Archive for July, 2012

I was only in Abu Dhabi for about 8 hours but decided that that was too long to spend at the airport particularly as those 8 hours were my normal sleeping hours!  A hotel was called for.  At around 20h00 it was not a busy time on the roads so the trip downtown was quite quick.  My next flight was at 08h35 so I enquired at Reception as to what time I should leave to get to the airport in plenty of time.  I was told it would take 2 hours for the return journey!

I queried this. I would be travelling before 06h00.  Would the traffic be so bad that it would take 2 hours for the trip?  It was explained that, as it was Ramadan, many taxis would not be running at that hour because the drivers would be spending extra time on their prayers.  I agreed to a comprise time of leaving at 05h30. Therefore could I have a wake-up call at 05h00?

I didn’t need a wake-up call!  The muezzin did it for me, at 04h45.  I got up, got ready and was down at Reception before my booked wake-up call.  I had pre-paid everything I wandered out onto the street and hailed a taxi straight away.  There were lots available – so much for all the praying!

It took just 30 minutes to get back to the airport so I had plenty of time to search for a new camera. The two I had brought with me, I managed to fill up with dust in Africa. And I had time to have a croissant and cappuccino in the Etihad lounge before I had to board my 5hr flight to Dusseldorf.

I arrived in Dusseldorf without hassle some 20 minutes early which was good but it just prolonged the already 5 hour lay-over.  airberlin do not have a lounge at the airport except for a screened off glass area.  There was a coffee machine, which I didn’t investigate as you have to pay for a cup, not a problem per se, but I hadn’t the Euro coins needed.  Even if I had, the number of Euros that I would have fed into the machine would have had little impact on the number of Euros the Germans need to bail out all those defaulting E U countries!

The loos were outside and I wasn’t sure whether I could get back into this little hideaway if I left…  I had to talk to a very impersonal microphone to be allowed in.  I would have to find out as no doubt I’d have to use the loo at some stage during my 5+ hour lay-over!

There was no Internet but that gave me the chance to finish off all my notes for Africa and even choose the photos I wanted to use in the blog.

airberlin flew me to Copenhagen where  I arrived at 20h00 – still in broad daylight.  I decided to tackle the Metro and took it to the nearest station to the hotel.  A very helpful lady at the ticket office told me which station to get off at.  (I’m always being told where to get off!)  Emerging back into daylight a helpful taxi driver told me that my hotel was only a ten minute walk away.  He happily gave me directions.  I bailed up another guy along the way just to make sure and headed blindly onwards dragging my bag behind me.  Oh, how it clattered over the little square cobble stones of that street!

Clickerty-clack cobble stones (P1000051 © DY of jtdytravels)

Lo and behold the street I needed came up and I was soon installed in my room with a complimentary ham, cheese and salad croissant.  I had just missed the ‘free’ light evening meal.  What more could I possibly need except to try the whisky I bought on arrival in Abu Dhabi the night before  – only the night before?  It seemed like a week ago!

At 21h30 it was still fairly bright outside. The streets were wet so a shower or two must have passed recently.  It certainly wasn’t cold enough to put on a jumper.

But it was time to have that ham croissant and a sip of my Glenlivet, then a much needed shower and some shut eye.  It was quite a long time since 04h45 that morning, particularly when I had to add 2 hours somewhere along the way.  I looked forward to a good sleep in a good bed!   D

Photography  Copyright © DY of jtdytravels

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It was very wet and muddy with most fields running excess water into roadside gutters.  Large puddles were everywhere.


Puddles, puddles, puddles  P1260005  DY of jtdytravels


…and more puddles  P1260008  DY of jtdytravels

It is partly overcast as it has been nearly every day since my arrival in Africa.

There is a head cold developing on the bus, I hope I don’t catch it or be the carrier to the next group.  I’m OK so far.

