During the remaining days of our journey we wanted to explore the very south of Uganda. One of the reasons to go there was that Georg wanted to check the possibility to do Gorilla trekking in the “Bwindi Impenetrable National Park” instead of Rwanda which is just an hour’s drive away. Rwanda had recently increased the price for a Gorilla trekking permit to 1500$ while the price in Uganda remained at 600$.
As we had skipped breakfast today (in order to not see the potentially-tree-climbing lions) our stomach needed some attention earlier than usual. And since we also had to refuel the car we decided to stop in one of the many street kitchens to get something to eat.
I never saw a menu. We just got this when asking for some food. I would not call it the best of the best of street foods but it did its purpose and our stomachs were happy again and left us in peace for the rest of the day. There were lots of smiles all around as tourists are obviously not the usual type of guests in this place.
As we continued the landscape turned green. We had to stop from time to time because there was something moving in the trees. And if there is something moving in trees, I have to know what it is! But even with my rather advanced espionage equipment it was pretty difficult to figure out what was going on there as there was lots of green stuff around with only a little bit of something else which – to make things even more complicated – was not very keen on being photographed.
But persistence paid off and I eventually got a picture of the “Abyssinian Black and White Colobus Monkeys”
The road also started to climb and without even noticing we ended up at 2500m above sea level. Temperature also went down a bit, but were still very comfortable. Most of the green fields in the following picture are actually tea.
We stopped in one of the few bigger villages (big as in more than a dozen houses) to have a drink. As you can see the sky turned from blue into black. But don’t worry there was no rain that day which could turn the road quickly into a slippery muddy place.
While driving on we also had an interesting encounter with a bus. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere a bus had stopped in a very steep part of the road. People got out, took their stuff and just started to walk uphill. We were not able to tell if this was part of the plan and the bus would be able to drive uphill once everybody was off or this was a bus from “A to as far as we manage to drive”. In any case we were hoping that there was something like a plan B as the next village was miles away the night not too far away…
Talking about roads and Uganda there is something more to mention. When I have to drive in another country I try to figure out the unofficial rules everybody is following by looking at the others. E.g in South Africa you drive on the hard shoulder when somebody wants to overtake you and then he thanks by turning on the hazard lights. Here in Uganda we could observe that people are turning on the right blinker before crossing some other vehicle. Since you are driving on the left side of the road that is the blinker towards you. So we did the same whenever something was approaching without actually knowing why. The initial interpretation was that this was to greet the others. But further investigation showed that this was more likely to tell somebody behind you that it was a very bad time to over take than to greet the one crossing you. If you are on a road in Uganda where there is a line in the middle and that line is even solid, this just highlights the fact that the line is the middle of the road. Having good visibility is also not a mandatory requirement for overtaking. That this approach doesn’t work out all the time is proven by quite some cars (or what is left off them) laying next to the road. Or maybe that is just caused by slightly overloading things from time to time…
Today’s target was a lodge located at Lake Mutanda. Yes, no camping for a change which also meant that there was potentially a hot shower tonight. To reach the lodge we had to choose between the long way on a tarred road or a shortcut which was 30km less. Since we had not done anything adventurous for the last 2 hours we picked of course the shortcut. I have to add that Google Maps was suggesting the shortcut and you need to be a little bit careful with suggestions from Google in this part of the world as it can lead you to have to drive through someone’s garden easily. Jugging from people faces it was clear that cars are not seen here on a regular basis. And the tracks on the road were indicating that this was a motor bike only road. Anyway, it was drivable with our Toyota RAV4 which I would not consider a real off-road capable car. There was only one occasion when we started to discuss if it was advisable that Georg should walk in front of the car in order to find a suitable path to drive. But before finishing the discussion I put in the low gear and just went through. We also had to to stop on one occasion because some kids had jumped on the back of our car and were doing some “car surfing”.
Eventually we reached the lake and with it the lodge and the scenery was just breath-taking. Even though the sky was full of clouds you could see the silhouettes of Mount Muhabura in the back which is an extinct volcano of 4100m altitude.
The guest houses are nicely located within bushes, trees and flowers and there was a hot shower which stays hot for longer that 30 seconds. Luxury at its best!
The next day we decided to take it really easy. No rush whatsoever. Enjoy the morning sun and a nice breakfast on the veranda of the lodge before slowly driving off with more eyes on the beautiful landscape than on the road.
Some islands in the lake.
Every square meter is used to plant something.
Next to the road you can frequently see many of those where they stove bricks.
We spent part of the day checking the local airstrip, figuring out how it works in Uganda to get a Gorilla trekking permits and driving up the the border of Rwanda in order to check the road. The idea to do a hike in the “Mgahinga Gorilla National Park” was put on hold (meaning abandoned) due to the fact that some heavy shower had started. Instead we had some lunch in a lodge which we found along the road. Staying in that lodge for a night would have ruined our budget as it would have been more expensive than all our previous nights combined …
I have to add that this was the first time we encountered rain after leaving Kampala. But I did not put on my rain gear as it was over as quickly as it had started.
After having spent a wonderful night at the lake Mutanda we wanted to explore more lakes in the region. We had received a recommendation for a lodge on an island of Lake Bunyonyi from another traveller a few days ago and that is were we were heading to in the afternoon. While it was completely clear where the island was on the lake it was not so clear where the boat would pick you up and bring you to the island. We found a description on the website of the lodge of how to reach that location and it turned out to be very accurate.
