Karamoja - Not A Typical Trip

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Mar 31, 2013

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Uganda  , Northern Region,
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The districts in Karamoja were places I was unable to travel because of armed conflict among AK-47 wielding cattle raiders and warrior type herdsmen.  That was until recently when I finally received permission to travel to the area to interview a potential grantee. After a process of getting permission to go into the region and with precautions in place (sorry I can't give more detail) I set off to interview an organization trying to prevent female genital mutilation among the Pokot tribe  (click here) in Amudat, a district in Uganda bordering Kenya.  The organization was also trying to help Pokot girls that had fled (click here) the practice.  Sadly, my trip did not go as expected despite all the planning and precautions.  The roads ended up being just a litte too terrible for travel.  After traveling only a few hundred kilometers over a 6-hour period we had to turn back in order to make it off the roads and out of Karamoja by nightfall.  

Karamoja is a region in the northeastern part of Uganda that I have known as "off-limits" for travel because of the history and current risk of being caught in armed conflicts.  (Click here for more resources).  I would hear Karamoja referred to as the area of “AK-47 carrying herdsmen” who were prone to violence, armed cattle raiding, and putting travelers at risk as victims of ambush robberies or caught in the crossfires of fighting tribes.  The Karamajong (semi-nomadic agro-pastoral group of herdsmen who give name to the area) are known for using weapons (including AK-47s) for cattle raiding and other conflicts.  There are real stories of relief workers being caught (click here) in crossfires during cattle raids and becoming victims (click here) of ambushes.  However, a voluntary disarmament program begun in 2001 and a forced disarmament program begun in 2004 (Click here),  have left the region “safer” to travel. 

I was optomistic the trip would be a success and let that push my worries about the possible danger aside.  I never imagined the roads would be the real problem.  Every time we hit another roadblock or got stuck I felt my optimism fading.  By the middle of the day after having only travel a short distance over 6 hours I was out of optimism and had to call off the trip.    
Fortunately, the organization's leader had met me in a town just before we entered the region of Karamoja and we were able to conduct an interview while driving.  This gentleman actually hitched another ride after we decided we had to turn around.  He called me at 4 am saying he was still stuck on the road and didn't know how many more hours he would be there.  Although I know we tried our best it still hurt knowing that there were 60 Pokot girls who had prepared to meet us only to be told their special visitors weren't coming.  I am not sure if I will have the opportunity to travel the region again to visit the girls, but I hope they know that we at least cared enough to try our best.  And we have the pictures to prove it.     
Click on the first picture: 

Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address


Mario on

Very Nice of you

Lynne Bondi on

Wow...I will never complain about another road!! I am sorry you were not able to conduct your interview, but am so glad you are safe!!

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: