Monday, 23 May 2016

The Sounds of Northern Uganda.

We continue on our amazing adventure after the amazing and incredible adventure on the slopes of mountain Elgon, The sipi falls. 

Having spent a night at the famous and luxury designed Mount Elgon Hotel, we embarked on a journey full of fun and adventure. Through the war torn villages of northern Uganda, enroute the famous Murchison falls National Park, We made a stop at the Nyero rock paintings 7kms away from kumi town. The Nyero Rock paintings are historical architects painted by the karimojong itesots and the batwa ethnic groups dated about 6000, 4000 and 5000 years back. We visited a number of caves beneath the rocks as we made the tour with a site guide. A small story about the tribe here,

The itesots and the karimojong in the early centuries were the same people living in northern
karamoja region. When the area was hit by famine, a section of these nilotics decided to graze their cows south of the karamoja in search of pasture and water for thier animals, However their comrades warned them that they are headed for death disaster. In karamoja language iteso means death, so the area that these members migrated and settled is an area refered to as the death area and that’s how they were finally called the itesots occupying these areas of Kumi and soroti regions.

 As we headed out of the rocks we saw this irresistible scenic view on a rock and being adventurous, we decided to go hike this rock. The great views of the karamoja plains were spectacular and were worth the hike.

We later Boarded our safari land cruiser and headed north through soroti town and later found this seasonal market we couldn’t just pass without a visit. Well this wasn’t part of our program but these are things you don’t want to miss when you travel to Uganda. These markets give you a clear definition of what travel to Uganda is all about and we did spend an hour going through the different sections of the market from foodstuffs, clothes, hardware shops, local restaurants and yes we had a one-one with the local people. Their wish to locally chew the sugar cane was fulfilled as we had the chance to buy, cut, chop and chew the cane. 

After the successful market visit, we then proceeded to lira for some foreign exchange just before we headed to Murchison Falls. Usually this is a recommended stop for refilling gas en-route Murchison even when on a self drive car rental in Uganda or still guided trip. It’s also a recommended place for shopping fresh foods if you are headed for camping to the Murchison falls National Park. There’s a central market you can round up all the shopping you need from fresh to packed. I would personally also recommend doing foreign exchange of the monies here if you will need loose them in the park because neither of the above will you find after you get into the park boundaries.

There are 3 entrances from the northern side into the park and yes the purongo gate is the most common used and the most interesting. The 43km stretch to paraa safari lodge is more less a day’s games drive. You probably will have to encounter almost half of the Murchison falls wild animals on a game drive. The seemingly short 43kms took us about 2 and half hours to cover because of the photographic opportunities we encountered that were irresistible. Very much a good idea to maintain the 40km/hr speed not for the safety of the animals and yourself but also for great chances of sightseeing. The great evening was climaxed with a good treat at the paraa safari lodge with a great dinner and overnight.

Day 4. Game drive and river Nile boat cruise.
We were ready at the vehicle by 6:30am for our morning game drive. It’s quite a good idea to

always start the day earlier and proceed for a day game drive by 6am. Even when you decide on a self drive car rental with Auto Rental Uganda, it’s not just an idea but also a trick if you do not want to use a ranger guide and you probably don’t know the ways or the location for the animals. Animals are usually very active in the morning hours just before sunrise lazy and reluctant during daytime.  So you stand chances of seeing a lot during morning hours and also there are always other safari vehicles on a the same game drive that you can either ask for any sighting or simply follow and what they see, is what you can see.

After an hour’s drive at our pace, almost the last behind taking our own routes, we were lucky to meet a pride of lions which others didn’t see walking on the same track we were driving. We drove watching the lions, following the kings of the jungle for about an hour and left them relaxing just besides a thicket. A lot of other animals were in plenty including the huge elephants and the elusive Rothschild Giraffes.

Our drive led us to the hippo pool on the Albert Nile where the Mighty River Nile joins the Lake Albert as it proceeds up north. This has always been my perfect spot for a spectacular bush breakfast. Overlooking a peninsular and a school of hippos is a great spot for a breakfast. With no time i set up the camp table and the chairs for our bush breakfast. This was a 45mins relaxed breakfast as we watched the elephants across on the lake peninsular and the playful hippos in the pool. When we were done with our nice, relaxed breakfast we proceeded for our second part of the game drive. This took us through the lake Albert view track with a lot of antelopes, bucks, warthogs, buffalos, Giraffes and so many bird species just besides the lakeside. We were blocked by elephants on several occasions as we drove through the woodland area of the southern part of Murchison. This was the same track that led us out and back to the lodge. Time check was 11:30am when we checked-in back to the lodge for a relax and for lunch just so they could get ready for the afternoon boat cruise.

In the afternoon we were down to the jetty to get ready for the afternoon boat cruise.  Number of companies offer boat cruises to the bottom of the falls. The Uganda wildlife Authority, Wild frontiers and paraa safari lodge have different times for boat departures. All have their bookings before the departure. Very much recommended you reserve your boat ticket just immediately you return from the game drive. The ticket for the boat cruise costs $30 for foreign residents and 20,000ugx for east citizens with the UWA boat. Other companies charge $30 irrespective of nationality.

I let Joy and selinah proceed with the cruise as I waited back for them to return. They did love the boat cruise as they had lots to explain about the boat trip. They did see lots of hippos, bucks, elephants, crocodiles, birds and the most spectacular waterfall seen from the bottom falling 45m. They were able to see the second waterfall created in 1962 when the Nile river over flooded and same year when Uganda got its independence. 

Our day ended with a treat of a birthday for joy during dinner time. It’s very much possible to celebrate a loved one’s birthday with the help of the hotels staff if alerted in advance. The whole staff crew will come out of the kitchen and sing, dance and jump singing the birthday melodies. You can order a cake and as you sit having your desert, they are capable of putting a surprise for you or the loved one. 

Join me next time as i continue with this amazing adventure as we proceeded south of the country to the ziwa Rhino sanctuary and the spectacular waterfalls on the top with Auto Rental Uganda, car rental and self drive safaris.

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