Uganda (+ a bit of Kenya)




After super gluing Robyn's busted up lip together (is that normal?), the elderly English doctor turned his attention to Robyn's doxycycline/malaria prophylactic induced yeast infection - "I can tell you from personal experience that if you are using a penis as a yogurt applicator that you should make sure the yogurt isn't cold!" We had been warned that the doctor was a little eccentric. Apparently, upon seeing a gravely ill patient in the morning he had said, "I'm surprised you made it!" He meant through the night...

Yesterday Robyn and I went rafting on the class V rapids of the White Nile just below Lake Victoria in Uganda. We both got bloody lips for it, I got whacked by a safety kayak and spit mouth fulls of blood into the White Nile. Apparently we tied a record by completely flipping our raft four times. Robyn tried to mitigate the experience by spending most of her time in the "safety raft", but the occupants of that got tossed out twice as well! Scary but very, very fun.

I started off a week ahead of Robyn in Nai-Robbery. That's a scary place! Few people carry bags during the day, no one walks on the streets at night. Cab drivers roll up their windows and lock the doors as soon as you get in the car. I went running with the local H3 club. An expat gave me a ride back to town different from the way we'd come, "This way has less chance of a car jacking," she explained. Of course! Why not? I locked myself in my room at night and began the copious reading I've been doing - "Hegemony and Survival" by Chompsky, "A History of Everything" by Bill Bryson, the "Da Vinci Code" and "A Dark Star Safari" by Theroux, where I learned that "safari" is the swahili word for "travel."

I spent a few days biking at Lake Naivasha, Hells Gate National Park and Crater Lake Game Reserve. Saw loads of zebras and giraffes and had a relaxing time.
Headed from there to run a marathon at Lewa Nature Conservancy. Similar wildlife plus a view of Mount Kenya made a great backdrop to a long difficult run. It was a small race (<500 runners, of which only about 100 were running the full marathon) and included many of the world's top marathoners (who are all Kenyan), including the men's 1st, 4th and 11th ranked runners. (I didn't win!) It was difficult, but I was pleased with my time (4:09), which was just 20 minutes slower than usual.

I dashed to Uganda and met Robyn at the airport. The capital, Kampala, is not Paris, but is at least safe and is therefore a welcome respite after Nairobi. We met an English traveler who had traveled overland from Cairo. He said, "Khartoum makes Nairobi look like Geneva." He was disparaging Khartoum, but instead made me very interested in it.

We also ran the H3 in Kampala and then headed towards the southwest corner of Uganda to go gorilla trekking. On the way we stopped at Lake Bunyoni, hiking and relaxing for a couple days. Gorilla trekking was awesome! We saw a group in Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve, which is where Rwanda, Congo and Uganda intersect along three awesome volcanoes, which form a great backdrop for "trekking in the mist." We hiked for two hours through the jungle, following gorilla trails and going through the previous night's gorilla nests before we found the group. Actually, the silverback found us first by letting out a terrifying screech and banging himself against a tree 5 feet away just to let us know that we'd gotten too close - we all back pedaled, falling over each other.

A couple brutal bus rides put us at Budongo National Forest for Chimpanzee trekking, but we had less luck there and only got a few glimpses of some elusive chimpanzees. The bus rides both ways, however, were interesting. On the way down, a small exhausted girl slept in Robyn's lap. On the way back, the only ride back to town that we could get was a 2 hour ride (to go 40kms) in the small bed of a pickup truck with 25 (literally) locals. We were packed so tightly we had to stand straight up and had nothing to hang onto - it was very scary! The locals thought it was very funny to have a couple Muzungas (white people) on board. They were very good natured and having a great time. A colorful experience that I hope we don't repeat soon.

We'd love to hear how you're doing- Safari Ala Carte

Our favorite bar in downtown Kampla, with a view over 2 bus parks and a busy intersection.


Crater Lake game sanctuary near Lake Naivasha.

Running the Lewa Marathon.

A silverback in Mgahinga National Park.

A kid racks out in Robyn's lap on a long distance bus ride.

Catching a ride in a local pick up truck. We counted 25 people in the bed of this pickup truck before some of them got off.

Robyn hangs on to the front of the 'safety raft' a split second before she gets dumped into a class 5 rapid on the White Nile.

July 29, 2004
Keir Paesel