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2014 Jun by Tracey Bell
||Tracey Bell does not wish to be contacted by MTP members|
In June 2014 Bev arrived in Nairobi to start a month-long journey through Kenya and Uganda. One of the main reasons for her visit was to meet Jared, a Ugandan university student who she had been sponsoring for the past 18 months.
We\'ll skip the Kenya section and go straight to Uganda....
Crossing into Uganda was something of an event with Tracey nearly getting arrested thanks to the Kenyan insurance company failing to fill in the Comesa insurance certificate correctly – we still need to express our thanks to Amaco Insurance for putting us in that predicament. However, after a few hours we were able to clear the border and get to Jinja. After the stress of the border crossing, it would have been wonderful to get a good night’s sleep, but it was not to be. Normally Tracey can sleep through anything, but a bagpiper wandering through the campsite managed to cut through the deep sleep. Sticking her head out the tent, she asked “Really?” and the bagpiper apologised.....only to start up again!! Is it necessary to say that we may have lost our tempers a little bit?
The next day was much better though with a boozy lunch cruise on the Nile. The birdlife was spectacular and the new camera has proven itself to be an excellent purchase.
In Mbale, on our way to Sipi Falls, we finally met Jared. Bev and Jared have been communicating extensively via email for 18 months but this was the first time they were to meet in person, so it was very exciting. We got lunch and continued the journey to Sipi as the two chatted in the back of the vehicle. All seemed to be fine – which was a relief!
At Sipi Falls we met Punky the cheeky Turaco. At first we were so excited to see this beautiful bird come so close and felt incredibly privileged – and then we realised that actually the only privilege being afforded to us was that we were able to eat the majority of our breakfast before Punky came to greet us! Having fallen out of the nest as a baby, Punky has been raised by Minette and Andy but has freedom to fly away now he is fully grown. But it seems he has too much fun bullying the cat and the dogs so he stays.
Jared, Francis and Tracey hiked two of the three waterfalls that make up Sipi Falls. The third involved ladders and steepness that we decided wasn’t necessary – we got a fine view from where we were.
Across Uganda to Murchison Falls National Park where we enjoyed a cruise and a game drive. The Nile thrusts itself through a 7 metre gorge, creating the most powerful waterfall in the world. And we saw it!
In western Uganda we spent a few nights in Fort Portal where we ate pizza and played cards. We also did a hike in the Rwenzori Mountains up to a school. The guides took a look at Bev and said the school was too far and we probably wouldn’t make it. But we did and kudos to Bev for pushing her comfort zone! We were trying to be quiet so as not to disturb the children in the classroom, but curiousity obviously got the better of them and just before finishing time, suddenly they all rushed out to greet us. Bev got bombarded with children wanting to shake her hand and just generally be near her.
The next day we went chimp trekking, but did not have much luck. Our guide was a little gung-ho in the beginning and the chimps were on the move rather than sitting somewhere convenient for us to take pictures. We saw three black blobs moving through the bush over the several hours we wandered in Kabale National Park. Once we told the guide we were OK with not seeing any chimps, he relaxed and even cracked a smile. He cracked more smiles as we neared the end: we asked how far we were from the road and he said “About 600 metres”. After about 2km, we asked again and he gave the same answer. After a few times of the pattern we just had to laugh and ask him “So only 600 more metres?”
Driving south, we passed through Queen Elizabeth National Park and were quite shocked at the speed several police trucks were swinging themselves around an escarpment, especially as they passed by a school. We stopped at Uganda Lodge, a project started by a Ugandan man and British woman where there is a school and a new clinic. Bev did a few more science classes and we went with some volunteers in the afternoon to deliver bananas to the children’s ward at the nearby hospital. Jared is studying public health and was very keen to visit the hospital and ask lots of questions.
Finally we reached Kampala where Bev was to spend her last week seeing Jared’s life. We dropped Jared at his home where his aunty gave us two of the biggest avocadoes you have ever seen and a bunch of sweet bananas. Then it was back to battle Kampala’s peak hour traffic to get to the hotel for a final dinner together. There we met Ishmael, who was to take over driving responsibilities for Bev’s week in Kampala while we rushed back to Kenya. From all accounts, Ishmael became as much a part of Bev and Jared’s week and we had been a part of their holiday before. Jared showed Bev plenty of universities and hospitals, he invited her to his house for a meal, his family came out to town for another meal and they went to a school sports day and cheered on the Parrots...Ishmael as well!
