Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Journey on the White Nile: Uganda April 2010

After a short break from my trip down memory lane, I am back today with one post on my travels in Uganda. If you are a new follower of Made in Suisse, first welcome, and second, if you would like to catch up on my previous posts on my Tanzanian memories, you can click here, here and here!

Marabout stork and Mosque, Makerere University

We left Dar es Salaam at the beginning of April 2010 and flew over the beautiful Lake Victoria to find ourselves in Uganda. We didn't let the 44kg of extra luggage stop us in our stride. The 3rd training course we taught was taking place at the Vet School at Makerere University in Kampala. I am not sure what those crazy vet students are up to in their spare time but judging by the freaky cow I encountered on the campus there, I can't be anything good!

Brown cow has a 5th leg on its back! This has NOT been Photoshopped!
During our first weekend in Uganda, we decided to go for a long walk in Mpanga forest reserve, 40km out of Kampala. Mpanga forest is worth a visit to enjoy the peace and solitude of a beautiful forest just one hour away from the noisy capital. Mpanga is home of the Ugandan Royal Drum makers. The five main tree species suitable for this traditional craft are found in the forest and at the visitor reception of the park you can learn about the drum trees.

The forest is very well known for having >100 species of butterflies! We were mostly hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare red tail colobus monkey and of many colourful birds...

Pretty tall trees!

Their bite is painful!


Check out the gigantic spider web I am standing next to!

We kept our eyes and ears wide open for monkeys but only spotted butterflies and 1 hornbill in the distance after a 3 hours walk. Never mind...

For our second weekend in Uganda, we decided to take a 2-days trip to Jinja. Jinja lies about 90 km East of Kampala, on the shores of Lake Victoria. The White Nile river starts it 6,500km journey to the Mediterranean Sea beside Jinja town. The White Nile is one of the two main tributaries of the Nile from Egypt, the other being the Blue Nile (which originates in Lake Tana in Ethiopia where I have also been!).

View from our hotel: Lake Victoria and the beginning of the White Nile

We took an afternoon boat trip on Lake Victoria to see the exact location of the source and then spent some time admiring the local wildlife surrounding the boat.

Swimming in the source of the White Nile

Giant kingfisher

Nile monitor


I decided to do something a bit crazy (when you know my usual safety-conscious self) and went rafting down rapids on the Nile. The one-day water-rafting trip consisted in 5/6 hours rafting (31 km) in grade 5 waters (definition of class 5 rafting: Whitewater, large waves, continuous rapids, large rocks and hazards,  large drop, precise maneuvering). This was my first white water-rafting experience and I did not go for an easy ride...

This was very scary but so much fun!! We only overturned the boat on 2 occasions in 5 hours of rafting which was really good actually since we were all novices!

I only stayed 2 weeks in Uganda as I needed to return to the UK for a week to have my PhD viva before the start of our 4th training course in Sénégal. My colleague stayed for an extra week in Uganda and went to the Queen Elizabeth National Park for a safari which she highly recommends. Uganda was a fantastic surprise for me. Not knowing anything about the country before coming beyond what was shown in the movie The Last King of Scotland, Uganda stroke me as a lush green country, full of very friendly and helpful people and with spectacular wildlife to rival some of its more popular neighbours (like Tanzania). Watching the sun setting over Lake Victoria was one of the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

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