Over the past several months, we have ventured to Murchison Falls in Northern Uganda on foot. If you read my Walking Luangwa post, you will get a sense that multiday walks in the bush are one of the most unique nature experiences in Africa. It is great to be outside for days on end, soaking in the nature with all our sense. And there is lots to learn every time about wildlife and ecosystems.
In December, we ventured to the open grasslands of Northern Murchison to chart a new track for the upcoming tourism product: multi-day walking safaris. We stayed at lovely Bwana Tembo Safari Camp and made some last minute preparations. Our team consisted of: my friend Godfrey, an experienced guide from Thornicroft Lodge in Zambia, two great UWA guides George and Benjamin; accompanied by our trusted driver Joram. The task was to chart a 3-day walking path from the Pakuba area to Nyamsika Cliffs. First we stopped by the falls, where the water level was the highers I ever seen:
First day was pretty easy as the walk passed through some fairly thin open and thin grass: even with all wide open area we almost ran into some elephants who were hiding behind some borassus palms….Later we walked by a kob carcass (lion kill?) with some lion footprints nearby. We set up our camp in the afternoon and the first rain hit us around 3 pm. I thought “Good it rains now, it will be over and nice evening and cool night ahead”. I could not be more wrong, the storm repeated itself around midnight, 3 am, and then again around 6 am…. We crawled out of our tent soaked. We could not use our strong canvas tent as I forgot to bring the poles.
Nonetheless, after good breakfast (during the rain interruption) we set off our Day 2 walk. We crossed thicker vegetation with some creeks: those now swelled and we had to carefully look for crossings. It was not an easy walk, yet we enjoyed seeing quite a few giraffes and buffaloes wondering about us.
We crossed the Wangkwar road and took a break, this would be a good camping place for walking safari trips. Seeing a lone big tree in the horizon and set off that direction, giving our driver Joram instructions to meet there – he managed to find it on his own. We had to cross several gullies becayse the terrain gets more up and down close one gets to the Nile river. After such heavy rains, descending/ascending these was not easiest. Our rule was “(almost) always follow the animal paths”. We reached the lovely camping spot and this night we did not get rained out: we even had time to dry out some stuff in the hot afternoon sun.
We cooked what seemed like the biggest bowl of beans with rice – plenty to share for breakfast too. And we talked about all we’ve seen, heard and future plans. The next morning – the weather was great. We realized we steered too far south, and had to round back along Nyamsika river for our final destination. Later we walked partly in the riverbed, now with more water. Still plenty of wildlife around including several hyenas, and we crossed even one “giraffe highway”. The walk ended at a very scenic viewpoint – which would be the final camping spot for trip with guests. Staying here provides great opportunity to explore the river bed.
We were away for 3 days now and only now we realized that the rains were so massive in the vicinity. The entire West Nile province was cut off as the river overflooded the main road – never heard that happening before. Luckily, we could drive out the Wangkwar Gate which was passable – and it is another beautiful open area ready to be explored.
This first trip gave us plenty of information about the potential walking safari route, but another trip was planned (during the dry season in early February) to explore Nyamsika area. This one did not disappoint – see another blog entry.