Down to the waterlineFebruary 6 in Uganda ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C
Bsss! I want to move south through Murchison Falls National park but the ferry crossing the Victoria Nile is not operating since July 2020 due to … flooding. Again! Lake Victoria and Lake Albert have higher water levels than usual. I decide to enter the burning park anyway and spend around 270 km on self-driving safari within 1.3 days. The Murchison Falls themselves are not accessible from the north but from the south only. The northern path is so overgrown that I rip off my right mudguards with protruding, low bush branches and have to reverse 1.5 km before the falls. Again a poor view because the guys are also burning parts of this national park. But there are tons of Uganda kobs, bushbucks, waterbucks, Jackson’s hartebeests, Rothschild’s giraffes and buffaloes around which are not impressed by my car at all. My extended catch list: baboon, warthog, tsetse, southern ground hornbill, hippo, vervet monkey, black/white colobus monkey, patas monkey, elephant, jackal, Rüppell’s vulture, Adim’s stork, a tree-climbing African harrier hawk and one rare, shy bongo in the morning! The second night I want to spend wild-camping at the shores of Lake Albert but my designated places are flooded and I decide to go for the ruins of an old lodge but am interrupted by a broken bridge. Luckily a safari tour vehicle comes by the same way and the driver guides me through a secret detour over freshly burned grass to the far too expensive Pakuba lodge. They want 120 USD for a room, camping not allowed. Up your asses. It is dark already and as I am about to leave for the nearby ruins one of the staff approaches me and offers an unofficial campsite in front of the rangers’ headquarters. Splendid! I learn that they are burning parts of the park for various reasons. First of all the antelopes prefer low grass for safety and would move out of the unfenced park towards human areas because the humans are keeping the grass low through burning. Also they prefer freshly growing grass after burning over the older dry one. But the bordering humans would simply eat them. Allegedly the burning also controls the ticks and tsetse which I consider a poor argument. The last argument probably is the most important: Animals are better seen by tourists in low grass. In the end a national park is just another form of governmental and private income source. No animals, no tourists, less money.
At midnight we hear nearby lions roaring and in the early morning, shortly before sunrise, I naively point my low-glooming headlamp around while brushing my teeth and suddenly see a pair of yellow eyes staring at me without being able to make out a silhouette of the starer. I switch the lamp to full power and see a huge lioness standing on the small access road just around 30 m away from my car. The next moment she disappears. Or was it a leopardess? But I didn’t see any pattern on the fur and this thing was huuuge! At sunrise I leave some Trinkgeld for the rangers and continue my safari after a great shower! All antelopes and buffaloes are migrating to the lake shore for a morning drink. I again meet a tour vehicle from this noble lodge. The same driver! He tells me that they saw two lions far away in the grassy valley and points me in the right direction. These guys are amazing! No human on earth can see anything in this grass on this distance and even with binoculars these two lions resemble more what I would nowadays call “pixel noise”. The good thing is that they are moving in direction of a branching track. So, I just drive around the corner with my car where I think they are heading, stop next to a tree, climb on my roof, sit down and wait. They are approaching some gazelles against the wind and are coming nearer but stop at some point. Very funny to watch that the gazelles are aware of the lions veeeery early but do not move at all. They let the lions approach to something like 50 m before galloping away. But maybe the cats are not hungry? Who knows ...Read more