The Murchison to Fort Portal rally drive

Trip Start Dec 16, 2005
Trip End Jun 12, 2006

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

The next morning I went out for another chimp trek with a Turkish guy and his family. He was in his forties and had his own business and had decided to jack it all in for 6 months and travel from Istanbul to Cape Town overland in his landrover.

A 65 year old German with a dodgy dyed haircut and his 20 year old Ugandan 'girlfriend' joined us for the final part of the trek, he was rather annoying me as he kept trying to tell our guide where to go - like he knew better than the guide!

Back in camp he officially became the most objectionable tourist I have ever met as he started shouting and bawling at the guides, who by the way were the kindest people you could ever want to meet! He was complaining that he had to pay $2 to bring his Ugandan girlfriend along - what a wanker!

One of the rangers took me out to the national park entrance on the back of his motorbike and then a really friendly German couple I'd met on the boat trip (the guy never stopped smiling and laughing) took me the final 20km to Masindi. The couple of rides I'd done cross country really got me thinking it's be nice to buy a motorbike again :-)

From Masindi it was back on the public transport and a Matatu to Hoima was my first leg. This was my first long distance trip on one of these things and everything they say about them is true. We were traveling up to 70 miles an hour for sections through villages on dirt roads with children playing at the road side. Many of the windshields had sun visors at the top with things on them such as 'Arsenal' and others said things such as 'Trust God' - at the speed they were driving I certainly hope that someone up there was looking out for us! I liked the Ugandan people as they are definitely not afraid to speak up. After a near miss with a truck that took us down into the ditch (luckily we didn't stay there) some of the passengers got a bit hysterical and a big discussion ensued about how the driver should slow down - I don't think he listened though! The main problem was another matatu was on the same route so it was a race to see who could get to the next set of passengers first so they could make the most money.

The Matatus are built to hold 14 people, infact it even says that on the side, but they will cram as many people in there as possible until passengers start screaming, there were over 28 at some points as I counted! When we arrived in Hoima my pack came off the roof along with all the empty plastic containers that had been placed on top of it. I presumed they were water containers but it turns out they were used to transport Waragi (a local based millet based alcohol), all the dregs had spilt onto my pack, it made it as me smell more like an alcoholic than usual!

Next leg of the journey was to Kyenjojo. This driver drove even quicker and this time I only had one of my bum cheeks placed on the seat! We also got a ticket from the cops on this journey - speeding I hear you say? No it was for having unsecured Waragi containers in the roof, I think one nearly hit the cop as we slid around a corner and they patially flew off to the side!

I was happy when the matatu arrived at its destination but unhappy to hear it wasn't going the whole way like my driver had said, it actually stopped in Kagadi, a town with nothing going for it in the middle of nowhere with no more buses running that day!

It actually turned out to be a nice evening, for starters with no guide book entries for this place I was forced to discover things out for myself - it really felt much more like traveling. Once I had found the hotel I sat back on the patio looking into the main square, had a couple of Senator beers and watch the locals going about their business. Beer in only 50c for .5L in Uganda, at twice the price of water it come out to be nice and cheap, it seems a waste to buy water when beer is that price! Some of the strange things they do in Uganda when you order a beer is ask you if you want it warm or cold, they always ask you before they open it for you and some of the locals drink through a straw!

Early morning start and the final leg to Fort Portal and my butt is aching more than when I ambitiously tried a 2 day horse ride taking the same route as Butch Kassidy and the Sundance Kid took on their last ride before they got shot and killed. I was so happy after 2 hours when we hit the blacktop. It was nice scenery as we started passing all the tea plantations on the way into Fort Portal, but where ever possible I will be taking one of the buses in the future!

Laundry (I was covered in so much dust after this trip my beige top was red!), internet and a fantastic chicken curry have helped paint a rosy picture of the pleasant Fort Portal. One of the nice drinks they have in Uganda is a ginger beer called Stoney Tangawizi, it made by Coke, god knows why they don't make it in the US, I'd buy buckets of the stuff! The Africa Cup of Nations is also on at the moment, I managed to get the highlights of Guinea's shock win over South Africa, there is a bar in my hotel that is so packed tonight I can hardly move!
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