6 – 12 December 2009 Nairobi – Kampala

Well the bangers and mash went down a treat – they even had onion gravy – almost as good as Bill’s in the Black Swan – its funny the things you miss when travelling!

Spending four days inside of JJ, we all became a small community – exchanging experiences and passing on information and recommendations to each other.  As we left, everyone was out in the garden waving us off.  We arranged to meet Roland and Tamara on the coast of Tanzania for Christmas and headed out of the city towards Uganda. 

We have decided not to visit the Masai Mara National Park as we will take a safari in one of the smaller parks further South but we had hoped to see the famous flamingos on Lake Nakuru.  Despite our best efforts we couldn’t find the main entrance and Gloria wanted to send us off onto a bad dirt road 22kms before the Lake – we decided against the dirt road after our recent experiences. 


Down into the Rift Valley..........            Candelabra Cactus...........                  Agricultural Dealer............                 He's a long way from M. Weighton....

Just South of Eldoret we spent the night at Naiberi River Campsite – a great place and a regular stop for overlanders.  LINK???  The camp is set in very pretty gardens with rondavels, bungalows and camping spots, a fantastic swimming pool, bar and restaurant with a very large a la carte menu – beware not all that is listed may be available!!  The staff looked after us very well and the security team is assisted by six or seven geese!!  As we had our sundowners by the pool we heard that “the kids” had made it safely to JJs – finally we could relax and look forward to seeing them somewhere soon along the road. 

With the rains the verdant countryside was unbelievably green as we drove through the small villages on the way to the border.  If you are wondering why we appeared to have raced through Kenya, we have to be in Kampala, Uganda to meet Rob and Katy from the UK who are bringing JC a replacement bank card – that’s another story!!


Need a matress......................            Thomas Cook establishment?????        All flocking to stay there................       Heard of Highway Robbery but this???

As we approached the border we were immediately surrounded by boys trying to sell us, water, cokes, biscuits, samosas or shoes as well as the usual money changers and “helpers”.  I have to say that once we said no they did eventually give in.  At one point we had a money changer at either window competing with each other for our business – good for us – it got us a much better rate!!

Our “helper” did a good job and we were through to Uganda and on our way within one hour.  The roads improved , there was less traffic and the paddy fields glistened bright green in the sunshine.  This appears to be a major rice producing area with “Tilda” farms all along the roadside.  We soon found out why when we were caught in a very heavy downpour.   It absolutely tipped it down for half an hour and then the sun came out again – a pattern which would continue almost every afternoon.

On the road, there were many trucks and matatus (mini buses) but not many private cars.  A small haulage contractor in this part of the world just needs a fleet of bicycles – we saw them being used to ferry firewood, food, coal, clothing and even as taxis with ladies and their babies perched on the back.  There are many schools and lots of catholic churches here in Uganda.  The children learn how to work very early in their lives.  We saw the mothers carrying water in large canisters on their heads followed by young girls carrying smaller canisters and small boys, too small for the large bicycles with one leg under the cross bar, pedalling along with firewood on the back.


Wonder how they quote for this - cube? weight? distance? - or as much as you can get eh Julian?.........................................

Our destination today was Jinja and the source of the Nile – a great place for white water rafting and bungee jumping apparently – not for us but the young travellers on the overland bus, www.oasisoverland.co.uk, we met at the Nile Explorer’s Club were having a whale of a time.  We simply sat and watched the beautiful sunset over the River Nile from the terrace, thinking about the many countries we have come through since we first saw the Nile in Egypt.   Great Camp, lots of hot water, decent food and fantastic location.  Tip for travellers  - if you want to make an early start – pay your bill the night before as no one on duty in the office until after 8am.


Overland bus - good use for N reg Scania          Sunset over the Nile.............................................

