My next big adventure was my annual holiday where I decided to go back to Africa, but this time I wanted to focus on Eastern Africa. I decided to take another overland trip like the one I took in the south but this time with my company, Intrepid. I arrived in Kampala, Uganda and had a few days to wander around before my trip started. Kampala is the capital and it is a busy city. It has burst it's seams with people, but I have to say they are all very friendly. Walking down the street I was greeted continually by the locals. Most just said hello, asked how I was doing and then moved on. This was a real change from Asia because over here whenever someone approaches you and says hello, your expectation is that they want to sell something to you. Not so in Uganda.
This picture here shows the local form of transportation. It is called a "Matatu". Basically it is a shared taxi with a maximum of 14 people per taxi. They go any where you want to go. You just have to flag one down, ask if they are going your way and then hop in. Once I figured out the system it was a great way to get around town.
Using their head
The people of Uganda carry things on there head. Walking down the street or just around the house, they carry things on their head. They must have pretty strong necks! This lady was working at the hostel I stayed at. A great way to take laundry off the line without setting it on the ground. As she folded each sheet she stacked it on her head above the others.
This seems to be a big problem in Uganda. Evidently a lot of the young girls are seeking out a middle aged man to marry so that they can be more financially stable in their future.
Finally we met up with our truck and the crew and started the next 4 weeks of camping adventures in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. We were actually on 2 different trucks in the 4 weeks. We had a truck for the first 2 weeks, then another truck for the 3rd week and then we got the original truck back for the last week. The truck holds everything that might be needed on this camping safari. All of our luggage and belongings were stored inside the truck and all the supplies like tents, cooking equipment, camp chairs, water, food, etc. were all stored in their special places which were always easy to get to.
Throughout much of Eastern Africa a form of transport called a boda boda. They were originally used to transport people between small border towns to the border crossing. Now they are used as transport much like the moto and cyclo are used throughout SE Asia. Some of them are bicycles with padded seats on the back to sit on, others are motorcycles that are used as a taxi. Here is a picture of the bicycle boda boda.
Along the highways there are markets that set up and act as truck stops. They sell snacks such as fruit, drinks, chicken, beef, liver, etc on a stick and anything else you might need. If you stop in your car or truck you will be swarmed by vendors trying to sell you their food.
Source of The Nile
The first stop on our tour was in a city called Jinja which is one of the sources of the Nile River. This is the longest river in the world and one of 2 sources are in Uganda. It flows north all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. The "source" is right behind where I am standing.
This part of the Nile river is known for its white water rafting. One of the first rapids is at Bujagali Falls.
Swim Across the Falls
Some of the locals cross the falls by swimming using a Jerry Can for support. They do it in hopes that the tourists will give them a few shillings. I don't think you will see me doing this any time soon!
May of the houses throughout the countryside of Uganda are made with mud and cow dung. They put sticks up to give the structure support and then pack it with the mud and dung.
A few of us decided to do a quad bike expedition along the banks of the Nile River and through some of the local villages. A lot of fun... and pretty muddy as well.
Did you know that the equator only goes through 14 counties of islands around the world? Well Uganda is one of them and this is the second time I have crossed the equator by land (Ecuador is the other). Here is a picture of me on the equator in Uganda.
Banana's for Sale
This truck is carrying a full load of green bananas-- these are what we know at home as plantains and are the main ingredient in a Ugandan dish called Matoke.
This is a typical road side butcher shop. What cut of meat would you like? Maybe a whole side of beef?
Our first National Park we visited was Lake Mburo and one of the first animals we saw on the way to our camp site was the crown crested crane (the national bird of Uganda).
When we arrived at the camp site we were greeted by 4 warthogs grazing on the grass around. This guy is kneeling on his knees so he can get at the grass easier.
Guide with Gun
We went on an early morning game walk with one of the guides from the park. As you can see he carries a gun with him the entire time we are out.
These zebras were posing for us as we came upon them. They seemed just as curious about us as we were about them.
Our next stop was the Chambura Gorge which is home to a family of chimpanzees. We went on a morning trek down in this gorge to try to track them down.
Crossing the gorge
When we got to the bottom of the gorge, the guide decided that the chimps must be on the other side. This meant we had to cross over to find them. We slid along a tree that had fallen across the water to get to the other side. After walking to where he thought they were, we got word from another guide that they had crossed back to the original side. Since there are only a few crossings for us humans, we came back to the original log and crossed back to where we started.
After crossing back over and climbing back out to the top of the gorge we finally spotted the family. They hung out for a little while and then with a lot of calling back and forth they decided to climb the trees and go on their merry way.
This cow visited us in our camp at Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
One of the first animals we came upon in this national park were elephants and this one we encountered walking down the road we were trying to drive down. We stopped and watched and waited until he wandered off to visit with his friends.
And here is the rest of his family
If you look closely you can see 6 elephants in the picture.
We went on a boat ride along the Kazinga Channel which connects Lake George and Lake Edward in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. There were many animals along the way but here are 2 hippos we saw along the banks of the river. During the day hippos are mostly found in the water staying cool and they generally only come onto shore during the night time. We got a treat seeing this mother and baby on the shore.
On His Head
In Uganda and Rwanda the locals tend to carry things on their heads. This guy is carrying wood, probably taking it home use to cook dinner.
The southern part of Uganda on the way to Rwanda is known to some as the "African Alps". The area is very mountainous and lush green. The population is so dense in Uganda that they use every inch of land possible to grow food. You can see all these crops growing on the mountainside.
Charge your Battery?
You can really see how technology has hit the African picture. Most people have cell phones to communicate with each other, but what they are lacking is electricity to charge them. This shop front is set up for people to come and leave their cell phones to charge while they are doing their shopping or other errands in town. For a small fee their phones are charged and they can go on their way.
One of the highlights and reasons for going on this trip was a chance to see the mountain gorillas of which their on only a little over 700 left in the world. After traveling through Uganda we headed south to Rwanda and to Parc National des Volcans. Rwanda is home to over 300 of these gorillas with 13 habituated families of gorilla, 10 of which are visited by tourists and the other 3 are used for research. We trekked for about 1 1/2 hours and then we stumbled upon them. They were just starting their morning rest period so other than the babies, almost everyone was just lying around. The silverback came by us right away and this is the first pose he struck for us.
Baby climbing a tree
The family we visited is simply called Group 13. They are the 2nd largest family in the national park with about 23 members. We probably saw about 15 of them. This baby was climbing the tree. It looks so fluffy that it could almost be a stuffed toy.
This guy was taking a nap up in the tree. Our being their didn't bother them at all.
We were supposed to stay at least 7 meters from these wonderful animals. This was difficult to do at the beginning because we stood there as the silverback and many of the female gorillas walked within a few feet of us. Once they settled in we kept our distance. You can see them here behind me.
This young gorillas was just hanging out with the rest of the family.
One Last Photo
We were able to spend 1 hour (and yes, they had a stopwatch timing us) with the gorillas. This was one of the last pictures I took, with the silverback doing one last pose.
Colors of Africa
As you can see from this picture, the locals, especially the women like to wear bright color dresses. These ladies were walking down the road in Rwanda.
This is the entire group for the first 14 days of the trip. There were 12 in all plus the driver, cook and tour leader.
Select another page || Go to Home Page