Fire and Water
Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn’t see many animals.
The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on the other side. Many stretches of black ground with new shoots of grass. Several stretches were on fire. This was the best. Where the fires were burning, dozens of storks were gathered. Ali told us they love fire. They were circling in the air above the flames, then landing on the still-warm ash, evidently enjoying the roasted insects.
At noon, we stopped for a sandwich at a high-end resort. After lunch, we boarded a small (20 passenger) boat for a cruise up the Nile. We saw hippos, crocodiles, elephants, lots of deer and many exotic-looking birds. After about an hour, we rounded a bend and Murchison Falls came into view.
Murchison Falls is where the entire* White Nile flows through a 25 foot wide slot of rock. It is very violent, the most impressive stretch of water we have ever seen. This includes Niagara Falls and the turbulent Niagara River. Murchison Falls is only a few hundred feet long from where the Nile enters until the exit.
The boat let us off about 1/2 mile before the falls. We were in a group of about 15, the rest were all Germans. With a ranger, we followed a trail that climbed higher and higher, with frequent viewpoints overlooking the falls. As we got closer, another smaller, more conventional waterfall came into view. *In 1962, there were excessive rains and the Nile broke through and formed another waterfall that is still there, taking a small amount of the water.
At the top, we were able to look down on the narrow slot that forms the falls. It was a very impressive display of hydro power.
Ali, our guide was waiting in the truck. We drove for nearly an hour, through a bunch of Chinese road building to a ferry that took us back across the river. The sun was setting as we drove through the park on the way back to our lodge. We passed lots of fires and saw many animals as they started to get more active in the evening. After we passed the park exit gate, we saw a family of elephants. Later, when we got to the highway, we had to stop to let a giraffe cross, barely visible in the dark.
Back in our hot, humid room, we took cold showers and were able to pass out and get some sleep before our 4:30 wake up.