Once again we drove through alongside of paddy fields, tea plantations and sugar cane – all loving the humid atmosphere in Uganda.  Gloria Garmin became very confused as we tried to find our way around the ring road of Kampala and North to Murchison Falls.  She didn’t seem to have any information on the ring road and sent us off route onto a dirt track, through deep water, across a football pitch and down a steep descent before putting us back on the original road – or maybe the “nav” just wasn’t paying proper attention.  We made up for lost time with a good tarmac road until we reached Nakasongola and “Tope Hill” as it would be known in Mexico!  With speed bumps every 20 metres for around 5kms, we could have walked up hill quicker and on the way back we even had our lunch to keep us awake.  All of this because they had been resurfacing the road and there were “loose chippings” – imagine the havoc that would cause in the UK. 


Lots of churches..........       Fields of tea.................                    Selling the sugar cane...............            "Tope Hill"..................

The Lonely Planet recommends “a trip to Murchison Falls which is the most spectacular feature of the Nile along its 6,700 kms.  The gorge is just 6 metres making the falls one of the most powerful surges of water found anywhere in the world!”  So, as we had followed the Nile for most of our trip and visited its source at Jinja, we decided that we would go there, despite this being a round trip of over 500kms and believing that we would be able to simply drive into the park and pick up a boat which would take us to the base of the falls, whilst spotting hippos and crocs along the way.  What LP fails to tell you is that before all of this you have to pay to enter the Murchison Falls National Park which is $60 per person per day plus $50 for the vehicle – not cheap.  We bit the bullet tempted by the falls, the possibility of seeing game along our route and the fact that it was a long drive back down to Kampala!  We made it to Red Chile Hideway just about 600 metres from the ferry BUT, when we asked to book onto the boat for the following morning – everything was already booked.  To take a later boat would mean another day in the park and another $170 at least!  We were then told that if we went down to the ferry the next morning we would possibly be able to pick up a boat from the Uganda Tourist Board – no chance we were the only two people there and they wanted $150 to pay for the full boat!  Disappointed, we got into the Toyota and drove up to the top of the falls, where we had spectacular views despite the swarms of flies that surrounded us as soon as we left the vehicle!  Our headnets came in useful for the first time in over four years!!  Luckily the flies disappeared as we reached the head of the falls and a very attentive ranger showed us around.


Murchison Falls...............................................................................................................                 Keeps the flies off AND hides the hair!!!!


Dangerous driving in the park........               Our wildlife so far - bring on the BIG FIVE..........................                 The afternoon rains coming in.......

All in all a very expensive trip to see a waterfall and the only wildlife we saw were baboons, a couple of warthogs and some deer.  Still looking for the “wow factor” in Africa.

Advice to anyone following us – if you want to do the boat trip or a game drive – it may be better to arrange in advance at either Jinja or Kampala – they don’t seem to cater too well for independent travellers.

Feeling the need for some TLC after a couple of disappointing days, we checked into the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala.  Luxury – clean sheets, air conditioning, as much hot water as you could wish for.  As I completed the paperwork at the front desk, I sipped a cold mango juice and looked on as at least ten bridal parties made their way through the lobby. Brides and bridesmaids in every colour of the rainbow – apparently December is a favourite time for marriages in Uganda and it seems that the Sheraton is the place for celebrating. 

As I stood there I wondered where JC had got to.  All he had to do was park the Toyota.  I found him at the front door, on his knees with a knife in his hand trying to disentangle the spare security fob from underneath the car, whilst surrounded by bemused wedding guests!!  Apparently the other one usually in the front of the car must have dropped out at the falls and car won’t start without it!  Good job he had the foresight to hide the spare under the chassis.  I wonder what the other guests were thinking!!

It was absolutely great to get dressed in something other than boots, Rohan trousers and a well worn tee shirt, be able to wash and fix my hair and spray on perfume instead of Deet.

Looking forward to a couple of days rest and meeting Rob and Katy.  Hopefully Coxy’s men, didn’t spend too much at the bar Barry!!!!

Don’t forget to leave us a message or two. Thanks Kay for the info on the termite mounds and to Petch’s gang for straightening JC”s power harrow and for reminding me that its only eight months to go to harvest!