Whilst we endured, rather than enjoyed Urban life in Kampala waiting for the car, a week spent there was more than enough and with the beast declared fit for the next leg, we were raring to go.
We’d spent our time staying in a fairly run-down but popular back-packers hostel, run by an Aussie for the last few years. Our room,although basic, had recently been painted, although why they had to include the mirror, basin and taps is anyone’s guess! Reasonably comfy bed, with a not too holey mosquito net insured a few good nights kip, although we always felt a bit itchy, probably a combination of damp and bed-bugs……. give me my roof-tent any day of the week!
Traffic chaos was something else. When not totally grid-locked, everyone drives like complete nutters. No-one stops at red lights, gives way,takes any notice of traffic police and we’ve encountered some crazy manoveres,not to mention the lunatics on roller- skates weavng their way in and out of all the traffic. The most common form of transport are The Boda-Boda- motobike/bicycle taxi’s, these come in all shapes and sizes and come in their thousands. Michael had a nerve racking experience travelling on few of these, when visiting the car in garage, but assured me it wasn’t for the faint-hearted and that I would have loathed it, I wasn’t about to argue, preferring to stick to a normal cab!
Michael – boda bodas are a new world – no rules, sides of road, traffic lights or other rules of the road apply. Thankfully they are only 12 HP engines. At night even worse given smog, pedestrians etc. Pavements bach u turns against traffic ti find gaps in traffic all part of the game and there are hundreds all jostling for right of way. feet and knees tucked in and hang on trying not to yelp too much is the only way.alternative takes hours.
I made a visit to the opticians- for much needed new glasses, the five pairs I started off with are either broken or scratched beyond repair. The service was surprisingly good, a free eye-test and new specs, being marginally cheaper than the UK, so one happy customer, plus I can see again, which helps, I’ve no excuse for bad map reading now!
Next it was off to the dentist to tackle my tooth-ache which has been bugging me for the last month,this visit somehow didn’t seem quite so appealing.
Luckily (or not) Dr Biren N. Yajnik seemed full of confidence, I on the other hand was not. I made Michael sit in the waiting room, in case an extraction without anathesetic occurred and he could run in and save me. Luckily this was not needed and the reasonably sensitive dentist, (who probably thought I was a complete baby) just shaved off the cusp of my, tooth and gave it a filing down. According to Michael I gnash and grind my teeth every night in my sleep, which has caused bruising, pain and jaw ache. Some say it’s stress, but I think it’s simply from watching too many Croccodiles!
He also gave them a much needed clean,with what,I can only describe as lemon juice or possisbly battery acid, anyway,something that makes everything curl up!
PS- It has improved things slightly and I’m hoping I can hold out until we get back,otherwise I’m worried M will send me to The Witch- Doctor.
Left Kampala and drove to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary (last one shot here in 1983 this is a project to reintroduce although not north african sub species), here they protect the re-introduced White Rhino ( from Kenya & S Africa) and just happen to have a camp-site. we just wanted to break up the long journey to Murchison Falls, so decided to spend a night.Surrounded by a substantial green metal fence, obviously to keep us in and the Rhino out, I jokingly commented to the girl in charge” I bet they don’t come anywhere near the campsite” (they have 7,000 hectares in which to roam) to which she replied “oh but they do sometimes.”
Enjoying a drink sometime later and Michael taking a shower, I looked up from my book,only to find five massive Rhino a few metres away. Thankful for the metal fence, I reached for the camera, hoping Michael would make an appearance soon and not miss out on this incredible sight. Sure enough, he was soon done, just as another group appeared, this was fantastic! However, it felt like we were the ones caged in, with them looking in on us……which of course we were.
Inside the cage about 7m from our table
The guides in the area told us not to take photo’s, as a new group of people were on their way and as we hadn’t paid for Rhino tracking as such, so we were’nt to disturb them and cause them to leave. The so-called new group turned out to be the technical director of this project, though his main job is based at Solio in Kenya ( big rhino rehab/ sanctuary/ v.v expensive game lodge $1400/perso/night if you are interested) . We got chatting and he was fine with us snapping away, in fact he was doing some research and trying to get photo’s of their wrinkles!
most are Bellas offspring they stay as a family group
Finally, a third and final group showed up,complete with Mum and 5 month old baby, apparently these two are seldom seen anywhere. By this time “Bella” from the first group who is pregnant, was grazing right up to the fence, generally unconcerned., whilst some of the other’s were not quite so friendly.
We watched them for three hours, until it got dark and considered ourselves extremely lucky to have seen so many in one hit, as most people spend lots of time and money trying to see them with guides and we’d managed to see 12 of the 14 currently there, just enjoying the camp-site for the night. The only ones missing were the big boss and his rival. Fantastic stuff