|You need to visit cause my phone photos just don't do it justice.|
I wake up at 4.00am because of a nightmare.
A nightmare about cannibals.
I was in a safari van heading somewhere with cannibals *Cue any Hitchcock movie soundtrack*.
A week ago when I told my Dad that I was going to be away for a few days, he said,
“You’ll be eaten by animals! ”
This isn’t the first time he has tried to talk me out of my random mini annual breaks. Still I have no idea how his animal warning turned into a-cannibals-on-safari-nightmare!? I suspect my creative subconscious dug deep in the well of my memories and pulled from a forgotten horror film. I am starting to realize I have been programmed to think the worst, worry shall be a familiar companion on this trip.
I give myself thirty more minutes in bed before I get up to prepare for the journey. The special is collecting me at 6.00am. Once I have woken up, dressed, and finished packing a quick glance at my phone’s clock tells me that I am running late. We finally set off at 6.26am.
I arrive at Red Chilli Hideaway at 7.00am, it’s definitely hidden because we missed the turning and have to be guided back by a boda boda. After nervously checking in, I am told I have time for a cup of coffee. So I head up stairs to the restaurant to have some breakfast.
“Maaaaaaaaria!” Shouts a lady from the rectangular window linking the kitchen and the restaurant, her voice effortlessly projects across the room. She’s done this many times before.
I am a little bit startled by her call, it reminds me of school and I feel caught in some mischievous wrongdoing by the headmistress. You see I am sitting in the corner, engrossed in my odd behavior of observing other people. I walk up to the kitchen window; she points at the milk and sugar and hands me my breakfast. This appears to be a common feature of the Red Chilli team, the staff memorize your name to plan your accommodation, your meals and tour activities. A nice touch in my opinion, it helps ensure consistency in their customer service.
We leave around 7.50am. There are seven of us in the safari van. Still recovering from my dream last night, I am naturally reserved and so is everyone else except for one. We have a talker amongst us. Someone who is determined to bring everyone together with the warmth of their character. He has travelled with his wife and friend from Canada and is just soooooo enthusiastic about meeting everyone. First he makes us all go through a group introduction using our names and nationalities.
Once introductions are done , I pull my novel out and glance out the window as we go. The talker continues his conversation with the lady behind me, and I can’t help but eavesdrop. He tells her he was 18 years old when he first came to visit Uganda, and two months after his arrival Idi Amin took over, becoming our third President. The talker loves Uganda, you can hear it in his voice and every time the van stops he makes an effort to talk to everyone and anyone in luganda. He can’t contain his excitement, he makes jokes along the way, and gradually his joy becomes contagious. This man is a much needed addition to our group, without him we would all have stayed very much to ourselves.
It’s around 2.00pm when we arrive at the falls after a long long long journey with only two proper stops to stretch our legs. Given the amount of distance we have to cover and all the activities we have to pack into a few days, it is understandable. Tummies rumbling we finally sit to eat our packed lunch, then it’s a 45 minute hike/walk to see the falls. Our assigned guide, Daniel, informs us that there are two falls, Murchison Fall and the Uhuru fall. Uhuru was formed in the year of Uganda’s independence from Britain. How fitting that the water represents our path to freedom, making a way through the sharp black bolders until we were finally able to push our way over the edge to independence. There used to be two tribes living on either side and each tribe had a name for the fall until Samuel Baker came along and named it Murchison after the President of the Royal Geographical Society. In fact the tribes used to make regular sacrifices at the fall, a goat would be killed in hopes that good fortune would follow. If a man wanted a wife from the other side of the fall, he had to wait for a special day when they would line up all the single women, and then to demonstrate his love, he would have to jump across the falls. If he made it, he got himself a wife!
|where we ate lunch.|
|Our guide, Daniel|
It is beautiful. I am exhausted from the heat and hiking but it is beauuuuuuuuuuuuutiful. The view is worth it! There is something about being near the water that’s refreshing, even in the blistering heat (my toes are sweating) . The sound of the fall stills the self, and makes me stop and take long deep breaths. I am always struck with a sense of gratitude that through such opportunities I can see the earth show off it's magnificence. Doesn’t it deserve too though? It’s put up with us humans all this time.
Show off Mother Earth, you’ve earned it!
|Would you jump across for love?|
|Uhuru and Murchison Falls|
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has really taken care of the area, there is no rubbish around. The railings to help you keep your balance while walking/hiking looks freshly painted. If they were rusty I didn't see it. The signs are still readable and placed in significant areas. There are litter bins around. There are rules that must be respected.
|No litter...Not one piece of annoying plastic|
It’s been a good day. As we head to camp, my sweaty sticky body is looking forward to a shower and a hot meal.
Wait! Don't leave! Here's the link to part 2, Click here