A Travellerspoint blog

Jinja

Party central

Today we drove to Jinja, the Adrenaline capitol of Uganda. Our camp was basically a night club which for the first night was fine since we all joined in the spirit of things and got stuck in, however by night two after drinking to 4 am and rising at 7 am (by which point the tents were hotter than fire) None of us really much fancied a party. Im not a party popper and when the mood is on me I can drink and party as good as the next man but the important thing is the choice. Choice to party, choice to go home when your done. Trying to sleep in the middle of basically an outdoor rave was not my idea of a great idea. We had it all at this campsite. From Noisy sex in neighbouring tents to people vomiting IN there tents. Think 18-30's pub crawl and you won't be far wrong.

Some of the had chosen to go white water rafting but I had opted out of that activity, partly because at 150 US I thought it was over priced and partly because i wasn't entirely over my cold and getting drenched by rapids didn't seem to be a fantastic way to finally kick it into touch! I spent the day doing laundry of all things and sleeping while it was a little more quiet! I have to say Jinja did nothing for me, its was just a beer fuelled couple of days of touristy tat in my opinion. It came as a relief when we left and headed to Lake Bunyoni. Here we had an opportunity to trek into the mountains between Rwanda and Uganda and visit a local Pygmy tribe. Also known as the Batwa the Pygmy people were displaced from the homes in 1991 when the government declared the area a national park. Of course no recompense or assistance was offered and these people now scratch a living out of the mountainside. No power, clean water and a lack of education are some of the problems they face. We stocked up on balloons, snacks and set out for there village with our guide. I found the trek suprsingly difficult going, in part due to the altitude and largely due to amount of crap still clinging to my lungs from the cold I was puffing and panting like an old steam train not far into the trek. Im ashamed to say on arrive I was too blown out to blow up the balloons we had brought along for the kids. The look of disappointment on one youngsters face will forever haunt me to this day. We were treated to a local dance and a quick tour of the very modest village. As mentioned poverty tourism doesn't sit well with me at the best of times but I was in this case confined that the money raised went to aid the people. Small things like 10$ buys a tin roof for there huts. Given the amount of rain we had seen and the climate in the mountains this alone must be something of a blessing the people lucky enough to procure one. In turn and in thanks for the villages dancing and signing we did our own dance, a comical version of the Hokey Cokey and invited the children to join us, which they did enthusiastically mimicking our movements! I had purchased a small knitted monkey in a charity shop for Aids Orphans ealier in Kenyan and I saw how eagerly one of the children was eyeing it. Of course I had to let him take it and the look of delight on his face was certainly worth it! I also shared out some ciggerattes with the head man. A few hours later we headed back down the mountain to the lake to board our boat for the return trip.

About half way across the lake the heavens opened with a real traditional African rain storm, In seconds we were drenched and our boatman decided to pull over at a nearby island for shelter. To my surprise a group of young lads appeared and led us up the hill to there house, there (presumably) young mother then proceeded to drag all the furniture out of her modest hut and into the lee of a building for us to sit on. This was hospitality at its most humbling. Rushing to help the woman carry the heavy wooden benches she embarrassingly refused my offer of aid. Sadly she didn't speak english so we were unable to communicate and express our gratitude, Its a small kidness like this that makes a truly great impression on you when your away from home......

Posted by cd108 03:43 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Onwards to Rwanda

Closer and closer to our gorillas!

rain

Today is the day we enter Rwanda and our first stop is to be the Genocide memorial in Kigali the Rwandan Capitol, after fun and games at our border crossing (everyone off, all bags off and the truck sent through a giant X ray machine) we continue our drive through the "Land of a Thousand Hills". Again the difference is apparent almost immediately. Although Rwanda like all African countries is extremely poor by world standards the population is lower and more people are able to find employment in the tobacco and tea industry. Rwanda was a country that immediately impressed me, given the awful statistics of the 1994 genocide (an estimated 8000000 people murdered) its a country that like a wet dog has shaken itself off and marched on towards some success. Out visit to the genocide memorial was a moving event and I recommend it to anyone fortunate enough to visit the country. In particular some of the stories of the children almost moved even me to tear. A particular extract that stands out for me is the story of a young boy named Thomas. Survivor and a witness of a violent murder Thomas explains how he was hiding underneath a vehicle with his best friend when they were found. Thomas ran away but saw over his shoulder as his friend was brutally chopped down by machete. Thomas was aged just 11 at the time of his account. Its frightening to me the lengths some people will go to when successfully brain washed with propaganda for long enough.

I won't lie I couldn't stomach the full 2 hours in the memorial, after only 45 minutes I left unable to continue looking at evidence of such a tragedy. I headed back to truck feeling considerably less sorry for myself and my inconsequential cold symptoms.

