Previous "Kenya 1"
No-mans land at Malaba, between Kenya and Uganda was packed. Absolutely packed. Most of the tarmac on the road edges had disappeared and lorries and cars were fighting to stay on the central slither of tar and avoid the fall-off on to the dusty edges. We waited and waited and eventually queue jumped to the front of the queue. We weren't allowed past the gates though without signing in so we parked alongside all the other cars that were blocking each other in and preventing lorries from passing. The battle with everyone else followed as we scrambled to see the man in the hut who took our carnets and wrote the vehicle details down.
At this point we could have driven through the gate but there was no-where to go as vehicles were blocking the road everywhere. Andrew stayed with the cars while Gordon and I went off to find immigration. As we didn't have visas someone had to go off and get the visa man out of bed so that he could take our $90 and allow us a two month stay in the country. Next was customs which involved a ten minute walk to a new building on the other side of town. The staff were jovial which meant the time taken to copy the carnet details into a book was extra long - too busy laughing and gassing. You cannot rush an African, even if you are in a hurry. You just have to go along with it. It also took a long time to process the four forms necessary for the payment of road tax. This is one tax that I am happy to pay, after-all I am contributing to the worsening state of the road. I just wish the money made it to the road fund!
The man handed us three of the four forms, kept the carnet and sent us off to the bank to hand over $20 per car. The bank was at the other side of the town (near immigration) and involved a ten minute walk back. At the bank they keep two forms and hand you back the third upon which their stamp has been placed so that you can prove to the man at customs that you have paid the money.
This time we drove to customs along any verge we could find, narrowly avoiding the lorries and the locals who saunter along in their dilly-dally worlds or hassle you to buy their bananas. At customs the cashier swaps your receipt for a certificate which you then show to the man downstairs to get your carnet back.
"At last, we're through" we thought. But no! At the gate into Uganda there was another round of bureaucracy which delayed us for even more time. At 11.15am we were officially in Uganda. After a painful three hours this border rates as the most disorganised so far.
The locals told us that Kampala was a three hour drive away. We had one hour to make it in time for lunch with Jeremy (Gordons chum who lives there) but realised it would take a lot longer as we were greeted by the first round of very bad pot holes, then the second, then the third... In fact, the pothole field lasted for over 100 km. At Jinja the potholes ended and the remaining journey was gentle on the cars. It took us four hours to complete the journey from the border. The local matatus (minibuses) can do it in three, and that includes passenger stops. They are so dangerous, it's unbelievable what risks those drivers subject their passengers to. It is just the same in Kenya. Fatalities from road accidents is alarmingly high. Just the day before over 70 people had died in a bus crash - head on with a lorry. (We were later to learn that the bus company was insured and that compensation would be paid - a mere £4000 for a life!) This was on the same road as another fatal bus crash three weeks earlier. The bad state of the roads are blamed but it should be the drivers. Drinking and driving is also permitted which aggravates the situation. The cycles are just as bad. I had to do an emergency stop to avoid one coming towards me going the wrong way around the roundabout, riding in the middle of the road and having a wobbly passenger on the back. That was two points to me in the 'off yer bike' game.
Kampala greeted us with road signs saying "Driving on Shoulders Prohibited"! In Kampala we met Jeremy at the oldest hotel in town - The Speke - where we enjoyed a very welcome local "Bell" beer. Jeremy works in Kampala and has a beautiful home which was to be our home for a few days. The weather was just perfect and we spent the evening drinking gin and tonics on Jeremy's porch overlooking a beautiful garden, listening to the birds and smelling the frangipani. What a delightful place to live!
In the morning we had a cooked breakfast with proper sausages, none of this wors business. Afterwards we took a drive to Entebbe which is located on the northern shore of Lake Victoria. It's a very pleasant place where you can relax with a picnic; play games on the lawn; stroll around the botanical gardens; search for black and white Colobus Monkeys and hand out donations to locals looking for sponsorship for one thing or another. After a few relaxing hours we returned to Kampala to get ready for a night out. Gordon and Jeremy ate rabbit at the restaurant before we went over to Wagadougou Bar for a very long night. At 4am Andrew and I had had enough and got a taxi back. The other chaps went on to Al's bar for a bit of entertainment. Apparently this place is worth visiting just to see the local prostitutes in action and to play your air guitar, aka pool cue, to ZZ Top and the like.
