Overlanding through El Niño

We have contacted 2 lodges to find out whether they would be interested in us taking photos and videos for them and both reacted very positively! A 100% outcome is not what we expected. Both lodges really got us very excited, so on to our first lodge. 

The first lodge is the Zebra Safari Lodge (Zebra Safari Lodge - Kenturegye Lodges) on the border of Kidepo Valley National Park. The owner, Tim, replied very quickly and enthusiastically about our offer and we quickly came to an arrangement. Everything was very last minute, but this was not a problem for us and for him. As we had finalized our call, we immediately felt the pressure. Good discounts for our accommodation means we have to perform!

The trip to Kidepo would take us 2 days. We can do it in 1, but we don't want to do days of driving for 8+ hours. We stop on our way in Kotido, in the area of the Karamojong people. The people, the houses and the landscape does remind us of the Masaï. As we venture further up north, we see more and more traditional houses and the land seems to become a bit dryer. 

The dry land is no reflection of the current weather. As soon as we arrive in Kotido, it slowly starts to drizzle. As it is low season, the owner of the guest house is away, but there is a very kind guard who lets us in. We settle down and enjoy some puzzles while we wait for the owner to return with our lunch, as it is past 3 PM and we have only eaten breakfast. Not having lunch on the way proves to be a mistake, as both of us have a tendency to get hangry. The snacks come out and before we know it, we have finished our snacks. Lesson learned. As soon as the owner arrives, she makes us some lovely rolex and we feel our energy and happiness return. We have a lovely local dinner and retire to our tent on the parking. In the meantime, the drizzle has evolved in regular rain, but nothing to worry about, yet. 

As we are doing some Sudokus in our tent, we listen to the local Rotterdam radio station, Radio Rijnmond, to remain updated on the activities of Feyenoord. Wherever we have internet, we tend to listen to the match reports (or even watch the matches, depending on the quality of the internet). In the meantime, the rain slowly gets heavier and heavier. It is lovely to fall asleep with the rain in the background. 

In the middle of the night, thunder wakes us up. The rain has increased even more and is pouring from the skies. The rain does not stop falling and is taking on biblical proportions. I guess El Niño has found its way to Uganda. Our car is steady, but sometimes it feels like we can be swept away by the rain any minute. 

The next day we can see the aftermath of all the rain. The water has left some puddles, but other than that it seems like the water has found its way out of the grounds of the guest house. The tent was not 100% waterproof though, as the inside of our tent has become wet. We dry the insides to the best of our abilities, have some breakfast and quickly pack our tent when the rain turns to a drizzle for a few minutes. 

We continue our way to Kidepo, but the roads are horrible. The roads to Kotido were already dirt roads, but the constant rains have turned the roads into mud and water puddles. We took our time and decided to go easy on the gas. Slowly by slowly we slipped and slid our way to Kidepo, as we continuously saw the arrival time increase. On the way, we passed several trucks and busses that decided not to slow down. The way they were lying on the sides of the roads were our confirmations that we should keep it slow and steady. 

Slowly by slowly we made our way through the mud and the puddles. We seemed to be able to arrive incident free and with only 5 minutes remaining we messaged the lodge that we were 5 minutes away. That turned out to be wishful thinking. 

On this part of the road, the mud did not seem to be too troubling, but it had completely filled the tires' profile and we had lost all grip. We slowed down, but it was already too late. Steering in any direction was to no avail and we slid into the side of the road. We collided with the mud hill on the roadside and came to a stop. After we had overcome the first scare of the collision, we checked the car and everything seemed okay. We had slowed down enough to make the impact as little as possible. We continued slipping and sliding our way to the lodge and we arrived without any other incidents. We were greeted with a warm towel and a welcoming drink. The staff was super friendly and accommodating and the view from the lodge on the Kidepo Valley was breathtaking. We knew we could make some beautiful shots here!

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