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Published: January 28th 2018
We had a very pleasant evening sitting around the pool and sipping cold beers after our day with the gorillas. Cepha's Inn was a very nice spot and Monica and I would probably have upgraded from our tent to a room, however, we were only staying one night. I had showered (cold but not freezing) after the gorilla trek and had folded my sweaty clothes into a bag to be dealt with later. We left early the next morning heading towards Kampala. It was a 400km. drive on so-so roads to Kampala and we had another hour driving through the city core and out the other side to our new camp site. Earlier on the safari, we had driven west through Tanzania towards Rwanda and cut under Lake Victoria on the south side. Now in Uganda, we were heading east and passing over Lake Victoria on the north side. The one stop we made on the way was at the equator. Climbing slightly northward to reach Kampala, we pulled over at a somewhat remote sight with a few gift kiosks dotting the roadside. There was a sign saying equator and a yellow line painted on the ground. The unique spectacle was
the three bowls - one sitting ten feet south of the equator, another ten feet north, and the third in the middle, right on the equator. In short, each sink was filled with water and a flower blossom was placed on the water. When the plug was pulled and the water drained, the blossom spun counter-clockwise north of the equator, and clockwise south of the equator. When the water was drained from the sink located directly upon the equator, the water did not spin at all - it simply drained straight down. It sounds very simple but is actually quite amazing when you realize these three sinks were only ten feet apart. Also, for all you beer drinkers like me, one weighs 3% lighter when standing directly upon the equator.
We spent the night at the Red Chile Hideaway and the ride was rougher and longer for me as my shoulders were aching from the gorilla trek. My legs were fine however all the grasping and pulling needed to handle oneself on the very steep jungle slopes certainly gave my upper body a full workout. We stopped in Kampala at a Shoprite Supermarket for supplies. It was
by far the best grocery store I have ever visited anywhere in the world including North America. And the wine selection was outstanding - a much needed boost after the gorillas. Kampala, although basically unknown in the western world, is a thriving metropolis of over 1.5 million. It is the capital of Uganda both politically and economically. Skyscrapers cover the inner core and practically every sign is in English. The roads, twisting through the Ugandan mountains were paved and in good shape.
Again we stayed only one night and left for Jinja the next morning, continuing our safari eastward. Just short of our camp, we crossed the Nile River looking down upon a huge dam and hydro station. Later, I was told that Uganda had sold the dam and all its power to Kenya. Sounds like us selling all the power from Niagara Falls to the US. The Nile starts at Lake Victoria, (although many claim its source is well south of that) and flows north, emptying into the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria. It is some 6,853 km. long - the longest river in the world. (some claim the Amazon is longer). The White Nile is the
our crow's nest retreat
sipping coffee, watching the monkeys and enjoying being alone together
primary stream while the Blue Nile flows out of Ethiopia and joins the White at Khartoum. Many claim its actual source are the Great Lakes in Rwanda and Burundi. The Nile flows through eleven countries - Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, D.R. Congo, Uganda and Eritrea.
We stayed in the NRE camp - the Nile River Explorers camp. This was definitely a step up. The campsites were located right on a kind of cliff that overlooked the Nile. Upgrades included cabins as well as larger tents with actual beds raised off the floor. Again this sounds simple or petty, but sleeping on the ground is something our bodies need time to adjust to - it is such a convenience to swing your legs out of bed and be in a standing position instead of clambering around on hands and knees trying to crawl out of a tent so one can finally emerge upright! Anyway, we stayed in our tent for the three nights at the NRE in Jinja. They offered everything from white water rafting, to canoeing, to horse back riding. They also offered a Sunset Cruise on the Nile and this proved
John, our friend and server
he spent an entire evening opening up to us about his life.... referred to us as his mama and papa
to be a moment of truth for our group. Our group had shrunk again in Kampala as Lauren, the women from Bristol, and Emily and Camilia, the two Danish women, went their separate ways. We were now down to eleven and all chose to do the cruise on the first night. It included a dinner - which in reality was no more than a cluster of appetizers - however, the liquor was free as well. They did not offer wine so Monica drank very little while I had a few beers. But the rest of our group drank heavily including taking shots and drinking straight out of vodka a bottle once we returned. Monica and I went to bed relatively early. The next morning was very painful. While Monica and I sipped coffee from a kind of raised lookout overlooking the Nile, watching two dozen or so monkeys frolicking in the trees around us, the rest of our group arose in a kind of zombie state. Not only were most of the group hungover, they also were starting to remember fragments of what they had actually said the night before. The revelations were, shall I say, revealing. Sidestepping the drama,
the next morning proved to be a rough day especially for the half dozen who had committed to white water rafting. Monica and I spent the day in the bar, writing and using the internet. On our third and final day, Emma discovered a bar with a pool just behind and out of sight from the NRE. Fully recovered, (young people are so resilient) we all had a great time at the Black Lantern, swimming in their pool and drinking beer. I believe this is the only pool I have ever been in that allowed glass bottles in the actual water. By mid-afternoon we were creating ways of convincing Chris, our guide and leader, to stay in Jinja for another day. But at dinner, Chris explained that we were due out of Uganda the next day and into Kenya. No messing around with these East African visas.
The group had kind of 'jelled' in Jinja. It was now down to Chris and Laura, the young couple from London; Rhoyce and Maddie, a young couple from just outside of Sydney; Christine, Rhoyce's mother; Yetta, a Dutch women from Amsterdam; Emma, another women from Holland who had gone to
school in England; Ethan, a middle aged man from China who had been raised in the US and was now residing in Shanghai; Andrew, a very young Aussie with an Asian background who is just about to start med school; and finally Monica and myself. We were due for another long five or six hour drive plus a border crossing into Kenya the next day, however a combination of the gorilla trek and our time in Jinja had made everyone more at ease as we looked forward to our final week together.
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