Monday, July 16, 2007

Murchison Falls - Day 1

Last Friday morning we went to the Red Chilli backpacker’s hotel to start this trip to Murchison Falls National Park in the western part of the country, northwest of Kampala, at the top of Lake Albert. The Red Chilli package is ideal because in includes transportation from the Red Chilli in Kampala to the Red Chilli in Murchison and we had no desire to drive the six hours ourselves on the pothole-riddled, construction-filled road. Fred drove the eight-seater van; joining me, J, N., and S., were four British college students who had spent the past couple of weeks digging latrines in a village, or perhaps just directing people on how to dig latrines, it was unclear.

After six hours in the car and a stop for lunch in Masindi, we reached the actual Falls. Look how happy I am to be out of that friggin car:

A hike brought us to a spot where we could see the Falls head on. There was a smaller waterfall to the left and all we could see of Murchison Falls itself was the huge spray coming off of it. The smaller waterfall is said to have been created in 1962, the same year Uganda gained independence, and is therefore called Uhuru, the Swahili word for independence. However, my Brandt guide says there are older aerial photos that proves the waterfall was there before 1962.

From there we backtracked and went to the top of the Falls. Behind us the Nile snaked languidly away from us, while we could turn the opposite direction and feel the spray on our faces as the water pummeled the rocky walls lining the narrow gorge.

We contemplated how long it would take you to die if you jumped in. And then we got back in the van. At the Red Chilli we drank beers and played card games until the bar closed down at 11:58. On our walk back to our banda we discovered the generator gets turned off at exactly midnight, leaving us to find the rest of our way to our beds and sweet, sweet sleep, in the pitch dark.

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