The Pearl Of Africa
Arriving to Entebbbe
The trip to Uganda was a very spontaneous decision. Corona and the associated restrictions made the choice of the destination a little more difficult. We were also worried that problems with the return flight could occur if the incidence was too high.Therefore, we spontaneously booked via Klüger Reisen. One thing in advance: From our point of view, Klüger Reisen is fully recommended. This is where professional competence and Romeo Klüger’s (the owner) own experience come along.The trip was perfectly organised and the partners of Klüger Reisen – Kazinga-Tours – did a great job.
We felt very comfortable. This was certainly also due to our guide and driver, our friend Innocent, with whom we are still in contact today. The migration into Uganda worked without significant complications and in front of the airport, Innocent was already waiting with a big grin. We were a little exhausted from the flight so we went with our minibus directly to the hotel. The hotel was completely empty. It seemed as if we were the only guests and at the latest at breakfast this was also confirmed. We were actually here alone. However, we were made an elaborate large breakfast for that.There was plenty of fruit. In addition, eggs in different variations, pancakes and much more. Quite a lot of effort for only 2 people.Of course, this was not feasible for us to eat everything they offered and we think that the hotel employees were happy about it afterwards.
Traveling in Uganda
After breakfast, Innocent is already waiting for us in the hotel lobby. It really starts today. We drive towards Jinja to the source of the Nile. Before that, however, a stopover will be made at the UWA to pick up our Gorilla Permits. But then it finally goes out of town.
Kampala and surroundings seem to be a complete chaos at first glance. We had already been told in advance that we would experience a completely different Africa than, for example, in Botswana or Namibia. This can only be confirmed. The whole thing is very busy. In general, you can tell a lot about traffic in general and in cities in particular:
The roads are challenging sometimes. The traffic is for Europeans a bit, lets say unclear, driving in Uganda looks a bit like an adventure. Traffic lights? Yes, there were some in the past and it did not work well, so we abolished them again. That’s we have been told and yes, this is a joke. In the big cities you also find traffic lights. However, it seems sometimes that they are more recommendations than rules.
Whilst traveling from Entebbe to Kampala and around the country you can expect to find it slightly overwhelming. Uganda has prospered recently and there has been a significant increase in the number of vehicles on the roads. Uganda follows the left-sided rule of driving. Transportation in such a huge country is important and the structure is strange for those who are not used to it. There are several options for public transport and they all come with different advantages and let’s say challenges.
Boda Boda cycles
The Boda Boda are the transportation of choice in the cities as well as in rural areas. These can be either bicycles or motorbikes although, in the larger towns, motorbikes are more common. The name originated from when persons traveling between the border posts of Uganda and Kenya would take a bicycle taxi. The owners of the bicycle would attract customers by shouting “boda boda” (border border). The boda boda drivers drop customers at their destinations. They, however, often do not wear helmets and don’t always follow traffic regulations.
The Boda Boda is not only used for the transport of people (many people, on one Boda Boda – I guess the max at least what we saw, was a Boda Boda with a driver plus 3 people and a chicken and some shopping bags). It is also possible to transport a 10 m long ladder sideways – we have seen that as well. Everything is possible in Uganda.
The matatus are 14-seater minibuses, often white with blue stripes. They usually drive along predetermined routes and only leave when they are full. They are fast, numerous and, outside Kampala, are often overloaded by people and the load as such. There is nothing which doesn’t fit into or on them. You can see these minibuses everywhere and it is typical that the „conductor“ who sits next to the driver offers with a loud voice free available seats. I am not so sure to recommend using those minibuses although I believe that this can be a real exciting and special experience.
These vary from large international buses traveling between Kampala and Nairobi or Dar Es Salaam to seventy-seater buses traveling between the larger towns in Uganda and to and from Kampala. Although some of the services are safe and reliable, many of the buses drive at terrifyingly fast speeds.We’ve been told that inside the country they follow a strict route around the country usually going form Kampala back to Kampala while surrounding almost the complete country. Means you travel for a long period.
Pedestrians, some pushing heavily-loaded wheelbarrows, also use the roads as there are no pavements on most roads. You can also observe self made pedal scooters. The phantasy and the creativity of the Ugandans has not limit! Those pedal scooters are made from wood and they use parts of old tires mounted to the wooden wheels to achieve more comfort. Outworn „Flip Flop“ shoes are used as a break. What is most impressive is that they are used to transport bananas which can have a weight of 35 – 50 kg when they come as a bunch.
Of course you can find also other vehicles on the roads and beside the „special hire“ vehicles – which are also taxis and more according to Western understanding, you may find many 4 x 4 private vehicles, pick up trucks (attention also often overloaded with big bunches of matooke or big bags with charcoal or even with long-horned Acholi cattle. You might see a lot of container trucks especially on the main road between Kenya boarder and Kampala as well as transports for oil.