What a journey! Bev and Tracey had travelled together for five weeks in 2009 from Beijing to Istanbul and here again was another month of new experiences, incredible memories and plenty of laughter. Bev and Jared have cemented their mother-son relationship and Jared’s university education is assured (so long as he keeps getting good grades!). And we all look forward to Bev’s next visit....or will it be Jared, Francis and Tracey coming to Australia to visit Bev?! |
2003 Aug by Michael Novins
August 2003 -- I booked a private tour (only my guide/driver and me) with Volcanoes Safaris (http://www.volcanoessafaris.com/), and after landing in Entebbe, made a short tour of Kampala, before driving to Queen Elizabeth NP, where I stayed at Mweya Safari Lodge (http://www.mweyalodge.com/). The wildlife at Queen Elizabeth NP has been decimated over the years, and has begun recovering, but it will take many years before it again is one of the best national parks in Africa -- that being said, I saw some animals that I had not seen at other parks, including Ugandan kob and giant forest hogs. After a couple of days in Queen Elizabeth NP, we drove to Bwindi Impenetrable NP, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/682), for my first gorilla trek. From Uganda, we drove into Rwanda. |
1998 Dec by Jorge Sanchez
Uganda is a lovely country with a lot of fantastic places to offer to the traveller.|
The visit that I enjoyed most was the one that I made to the Rwenzori Mountains, which in the past were known as the Mountains of the Moon.
First, I took a transport from Kampala to Kasese, afterward I continued until Fort Portland, then I crossed a bridge over the waters that communicate the lakes George with Edward, and there I made friendship with a small group of English travellers who were heading to the river Semiliki, at the border with ex-Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) with a land rover. After agreeing to share the expenses I joined them to visit the pygmies in the village of Bundibugyo.
There were about 60 of them, almost naked, even we saw women carrying children. The first words that they learn in English are: “give me money, give me money…” that is why we called them “givemies”, instead of pygmies.
By the way, just outside Kampala, in Kikaya hill, there is a Bahai temple that has the tradition to invite the people who are interested in that Faith, to spend the night in their premises (that is what I did). .................................. KAMPALA: I arrived to Kampala by bus, from Jinja. I loved Kampala and found it the most beautiful African capital that I had, so far, visited in that journey around Africa, always overland, that lasted nine months. The city is surrounded by fourteen hills in front of the Lake Victoria. It was starting to be dark, so I looked for accommodation, if possible in a kind of Caravanserai of the present times, that is, a Gurdwara, or a Bahai temple. I used to sleep in those Gurdwaras, in very humble conditions, for free during my journeys around the world. Besides, the conversation with the Sikhs members was very inspired. But I was informed that a few years earlier about 70.000 Asiatic people, mainly Indians of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions, had been expelled from Uganda and had to seek refuge in England, and because of that there were not presently Sikh temples, called Gurdwaras, in Kampala. Therefore I asked for a Bahai center, whose members also use to invite travelers to spend the night in their temples scattered around the world. I was sent to the Kikaya hill, where I found an imposing Bahai temple. Its construction was beautiful. I learnt that the tiles and mosaic were brought from Italy and Belgium, and the carpets were from Iran. I was gently invited to stay for three nights. The fourth day, early in the morning, I set off to explore the Mountains of the Moon...................... DRINKING WATER IN THE SOURCES OF THE WHITE NILE: Coming from Kenya, the first goal in Uganda was to visit the sources of the White Nile, in the city of Jinja, by the shores of the Lake Victoria. After Immigration controls in Busia I took a minibus to Jinja, the second most populated town in Uganda. It took me a couple of hours to get to Jinja. Once in the bus terminal I ran during 2 kilometers to the Lake Victoria and upon reaching the confluence between the lake and the River Nile I drank a lot of water from the Nile, with the help of my right hand, until I could not more. That was my enthusiasm to reach such a geographical notable place. Just besides the place where I drank water I saw a crematory and a Hindu temple. In a statue representing Gandhi was written that part of his ashes was thrown to the River Nile, specifically in that point. I was in very good moods when I reached Kampala by bus a few hours later.
1991 Jan by Peter Kuiper
After spending the day on Mount Elgon, we arrived quite late at the border and stayed in Tororo. The next day we reached Jinja. We stayed in the New Bellevue Hotel. The vue of the place was belle, but the hotel was definitively not new. Jinja had some beautiful old buildings though and an amazing golf course along the effluent White Nile. Kampala was not so special, but the Sheraton Hotel was quite nice. We stayed in the 10th floor and had a balcony.|
We stored the main part of our luggage and took off for a week long tour through Western Uganda.
