A Travellerspoint blog


Jinja, Uganda

The Source of the Nile

sunny 85 °F

We went to Jinja for our last few days in Uganda to raft the Nile and to relax with our new friends that we met volunteering. We rafted a total of 8 big rapids, and managed to stay in the boat for just 3 of them.

There were only 4 of us paddlers in the raft plus our onboard guide, followed by a crew of 3 kayakers, a photographer, and a full sized safety raft. We thought this was a little overkill, but we soon realized that class 5 rafting in Africa is a little bit different. The first thing we did was go over a few safety precautions to the eerie bubbling of a puncture in the raft just below Kevin’s feet. Then, instead of paddling through the rapids we were told to “get down and hold on.” On the second rapid, we both hesitated a little when the get down command was called, and we instantly fell out of the boat.

As we walked through the busy market looking for the bus stand, it was really strange to hear the locals blasting old school Xmas carols in the dusty dirty African roads. We moved from town to spend a few nights along the water at Nile River Camp where we learned how to play the harmonica, make leg dreads and drink sambuca from an old raft paddle.

On the radio we listened to talk shows speak of western aid. The DJs were telling people to quit expecting western aid money and instead get up and work harder. They were amazed with how the US and European countries continue to donate their hard earned wages to countries like Zambia where over and over the corruption in the government wastes it away on huge birthday parties and other personal items.

We couldn’t have asked for a better trip through Uganda and savored our last dip into the Nile via rope swing.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 05:39 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Ruhanga, Uganda

Countryside community development

sunny 25 °F

We volunteered for a week in a small community program started and run by one of the local village members. In six years with the help of other volunteers, Denis has built a community school, a fresh water source and a bunch of other goodies including gardens, a women’s craft group and a computer club. The school is the main attraction and is located in the beautiful Kigezi Highlands west of Mbarara in a place called Ruhanga. It was quite the trip to get out there from Kampala and on our way there our bus was continually boarded by men selling big sticks of what looked like plastic meat, but smelled amazing. A few times these venders didn’t get off the bus in time and were stuck on board for kilometers at a time.

Since we were at the school during their holiday break, there were not many students around, but there were still chores to do. In the mornings we would milk the cows with Frank and then clean and paint the school rooms.

In the afternoons we’d grade the land and save the orange trees! An orange grove was recently started and the trees were young and overgrown with weeds… but even Ugandan weeds weren’t tough enough to survive the Kevin and Robin gardening combo.

We worked with a really fun group of people from the UK who really made the evenings fun. There was something special about playing camp fire games and drinking liquor from plastic bags!

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 10:14 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Kampala, Uganda

Welcome to the jungle

We spent a few days around Kampala acclimatizing to Uganda. It was complete mayhem downtown with every street packed with vendors and people going every which way. It only took a few minutes to realize that the people in Uganda are extremely friendly. This totally made our day, contrasting to the unrest we felt in Egypt, we were now able to talk freely and openly to the locals. The city of Kampala itself was an adventure to walk around, kind of like a big game of Frogger. We quickly learned that the matatus (mini buses) claimed right of way without slowing for pedestrians. As you can see, the main matatu stand had plenty of options for adventure...

Just out of downtown we stayed near Soya Stage on Konge Rd where the neighborhood was full of bars all playing a mashup of African and pop music. The fish and posho (corn flour mixed and cooked into what looks like mashed potatoes) was amazing and so was our first sampling of Uganda’s beer (which was a real treat since we had just spent 25 days in Muslim countries). It’s a fun place to visit, but just don’t go there expecting to have any meaningful conversation since the neighboring bars crank up the volume in competition.

One day we headed out to KK Beach, which turned out to not have a beach at all! Instead there was a tiny little village with ‘cute’ places to eat fish on the banks of Lake Victoria. There was a cement boat landing for fishermen to sell their catch, but sadly the water was a scary green color that made swimming not an option. We jumped on board a boat full of locals and headed out across the lake. We didn’t have a clue where we were going and there was quite a scene when we arrived at a shoreline they called the ‘Miami of Uganda.’

Downtown Kampala is basically one big market with everything being sold on the streets and in small labyrinths of venders. On the flip side there is an area of big glamorous hotels and shopping centers. It is here where you will find mazungas (white folks) pushing shopping carts around large shopping isles. Some might have been preparing for their trip into the jungle to see the world’s only dwindling population of mountain gorillas, or maybe heading out to Jane Goodall’s island chimp foundation, but we were preparing to head into a different kind of jungle, a small village with a school full of little kids!

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 10:04 Archived in Uganda Comments (2)

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