Sunday 23rd was Easter Day and we had no chocolate eggs. That's what you get when the chaps eat the Easter bunny! We were all rather tired but soon woke up at the sight of the delightful roast lunch on offer at Al's. Oh fantastic!
Afterwards at Jinja we parked up at the camp next to the Bujagali Falls.
The Victoria Nile River is wide at this point and the flow thundered down the two sets of rapids which were within our vision. This is such a beautiful area. As it was Easter many locals were picnicking and there was a local band playing. The tribal dancing was interesting to watch - I have never seen hips wiggle in such a fashion! Some of the locals earn cash from visitors paying to see them ride the rapids on a jerry can - quite an amusing sight. That night after all the locals had left we sat in the camp bar on very comfortable wicker chairs, with our feet up and sipped Chianti whilst watching the sun set over the Nile. The sky was clear and starry and after a delicious fish curry (recently caught in the Nile) we retired to the sounds of gushing water around us.
The sight out of the tent in the morning was spectacular. The water level was higher than the previous day and the rapids were very impressive indeed. We decided not to raft the Nile as we'd already used up two lives on the Zambezi. Instead we watched the rafters pass by and enjoyed the entertainment, particularly when one flipped. Even the sight of the rafters coming through the rapids was enough to make my stomach churn. I'm glad I hadn't seen the rapids before going the Zambezi, otherwise I wouldn't have done it!
In the afternoon we took a drive to the "Source of the Nile".
There isn't a great deal to see at "the source" - it's just a point where Lake Victoria becomes a river. An obelisk on the opposite bank marks the spot where Speke stood in 1862 when he announced this to be the source. At that time the sight was far more impressive because of the existence of the Rippon Falls. These ceased to exist following the construction of the Owen Falls Dam over fifty years ago. It takes three months for the water to make its 4000 km journey north along the Nile until it reaches the Mediterranean Sea. It's about the same length of time as we expect to take on our similar journey and we momentarily considered putting a bottle of fizz into the river and collecting it at the other end when it should be nicely chilled. But then there are the alcohol laws to consider - how would the bottle get through Sudan!
Owen Falls Dam is very impressive. You have to drive over it on the way to Kampala. That evening we stopped off at a local supermarket and bought an Easter egg. Jeremy cooked us dinner and we had an evening of indulgence scoffing chocolate whilst watching Eddie Izzard on the video.
The next day it rained and rained and rained. This explains why Kampala is so green. We tried to do some chores in town but were slowed down by power cuts and traffic jams. Kampala is a beautiful city ranking as one of the best in Africa, I think. The expat community is large due to the existence of many NGO's. Consequently there are many good restaurants to be found.
The next day was a little more productive. The weather was fine, the power on and we were able to prepare for our sortie into Uganda. That night we had the most delicious meal at "7 Cooper Road". I cannot recommend this place enough and it certainly deserves its reputation as being the best restaurant in Kampala. At £5 per meal you cannot go wrong here.
Back on the road on Thursday 27th. Jeremy had looked after us exceptionally well but we were itching to move on and see some of the country. After stocking up with provisions we made our way south towards Lake Bunyoni where it started to rain just as we were about to tuck into our cheese and wine. The worst thing was that the wine was off. Disaster!
The lake is beautiful with its jagged shoreline and many islands. However, we were only to stay the one night as we were in search of mountain gorillas.
A fantastic route recommended to us by Ivan, the owner of the Overlanders Camp took us along the lakeside up to Kisoro. The road is not shown on the map and without his recommendation we would have missed out on what was one of the top ten drives through Africa. The scenery was beautiful as we twisted through the mountains.
For some reason this area is known as "Little Switzerland". I have never been to Switzerland so I am no expert but there was a distinct lack of beer cellars, ski resorts, cattle bells and yodelling. The area is densely cultivated with all areas farmed, including those up the mountainsides. Farming here must be so difficult and can only be done by hand. Successful crops include cabbage and many were spied in piles at the sides of the road.
