Queen Elizabeth National Park. What can I say, the campsite was lovely. And that’s about it. Mainly due to the fact that they wanted 150 USD cash just to enter with the car not to mention my per diem fees as well. But when the car was local it’s 30000 schillings (~30 USD). So that amounts to extortion in my mind, especially since Springbok is in way better shape than any of the cars on the road. And it has to be cash, double whammy. Now double that since it’s the same for Murchison Falls which I found out is not drivable in one go either.
But I did get to see enough little things around camp to keep me occupied for a day. Doesn’t take much, lol! I drove to Fort Portal through Queen Elizabeth Park which is allowed on the main road. It looked nice enough. Maybe another time with a local car. And for those of you wondering why not rent a local car. I tried, it would cost just as much if not more than the fee for the car. Defeats the purpose. So I headed to Kampala for 3 nights. I know a city instead of the bush, something must be wrong!
Kampala – well one must drive through Kampala to get to the respite that is Red Chilli Hideaway. And when I say driving it really isn’t. It’s a snails pace through non-laned roads where anything goes and the roads are full of boda-bodas. Boda-bodas are motorbikes much like the bicycles of Malawi, which are full to the brim. The only rule that I can gather is if you can hold it, it can go on the Boda boda. Goats, doors, building supplies regardless of how long or big or how much room it may take on the road, if you can hold it goes.
Believe it or not I enjoyed Kampala. At least staying outside the madness and taking one of those blasted boda-bodas to go to town. I met Aldeit, a young lady from the Netherlands teaching Physics about an hour outside of Kampala. We boarded the boda-boda and joined the madness venturing to the local craft market and coffee shop over the next couple days. Springbok got some minor welding done and repacking, a little respite for him too.
And as luck would have it my birding has garnered some needed information. Aldeit and I were trying to identify some of the birds above when the manager/owner Katie walked by. And before long my route was reworked to avoid active spots with bandits. Bandits, in this day and age, well apparently so. And a few other options later I was ready to go and saved some money too. Always a plus at this point.
I left Kampala with Aldeit, as I was going to drop her off at her volunteer home. We picked up John, her local english speaking guide and ventured to her town. I had dropped them off and had made it no more than 5 minutes on the dirt road heading to the main road when I saw the boda boda. He was careening down the dirt road way to fast around a blind turn and down hill. As soon as I saw him shoot around the corner, I was slowly headed up hill, I veered to the left and braked. But he had already lost control of his boda boda at this time. He saw he was going to hit the car so to save himself he jumped off and in the process threw the boda boda into the car. Long story short, he’s fine, I’m fine, Springbok’s good looks took a hit but otherwise he’s good. After making sure everything was ok and the locals who saw what happened thoroughly lectured the young driver as I had done, I headed back to talk to John and make sure there was nothing else that needed to be done. Of course like most boda boda drivers here he is unlicensed and uninsured and without a helmet. The trifecta. Nothing to do. Called SouthAfrica 4×4 on the emergency sat phone and after a brief exchange and photos I was off headed for Mbale and Mt. Elgon.
Well that’s where the fun continues. According to the website the campsite I was headed for, Moondance, is at the base of Mt. Elgon and does hikes etc. and looks really nice. Kind of like Red Chilli. I was stoked to go for a nice hike after that mornings events. And then I arrive… to an indian restaurant. WTF. Turns out the camp is rented out behind the restaurant but the “owner” hasn’t been around for months. Which begs the question with whom have I been conversing by email. Eventually I convince the restauranteur to call the man in question. He looked a step away from death and the camp, well it’s not a camp. It’s a grass space behind the indian restaurant with the ablution block being the restaurant WC. Um, no! I peeled out as graciously as I could and went to the next lodging tracks4africa could find. Sheesh. I happily crossed the border to Kenya the next day. Even if the border took 3 times longer than it should have, I was done with Uganda.