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The Solo Scooterist

Documenting my travels on a Vespa

Category: Uganda (page 2 of 3)

Minaret views of Kampala

Lazy Sundays , for some means sport , a sleep in , a long lunch , a afternoon nap , movies , mall or a late afternoon drive , my Sunday involved exploring Kampala while everybody was in church or doing one of the above . I wanted to take the scooter and ride around  the city  without the stress of the intense , high octane traffic associated with most days . The highlight was spending time at the National Mosque , that was formerly named  al- Gaddafi mosque because it was Libyan funds that constructed this magnificent building that’s dominates the Kampala skyline.

All the photographs are take from the Minaret ,  I hope it gives you a sense of the city .

 

Full of life

Full of life

 

Taxi anyone.

Taxi anyone.

 

Mixing it up old school and a skyscraper

Mixing it up old school and a skyscraper

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Work in progress

 

Sunday soccer

Sunday soccer

 

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The rose amongst them boda boda'zzz

The rose amongst them boda boda’zzz

Until we meet again.

 

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Fish Eagles and Fireflies

The ride down to Jinja was a lot more fun taking the more scenic and rural route , that Parky recommended  , a little longer but one  passes through beautiful tea plantations , village markets and lush greenery . I was feeling a little off colour when I woke up after a fairly interrupted sleep so I decided to  pop into the clinic to do a malaria test  or see a doctor  , the queue was a three hour wait so I bought a self help kit and did the test myself which was  thankfully negative . Then I met up with Parky , who offered to escort me out of the city to the back road down to Jinja , which I never would have found solo.

I rode at a leisurely  pace having time on my side to arrive at my destination a place called The Haven , right on the banks of the river Nile with views that make you want to stare a gasp  until sunset . Riaan had highly  recommended  it  and I can see and feel why . Just heavenly , beautiful , tranquil and what I would  experience fantastic staff and food.

 

From my lunch table.

From my lunch table.

From the second you arrive you are made to feel so welcome , the staff are an absolute delight and nothing is to much. I was not feeling up to pitching my tent , I was feeling feverish, tired and fatigued  and just felt like sleeping , one of the staff members noticed that I was not looking to good and offered me one of the rooms at a hugely discounted rate so that I could sleep in comfort . I had a quick lunch jumped into bed  . While lying in bed one hears the rapids in the distance and the call of the fish eagle echoes all around  which makes  sleep come fast and deep . After a great nap it was down to dinner sitting under the night sky surrounded by the delicate light of lanterns and stars I watched as the fireflies came out to dance and court in the night sky , just unbelievable this Africa of ours .

I was woken to the gentle sound of the fish eagle and the rapids that  stirred me from slumber , feeling a whole lot better for a great nights sleep.

 

Morning has broken

Morning has broken

 

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the lulling rapid

the lulling rapid

I packed up and headed for breakfast that was more than a surprise , fresh fruit , fluffy omelette filled with a little of Spain and cheese , cold meats , fresh baguette , chilled just squeezed from the pineapple juice and the piece de resistance pancakes filled with nutella , I think I will stay for a week , a month , a year.

 

The full monty break your fast

The full monty break your fast

This must rate as my breakfast of the trip with all the right ingredients , very hard to beat the view and food. I will spend the rest of the day gazing out at the Nile and hopefully all things being equal will ride the rapids tomorrow.

 

The dining area .

The dining area .

 

Off to work , morning row.

Off to work , morning row.

 

Very glad to have Victoria as my chosen transport.

Very glad to have Victoria as my chosen transport.

 

The campsite

The campsite

Until we meet again.

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Wash , Soak , Spin , Dry add some surf , repeat cycle

Wild and Wet  Wednesday, usually words reserved for a street pole advert grabbing your attention while stuck in traffic to or from work . For me on this particular  Wednesday , these words represented  a day out on the equally tranquil and gnarly  Nile . We launched just a few kilometres outside Jinja spending the day navigating  8 rapids and  21 kilometres of this spectacular river .

 

Don't run

Don’t run

 

Stay seated in the crash position.

Stay seated in the crash position.

 

Our crew , The captain and navigator mad Matt with a genuine mullet , yes he had lost a bet , Henk and Family from just outside Amsterdam and the man from Toulouse who did not get my joke about Boeing , Oh and not forgetting Solo , Victoria had to sit this one out. The day starts off with instruction and a couple of drills and once that is over it is time to RAFT. You kick off on a level 5 and spend the rest of the day between 3 and level 4 rapids , with a whole lot of time upside down , inside out and being spun around . I had a blast and the great thing about the rafting is that you spend the whole day on the Nile either swimming alongside the boat , enjoying the beautiful countryside or getting machine washed , spun and dried . Our raft did seem to have a flipping disorder so we did spend most rapids sub surface.

