Murchison Falls

Uganda

2000

click photo for map          

Awesome, Amazing, Majestic

 
Serendipity, Fate, Luck, whatever, there I was, on the bank, rod in hand, having a quiet bit of fish  - that's Stillwater Trout - when Mick asks if I fancy a Fishing Safari in Uganda. Now its not often that I'm asked to go fishing, in the middle of the Dark Continent,

in a War Zone, and in my confusion I agreed.

   
As you come into land at Entebbe you can see the rusting hulks of the planes involved in the Entebbe Incident. Uganda does not bring confidence, a couple of days before we left I had read a report of an LRA incursion into the Murchison Park area.  Still, we were met at the airport by our hosts the Ugandan Tourist Board and whisked through Kampala, feeling like Bob Hoskins in 'The Long Good Friday", to our overnight accommodations at 'Andy the Greeks" how comforting it was to see the THREE ARMED GUARDS outside, and the small lad with the Kalashnikov that sat on a wooden chair outside my bedroom door all night.
   
So we set off for the 7 hour drive to the North of the country. I think the road to Masindi had just one bend in it, in five hours driving, away from the palms and lush green of Lake Victoria to dry scrubland and forest. The road from Masindi to Para  then suddenly drops away, and there in front is the Great Rift Valley. In a heartbeat I understood how people are drawn to this place.
   
Finally, hot, dusty, and bug eyed we arrived at the National Park, and our meagre accommodations
   
Now came some bad news, we were supposed to have met the "Director of Fishing" but apparently due to a bit of a disagreement with the authorities over lack of funds he had told them where to put their job and had returned to Kampala. Luckily he had a friend here, an engineer, who was repairing the engines on the ferry boat. He had a couple of rods we could use, some spinners, and some line. Wire traces, we made from electrical cable. All very ramshackle but better than nothing. Mind you to put this in context I'd never been further than a beach on the Mediterranean, had only been fly fishing for about 4 years and hadn't handled a course rod since I was a kid. So this was all seeming very surreal anyway
   
Luckily we did still have a boat, and two local boatmen. And the Nile to ourselves, apart from the hippos, crocs, baboons, elephants - where's Stuart Grainger when you need him!
   
It is early dawn, we approach the falls and steer towards a sandy shoreline that is occupied by three large Nile Crocodiles, and surrounded by a pod of Hippo. As we ground the boat onto the sand the Crocodiles slowly slither into the water, George bounds from the boat, ties it to a tree and beckons us ashore. Incredulous and open mouthed be go ashore, and start fishing expecting to be Croc Food at any moment. (These things DO eat people)
   
We tackled up (as best we could with what was available) and started to angle for 'bait' fish. Now, I was just a humble trout angler used to catching 2lb trouts. What counts as baitfish here are at least as big as my normal quarry.
   
Next we move across the river to a smooth rocky promontory that separates the 'Cauldron' below the falls and the 'Crocodile' pool.

We are fishing from a water smoothed rock above a maelstrom of white water. If I fell in I would drown. If perchance I didn't drown then the Crocs would get me. Then, if those thoughts weren't enough to put one in a complete tizz I had a bite, and in a few minutes I had landed a Nile Perch. This was now so far removed from my normal life experiences as to be totally surreal

   
And so it continued for the week
   
I will awake from this dream. This is Spekes' Nile. That is Murchison's Falls, named by Baker as he confirmed Speakes original guess at the source of the Nile. We passed the pole that held the Telegraph line which Earnest Hemmingway crashed his light plane into. We are surrounded by pods of Hippo, Enormous Nile Crocodiles, an astonishing number and variety of birds.

and we are the only people here.

 
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