Thursday, 23 March 2017

Queens of the Nile


A late night bus ride across the border to Uganda made it easier for us to catch some shut eye here and there to the cadence of the swaying bus. We got to the border in the early morning hours, and were met with a fairly speedy documentation check to push us through in a timely fashion. Uganda welcomed us with rich red fertile soil and lush vegetation. A far cry from drought-affected Kenya. The rains of Uganda had just started a week prior to quench their version of drought quickly. My heart soared over the beauty of the banana plantations as our taxi carried us to our final destination outside of Jinja at Nile River Camp.

This beautiful overlanders’ lodge and campground spread out over multiple acres atop a bluff boasting an expansive view of the Nile River. I was riveted by the calm yet powerful beauty of this meandering snake of water that connected me to my heritage, as my father was born in Cairo, Egypt. I was finally going to be able to unite with my ancient ancestors and pyramids with Egypt being my next destination after our Africa adventure. I found it no coincidence that I was here in Uganda at the source of the Nile, and would end up at its mouth in Alexandria within weeks.

This nice location of a base camp proved to be popular with many international travelers rolling through on their way to safaris, and landscape and animal activities. I engaged in many a conversation with Australians, Germans, and Austrians in the midst of their backpacking and 4x adventures as we exchanged equally exciting tales of the road. It was fun to see overland vehicles with rooftop tents adorning the grounds, tents on the outskirts, and the bandas (tent cottages) that we would be staying in that lined the bluff with views of the Nile. It was an adventurer’s melting pot.

The girls and I jumped right into the use of the facilities with a beautiful and fun kayak jaunt on the river. As we paddled past the mid-river swift current, we slowed down on the other side to explore the reeds and interesting bird life. It was at this pace of curiosity that we then came upon plastic water bottles floating on top in a circular pattern with twine attached to them. Not too far in the distance, we found the owner and maker of these homemade floats, a young fisherman named Grezzo. A 45 minute conversation ensued with this young man describing his life with parents who were lost to HIV at a young age for him. He was raised in a village and had to make his way as a child. Grezzo’s joyful and strong disposition was inspirational proof that it is possible to rise above adversity at any age.

Because of the beauty of the location and wonderful cultural experience of neighboring town Jinja, we decided to stay an extra day. Tiffany and I ventured out on a Boda Boda to run some errands and take in the sights of the colorful villages in between the banana plantations. I was in heaven traveling at a quieter pace to feel the slower rhythm of the villagers in their daily activities of cooking, laundry, and selling their produce and wares to survive. No stress was felt here of people taking on more work than they could handle like those caught in hamster wheels to keep up with bills of bigger cities and more stuff. All had their roles to contribute to a community that had been run this way for a long time without being slaves to machines and mortgages.

We got back in time to frolic in the river with the rope swing, and commune with the river’s wildlife of Vervet monkeys in the trees and Fisher King birds along the shore. Our senses were ignited by all that surrounded us, and we soon dove into the lodge’s delightful open veranda restaurant to fill our bellies and connect with the world with their wifi. We looked at each other in unison across the table and knew what we had to do next…break out the maps to plot our next route. It was time to travel into the hustle and bustle of busy Kampala to reach the excitement of our motorcycle chapter. We were itching to jump into independence by bike, and animals at our fingertips. How delightful that we were in the only country in the world that allows motorcycles to ride alongside the animals of the National Parks, beautiful Uganda.

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