End of Uganda and into Kenya Catch up

30 March 2013 – Maasai Mara Camp, Kenya

A catch up – feels like ages ago since our last post from Kampala, this travelling thing is great fun.

After Kampala we headed east towards Kenya and stopped at a lodge (that also has camping) near the town of Jinja, what a spot! It was a place that very cut off from the local community (which we usually don’t like as much as being able to walk around villages etc) but the location was incredible- right on The Nile! Our first look at the mighty river we’re going to spend so much time close to as we head north.

The camping spots were perched on a manicured lawn looking down over the river as it met a set of rapids and (believe me this is worth a mention!) the cleanest nicest toilets and shower facilities we have seen in a long time! Lights, water pressure, hot water, western toilets that flush, spotless. We stayed there two nights so we could have a full day of just relaxing in the hammock, having a swim, and even a ‘game’ of badminton, I’m awful, and pretty sure the security guard had to walk away so he wouldn’t laugh at us. Anyway it was a lovely way to end our amazing time in Uganda. What a beautiful country, and as we have found the whole trip, such friendly people. Ugandans are quick with their broad genuine smiles. Our time there was made even more special by trekking through forests and seeing the gorillas and chimps- two days that were absolute highlights of more than a year of travel and something we will never forget.

Again a no worries border and amazingly needing a visa actually went in our favour this time. As the only Muzungus around we were the only ones who needed a visa in our passports so they just took us aside and we avoided the big crush outside the immigration window.  After completing the forms and paying the fee the visas were issued straight away and off we went.

Straight away the roads were awful- narrow with big drop offs on either side and massive pot holes. Once in Kenya we headed for the town of Maseno and a night in a bed.  While we were in northern Tanzania we met a very nice couple, who live in western Kenya, and invited us to stay at their place when we were passing by. We got in touch and they enthusiastically said “Come!” So after crossing the border we went to find there place in Maseno, a small university town where we asked around for the Muzungu who works at the uni, and everyone knew him and pointed us towards his house. When we arrived they were actually in the next city and expected to be back within a few hours and kindly arranged for someone to let us into their place for a hot shower while we waited, what hospitality! We had a really good evening of fab food and great conversation with David and Giovanna and fell into bed late after chatting for ages.

Olly woke the next morning with a very sore throat but we decided to go ahead and carry on as planned to the Massai Mara. Kenya held elections in early April and given the previous elections were sadly marred by widespread violence, times have been tense here and we kept a close eye on the process as we travelled through Tanzania and made sure we were not in Kenya during the election period. What we were not aware of (until we got a travel warning from Aus and UK govts) was the outcome of an appeal to the election results (launched by the loosing candidate) was due Saturday (30 March), right after we got to Kenya. We were told by a number of people to lay low until we knew the outcome and the response to it so heading away from big towns and the possibility of trouble and going to the Maasai Mara park seemed a good idea.

After saying goodbye to our hosts in Maseno we carried on down a highway that ranged from horrible to excellent and everything in between. A few hours later we came as close as we ever hope to having a head on collision at high speeds. Olly was driving and coming towards us was a string of large trucks and other vehicles and a car trying to overtake it all. It’s werid how time can slow down. It must have literally been a few seconds at most but we both had time to think a number of full complete thoughts about the fact we were about to hit someone head on (we talked about it later and had had very similar thoughts). There was nothing for us to do, we couldn’t go into the other lane as a truck was there and they didnt have time to get over either. We started braking and both of us thought at least we wouldn’t hit at full speed. They started braking and moving over to the side of the road and we both thought we might be lucky and just clip each other hard and hopefully not spin into the other traffic. Next thing I knew the other car swerved and was passing me in the deep ditch next to us, thankfully he had made the split second decision to go completely off the road and even more lucky there was no obstructions in the ditch, and they plopped into the bottom of it. We pulled over not yet shaken but more on adrenalin and rushed to see if they were ok. They were, the passenger couldnt open her door at first due to the debris and long thick grass but they were ok, got out and immediately started apologising to us. Within a few seconds we were surrounded by people who told Olly he saved the lives of the people in the other car and just generally fussing over us and making sure we were ok. Turns our they had a baby in the car with them, they were on the way to celebrate their sons first birthday the next day with his grandparents. They had no car seat and the woman had thrown him into the back seat when we nearly hit. Thank God no one was injured, so close. The people who gathered immediately put big branches in the road in both directions (the universal African sign for something ahead on the road) and directed traffic as we hooked their car up to landy and pulled them out of the ditch while heaps of blokes pushed. Apologies and thanks kept coming, we just said we are glad all is ok, and be more careful next time. I kissed the little boy and his mum gave me one last hug and we left both shaken by then. I was jumpy the rest of the drive until we left the highway and bumped our way slowly along the tracks towards the camp at the Maasi Mara.

On the long rutted bumpy drive it was great to be back in Maasi land and once again passing the small villages with bomas (circular thorn-bush enclosures) for their precious cattle.  As we bounced along some of the bomas were filling up as the end of the day wasnt far away, it was a long day on the road. The landscape was dotted with the tall striking red clad figures of Maasi tending their animals. By the time we arrived to our camp we were short-tempered and tired, too long of a day but too close to not make it there! Olly was feeling worse and we were both happy to pull up to a nice simple camp and have some soup before crashing. This morning Olly was feeling awful and spent the whole day in bed. Word travels fast and within a few minutes every staff member had come to check on him asking me if he was ok or if he needed anything. He was suffering from a bad cold but nothing sleep couldn’t fix. So he spent a today sleeping, luckily we had some shade so landy was not unbearably hot.

L and O

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Our camp by the Nile, Uganda

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Maasi Mara, Kenya

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