As many of you might already know I left for Uganda on the 27th July for volunteer work in Fort Portal with a company called Africa Sustainable Tourism Care Foundation. The reason I chose Uganda was because my father was originally from there and I wanted to see the country he grew up in. After I finished my volunteer work I spent two weeks with my dad looking at his old home and school, and also going on a safari. The rest of this write up looks at all the activities I did whilst I was in Uganda.
Fort Portal: Volunteer Work
Some of you may have ready my other blog page where I talk about the different tasks I was given whilst I was working on the water wells.
First, I worked on a water well they had already started, and I was helping them to finish it. This allowed me to see they way they were currently constructing the spring water wells.
The second well I worked on was where I spent most of my time during the three weeks. Originally the foundation had built this well in April of this year, however within a week of construction the water in the well was no longer coming out the tap they had built. The locals of the village removed all the rocks from the well, so that I was able to see the way they had constructed the well. They were trying to capture spring water through a wall which had a tap in it to let the water pass through. However, they were not blocking the sides or the floor meaning the water was able to leak out the sides through the soil and not travel towards the tap. I suggested we build a concrete floor and side walls to create a box like structure to capture the water allowing it to then reach the tap.
Fort Portal: Amabere Caves
Translation: breasts – because apparently the formations in the caves is like breasts.
The caves themselves were tiny and not fascinating. There were stalactites and stalagmites forming in the caves and according to the locals the stalactites look likes a pair of breasts that’s why they named the place Amabere caves. Be warned to anyone who wants to visit, the way they take toy means that at the end you have to walk up a little hill, but the trees are so low down that you end up having to crawl up the hill. My bag got stuck a few times. After the caves they take you for a walk where you can see crater lakes. Unfortunately, it was rather misty so the visibility was poor. I then went up a hill which was tough, and it started to chuck it down with rain making it very wet. The view at the top was great, and I got to see all the crater lakes in the area. I just wish the rain would have stopped whilst I was at the top and not once I got back to the floor.
Fort Portal: Ruboni Hill – Rwenzori Mountains
I feel no sense of achievement having climbed 2300 m in 3.5 hours. I actually felt so tired, drained, and wanted to cry. My legs hurt so badly and I they felt like they would buckle on the way down. I fell so many times when I went down the steep sections. The guide was a local to the area and lives on the hill so was used to climbing it every day. For a novice like me it felt like torture. The area was nice and I am sure I would have appreciated it if I was able to casually walk up there.
Entebbe: Lido Beach
My dad used to be able to swim in Lake Victoria, but now there is a snail which has taken over the lake meaning no one can swim in it. Lots of businesses have bought properties along the lake making the lake private, meaning just so that my dad could see the lake we had to pay. It was the equivalent of £2 so not too expensive, but when beaches in the UK are free it seems silly we have to pay.
Entebbe: The Zoo
We went to the zoo to kill some time and because it was recommended but don’t go. After I saw the animals in the wild enjoying life in the open space, looking back at the zoo was a waste of money. Yes you get to see animals if you can’t go on a safari but they keep them in such small enclosures.
My dad and I visited Kampala and stayed there for a few days because this is where he lived when he was younger and he wanted to visit the area. I got to see his old school, where his house used to be, the streets he walked on etc.. Unless you have a reason to visit Kampala do not go. It is so busy and manic and everyone just drives everywhere, it definitely doesn’t feel safe. I do recommend seeing Kabaka Palace. It used to be where the King of Buganda Kingdom lived but now he doesn’t stay there as previous presidents who claimed themselves as King’s killed and tortured people there.
The following was all booked through Uzuri Safaris.
Murchison National Park
Hotel: Murchison River Lodge, a posh style tent with all food included.
On the way up to Murchison National Park from Kampala we visited Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This Rhino Sanctuary houses the few remaining Rhinos in Uganda, but they hope to expand and breed the White Rhinos to allow the species to thrive. You walk through an area in hope to see Rhino’s. I was lucky enough to see about 10.
The next day we woke up for a 6:30 am start and drove to the other side of the park to where we were staying. We had to get a ferry to get across the river first. Then we drove for about 4 – 5 hours around the national park. I was able to see giraffes, a lion, hippos, monkeys, elephants and so many other local animals that I don’t remember the name of. After the safari we went back to the river and went on a three hour boat ride towards Murchison Falls (waterfall), and long the way we saw animals feeding at the river and also a crocodile sunbathing.
The last day at Murchison National Park included visiting Budongo Forest first, then we visited the top of the waterfall. The forest was my favourite part, you walk around for a couple of hours in hope to see some chimpanzees in the wild. My favourite animal by far and my favourite experience. We were walking through the forest for 30 minutes and then we heard the chimps so we followed the noise. Even the guide could not spot them but I saw 3 chimpanzees sat on the floor within a 5 meter distance from me. Then I looked up and I was surrounded by chimps even babies just feeding in the wild. It was amazing, I never want to see chimps in an enclosed area anymore. After seeing the swing through the trees and feed off the leaves and floor, I couldn’t imagine them being kept in a small area. I learnt that chimps make nests to sleep in, and how they were very clever at knowing which trees would help them if they were poorly. After this we drove to the top of the waterfall and it was so powerful, the sheer force of the water being forced through the narrow neck from the larger upper course of the river. It was amazing to see the fast flowing waterfall entering the calm river lower down.
Our time in Jinja was short and my dad was able to see where his cousin used to live and the streets he used to visit. We had two activities in Jinja, the first was an ATV drive and the second was a boat trip to the source of the Nile. The ATV drive was fun, going around the River Nile and seeing the locals living in the more countryside locations. I chose an automatic ATV where all you had to do was press a button and you went. It took time to get used to turning corners though, and we even went on the road with them. The boat trip was really boring and I wanted to sleep, however seeing where Lake Victoria started as the source of the River Nile was very interesting and you were able to get off the boat and take pictures too.
When I was in Uganda the time went slowly, but now I am back I feel like the past 5 weeks have flown by. I really enjoyed getting involved with the local community and helping the locals with the water wells. The last week in Uganda was great and I strongly recommend people visit the places away from the City.