Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day 3-4: Murchison Falls

After another lunch at Red Chilli (no warthogs, but a shower!), we took a boat up the Albert Nile to the base of Murchison Falls (named for the head of the Royal Geographic Society by someone cleverly trying to get in good with the big man, I’m thinking). Along the way we saw hordes of hippos (a group is called a school, we were told), a couple of crocodiles, and some wonderful weaver birds that build nests that look like Christmas ornaments in the trees.

The boat doesn’t get terribly close to the falls and we could only see them from a distance, but our group got off the boat and clambered up on some rocks where we met yet another guide who led us on a steep trail up to the top. I could tell my triathlon training was far behind me as I needed to stop and pant several times on the way up.

But it was so worth it! There’s a second branch to the falls that you can’t see from the boat, formed in 1962, the year of Ugandan independence. At the top, we could get close to the falls. No fences blocked the view. No crowds either. Including the six of our group, there were maybe a dozen people at the top of the falls.

We camped there at a site just past the falls, looking down at the water. With clear skies, the stars came out looking very unfamiliar in the southern setting. I went to bed early, still sweating, it felt, from the climb up the falls. There was an outhouse at the campsite, but I had to go from the tent down a hill and across a track to an outhouse that I had noted earlier contained a lot of spiders. My prayer before bed that night was that God would have mercy on me and keep me from needing to use the bathroom during the night. I am happy to report that God heard my plea.

In the morning, once again we were up before sunrise so we could leave the park before being charged for another day. As I sat eating my breakfast, a hippo climbed out on a rock in the middle of the river, then eased itself in again. Flocks of white egrets flew in formation in front of the green hills across the river. The sun rose right in front of us. And then we packed everything away and left.

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