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Camel World  



Travel Diary - 2003
5 January | Senegal
22 January |Gambia
18 January |Guinea
9 February | Mali
22 February | Burkina Faso
3 March | Ghana
19 March | Togo
20 March | Benin
25 March | Niger
12 April | Chad
15 April | Cameroon
16 April | Nigeria
30 April | Congo
24 May | RDC
31 May | Angola
5 June | Namibia
27 June | South Africa
30 August | Lesotho
10 September | Swaziland
9 October | Botswana
17 October | Namibia
19 October |
29 October | Malawi
4 November |Mozambique
16 November | Tanzania
12 December | Rwanda
16 December | RDC
18 December | Uganda
24 December | Kenya

Travel Diary - 2004
9 January | Ethiopia
6 February | Sudan
21 February | Saudi Arabia
23 February | Jordan
3 March | Syria
5 March | Turkey
12 March | Greece
21 March | ...And Home


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17 months, 43 countries, and 2 vehicles


Another Bloody Border Crossing

After an easy exit from DC it was a nightmare of waiting and arguing to get into Uganda. Once the immigration officer had finally turned up the argument about the 40,000 shilling ($20) carnet fee began - and went on and on. Eventually, without any way of phoning the British Embassy (I can't make calls despite getting a signal), and after I'd been threatened with both arrest and deportation I paid up with a complete absence of good grace.

I'm not sure what the deal was, but I think that the fee may actually have had nothing to do with the carnet - it may just have been the equivalent of road tax - I guess I'll find out in Kampala.

So now I'm sitting by the side of Lake Bunyonyi with a beer by my side after a good days organising of the car, laundry, and myself, and looking forwards to heading north to Port Portal.

Kabale, Kampala, Jinja and Sipi

So of course the carnet fee was a total load of bollocks, and as soon as I get a  moment I'll be informing the Ugandan anti-corruption commission of the events.... Don't expect I'll get the money back though, but at least I don't mind spending so little time in the country now.

After a couple of nights at The luxurious Overlanders Campsite in Bunyonyi I headed off to Kabale National Park with Alex, a German guy who I'd first met in Dar, and again at Bunyonyi.

Our first big problem was when we arrived at the supposed equator only to find that it was 200 meters too far south, as determined by my GPS. This of course offended Alex's Teutonic sense of correctness, so we set up a new line across the road in the right place, and marked it with a couple of stone cairns. Once satisfied that everything was correct an in ordnung he agreed that we might now continue to Kabale.

After a night at the pretty basic campsite we spent the morning in the forest tracking chimps, and after a brush with a few ranging males we managed to find a large group of about 20 chimps which kept us amused for an hour or so as they had a few fights, ate figs, and then tried to piss and shit on us.

Most of the time they stayed high in the canopy, but a couple of times groups would descend to ground level and wander about on some mission or other. It was a great way to spend the morning, especially if you like chimps, and at $45 worked out at pretty good value in my book. But then it did involve monkeys...

From Kabale we took the terrible road to Kampala, picking up my first jack fruit along the way. Jack fruit are large knobbly green things about the size of a basketball, if not larger, and shaped like an oversized mango. The flesh is a remarkable mixture of some gum stuff which is great to chew, and which the locals use as fly paper, and the flesh which comes as a series of plum sized segments clustered around a series of large pips, and which tasted of cream, apple, pear, and a few other fruits all at the same time, while having the texture of lychees. All in all a very satisfying experience - I'll look forward to paying a fortune for one back in Europe.

At Kampala we chilled out for the weekend - I managed to catch Lord of the Rings Part 2, but didn't get the chance to see part 3 which was also on... It had been a while since my last bout of adrenalin action - the choice was either to raft or bungee jump at Jinja, or of course take a motorcycle taxi around town. I chose the scariest option - and it only cost a dollar a ride.

Satisfied and suitably chastened I drove up to Jinja to check out the source of the Nile (I didn't expect much so I wasn't disappointed). After a muddy night at the Nile River Explorers I drove on to Sipi, a beautiful area which is famous for a series of three amazing waterfalls, as well as the Crows Nest, a campsite with a fantastic view of the main falls.

The only reason for not visiting Sipi is that the local community have absolutely now idea about how to extract money from tourists - if you want to walk to the falls you pass a series of rickets gates, some less than 50 meters apart, where half-wits ask you for money. If you are an Israeli apparently, the form is to barge them out of the way, and pretty soon I began to appreciate the simplicity of their approach. Dickheads deserve each other.

The following morning, Christmas Eve, I spent the morning winding my way around mount Elgin amid spectacular scenery before arriving at another border post. I examined with interest the safe that lay on the lawn outside the immigration office that had been peeled open and looted when Idi was overthrown, just before the mob fired all the official buildings. I wonder if they paused for a moment to think about who would pay for them to be rebuilt?