Day 324 and 325, Friday/Saturday 23/24 November 2012 – Eden Rock Camp, Jinja, Uganda
Wow ! A mega sleep, and then once awake I did stuff all after that as well – a small amount of washing and a load of time in bed reading my book. Luxury! Other people did other things but I could not be stuffed and enjoyed half a day mostly on my own. I meandered out of my room at lunch time to find it had just stopped raining. There were not many people around so Simon, a Kiwi on the trip and I decided to get the lunch things out and prepare some food, and of course eat! I was standing on a wet mains power line running into the back of the truck leaning over the metal fridge to open it and got two massive electric shocks – I screamed ( a bad word) both times and managed to let go and jump off the truck before the next shock hit. I had a wee sit down after that, my heart was racing and my shoulder ached from the spasm of the shock. All a bit frightening, for Simon as well as me. I unplugged the truck from the mains.
After lunch a bunch of us did a boat ride on the White Nile. Jinja is very close to the source of the Nile at Lake Victoria. Not that long ago the section of river here was full of white water and small water falls. The NRE and Adrift campsites were home to large rafting operations and the source of a lot of local tourist revenue. However the river was dammed a few years ago and the last of the rapids disappeared last year. There is still rafting to be done, but punters have to be driven below the dam to access the water. The dam is used for power generation and all the power is sold to neighbouring countries. As our boat guide said “it was bullshit”. I had to agree – a lot of the community lost jobs and far less tourists now come to Jinja.
Our boat (not this one – I just liked it) was a ten minute walk from the camp site and naturally we disturbed someone doing his washing when we arrived.
We cruised up and down the river for a couple of hours, down as close to the dam as we were allowed, apparently if you cross a certain line you get shot… The river is surrounded primarily, by farm land, but there was some small patches of bush.
We came across a small group of red tail monkeys in one of the bush patches, and they were incredibly hard to shoot, I meant with a camera !
There were an incredibly large amount of pied kingfishers here, as well as some of the brighter kingfishers. I have never seen so many in one place ever, the pied variety live in holes in the river bank and the bank was riddled with them, and man they move fast !
We also saw a fish eagle pair, but they too were quite flighty.
The fish eagles live on the half drowned trees in the lake
There were a number of monitor lizards around the side of the lake as well, sadly I missed the big one, but got this guy sitting on a tree.
One of the good things about the lake that has formed behind the dam is that the fish population has increased, these are drying mats covered in the small fish that are filling the lake.
It was an enjoyable trip around the lake, I must admit I do like being in boats!
I did get a bit grumpy in the afternoon so retired to my room for a bit before coming out for dinner a bit later and a couple of drinks in the evening at NRE. Trying to get a decent sunset on my phone.
On Saturday morning Brett (tour leader) had organised a local village walk. This is something he has been trying to encourage the local village people to organise as a supplement source of income. The tour is based around the orphanage, so we would get to meet some of the kids as well as their teachers, the people who look after the kids and some of their extended family.
I decided not to go, I will keep the main reason to myself, but part of it was that I was (and still am) deeply conflicted around the “human zoo” aspect of these tours, though feedback suggests I was wrong in this case as it was far more interactive than I expected. Anyways, I didn’t go.
Once everyone had left I wandered over to the NRE campsite for a coffee and to use their wifi, driver Will was there so I chatted to him for while before heading back to my room and doing some writing in my notebook. It looks like I was worrying about getting a job, losing my photographic mojo and being alone for ever. I must have been miserable company !
Will popped in after lunch and asked if I wanted to head up the road to the Adrift campsite – have a drink and see what was happening, I hummed and hahed as I wasn’t really in a party mood, but I really like Will, so said yeah.
It was probably the best afternoon of the two months I was in Africa – excluding game reserves : )
Adrift was about 10 minutes away by buda buda (motorcycle taxi) so we grabbed a couple from outside NRE and headed off. Fortunately they do not go that fast…. It was blast – do you like the new sunnies ?
For most of the afternoon we were almost the only people at the bar at Adrift, we ate pizza drank some local concoction that was supposed to be similar to Smirnoff Ice, watched weird crap on Youtube and had a good laugh. Once the bar started to attract other customers we shifted to vodka tonics and moved over to a couple of couches and lounged, talked rubbish and watched the sun drop.
We finally grabbed buda budas back to our camp site when a large group of American guys turned up in the early evening. We stopped for a rolleggs when we were dropped off outside NRE. I am not sure how it is spelt, but basically it is a thin omelete rolled in one or two chipattis. They are also really, really nice !
It was all great fun and what I needed to drag me out of a funk that was growing by the day.