Waking up in Masindi this morning, our team had a sense of accomplishment from the hard work each of us put in this week. Breakfast was at 7AM this morning, a little later than usual which means we had our first day to sleep in. After breakfast, we packed up the vans and hit the road to have our day of fun and relaxation. Our destination was the Para Lodge in Murchison National Park of Uganda.
We arrived at the front gates of the national park after about an hour drive. We then proceeded through a forest with dirt roads and miscellaneous animals on the side of the road. Finally, we got to see some monkeys!
We reached the Nile River after about 1 more hour of driving through the beautiful hills. The vans loaded onto a barge to cross the river, where we happened to see a family of hippopotamus lounging in the shallow water. On the other side of the Nile River, our hotel was located the top of a hill about a quarter mile away. The front view of the hotel has a waterfall and an architecture that resembles something out of Jurassic Park. We entered the lobby and were greeted with mango juice and a cool towel to wipe off sweat and dirt from the car ride. Since there was no real agenda, everyone split into their rooms, took naps, went to the pool, looked around the hotel, and got massages.
A delicious buffet was served for lunch where we gluttonously stuffed our bellies. I don’t think anyone waited, per historical doctor myths, the recommended 15 minutes before swimming.
Our safari started at 4PM. Two land rover-like SUV’s and one of our trusty vans were used to take our group though the protected animal kingdom area of the park. We saw a family of elephants about 5 minutes into the journey. Everyone started snapping pictures and “ewing and awing” at the incredible sights we were witnessing. We went on to see giraffes, elk-like animal, deer-like animals, reindeer-like animals, bambi’s, water buffalo, monkeys, muskrats (Timone), hippos, and a couple other miscellaneous animals.
Two of the cars finally found a lioness at dusk and came close to nearly blinding her with an escapade of flashes, headlights, and flashlights. Good thing she had a small appetite and lots of patience. After she worked the camera, we moved on to go save our brethren in the 3rd SUV that had a driver straight from Ricky Bobby’s drivers ed class. “Shake and bake” was his style of driving in an eager attempt to find the lions before the other cars.
At this point in the safari, it is pitch black out with an illumination of stars and the Milky way above. The tire got changed within a few minutes and we began heading back, whilst still riding on top of the van. About 20 minutes pass, and we come across a mama elephant and her baby elephant on the middle of the dirt road. She felt threatened and stood her ground, stomping and making noises that elephants make. We felt rather vulnerable on top of the van with no protection and a frightened elephant in our path. After a minute stare down, she directed her baby elephant off the road and we continued back to the hotel.
We are back at the hotel and have had a wonderful time in Uganda. Thank you for your support and prayers throughout this journey. Godspeed.
Michael Pruitt & Megan Jamison