have been however, the boat ride was pleasantly uneventful – in so far as being eaten goes. We did of course see a bunch more stuff and a sunset to match the morning’s sunrise.
The beautiful birds that we saw were the best part for me! King Fishers and African Fish Eagles seemed to be peering down at us from just about every branch – occasionally plunging beneath the water to fish out a wriggly snack, sometimes just watching and waiting in that regal way they have. Sipping our drinks and relaxing as we were, we felt rather royal too.
The climax of our little cruise were of course the Murchison Falls themselves. We took a million photos and spent as much time admiring its beauty as we could before finally being forced to raise the sun back to camp.
Tomorrow we’ll go to the top of the mammoth Murchison to get another perspective on it’s awesome splendor.