Uganda….’people and places’
As you may have gathered if you happened upon a recent post ‘Uganda – in pursuit of primates’, we went to Uganda primarily for the Gorilla and Chimp experience, but truth be told, it turned out to be all that and so much more….
From the outset there was considerable debate in the ‘Gale’ household as to whether we should grab our own set of wheels and “self-drive” OR…hire a local driver to negotiate the unpredictable terrain for us? It should be noted we’ve driven in Africa before, but that was South Africa, where the highways are high quality and our only real concern was a potential armed car-jacking – no big deal! So weighing up that experience….and overlaying the many positive accounts Pete read about driving in Uganda, we threw caution to the wind and rented a Toyota Rav 4, courtesy of ‘Road Trip Uganda’, to enjoy the autonomy of just us.
We both agreed that our meanderings around the well-travelled tourist circuit rated a very close ‘second’ to time spent with the primates. With lots of unplanned windows in our schedule we had the luxury of cruising around and stopping off at points of interest for a few extra days here and there, despite the fact the trip was only 20 days in total. We’ve always found that an adventure in a country where you are pretty much left to your own devices, quickly reinforces the feeling of ‘we’re in this together’ and we were. Pete being # 1 “extreme” off road driver (with very little previous experience in this regard I might add) and me, as his almost # 1 navigator (made a few bad calls on which way to turn along the way!), we were our own “dream driving team”! Um hm….how quickly the passage of time blurs reality 😉 In any event, it was nothing if not exciting.
So take a tour of Uganda with us, and meet the amazing people and places we saw….with a view perhaps (and we hope), of seeing it one day from behind the wheel of your own trusty Toyota Rav 4.
The ‘key’ to our adventure…aptly named after a character in one of our all time favourite spaghetti westerns (the good, the bad, and the ugly) albeit a different spelling. I’m sure we lost count of the number of times I gave it the “hey blondy”….impression along the way!
If you are thinking of driving in Uganda, you must check out ‘Roadtrip’ Uganda, these guys rocked it for us!
First and last stop, Boma Hotel, Entebbe. Beautiful property/rooms and extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff.
Our first sense (in the first hour) of the reality of getting around on Ugandan roads.
BirdNest – it’s all about the scenery (and the scary ride up there!). We acknowledged early on that Uganda was possibly the most lush and greenest country we have visited in Africa to date.
We saw and admired so many of these ‘shops on wheels’. This was a particularly steep hill…ordinarily the shop, aka ‘bicycle’ owner, would be in the driver’s seat performing his unique balancing act!
Oh the roads…the roads (most of then adorned with a plethora of potholes)….this was technically one of the best tarmac main roads in the country (obviously under repair!). All of a sudden riding shotgun, became riding potgun!
Slowly ascending the mountainous terrain on an effectively one-lane (actual width) two-way (as is used) dirt road.
The people of Uganda where, without exception, some of the most warm and welcoming folk we’ve met, wherever we ventured. On this occasion we also shared a love for the beat…. and if there’s music….I’m dancing!
Currently one of the best roads in Uganda (Kabale to lower mountain region enroute to Bwindi – Gorillas), before it turned into a one lane dirt road.
Stop-off for local crafts and chat with Grace
A few rest days doing not much of anything at ‘Mountain of the Moon’ hotel in Fort Portal. This being the hotel where the presenter and staff of British TV show ‘Top Gear’ rested up. We were fascinated by the resident flock of ‘Marabou Storks’….there were huge!
This little sweetheart ran after us shouting ‘take my picture, take my picture’, so I obliged.
Our trip was on the cusp of the rainy season, so we had to be constantly ready for a downpour, and the timing was perfect on this occasion allowing us to enjoy some local cuisine while we waited out the passing storm.
We opted for a drive/walking tour of the crater lake area outside of Fort Portal and Pete enjoys the scenery (after the rain) with our well-educated guide ‘Joel’ of http://www.kabaroletours.com/
The oldest hotel in Uganda and little has changed since Kathryn Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart stayed there in the early 1950’s during the filming of ‘The African Queen’. Above…Pete’s amazed that the room Ms Hepburn slept in is still as it was and available for rent.
Pete propping up the original bar in the Masindi where Ernest Hemingway enjoyed a G+T and hence the bar was named after him.
Kids on their way to school as we are on our way back to Entebbe…and from there….UK and home.
It wouldn’t be an African adventure without the obligatory G+T at the end to celebrate accomplishments, and in this case, there was lots to celebrate i.e.; successfully navigating the challenging terrain without injury to self or vehicle, but most importantly….spending some time with a family of mountain gorillas.