A Couple Of Bumps And A Hiccup

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Flag of Uganda  ,
Sunday, April 11, 2010

After our trek in to the wilds, we headed in to the big smoke. It was quite an uneventful journey on a big bus from Fort Portal over to Kampala.  The only events of note were the bumps in the road.  The bus driver seemed to forget that his vehicle had a rear end and, after slowly and carefully guiding the front end over the bump, he put his foot hard on the accelerator – leaving Sarah and I, who were sitting in the back of the bus with bruises as our heads hit the luggage rack and bruises as we crashed down in to our seats again! Which was nice.  A couple of passengers shouted at him and he remembered.  For a while!

Kampala gave us the luxury of cinemas (we decided three visits were just about enough for now), shops (although neither our luggage nor our budget allowed us to actually buy anything), it was fun walking around the extremely busy, noisy, colourful streets full of street stalls and people all seeming in a hurry to get somewhere.  We also re-learned the art of riding in matatus, too!

We had a great day out to a place near Kampala called Jinja.  This is, allegedly (as long as you don't ask the Rwandan or Burundian folk) the source of the Nile.  There isn’t much of a source to see – but the river is pretty at this point as it flows quickly out of Lake Victoria.  We also went to the Nile Brewery, the Bujugali Falls (a long series of rapids, a favourite with white water rafters and to the locals who swim over them with nothing more than a jerry can to keep the afloat) and we saw where Gandhi’s ashes were scattered.  An interesting place.

Health wise, we are fine.  Our bumps have healed from the bus, but we were both bitten by insects and came up in large painful weals!  Graham’s are taking ages to heal and look rather horrid, although they are slowly getting smaller.  Not sure what the buggers were, but they weren’t mosquitoes!  The joys of exploring in the tropics, I guess!  Talking about exploring, we have had one major hiccup.  We thought that we could buy Ethiopian visas from the Embassy here in Kampala.  Ethiopian visas can’t be got on arrival at the land border we were heading for, but can be got on arrival at the airport. Apparently they only issue them in Kampala to Ugandan citizens!  So, faced with the choice of either travelling to Nairobi, or flying part of our journey, we booked two tickets to fly to Addis on Monday.  Oh well, we have been to Kenya many times, so we don’t feel too bad about it.

We went for a walk around Entebbe Wildlife Center – once I’d convinced Sarah it wasn’t a zoo.  It is actually a rescue center and education center and has some great animals in (including a Shoebill Stork)!  The animals are well cared for and the center is also used to educate folks about the plight of the animals in the wild.

We met Laurie and Kirstin at Entebbe airport and picked up a hire car with a driver, and then headed off on the four hour car journey to Murchison Falls National Park.  This is a very popular Ugandan attraction, and is a park with lots of wild animals in (all the big 5 apart from Rhino), great bird life and beautiful scenery – including the falls which are where the Nile comes to a small narrow gorge and is forced to thunder over the rocks.  We took a game drive and saw Elephants, Giraffes, a Leopard, a Lion and lots of different types of buck (Waterbuck, Hartebeest, Oribi and Ugandan Cob), along with all sorts of birds (Kingfishers, Fish Eagles, Cranes), and we went on two boat drives – one to the base of the falls and one to look for the elusive Shoebill Stork (which proved to be very elusive – and we later found out there were only ten in the whole park, which is the best place in Africa to see one) so that made us feel better about not seeing any)!

Tomorrow marks the end of our time in East Africa for a while, and the start of our overlanding north (well, after a bit of a cheat as we fly to Addis).  We are both quite excited – and eager to get out of the land of mosquitoes and tse-tse flies, having been bitten to pieces in the park!!
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Sam on

Wow I am really enjoying following your trip! Good luck for tomorrow

Rhys on

You're making me so jealous! I remember going to Jinja and Kampala and shudder to think it was a decade ago! Please continue to keep me posted about your travels!!

heathermay on

heyo! all good so far, i'm glad to hear! (minus bumps, bites and bruises...). Loved the murch falls shot - i didn't go there - i did paddle Bujagali Falls a few times tho' (once i even stayed upright...). Looking forward to stories about north africa. Take care (but not too much!). heath xo

Amy on

Sounds amazing! Glad you're having fun and Ethiopia will be brilliant. I'm just back from Kenya - and we made it to Lake Turkana! Looking forward to hearing more about your travels. Still got things crossed for your Sudanese visas...

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