At one point we passed a military tank and its crew which served to remind us of the location we were in. Situated right next to Congo and Rwanda this area is in a constant state of alert. Armed soldiers are an unusual sight to us Brits and not easy to accept.
Eventually we arrived at Kisoro where we couldn't believe our good luck. This is where you book to see the gorillas and there was place for all three of us to visit the gorillas on the following day. It is usually booked out for months in advance as only six people a day are allowed to visit. The $190 ($175 + $15 park entry) per person fee was the single most expensive excursion of the trip so far and it hurt to part with such an amount. It would be rude not to make a visit as we were here though. At least the Mgahinga National Park was $75 cheaper than a day out at Bwindi.
That night at the Community Campground (decided to support the locals rather than go to a private campground) we lit our first campfire in over a month. The fun didn't last long though as the heavens opened just as our steaks went on the grill. Typical - this was our second night of soggy scoff. It is not much fun cooking underneath an umbrella. The altitude is high here so it was cold too, compared to what we are used to.
After a very cold night (unheard of in the tent even with the flaps down, with the exception of Italy in winter) we were up with the sun excited about gorilla tracking. By 8.30am we were up the mountain in search of these awesome creatures. One tracker, one guide and four armed soldiers escorted us. Since the incident at the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest last year where a number of tourists were killed security is very high. The close proximity to the border with Congo means that there is a constant risk of rebels hopping over the border into Uganda. Safety of the tourists is of paramount importance here and it was a strange feeling being escorted by armed soldiers. With a potential daily input of $1140 from Mgahinga alone, Uganda cannot afford another Bwindi incident. The importance of this sum of money can only be realised when you hear that the average local earns $300 per year.
Soon the forest became deep and tropical (not quite to the extent of Bwindi we were told). It was time to put on the "rainy pants" and dodge through the foliage whilst trying to avoid the vines that would grab you wherever they could. The trackers knew roughly where to go because the previous days position had been marked on the GPS. Within an hour and a half we found gorilla spoor - stripped vegetation, trampled ground and vast dollops of poo. Three beds were located and a few minutes later we crept upon the first of the mountain gorillas - a silverback.
My, these are big creatures. The other guests failed to turn up so we had the gorillas to ourselves. You are allowed an hour with them and can get as close as 5m. Any closer and you put them at risk of human diseases. Over the next hour we were fortunate enough to observe all nine of the family - two silverbacks, three mothers, two juveniles and two babies. They did an excellent job of entertaining us - posing for the camera and acting for the video. Perhaps this is because they are 98% similar to us, genetically speaking that is. The hour went by quickly and we had to leave them so they could have some time to themselves before the next batch of high paying muzungus turned up. There are only 620 mountain gorillas in the world. Half are in Uganda, the other half in neighbouring Congo and Rwanda (just an extension of the same forest). It was a delight to have seen them but I am still unable to justify such a high price for the privilege.
On a high we returned to the cars for an afternoon of relaxing, car maintenance and another downpour of rain. It was during the rain that I was out buying bread after deciding to partake in the African tradition of walking to the village. "It's not far" said Robert who wished to accompany me. That is the first and last time that I will ever walk 6.5km to get a loaf of bread! Having said that, it was a pleasant walk (except for the torrential outburst) and a good opportunity to quiz Robert about life in Uganda. According to Robert taxes and aid money pay for the building of schools and hospitals. However secondary education and health care are not free at the point of delivery. Robert spends seven hours a day walking to school and back - a total of 26 km. When he gets to school there are 112 people in his class and he shares his desk with three other children.
That night I made a stir-fry with a jar of seszhuan sauce. It wasn't the most popular dinner judging by the runny eyes, the nose blowing and the steam coming out the top of heads. We all went to bed early with the knowledge that the burning in the stomach would be enough to keep us warm for the night.
Getting up at 5.30am is never much fun particularly when it is cold (14°C) and very very windy. With our guide and four armed soldiers we made our way to one of three volcanoes on the border with Rwanda to do a bit of mountain climbing. I am not the worlds fittest person after spending a year in a Landy but my mind was prepared for a challenging 4-5 hour ascent to 13,000 feet (where altitude sickness can kick in). However, my body wasn't prepared for such a gradient and came to a halt after an hour. What a lightweight. The chaps battled on.
