“Is that here in Uganda?” That is 80% the reaction you’ll get when you mention Griffin Falls to anyone randomly. The answer is yes. For a waterway located in the middle of our own forest whose name is as indigenous as it gets, you can understand everyone’s confusion, mine inclusive. Which is why I will hereby declare my own disapproval of the nomenclature applied for the place. I’m yet to do my research on how they came up with that name but for now, let’s go on this adventure.
44 km East of Kampala, the capital of Uganda in the heart of the famous for sugarcane growing Lugazi district, a long dusty and windy murram path will lead you to the a little path into which grass and some ever-so-imposing tree roots have grown and with small trees and shrubs that appear to be held together in a maze. The silence is defeaning; save from the occasional chirping of crickets, twittering of birds, your breathe and the car engine. The air so cool, is a defiance towards the heat wave that has lately engulfed the nation. Here, it’s almost as if the sun has been warned against exposing its furious furnace to this point. At the end of this path is a round tree opening to wide space that has evidently, from the short branches and small branches and leaves lying around, been cleared of trees. The camping grounds.
Do not attempt to make a phone call while here, it’s pointless. The gods of Griffin Falls Camp seem to be conniving with cell network reception to rightfully so, deprive you of your smart phone obsessions. Hence forth, throw your phone into the car dashboard and have a rendezvous with nature. The tents shall be set up and the bonfire you shall light and watch grow from little coals to an imposing chemical combustion that will render useless the warm clothing your touristy self carried in anticipation of the low temperatures characteristic of rain forests.
#CocktailsInTheWild: the good people at Roundbob made this experience thrice as worthwhile as it already was to be, but with Uganda Waragi, the XFM crew and obviously KoiKoiUg troopers on the same trip, that was THE final stamp of approval. Which is why Joanne has no words to describe the trip. Her only response to “How was it?,” is simply: “You had to be there.” From a dedicated mixologist ready to make (in your presence so you see it come to life) and serve you a Uganda Waragi cocktail of your choice throughout the night, a Deejay that spins the tables with music so perfect for your mood you’d think, if you didn’t know better, that he checked with you earlier to get a list of requests and a chef that invites you to dinner right in the moment when the hunger from the drinks and dancing exercises has set in; I bet you your last dollar it would be top of your best experiences so far in life. Between dancing to hit after hit under the moonlight and a constant and generous supply of Tequila Sunrises, even this story teller has, understandably, not many mind archives of the night. Andrew, the amazing amazing photographer on the other hand might have the full account as he kept snapping away throughout the day and the night to give us these shots.
So when we finally slept; it was not of our own liking. It was from the muscle cramps in our thighs from all the dancing and the light headed feeling that was an official announcement of the cocktails’ success. It was the exhaustion from constantly checking our watches hoping to find an excuse to retire once it was past midnight, only to find that in that moment, time like a snail, still crawled on.
In the morning, someone we know was, on a Shell Gas “Ka-Portable” cylinder stove, making tea, french toast, and “sunny side upside” eggs or scrambled or even a good old omelette depending on how you liked it. After which we went on a forest walk until the path brought us to the zip lining start point from which we’d for the next hour be suspended on a cable by a pulley and gravitating in open space high up above over canopies of the great Mabira Forest; and as we got to the finish point we’d hear a whirling sound. In the direction from which this sound came, flowing freely through several rocks of many sizes, some of which had green slime on their surfaces; we’d finally set our eyes on the waterway that we’d up to now not seen. There. The Griffin Falls.