We left the Sipi Falls having had a great three days and traveled further north towards the Kidepo National Park but having heard what the road conditions would be like we decided to break the trip into two days. Yes it was only around 400 kilometres but that could take around 10 hours so we made for a two called Moroto which was roughly half way. The road was very rough in patches but alright in others but we really enjoyed the scenery and all the friendly villages that we passed through. We arrived in Morota at around 1.30pm and booked a campsite at the Karatunga Guesthouse as this was the only place that allowed camping. The camp sites were just in the very small carpark but it was a really friendly place with a good vibe. We hadn’t had lunch yet so ordered a Rolex each and if you are not sure what that is, it is an omelette with tomato and onion rolled up in a chapati and is delicious. Christine who was working at the guesthouse bought her baby in and we enjoyed some time with them even printing a couple of photos on our HP Sprocket Plus to leave with her.
The next morning we were up early and heading for the Kidepo National Park in the far north of Uganda and has its northern border with South Sudan. Entry was a reasonable $40 US per person per day, $50 for our vehicle for the time we were there and camping was $11 US per night for both of us. We chose to camp a night at each at both of the wild camps in the park and the first night we were joined by the German family of Klaus, Hedwig, Eva and Christoph who had elected to have a ranger stay the night which was optional. It was a great night chatting around the big fire that I had built and we thought that the ranger was not going to turn up when at 11pm he turned up just as we were all going to bed! We slept like babies as it was so very quiet. We were surrounded by Germans in the kidepo National Park as there was another young couple camped with us that night. Also back at the headquarters we had met and had beers with another young couple Felix and Hannah who had caught an overnight bus followed by a local mini bus up from Kampala taking around 24 hours! We were surrounded by Germans in the kidepo National Park as there was another young couple camped with us that night and also back at the headquarters we had met and had beers with another young couple Felix and Hannah who had caught an overnight bus followed by a local mini bus up from Kampala taking around 24 hours!
We were all up early the next morning and set off on a game viewing drive seeing huge herds of buffalo, lots of giraffe, elephants and great numbers of Waterbuck amongst lots of other animals. The park is an open Savannah and in some of the park the grass was quite short but in other areas quite long so game viewing was spasmodic although we found most game was along the river so we stuck to that. We did manage to get lost a couple of time which by now we are used to and at one point when we asked a local where we were he told us we were heading towards the South Sudan border so we promptly did a U-turn!
That night we camped in the second Wild camp and only with the young German couple from the previous night however this time we heard lions roaring and Hyena laughing which when I mentioned to the young couple the next morning said they hadn’t heard a thing!
The second day we set off for the river to see what we could see and found it was full of all sorts of animals, what a delight that was. In the two days we hadn’t managed to see any carnivore’s and of course we always want to see them so we were a bit disappointed. However as we were leaving the park we decided to take a small track that we hadn’t been down and there right beside the road was a big old male and what seemed like a reasonably young lioness. We stopped and just watched them until they decided it was time to go and that’s when we noticed a really pronounced limp on the lioness. On closer examination with the binoculars we could see that her rear right leg muscle was badly wasted away obviously from her not using it. We could only wonder what had caused this but it was more than likely that she had been kicked by a Zebra or Buffalo while trying to take it down.
We left the Kidepo National Park very happy with our stay and with only a half day to drive we decided to again only drive half way to our next destination of the Murchison Falls National Park. We got as far as Gulu and the only place that offered camping was the Hello Garden Hotel but when I tried to negotiate a campsite with the young girl at there our language barrier didn’t help so we took a room with ensuite and fan for $17 Australian which included breakfast! Sure the loo didn’t have a seat but it was sure good value! That night we went into town, found a cafe and met the owner Ben who he said had worked with an Italian chef in Kampala and said he had bought pizza to Gulu so we thought we should try it. It was quite a nice pizza but instead of using fresh local ingredients there was what I can only assume tinned mushrooms on it. My thoughts are that he should make use of the beautiful local produce like avocados, tomatoes, onions and even goat. Next morning after breakfast made up of an omelette with bread but no butter we set of for the Murchison Falls National Park. When we got to the turn off for the park we drove no more than a hundred meters down the track when we were confronted by a huge bull elephant in the middle of the road and he didn’t want to move so we edged closer and closer expecting him to move but he just wouldn’t.
At about this time I noticed a man walking along a railway line and I he had been watching so I turned my hands up to him and he gestured for me to back up and come back onto the road we had just turned of which I did. When I had done this he came over and told me about another way around which we then took! We then came to the park gate and paid $80 US entry to pretty much use transit through the park so we thought seeing as we had paid we would take the long way and see what we could see. It was a very hot day by this time so we didn’t see very much at all apart from elephants, Buffalo, antelopes and a very impressive Ground Hornbill!
We then had to cross the Murchison River by ferry which ran every two hours so we had a 45 minute wait and made use of the time talking to two Paramedics who were also waiting for the ferry. Apparently after spending three years at university to qualify as paramedic’s they still only earn around $5,000 US dollars a year. They were working as paramedic’s for an oil and gas company and earning slightly more than that.
The loading of all the vehicles onto the ferry was quite comical too, especially the last big truck who only just squeezed on!