Today we retraced our first day back into Nairobi.  It was foggy most of the way once we got to the high pass where we looked down into the Rift Valley on our way out of Nairobi.  The road is nearly all, if not all, downhill for nearly 3000 feet.  It is a long way down under brakes. We made it OK and so came to the end of a memorable African sojourn.

Thanks for coming along with me on an armchair ride!

Now it’s time to move on to my next adventure.  D

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My tent has a flap on each of its four sides.  I roll these up for some air movement as otherwise the inside gets rather stuffy.  I’m in a tent on my own so can’t imagine how unpleasant the air must get when two people share a tent.  It started to sprinkle rain at 05h00 so there was a mad scramble to get up and drop the flaps before I got wet inside.  Whilst this was being done a bloody mozzie got inside so no further peaceful sleep resulted.  I got up 45 minutes later, and as usual, was the first, or one of the first, to be up and about.  I had my tent cleared out and packed up and on the truck before some others were up.  There was plenty of time to help some of the others, but isn’t it strange how it seems to be the same ones every time.  Some just disappear into thin air and wait for somebody else to chip in and achieve a quick pack-up.

We crossed from Uganda back into Kenya this morning.  The exit from Uganda was no problem.  I had to get another three day ‘Transit Visa’ to get into Kenya, but as I had done my homework this time, three days was all I needed.  Mind you, I used each of the three days!  It took us over an hour to clear both borders.  Again, there were trucks as far as the eye could see waiting on the Kenyan side to clear immigration and customs.  I counted 88 but didn’t start doing so until some way along the line.

We arrived in Eldoret at 16h45, rather early, but pleasant.  This is the same camping ground as last time.  I decided not to upgrade this time, I rather like my tent and because last time I had to squat under a low tap in my shower to get any water.  The communal shower was wonderful with water that hot I needed to use some cold to make it useable.  A thunderstorm had been brewing all afternoon and broke just as I started to dry off.  I waited until the worst of it passed before I made a dash back to my tent.  When I got there I found a river flowing beneath it.  It wasn’t as though I’d chosen my site badly as all the other tents were in a similar position.  I could feel the water flowing under the floor.  Thankfully the tent is completely waterproof and everything in it, including me, stayed dry.  It is interesting to look back on the whole trip to realise that we didn’t have to put up or take down our tents in the rain.  In fact, the only rain occurred when it didn’t really matter too much.  We were either on the road, eating under cover or in our tents when it rained.

My real comfort is the last of my ‘medicinal’ whisky and some peanuts.  With only one more night to go, I think I did pretty well eking it out to run out with only one night to go!  There will be some more bought in duty free at Abu Dhabi airport for the next leg.  If I get it on the way in I can pack it in my checked-in baggage as I have an overnight stop in Abu Dhabi after my flight from Nairobi.  Saves any possible confiscation of my litre of whisky by some nasty security person!  I can also decant the precious golden liquid into my metal water bottle to save both the weight of the glass bottle and to protect it from breakage.  Can you imagine me trying to suck my clothes dry should the unthinkable happen?

Juma gets a night off cooking tonight as we are being catered for by the camping ground.  They have a pleasant dining area next to the bar and as it is still over an hour before dinner and I’ve run out of whisky, I just might have to start warming a seat in that area.

The thunder storm turned out to bit more than a passing event as heavy rain settled in for an hour or two.  Again, we escaped an unpleasantness while eating our buffet meal.  After the meal, which had an African theme, one which I’m not sure I could get used to as it consists mainly of ugali, a maize based thick goo, and even more carbohydrate in the form of a yam-like root vegetable.  There were plenty of vegetables and tough meat to choose from to make the carbohydrate palatable.  Fond farewells were made as this was to be the last night the group was to be together.  Tip envelopes were handed over and the crew seemed to be happy – as we were with the whole trip.


