Where was I…right, our 3 hour river tour got under way with Me, the skipper too, a rather rich looking American (a millionaire?) and his wife, Regina (the tv travel movie star), a couple guides (professors if you will), Lindsay-Anne, here on the River-Nile. So, just sit right back and you’ll here a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this nile port, aboard this tiny ship. So join us here each sentence my friends, you’re sure to get a smile, from many sun burnt castaways, here on the Might-y Nile!
Our boat pulled off of the shore, we did a quick trip across to the ferry dock on the north side where we picked up the millionaire and his wife, and then we started our slow cruise up river. Right at the start we saw some cape buffalo munching on the Nile grass with themselves half submerged while munching away. Right next to the buffalo were some hippos, our first of many many more to come. Our guide was very knowledgeable and pretty much had a running commentary for the entire voyage which Lindsay thoroughly enjoyed so she spent most of the trip downstairs listening to his explanations of everything; the shade down there might also have had something to do with it 😉 There was also another guide dishing out info upstairs so when ever I went up to get a different view I still got a ton of info in my head. We saw some more buffalo along the way, isolated buffalo to be exact. The term meaning they are a bunch of old guys who live on their own now that they herd doesn’t want them. On the shore as we passed there were a few hartebeest, some water buck, and many warthogs doing their kneeling to eat trick. Lots of good wildlife and between binoculars and my zoom lens we were actually able to see them quite decently.
About an hour into the cruise we came upon a open cliff face that was home to a ton of blue chested bee eaters. These are crazy colourful and quick birds that don’t necessarily eat bees, they eat more fish. We watched them go fishing by flying in crazy patterns above the water then dive down and change direction at the last second and come back with a fish. They are impossible to follow with a camera and actually get them in the act of catching the fish, I just got a bunch of random blurs from the few times I actually followed the zig-zag pattern at full zoom. There were also some Pied King Fishers hanging around for the fishing and they are always cool birds, these ones kind of looked like zebras. Mosying up the current we saw some baboons, grey herons, egrets, and many more water pigs (hippos). One of the hippos was even an Albino hippo. He wasn’t really white so much as a normal coloured hippo with patches of skin that were just missing the full blown pink colour, so he looked sorted of spotted, like Lindsay.
As we neared the bottom of Murchison Falls, or as close as we were allowed to get, we came across the one animal we hadn’t really seen close up yet, aside from a Rhino, Crocodiles!!! We found 3 of them just on the shore, under a tree, jaws agape soaking in all the sun they could. Turns out they lay with their jaws open on a sunny day because they can get the heat into their blood faster from the blood vessels that run through their mouth. We watched them from our now silently drifting boat while they played dead, because not moving is really going to make them invisible on the grass? One by one they decided to make a run for it and since I knew it was coming I was ready to film the last one taking off which is just downright creepy when they walk on land, or swim in the water. I think I am actually more afraid of Crocs,Alligators, Caimans, than Sharks, which is new for me. We headed up to the falls and managed to see one more croc sunning itself on a rock.
As we neared our lookout point of the falls we did a little boat maneuvering and picked up a passenger that had been hiking near the falls to give him a ride back down the river. Then we watched as the skipper maneuvered the boat into a massive eddy current where we were going to anchor next to a bunch of rocks. He missed the first few times and had to back out and try again. Knowing what I know about white water and getting stuck around rocks and tree logs and the like this looked like a really dumb idea. The current is very strong, strong enough that I felt it could even tip over our large raft like boat, but he did manage to wedge it in between the massive boulders and we were more or less parked. This was the point where people could get out and take a token, cheesy, but required shot of themselves on a rock with the falls off in the back ground. So I took photos for a bunch of others, and we got ours taken as well, even a cliche kissing shot. It won’t be going on the wall. I did get to stand on a rock in the middle of the Nile and even dip my hand in the croc infested waters.
Following picture time we headed back down the river at a slightly faster pace than on our way up. Saw lots more hippos, warthogs, and the like. We also saw a snake bird which was confusing as we couldn’t quite understand the guides take on English this time (which was weird because his English was perfect). He kept telling us that this snake bird had caught a fish in the water up a head. From a distance it looks like there is the head of a snake coming out of the water that has a spear like nose with a fish poked on it. Even when we were close it looked like a strange snake we had never seen before; then the snake took off. Turns out it really was a bird! A little while later we found another croc on a little island in the middle of river. Our guide miraculously saw it when no one else did and we put the boat in drift mode and silently snuck up on the croc, well as much as a 20 foot boat sneaks. The croc of course played dead so we were able to get until we were within 5 feet or so and he just hung out while we snapped pics and the like. Very cool dinosaur, remind me to stay out of the water.
Our river tour then came to an end, however we didn’t get to see any elephants drinking along the river’s edge; apparently there is too much water in the park they have no need of coming to the river right now, :(. At least we didn’t end up as a bunch of stranded castaways on some deserted-Nile 🙂 Nole picked us up and we drove the quick jaunt back to camp. The resident warthogs came out to make an appearance and managed to even trap Lindsay in the bathroom for a bit. She had plenty of room to walk around, but she was scared of the large pigs with tusks, fair enough. Warthogs are considerably bigger than Disney makes Pumba out to be, they are 4 times that size at least. Also, Pumba, is what they are called in Swahili, so Pumba means warthog. Turns out Lion King names are not so clever, Simba=Lion, Pumba=Warthog, Rafikki=Friend, all Swahili, I don’t know the rest of the characters names). We got ready for dinner and as folks were cleaning up the rest of the Pumba family came out to visit while I was sitting just inside the restaurant hut. Amber was sitting in the lawn chairs by the fire and the largest of the warthogs decided he would walk all around in front and behind her, coming within 1 or 2 feet of her. I decided to sneak over and take some photos to give her later. While I was there, sitting at a picnic table, the other warthogs decided to come pay me a visit. They are even bigger when they stare you in the face from 3 feet away. The one staring me down decided I was okay and then walked by right in front of me, if it wasn’t a giant pig with tusks I’d have contemplated tackling it just to see if I could, but it did have family members around… I’ve got a fun little video of our stare down which I’ll post sometime soon.
It started getting dark after the warthogs wandered off so we sat down under the cabana roof and had our supper with Regina, Amber, and the Swiss guys. We chatted and drank some more good Ugandan beer, Bell, then headed off to pack and get some sleep. This is our last night in our safari tent, sad, they are fun and I shall miss our moldy, yet dry inside, safari tent. This was a great day in Murchison falls and is a park you should most definitely visit and, aside from prices, seems very easy to do with your own vehicle as we saw many families doing just that today.
Same bathrooms as yesterday, so equally as good in that situation.