A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Amarson

We are on our way home.......

Well here we are, in the lounge at Entebbe airport and we managed to get on a flight home! However they are stopping off enroute to collect passengers in Nairobi. We shall only be there for one hour and hopefully on the plane.

It is sad that we have had to cut our trip short, but it obviously was not meant to be.

We are so grateful that there was no hassle in changing our flight.... We have had a super super trip.

Uganda is an amazing country, with soooooooo much to see and so much potential. We would definately recommend a trip here, it is a wonderful country and the people are so friendly and happy.

Also it is so interesting that "Uganda" has the reputation of being dangerous. At no point did we ever feel unsafe - anything but.... It seems that alot of the Kenyan's are fleeing Kenya to Uganda in order to escape the trouble.

Anyway more photos from the SLR very soon and we shall be able to communcate verbally soon too!

Posted by Amarson 21:44 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Happy 2008 from Kampala (and our last day in Uganda)

And the (earlier than planned) end of our holiday :-(

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View Uganda & Kenya; December 2007 & January 2008 on Amarson's travel map.

Happy 2008 to all from Kampala.

Yesterday 31st was spent visiting sites and craft markets around Kampala and enjoying the comparative luxury of the international standard hotels here. Lunch at the Sheraton followed by a New Year spectacular at the Emin Pasha Hotel (the boutique hotel we are staying out, which is where Charles & Camilla stayed last month when they were out here).

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We bought a number of things, including some rugs, some african drums (including a monster sized one), and many little nic-naks. Unfortunately the cost of shipping them back to the UK was over twice the price of buying them in the first place.

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Kampala is a lovely city, much more developed than it was when Ian was out here 13 years ago and far, far more civilised than Angela had expected. The roads are far better (possibly as a result of the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government summit which occured, and which the Queen and around 50 heads of state attended), but still the improvement is really marked. However the heat here compared to Southern and Western Uganda is incredible, it feels at least 10 degrees hotter - well in the mid to high 30s. We are melting and drinking gallons of bottled water.

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We spent the afternoon chilling and splashing about in the pool. However the tropical beauty and relaxing time was slightly tarnished as also sitting by the pool was a group of EU election monitors who had flown out of Kenya, and they spent the entire time on the phone to Brussels and the BBC and other media groups giving their account of the (alledgedly rigged) presidential elections.

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The dinner last night at the Emin Pasha for New Year was a truly spectacular affair, with a leading Ugandan band playing live, fireworks, magnums of champagne in buckets made from ice and fruit, and a six course meal (very much our usual scene :-).

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We then woke up this mornign to a glorious champagne New Year's breakfast.

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However today is now likely to be the last full day of our holiday, as we have decided not to go on the second leg of our holiday, which was in Kenya, following both common sense and Foreign Office Advice. This is due to the widespread riots and killings following the seemingly rigged presidential elections - luckily all we will lose is our deposit, unlike the hundreds of unfortunate Kenyans who are losing their lives.

We picked up the sister and niece of our Ugandan Driver today from Entebbe Airport who had fled Nairobi following an attack on all the houses in her street, which saw the looting of all their possessions and the burning of both their cars - this being Africa people don't have insurance - the photos she showed us of the damage to her house was unbelievable. All she was left with was her handbag and she had travelled to Nariobi Airport and then flew to Uganda in her nightdress as that was what she fled her house in when the attack happened. From what she was saying the violence is far worse, and far more widespread than is being reported in the International Media.

However apart from packing for the return flight, we had a nice lunch at the Serena Hotel in Kampala, which is where the Queen stayed when she was out here. The meal was nice, and the hotel resturant full of Ugandans and Ex-Pats enjoying a New Year's Day Feast in the sun, however we both felt that the big size and the bog standard international feel of the hotel (you could have been in a good hotel anywhere in the world) meant that the Emin Pasha where we are staying gets our vote as the best place in Kampala.

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Anyway, we are off to pack now, and this is likely to be the last entry in the blog, unless for some reason we cannot get on an earlier flight (there are only three flights a week back to London), given all the fleeing rich Kenyans and holiday makers heading back to the UK via Uganda. If that happens we will probably spend some more time visiting the national parks (Murchison Falls or QE II parks) which we didn't have time to visit on this trip.

Posted by Amarson 05:42 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

The last three days

Bwindi, Kisoro, Lake Buynoni & Kampala


View Uganda & Kenya; December 2007 & January 2008 on Amarson's travel map.

