Last week, my colleagues and I headed out of the city for a walking safari in Nimule National Park. Leaving Juba is not always an easy proposition. There is only one paved highway in the entire country of South Sudan. So traveling around the country is quite the task. But the beauty of Nimule National Park is that it is located on the paved road that runs from Juba to Uganda. Not only was I able to cross to the east bank of the Nile River for the first time since arriving in Juba, I got to travel the famous “Juba-Nimule road.” The road was a project of USAID and the Louis Berger Group (LBG). After spending ten hours traveling along South Sudan’s bumpy, chaotic gravel roads, I have a new appreciation for the two lane highway traveling between the capitol city and Uganda. If you were traveling to Nimule in 2009, it would have taken eight hours to travel 194 kilometers. Today, it takes a mere three hours to reach the Uganda/South Sudan border. This road has revolutionized the ability to get goods from the Kenyan ports to South Sudan.
Nimule National Park is a large wildlife preserve in southern South Sudan. During the continuous civil war, all the fighting forced the animals to flee. Since the peace agreement in 2009 and independence in 2011, the animals are slowly returning to South Sudan. At one time, South Sudan was the home of one of the largest migration of animals outside of Kenya and Tanzania (the famous Serengeti migration). It is not uncommon to see elephants roaming the park (there is also a problem of the elephants trampling villages or crops as the elephants move between the two countries). Although we did not see elephants on our walking safari, we were tracked by a baboon that was warning us that we had ventured into his territory and surprised a herd of kob (from the family of the antelope). We saw hippos sunbathing in the distance and startled a baby crocodile that was enjoying the rapids of the Nile. It was nice to get away from the hot and stuffy Juba and experience the beauty of nature.
The highway between Juba and Nimule
The team on our walking safari