I had a very nice day back down the mountain in the sunshine getting a bit of a tan and catching up on some reading and planning. However, one armed soldier was with me for the entire day which I found quite stifling. The boys returned at around five o'clock having spent 4.5 hours climbing the volcano, 1 hour resting and 2 hours running down it. They were absolutely shattered. Andrew likes a challenge but reported that this was ridiculous - more of an endurance test than a fun day out. However the views from the top were spectacular.
Mount Muhabura is part of the volcanic chain in the Mufumbiro Mountains, also known as the Virunga Range. It joins the Parc National des Vulcans in Rwanda and the Parc National des Virunga in Congo. Mount Muhavura is 4125m high. (It is the highest of the mountains in the earlier photo). Views of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo can be seen from the top.
The owner of the campground told us about a place on Lake Bunyoni that was worthy of a visit. As we had planned to visit the lake again we decided to take up the recommendation and head for Bushara Island.
On the way to Bushara we stopped at the market in Kabale to buy some tomatoes. The lady at the first stall asked for 1500Ush (75p) to which I said 'no'. At the next stall the lady said 500 Ush just as the first lady was running around the back shouting 1500. It was a typical scene in trying to rip off the muzungu. I bought the pile for 500. Just afterwards Andrew was taking photos of some locals with the digital camera. They were so amazed at their picture on the back of the camera that they screamed out and jumped backwards. According to Gordon who was parked behind us, the boy at the back of the crowd was pushed backwards and landed on the tomato sellers stall and the tomatoes went flying everywhere. Sadly they were the 500Ush tomatoes and not those three times the price.
We took the same scenic road around the lake as before only this time there was an obstruction in the road. The road is cut into the side of the mountain and the earth which previously formed a roadside wall had collapsed under the weight of a tree. We had to level the debris somewhat and chop off a few roots to get over the obstruction but it was no problem for Punda and Comet. Soon we were at Bunyoni where we parked up the cars in a secure carpark, packed a bag and negotiated 1,000Ush (40p) per person for a chap (Alfred) to row us over to Bushara Island in his dugout canoe. The half hour ride was so tranquil and we were delighted to see pied and malachite kingfishers darting in and out of the foliage around the islands. The lake has many islands, some inhabited, others not. Bushara Island is mainly forest and hence has abundant birdlife. The camp takes up the whole island which has a circumference of 1.8km.
Aves, the lady that looked after us, greeted us with tea which we enjoyed under the thatched dining area where we could look out over the surrounding islands and watch (and listen to) the birds around. Home for the night was to be Boubou tent.
Stepping onto this island is like stepping onto an exclusive camp. Everything about this place is like the luxury tented sites one usually pays a lot of money for. But not this one. Camping was 10,000Ush each (£4) and food around half that price. Before dining we enjoyed a hot shower in the open under the stars. The food was delicious and consisted of home-made soups, recently caught crayfish and finished off with chocolate pudding. The wine was excellent too.
Plans to go on a canoe trip around the islands the following day were blown out by the weather. Instead we lazed around the camp and indulged in a few too many of their cinnamon coated lemon scones. The afternoon was better though and a stroll around the island was very pleasant to burn off some scone calories. Bushara camp was so easy going that we decided to stay for another night and scoff another three course dinner with wine.
After a leisurely breakfast of eggs and obligatory lemon scones we took a motor boat out to Myevu to visit the market. Alfred (a different one) was our cox. In fact, almost everyone here is called Alfred. The market is on the Uganda/Rwanda border and locals of both countries meet to sell their wares and goats. Aves joined us and advised us on prices as well as helping to interpret the local language. I bought some material but the main fun was just watching the locals conduct their business. Mudfish on skewers were smoked (looked horrible); women fed their babies - boobs were flying around all over the place; pygmies were as interested in white guys as much as we were interested in them; tied up goats struggled with the terrain and people sat around their potatoes hoping to sell a bag or two. The afternoon came to an end and we returned to the mainland and to our awaiting cars. The locals sold us some fresh crayfish for dinner at 2,000Ush per kilo (less than a pound). I didn't expect to be handed a wriggling carrier bag full. They were certainly fresh - they were still alive!
