Had an awesome weekend last week with my trip to Garamba National Park. If this park sounds familiar, it is because the LRA has made it one of their safe havens. So, I very well may have been only one hundred kilometers from the now (in)famous Joseph Kony. It is very unlikely that he was anywhere around, but his crew, and a bunch of poachers, have terrorized the national park for the past few years.
Again though, they don’t bring visitors anywhere near where the LRA are, and there are 150 armed park rangers (entire estimates for the LRA range between 150-200 and they cover much more ground than Garamba). However, because of media exaggeration, my boss and I were the first visitors in over six months, which is just really sad, as it is a beautiful place.
I got to go with the Senior Executive of my department for all the mines in the company, and he is a really nice and down to Earth guy. There is no way that I would have had the same opportunity back in the states. This guy is three levels above me, sits in on board meetings etc. and he spent the weekend at a national park with a guy fresh out of school, who hadn’t even been on the job six months. I love how flat the corporate structure is, and hope I’m always this lucky.
Now for pictures:
This is actually one of our work sites, not Garamba, and it is the quintessential picture of what I expected of the Congo. I really want to go kayaking, and everyone says it would be okay, but then follow that statement with a story about a guy who got eaten by either a crocodile, or a hippo…
This is Garamba National Park. It’s savannah surrounded by forrest on all sides. I’m coming back in February because while this looks like normal 2ft grass, it’s more like 8ft tall…
This is a view of the southern most river within the park, again, I really want to go kayaking.
Our super safe, not sketchy at all bridge/ferry thing.
Center of the river.
Africa’s most ferocious killer. The hippo kills more people than any other animal in Africa.
Hungry Hungry Hippo! Also, it kind of looks like that sand monster from the first Aladin movie. The one where get the lamp and all.
My cabin at the lodge.
Breakfast pretty much all to ourselves.
While we were there we met with some former Israeli special forces that go all over Africa teaching anti-poaching techniques to park rangers. They were awesome, and not just because they let me play with their guns.
Look closely at my head. Thanks guys…
Finally, our fearless police escort, haha.
After meeting the Special Forces guys, I feel even safer than I did before. They were nice enough to insist that if we ever have any problems, that we can them and they’ll help evacuate us. The guys were awesome, and I think it proves that it’s not always a bad thing to be an American when overseas. Granted, I think they would have offered their service to anyone, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt.
I’ve got a lot of traveling this week. I’ll step out of the airport in six different countries in six days. I’m going to a co-workers wedding in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, and there are few direct flights from Uganda to there, and so I have to go through three other countries to get there.
My itinerary looks like this:
Locations (time in the air)
DRC > Uganda (4 hour drive, 1 hour flight)
Uganda > Rwanda (1hour)
Rwanda > Ethiopia(3.5 hours)
Ethiopia > Brazzaville (3hours)
Brazzaville>Kinshasa (DRC) (1 hour ferry)
Kinshasa (DRC > Turkey (7.5 hours)
Turkey > Chicago (12 hours)
Chicago > DFW (2.5hours)
I feel bad for whoever has to sit next to me on the flight from Chicago to DFW, because I bet I am absolutely miserable by this point. Doubt I will ever do this out of my own freewill ever again.
I’ll try to update my blog on the road since I’m sure something interesting is bound to happen, but no promises.
Thanks for reading.