Visit to Samuel Baker’s Fort at Patiko

The Nile River has attracted explorers, colonial representatives, traders and missionaries to northern Uganda for centuries, providing today’s visitors unique opportunities to explore various forts, historical sites and other points of interest.

One of those explorers was Sir Samuel Baker who established a fort at Patiko, 25km north of Gulu (about 45 min drive).

Samuel and and his wife Florence Baker made repeated visit to Patiko (which they recorded as Fatiko). On the first occasion in 1864 they were explorers in search for geographical prizes of which Speke had heard mention but failed to nail to the map. Headed south from Gondokoro on the Nile in Sudan, they passed Patiko, before locating Lake Albert and the Murchison falls and returning by the same route. By the time Patiko was the southernmost outpost of a vast territory from which Egypt’s Turkish rulers and their mercenaries plundered slaves, cattle and Ivory.

There is currently little in the way of organised tourism at Patiko. Baker built his fort on a site previously used by Egyptian slave traders. The fort centres on a large koppie consisting of several separate rock outcrops and a number of massive boulders. Three mortared stone structures still stand on the central plateau. Rather disappointingly, none of these was the Baker’s residence but stores for grains.

Mud houses stood below the Koppie on an area of levelled ground. These buildings have long gone but an encircling defensive ditch remains, 100m in diameter, in plan curved into opposite ends of the Koppie like the ring on a bull’s nose. This ditch was reinforced with a wooden palisade with access through a small surviving gatehouse with a narrow doorway and riffle ports.

Your guide will show you fissures between the rocks: holding cells in which men and women were separately confined prior to ‘sorting’ on an adjacent rock plateau; and the passage between two boulders through which rejected wretches were led to be speared to death and tossed off the Koppie for the hyenas.

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