Over the next couple of years my goal is to travel to every African country, including the offshore island nations such as Sao Tome and The Comoros. Some of the mainland countries such as Libya are nearly impossible at the present time and realistically I’ll be happy to visit somewhere over 50 nations.
I’ve had the opportunity a couple of times in the last decade to travel to Africa and each time I’ve decided not to go because I’ve always had the thought that when I finally get to Africa, I’ll do it slowly and spend a few years on the continent.
In April I finally touched down in Entebbe, beginning what will hopefully be a journey through all the African mainland countries and most of the island nations.
Uganda is my first stop, where on this visit I’ll be criss-crossing the country for three weeks. Uganda began to reveal itself when planning my multi year trip around the continent. Surrounded by much larger and well known nations such as Kenya, Tanzania and the Congo, the much smaller Uganda is only roughly the size of the UK. What it lacks in size it makes up for with a diverse range of habitats, varied landscapes, huge diversity of wildlife and friendly people.
Over the next couple of years I plan to stay as far away from the main tourist routes as possible, although it’s inevitable I’ll have to visit Africa’s well known hotspots from time to time, like next month when I spend a few days in Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti coinciding with the Wildebeest migration across the plains of Northern Tanzania.
Prior to leaving home I booked a 4×4 with Terrain Safaris, a local Kampala based travel company which specializes in professionally crafted wilderness safaris in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi. Being the wet season I was fortunate to be guided by the owner Paul Kaggwa, who is one of East Africa’s best birding and wildlife guides for my 21 day stay.
After a day in Entebbe sorting sim cards and a few logistics, we headed North. First stop Mabamba Wetlands and then onwards towards the Nile River.
A healthy overnight downpour added to the already wet roads and we were delayed for a while when the road was blocked by two trucks. The one on the left, which was overloaded, was bogged and the other truck had blown a tyre trying to pull it out. After some time we managed to get through on the right side.
After a day in a wooden canoe I headed north on paved road to Masindi. I stopped at some roadside markets along the way and bought 6 X pineapples, 8 X mangoes and a dozen bananas for $6. They lasted a few days and for my entire stay in Uganda I bought a lot of food at these markets, wandering around and chatting with the locals.
I arrived in Murchison Falls National Park late the following afternoon and had to wait until the next morning for my first view of the World’s longest River. The Nile is the first of Africa’s four big rivers that I’ll be crossing this year. The others are the Niger, the Zambezi and the Congo. Along this stretch of the river rainforest dominates the river bank and behind the rainforest open tropical grasslands support a host of African animals I was keen to see. After two days of game drives I managed to see all the main species including, Lion, Giraffe, Hippo, Warthogs, Elephants and a Leopard hunting Kob Antelope.
Its the start of the wet season and national park had a few days of rain prior to my arrival. The grass was green and chewed down by thousands of local grazers. It was like watching animals on a golf course.
The highlight of my time in the park was cruising the Nile River for 17km to Murchison Falls. The entire river is funnelled into a 70m wide chasm in what is supposedly the most powerful waterfall in the world. The boat cruise was amazing with non-stop birds and animals grazing the riverbanks. One of the bet day trips I’ve ever done.
Cruising the Nile
After a week in northern Uganda it was time to head south towards the Ugandan Highlands along the Lake Albert coast, through Buliisa.