Birds, traffic and getting lost in Kampala


Published: September 13th 2023

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Uganda Day 10
Birds, traffic and getting lost in Kampala

I was already awake when the alarm went off at 6 this morning so these lie-ins must be a bit too much. Breakfast was a buffet-style affair and quite Westernised but it was nice. The hotel houses conferences and weddings so it’s a bit posher than we’re used to and everyone is very formal but it’s clean and apparently in a nice part of town.
Wehen we were booking in yesterday Zed was concerned that we might be a bit late setting off today as breakfast didn’t start until 7. So we were there just before 7 and ready for when he was due to pick us up at 7:30. He messaged to say that he was on his way, then that there was lots of traffic, before finally rocking up at 8:25. And there was lots of traffic, but I’m thinking he should know that! I think he said he’d set out at 6 but we have no proof of that….
Apparently a mechanic had looked at the car but couldn’t find a problem and it started first time this morning. We were still a bit nervous as we


headed out into the awful morning traffic though. There were a few socks and towels on offer at the car window this morning as well as the usual bananas and drinks. As we got out of town there were loofahs of course. Imagine driving down a road and there weren’t loofahs for sale. Crazy.
MINDBLOGGING: This is when you have a blog to write later but you are already working out how you are going to describe the event as it is happening. This is a brand new word and I should know because I invented it. Please use it often and tell people you heard it from me.
Mindblogging is a weird thing but getting home and not doing it any more is weird too. Sometimes it can be just a few minutes before you have chance to actually type your thoughts, sometimes it will be at the end of the day. It’s great that we have these written memories and tnat we can share them with others but it’s a strange thing to add to your holiday. Can you imagine the Ibiza crowd’s version? Woke up at midday, waddled down to the pool, started on the pina coladas,


had a siesta, went to a club….I think….got hammered…..I presume…..wait a minute, someone must have nicked my wallet…..
Anyway, it took us over an hour to get out of Kampala and eventually we were back out in the countryside again having some African massage. This is what they call it when you drive on a bumpy, untarmacced road and it does seem to work as Claire hasn’t suffered with a bad back at all while we’ve been away.
Strange as most of the raods in Stoke aren’t much better.
And then we arrived at a swamp and the most important thing was to park the car on a hill in case it won’t start again. We’d been travelling over two hours and everything seemed fine…
After using the facilities it was time to get on our boat. This trip was an extra one we added when we first met with Didan and we were off in search of the shoebill bird. They have been around since the time of the dinosaurs by the way. Shoebills can grow up to 1.5m tall so spotting them should be easy…..
We had a boat captain, our guide Eric and Zed came too as


we all sat on hard wooden slats in a wooden boat. Off we motored into tne swamp and it was all most convivial. The sun was shining so it was a good job I had my hat and had remembered the sun cream. The small outboard motor powered us through open channels in tne reeds and papyrus and we saw a few birds as we went. Eric was telling us what they were but I couldn’t hear too well over the engine so there was definitely a type of heron, a pied kingfisher, another kingfisher, a small egret, some weaver birds, cormorants and some others.
And then we started going through the plants in the water which became so dense that they switched the motor off. We’d wondered what the large sticks with forks at the end were for and now we found out. They were for steering the boat gondola style but with a lot more effort and a lot less singing about ice cream. Zed joined in but it looked like really hard work as the vegetation was so dense. The water wasn’t too deep though so they were able to steer us through eventually. Shoebills were pointed


out in the sky but they were so high they could have been anything.
And then Eric told us to get our cameras ready as we rounded a ‘corner’ and then, there it was, a HUUUGE shoebill standing not too far away from us. It was a very impressive bird and we took some pictures and just watched it as it yawned and then looked up to its mates in the sky. Another boat pulled up alongside but they weren’t there long before the shoebill took flight and headed skywards. It probably wouldn’t come down until the evening now so we were very lucky. It flies to keep cool as it is too hot for them in the sunshine. Some people don’t see them at all so another win for the Wades.
On the way back we saw more birds and hopefully I got at least one in focus.
We stopped for a filling lunch at Eco Lodge and then got the staff to help us bump-start the car…..
We’d decided to go to the Uganda Museum so Zed took us there via the toll road to save time which was nice of him as he had to pay. He


needn’t have rushed though….
After saying what may be our final goodbye to Zed (he may be taking us to the airport) we headed into the museum where the online price had tripled so it was roughly £3 instead of £1. First though we had to sign in which included our ages, gender and breast size.*
*Only two of these are correct.
The mu seum was darker than Stalin’s with some exhibits in such darkness you couldn’t see what they were let alone read the accompanying blurb. I think we were out within 45 minutes and that included going to look how bad the toilets were. Hopefully they will use our £6 to get some new light bulbs but, for now, I wouldn’t recommend it.
I won’t bore you with the details, you’re here to be entertained after all and maybe learn a thing or two, but we were apparently supposed to be moving rooms today. It’s a long story.
So anyway, we headed back, walking to our pad which is called Forest Cottages using Googley maps. After a while we discovered there are two Forest Cottages and, of course, we were heading for the wrong one. The advised 17


minute walk was nearly an hour already and we still had 34 minutes to go. Uphill.
With the heavy camera bags we had taken on our trip.
And there are some pavements, but then motorbikes use them as well. And there are plenty of places without pavements too, and there are motorbikes there as well. And crossing the road is even more life-threatening than walking on the pavement. There are traffic lights and traffic police to ignore and feel free to drive up the wrong side of the road of course.
But we made it. And we packed up our stuff from what we thought was a perfectly good room (apart from the toilet taking 15 minutes to refill) and moved to….a two-storey cottage! We have a kitchen, a dining table, a sitting area and it’s all a bit posh to be honest, but it’s only $15US extra a night.
We then rushed to the pool for a quick swim in what was relatively cold water before retiring back to our cottage for the evening.


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#Birds #traffic #lost #Kampala

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