Lyndsey here again, I know I keep saying it, but wow - I love Uganda soo much! The past week has been incredible! I think Nicola talked about the world cup and the bomb blasts in Kampala - that was a pretty scary time… the director of Nicola's primary school took us out to a posh pub in Kampala for the match, it was great atmosphere with most people supporting Holland, but me and Nic got pretty board by the end - I just wanted someone to win!Right at the end of the game it was announced that several bombs had gone off in the city abut 2km away - a bit too close for comfort if you ask me!!! Luckily the Director took us directly back to Bulenga and safety. I felt very odd, I had never been to a country or a place with a high level of violence or terrorism - I know the UK is a target for Al Qaeda but here it feels far more real, somehow much closer. The following day we learnt that 74 had died in the attacks. It was slightly unnerving as we were due to stay in the Kampala backpackers that night, luckily (if you can call it that) they were Somalian rebels taking revenge on Uganda and Ethiopia for sending troops in to Somalia, but I do not know the full story. After checking it was safe to do so we headed to the backpackers for the night before heading to Jinja the following morning. It was a strange feeling being there knowing the City had been attacked the previous night, very unnerving, government advice was that it was safe in the outskirts of the city but to avoid crowded areas such as the taxi/matatu park and Owino market.
We were taking Patrick with us to Jinja (a town at the source of the White Nile 3 hours east of Kampala), Patrick, 19, and his family became close friends with Nicola and Steph last year and Nicola had been promising to take him to Jinja to do the bungee there for the past 2 years - so she was finally going to make it happen! Patrick was pretty excited, having only been to Jinja once or twice on day trips from school. It's strange, very quickly I felt embarrassed spending money in front of Patrick, we were treating him of course, but its odd when you are spending what is a huge amount of money to him on say a night at the backpackers (four pounds).
We left early (7am) on the free shuttle to Jinja passing through several towns and villages as well as the stunning Mabira Forrest. After arriving we had to wait until midday before getting an open truck to the campsite where we were staying at Bujagali falls overlooking the Nile. The place is completely and absolutely stunning!!! There is a big decked area with breathtaking views over the river with several trees and Vervet Monkeys swinging from the branches.After lunch we took two boda's 8km in to Jinja to draw money - I can't tell you how much fun it was, I love boda boda's! To be racing along open dirt tracks through the middle of Africa on motorbikes, now that has to be one of the best ways to travel…
Once back at camp we went down to swim in the Nile, it was soo pretty there by the falls. The water was lovely and warm, if slightly murky, and we could not swim far due to strong currents that would sweep us down stream if we were not careful. We were told that that stretch of river was croc free, and so it was, only later did we find out that you got Monitor Lizards and Cobra in there!!! Luckily we were fine, there is something pretty special about swimming in that mighty river, knowing it would be flowing through all of Uganda, Sudan and Egypt before finally heading out to sea… if someone pissed in the river now, where would it end up?!
The following day we had a 3 hour quad bike trek along the Nile booked described as 'fast and furious'. This was great fun! After a slow start as everyone figured out how to use the quads (Me, Nic and Pieran opted for the more powerful manual ones!) we soon started whizzing along through little African villages on bumpy dirt tracks, kicking red dust in to the air… We passed some stunning scenery with views over the Nile, then through villages and small farms with crops of maize and matooke (a type of banana). Pieran and Nicola really got in to it, drifting where ever they could, sending dust flying! The only slight hiccup was when Patrick took two impressive falls, flipping the bike and sending him flying up in to the air! Luckily he was ok and not seriously harmed; he possibly had a pulled muscle on the second fall, but was ok to ride on. In the end we were gone for 4 hours given the extra time to sort the quad out after the crashes. We came back to camp and relaxed, and played a few games with some of the Kayak staff we met there including the infamous cornflake box game!
Thursday morning was lazy with everyone having a long lie in, after lunch Robert, a Kayak instructor we had met previously contacted us and asked if we fancied Kayaking that afternoon - of course we jumped at the chance, Pieran in particular as he had been longing to go but was not willing to pay the full price. It was great to be out on the river again, me and Nicola had gone rafting the previous year so chose not to do it again, but it was nice to try something different. Three guys took us out in to the shallows and tried to teach us Eskimo rolls - I was hopeless, I could not right the boat no matter what I tried, however Pieran was a natural! We paddled around the still area for a bit before they led us out in to the smaller rapids at the bottom of Bujagali falls, it was amazing to feel the force of water pushing the boat, and you had to paddle hard just to stay in the same place! Pieran was loving it, taking on the faster water I would not touch… even though he went under a few times, he always came up with a huge grin on his face with the words "I want to do that again!"
Friday was our last day in Jinja, we finally took Patrick to do the bungee slightly up river from Bujagali. This was it, he had been waiting soo long to do this! After strapping him up he was led tentatively to the edge of the platform, still with a huge grin on his face! Then it was time, a count down of 3, 2, 1, bungee!!!! Then Patrick took a huge jump, arms out stretched, flying through the air like superman, shouting as he went! As jumps go it was pretty impressive, and he clearly loved it, coming up the steps after with a huge grin on his face! I know he will be dreaming about that moment for a long time to come…
We headed in to Jinja after where they were holding an agricultural show, a very surreal sight to see a British style show ground with displays of tractors, animals and vegetables - even a brass band! It was a good experience with an unlucky twist when Pie had his wallet stolen, bad luck. We found out that the president was due to come to the show, which after the recent bombings meant that he was a prime target for attack, so we made a hasty exit to avoid any trouble before it kicked off (luckily it did not). We headed back to camp and a final look at the Nile before heading back to Kampala. What an incredible few days…