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Intrepid Journeys

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Uganda: Roger Hall


Day One

I finally get to a backpacker's hostel via taxi. I have a room to myself - very basic. It takes ages finding a place to eat. I turn down a perfectly good quick eat place for a "tourist" hotel.

Day Two

I set off for a 10 1/2 hour drive with Paul (driver). We stop at the the equator. A young man demonstrates the clockwise/anticlockwise and straight down (with water) brilliantly.

Day Three

Gorilla Day! We have a long-but-manageable climb up to the plateau. Wonderful scenery. The jungle is very tough - vines clinging, slipping, sapping. Cramp begins to start. By the time we get to gorillas, all I want is to sit but we have to keep going. The gorillas (6) keep moving downhill.

Day Four

A 2-3 hour drive to Queen Elizabeth Park to see the lions in the trees. We see buffalo, baboons and wonderful hippos. Then we go to special trees where it is most likely we will see lions - there are none! We stop at a small town and buy roast/grilled corn on the cob. It is very hard and chewy.

Day Five

Got away for Kabale at 8.20pm instead of 8, as promised for Paul. We drive through masses of impressive road works. Say goodbye to Paul - sad to see him (and his vehicle) go. We head across the lake (the Switzerland of Uganda) to where we are staying.

Day Six

I am in a geodesic wood and straw-thatched hut, completely open one side. Got Gaudi to do my washing for me - 3,000 shillings. It is very overcast weather on a day that needs sun - will they dry in time?

Day Seven

We paddle quite a long way to the next island, which has an up-market restaurant.  I order pizza, which takes 1 1/2 hours. Then to a soccer game - I join in, pretty feeble but I don't disgrace myself. Then off we go to Gaudi's place. He built his house himself. His parents live in the house next door - a lovely old couple.

Day Eight

We go by canoe round the island to Church. It is tiny and has a tin roof. We are met by two local politicians - the main man (Levi) had never been to this Church before.  People slowly arrive and continue to do so throughout the service. Lots of singing to the drum, readings from text and so on. It is almost over when Levi, the politician, gets up and gives a 40 minute speech. After 2 hours and 20 minutes it is over. Then we go to watch traditional dancing. I feel obliged to join in.

Day Nine

I feel quite sick at breakfast, so I eat nothing. I sit at a jetty with my bags, feeling totally miserable. I am interviewed at a local radio station. Adrian, the presenter, refers to me as Old Man Grey.

Day Ten

I get an exciting motorbike taxi-ride to town. Then to Bambeja project for orphan girls and unmarried mothers - great and moving, but too long.

Day Eleven

I have a long drive to Murchison Falls National Park. Arrive at Red Chilli Camp - I have a banda and bathroom!

Day Twelve

I arrive at the ferry just on time, but it begins to rain.  I get across and have a long drive in the game park. There are lots of antelope and water buffalo. Then I see a lion - a lone male loping across the road.  Following it into high grass are two more. Another vehicle joins us, then a big bus.

Day Thirteen

I get a boat to Murchison Falls. On the way I see many hippos and crocs. One huge croc keeps still, then plunges into the water. I go for a "spa" - a pool right beside the raging waters. It is the best moment of the whole trip.

Day Fourteen

Away at 7.45. We drive to Jinja and the raft place. I see an accident on way - a crashed taxi with a slogan saying: "patiency is good". We get kitted out at raft place. I feel the usual mixture of excitement and terror and getting soaked. What is great is that on the shore are families doing washing, fishing, swimming and getting water. We camp on an island in the river. I have a nice tent, but it is damn hard to feel comfortable.

Day Fifteen

A leisurely morning - long, slow sections of river and a few rapids. The bit I hate is "surfing" a wave - water pouring into the raft. On the next rapid the boat goes over. I am under water for a moment or two - it is not too frightening. I lose sandals and a hat - damn! After I get off the raft, I kiss the ground. We drive to Gately on the Nile - superb! I have a lovely cottage. I have a gin and tonic, a beer, a red wine and a fillet steak - much more relaxed now.


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