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Posts Tagged ‘Jinja’

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.

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Our driver, Mbuthia  P1250984  DY of jtdytravels

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Our camp cook, Juma  P1250988  DY of jtdytravels

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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The day started well until a loud explosive air hiss came from below our feet in our new truck.  Most thought that a tyre had blown out.  We came to a slower stop than I would have expected for such an event. The driver wriggled under the vehicle amidships and attempted to fix a high pressure air supply line.

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How can I fix this with a screwdriver?  P1090171  DY of jtdytravels

Being a new truck that had not been properly fitted out for our trip there was only a screwdriver available to fix the problem.  A call was put out to anyone who had any tape.  This, of course, made little impact on the problem due to the high pressure involved.  We deduced that the air line had something to do with the breaks.  Eventually the driver somewhat admitted defeat when he went across the road to a service station and came back with a bicycle inner tube.  This, along with some more tape, actually did the job.  We were off after a one and three quarter hour stop.

Whilst all this was happening most of the younger guys and one of the girls kicked a soccer ball around on a large grassy field beside where we had stopped.

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The kids came out to play  P1090174  DY of jtdytravels

Great fun was had by all until it was time to leave.  The biggest boy in the group grabbed the ball and made off with it on his bicycle.  We had naively hoped that the ball could have been shared a little more equally by those involved in the game – how silly of us!

The Ugandan border was not all that far away.  We passed many, many trucks all lined up waiting their turn to be processed.  I counted over 100 on our way back.  The drivers can expect to wait from three to seven days to get through the paperwork and inspections.

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Tourist buses get priority – thankfully  P1090165  DY of jtdytravels

Once we arrived at the border, foreigners in buses are given priority, we lined up at the appropriate windows to be processed without trouble.  That was until it was my turn!  I handed my passport through the window to the Immigration officer on the other side.  He looked at it hard and long and then motioned me to come into his office through a nearby door.  He said my visa had expired, as indeed, on my inspection, it had!

I had been given a Transit Visa on arrival at Nairobi airport by the lady Immigration officer.  This was valid for a 72 hour stop.  She asked me how long I was staying, to which I said I was leaving on the 17th and, did she want to see my itinerary?  She said she didn’t and gave me the visa.  I guess I was partly to blame as I should have known that I was to be in Kenya for four days not three, but after X hundreds of hours on the go, through various time zones etc. the error did not compute with me either.

So, now back to leaving Kenya.  The Immigration officer quizzed me on why I had a Transit Visa if I was to be in Kenya for four days.  I explained that his colleague in Nairobi had made the decision to issue me a Transit Visa.  He said I hadn’t paid enough.  I said that I was not trying to avoid paying whatever I should have and could I pay the extra now.  He ignored me while he attended to other people who passed their ‘all-in-order’ passports through his window.  I wondered what was going to happen.  He eventually returned to my passport and asked if I was coming back to Kenya?  Yes, was my answer.  How long will you be staying?  Overnight, I ventured as an answer.  He picked up his visa stamp and slammed it down on my Transit Visa and said, this is an official warning, and handed me back my passport.  Somewhat relieved, I meekly left his presence saying ‘asanti sana’, thank you very much.  We ALL continued on our way to our camping place at the Red Chilli in Kampala, crossing the Nile River at Jinja on the way.  We were to return to Jinja for a two night stop on our way back to Nairobi.

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The Nile River  P1090183  DY of jtdytravels

Along the way we passed black and blue cloth traps.  These were about 750mm x 750mm x 750mm and were seen swinging in trees.  Ingwe explained that they were traps for tse-tse fly, in other words, the insect that causes sleeping sickness.

 

More anon    David

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