We moved on to make camp for the night tomorrow we would be trekking with the gorillas. Bright and early that morning we were treated to a free cup of coffee and a traditional dance. I say free but when you consider a permit for gorilla trekking is around $275 I guess its all included in the price. We were assigned to groups of no more than 16 and told we could view the gorillas (once found) for strictly one hour. My Group was called Sabyinyo and was led by the largest and oldest silverback alive today Guhonda. The group has 8 members although potentially 9 by now as one of the females was pregnant during our trek. Its hard to put into words how fantastic it is to get as close as we got to these gentle giants. Guhonda was obviously utterly disappointed with the group of tourists who had come to visit him that day and displayed his complacency by turning his back to us and refusing to look at the group while he continued to eat. The pregnant female was a little more curious but I put that down to watchful protectiveness as opposed to any genuine interest in what we were doing with our camera lenses! At no point was the group in any way threatened or concerned with our prescence. We stood quietly observing the behaviour of the adults and marvelling at the youngest (estimated to be around 4 months old) as he struggled to get to grips with some basic climbing skills!

All too soon our hour was up and we headed back down the mountain to cook our dinner, we had one day of rest during which most of explored the small local town (who's name i simply can't remember, even google doesn't know). It had the usual welcoming vibe and relaxed atmosphere we become accustomed too in Rwanda. My cold all but forgotten by now we were about to turn around and head back to Uganda!

Posted by cd108 02:42 Archived in Rwanda Comments (0)

Into Uganda

Heading towards Rwanda

A breif stop in Kabale sees us over the border into Uganda and almost immediately we see a noticeable difference. Uganda is an extremely poor country and unemployment is high. There are groups of people on almost every road side, sheltering from the sun or the rain under trees or make shift shelters. Most shops and towns are little more than shacks made from wood and plastic sheeting stretched over it, a fortunate few have corrugated iron roofing. Even so the people and in particular the children smile and wave as we pass, many of the waves turn into begging gestures as we get closer with children rubbing there tummies and mimicking an eating gesture to show there hungry. Sadly of course my budget doesn't stretch to helping African as an individual so as sad as it is to see there is little I can do as we continue to drive.

Later that day we arrive in the Ugandan capitol Kampala our base for the night is red hot chilli camp site, great pizzas here! but its another early night for me as I'm still grotty...the following day some of the group chose to take a tour of the slums. Personally I'm not happy at the best of times with poverty tourism unless I'm 100% convinced the money is in some way helping the cause, for me its an opportunity to sleep in and I'm quite happy to take it. Im dosed up on anti flu drugs anyway so I'm not much use to anybody.........

Posted by cd108 02:34 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Kenya

First game drive

Ive awoken this morning with a horrible cold, Feeling rough and a little cold I didn't notice it the previous evening probably because I was on the pop! Not one to let a little cold spoil my day we head out for a game drive on the lake. Ive already been on Safari and of course everyone wants to spot the big cats but Lake Naivasha is not known for its lions and leapards. We spot antelope, zebra, Baboons and a multitude of bird life including many flamingoes. We also manage to surprise a baboon couple as we turn a corner and we are treated to an airborne ejaculation as his partner tears off in fright! Lunch is eaten over looking the beautiful lake and although I have a sneaking suspicion my cold wants to turn into full blown man flu I'm determined to enjoy the scenery. In the afertnoon we are lucky enough to spot a rhino couple browsing and take some pretty good shots close up before they head off. Our time here is up and we head back to camp.

Perhaps a few more beers will cure this bloody cold.........

The following day I wake up feeling even worse, yep deffinatley man Flu. The drive towards Uganda is almost a blur for me as I lie on the back of the truck feeling awful. What a way to spend your holidays!

Posted by cd108 22:58 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

Pre Depature

Finally we meet Oasis gang

rain

The following morning I wake up early and take a little toast for breakfast, its time to attend the pre departure meeting for our Oasis overland tour, pay our local payments and of course meet the group. First up we have our tour leader Derek an Irishman and Oasis staff member who will be responsible for our welfare for the next 73 days. Nathan our driver is from South yorks and will be maintaining the vehicle and getting it from A to B. As pax on the tour we have no less than 3 Aussie couples. Kate and John, Lui and Gilly and Sam and Alex. Also with us will be an Italian named Manola and Canadian called Cordelia and another Irishman called Ronan.

Ok so this how the deal works, we split into same sex tent buddys (couples aside of course) and were also split into teams of 3 as cook groups (yep were going to be cooking our own dinner from locally sourced ingredients). With the details set its time to head to Karen town and stock up for the road, wait a minute we have 40 mins to get all the crap we need and get back to the truck....holy shit no messing about then. A mad dash around the supermarket to buy all we need but didn't bring (for me basically nothing but snacks) and I have to pop to a Forex for some cash. I also manage to locate a copy shop since I have some how managed to forget to bring the photo copy of my passport. With that done we set out on the road.

Life in the back of the truck is a bumpy affair on african roads and most people seem content to relax, listen to some music and chat and get to know each other. I spend most of the trip sat on a back seat chatting to Cordelia and Manola. We pass above the famous rift valley and stop for a photo opportunity but honestly the rain has seen to it that visibility is effectively nil. We continue on to our first camp stop in Lake Naivashi and tomorrow we will have our first game drive.

After setting up our tents we head to the bar, Beer is a natural ice breaker and get to know you activity!

Tommorow our first game drive....

Posted by cd108 22:44 Comments (0)

(Entries 31 - 35 of 39) « Page .. 2 3 4 5 6 [7] 8 »