That night at the White Horse Inn in Kabale (expensive camping option - better off at Bunyoni) we took it in turns to lob the crayfish into boiling water in an attempt to distribute the guilt. They seemed to peg it as soon as they hit the water thankfully. It was dark by the time we had pulled off all the shell bits and pulled out the intestines before we could get around to putting the meat into a Thai sauce. You don't get a great deal of edible bits for your kilo's worth. It was tasty though.
In the morning we had to do a quick shop in town before continuing on our travels. The Hot Loaf Bakery supposedly sells the best cakes in Uganda. There was certainly a good selection but one needed custard with most of the sponges as they were coming to the end of their shelf life. We said goodbye to Gordon as he headed south to the Rwanda border. He was off around Rwanda to observe genocide goings-on while Andrew and I decided to explore more of Uganda over the next week before our rendezvous at Jeremys.
The journey to Queen Elizabeth National Park was splendid. Initially the mountainous terrain turned to mere hills and the route through back-roads offered us an insight into local farming methods and coffee plantations. We almost crashed into a cow - the Ankole type that have such huge horns they can barely hold their heads up. Then we travelled through tea plantations and fabulous greenery until we descended into the rift valley. QE Park was supposedly spectacular although lacking in wildlife due to widespread poaching during Amin's years of power. The welcome at the gate was very warm and informative and we decided to stay for two days at a daily rate of $15 per person and a one-off fee of $30 for Punda. Oh for a locally registered car at times like these! Within seconds we spied a large herd of elephant, warthogs by the load and the local Ugandan kob.
Mweya Lodge was luxurious and very expensive so we bought a couple of bottles of cold tonics and headed down to our camp site. The site was basic - a flat spot on the ground with a view over the river. It was perfect for us and we enjoyed G&T's and dinner around the fire whilst the hippos grunted below.
The morning was fantastic. The sun was out. It was gloriously hot and we set up the platform for some game viewing. The park is large but we decided to concentrate on the northern area where there are two lakes adjoined by the Kasinga Channel and where a crater field is located. Although the wildlife is not as concentrated as some of the parks in southern Africa there was a fair number of elephant, warthogs and a variety of antelope (impala, bushbuck, defassa waterbuck, kob). We didn't see any lion though. There were lots of babies too so hopefully wildlife numbers will start to improve drastically over the next decade. The park is renowned for its giant hog and we were delighted to see one of these huge hairy ugly beasts.
The crater area was the most fascinating part of the park. Initially we were surrounded by soldiers building bunkers as we entered the crater area. This is a high vantage point where it is possible to keep a lookout on activities along the border with Congo. The view over the Rwenzori Mountains (currently out of bounds) and the Parc National des Virunga over Lake Edward in Congo is amazing. Initially in the crater area from the north gate you can look to the east and see the enormity of the Great Rift Valley.
Driving around the huge craters was spectacular. Some were water filled, others were dry. It was vast - crater after crater. Animals were few in number with the exception of buffalo but it was beautiful just appreciating the sight and trying to imagine what this area was like twenty years ago when it was apparently teaming with life.
That night we visited the lodge and splashed out on a beer at their bar which has spectacular views over the channel. Afterwards a different campsite awaited us - again with no facilities, just an experience in the wild.
The next day was dull and rainy so after a brief drive around the park (loads of antelope on the east side of the park) we headed north towards Fort Portal and Kibale Forest area. Lake Nkuruba was to be our campspot for the night and we were pleased to meet up again with Axel and Annette, our German friends who we met in Nairobi.
Two days of doing very little followed. The campsite is community-run and relies upon rainfall for water. It wasn't long before they ran out and I had to go down to the lake to collect water to wash some clothes. Our water tanks were filled with rainwater which we collected over the duration of our visit. There was no electricity either so despite being a campsite we may as well have been bush camping in the wild. The local market was interesting from the point of view that we were charged local prices. For 5,250Ush (£2.30) we bought three red bananas, a pineapple, half a kilo of potatoes, a kilo of yellow bananas, a pair of trousers for me, a pair of shorts for Andrew and lunch for both of us! Apparently the avocados were 2.5 pence for two.