Our driver, Mbuthia  P1250984  DY of jtdytravels


Our camp cook, Juma  P1250988  DY of jtdytravels


A Tusker beer surrounded by the group!  P1250992  DY of jtdytravels

The trip kitty was reconciled by Ingwe and three of our group and after paying for dinner there was just over $5/PAX left over.  I think this is pretty good.  It was decided that anyone who wanted their $5 could have it in cash, otherwise the balance was put on the bar for all to enjoy.  It only paid for a couple of drinks each so nobody was able to go mad.


The group at the fire  P1250998  DY of jtdytravels

I was well and truly snuggled up in my tent by 23h00 and asleep soon afterwards.  As would have it, a nature call was required some hours later.  The ground was really muddy and very slippery as a result of the earlier rain.  Over I went, down on my bum to dirty my clean undies and hands.  Thankfully there was a nearby tap which could wash the mud of my hands but my undies are still muddy and will have to wait until I get to Copenhagen to be washed.  My dignity didn’t suffer as there was nobody around.  Back in my tent I had to zip up my sleeping bag for the first time.  Until now I’d been warm enough just using it as a throw-over to my sheet sleeping bag.

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Today was the adrenalin day for the younger people of the group.  There was white water rafting (up to Grade 5), bungy jumping, a river cruise on the Nile and/or one could join a community aid project and paint a school.  This sounded OK until the thought of getting paint all over our clothes was taken into account.  The Nile and Jinja hold a significant place in the geography of the region as it is said that the Nile starts where it flows out of Lake Victoria.


Brad about to jump  P1250899  DY of jtdytravels

I may have been enticed into doing something silly but bungy jumping for the ‘token grandfather’ of the group was not on.  I rather like my ball and socket joints the way they are.  The other thing that irked me was that the camp site only took Visa card.  This is the first place I can remember where, if credit cards are accepted, that both Visa and MasterCard are accepted.  Add to this anomaly, the blighters added a 5% surcharge on the use of the Visa card.  I’ve had to stomach up to a 3% surcharge on credit card usage, and maybe 5% on Diners or American Express, but not 5% on the two most common cards.  My protest was not silent as I told Ruth, the camp manager, that it was just another way to add an extra cost to the activity.  A captive audience, a captive market!  I just spent a quiet day in camp doing some washing and catching up on some writing.

There were some long-tailed macaques roaming around the camp taking every opportunity to grab any discarded food.


A long-tailed Macaque  P1250952  DY of jtdytravels

One poor individual had a piece of twine tied tightly around one wrist which rendered it useless.  I don’t know if it got tangled up in the twine or if someone had tied it on to tether the animal.  The way the animal wasn’t able to put the hand down indicated that the circulation to the area had been cut off.  I can only assume that the hand will eventually drop off!


This individual had twine tied tightly around a wrist  P1250948 DY of jtdytravels

There was free WiFi in the bar area so I took full advantage of this and talked to my sister Helen in Melbourne, son Peter in Newcastle and Jennie in Bangkok when she happened to log on while I was writing.

The Olympics start in London tonight – and although we had a ‘sporty’ day …a world away from here!

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Along with the gorilla and golden monkey treks, this morning’s walking safari was a special experience.

Godson our armed ranger   P1100641 DY © for jtdytravels

Godson was our armed guide who told us all about the many things we saw, not just the animals, but also about signs left behind by passing animals etc.

Walking with Wild Animals      p1250820 DY © for jtdytravels

It is really very special to be walking in a game reserve where there is a chance of coming across a lion or two, although Godson said that there were only a few in the park and they pretty much kept to themselves.  They had only just returned to the park after having been absent for many years.

Inquisitive Waterbuck   p1250801 DY © DY for jtdytravels

We saw reed and waterbuck, wart hog, zebra, topi, antelope and gazelle.

Prickly African Acacia p1250831 © DY for jtdytravels

Africa, like Australia, has many endemic Acacia species.

