When nature is tucked between a rock and a hard place, water falls. When a silent stream conquers its fear of heights, water falls. And when the rains fall in Pader, Aruu falls let out a mighty roar causing the rocks to tremble in submission!
After weeks of multiple cancellations and reluctant re-confirmations, I finally decided to head out with the tenters for a camping holiday at Aruu falls. Our campsite of choice was Eden Camp Site in Pader district, positioned on the ridge atop the waterfalls. On arrival, we were slightly (actually majorly) irritated by the lack of amenities as promised by the camp manager before the visit. However, his honesty and what he repeatedly referred to as “situational approach” soon calmed us down and even gave us rib-cracking laughs.
Part of the “situational approach” was showering in the river. It turned out to be a highlight of the trip. But while at it, our attention was split between enjoying the majestic vista and hiding from peeping toms. Can’t tell which gave me a bigger thrill!
The days were fiercely hot and the nights cool. Evenings were just perfect for the campfire: not too cold to distract you from the fun and not too hot to excite the mosquitoes. The night sky in these parts of Uganda is unrivalled, starry, and dreamy. The city sky would agree!
Day 1: the morning walk started at the top of the falls. The exposed rock carpet kept us floating on water. We walked through tall grass patches, thorn bushes and anchored on hanging tree roots before getting to the rocky top of the falls. The sun was warm and the breeze gentle; sitting on the cliff edge and dangling my feet felt Instagram-worthy. And because such moments are never brief, it took the persistent rumbling of empty stomachs to drag us back to the campsite for breakfast. The shortcut came in handy!
Day 2: the next morning, we made the slippery descent to the base of the falls. It took grabbing of tree stems, branches, and firm grass to deliver us safely. Meanwhile, the locals have inbuilt leg-brakes that don’t involve any of that grabbing. I was excited to see Shea butter trees dotted all over the area. Conservation efforts to save these endangered tree species are in place, but charcoal makers and consumers remain a big threat.
At the first stop, not even my fear of cold water held me back from having my music video moment. Flipping my hair was no mean fit as those locks get pretty heavy when drenched with water. But I did it!
After an action-packed stop, down to the falls, we continued. As our visit was in the dry season, the falls weren’t as boisterous as we’d hoped. The “basin” as I chose to call it, was pretty calm with lots of exposed rock, offering closer access to the gentle rapids. Seeing how high up the falls we had sat the previous morning was terrifying and exciting all in one bite.
So, the next time you’re driving to Kitgum or have a few hours to spare in Gulu, drive to Aruu falls and enjoy a feast for sore eyes.