We were all packed for our 7am pick up at the house, this was our first trek of the trip. We had a lot to cover in a few days but we were up and ready to go. Wilson, our driver picked us up at 7am sharp. Luckily for him, we’re three rule followers so when he says he’s going to arrive at 7, we are ready to go at 7.
Ahhhhh the traffic of Kampala. This was our first time to actually see how this works and I have to say, it’s even more crazy on a Monday morning, when folks are trying to get to work, in the daylight. Cars everywhere, people all over, boda-boda’s weaving in and out- makes any traffic in the states look like a Sunday afternoon drive in the country. I think the biggest thing is that cars just don’t stop (I have yet to see a stop sign) and nudge their way out into the traffic, which blocks the traffic coming the other way and then all hell breaks loose with folks crossing…. It’s a mess. I could never drive here. Never, ever. Nor would I ever want to. I’d be afraid I’d run over one of these poor people.
Our first stop on the agenda was the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. There are no native rhinos in Uganda so they created this park where they now have 16 rhinos. We were all pretty excited and as soon as we got there, we paid our entrance fee and off we went to find some rhinos. We drove about 3-4 miles, then our park guide and us got out to go on a walk. The grass was pretty tall but not too thick, and little wet because it had rained overnight. We walked maybe a mile and there he was—- the male Rhino! He was huge!! We were so excited to see him and took a ton of pictures. Our park guide told us about the rhinos and where they came from. One of the rhinos came from Kenya and another was donated by Animal Kingdom in the US- they had a baby and named it Obama, which made us and the Park Ranger laugh. They take pride in having these rhinos in their country and the fact that their survival depends on keeping them safe and healthy.
We continued our walk and found a mommy and baby. He estimated the baby was 3 -4 months old. With these two rhinos were 2 Park Rangers that were following the pair. They watch them 12hrs a day to make sure they are safe from poachers. Even though there is a fence around the park, you can never be too safe. We spent about an hour with the pair and at one point the large male joined the mom and baby. Rhinos don’t typically hang out with a female and her baby so the male was off on his own rather fast. The baby actually charged at us and was about 25 yards away when he stopped and ran back to his mommy with a playful bounce. The male rhinos horn had been cut of by the park rangers to prevent fighting. It will grow back in 2-3 yrs. Also, rhinos have bad eye sight and good hearing, plus they drink 60-70 liters of water a day- holy hydration!! It was worth the stop- rhinos are just chubby unicorns!
We stopped and got some lunch at a restaurant along the way. I had a BLT and French fries with Heinz ketchup! YAY Heinz! We also stopped and got some roasted plantains and a root vegetable called cassava, which tasted like mashed potatoes. Pretty tasty but definatly needed some butter.
Murchison Falls is about a 5 hour drive, in northwestern Uganda and the largest national park. The park sites on two sides of the Victoria Nile, about 71 miles long. We reached our turn off road and Wilson warned us about baboons. Apparently they are the menace of the animal kingdom. They will jump in the windows of the car or steal your bags if you have any kind of food in there they want. Trust me, I witnessed one doing exactly this and it took all of 10 seconds. The baboons were everywhere along the road and weren’t in any hurry to move out of the way.
The landscape was a very thick and dense “woods”, with a lot of trees and understory “bushes”. We finally made it to the top of Murchison Falls and it was pretty intense. The waters of the Nile are squeezed down to a narrow opening, the Falls, about 23 feet wide and plunge about 141 feet. It was loud and that water was moving fast. We took some pictures, stretched our legs and were off to catch the ferry across to our lodge for the night.
We made it across the Nile and waiting for us were a bunch of baboons. I have to say, they are sneaking little aholes- kinda cool but sneaky as can be. We also saw a few hippos in the water. Our lodge was right up the road and we got all checked in, just in time for a beer by the pool and dinner.
Dinner was good- a buffet of various foods. The beer is meh, although the Nile Gold was the best we’ve had so far. We were off to bed because we had our first game drive into the park the next day.