Saturday, July 14, 2012

Safari on the Savannah

This week marked a few bittersweet changes for our group. Sadly, we said goodbye to our fearless leader of 5 weeks, Dustin, as he traveled back to the States. Also, we parted temporarily with our peer, Jayanni, as she traveled to Gulu and will be working on a project with our 2nd, yet equally amazing, fearless leader, Julia, who we welcomed back to Uganda last Friday. Despite these departures, this week brought with it some pleasant opportunities as well, namely a few days of rest and relaxation in the capital city of Kampala in addition to my first safari experience. On Wednesday, I along with Madeline and Damaris, traveled by bus to Murchison Falls National Park. After yet another (our third) unfortunate car breakdown, we made it to the park early evening and hiked to the top of Murchison Falls. The view of the natural fall’s waters cascading down the rocks of the mountainside was breathtaking. After sleeping in our tents in fear of unwelcome visits by the wild animals which roam the campsite inside of the park at night, we rose early on Thursday morning and crossed the Nile river by ferry to go on our first game drive. From the roof of our minibus, we were able to view an assortment of animals roaming the savannah grasslands, namely various types of antelope, buffalo, elephants, and many giraffes. Regrettably, the lions were hiding from all of us safari-goers that day. After resting and recovering from the scorching afternoon heat, we cruised the Nile by boat during which time we saw other wildlife in the water and along the banks, mostly hippos and Nile crocodiles. The cruise culminated with another incredible view of Murchison falls. Our final morning of the trip consisted of one last, short game drive, which turned out to be arguably the best one of all because, although a fleeting view, I finally saw what I had been waiting for the entire trip, a lion! Simba in the flesh. :-) Before finally heading back to Kampala, we stopped in Karuma for a short hike and view of the waterfalls there as well. Although I must admit that camping amidst undomesticated animals is not necessarily my cup of African tea, this was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. Viewing a giraffe cross the road and sunset on the Nile are vivid images that will be etched in my mind for many years to come. Please see Damaris' post below for some awesome pics! Until next time...

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