Uganda: The Reunion

Posted by Ryan Sanderson Smith on 3 May 2010 Tags:, ,

Entry: 3 May 2010 (Day 202) Place: Busia, Eastern Border from Kenya
Exit: 19 May 2010 (Day 218) Place: Katuna, Southern Border into Rwanda

We crossed into Uganda just in time for my 25th birthday. And what better way to celebrate it than a reunion with an old friend – the White Nile – at its source on Lake Victoria, Jinja. I hadn’t seen him since we split up in Sudan 3 months beforehand.

We camped at the top of a forested gorge overlooking the gushing Bujagali rapids. The White Nile and I gently shook hands again as I wandered down the gorge and had great fun being swirled around the bay in circles by the strong current. We then fully embraced as I spent an awesome day rafting down the rapids.

The reunion was not before I succumbed to severe “beer pressure” while celebrating my birthday and falling asleep next to my tent – it seems rooftop tents were an ambitious task in my state. In the same state, I also made a bet that I would raft in a speedo. Not being one to back down from a challenge, the first question I asked the rafting guides was, “Are speedos legal?”

It was an adrenaline-packed day as we crashed down rapids with ominous names like the “Dead Dutchman”, while our guide screamed “Paddle” or “Get down”. We flipped and flipped, and flipped again. Funnily, I once popped up with everyone in the boat’s paddles. They were happy to have me ready to pull them back in, until they were yanked by their lifejackets headfirst into a speedo.

On the calm stretch of river, the night before mercilessly caught up with me. My paddle became decoration as I became a dead weight. Proudly, I only threw up a handful of times. Compliments of the speedo, I now know what it feels like to be sunburnt on my thighs. I do have fantastically brown upper legs though.

I also made some new friends In Uganda:
The crater lakes of the west, of whom I bonded the best with Lake Nkuruba. It may have been an oversized hole in the ground, but it was filled with refreshing water and surrounded by beautiful rainforest. It felt like I was in the most remote and exotic corner of the world, swimming in the middle of the lake with only green trees and swinging monkeys in sight.

Lake Bunyoni in the south on the border with Rwanda. This beautifully vast lake has many islands, one of which had the gloomy name of Punishment Island – because women who became pregnant out of wedlock were castaway there to perish or be claimed by a man too poor to afford to pay dowry. I certainly wasn’t being punished relaxing on the lush shores. I found a diving board perched in a tree, but was a bit sceptical to use it – until I read a sign warning that the lake was 2000m deep.

We then plunged into Rwanda.