News was starting to come through about troops amassing at the Uganda/Rwanda border along with news that the rains have arrived in Ethiopia and that the road conditions and feeding future looks bleak.
Tuesday 9th greeted us with rain. In between showers we packed up and moved on to Kibale Forest and made investigations into chimp tracking. Before committing to the park fees and high walking costs of the "Primate Walk" where sighting the chimps could not be guaranteed, we visited the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. Here, a guide takes you around the swamp for around 2-3 hours for 6,000Ush per person. Edson was our guide and his grasp of swamp zoology was quite impressive. It was really good value and despite a short but heavy downpour we thoroughly enjoyed the walk. Black & white Colobus Monkeys, Red Colobus Monkeys and Red Tailed Monkeys were easily visible. Other monkeys were a little elusive. Walking along boardwalks through huge papyrus plants was fun. After this walk it seemed pointless going back to the park as their walk would be very similar so we went to CVK (Crater Valley, Kibale) Campsite for the night. Here they have electricity and running water but the water was off because the pipe had been disconnected for road regrading. It was going to take a week for a plumber to put the pipe back on! The location of the camp was nice - overlooking one of the crater lakes. After a while though all the craters, the mountains and the greenery gets to look the same.
The owner of CVK told us about a man in the next camp offering chimp walks so we went to Rwengo Camp to see the man. It turned out that he couldn't see us as he'd recently gone blind! However, the children of the family could take us instead. Armed with a machete, David and Happy led the way with the rest of the family, who were based in the fields, shouting directions. Obviously these children hadn't a clue where they were going as we followed them through tea plantations and maize fields. They had to chop down bushes to get through the forest. Over the next hour or so we followed them through the forest, over logs, through streams, through mud. We knew more about tracking than they did and we emerged from the forest having seen one Colobus Monkey and nothing else. Never mind, it was good fun. But my boots were filthy - inside and out.
After a few weeks in the country we were itching for the city and decided to go to the backpackers at Entebbe (near Kampala) and pay a visit to the local chimp sanctuary. Apparently the chimps here have been rescued from people trying to smuggle them out of the country. As they cannot be reintroduced into the wild they are cared for at the sanctuary. It turned out that the backpackers had closed down and the camping options were out of town at two very pleasant locations on Lake Victoria.
The next day investigations into visiting the chimp sanctuary put an end to that idea. The sanctuary is on an island and it is necessary to charter a boat from the Entebbe Beach Resort at a cost of 150,000Ush which was rather a lot of money between two people. Instead we visited the wildlife park (previously the zoo) which was excellent. The park is undergoing expansion and re-development and over the next few years will become a great place to visit. The animals have lots of space and the environment is being tailored to natural habitats. The chimps aren't in cages - they are on an island and you can watch them from a high viewing platform. The otters and free-roaming cheeky monkeys were fantastic. The animals all looked healthy and well cared for but it is still not the same as seeing them in the wild. The night was spent at the Nabinoonya Camping Resort which is run by James who has spent six years working in England. It was so refreshing being able to speak to a local with similar verbal communication skills. That sounds rather aloof but the reality of dealing with locals is hard work as for most the level of education and knowledge is seriously lacking.
12th May was reunion day with Jeremy and Gordon so we made our way over to Kampala. Before meeting everyone at Jeremys house we did a few chores in town including getting the crack in the windscreen repaired which had gradually been getting worse since November. After a bit of catching up we went out for a pizza. Gordon had returned from Rwanda and saw nothing of the military activity on the border that had been reported in the news. His reports of the Rwandan massacre were horrific. Apparently a million people were killed over ten days, whole families were wiped out. Centres have been set up to remember those who have died and exhibits of anonymous bodies and weapons are on display. In the centre that Gordon visited (an old school) decaying body parts were laid out and the stones used to sharpen machetes were placed for all to see. Until a year ago all these bodies remained in a local church exactly as they had been left after the killings.
In the newspapers there were suggestions that Ethiopia had exaggerated the famine situation in an attempt to get food into the country and divert attention from its war expenditure. It is what we thought all along, particularly as so many travellers reported the presence of food.
