the african queen

Well friends, since I last published a post I have traveled far and wide across this nation; back to Lira, onto Gulu, and now in Kampala! In the in-between, however, I had the immense thrill to take my first (petit) Ugandan Safari. It was an experience that most certainly lives up to all the hype and wonder, even if it was a safari of some brevity.

Thera and I joined the Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope from Duke Divinity School for a brief time, a group that once every other year sojourns to Uganda to Learn and Grow into their faith through experiencing stories shared by some most wonderful Ugandan people. The group is comprised of both local pilgrims and pilgrims from abroad (mostly the USA) which makes for prfound conversation and growth for all. In a beautiful, would-be-serendipitous-but-is-too-perfect-to-be-anything-but-fate way, pilgrimage is how I first traveled to Uganda (and to anywhere beyond the States). It made for a marvelous rounding out of my time here in complex ways, completing in so many ways questions that were first forming for me four years ago.

And while much of pilgrimage is spent listening to powerful and heartbreakingly strong stories woven and retold by survivors of the conflict, religious leaders, and peace workers, there is always some element of fun and relaxation. After all, Uganda might be the most beautiful place on earth (and I might only be a bit biased) so why not enjoy it?

In true style, this year’s pilgrims took a day-long safari to Murchison Falls in West-Central Uganda. These falls, notorious not only for the majestic wonder, but also for a slew of famous pilgrims. Winston Churchill once visited in the same trip he deemed Uganda to be ‘The Pearl of Africa,’ Ernest Hemingway’s plane crashed over the site, and the falls were the site of the famous film The African Queen with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.  It perhaps goes without typing as much, but I was eager to see the famous place with mine own eyes!

We began the day with a game drive through the extensive park, catching both fleeting glimpses and lengthy looks of all manner of majestic Ugandan creatures. Some highlights were the Ugandan Kob, giraffes, warthogs, water buffalo, and some truly extraordinary trees.

At long last I can answer a resounding yes to the perverbial question posed to those who have ventured to Africa: ‘Have you seen any giraffes in AFRICA?’ Yes, yes I have. Harumph.

After checking into the Sambiya Lodge (which was SO swank!) we headed back to the Nile river (no big deal) to take a boat safari to the Falls. While before commencing the ride we spotted some elephants far in the distance, we never managed to spy any close enough for a decent picture. I do have a few where if you squint and tilt your head to the exact angle you might be able to make out a smallish grey blob, but otherwise I fear I have no evidence to prove I have also seen elephants in Uganda. Alas.

We did, however, revel in some glorious sky, gorgeous birds of many types, and most of all two of the most revered and feared quasi-water-dwelling beasts of the Nile: Hippopotomi and CROCODILES!  While I myself don’t have many swell photographs of the crocodiles, Thera certainly does on her blog!

But the magic did not cease when the boat ride concluded; one might argue it had just begun. The nautical vessel dropped us off at the base of a rather small mountain or very large hill (take your pick) which was optional for us to hike up to see Murchison Falls from above. It promised to be an hour-long hike and I, ever the lover of a somewhat reckless adventure through the woods, exuberantly had strapped on my hiking boots just for the occasion.

The hike was steep and exhausting and absolutely breathtaking. Through the groves and over the rocks was the perverbial music of the roaring water, and rather than trying to describe in a thousand words the glory of it all, I shall merely show you (also, know that I even pained to not compress the photos as much as usual so you might revel in their beauty even more! because you’re worth it):

the falls as seen from the boat!

the nile as seen from atop the falls looking out!

the water through the canyon!

mountaintop!

Needless to mention it was soul-awakeningly-gorgeous, overwhelming, awesome, and outrageously incredible. Like I said, Uganda is if not THE, then one of the most beautiful places in this wide world.

current jam: ‘lost at sea’ eisley

best thing in my life right now: spending time with esther, rhoda, and making new friends!!

fantas: 18

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