Opinions vary as to when the rainy season will end; some say it has ended, others the end of the month, some the middle of December; it is certainly still raining.
After several nights of downpour we took another weekend away to Murchison Falls National Park.
The drive there was difficult “You will meet challenges but Madame, you will reach”, and we did, just.
And we were camping this time, in our vast tent overlooking the Nile.
These campsites are usually close to rather grander (and far more expensive) Safari Lodges. Which means we don’t have to cook; no burnt beans for us. Tables with napkins and soft lights, cold drinks as we looked down on the river, even an askari to escort us back with his phone as a torch. To a moon rising ((90% waxing gibbous) gleaming on the water.
Wildlife watching starts early. At dawn, waiting for our boat to take us down the Victoria Nile to the Delta with the northern end of Lake Albert, we tried to remember other major rivers that flow north (names at the end).
The geography of the Nile/s is/ are confusing, not least the fact that it flows north (uphill surely?).
This part of the Victoria Nile veers through channels hemmed in by reeds.
As the Victorian explorers found, navigating your way through is not easy.
Then you are out onto the huge expanse of Lake Albert, in the distance the Blue Mountains of the Congo, exciting places to visit in the future; perhaps.
Local fisherman in handmade wooden boats paying out battered nets, small islands of floating reeds.
In theory we were there to see wild life, and the rare shoebill in particular. It was quiet,
but the landscape made up for it, bright light filtered by papyrus reeds and enough wild life large
and small to keep us interested.
The Grey Crowned Cranes, Uganda’s national bird, were a particular treat.
They looked so incongruous standing, preening on the very tops of trees.
We returned that day, it had not rained overnight, so the mud had dried. A different road out, the route to Pakwach, a much better surface and for a reason: oil.
There is reckoned to be some 3.5 billion barrels of oil (of which up to 2 billion is commercially recoverable) and 350 billion cubic feet of gas in the Lake Albert region. Tullow Oil, Total and China’s CNOOC have the major shares in exploiting this resource; there is some $2.9 billion worth to get out.
The Uganda Refinery Project (up to 60,000 barrels daily) will be in Hoima, south of where we were staying. Surveyors were at work across the National Park, self-important trucks and vans dashing everywhere. Murchison is one of the greatest areas of diversity in Uganda/ Africa if not the world. The oil companies insist that will remain, the government insists that money will flow into the national economy not individual pockets. Past records do not support either view (you only need to think about Nigeria for example); visit the area soonest would be my advice.
Major rivers that flow north: the Essequibo (Guyana); the Lena (Russia); the Mackenzie-Peace (North America) the Nile; the Ob-Irtysh (Russia)