Travelogs & Reflections > Peter's Travelog > Uganda



Uganda cultural reflection:

Uganda is an amazing country due to the abundance of the primates it hosts. In Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Impenetrable, there are chimps, mountain gorillas and colobus monkeys just for starters. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go to Queen E. or Bwindi to see the gorillas but we did make it to Kibale. We visited Kibale Forest where we went off packing on a chimp trek and a nature walk in the forest. We feasted our eyes on black and white colobus, red colobus, grey-cheeked mangabeyes, red-tailed monkeys and the L’hoest monkey. On the chimp trek we came up close and personal with humankind’s closest relative. Part of the reason the wildlife is so tremendous is because the rainforests of the Zaire River Basin extend partly into Uganda. Bwindi has one of the biggest populations of mountain gorillas in the world. Uganda, in league with the UWA (Ugandan Wildlife Authority), has created a home for more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas. The UWA protects the parks system from poachers from Sudan, Zaire and other countries and are very committed to wildlife conservation. After getting a scant demonstration of primates in the savannas of Kenya, Uganda amazed us in its repertoire of animals and parks.



Days 234-239; 2-26-06/3-3-06:

As we entered the outsides fringes of the residential areas of Kibale we visited and declined a hotel over-looking a valley in the outskirts of the city. We finally settled in at the modest Town Center Guest House where we were left to enjoy the remainder of day in relaxation and preparation of the up-coming days in the garden. The next day we traversed the hills in a downpour to the site of the Community Garden where we had come to volunteer. Pastor Edwards showed us the way and rested shortly in a school to block out the rain but as soon as it subsided we trudged towards the garden. Practically the whole garden was on a steep slope that made it hard to plant so we compromised with terraces in the steep parts. After planting a row of onions we made our way through some beds of carrots before heading back to plan the seminars the following morning. As I didn’t attend, I had work to do, I only gathered that the lessons turned out as a success: grandma, volunteer recruitment and management, mom, media and public relations, and dad, land use planning and GIS mapping skills. The two consecutive days followed in distinct relativity until Friday through off their symmetry. We did a quick wrap up question board and then moved onto garden to do a recap lesson. After purchasing tickets to Kampala we were ushered over into a truck by long-time volunteer: Henry and his wife Harriet. We enjoyed a last meal with them before we finally had to head back due to Paul getting a nasty cut on his knee.


Lake Bunyonyi:

Days 230-234; 2-22/26-06:

We rolled in at Bunyonyi late at night and were recommended a place by our friend and leader of the garden project in Kabale, Pastor Edward. He had let us use his laptop to access the internet during our stay, this helped us a lot. The next day I was able to sleep in and then quickly went down to breakfast. After coming back up we had to do a lot a catch up work. The story was the same for the other days as well. On the last day we went for a dugout canoe ride across the lake to an island opposite our hotel. On the island we saw 21 different species of birds including a black and white quetzal like bird with twin pin feathers which were two times as long as the bird. We also learned how to catch and store crayfish.


Kibale National Park:

Days 228-229; 2-20/21-06:

We were up by 7am to make in over to the canteen for breakfast before leaving on the nature hike at 8am. We rifled through the eggs and toast and started the hike. At first we were not able to see much except birds. The occasional red-tailed monkey poked its head out of a tree almost teasingly. Eventually we found a big group of Black and white colobus’s, red-tailed monkeys and red colobus’s. The black and white colobus’s were very cool to see as they had a white “cape” on their backs. We watched them for an hour before they ran off and we continued onward. None other animals showed there faces except a gang of gray-cheeked mangbyes near the end. The mangbyes were all black except for the grey cheeks and beady eyes. They also have a pure white nose that makes them look like a squirrel with two huge buck teeth. Dad, trying to collect “good” pictures of at least six out of the 13 primates in Kibale, was snapping away, making the only noise in the clearing. Eventually the monkeys turned away from their fruit and fled the scene. After the grey-cheeks we stopped for nothing except lunch at mid-day. Soon we had made it to the road and were bearing heading towards the visitor’s center. After moving our things from my grandma’s old banda to her new banda we headed off to the tree house. After an hour of writing travelogue the sky turned black and grey and it started to rain. Unfortunately the roof of our tree banda was very old and there were many leaks in the roofing. We managed to stop the leaks over the bed but the ones going onto the floor we could do nothing about. Ultimately the downpour stopped and we were able to make it back to the canteen before it became too late to eat. Just before dawn we popped out of bed and swiftly made our way over to the canteen to scarf down a quick breakfast. We were eager to get on the trail early in the hope of seeing chimpanzees. Although it is around a 97% chance of seeing the chimps we were a little pessimistic. Half-way along the trail we spotted a few red-tailed monkeys playing with some grey-cheeked mangbyes in the trees above the wetlands on which we were standing. After dad got some good shots we started off once again on the chimp trail. Eventually we heard the chimps calling among themselves. They were all positioned in a very tall tree, some of them we could barely see. They were about the size of a small black bear, and covered in long black hair. Their face looked almost leathery and stood out a light tan. We watched for a long time until eventually they started, one by one, coming down from their perches. It was amazing to see them when they came down because we were right there. They truly looked like man’s closest being. Ultimately we had to leave them as they also filed away, one by one. They rest of the trek was uneventful but we still had the chimps fresh in our minds. Soon we arrived back at the visitor’s center and waited for a matatu on the road to bring us back to Fort Portal. And waited and waited. We sat there for three hours praying for a matatu to come by. Eventually mom got up and had the guys at the visitor’s center call a matatu from Fort Portal. Eventually we rolled into Fort Portal and got a room at a budget place.