 

What NOW !

What NOW !

 

The soak before the spin.

The soak before the spin.

 

The highlight for me was when our raft found that sweet spot in the rapid and there we surfed on the spot the raft a boil under bum for about 20 seconds before being spat out and of course flipped . A day of turmoil and tranquillity and we only used a mere  21 Km of the mighty  6400 km length of the Nile.

Henk thanks so much for the footage  , the ski helmet with camera was a fantastic idea.

So the day came to an end with a rain storm to rival the rapids and we set off for home some full of chatter others full of thoughts.

 

Thanks Adrift

Thanks Adrift

 

Until we meet again.

 

 

 

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Speke of the Source

Today a little calmer than yesterday as I went in search of the source of the Nile , I thought it appropriate as I am making my way to the end where she finds the Mediterranean and will travel through all the countries she touches on her way to the sea.  After those compulsory pancakes and nutella , Victoria and I made our way into Jinja about 18 or 20 kilometres away to track down the source . It was much easier for us , since Speke’s discovery there are many more signposts and willing bystanders to point you in the right direction.

 

A school hall I passed while riding to the Nile.

A school hall I passed while riding to the Nile.

 

Street in Jinja

Street in Jinja

 

After entering the park it is just a short walk down to the river where one can hire a boat to take you out to the actual source , also hard to miss . I joined forces with a UN representative on leave from South Sudan , his girlfriend and a father and son team from the USA. We hired a boat and once on the water a guide appeared , like a genie to educate us on all things from the birdlife , the source , Lake Victoria , the prison , the old harbour and the 4000 litre per second spring found at the source , a very valuable addition to the crew was our genie.

While waiting to take a photograph at the source a school tour arrived on the source on mass and I was asked to pose initially with the staff and following that with every child on the tour , laughter and jokes all round , we had so much of  fun as they say in the classics . When I enquired as to why they wanted pictures with me , the short answer was that Mzungu ‘s  just look so different . Who said all whites look alike ?

 

Mzungu and the staff.

Mzungu and the staff.

 

One of the many delightful children I spent time with , posing on the Nile.

One of the many delightful children I spent time with , posing on the Nile.

 

The block that starts the Nile.

The block that starts the Nile.

From here it was a short tour on the lake passing a local fishing village , the old harbour and the prison. From here it was back to the mainland for goodbyes and well wishes .Thanks Josh and friends for a super afternoon.

 

The fishing village gives a new meaning to having your work at your doorstep.

The fishing village gives a new meaning to having your work at your doorstep.

 

Vic and I rode into town , stopped off for a coffee and walkabout before heading back to the Haven . Uganda and her people , so warm , so friendly and thank you for making my heart smile so  whenever we meet and greet . You truly are the rarest  of pearls .

Until we meet again.

 

 

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Slippin and Sipi

While waiting to be visafied by the Egyptians I have really being enjoying my time in Uganda , exploring Jinja and taking a side trip up to Sipi Falls , which border the Mt Elgon National Park very close to the Kenyan border . This area is well known for its natural beauty , mountains and of course the waterfalls that are numerous in number . Sipi Falls is only about 230 kilometres away from Jinja and an easy 4 hour ride , initially through villages , small towns , agricultural lands flowing to the beautiful mountains , that just beckon one with whispers of come hike , come walk my slippery slopes and be taken by my beauty , I will show you many wonders .

 

As riding into Sipi you are met with this visual delight.

As riding into Sipi you are met with this visual delight.

 

On arrival I had to find accommodation or at the very least a flat surface to pitch the tent , in this , a very steep place , I whipped out the trusty guide made a mental note of around four places on the list and off I went to go and investigate . I have come to realise the a guide book is just that a guide , the other realisation is that the guide book is often a little to generous in description and the words don’t align with what meets the eye. After looking at around 5 places I settled on the Lacam Lodge that fell in the middle of the offering , that been said still not great value but lovely views .

 

La Cam lodge

La Cam lodge

 

I unpacked , met my compulsory guide Eric , not the famous Eric the half a bee from the Pythons , just Eric the sure footed as I would later observe . Off we set to hike the middle and top waterfalls leaving the main attraction for the next morning . As we set off I enquired as to the shoes Eric had chosen to hike in , mine ready for anything including a mud slide I thought , his for walking from the desk to the coffee machine on the 13th floor . He assured me he could hike these trails in any form of footwear , years of practice he told me.

 

Eric , his hiking attire , please take note of those shoes.

Eric , his hiking attire , please take note of those shoes.

The hike starts within meters of the lodge and the paths are narrow , steep and slippery from the go get , pole  and all the correct hiking gear off Eric and I set to explore. Sipi really offers spectacular hiking with scenery and greenery to get lost in .

