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The Diary
The Solidarity
The Girls of Aboke (Uganda)
Through this school in the North of Uganda - still infested by bandits and rebels from Congo and Sudan - girls can specialize in an area of education ...

Welcome to Uganda – 24 Oct 2008

After crossing the frontier of Cyanika easily and quickly, we feel we have just stepped back in Africa history. White roads and mud huts, we are welcomed by a beautiful flock of swooping cranes, the symbol of Uganda.

The county of the half men

The winding road twists through the cropped hilly fields. Men, women and children here use the pick and the hoe.
Even during heavy rain, it is a very striking place; it looks like Frodo’s Shire from Tolkien’s book.

The slow speed of the uneven road allows us to enjoy the panorama.
As we make our way heading towards the lake, the people we encounter persist in asking for things, a smile is rare; the children throw soil at us.

Bunyonyi Lake – 24 Oct 2008

Shame about the terrible weather, as this is an outstandingly beautiful lake. We camp in a nice place by the river: Overland resort 10.000 shillings each
(About € 14,00). GPS S1°16.297’ E29° 56.350’

Queen Elisabeth N.P. – 25 Oct. 2008

We were indecisive whether to visit the park or not. The bad weather and the vicinity of the Congo DCR border with its rebels and refugees made us think twice.
However, we decided to go. (Unbeknown to us at the time, just a few kilometres away across the border, guerrillas were casting their offensive against the Kabila army).
We pay $35 each plus $10 for K7 and $10 for camping.
During our dinner, as it gets dark, thunder and lightening surrounds us. We decide to sleep in the car and not in the tent. After a night at this solitary campsite, the next morning we open the car door and there, just a few feet away is a hippo who gives us the good morning. Obviously, we decide that this may not be a good time to exit the car, so we stay put. During our wait, a colony of thirty or so mongoose run in front of us.

Here is an animal we haven’t seen. It is the Ugandan Kobo, an animal very similar to the Impala, but from a different family.

We are right inside the African continent. The sea is now hundreds of kilometres away, but salt is extracted from many of the small lakes in the park.
And, where there is water, these young animals wallow in the mud.

Crater Drive

There is only one off-road track, at several points it becomes a trial. It is only 25km long, but spectacular. It covers the edge of a series of volcanoes, some dry and some rich in vegetation and with small lakes. All this makes for a well-warranted visit to the park.

Along the way, we see many groups of elephants. We leave the park with a farewell from this lovely family.

Equator – 26 Oct 2008

Once again, we cross the South North parallel. We had crossed it on the way down exactly 7 months ago, on the 26th of March.
What a coincidence!

Kibale Forest – 27 Oct 2008

The rain season is upon us and it is very hot.
In the forest, you can see different species of primates. In Kibale, the animals are protected and kept in a reserve. By paying 70 dollars a head, you can take a walk for a few hours visiting the chimpanzees.
We hire a spot to camp at CVK from a “mami” who runs the campsite. The place is very African and very characteristic. We recommend the cabbage and bean stew for just 1-euro! GPS N 00°29.859’ E30°19.860’. We wake up in the morning, it is rather wet but we enjoy these funny baboons.

The land is cultivated with enormous plantations of bananas, maize, beans and potatoes; the weather is just right for crops. In the vineyards, the grape harvest is twice a year, and coffee plants produce coffee beans three times a year. The climate is humid and it rains for two months twice a year. Despite this abundance, the people in this southern part of the country keep to themselves to themselves and I have to say are a little gloomy - they could learn a thing or two and maybe they would cheer up a bit if they saw the smiling faces of those much worse off in Mozambique.

Kampala – 27 Oct 2008

Entering the city, the first thought that comes to mind is the movie “the last Scottish King” (a must-see!), where during the 70’s, the mad and incapable dictator Amin begins the devastation of the country, which lasted for 8 years. After Amin, came Obote who did not improve matters. Fortunately, today, the on going “president-dictator”, things have started to change for the better.
We get the three-month Visas for Ethiopia in 24 hours, the cost is $30. Officials are very polite and they give us useful tourist information and maps. GPS N0° 20.110’ E32° 34.860’

We pay a visit to the tomb of the kings of the old indigenous inhabitants of Uganda: Bugandas. A big thatched hut, nowadays a mausoleum, it used to be the royal home. You can visit Kasuby royal tomb for 10.000 shillings each (about €4,50). We camp at the Red Chilli Hideaway in the city for 7.000 shillings each. We recommend this place. GPS N0°19.208’ E32° 37.800’

Aboke Girls

There is a book called Aboke Girls, in which Els De Temmeman tells the incredible story of 139 girls kidnapped and raped ten years ago by the guerrillas of Joseph Coni in the North of Uganda. They were “used” as sex slaves for the young children that the L.R.A kidnapped and forced to become assassins. The girls were pupils of the school and they slept in the internal college of the Aboke mission.
The sister in charge of them, on the morning of their disappearance, followed the girls with a father and after a few days they reached them.
The guerrillas freed 109 of them but 30 were taken away to their campsites between Congo and Sudan. Over the years, 26 managed to escape, two have been murdered and two are still in their hands.
We meet Sister Alzira who lives in the school and we leave an Elfo token (details in solidarity).

Jinja, the heads of the river Nile – 29 Oct 2008

They had been searched-for for many years and with great human sacrifice. It was the geographical puzzle of the century until, in 1862 John Speke, whom for many years had been exploring Lake Victoria, found them right here. He found out that the fountainhead of the river that he called Victoria Nile was sourced from the North side of this lake.
In 1948 Ghandi bathed in these waters.
We do not advise to visit the official site, which is expensive (10.000 shillings each) and not that interesting, you will only find souvenirs. However, you should drive to the other side of the river where you can see the Speke obelisk and enjoy a wonderful view.

The river, after 6400km and three months of slow flow through Uganda, Sudan and Egypt reaches the Mediterranean Sea. We collect some and we will carry it with us for the next three months for good luck, until we can reunite it with its “sister” - the water that flows in front of us today.

We camp in the ordinary Eden Rock resort for 5,500 shillings each.
GPS N0°25.263' E33°11.856'

In this region, a cow is appreciated more the bigger her horns are…even though she is thin.
We go to the Busia frontier and will leave in a short while.

Our Impressions

A luxuriant place with some good parks and splendid panoramas. Roadblocks are nearly non-existent; officials have never stopped us. Main roads are generally good but the others are poor. Lifestyle is quite expensive.
Even though the government is trying to resolve the situation, the North and the West borders are still very political unstable due to the neighbouring counties.

Signposts, beer and curiosities.