Monday, November 22, 2010

Lions, Giraffes, and tons of Laughs

It was October 2010,we had just finished an amazing week of work at Lacor Hospital in Uganda (, and we were ready for an adventure. Since this was our only stint in the northwest of the country we decided it was the perfect opportunity to visit Murchison Falls and go on what would be an unforgettable Safari. We'd tried to book with a few Safari companies earlier that week and we were out of luck in finding anyone to take us for that weekend for a reasonable price. Companies either had no openings or were asking for outrageously high prices of nearly $400 a person. Since there were only 3 of us, it was harder to negotiate a good price to rent a whole Safari Truck for the weekend. By calling around and going from one place to another someone eventually gave us the  number for a man named Robert. Robert, surprisingly to us, picked up immediately, was ready to drive up the next morning all the way from Kampala to Gulu to pick us up and take us on safari for 3 days, and take us back to Kampala, all for 240 bucks. He worked for African Adventure Travellers, and after checking out their website (, we decided the price and the package were right. As this Godsend fell into our laps, we couldn't refuse.

The next morning Robert picked us up from the hospital gates and we were on our way. He was a very nice and accommodating man, and best of all, he told us his real name was Robert Mugabe, which was good for a few laughs. I'm sure he's tired of the jokes by now but he didn't let on and was very good humored about it. The rest of the weekend, we joked around quite a bit, with us addressing Robert as Mr. President and he calling us Doctor. We pretended to be the special envoy of physicians sent to protect the president's health as he went on a wild safari. It made the experience that much sweeter.

We were lucky because since we were coming from Gulu, we were entering the park from the Northern gate, where most of the game was, so we would be able to go on 2 game drives for the prices of one. That first day we weren't too worried about spotting every single animal but on our casual drive we spotted giraffes, Uganda kob, buffalo, oribi, warthog and beautiful scenes of hills and valleys. Then we arrived at our campsite which Robert had arranged for, had some of the best burgers we've had in Uganda for a late lunch, and relaxed over some beers and a beautiful view of the valley below from our high cliff for the rest of the day, socializing with other campers and getting some much needed R&R.

The next day, early morning, we got our packed breakfast, got back on the safari bus and went for the real game drive. Robert and the other bus drivers all know each other well and whenever one spots a rare find such as a lion a leopard or an elephant he makes sure to let everyone else know so no one misses out on the action. The next few hours were absolutely breathtaking...of the sort that makes one feel amazed at life. Instead of describing all of what we saw I'll just post a few sampling of pictures.

Giraffe running from us :)

Mama and baby baboon

Giraffes chilling in the distance

Sunrise before the game drive.

The group with Robert and our safari guide/guard in the middle.

Little oribi pooping in front of us

water buck

lion cubs

Us on top of our safari bus

After a long game drive we came back in the afternoon for an amazing boat ride on the Nile upstream to the beautiful Murchison falls, the namesake of the park. The boat ride was very peaceful, and exciting, punctuated by the occasional crocodile and a plethora of hippos (who did indeed seem hungry hungry). I got to work on a killer tan on the boatride as well :). Then we came back to the campsite for a night of drinking, fun and great food. Robert was not only an awesome game driver but also very fun to hang out with.

The next day we again woke up early, this time to go to the top of Murchison falls, for the view below:


Then we went to see what I thought was the most amazing part of the trip, the rhinos at the rhino reserve. As we entered the reserve, we were greeted by the park rangers, who said we'd probably have to walk about half an hour after a short drive to see the rhinos. However, just 5 minutes into our drive into the park, a beautiful alpha male jumped in front of our car, took us all by surprise, and posed for us for the next half hour. His majesty was unspeakable and he stared us in the face.

This was the perfect punctuating end to our amazing 3 day journey. It was....words can't describe it. Afterwards we drove on home towards Kampala, stopping for a food and internet break (I'm an addict what can I say).

I highly highly highly recommend whoever is in Uganda go on the Murchison Falls trip, especially with the President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe as your personal driver, you just feel like royalty, and are treated as such too.

Just in case you can't hold yourself and want to book a trip now, check out his website:
African Adventure Travellers Ltd.

You will not be disappointed.