Well, the good news is that we have arrived safely in Mweya after a pretty epic journey. We left Hampshire at 10.30am yesterday and reached Heathrow Airport at 12.30pm. Check in was ridiculously efficient; by 12.50 we had dropped off our luggage, been through passport and security checks and now had a couple of free hours. Mrs Green came up with an excellent idea – go to the pub for a couple of cheeky ciders. This was justified on the basis that drinking fermented apples was helping us get some of our five a day. I have to admit that I was reluctant to challenge this theory!
We were flying with Egypt Air which was an interesting experience. As the aircraft taxied on the runway a mosque appeared on our TV screens and some sort of prayer was said in Arabic. This didn’t exactly fill me with confidence! I didn’t manage to get any sleep on the first flight. The films weren’t very good so I played a computer pool game where you couldn’t adjust your cue angles finely enough while the computer potted everything in sight. Needless to say I Iost! The highlight of the inflight meal was the Dairylea triangles – Enough said!
We had an hour layover at Cairo Airport which was pretty non eventful other than the fact that I was able to do my Rowley Birkin impersonation (Fast Show fans will understand this) to an increasingly bemused Mrs Green and that our flight to Entebbe was delayed by half an hour because they couldn’t open the door to the gangway of our plane.
I slept fitfully until we reached Entebbe Airport at 03.45. In contrast to previous years customs was a nightmare. No one seemed to know what they were doing and we had to queue for ages until we were seen. The customs agent was very friendly and said that it was our fault that British Airways was suspending its service to Entebbe because we had taken the cheapskate option – How rude!
Once we had cleared customs we were met by Julius, the agent for Roadtrip Uganda, from whom we had hired our vehicle. It was a Rav 4 and was in pretty good shape (fingers crossed I won’t live to regret this statement). Julius drove us to the beginning of the Fort Portal road (this took about a quarter of the time it normally does due the early hour) and then got out and seemed to disappear into the night. I jumped into the driver’s seat and then the fun started. Firstly, I had prepared at great length an Ipod playlist and had brought my USB lead to connect it to the vehicle sound system as advertised. Unfortunately, this being Uganda, the sound system had no intention of playing any of the tracks I had selected. Mrs Green tried to get the system to work, but ended up getting more and more frustrated. For the time being I was concentrating really hard on my driving. The road to Fort Portal has zero street lighting and the lorries heading in the opposite direction don’t bother to dip their full beam headlights. Being dazzled wasn’t my idea of fun! Because Uganda straddles the Equator you can be pretty sure when the sun is going to come up. Sure enough at 06.30 the sky started to lighten, a thick mist began to lift and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries began to play on the sound system. From out of the mist appeared legions of school children all walking along the side of the road heading for school – it was absolutely surreal!
With better light, I was able to really put my foot down and take advantage of the light traffic on the roads. We reached Fort Portal at about 09.30 where we changed money and had some breakfast. I had a bacon sandwich while Mrs Green had an omelette, then we jumped back into the car. Again, we made rapid progress. The Rwenzori Mountains were absolutely clear in the background and the views were amazing. By this time Mrs Green was very sleepy and kept dropping off. She woke up just before we got to Kasese at around 12.30pm. Here we picked up fuel, water and supplies. It was starting to get really hot so again I put my foot down and we reached UWA (Ugandan Wildlife Authority) headquarters just before14.00. We dropped off gifts and messages, popped in on Katunguru Primary School to say ‘Hello’ (more on this in the coming days) before driving on to the Mweya Peninsula and reaching Hippo House. Fortunately, all of our equipment had survived the long journey intact, so after unpacking we went down to Tembo Canteen to share a plate of chips and a celebratory beer. It was really nice to see all our friends from previous visits.
I was really tired after all the driving so I had a nap while Mrs Green sat outside Hippo House on the veranda and took in the world. We finished the day off at Tembo with Tilapia for tea with our friend Jess Mitchell from the banded Mongoose Project. Tomorrow we’re off to Kafuro and Jess is coming with us. As I write there is thunder and lightning in the air so I’m hoping my sleep won’t be too interrupted.
Photos will follow and Mrs Green will be blogging tomorrow