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We Heart Jinja: Uganda – Kenya

Kampala, Jinja, Lake Naivasha, Crater Lake

We are back in Nairobi, picking up more people for the next stage of the tour. And saying a few sad goodbyes. I have just typed up a day to day itinerary so far and have notice how much we have actually done. And the 3 weeks has flown! We are again staying again in the area called Karen, named after Karen Blixon (‘Out of Africa’). One of the funniest things I have heard here is a Kenyan guy wearing an Aussie hat yelling out “A dingo stole my baby” to me.

I enjoyed Kampala, me and one girl on the tour had a very ‘western’ day there at the Garden City shopping centre, eating burgers and milkshakes and watching a movie, meanwhile the rest of the truck did a slum tour.

We then left for Jinja, Uganda’s adventure capital. We are already planning a reunion there it was so much fun. Our camp site was right on the Nile River and it was so nice to set up camp and know we were staying for 3 nights. No packing up tents and day packs. We got straight into the Chapati’s, which are DELICIOUS and overflowing with avocado (obviously not as expensive here as in Oz) and arranged a sunset cruise on the Nile – Lake Victoria. Turned out it is more of a Booze Cruise and we were forced to drink by the bar guys. “You guys drink too slow” and out came the Ugandan whisky bottles. We are a very musical group and as usual the night ended up with a lot of loud singing, continuing to the bus trip back to camp as we told people we were a travelling choir, and conga lined down to the bar to disturb everyone’s night. The next day I did White water rafting on the Nile. The drive there was beautiful, driving right through villages. We got a flat tyre, and as there was no spare we had to drive the last couple of km’s really slow. At one stage I looked behind and there must’ve been half a village following us! The first rapid – a Grade 5, 3m waterfall - was the perfect hangover cure. And the guides weren’t hard on the eye either. Ours was a Ugandan with an Aussie accent. He was HILARIOUS and we were in stitches all day. It would have to be one of the most fun days I have ever had. “If you fall out in the rapid, just chillax and enjoy the ride”. Easier said than done, especially getting stuck under the raft. We flipped a few times and one time the guide pulled me on top of the raft and we rode out the rest hanging on top. FUN! We partied on that night with all the guides at the bar and it was there I made the decision to go back and do it again in a tandem Kayak. Once again the first rapid was enough to wake me up. Always unnerving when your guide tells you he is shitting himself haha. It was a lot of fun, but definitely more scary than the rafting. The waves look a lot bigger from that small thing, and I did at moments wonder what I had got myself into. We were on the water for about 4 hours, and in between the rapids you just get to casually drift down the river, watching locals fishing and washing on the rocks. I really loved Jinja, the dirt roads, the villages, the weather and just being on the water. It just had a really nice vibe about it. One more day would have been great, just to relax on the river or look in some more shops (though it is probably best I avoid any more shops, I already have to send a box of things home).

We left early Monday morning and crossed back into Kenya to stay at a really nice camp site in Eldoret. Dinner was delicious, much better than any cook group meal.

Next stop was Lake Naivasha where our campsite was located right on the lake. Lake Naivasha is known for its Hippo population so we were comforted to see the electric fence to keep them from the tents. They leave the water to graze at night so although we were too scared to sleep, it was worth it to see them come up from the lake and eat less than 10m from our tents. We visited Elsamere, home of Joy and George Adamson (‘Born Free’) and had high tea in the gardens. A really beautiful location and was interesting to look around. She was an amazing artist! Also watched a short movie on Joy’s life and her work with wildlife.

On Wednesday we had the choice of a cycling safari through Hell’s Gate or a walking safari through Crater Lake Game Park. I did the walk and it was unreal! Although we had seen all of the animals before, it was pretty special to not be in a vehicle at all and just out in the open. There were so many Zebra’s and Giraffe’s and we were able to get within 5-10m. We hiked to the crater and down to the lake looking out for monkey’s overhead. When we got back to camp, we took some boats out onto the Lake to go Hippo hunting. I was a bit worried as I am sure the hippo’s could swim faster than these boats, and the drivers seemed to think they could drive through anything so we got stuck a few times. But it was pretty amazing, for about $5 an hour on Lake Naivasha watching hippos and even giraffes on the shore. We would have seen about 30, and if I said I wasn’t nervous at all I would be lying. Then stayed up watching the shore line again that night to catch them out of the water.

