It is 5 o’clock in the morning when I pull open the heavy doors of the gate which leads to the road. I can see the shoes from the night guard poking out of his little office, soft snoring also comes out and fills the warm humid air around us. When the gate is completely open we can see the streets of Kampala, Uganda. We get into the traffic which is slowly coming to life in the city with a population of 1.5 million. It’s a vibrant city with on the one hand the typical African chaos and on the other side the sharp contrast of new malls and international brands and companies who want to get into the developing market like banks, telecom companies and Uber.
Chinese investors are slowly working on the roads in Uganda. The existing roads are torn open and replaced by brand new tarmac, signs are put up and roundabouts installed. Everything to make the infrastructure better. The only thing which is not up to date are the driving skills of the inhabitants of Kampala. Roads with two lanes become 4, merging into traffic means pushing your bull-bar against the other car until the weakest link gives in, parking bays don’t have to be used and stopping in the middle of the street to do your shopping is widely accepted.
From the car we see the daylight lighten up the sky around us. I can’t remember consciously enjoying so many sunsets before we started traveling. Slowly the sky turns purple before it changes into a dark orange and when we don’t need our car lights anymore we are well past the boundaries of Kampala. We are on our way to Mt. Elon and Sipi Falls, an area close to the border with Kenya. It’s a bit higher in altitude than its surroundings and famous for its Arabica coffee.
On a small ledge, covered in green grass, right next to the abyss leading down the river and with a view over the waterfalls, is our hard to get to, but beautiful campsite for the night. A soft whining from the green grass gets our attention. A young dog, emaciated and tired looking, pushes three hungry pups away from her nipples which causes the whining. Clearly, we set up camp next to their den and the whining is heartbreaking. We don’t really have a choice but to share our dinner with the young mother and her pups. The four of them eat like they haven’t had anything for weeks.
As soon as the sun sets and dew covers the grass we find our place in the tent. The moonlight shines through our mosquito net and adds a soft yellow light. It slowly climbs up in the sky and we’re fast asleep before it gets up high.
In the morning we visit the Sipi waterfalls. A narrow slippery trail leads us straight past the local crops. It seems to be a very fertile area around the waterfalls. By the time we walk past there are already a lot of farmers and family members working on the fields. With simple tools they work the land and it’s 50 Shades of Green all around us.
We leave Sipi Falls at 12.30 and arrive at Kara-Tunga in Moroto at 17.30. Moroto is a small village in the North East of Uganda. It’s an area that a lot of tourists skip when they visit Uganda, and we were almost one of them…Luckily, we talked to Wim Kok, owner of Matoke Tours, before we started driving around Uganda. His experience as a tour guide and also as the organizer of alternative African travels gives him all the knowledge to advise us. With a passion for Uganda he gladly tells us where to go and what to do and we talk away during the afternoon bend over the map with our coffees. We try to remember all the information he gives up by drawing and writing on our maps. For him this is common practice, but for us it’s as valuable as gold.