Kabale, Kampala, Jinja and Sipi
So of course the carnet fee was a total load
of bollocks, and as soon as I get a moment I'll be informing the
Ugandan anti-corruption commission of the events.... Don't expect I'll get
the money back though, but at least I don't mind spending so little time in
the country now.
After a couple of nights at The luxurious
Overlanders Campsite in Bunyonyi I headed off to Kabale National Park with
Alex, a German guy who I'd first met in Dar, and again at Bunyonyi.
Our first big problem was when we arrived
at the supposed equator only to find that it was 200 meters too far south,
as determined by my GPS. This of course offended Alex's Teutonic sense of
correctness, so we set up a new line across the road in the right place, and
marked it with a couple of stone cairns. Once satisfied that everything was
correct an in ordnung he agreed that we might now continue to Kabale.
After a night at the pretty basic campsite
we spent the morning in the forest tracking chimps, and after a brush with a
few ranging males we managed to find a large group of about 20 chimps which
kept us amused for an hour or so as they had a few fights, ate figs, and
then tried to piss and shit on us.
Most of the time they stayed high in the
canopy, but a couple of times groups would descend to ground level and
wander about on some mission or other. It was a great way to spend the
morning, especially if you like chimps, and at $45 worked out at pretty good
value in my book. But then it did involve monkeys...
From Kabale we took the terrible road to
Kampala, picking up my first jack fruit along the way. Jack fruit are large
knobbly green things about the size of a basketball, if not larger, and
shaped like an oversized mango. The flesh is a remarkable mixture of some
gum stuff which is great to chew, and which the locals use as fly paper, and
the flesh which comes as a series of plum sized segments clustered around a
series of large pips, and which tasted of cream, apple, pear, and a few
other fruits all at the same time, while having the texture of lychees. All
in all a very satisfying experience - I'll look forward to paying a fortune
for one back in Europe.
At Kampala we chilled out for the weekend -
I managed to catch Lord of the Rings Part 2, but didn't get the chance to
see part 3 which was also on... It had been a while since my last bout of
adrenalin action - the choice was either to raft or bungee jump at Jinja, or
of course take a motorcycle taxi around town. I chose the scariest option -
and it only cost a dollar a ride.
Satisfied and suitably chastened I drove up to Jinja to check out the
source of the Nile (I didn't expect much so I wasn't disappointed). After a
muddy night at the Nile River Explorers I drove on to Sipi, a beautiful area
which is famous for a series of three amazing waterfalls, as well as the
Crows Nest, a campsite with a fantastic view of the main falls.
The only reason for not visiting Sipi is
that the local community have absolutely now idea about how to extract money
from tourists - if you want to walk to the falls you pass a series of
rickets gates, some less than 50 meters apart, where half-wits ask you for
money. If you are an Israeli apparently, the form is to barge them out of
the way, and pretty soon I began to appreciate the simplicity of their
approach. Dickheads deserve each other.
The following morning, Christmas Eve, I
spent the morning winding my way around mount Elgin amid spectacular scenery
before arriving at another border post. I examined with interest the safe
that lay on the lawn outside the immigration office that had been peeled
open and looted when Idi was overthrown, just before the mob fired all the
official buildings. I wonder if they paused for a moment to think about who
would pay for them to be rebuilt?