Uganda: gorillas in the mist, mzungu* in the mud and the smiles of children about it
Uganda Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
I donâ€™t do diaries, but somehow today I have a craving to write. Sitting in a pub, in Nairobi, just finished an outstanding trip through Uganda and Kenya. It was superb, but yet Iâ€™m sitting here, drinking a bottle of Tusker, Kenyan lager, and Iâ€™mâ€¦ incredibly sad. Why?
â€śMyâ€ť waiter greeted me by name, didnâ€™t even have to ask what I need, in 2 seconds bottle is on my table, and thatâ€™s how deeply I love my beer (or any other drink for that matter).
But coming back to me being sad. Is it because Iâ€™m sitting and drinking alone? Nope. Use to doing that, even though thatâ€™s the first sign of addiction. However Iâ€™ll admit- I do miss plenty two of my best travel mates- RenĂ©e and Mary, whom I met here, in Africa, and had the trip with, therefore 3 vodkateers were born.
Is it coz the trip is over? And now I have to get back to the rainy Dublin and back to work, and work until my expedition in Ecuador mid of next year. Thatâ€™s closer, Iâ€™d say. However Iâ€™ve noticed long ago, that travelling is a cool thing, but only until the trip is over. Donâ€™t know if itâ€™s just me or the others feel that as well, but what I feel is somehow emptiness. Stupid thing really- everyone could say. One should feel everything except emptiness after the trip. But yet again- here I am, finishing my beer, and feeling as empty as the bottle is. Get another one? Oh yeah!!!
But since I am planning to put this as my travel blog- enough about my drinking problems!
Kenya and Uganda.
Basically, there were 5 major highlights of the trip. Not gonna talk about the trip day by day, simply coz there were quite a few days of simply driving and nothing special.
- Uganda, Jinja. Soft Power and White water rafting.
- Uganda, Nkuringo. Mountain gorilla track.
- Uganda, Kabale.
- Kenya, Eldoret. Hobbitâ€™s hole pub.
- Kenya, Nakuru wild life and sleeping in the safari.
I could (and I will) mention the number 6, David Sheldrickâ€™s Elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenyaâ€™s National Park, first of all, coz I love elephants and seconds- it has an interesting story attached to that trip.
The style of the trip was all about camping.
We took of early in the morning, of course, I was late, just as I was late to the pre- tour meeting.
And so we took off. The day was beautiful until the lunchtime. We actually had to have our lunch on the truck; it was raining as hell. The itinerary of the trip was for us to stay camping in Nakuru Wildlife Park, but the weather forced us to rain check it (literary) for the way back. So we went straight to Eldoret, which was plus yet another couple of hours to the 10-hour ride that we already made trough. Got off in the pouring rain, had to put up the tents, cook the dinner etc. in the dark at one camping site. We were freezing cold, wet, tired of the ride and in a huge need for a drink. We were told there was a bar in the campsite, which to be honest was unbelievable, as the place seemed to be a piece of darkness in the middle of nowhere.
That bar, and the Nakuru Wildlife camping, which we did do on the last night, we the major highlights for me in Kenya.
Uganda however was the country I fell in love with. Of course, the reason of me falling in love with the country might only be the fact that I spent much more time here, that in Kenya.
The first highlight of the trip in this country, and one of my lifetime experiences- campsite in Jinja with Nile white water rafting or as I call it â€śHolly fucking shit!!â€ť and then the Soft Power schools and orphanages.
I think thereâ€™s no need in describing the white water rafting. Itâ€™s simply one of THE best and most extreme experiences in my life. Unfortunately, Iâ€™ve no pics on my camera (understandably why), however I have a DVD movie, made by a professional photographer and rafter. Pity, I canâ€™t upload it on the blog (copy protected); I can only watch it and relive the thrill again and againâ€¦
I got to visit one orphanage and then a school. Generally Iâ€™m crap with children and I donâ€™t really like them, but that was one of the most emotional moments in my life: seeing children sing to us, then bunch of them attacking us just to hold our hands or touch our skin (which is obviously strange to them), playingâ€¦ We also got to do some real work: we painted a school!!!
