We left for Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s best animal park, from Kampala. About 2/3rds of the way there, our radiator started to boil over. We stopped. Not having enough water in the minivan, our driver hitched a ride to a nearby village. Returning to the vehicle, he had to walk.
Thus started our great adventure. That afternoon, in Murchison, we caught a boat upriver to the falls. Getting there we observed an excellent variety of mammals, reptiles, and birds along the banks of the Nile River. The next morning we made a 4-hour land safari. Lots of antelope, elephants, cape buffalo, warthogs, giraffes, and a wide variety of birds.
Returning to the Nile ferry, our engine again overheated; this time we had plenty of water. The stop slowed us for about 20 minutes. But we were still able to make the ferry connection. While lined up to get on the ferry, a large baboon tried an unsuccessful assault on our food through the open roof of our minivan. And, of course, our engine continued to have cooling issues. But it did start and we successfully crossed the Nile River.
At a nearby backpacker establishment–Red Chili–we waited for another minivan. Finally, after a 2-hour wait, another vehicle arrived from Kampala. So we were off again. But only after removed the back seat from our original van was removed so we could liberate the last of our luggage (the rear door wasn’t functioning right).
About 40 km away from the Nile on a rough gravel road, we threw about 2/3rds of the tread from one of our tires. We replaced it with the spare, which was about half flat. After another 10 km, a front tire went flat. All we had for a spare now was a tire with 2/3rds of its tread missing. So we cut off the flapping tread and installed the defective tire. So now we had an almost treadless tire and an underinflated tire on our vehicle and we were still 30 km from civilization.
We were supposed to leave the park by 1 pm in order not to incur charges for another day. And it was now 3:30 pm. But after examining our tires, the park ranger decided not to charge us for an extra day.
We then pulled over and waited for the second van (the one with the cooling system problems). It wasn’t far behind us. The second van had to remove the rear seat again in order to get to their spare tire. In all, we borrowed two tires from the second van. By now, we were getting very efficient at changing tires.
That night we stayed at a quaint motel in Masindi, the closest community to Murchison Falls N.P. In the morning, while attempting to leave, we discovered the lock on one of the rooms was jammed. Again some of our luggage was being held hostage. Eventually our luggage was liberated, and we were on our way. During the previous evening, our driver was able to get our tires repaired.
We got back to Kampala with no further problems. Murchison Falls is a very beautiful park, and an excellent place to view animals. Just check the cooling system and tires on your vehicle before heading into this isolated locale.