Yesterday we arrived back in Nairobi and visited the Giraffe Centre. They offer free entry to school students to educate them in the hope they will grow up to be wildlife warriors. We were able to feed the giraffe, Daisy, and I put a pellet in my mouth and she gave me a big tongue kiss. Very rough tongue but my first kiss in Africa. We went out for dinner last night in Karen as a farewell to a few people who are leaving, and once again singing was a big part of the night. This morning I went to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage which was great. A kiss from a giraffe one day, patting an elephant the next. All there is is a rope to separate us. Many are orphans from poaching, drought, being left behind stuck in wells as babies, or being driven out of their land with their families by humans and being lost in the confusion. They seem to do great work there to reintroduce them into the wild.

Tomorrow we leave for Tanzania.

Posted by neerg_08 03:15 Archived in Kenya Tagged victoria lake nile kenya crater giraffe kampala rapids jinja uganda naivasha sheldrick Comments (0)

Loving life: Uganda

Kampala

Yesterday we crossed back into Uganda and drove most of the day. I still can’t get over the scenery!!!! We stopped at a bush camp (all the other sites so far have been secure camping grounds). The land is owned by a local man who was sponsored by another Oasis tour leader as he grew up and got through school because of it so as a favour he lets Oasis stay on his land. The kids all came up and shook our hands when they got home from school. They were so polite. We were all awake in the night as I think a bull got out and was mooing around all our tents. Better than a lion. Today we drove to Kampala again where we are for the next 2 nights.
Friday we leave for Jinja, Uganda’s adventure capital. Everything so far has just topped my expectations and I still don’t think it has hit me I am here.

Posted by neerg_08 03:11 Archived in Uganda Tagged overland kampala uganda Comments (0)

Mzungu in the Mist: Uganda to Rwanda

Kabale, Lake Bunyonyi, Kigali, Ruhengeri

all seasons in one day

Friday we crossed back into the Southern Hemisphere and drove to Kabale in Uganda near the Rwanda border. As we were setting up tents there were all the heads sticking over the ‘security fences’ and Mzungu being called out from everywhere, it doesn’t seem many tourists come through here as people gathered around our truck to stare when we stopped for the shop in town.

Saturday we visited Lake Bunyonyi, set amongst old volcanos the greenery of the surrounding 35 islands is beautiful. There is the old Leper Island and Punishment Island, where people used to leave women who were pregnant out of wedlock (it’s a TINY island, about 20m across). Eventually families would come back to check on the girl to see if she was alive still and found that they were going missing as men who couldn’t afford a wife would come and take the girl. The community decided to instead get the brother to throw the girl off a waterfall until one girl pulled the brother over with her and they stopped that too. (YOU GO GIRL) We stopped at one island and visited a Pygmy community of 52 people who had been given land here after being kicked out of the mountains where the gorillas are. It was a pretty walk there and the Pygmy’s were sooooo friendly! It was so cheap for what the day was. Our guide was great and as the money goes to their community they are very happy to have us there and want us to tell people about them so they aren’t forgotten. They performed a few dances and in return we had to as well, so we did the macarina, the crocodile song/dance and the conga, which they all joined in. It was so funny walking through the hills and you could hear “how are yoooooo” from everywhere but couldn’t see where it was coming from. On the way back to the boat the kids followed us the whole way and we all danced the way back to “Ma Ma Mzungu Zunga Ma Ma Ma”. We tried some locally made beer at the bar on the island which besides the odd taste, had the texture of sand…not the best. Then on the boat return to another island for dinner a storm hit and it was POURING. There was crazy lightening all around, which made me pretty nervous in our little open boats, and so we had to stop for a bit under a hut on a closer island.

We had drinks around the fire waiting for the rain to die down and continued to party on at the campsite with a couple of girls who work there which was a huge night. Rough getting up at 5:00am and packing up a tent!

Sunday we drove to Rwanda, visited the genocide museum in Kigali which was very interesting and pretty heavy stuff. We spent a few hours there, there is a mass grave with over 250,000 bodies buried, and more are always brought in as they are found in mass graves around the country. The last room of the museum had 14 images of child victims with hobbies, best friends etc and how they were killed and I don’t think anyone got through that room without crying. It was a very emotional day. There were also lots of video’s with interviews and it was just really devastating. The museum is a lot better than I expected, you can see a lot of money has been put into it. It is sad to think that anyone over 17 experienced the genocide, and everyone is still affected in some way. People are genuinely happy to have tourists here it’s lovely. As a surprise we stopped at our campsite for last night and tonight and it turns out we get DORM ROOMS! BEDS!!!! And a place to hang my washing I did last week as it keeps raining at night, just as we put our tents up and re-wetting the washing. Nothing hanging your undies out the side of the truck as we drive along can't help though.