Self portrait – holding up a tree p1250839 © DY for jtdytravels

After a bit over two hours of walking through the park it was time to say goodbye to Godson, rejoin the truck and head for Kampala, the capital of Uganda.  We crossed the equator, where we set up our tables and chairs outside some souvenir shops.

It was also where I bought a book on Rwanda for 150,000 Ugandan shillings which is about USD64.  I waited ten minutes to get $5 change, I was owed another one, but rather than wait standing around looking useless, I suggested the girl put the dollar in the tips basket.  The shop was actually a charity place so it possibly went to a good cause.

It rained heavily as we drove into and through Kampala.  We arrived at Jinja at 17h45.

We were met by the very efficient camp manager, Ruth, who told us we were about to experience the hottest showers 24/7 to be found in Uganda and to top that off, the coldest beers in Uganda.  She won all our hearts in one sentence.  She also said that the music in the bar would be turned off at midnight, however there was still plenty of noise emanating from around the camp at 02h30!  Give me a bush camp with long drop toilets, animal noises, the stars and a camp fire any day.  I think I would be happy to give up the hottest shower and coldest beer for the privilege of a bush camp.  But, then… the shower followed by the beer was good!

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Around 03h00 this morning I heard a water tank being filled.  Silly me. I thought this might mean a hot shower.  There was water but definitely not hot.  I remain somewhat oily from yesterday’s massage but that is probably not a bad thing.

I was up at 04h50 to light rain as an early breakfast was needed because the day was to be a long one.  We actually left 5 minutes early at 06h25 and didn’t get to Lake Mburo until 17h45.  There were 3 roadside loo stops and an hour for lunch.  A long, long day, but the kilometres had to be done.

We just had time to put up our tents amongst wart hogs and hippos making all sorts of grunting noises in the nearby lake before the sun set.


Our camp site at Lake Mburo      (P1100602  DY of jtdytravels)

We watched the sun set over the lake with the hippos briefly surfacing from time to time whilst we rehydrated with a Tusker beer… or two.


Sunset over Lake Mburo      (P1100612  DY of jtdytravels)

Most enjoyable… and equally enjoyable was the camp fire we sat around after dinner.


Our campfire  P1100622     (DY of jtdytravels)

More anon    David

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Today I took the optional extra to trek in to see some Golden monkeys.  These beautiful animals live in bamboo forest.  The same procedure was followed as yesterday with a drive to park headquarters, dancing and singing and a further ride to the drop off point to begin our walk.

On our way up to the bamboo forest we came across a couple of guys cutting planks from a eucalypt log.  Instead of digging a pit with one person in the pit and the other at ground level, the technique used in these parts is to build a platform with one guy standing on the platform and the other one standing on the ground.  I think I would want to be the guy on top rather than the one underneath as he is continually showered by sawdust which was sticking to his body in the hot and humid conditions.


Sawing a log into planks       (P1100122  DY of jtdytravels)

Nearby was a smoking and steaming pile of earth and leaves.  It was charcoal in the process of being made.  We were told that the whole burning process takes two weeks, something I will have to check sometime when I have reliable internet access.

It was nowhere near as far as it was to see the gorillas – only 20 minutes or so and we were in the company of a troupe of monkeys.


A Golden monkey       (P1100174  DY of jtdytravels)



Another family member      (P1100320  DY of jtdytravels)

They were feeding in the bamboo and moving through the forest seeking out the choicest shoots.  The rainy season is best for them as they particularly like the new bamboo shoots, none of which were available at present because it is the dry season.

The golden monkeys take their name from the lovely golden coat they have.  Pretty faces add to their appeal.

We were back at the ’hotel’ by 11 am which gave me plenty of time for a shower – again it was a walk downstairs to the communal showers as there was still no water at all in my room – before wandering a couple of hundred metres down the road to a massage centre.  Moses performed wonders on my stiff and sore body after the last two treks and the awful pummelling it gets on the bus!  I know, any excuse for a massage, but then, who needs an excuse!     D

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