After breakfast the next morning I set off for the Ugandan border, greatly looking forward to all the sights awaiting me in this beautiful and green country of breath-taking scenery. Lake Victoria and the White Nile were some of the highlights I long to see. My journey to the Rwandan border was pleasant and I had no trouble crossing into Uganda. On the other side I joined the long line of people to wait my turn, in Africa time is not a factor and if you don’t have the patience, stay away from this continent. Starting my wait that would take about two to three hours, a young man offered to have my passport stamped for a “fee” (can’t quite remember how much, though if memory serves it wasn’t all that much). He would first have the passport stamped and then I would hand over the money. I was not about to just hand over my passport to him (having read of a South African who had lost his this way and basically ended his trip on the border between Ethiopia and Sudan), so I followed him to an unmanned office nearby. He simply called out and a customs official appeared, to stamp my passport, who would undoubtedly also get his cut. I felt rather bad, because I hate people who jump the queue and don’t have the patience to wait their turn. No one gave me a second glance, so I told myself I was helping someone earn a buck.
I bought myself something to drink and started chatting to a Japanese woman, one of the passengers on a tourist bus, who wondered where I was from and where I was going. She told me the bus tour was rather boring and she would rather make the trip on a motorbike. Needless to say, it wouldn’t have taken much for her to get on the back of my bike. We talked a while longer and then she had to run for the bus that was hooting for all to board. She undoubtedly wished to hear more about my trip and I once again realised how fortunate I was.
I made my way that day on Uganda’s scenic and well-tended roads to the Masaka backpackers lodge, once again really affordable. The time saved on getting my passport stamp meant I arrived at the lodge early enough to still do some laundry and a good thing too, because I hadn’t packed all that much. Two young people from the Netherlands arrived, while I was finishing up my laundry, and I was greatly pleased to have some company for the evening. They were the nicest of people and I truly enjoyed spending time with them. The lodge only offered an a la carte meal to groups of at least 10, but Malou and I so earnestly pled with them to make an exception for us four that they conceded and we had our lovely hot meal.
The next day I was off to Entebbe, 40km outside of Kampala. Though traffic in this African capital was much heavier than in Kigali, I still reached the backpackers lodge quite early and since it was so cheap, I opted for a dorm room. For those who don’t know, it is a large room you share with 10 to 15 other people and a good option for anyone travelling alone. One of the highlights of my journey was to wet my feet in Lake Victoria and treat myself to lunch at a restaurant beside the lake. There are so many sights to see along the lake if you have the time. Uganda is filled with picturesque spots, like Lake Edward and Lake Albert as well as the beautiful national parks. This was my second favourite country in Africa and I promised myself to return one day for a longer stay.
Six girls, from the UK, moved into the dorm room. They went out for the evening and only returned at 02h00 in the morning, but whispered softly so as not to wake me. This old man wouldn’t have minded if they had banged around noisily, because I was also young once and may I never become so old that something like that bothers me.
I set off early the next morning to avoid the traffic in Kampala and also out of Kampala to Jinja. I quietly packed up my stuff so as not to wake the youngsters and show them the respect they had shown me. The road was quiet and I quickly reached Nile Special, my accommodation in Jinja.
I once again opted for a dorm room of eight beds, but this time I had the room to myself. There was an Australian tourist group, but they were on their own mission and kept to themselves. The restaurant had a beautiful view of the White Nile and it was truly a highlight of my trip to be at the origin of the river. Though my stay was really cheap and pleasant, it was a pity I had to enjoy it alone. Late that afternoon the tour guide offered me a spot on a boat outing on Lake Victoria the next day. I joined the Aussies the next morning and they again didn’t pay me any attention. I at least asked one to take a picture of me on the boat, but once done she returned to her group. The lake is vast and I felt it a great privilege to sail on its mighty waters.
Upon returning to the lodge, I found a note on my bike’s tank from a Jolandi, in my only language no less, saying: “Welcome in Uganda, compatriot and have a safe journey” – wonder how they knew I was Afrikaans. Sadly they hadn’t left their contact details and I never got to meet them, maybe they just stopped at the lodge for a drink.
After breakfast the next morning, I headed out for my final night in Uganda and ten minutes before reaching Nakuru a rainstorm pelted down on me. I booked into a 16-bed room at the resort, but would again have no company even though the Australian tourists had spent the night there too. There is so much I still wanted to see of this beautiful and friendly country, but time was not on my side.
The queue on the border of Uganda was a long one and this time the only offer I got to speed up the process was from a young guy who expected a fee of $100, to which I laughingly replied that I’m from Africa myself and didn’t need a visa for Kenya, I would manage on my own. Continuing along in the queue I was approached by a young man asking me in Afrikaans whether I was from the Eastern Cape, having seen my bike’s number plate, and said I came from Barkley East. I was absolutely amazed and asked him whether he listened to Ephopenie Radio, the station in his home town. Then it was his turn to be astonished and asked how I knew this. I told him I work for Sentech that broadcasts radio and television signals across the country, including his town. The world is a small place, isn’t it. He turned out to be a missionary in Uganda. I only had to go through one office and after 30 minutes I exited again.