Today we did the gorilla trek….. WOW! It is so surreal to think I have done it, I need to keep looking over photos (of which there are many). We could choose between 3 treks, easy medium or hard. I did hard which I was worried about as I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a couple of hours longer trek than the others and following the Susa family, the largest family they offer tracking to. 32 gorillas, 3 silverbacks. Fact: instead of fingerprints, gorillas are identified by the shape of the markings in the crease of their nose. The trek was actually not too hard besides the altitude. There was an older man on our trek who we had to keep stopping for, which I was more than happy about. The jungle was just what I imagined a jungle to be! There is supposed to be a 7m rule with the gorillas but we were within 1-2 metres! The trackers go up into the mountains early in the morning to track them and then follow them until they make their nests at night. They were all really good and wanted us to get closer and good photos. It’s nice to see that the guides who see them pretty much every day are still excited to be there. It was actually kind of scary as you remember they are wild animals and those silverbacks are MASSIVE. The guides can actually communicate with the gorillas, making noises to assure them we are friendly and to gain permission to come near them. They will hear them make a noise and straight away tell us that they are about to move or want to mate. Pretty incredible. I felt safest next to the guy with the rifle, though they’d probably sooner use it on us than the gorillas. There were two 2 week old twins in the family as well and they are all just so human like! There were 2 or 3 other gorillas watching over the mothers shoulder at the babies just like we do at newborns.

Today one of the guys on the trip proposed to his girlfriend after the trek so we went out for dinner and bought some things from the market for them to wear as sash and veil. We are staying in Ruhengeri and leave tomorrow morning to head back into Uganda. I would love to come back to Rwanda!

Posted by neerg_08 03:07 Archived in Rwanda Tagged lake rwanda kabale kigali uganda pygmy bunyonyi ruhengeri gorlla Comments (0)

Truck Life Begins: Kenya to Uganda

Turbot, Nakuru, Kampala

all seasons in one day

Hello!
Overland Truck life is going well. The truck is really well equipped, even with drinking water which I am happy about (save my $1-2 a day water budget). I like how the seats are arranged, facing the middle of the truck instead on rows of 2 facing the front, as everyone has window (or in our case, open side) and it is more social…when we are not all sleeping. The beach area is good too, as a bit more out of the wind and sticking your head up over the top of the truck is probably the best view to see all around. The group on the truck seem like a good bunch and the tour leader and driver are great too. We have 17 people at the moment, and the truck has room for 24 for the extra seats are a bonus. We have split into 4 cook groups, so each night one group does dinner and then breakfast and sometimes lunch the next day. My group cooked last night and also a 5:30 breakfast this morning. The best part was shopping in the local market in Nakuru for pretty much everything besides the chicken. We fed 19 people 3 meals for $30-$40. I am not sure about this weight loss in Africa I was expecting though, as I can see we will be having a lot of pasta, rice, bread and potatoes over the next 10 weeks. All the good stuff.

Today we crossed the Uganda border and are heading for Kampala.
We did Lake Nakuru on Tuesday, a 6am start which was gorgeous that time of morning. Within the first 10 minutes we were called to see where some lions had just killed a buffalo and were sitting nearby waiting to drag it away. That was exciting and pretty lucky. Also saw black and white rhinos as well as many of the animals we had already seen. The lake looks just as it does in photos with all the pink flamingos and pelicans.

After Nakuru, we stayed overnight at Turbot and then crossed the Equator into the Northern Hemisphere, stripping off our ski jackets. The days are warm but as soon as the truck gets moving the wind really chiils things.

The people in the rural areas especially are sooo friendly and as we drive by, hanging out the side of the truck like dogs everyone waves and shouts “Jambo” and “Mzungu”. Particularly the kids, driving past a school you will see them over 100m away in the playground all with the 2 handed wave, One man lifted both his hands off his steering wheel to wave. It’s so nice and I just imagine how crazy we would look if we were at home doing that. We have had a couple of long drive days but even those are interesting as you get to see all the areas no one stops.

The scenery became greener and we crossed into Uganda. The border crossing was pretty hassle free as we are a big group. We are now in Kampala for the night, staying at Red Chilli’s. It is a pretty good campsite with FREE WIFI so us technology addicts are satisfied.

Posted by neerg_08 03:03 Archived in Uganda Tagged overland lake kenya equator kampala uganda nakuru turbot Comments (0)

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