We decided to use to motor boat option to the island and also took some luggage of other travers who had opted for the canoes. By the time they were arriving at the island we were already opening the second beer. That’s what I would call proper planning …
We decided that today was a day of luxury and we took the most expensive option on the island: The “Deluxe Geo-Dome” for a whopping 40 USD per night, that is in total and not per person.
Not a bad place to do some home office. As they had only solar power on the island they didn’t allow us to charge our laptops and we were eventually running out of battery …
… which was not too bad as it allowed us to enjoy the sunset.
Next morning I decided that it was time for some water so I checked out the shower of our “Deluxe apartment”. There was a sign telling that the best time to take a shower is between late morning and early evening. Why? Because the thing is solar heated. Stuff this! It was still early morning but we could not wait until “late morning” – whatever that means – as we wanted to continue on our journey. So I continued to follow the instructions on the sign: ”Let the water run for 2-3 minutes until it gets hot, if it get’s too hot you can also mix some cold water”. Makes sense as the solar heater is probably a few meters away and the hot water first needs to reach the sower. And in fact after 2 minutes the water was of slightly higher temperature than at the beginning which was a proof that the sing was right and I started the showering process hoping that the temperature of the water would further raise. What I didn’t know at that time was the fact that the temperature after 2 minutes was already the maximum and it was going down again afterwards. By the time I actually need some water to wash away the soap there was no difference anymore between cold and warm water… And the fact that the air temperature was also not so high in “early morning” made the whole showering process a rather refreshing experience …
So I was checking out the nice view from our house in order to warm up again.
An official round-a-about (round-a-tyre)
The plan was to drive half way back to Entebbe so the following day it was just an easy drive to our final destination. Our initial target, the “Lake Mburo National Park” was a disappointment as one camp ground looked like a parking lot and the second one had been abandoned a long time ago while people still “tried” to use the restroom there… so we continued …
… and found a very nice camp ground just outside of the park.
Last Sunset into the clouds.
The final day was just driving back to Entebbe. Since I had my flight back at midnight the plan was to arrive at the hotel (the same one as on the first night) in early afternoon, so I could clean and back my stuff and take a shower before heading to the airport.
Typical places along the street where you can buy fruits and vegetables.
3000 km in the Toyota. The dust from the north had converted into the mud from the south.
This was it? Well, yes and no. Whoever was reading my first entry about Uganda knows that when I was arriving in Uganda my drone was confiscated. Now It was time to get it back! Knowing that things can take a bit longer in Africa I went to the airport 3.5h before departure. The person at the check-in didn’t know anything about who to get it back and directed me to immigration. There I got my exit stamp in the passport but now answer to my question. Instead I was directed to the police which was standing close by. But they also didn’t know anything about this process and sent me back to the check-in area of the airline. And there I finally found somebody who knew about all of this. It was the supervisor of the whole check-in and his only comment with a smile was: “It will probably take some time …”. Together with him I went out of the building and into another including doing security checks twice. There was an office where I had to do some paperwork in order to get a “Entebbe airport visitor badge”. With that badge we went down, again twice through security and ended up in the arrival hall where my drone was confiscated. More paperwork and then we went into a big room where all the confiscated goods are stored. For obvious reasons I wasn’t able to take a picture there but the room was full of drones, video equipment and other stuff. There were at least 20 drones there of exactly the same type as mine. It took quite a while until I found mine as there was a small number attached to every drone which had to be compared. After some further paperwork we went back to that office to hand in my badge and then back to immigration to get another exit stamp in the passport. The joke of the whole procedure is that once I got the drone we had to go outside of the airport where everybody is waiting and where I could give my drone to somebody else and nobody would even notice it. By the time I reached the gate my flight started to boarding … At least I didn’t have to wait there …
After having had nice weather for most of the time in Uganda, Switzerland was presenting itself with the usual winter scenario where Zurich is often in the clouds while there is nice weather in the mountains. But since I had work to do in Zurich I could not straight go there but continued to dream of the sunshine in Uganda.
For reference purposes this is the list of places where we stayed during out trip in Uganda:
|1||Entebbe||Precious Accommodation & Restaurant||Hotel|
|2||Jinja||Nile River Camp||Lodge||http://www.camponthenile.com/|
|3||Sipi||The Crows Nest||Lodge|
|5||Kidepo Park||Apoka Rest Camp||Lodge|
|6||Kidepo Park||Kidepo Valley UWA Campsite||Camping|
|7||Murchison Falls Park||Shoebill Camp Site||Camping|
|8||Murchison Falls Park||Shoebill Camp Site||Camping||http://www.wildwhispersafrica.com/uganda/shoebill-campsite/|
|9||Lake Knuruba||Lake Knuruba Nature Reserve||Camping||http://www.nkuruba.com/|
|10||Katara||Craters Campsite & Country Lodge||Camping|
|11||Ishasha Park||@The River Ishasha||Camping|
|12||Lake Mutanda||Mutanda Lake Resort||Lodge||https://www.mutandalakeresort.com/|
|13||Lake Bunyonyi||Byoona Amagara Island Retreat||Lodge||http://lakebunyonyi.net|
|14||Lake Mburo Park||Leopard Rest Camp||Camping||http://www.leopardrestcamp.com/|