On the water
As Uganda has a lot of beautiful lakes and rivers also boats are an important transport option.Btw we learned that even on a very small motorboat you can transport a Boda Boda. See one of the pictures in the next gallery. The 125 km we have to drive today stretch. Above all, the traffic around Kampala cost a lot of time. You really have to get used to it first. Of course, we need a little more than the planned 3.5 hours. But then we arrive at „The Nile Porch“ our hotel for the next night.
We want to visit the source of the nile in the afternoon.
The Source of the Nile
The search for the source of the Nile dates back to the time of Julius Caesar. The Romans had already searched for the actual source of the Nile and Caesar had to decide whether to meet Cleopatra or look for the source himself. In the end, he probably sent two centurions. According to legend, the heart of Sir David Livingston, the famous Africa researcher, was buried at the foot of a baobab tree after his death. At this point, a small stream is supposed to spring and, according to reports, make their way to Lake Victoria. Is this the true origin of the Nile?
The search for the true and real source of the Nile will probably never be over and if you agree on it, there are several origins that lead to one of the largest rivers on earth. Wait, isn’t the Nile the largest river on earth? Well, it depends on where it is measured from and there is still a discussion about whether the Nile or the Amazon is the longest one.
In Uganda you can also find one of the numerous Nile springs in the middle of Lake Victoria. Here there is a place where the so-called White Nile springs from the lake. The Nile changes its name in the course of its journey through Uganda. So there is first the so-called Viktoria Nile, who later becomes Albert Nile on his journey before he becomes the White Nile. Finally, the White and Blue Nile then converge in Khartum in Sudan and form the river simply called Nile by the Egyptians.
However, the origins already lie in the tributaries of Lake Victoria.
Jinja – The Source of the Nile
Jinja is Uganda’s fourth largest city. Just outside the city is the beautiful lodge „The Nile Porch“ . On the slope above the Nile you have a fantastic view over the river and the waterfront.
Red-tailed monkeys romp through the trees and they are not exactly anxious. Either you can watch them very nicely from your own tent or you can sit comfortably in the outdoor bar of the lodge and enjoy the cheerful hustle and bustle in the trees.
The red-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius) is a species of Old World monkey found in several African countries including Uganda. In Uganda, they are found in the country’s tropical rainforests, including Kibale National Park and Budongo Forest Reserve. These monkeys are small to medium-sized, with reddish-brown fur and a distinctive long red tail. They are arboreal, spending most of their time in trees, and are active during the day. They are primarily herbivorous, feeding on fruits, leaves, flowers, and sometimes insects.
Red-tailed monkeys are social animals, living in groups of up to 20 individuals. They have a complex social structure, with a dominant male leading the group and multiple females and juveniles. They communicate with each other through vocalizations and body language. Red-tailed monkeys are listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but their populations are threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation and human activities such as logging and agriculture. Conservation efforts are underway in Uganda to protect their habitats and promote sustainable land use practices.
To the source of the Nile.
The source of the Nile is best reached by boat, as it is more or less in the Lake Victoria. At least if you want to believe the sign placed there. On the 3rd In 1858, John Henning Speke, an English researcher and explorer, discovered the source of the Nile. The fact is that this discovery resulted in a lifelong feud with his expeditionary friend Richard Francis Burton. Both had the task of localising the source area and could not reach an agreement throughout their lives and both insisted on their theories. Before there was a final debate, Speke suffered a hunting accident in which he died. The small spot along the coast in Jinja marks the place where Speke discovered the source area of the Nile in Lake Victoria.
Today it says here – quite unspectacular a sign that springs at this point the longest river on earth. However, the bar built in the middle of the lake is not so unspectacular. Unfortunately, it was closed at the time of our visit. This was primarily due to the fact that hardly any tourists came to visit in 2021.
The boat trip on the Nile and Lake Victoria is still a great adventure. Especially the bird lovers among us and the wildlife photographers will like it very much. In addition to cormorants, pelicans and many other waterfowl, kingfishers are mainly around here.
Our friendly guide and skipper took some extra rounds for us so that we could take some great pictures of the feathered friends on the shoreside. It is already very dark in the shore thicket. Therefore, in addition to a steady hand, a high ISO is definitely recommended for our photo friends. The Nile and Lake Victoria are both usually a little restless and the boats rock quite a bit. To keep a malachite kingfisher in the viewfinder, let alone in focus, is a real challenge. You can find out more about Uganda’s kingfishers in a later blog post.
The boat trip to the source of the Nile is great and worthwhile, especially if you like to go boating anyway. Your travel guides will bring you together with the right people and then go on an adventure equipped with a decent life jacket.
A great day with very nice people and many beautiful memories and so by the way, the dispute over the actual source continues to this day. Nevertheless, we can highly recommend the trip to this one very special source.
"Africa has her mysteries, and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them" — Miriam Makeba
“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that's all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.” ― Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
“The more you learn about the dignity of the gorilla, the more you want to avoid people.” - Diane Fossey