Sipi Falls and Safari!

The giraffes exchange sweet nothings; how sweet to see happy couples!

I’m sorry the last entry was so brief; I was losing the race against time. We’ve been internet-less since, but here’s the latest.

We did go to Sipi Falls for Thursday night and we had a great adventure. “Lachan Lodge” is perched on a bluff overlooking the whole Karamajon Valley and is an amazing getaway place, with only a few “bandas” for rent which have a very “Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse” feel, but without the trees.

Doug and Julie relax in front of their “banda” at Sipi Falls.

There’s no electricity, no flush toilets, and no connection with the real world. We had a wonderfully relaxing time, which was welcome after our busy days in Kampala.

And the inside of the banda . . . how Disneyland-esque is this place?? We LOVED it.

We drank in the beauty and let the stillness settle our souls. And we hit the hay early—which was much needed by then. Up to a gorgeous sunrise, and then off on a perfect hike to Sipi Falls.

Viewing the sunrise over the Karamajon Valley Friday morning.

Our guide, Joel, was fabulous. Raised in that valley, he is the first from his tribe to go to college and, fittingly, he is a tourism major. He’ll succeed! He made the hike most enjoyable as he explained flora, fauna, crops, and the way of life of his tribe.

The proud hikers make it to Sipi Falls and it was SO worth it!

Our stay at Sipi Falls came quickly to an end after lunch, but we really wanted to get back to CURE to spend more time with Julie’s people. We met more staff who had returned from their mobile clinic outreach, checked in on the babies, and got more of a flavor for the work there. It is very impressive.
Isaac, David, and Apollo, co-workers at CURE, pose with Julie in the Physio Therapy room at the hospital. She is so grateful for wonderful staff!

Derek had us over to his house for a yummy dinner of veggie fajitas (using the raw flour tortillas we had brought Julie from the states) and we had such a nice evening together. We enjoyed the whole experience—from meeting his two Great Dane puppies, Jack and Lemon, to solving most of the problems of the world as we talked into the night. We hated to see it end, but the sand was almost through the hour glass for our time in Mbale, so we went home and packed.

Dr. John (neuro-surgeon at the hospital) and his wife Liesl and their son Ryan stopped by for a visit at Derek’s house. Dr. John is a dedicated man of God who is using his immense gifts and talents to change eternity for these precious families who seek care at CURE.

We were up and at it early Saturday to begin our safari. Doug and Julie (and our Julie) have planned and booked the whole trip, so it’s been unfolding for us delightfully at every turn.

We’re off and running on the safari!! Good-bye Mbale; hello Murchison Falls!

Our drive from Mbale via Lira to Murchison Falls was long, but so interesting. Tribe after tribe, trading center after trading center, we covered many miles before entering the game preserve around 4 p.m. Though sleep threatened to overtake me at various points, I didn’t want to miss anything . . . so I kept my eyes glues to the environs. It was fascinating. Ugandans are friendly, colorful, and resourceful. I’m trying to absorb them.

Our FIRST wildlife sighting . . . a huge baboon on the side of the road!

Our first wildlife sighting was thrilling to say the least. Many baboons live near the rapids of the Nile and we were captivated by them. I could watch them all day. Obviously, we didn’t . . . On we went, and eventually were welcomed to the savannah by a gorgeous giraffe, alone. As we drove through the preserve, we quickly discovered that we really didn’t need to take quite so many photos of that one lone giraffe, since it became clear as we continued our exploration that his clan was abundant! The thrill did not dissipate, no matter how many animals we saw—elephants, kolbs, hartebeasts, water buffalo, wart hogs, birds, and more. The savannah was teaming with life.

This elephant started our early morning safari off on the right foot as he ran right in front of our Range Rover. :)

Two and a half hours later, just as the sun was setting, we arrived at the Paara Lodge. It was a truly magical day. Dinner and showers and then to bed. Exhausted but happy.

Sun sets over the savannah after a wonderful day of traveling from Mbale.

This morning our safari began at 7, and we spent about 4 hours driving through the savannah, again seeing a ton of game.

Jules and I on top of the Range Rover, taking in breathtaking evidences of God's incredible handiwork in creation.

New sightings today included a python and a monitor lizard, and then lots of more of the same. But all different. We loved it. This afternoon we took a “cruise” up the Nile and saw a bazillion hippos and a smaller number of crocodiles. It was like living a National Geographic dream. The cruise took us to Murchison Falls, which were lovely, and then back.

On the River Nile, with Murchison Falls in the background, we had a wonderful open boat “cruise” up the river, seeing crocodiles, hippos, elephants, eagles, etc.

Returning to the lodge, we were fortunate to see a huge hippo happily grazing on the churchyard grass, surrounded by lots of baboons who were completely indifferent to this big guy. We were mesmerized and took way too many photos. We felt very blessed.

Baboon family welcomes a very new member . . . how cute is this??

We leave early in the morning for Ft. Portal and the next leg of our safari. We’re having the time of our lives and are so thankful for this wonderful opportunity.

Blessings and love from Uganda—