The next day was spent doing chores on the car and making good use of Jeremys washing machine. That evening after dinner we went out to the cinema and then on to someones leaving party. After dancing and partying we finally got to bed after 5am.
Soon after awakening on Sunday we were off for lunch at Als bar. Again the mixed roast dinner was a delight. Back at Jeremys Andrew made a chocolate cake for us all which we scoffed without hesitation.
There were a few typically touristy places to visit in Uganda (Murchison Falls, Tororo and Sipi Falls) but we decided to give them a miss. One can only see so many waterfalls and time was passing quickly. It was time to get a wriggle on. We left Kampala after saying goodbye to Jeremy and headed for the border. This time we were going to the Busia border to speed up the process of border formalities. It worked too. The officials were very efficient and we were soon over the border and out into Kenya for the second time.
Next "Kenya 2"
|Jeremy, Gordon & I having sundowners at Bujagali Falls||The rafters start their descent...||...and make it through||Terraced farming in Kabale area||Gorilla tracking in the forest|
|Gordie cracks up...||...first he chases chickens...||...then pretends to be a gorilla||Ace Mt. Muhabura climbing team||In the rainy forest part of Mt. Muhabura|
|In the middle of Mt. Muhabura||Boys make it to the top!||Purchasing toms at the Kabale market||Kabale market locals||Obstruction in the road en-route to Lake Bunyoni|
|One of the Alfreds - our cox at Lake Bunyoni||Axel & Annette with their truck...||...and inside in luxury||Edson, our swamp guide in the bird viewing platform||Cheeky monkey|
|Otter at Entebbe||Cake at Jeremys||Ankole cow with its heavy horns|
The food available around the Kampala is very cosmopolitan. There are some excellent Italian and Chinese restaurants.
Supermarkets are widely stocked with western goods but are quite expensive.
You can buy Heinz baked beans imported from the UK (not made in Zimbabwe) in Entebbe.
The lemon scones with cinnamon sugar at Bushara Island Camp are an absolute must.
Don't leave Kampala without visiting '7 Cooper Road'.
The staple food consists of potato (Irish or sweet), matoke (cooked banana similar to plantain) or rice. These are often served with bean stew. With sweet potato the bean stew is lovely.
from Kenya - visit no. 1
|Border crossing at Malaba|
|Kampala||via Jinja. Excursion to Entebbe.|
|Kisoro||via Masaka, Mbarara & Kabale||Overlanders Camp at Lake Bunyoni|
|Mgahinga National Park||to see the gorillas, of course||Local camp|
|Q.E. Park||via Bushenyi & rift valley||Queen Elizabeth National Park camping sites|
|Fort Portal||(Kibale Forest Area)||Lake Nkuruba & CVK|
|Entebbe||Camping at Kisubi|
to Kenya - visit no. 2
The Museveni government which has been in power since 1986 has greatly improved the stability of the country. Although there are still problems in the far north of Uganda and the Rwenzori Mountains are currently off limits the rest of the country has a relaxed feel about it. However, there are armed guards everywhere, and quite a few people just walk around with rather large guns.
The climate here is beautiful. Temperatures rarely climb above 30°C or fall below a point where you will need a jumper (unless you are in the highlands). Rains are common which are torrential but ensure that the country is fertile and produces enough food to feed its population.
HIV and AIDS is rife here with estimates of 10% infection rate. If you were to see the behaviour of girls in bars it is easy to understand why. The government is spending a lot of resources to tackle this problem by information campaigns.
Uganda is the second largest receiver of western aid in the world. Everywhere you go the presence of aid agencies is apparent.
If you have a student card you can buy your visa on the border for $20 instead of $30. (Have your student card made in Moi Avenue, Nairobi).
Bookings to see the gorillas are made in advance - apparently up to six months. However the book is completed whether payment has been made or not. It is worth going directly to Kisoro to pay anyway and get an open pass then go to the park gate each morning at 8am to fill a vacancy should one occur. When we were there the two people who's names were in the book failed to turn up.
Fuel is very expensive so top up in Kenya before coming to Uganda.