Day 9-10: Wli Village / Agumatsa Falls
Trip Start Mar 31, 2006
15Trip End Apr 15, 2006
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After a bag drop and Fanta for three we hit the road - and are off it again. We need to stump up the park entry fees and if feeling energetic, arrange a guide for the upper falls sitting, unsurprisingly, above the more renowned lower falls. We go for the full bhoona. Great decision. I would strongly urge those who've come to explore to make the extra effort (and expenditure). In my view there's just no comparison between the rather dark, municipal feel of the lower falls (albeit that its record-breaking height is generously drizzled with chirping fruit bats), and the secluded magic of the upper falls, with golden sunlit bathing pool, jungle creepers, orchids, butterflies and the cooling mist from the 40m waterfall to wash away three hours of sweat and grime from the ascent. A fitting reward! I could wax lyrical but I think the pictures tell the story.
Left to right - Francis, Julia and our guide Pascal, trekking through the tropical plant department at B&Q. There's not a breath of wind and humidity must be approaching 90%, but at least the sun is limited to the occasional piercing shaft through the canopy above.
A guide is certainly needed as the track is steep, overgrown, dodgy underfoot and sporadically branches off on false trails. We tipped Pascal, the only one willing to take on the climb, c20,000 for his 41/2 hour service. This later guaranteed a smile and a wave whenever we bumped into him in the village. Maybe we overdid it, but for £1.20 it's a pretty meaty shift! One other tip, take lots of water.
And after the slog, a little patch of paradise; one that's pretty hard to leave, basking in sunlight, fresh mountain spray and nature at its dynamic best.
Back at the Lodge, feet up, slugging on a Star and guava juice, respectively, is a real treat after the trek back. Francis, who had a harder but more enjoyable day than he might first have guessed, is on a tro-tro back home. It probably cost me £3 to show him the wonder in his own backyard. Money well spent.
Turns out there's more to Wli than the falls. The next day we variously get lost in the jungle for 2 hours trying to find a mountain, feed some giant edible rats known as grasscutters, often sold barbequed by the roadside, tail and all, and visit an EU-funded ostrich farm, where I get more mosquito bites in one hour than the rest of the holiday put together. Just strolling around the few village stalls is a joy as Julia charms the child shop-minders, who proudly pose by their stilted cupboards stuffed with washing powder, condiments, spices, roots and fruits. Yep, time for another Star.
Where I stayed