In Mbarara we stayed in the old colonial University Inn and enjoyed the garden and the oldfashioned embiance. To be able to enjoy the beautiful Virunga Mountains, we got off the bus some 10km before Kabale. Of course we got off too early, it was much further than 10km. We walked for hours and reached Kabale in the dark. We finally found the White Horse Inn in the electricity free town. The place was packed with military, all Tutsis who had their Headquarters here, ready to invade Rwanda as it was just a short while after the genocide. The soldiers stayed in tents in the garden, the commanders had rooms. Luckily we did get a room and got lovely service: oil lamps and two jerrycans with hot and cold water. It was quite an experiance to be surrounded by giants. It was also getting dark as we reached the Lodge in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. We had to walk a few kilometers from the main road. Nobody ever did this the receptionists told us.....lots of lions around. The next day they drove us back to the gate.
In Kasese we stayed in the Saad Hotel. We made a day trip to the Ruwenzoris, but time was too short to really see the mountains. We got a glimps of the snowy summits though.
The hotel in Fort Portal was wonderful: really old, colonial style, with a nice garden and a view on the Ruwenzoris: the Mountains of the Moon Hotel.....
To get back to Kampala you can take the public bus at 8, or a bit more expensive a minibus at 6. The hotel got us two tickets for the minibus. The next morning at 6 we waited at the gate, but the bus did not come until 06.30. We were 19 people including the driver and the co-driver. After about two hours the bus stopped suddenly. The co-driver said: "Robbers...they are armed" Luckely I immedately pulled my valuebles out of my camerabag, slipped them into my t-shirt and closed my jacket. I told my friend to do so as well. The girls behind us shouted "get out of the bus". I stumbled out with my camarabag. A soldier with a kalashnikov said something to me. "I don't understand" I said. An other soldier a little higher up said "handbag" I dropped my bag. Than he moved his gun towards the jungle and I ran and after a few meters fell into a hole. My friend fell over me. Seconds later the three or four robbers drove off in first gear. Evidently they didn't know how to drive. We climbed out of the hole back to the track. Everybody came out of the jungle. A few minutes later the bus came back. They must have decided to flee the other way. Again we fled into the jungle. When we did not hear the bus anymore we came back to the track. Everybody had lost everything, but we at least had our tickets, passports and money and most stuff in storage in the Sheraton Hotel. We knew that the public bus from Fort Portal would come. After about two hours we could mount the bus. At the next checkpoint the police was alerted by walky-talky.
At about four o'clock we arrived in Kampala and went straight to the Police Headquarters. Everybody knew about the robbery. We were accompanied to the highest Police Officer. As we entered his office he started laughing. "What are you doing here, ha ha ha, others never come, ha ha ha" I tried to explain that we needed a report for our insurance. "Ha ha ha, others never come, because they are all shot....." Than he told that usually robbers kill their victems first, and than rob them...... We went back to the Sheraton to pick up our stuff and left for Entebbe for the night and stayed in the Kipedo Guest House. We were terribly bitten by mosquitos that night. Our dear nets were gone. The next morning we flew to Addis Abeba. The insurence covered the loss of my expensive autofocus (in 1991 a unique)camera.
More than half a year later, in July, I got a letter from the police to see them. I could not think of any wrongdoing, I don't even drive a car. "Well it is about your armed robbery in Uganda" they said. "How do you know about it" I asked. "From Interpol New York" they said, "It is a big thing and we have to know in detail what happened" After my report they told me to contact the German Embassy in Kampala.
Almost a year after the robbery, on Jan 15. 1992 I got a letter from the German Embassy in Kampala that "some stolen items had been recovered" and if I wanted them back. I wrote that I was especially interrested in the filma, and also the cameras. Another four months later, almost one and a half year after the robbery I got a call from Rosenheim, Bavaria. "I work at the embassy in Kampala and I have your cameras....do you want to pick them up?" I jumped on the next nighttrain and the next morning called the guy and he brought the camaras (and films) to the station. "What happened to the robbers?" "In jail" he said, or dead, nobody survives a Ugandan jail very long...." The cameras were both broken, the films ok, they even took some pics with one of them....the robbers or the police?
1988 May by Veikko Huhtala*
We flew from Nairobi by Kenya Airways to Entebbe airport, on the shore of Lake Victoria. We drove by taxi to Kampala, almost 40 km NE Entebbe. Kampala has elevation of 1,190 meter and it has population of one and half million. |
We found a small hotel to stay couple nights, but it was not very cheap. At that time Uganda was very expensive country for tourists and we did not like it very much. It was nice to have Air Rwanda flight to Kigali, and stay two nights there. After Kampala it was as paradise for us.