 

View up to the middle set off falls

View up to the middle set off falls

 

The path up

The path up

Even by this stage I quickly came to the realisation that Eric was half mountain goat , half man , he often had to stop and wait while I caught up , trying not to view the scenery  from the seated position or lying on my back . As we walked the rain came down  , the mist shrouded us in mystery and the beauty became more dramatic . Eric often stopped to give his shoes a clean , he was fastidious that way , keeping those shoes pristine in very challenging conditions .

 

First stop , enjoying the spray after the exertion.

First stop , enjoying the spray after the exertion.

 

caveman in cave .

caveman in cave .

 

Tropical delight.

Tropical delight.

 

Magical mist

Magical mist

 

silhouetting

silhouetting

 

Still higher we hiked , Eric on occasion dabbing his forehead with his dapper white handkerchief , me on the other hand sweating profusely , puffing like a steam train and using waterfalls and my entire top to remove the perspiration from my  head , then washing my hands in the streams to remove the blood red mud from the hands that found the floor more and more to stop a slip or slide . Damn I was enjoying this , being out in the mountains was just wonderful.

 

The wet look.

The wet look.

 

Doing what they do best , the camouflage guy .

Doing what they do best , the camouflage guy .

Eventually we arrived at the top fall to briefly enjoy the views and vistas  , then to turn on a dime to try and get off the mountain before the sun left to rise elsewhere and leave us in darkness with the stars as our only light . On the way down we met a couple of Eric’s friends who thought it a good idea to join the hike to the bottom following which they would turn around and return to their kingdoms in the sky.

 

On our way home

On our way home

 

The setting sun as we made it back in to Sipi Village.

The setting sun as we made it back in to Sipi Village.

 

The hike down was amazing passing mountain homesteads at heights and on slopes  where angels fear to tread and the lower we got the villages  huddled in small communities all living off the land . On the return trip I got the low down on life in Sipi  , like who owned what , life around the falls , general  statistics like who stole what and how much from the various lodge owners , the dangerous drivers and the fatalities since the arrival of tar  , school life , how some guides took dollar liberties with the tourists they guided , which lodges offered value , according to Ericpedia  not to many and so my education continued in the rain all the way down the mountain . We arrived back just after seven , just in time for a shower and dinner. I wanted to get to bed early as Eric had convinced me to do the 4h40 am wake up , to hike up the mountain to enjoy the  sunrise , so after a very disappointing dinner of tyre chicken and onion sludge , oh sorry I meant to say soup  it was off to bed , to await my four forty wake up call.

It came in a blink , Eric at the door , torch in hand  and American Hip hop attire for our  sunrise  hike . We set off under the starlight for our destination view point.

 

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

 

The main fall in the background.

The main fall in the background.

 

Land kissed by the morning light.

Land kissed by the morning light.

 

From here we made our way down to the main falls which was going to be an adventure in itself , If I thought yesterday was steep and slippery , today was to offer a boost to my hiking confidence .

 

Eric's ladder not to be confused with Jacobs , that offers a almost vertical trip down and of course up.

Eric’s ladder not to be confused with Jacobs , that offers a almost vertical trip down and of course up.

 

On the way down.

On the way down.

 

The bottom

The bottom

 

On the way up and out , a beautiful steep forest walk.

On the way up and out , a beautiful steep forest walk.

 

The morning light as it enters the valley.

The morning light as it enters the valley.

 

The hike up involved the usual , Eric cleaning his hip hop sneakers and waiting for me to catch up , me stopping to take in the views and to remove the burn from my lungs  , worth every huff and puff , Sipi’s beauty to be savoured. Back at the lodge , I had a beautiful view over the valley while I showered , then ran ravenous up to breakfast , after which I decided that I would rather spend my time on the Nile in Jinja at the Haven , where the food and service only delight . I think the Haven has spoilt all other places I might visit , by setting such a high standard of excellence . So breakfast done I packed up Victoria and we took on the road back home to the Haven.

 

Town of Mbale

Town of Mbale

Mbale the last big town before Jinja so off to get fuel and then through the traffic and street market to the open road . I arrived back late afternoon to a very warm welcome , just before a huge storm to enjoy a cuppa and then to settle into my Banda for the next couple of days. I will stay down here until I get word that my passport is en route , I will then head back to Kampala to get ready to leave Uganda for Kenya . I will do a little more maintenance on the scooter and pick up a few supplies , as I am going to try and miss Nairobi and just head North towards the Ethiopian border , passing through Kenya fairly quickly to enjoy more time further North .

 

Sunrise on the Nile

Sunrise on the Nile

 

My Banda for the next couple of days.

My Banda for the next couple of days.

 

Victoria enjoying sunrise on the Nile.

Victoria enjoying sunrise on the Nile.

 

Morning mist hovering over the rapids.

Morning mist hovering over the rapids.

 

Until we meet again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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