We spent a relaxing weekend in Kitale eating lots of delicious home cooked food including a Goan feast with potato chops and chicken xacuti. It was great being back there 17 years later, and although Kitale town seems to have expanded and the hustle and bustle increased, Uncle Effie and Aunty Celia's house was just as I remembered it and I was as astonished by the tropical fruit growing in their garden (avocados, mangos, matoke, guava, lemons etc) as I was aged 11! It was lovely to see Margaret again (their maid) and also to see how excited she was to see us.
After a couple of days of home comforts we hit the road again and headed for the Kenyan/Ugandan border. The guide book said it should be around a 3 hour journey from the beginning to our end destination, a town called Mbale, however, our experience was a little different. It took 4 hours to just get to the border on a very over-crowded matatu, sometimes with 21 passengers on board cramped into a 14 minibus seats ; personal space becomes non-existent and you get very well acquainted with your neighbour's body odour! Along the way there was
plenty to entertain us including the driver stopping to get the 7 extra passengers out of the bus and onto bodabodas to pass through a police check point, and then reloading the passengers as soon as the police were out of sight.
When we finally arrived at the border we were abruptly thrown off the bus and told to jump on a bodaboda because there were too many vehicles backed up queuing to cross. After a very hot matatu ride again on the Ugandan side of the border, we finally reached Mbale at 4pm, after a total of 7 hours on the road..!
The next day we had a much more pleasant journey out to Sipi, a very picturesque town, home to the 3 tiers of Sipi falls which we were able to view from our traditional style banda (clay & bamboo).
Within a few minutes of arriving at our campsite we were met by Tom, a very charismatic local tour guide/wheeler dealer/Del Boy, who quickly signed us up for a 2 day tour including trekking right up to each of the 3 waterfalls, abseiling down the third and largest waterfall (100m), a local lunch of matoke,
Our massive local lunch
beans, spinach, chapatis and beef stew, a lesson in coffee making and a trip to the local pub.
We had an incredible 2 days and highlights were the abseiling (stepping down onto a metal bar and leaning away from the cliff was terrifying, however, when we got going the view was brilliant), having a cold shower in the waterfall, and the friendliness and welcoming nature of everyone we met. It was definitely a highlight of our trip so far.
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