Friday, 21 March 2008

Back to Uganda

Our beloved Kampala. The city is basically 24/7 gridlock. But it still rocks!
Us both at Sipi Falls number two

We had a beautiful view over sipi falls 1 from our campsite - but it was bloody windy on that cliff!
The thunder clouds encrouch into a sunset over the nile up at Bujagali Falls

Grace & Steve up at Bujagali (hope the photos not too dark to see)

Too many beers? or too much poker?!

Bujagali falls - dangerous..apparently. We've been down that big 5m drop at the far side in a kayak! Bloody brilliant (jay capsized and swam through most of it!)

The pros make it look easy... but give us a few years and we'll be taking them all on on our own

Char says: Sorry we haven’t written for a while, we’re still alive, and back in Uganda. Our first few days back in the ‘Pearl of Africa’ didn’t really merit enough news for blogging but since then we’ve upped the action!

We spent two windy nights overlooking Sipi Falls in eastern Uganda. It was a very beautiful, quiet spot – but it was so quiet that we were the only tourists in the whole place! A guided trek took us to beautiful views of all three water falls in the Sipi family as well as giving great views over the valley. We had originally intended to stay around Sipi for a little longer but it was so quiet that we found ourselves in bed very early and so decided to leave after two nights!

After the peace of Sipi we went looking for somewhere with a little more action and so returned to Bujagali Falls near Jinja – a spot that blog readers may remember from our New Year’s Eve adventure (its also near where we did the rafting)! There is an excellent charity called SoftPower Education (check out working in the area and so we decided to spend a couple of days painting a school with them – we just can’t get enough of volunteering! After two days of do-gooding we blew the biggest amount of money the whole time we’ve been in Uganda and became ‘paddlers’.

Two days of kayaking on the Nile began with a lesson on the flat water led by Ibrahim – one of the best kayakers in Uganda, and perhaps, the world! – where we learnt the basics and how to capsize. I was pretty scared at first but the whole capsizing thing is remarkably easier and less terrifying than I had imagined. After lunch we headed up the river and then paddled back to the camp – challenged by tackling Grade 1 and 2 rapids for the first time. The first Grade 2 knocked me right over and soon I was swimming! Jay on the other hand managed to stay afloat through all the grade 1 rapids and both grade 2s – but somehow managed to capsize in some slower moving water near the end of our journey – twice!!!!(Jays Says: they were big ass eddies and very hard to navigate according to some other paddlers!!)

Our second day of kayaking involved less learning and more screaming! Tandem kayaking involves following the Nile for 30km over numerous rapids including huge Grade 4 and 5 waves – some of the biggest in the world – it’s the same route as we did when we went rafting! You get to sit in the front seat of the tandem with a professional paddler sat in the back who looks after you. If you flip, all you have to do is sit tight, hold your breath and let your guide roll you back to the surface. In theory anyway!

Tandem kayaking was one of the most intense, terrifying and fantastic experiences I have ever had! It is more terrifying than white water rafting, which we did back in October, (and, after to talking to plenty of other people who were too scared, it takes more guts to do – we’re so hardcore!). This is because you are so much closer to the waves – they all appear to be huge (well they are – 5metre plus)! The biggest rapid is called ‘Silverback’ and is really, really huge (four waves)! Needless to say, both Jay and I took a swim on this monster wave. Somehow though, once I’d capsized, I managed to get back in the boat, and before I knew what was going on, we were heading back into the rapid for more! Within seconds we were back under the water but this time I managed to hold on to the boat and Ibrahim (my guide) was able to roll us back up without the need for capsizing – what an adrenaline rush!

After two days of madness on the river, we felt we needed a well deserved break and so headed up to the island paradise of Hairy Lemon (see previous blog for photos!) After two nights Grace (another ICYE volunteer from the UK) and her bloke Steve (who is out on holiday) joined us at the Lemon. We spent a couple of crazy (!) nights sitting up late, drinking beer and playing poker before moving back to Bujagali for one last night.

We are now back in Kampala for a few days to do a little souvenir shopping and say farewell to friends at our second home – Backpackers! On Monday we are heading back to the orphanage for our final farewells. Which will no doubt be a very sad affair! Saturday afternoon and we begin the journey home – two nights in Dubai and then we’re homeward bound!

This will probably be our final blog in Uganda but we may we add something in Dubai and will certainly be writing a round up when we get back home. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading – and letting us know they’ve enjoyed the blog. Uganda is a great place which I hope everyone will now feel inspired to visit and enjoy!

Big love, C & J xxx

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