As I bought my visa on the Uganda boarder the official told me to make sure I ate lots of fruit in Uganda “Ugandan fruit is the best in the world” she laughed.
Matoke would be our staple food for the next few weeks, away for the sharp white of the Kenyan Ugali. Do national dishes, I wonder, somehow reflect a countries people? Perhaps. Motoke is Banana, nearly plantain. It is mashed up and the main carb in the Uganda diet. I expect Uganda to be green and lush with lots of colour, but just over the Kenya boarder it was flat and with lots of arable farming – your “Tilda” rice may actually come from Uganda rather than India!
We had a number of “things to do” in Uganda and only a relatively short amount of time after our two months in Kenya.. But we started with a finish (or a start, depends how you look at it!?!) with the source of the White Nile and Jinja. This would be the end of our time with the Nile, the great river that we had shared many special moments with, the strange modern day disconnect with the river in Cairo, the impressive temples of Luxor on the banks, and the beauty of northern Aswan district, the welcoming villages of Northern Sudan and the decision of which part of the Nile to enjoy sunsets with friends in Khartoum and the fun times at the source of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.
The furthest South we had seen the White Nile was at a dam just south of Khartoum. In Sudan the personality of the White Nile is wide, shallow and slow moving (unlike the Blue which is deeper and much faster flowing). In Southern Sudan the Nile splits up into many cataracts and forms wide lush areas of swamp – this is where a massive 70% of the river evaporates. This explains the difference in personality of the White Nile in Jinja compared with Khartoum. While in Jinja it is still wide, it is also deep and massively powerful creating some of the best rapids for rafting in the world.
It isn’t far to Kampala from Jinja, but before we visit Kampala we had some places to visit. The first was Katine. Katine is a “model African village” a partnership of NGOs working with AMREF, Barcleys Bank and the Guardian newspaper in the UK. I wrote an article on the Guardian website here. SolarAid had installed some solar panels on a medical clinic, not only for lighting, but also to power a Fridge, and a microscope.
After Katine it was time to visit some of Stephans projects. Stephan had been amazingly enthusiastic towards the SolarAid projects in Muhuru bay and in Katine, so it would be interesting to see what Kolpin (the organisation that he is raising money for) was actually doing. Kolpin is a Catholic organisation based around “families” of Kolpin members. They raise money for all sorts of different projects all over the world. Stephan had decided to support a project to create an IT training center (this is his profession) in Kampala, but as this hadn’t quite started yet he wanted to visit some other Kolpin projects. We stayed at a Kolpin Hotel in Hoima, the hotels are set up as another way of raising funds and employing local people and then visted some local Kolpin projects – most were based around micro finance, helping people afford livestock or starting small scale business.
Stephan looks at computers (for more check out his site at www.fernwehge.de)
While I looked at big Solar Powered back up systems!
We stayed for a short time in Kampala – where I managed to get all the symptoms for Maleria. As the only one in our team to be taking anti-maleria drugs I was a bit per-plexed! But no drug is 100% so its better to get these things checked out. Luckily I was 100% free of anything – just a bit of fever. Splendid. I would have liked to have spent more time in Kampala (as with many African cities) but cities get expensive – and other parts of the country are more difficult to explore without your own vehicle. So off we went towards to DRC / Rwandan border.
Amazing markets by Lake Victoria
And lots of fresh fish…
But much gets “smoked” and then the main meat is flown abroad to be put in packets or tins for western consumption. The locals get the bones…
Not wanting to take the easy roads we headed off the Fort Portal and Lake Kilembe then south to Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Edward to Lake Bunyonyi. The lakes of this area were stunning – the highlands areas with the rain forests and volcanoes made visiting Uganda really worthwhile.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
The roads in Uganda where mostly really good (particularly the main roads – some really good new tarmac sections) Smaller roads (which we have a habit of going down) where a little more interesting!
And some mud for Stephan. The locals said this bit was impassible.. “oh well, might as well give it a try…” Neither the car or the bike fell over!
Uganda is a super beautiful place – we were there during the wet season – and it was still great!
From now on, we will be in the Southern Hemisphere!