Sunday October 5 2014

Chobe, the height of serenity

Chobe Safari Lodge

The aerial view of part of Chobe Safari Lodge. PHOTOs BY ANTHONY wesaka. 

We set off from Kampala shortly after 8am and headed for Chobe Safari Lodge located after Karuma Bridge on Kampala-Gulu highway. It was both a smooth and bumpy ride that took us about four hours.

But before reaching Chobe, we saw Karuma bridge with its breezy atmosphere. The monkeys were all over the road with UPDF officers strategically seated near the bridge, guarding.

At the gate
A mean looking Uganda Wild Life warden, who was manning Chobe Safari Lodge gate, asked all the car occupants to register their particulars with him. As I waited patiently for my turn to register, I ran my eyes over the sign post on the left handside that spelt out the do’s and don’ts for any Murchison National Park guest where wild animals freely move.

What stuck to my mind was; “no sounding car horns, no feeding or molesting of wild animals, no littering, no starting of wild fires and no carrying of pets or any other domestic animals.

Then, the warden opened for us the gate. Initially, I thought Chobe Safari Lodge was in a walkable distance but it was 17 kilometres away. Without private means of transport, it’s hard to access. The road leading there snaked through the bushy and quiet national park. The tiny but smooth murrum road only fits one car.

What scared me were the sharp bends that could be very fatal if vehicles moving at a high speed met. Talking about sharp bends, we almost had a head-on collision with a truck.

As we travelled half way into the park, I saw a football pitch leaving me wondering whether football is played in a wildlife park, but none the less; we continued driving on eagerly to see this place where huge money deals are hatched.
Finally, we reached another gate that would usher us into Chobe.

In Chobe
But this time, only one of us registered and we were let in. I marvelled at the sight of the serene lodge that is located on the banks of the mighty River Nile. A one-billion view. We headed to the reception where our particulars were noted down including leaving behind out identity cards.

Since we were to spend a night in a tent like structures that were about 200 meters away from the restaurant, we first had lunch.

However, the temperatures were high and the restaurant that overlooks River Nile was unfit for us to have our lunch from there. But guess what; these guys switched on a waster sprinkling system were water is sprinkled around to cool the temperatures. Of course, this was one of the unique innovations I had not seen before. So we enjoyed our lunch in a cool atmosphere.

Around with the wild
At around the 6pm, the sun started setting down the Rive Nile. At the same time, Uganda Wild Life officials moved around the lodge warning visitors to desist from walking around the lodge lest they risk being harmed by hippos.

The hippos usually leave the river and roam around the premises of the lodge. During day time, they occasionally make some noise and raise their nostrils for fresh air and then go under the water.

One of the officials explained to me that they can’t fence off the lodge since it’s a national park and the wild animals are free to roam around. When night fell, it was time to rest after a long day. We rode on a golf cart to our tent which was about 200 meters away. But on our way to the tent, with the lights of the golf cart, I saw hippos, cobs, warthogs, monkeys roaming around the lodge. The driver rested my fears saying hippos fear bright light. After making this trip to Chobe Safari Lodge, I agreed that the place is conducive for cracking huge money deals.