Well the good news is that we have arrived in Uganda safe and sound. Our trip wasn’t without its challenges, but as I write we’ve just come back from Tembo Canteen after our first evening meal of tilapia and chips washed down with a cold Nile Special.
We started out at 07.30 on Wednesday when Steve and Amy Peach picked us up from Rowlands Castle and drove us to Heathrow Airport. This was a relatively stress free drive; the traffic wasn’t too bad and we arrived in good time. Checking in was a bizarre process: the queue for the baggage drop seemed to snake around most of terminal 2 and it was to Steve’s utter bemusement that he saw us pop up in different locations as we waited to get rid of our bags. After thanking Steve and Amy, we went through security and headed for the boarding gate. Just as we were about to go through, Henry realised he didn’t have his passport with him; he’d left it in the security box when he was checked. Cue a mad dash back to the security point from Henry and Mrs Green while I waited anxiously at the boarding gate with the dilemma of whether or not to board the flight if they didn’t make it back in time. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make this choice as Henry is a very quick runner (Mrs Green not quite so quick – but with great stamina) and they both made it back in time.
Our flight experience was the complete opposite of last year. Turkish Airlines was clean and well organised with a good choice of films (I can recommend Zootropolis) and tasty food. Transition at Attaturk Airport was easy with no security checks and we arrived on time at Entebbe at 02.55 today. As we had already got our visas, navigating customs was easy and our bags were first off the baggage claim. We were so quick that we actually left the terminal building before Ronnie arrived to pick us up: As we walked into the car park he was just pulling up.
We were very pleased to see Ronnie and (as usual) he had really looked after us. We had a Toyota Land cruiser for the duration of our trip and it was in tip top condition. Our first job was to exchange money and Ronnie had located a 24 hour money exchange in the middle of a casino in the middle of Kampala. The exchange rate was very good and there were some very interesting ladies outside the casino, but we didn’t linger. This was the first time that I had seen Kampala so empty and quiet; apart from a few all night bars everyone was in bed and the roads were empty. After dropping Ronnie off, we headed for the Fort Portal road and we were on our way to Mweya.
The roads were pretty empty so I made pretty good progress driving. I had reached Mudebende (my first check point) before it was light and we made it to Fort Portal by 08.30. By Ugandan standards the weather was cold and overcast, but I was hot and tired. A Ugandan rolex washed down with a sugary coke soon gave me a boost and I was ready to get going again. Before we left, I had to sort out data for my phone (otherwise I would not be able to blog) so I went to the airtel shop and met my old friend Robinson, who has looked after me ever since I first came to Uganda. This was a quick visit and Robinson gave me a boda boda ride back to the restaurant where the others were waiting.
The next part of the journey was uneventful; Mrs Green and Henry spent amounts of the journey asleep woken occasionally by potholes in the road (which seems to have deteriorated since my last visit). We reached Kasese at 11.40 and stopped to pick up fuel and water. Our final port of call before reaching Mweya was the Ugandan Wildlife Authority Headquarters where we met Olivia, the community warden and shared our itinerary for the trip. Olivia was very friendly and keen to hear about our plans.
The drive onto the Mweya peninsula took ages and was boiling hot (the sun having finally come out) and we finally reached Hippo House at 15.00. The plan had been to go down to Tembo Canteen, have a beer and watch the wildlife, but I was so tired after the 30 hours of travel that I conked out until 19.30. I awoke to a spectacular lightning storm and a power cut, but this was short-lived fortunately. Henry thought it was awesome!
Tomorrow, we are going to Kyambura to see preparations for Saturday’s big Tag Rugby tournament, but hopefully it should be a fairly lazy day otherwise.
This blog is now open to comments and questions. I look forward to answering them all. Thanks to Jake Ball for his question. I will talk to Yowasi tomorrow and give you an answer then.
Finally, the reason for the blog title. Well, usually we would expect to see loads of wildlife, but even Ranger Heather could only spot one elephant, a few warthogs and a couple of waterbuck. We did, however, see loads of dogs everywhere. I could count the number of dogs I’ve seen in Uganda up until today on one hand. The other reason is that I felt like I’d been the character in A Hard Day’s Night. I’ve now got home to Mweya, so everything is alright.