Friday, 20 May 2016

The Sounds of Eastern and Northern Uganda Trip

8 days of un-interupted adventure, 8 days of fun, 8 days of great northern Uganda described by the calmness and breathtaking Scenery. Even if we didn’t go to the far north of the country to visit the hidden treasures in the wilderness, the un-beaten surroundings of the mountain Elgon slopes enveloped in cloudy mist meandered by the incredible waterfall views coupled with the great plains down the mountain escarpment sipping a cup of coffee was just what we needed for a great start.

Having picked Joy and Selina from the Entebbe international airport, after clearing with customs, they were out at 3 o’clock as we headed out to Jinja. As usual before we set off, briefing about the country and the trip is always important and that is exactly what i did before we set off. We drove to Jinja town through the ever crowded Kampala city but I managed to take a bypass through the industrial area towards the eastern loop of Kampala. Through the suburbs of Kampala and mukono towns we managed to cross the mabira forest another forest reserve in Uganda. Usually the the 80km distance from Kampala to Jinja takes about 2hours because of traffic but this took us about  3 and half hours due to the rush hour traffic we encountered on the jinja road. To other travelers on the same journey on a self drive car rental in Uganda trip, the mabira forest is stop by for many travelers en-route Jinja usually for an overnight at the famous Rain forest lodge that blends luxury into nature. The sounds of the forest are just breathtaking and rewarding. However our trip was designed to spend a night in the tourism capital of East-Africa at the Source of the smiles guest house, you probably mistake it for the name Source of the Nile. Well this is one of the many nice hidden retreat lodges designed in magical nature and feels romantic being here. It is also among the many guest houses that offer a magical stay on bed and breakfast arrangement and you definitely have to go out and find a restaurant to have dinner or lunch. I would say $88 for the double was fair enough price for joy and selina at the guest house. As i wondered to a nearby guesthouse to find my accommodation and return back, joy and selina also took a guided walk to a nearby 2-friends Guesthouse for their dinner which i later joined to pick them up and drove them back to the smiles guesthouse. Well i ended the day with a brief about tomorrow and we agreed we could visit the source of the Nile and also needed a walk in the old town of Jinja. 

Day two in Jinja
We started our day at 8am in the morning with a visit to the source of the Nile. The entrance fees to this park are 10000 and the vehicle is 5000 Uganda shillings. This is one of the sources the Jinja municipality collects its taxes. Through the Craft shops which were not open that morning we arrived,  we were at the bank overlooking the point where the longest river in the world starts its 6700km journey. Across the river at this point is a monument standing marking where John Hannington Speke stood as he saw the water bubbling out of the Lake Victoria. However this water bubbling out of the lake isn’t evident anymore because of the dam constructions going on along this river. Apparently this can be seen after a boat cruise north of this original point. You may need to pay an extra $30 to go see this point however Joy and Selina did not want this; they think this was enough of the tour here. It was time for us to head and visit the mahatma Ghandi’s statue an international Hindu peace advocate whose ashes were immersed in the river Nile. After this tour we headed to town where we needed to do a walking through the Jinja town. Here we packed the vehicle in a safe place and started our walk. Through the main streets of Jinja, we ended up in the local central market and mainly the food section is always interesting. Well we did a roundup of the market and headed back to the vehicle as we still had a way to go. Through the sugar plantations of Jinja and the eastern towns of Uganda, we managed to reach the Mbale town in time for lunch at 2pm latest. Well i will call it snack lunch. After lunch we accessed the banks for foreign exchange and loose monies as we proceeded north of Mbale to the mountain Elgon slopes in sipi. We got here about 4 am and we decided we could do a coffee tour that evening so we could have time to relax the following day. 

We were led by one Rasta a site guide working with the sipi river lodge for the coffee tour. We
were led to see how this Arabic coffee is grown in the mountains and all the process they go through to have the coffee trees up. All the local farming is explained that later leads us to Rastas nearby village home for the second processing of the coffee. We locally pounded, roasted, grinded and prepared a cup of the famous mountain Elgon Arabic coffee. The remaining of the coffee beans were parked for joy and selina to take home. This is always one of the most rewarding activities worth a try in these foothills of mountain Elgon. It was approaching 6pm when we checked back to the sipi river lodge , the only high end or mid-range accommodations in this area for tourists. Yes, there are other lodges like the Lacam and Eagles nest but these are very budget lodges. There is an option for camping in this area of sipi however Joy and Selina slept in the locally crafted but luxury cottages of sipi river lodge. They did find their meals nice and delicious as I did not stay in the lodge premises but rather in the next doors Noah’s ark lodge.

Day 3 of the great sipi falls walk.

As agreed the previous day, we embarked on one of the most sought beautiful and fun filling
sipi river walk or possibly call it a hike. The sipi river walk is a combination of authentic local experience all enveloped to form spectacular sceneries. Through the homesteads and village homesteads, we arrived at the first Waterfall always referred to as the first sipi fall estimated 85m making a thunderous bang  into a river stream. The splashes you feel underneath creating a rainbow that surrounds you leaves you with nothing but everlasting memories. From here you witness the fall dropping and into a river stream beneath flows through the gardens underground before they fall to form another thunderous waterfall located just in the premises of the sipi river lodge. We did follow the river and through the locals in the farms is a chance to understand the African way of living. This walk portrays and brings into reality a real African life picture to life. What would I say? It’s all deemed for adventure. We finally get to the second waterfall which has a natural swimming pool and a baby fall on its top. Standing on top of this second is another breathtaking spectacular view and over the endless plains beneath the mountain escarpment.

Descending down this fall into the premises of the lodge to view the fall from below is not an easy and you got to be careful as many will crawl down here. Below the fall is a traditional clean cave maintained by the lodge staff in which was a site for the traditional public male circumcision ceremonies. 

After the spectacular view of this 75m waterfall, banging into a gorge before it descends into a river stream that is visibly seen flowing to its last bang of a waterfall that appears in most pictures representing sipi. As they descended  down the third waterfall to its bottom and enjoy the thunderous bang, I decided to let the site Guide take them down here as I collected the lunch boxes for a surprise picnic at the best viewing point of the 3 sipi falls with a 360 degrees combination view of the karamoja plains.

When they returned with Rasta the site guide, was a well set picnic lunch we had at the top of highest hill with incredible views, the rest is for them to tell.  After our well spent time here we later packed up, cleaned up and drove to the trading center where Joy and Selina needed some more of the coffee beans to take home as souvenirs.  We later left sipi and headed to Mbale with the last views and photo moments of the plains we couldn’t get as we ascended up the previous day.

Our destination hotel in Mbale was the Mount Elgon Hotel overlooking the famous Wanale hill- asteep slope of mount Elgon and a basis for our next day’s journey to the Murchison falls. This is with a say that this trip is very much possible on a self drive car rental in Uganda with the help of travel tips from Auto Rental Uganda.

Join me on my next article as i narrate to you our next journey on this amazing adventure through the sounds of the north.

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