Gonna stop my writing now- having the best dinner ever- special African stile rice and asparagus beans! Even though it sounds simple- never had anything better! And you have to trust me how good it is- I hate asparagus, but this just turns my entire world around J
And through all the journey the children were the sweetest: they would run out from their homes, wave at us all the time, jump around and smile just seeing us.
The main reason for me choosing this tour was, of course, maintain gorillas. And it reached beyond my expectations.
The night before the track our small group (the whole group was divided into half and went tracking into 2 different places, depending on the gorilla track permit) was staying in Virunga campsite, and then extremely early in the morning went to Nkuringo track site. We went straight into the jungle and had to track gorillas for hours. Well, actuallyâ€¦ Only about one hour quite in the open, whereas the other group was tracking for at least 3 ďż˝ďż˝" 4 hours. (Which was, to be honest, a bit disappointing for me- I was ready for the challenge).
Mountain gorillas are beautiful creatures.
And thatâ€™s why another big part of my pics- gorillas.
After the track, journey back started.
And the final highlight of the tour (the elephant orphanage is a highlight as well, but itâ€™s my experience on my own, no longer with the tour) was back in Kenya, at lake Nakuru, where we were game driving, saw plenty of wild animals and the most important thing- slept in the tents, surrounded by buffalos, baboons and some other shining eyes in the darkness of safari. Next morning when we took off-
and I have to stop writing now, coz some giant lizard is watching me and Iâ€™m not feeling safeâ€¦ OK, heâ€™s gone-
not too far from where we were camping we saw a couple of lions having a sweet early morning loooove, then, behind the Lion Hill, another female lion hunting down a baboon.
And that was it. The trip was has ended for me when I got back to Nairobi. Got back to the hotel, for the record, spent an hour soaking in a hot bath and then the bed. After two weeks of camping, sleeping in a tent during whatsoever weather- the evening of industrial conveniences was a paradise.
The next day I had a trip planned. A visit to the David Sheldrickâ€™s elephant orphanage. The tour leader advised the place, since I still had couple of days in the country. She said it should be around 500 Kenyan shillings. We agreed to meet at the place with two girls, who were also doing the tour.
I hired a taxi to get to the orphanage.
So we got to the orphanage. A girl, not sure where was she from, but definitely somewhere from Europe, greeted me and said that it costs 300 shillings to enter the orphanage.
After all that, I thought the taxi driver will first of all kill me for dragging him into it, seconds- charge me millions (Have to mention that the National Park is way outside the town; and anywhere else in the world Iâ€™d probably pay a divine price for such a ride).
And thatâ€™s pretty much it. Iâ€™m chilling at the pool, having my last (or one of the) â€ťTuskerâ€ť and the last dose of sunlight, coz I know an exotic thing like this doesnâ€™t exist in Dublin, the Kingdom of Rain.
A very emotional trip, I have to resume.
Screaming and getting the shit scared out of me while rafting. Sadness and compassion while doing the Soft Power. Breathtaking excitement with gorillas.
Whatâ€™s next? Will be home tomorrow afternoon. Moving out on Friday. Changing apartments to pay less, to save more for the next years adventures. And then, work, work, workâ€¦ Until the 11th of July 2008, when I leave everything and going to the Amazon jungle!!! Unless, of course, Iâ€™m not gonna be able just to live a normal and steady life until that and will get out somewhere sooner.
4 hours before departure. Shit this trip was short. Too short. My advice to all of you out there, who are planning a trip to these counties: two weeks visit is just to bloody short! If anything, go for at least a month or even longer.
Iâ€™m here, at home, but my heart is somewhere back there, in Uganda, with gorillas, or in the local pub, or maybe even in Kenya, in Eldoret, or wildlife safaris, or heading towards Tanzania with my two friends, vodkateersâ€¦ And itâ€™s gonna be there. A part of it- forever, a part- for another month or so, coz thatâ€™s how long it takes for me to get my soul back...
I live when I travel.
P.S. Mzungu, swahilli: White ghost (or white person)