Where do we begin? the last three days has been eventful......

We had a long long drive from Bwindi to Kisoro, probably around 6 hours.....but the scenery enroute was amazing. However the mini bus we were in broke down around 4 times due to overheating, which was a bit of a pain! (See Photo)

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On arrival into Kisoro, we could see where thousands of refugees from Congo had camped & also a convoy of very large UNHCR vehicles delivering aid. These people were seemingly moved from this area as it was too close to the border and was causing too much trouble, so they got moved further away from the border. The Kisoro region was endowed with fablous scenic views - the Virungas. Tall volcanic peaks of the Virunga volcanoes towering above the skyline.

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We also passed pretty lakes - Lake Mutanda and Mulehe. The accomodation we stayed in was very basic - boo hoo!!! but it had a fablous atmosphere. The showers were heated by solar power, so in the morning our only option was to either have a cold shower or no shower at all...... The next day we enjoyed our visit around the Kisoro town, follwed by a walk up Magahinga. Up here there was a viewing platform and this had awesome views across the Virugas.

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However Ian, nearly had an accident. Whilst taking the photos the wood broke from the viewing platform and he fell down, fortunately he managed to grab a bit of wood and clung for his life...... :-) all is okay though he managed to escape with a few bruises and grazes....

After our excursions around Kisoro, we headed for Lake Bunyoni. About a 2 hour ride & yet again the bus managed to break down.... We stopped off enroute in order for our driver to buy "Irish Potatoes" for his family, seemingly they are much cheaper to buy here. Lake Bunyoni is like "the little Switzerland of Africa" Again the drive was breathtaking, with sights of the hills of the region. Upon arrival we had a lovely lunch, however nothing prepared us for the accomodation we were staying in this evening. Bushara Island Camp is the only place to stay on the island, and our agent did tell us it was basic, however we did not expect it to be as basic as it was. My oh my, this was a tent, where you had to order a shower if you wanted one.

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The shower was outdoors. Also we had to get used to doing the toilet in the bush, what an experience I can tell you!!!! But we survied..... It really does make you appreciate the things we have in life much more. In the evening though they had a lovely camp fire, where we toasted marshmallows. Even although the accomodation was very very basic, the views of the lake more than made up for this!!!! We had to get to this place by canoe. There was lots of birds - beautiful really.

We had a lovely drive from Lake Buyoni this morning to Kampala again this took around 6 hours. However the roads were mostly tarmac and not dirt track roads which we had when travelling to Kisoro. It was a lovely drive yet again. Stopping off on the way for Sugar Cane - yummy!!!!!

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Then we dropped off to buy a drum or two - goodness knows how we are going to get back to the UK...... oh well, perhaps we shall have to get them shipped. But we are very pleased indeed with these drums. I must admit arriving arriving into Kampala (Uganda's Capital) appeared to be a bit of a shock to the system being in a busy capital after being so long in the bush. On the way here we had to pick up some tourists - as their car had broken down (seems to be a common occurance here!!!) I think because the roads are so bad. However upon speaking to these guys, it seems that yesterday they went gorilla trekking, the same group as ours. It took them 8 hours to find the gorillas, wow, it really does make us realise how lucky we were to find them so quickly. Goodness knows how we would have survied treking for 8 hours...... We were obviously just very very lucky.

Anway we are now in Kampala and the accomodation is amazing, Prince Charles stayed here with Camilla last month for the Commonwealth Summit. Normally these sort of hotels we would take for granted, however after being so long in the bush, we appreciate it (and the nice touches such as Molton Brown toiletries and fluffy bathrobes) even more........ !!!!

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So we have just had a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant, yummy - feel as though our appetite is coming back.

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Tomorrow we shall explore the sights of Kampala and hopefully pick up some art work on the way to bring back home with us. We are currently debating whether to go White Water Rafting or not.... Hmmm we are tempted!!!!! But suposedly the rapids are grade 5!!!!!....

Its worth noting that the photos in the blog are only those from our compact camera, we have already taken over 900 on the SLR in the week and a half we have been out here, including some amazing Gorilla shots and some great shots of the Uganda people going about their daily lives. We will sort them out and publish the best on Ofoto.com as usual once we get home. We just can't upload from the CF chip out here as we can from the SD card chip.

More soon.....

