Overland Day 14: Uganda
Ah, Jinja. Even before the trip started, I had heard so much about it. Now here I sit, with a beautiful view of the Nile stretched out before me and a raging hangover. Nicely done, Jinja!
It’s becoming harder to distinguish between dates, times, places, activities … thankfully I’ve kept up the journal so that will help me update you all.
Day 10 – Early border crossing from Rwanda back into Uganda today and a beautiful drive to a little place called Heritage Lodge in Muko, right beside Lake Bunyonyi. The plan was to stop there for an hour and relax by the lake but we all loved the place so much that we unanimously voted to stay there for the night. It meant having to leave at 5am as opposed to 7am the next day but that was a small price to pay. We’re all used to the horribly early starts by now anyway!
So what happens when a truck full of travellers stops at a gorgeous location, with no other plans for the day? Gin happens, apparently. Gin and charades and cartwheels (I kid you not), and a little bit of belly dancing on my part. Eventually we all headed to Club Twiga (a.k.a. the truck) and raised a bit of a storm. I woke up in my tent some hours later but have no recollection of getting there…
Day 11 – Quiet on the truck this morning as everyone was nursing a bit of a hangover. Drove to the ‘creepy’ Kabale camp, put up our tents and had a fantastic breakfast: french toast, courtesy of our lovely guide Alun. Yum! That certainly perked everyone up. Shortly after we were picked up by a man named Francis to make our way to Lake Bunyonyi. Quick detour on the way to a local hospital to visit Francis’ granddaughter who was only born a few hours earlier! Eventually got to the lake (van ran out of petrol so we had to hike up a fair way) and got a boat to one of the islands where a school has been put together for some of the local children, and also where a settlement of pygmies lives. Both of which are the very top of an incredible steep hill, might I add. Turns out I’m a lot more scared of heights than I thought and had a bit of a panic on the way up but I’m so glad I managed to get to the top. The children were absolutely beautiful and so happy to have us there. There was singing, dancing and lots of high-fives! It’s an experience I wish everyone could have; I felt so humbled to see these kids who will walk miles to get to school, some in bare feet and barely any clothes. Their teachers do a wonderful job and the kids all seem so willing to learn. The school also acts as a way of integrating the pygmy children into the local community. Their story is a sad one and they are considered to be underdogs wherever they go but by bringing them together in one school, hopefully they will start to be more accepted.
A few steps away from the school are eight huts which serve as homes for a group of 52 pygmies. It’s difficult to come face to face which such poverty but they really do make the most of what they have.
Francis heads the Lake Bunyonyi Community Centre and they are always in need of donations to help develop the school and help the pygmy community. If you can help out in any way, please do. You can contact him by email to find out how to send donations: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our day ended with a lovely meal on Nature’s Prime Island, although we weren’t sure we were going to make it there for a little while – our boat’s engine stopped halfway across the lake! Thanks to a passing boat, we were towed a little way to kick-start the engine though. Not a great day for transport!
Day 12 – 350km drive today back to the equator, where we spent the night. Stopped for a local lunch of goat/beef/chicken stew in Mbarara. It was served with mashed up plantain and some more ugali. Not really my thing!
Day 13 – Jinja! We arrived at the Nile River Explorers Camp in the afternoon after a slow drive through Kampala traffic. The views are stunning and my tent buddy and I decided to upgrade to a safari tent which means: BEDS! Yay! Had the most amazing shower of my life so far – it was an open one overlooking the Nile. Cold but amazing 🙂 Sunset Cruise (a.k.a. booze cruise) at 5pm and then the rest of the night is a blur of, you guessed it, gin and dancing on tables. Somehow managed to be convinced to head out to a local bar after the party had died down at the camp. Preferred this one to the clubs in Kampala and met some interesting people but I was way too tired to dance anymore. Experienced my second motorbike ride back to the camp; this was a much longer one and I can say I’m starting to enjoy them too!
Day 14 – Lazy day today. Most of the guys from the truck are out white water rafting or kayaking but that’s not really up my alley so I’ve just been chilling out at the bar, enjoying the view. Possible Scrabble match later today and dinner somewhere in Jinja. That means another motorbike ride back to camp. Yay!
P.S. No photos today. Internet’s too slow 🙁