Safari Day 6 – Murchison Game Drive

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Africa » Uganda » Northern Region » Murchison Falls NP
July 19th 2014
Published: July 19th 2014
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Today starts like all of the other days with an early morning so we could do a game drive. Here we saw many more elephants, and witnessed, in my opinion, the cutest animal interaction of the safari. A pack of elephants were crossing the road behind us, along with a few babies (so adorable!) and one of the babies was so little it struggled to climb overtop of a mound of dirt on the side of the road. Mom came up from behind and gently pushed it, with her trunk, helping it get to the other side! Like something straight out of Dumbo! Out of all the baby animals we watched, elephants are by far my favourite! They're so cute and clumsy, swinging their big trunks from side to side and around in circles. Aside from their incredibly unique anatomical structure they developed somewhere along the evolutionary path, elephants are fascinating creatures behavior-wise, as well. According to a CBC podcast I heard a couple years ago, they're highly intelligent animals with good problem solving skills and have the ability to work in pairs to complete “puzzles” and obtain food. Elephants are also extremely family orientated and have shown mourning-like behaviors over deaths in their herd.

Aside from the oribis, waterbucks and other animals I've already mentioned, we also saw the jackson hartebeests up close for the first time. These animals have the strangest, and kind of ugly, faces; almost like they got hit with a shovel and then had their skull stretched out with their eyes placed on top. I've since learned, the abnormally high, almost alien-like eye placement is to help them see over the grasses and watch for predators.

Also, for the first time on the safari, we saw the much more beautiful and very elegant looking Rothschild Giraffes! Fun fact: the spots on giraffes get darker as they age. I loved watching the giraffes because they look so serine and peaceful as they move along the skyline. They look out of place, as they tower above the bushes, slowly moving among the trees and appearing more like cardboard cut outs, or a bad Photoshop job, rather than real, living and breathing animals.

There was still the a small chance at seeing more lions here, so we kept our eyes peeled just in case there were some near the road.
We came across a lineup of jeeps on the trail, all stopped looking to the left of their vehicles. It must be a cat; no other animal gets this much attention. And there was one, WAY off into the distance; hardly visible by the naked eye.

“Do you see it?” One of the other drivers says to us.

“No, I can't see anything but trees,” I reply as I strain my eyes looking for the supposed lion.

“It's in the grass. You can see the tips of its ears. Look to the right of the fig tree.”

“I have no idea what a fig tree looks like.”

“There! See, there's one tree and another, and then the fig tree. Right below the fig tree!”

Ursula and I look at each other and burst out laughing. What the hell does a fig tree look like?! The land we're staring into is covered in trees; we're not talking about the stereotypical Africa with the one lone tree on a barren savannah here.

“The fig tree! The fig tree!”

Dear god, will someone please tell me what a fig tree looks like so
this man stops yelling at me?!

Leandra spots it with her telescopic zoom lens and shows us which tree is the fig tree. Even with her camera it's just a small tan blur. How did people even spot something so tiny and far away in the first place?? Honestly, it could be a pile of dirt for all I can tell. We all get a quick look at the blob in the distance, and continue on the drive. We were so much closer to lions a couple days ago so we didn't care to wait around in the unlikely case that it moved.

Driving along, we came across another spot where jeeps had stopped and eager tourists were on the lookout for cats again. This time, no one had spotted a lion but all the kobs in the field were on full alert for danger. Off in the distance, we could hear the kob's prey call to warn the others of nearby predators who might be on the verge of attack. Oh come on, fingers crossed we get to witness a kill! We waited a while, but nothing happened and no cats appeared so
onward we went. Damn, it would have been cool to have at least see a chase.

We stop for a quick break by a slough so us girls can leave our mark on Uganda – literally, we all rocked a piss on the plains, before we drive off to our next destination. On route, we passed by another waterfall, this one having lots of security and protected by men with guns. The road over the river and waterfall is the only one connecting North and South Uganda, and was formerly a warzone as enemies attempted to pass through. Only in the last ten years has it been declared safe for tourists to travel through. There are only certain lookout points for visitors to snap photos of the falls, which are strictly enforced to prevent anyone, particularly potential attackers, from photographing the army base and weaponry that is supposedly below the bridge.

Later that day, we would arrive at Masindi, where we would relax with a couple beers before waking to our final day of the safari.

Additional photos below
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19th July 2014
Beautiful face of an oribi

Faces of nature
Lovely pics of the delights of the Wildlife Safari Sarah. My favourites on safari are the giraffes but this pic is a cracker.

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