Posted by Amarson 10:05 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Final Day of Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi


View Uganda & Kenya; December 2007 & January 2008 on Amarson's travel map.

Greetings from Uganda

Nothing in this world prepared us for today's encounter with the gorilla's.

Literally it took us about 7 minutes to locate the gorillas in the forest. They were actually coming towards us. Yesterdays encounter was amazing, especially for me as it was the first time I had ever seen these amazing animals. However today was like something from a movie. For the first 20 minutes, we watched the babies and the juveniles play and eat. Then we seen two gorilla's mating, which the Silver Back was not happy about at all!!! Finally they started to move out of the forest on the open land, crossing the river.

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The Guide insisted on taking Angela to the front and low and behold whilst following the group of gorilla's, the silver back charged at us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! oh my god, it was unreal. Afterwards I was trembling!!!! We have some footage of this on video camera, however it all become very blurred and all you could hear was the humans swearing sh@t..... We had to crouch down and hope for the best. The guards did not seem to be concerned about this at all, they obviously know the gorilla's well. It was truly truly amazing, one of the best experiences of my life.

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Tomorrow we head off to Kisoro and will be staying where Diane Fosse (who featured in Gorillas in the Mist) stayed. Seemingly the scenery here is meant to be amazing. If Angela had the chance she would love to encounter these amazing gorilla's again, however we do not have time. I suspect we shall be back to Uganda sooner rather than later!

Anyway will be on the soap box again very soon.

Hope you are all well

x

Posted by Amarson 03:26 Comments (0)

Mbarara, Christmas Day, Bwindi and Gorillas


View Uganda & Kenya; December 2007 & January 2008 on Amarson's travel map.

After our hastily reorganised accomodation last night, staying at the Lake View Hotel, rather than the now defunct Katatumba Resort Hotel, we had a day wandering around Ian's old haunts from when he lived here. We spent the morning wandering around Katatumba Academy, which also (like the Katatumba Resort) looked like it had seen better days - probably the Katatumba family are now on the wane rather the gain, as befits the banana republic the Katatumba family area used to be - and as a result we wandered through the Banana plantations around the area, picking up a number of small children who followed us shouting Muzungu (white person).

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We then wandered around Mbarara town, visiting the market, and after seeing the butchers area, I think Angela has become a Vegetarian...

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We then spent the rest of Christmas Eve looking in shops and mixing with all the people who were there shopping and eating.

Come Christmas Day, we had an early wake up call at 0630, as we had the long drive to Bwindi ahead of us. Around 2 hours on tarmac and then many more on the dirt roads.

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The drive was fabulous, and the sights we saw were amazing, with the many towns and villages we passed along the way. We drove along the edge of an amazing river cut gorge - the river rises in DR Congo over the boarder and flows into Lake Victoria.

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We then completed the long drive to Bwindi and arrived at the Abercrombie & Kent Gorilla Forest Lodge on the edge of the National Park. After a few drinks and a fabulous BBQ we settled down for a good night's sleep before another early rise for our first day tracking.

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Come the 26th we were up early, with our packed lunches to go tracking Group R, which consists of 13 Gorillas. Luckily it also happens to be the one closest to Bwindi village and the walk was no where near as long or arduous as we had feared (However tomorrow may be another story :-( ). Ian has tracked the gorillas previously, however it was Angela's first encounter. She was overwhelmed with this experience. It was one of the most incredible sights she has ever seen. One Gorilla walked passed her and she was absolutely petrified, but at the same time it was exhilarating. Angela moved a branch near one Gorilla that was sitting on the ground, and it looked at her and stared obviously in absolute disgust that she had moved its dinner out of easy reach. Their expressions and behaviour is so clearly human like it is just so wonderful. Seeing the Silverback in the tree above us, pulling branches off, while his offspring swung about below him, chucking fruit and leaves down at both us and the other gorillas on the ground was incredible (as were the Silverback's farts - god knows what he eats but they went on for minutes at a time and the forest reverberated with the sound). It was so amazing that Angela even would forgo a Gucci Handbag for the privilege of seeing these amazing animals again - which is about right as it is 500 pounds a go per person. It is truly worth it.

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We are now resting again, enjoying the balmy weather - about 30 degrees, but with a gentle breeze keeping it nice, before tomorrow, when we have our second chance at tracking the gorillas. Angela has been passing time with some local children...

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Posted by Amarson 04:50 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

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