Fort Portal to Kibale National Park:

Day 227; 2-19-06:

The next day we luckily boarded an early bus to Fort Portal from Kampala which we just stumbled across, not actually knowing where it was. Locals used to say the pilgrimage took ten hours but we were at Fort Portal in only four hours because they paved the road. We stopped for a bite to eat at a hotel in the main part of town before boarding another matatu into Kibale National Park. Hurtling along on the dusty road we stopped at the entrance into the National Park. Walking up 500mts. to the visitor’s center we signed up for a full day nature walk the next day and chimp trekking following that. We trailed the guide who led us to the tree fort banda over looking a grassland/wetland where elephants have been known to come. As we were unpacking two buffalo charged through the grass to the opposite side. The tree house was supported by four 100 meter coconut logs and a tree reached up in the center of the four going all the way through the tree banda. The whole banda was open and bamboo window rolled down for protection in the night. After setting up in the small area we headed down to the canteen to eat dinner. With a full day nature hike ahead of us we trouped back to camp through a thicket of fire ants.


To and From Kampala:

Day 226; 2-18-06:

The next day we had planned to leave at a little later in the morning to Kampala so we were able to sleep in. We were escorted over to the matatu junction by a hotel employee and boarded a Kampala bound matatu. Finally we arrived in Kampala and after some struggle arrived at Sun City hotel. That night we talked about where to go next. We had herd from numerous people that violence will probably break out due to the election results. It was hard to decide where to go because we just didn’t want to be near the violence and we didn’t know where it would erupt. We decided to go to Kibale Forest and from there make the most reasonable decision, be it leave Uganda or continue as planned down to Kabale.



Day 225; 2-17-06:

In the morning I did not feel very good at all as I was so tired from the night before. Eventually I went back downstairs to the café and had an omelet before deciding the day’s agenda. Just before mid-day we headed off to the Ugandan Posta. I purchased some stamps while they mailed a box back home full of stuff from Enoosaen. Since we didn’t have email at Enoosean we desperately needed to catch up for the two weeks of email we had lost. We headed back to the hotel internet café but had to stop short as a giant rally about the Ugandan presidential elections was passing threw the main street dividing us and the internet and we did not want to get involved. The election were in five days and so far only to candidates are running, Museveni and Besigye. Museveni founded the NRM (National Resistance Movement) who originally kicked out Ida Amen. Amen was a wacko who drove the country almost to genocide; he was exiled to Libya but got kicked out and is currently hiding in Saudi Arabia. Museveni has had rule of Uganda for 20 years now and believes in a one-party form of democracy. Some people say Amusement’s reign has gone on to long and they need someone fresh in office. It is common knowledge that Museveni has turned Uganda into a dictatorship and most ballots believe that to be the bad and wrong direction for the country. I can’t tell you much about Besigye as I haven’t heard much about him except that he is being tried in the Supreme Court for corruption. But Besigye doesn’t have any chance as both Museveni and Besigye supporters believe that Museveni will rig the election, as he did in 2002, and win. Soon the rally passed and we made it to the internet at our place and finally were able to access email.


Enoosean Village to Mbale, Uganda:

Day 224; 2-16-06:

We had to leave very early in the morning to arrive in Uganda before dark, we just made it. Just as we were waiting outside for the matatu Julius told us that Susan had something for us. We rushed over to her home and met her as she was coming out of Paul’s, Julius’s brother, home. Susan presented mom with a red shawl with ton of beads on the periphery. Soon Sele came and picked us up in his matatu and we raced off to Kisii. The matatu wasn’t cramped so we enjoyed our time bumping along on the dirt road to Kisii. Finally we pulled into a Kisii gas station and departed out of Sales van. We had just picked up out bags and slung them over our back when we found ourselves quickly being ushered into another matatu by an over eager driver headed towards Kisumu. Although over enthusiastic, he got us to Kisumu safely and quickly and deposited us at the matatu junction surrounded by over 2000 matatus. We were assisted in finding the right matatu to board and only having time to purchase a bag of peanuts before speeding off. With the sun almost setting we made to the Ugandan boarder where we were besieged by drivers to take us to Mbale. At the Kenyan boarded we were apprehended and questioned because we had no Kenyan visa as it was stolen with the passport. Finally we convinced the Kenyan guards that we were not terrorist running into Uganda to hide and entered Uganda, the fastest growing economy in East Africa. The Ugandan boarder patrol/costumes officers were very friendly and issued our visas quickly before being hurried into yet another matatu, I would say about four to many for one day. Just as it turned dark we arrived in Mbale and got a room at the Mt. Elgon View Hotel, cheap and good. Downstairs the Narulis Café offered an excellent variety of food that is very good.