Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Amazing Trip to Uganda - Overview & Outline

Relaxin' on the Nile
Bob and me and friends Sharon & Jonathan spent 16 days travelling across Uganda visiting the many National Parks for game viewing (TONS of hippos, elephants, antelope, water buffalo, zebra, giraffes, baboons, fish eagles, crested cranes, pied kingfisher birds and the occasional leopard and lion, on the ground and in the trees), primate viewing (gorillas and chimps), hiking up Mt. Muhavura and straddling the Uganda/Rwanda border, and rafting Class 5 rapids on the river Nile.

We went with a rough itinerary and had only arranged our airline ticket, had rented a Prado through Hertz (excellent service), purchased a gorilla permit for one day ($500/person) and had arranged for rafting with Nile River Explorers. Other than that we were flying by the seat of our pants! We brought all our camping gear and enough dehydrated meals for half of the breakfasts and dinners as we did not know what to expect but we used very few as Uganda is very tourist friendly (peanut butter everywhere) and had plenty for us to eat.... in Africa you can never go wrong with an omelette! Between the 4 of us we had 7 bags but I do know I used/wore everything I brought. We camped the majority of the nights except for those few nights where it rained and we had other options, prior to our tent poles bending during an afternoon storm at the end of our trip. There was a fair bit of driving (~2200km/~1350miles), which Bob and Jonathan shared. We used the primary Uganda travel guide, the Bradt guide.

Here is our September itinerary:
4th FRI Depart Lagos for Uganda
5th SAT Arrive Entebbe 3PM and drive to Kampala, camp at Kampala Backpackers
6th SUN Drive to Lake Mburo NP, camp near boat landing, surrounded by hippos
7th MON Drive to Lake Bunyonyi, deal with flat tire, camp at Kabela's in a beautiful setting
8th TUES Boat ride, visit pygmies, camp at Kabela's again
9th WED Get new wheel & tire, fix 2nd flat and drive north to Bwindi NP, stay in tented camp in Ruhija to ride out the storm
10th THUR Track gorillas, drive south to Kisoro, to Mgahinga NP, camp at Virunga Hotel
11th FRI Hike Mt. Muhavura (4127m) and straddle the border between Rwanda & Uganda, camp at Virunga Hotel
12th SAT Drive north to Queen Elizabeth NP to the Ishasha section, safari drive, camp at Ishasha camp
13th SUN Morning walking safari, afternoon safari drive to see the tree climbing lions, drive north near Kazinga Channel, spend $$ and stay at Jacana Safari Lodge
14th MON Track the Chimps in the Kyambura Gorge, drive to Kazinga Channel for a 2 hr boat ride, camp in Mweya over the Kazinga Channel, another night surrounded by hippos
15th TUES Morning safari drive, drive north towards Murchison Falls NP, but only make it to Hoima where we stayed in the Crown Hotel ($25/night) which does not live up to the website description
16th WED Drive to Murchison Falls NP, drove to the top of the falls, then took a 3 hr boat ride to the base of the falls, camp beside the Nile Safari Lodge in their campsite and enjoy dinner at the lodge
17th THUR Morning safari drive, afternoon boat ride through tent pole bending storm, camp
18th FRI 3 hr drive south to Kampala, return car and get transport to Red Chili Rest Camp
19th SAT Get transport to Jinja for 2-day raft trip - Raft Class 5 rapids on the Nile River, camp at The Haven, storm floods tents, accommodations provided in nice cottages
20th SUN Rafting and river boarding, transport back to Jinja, camp/dorm at Explorers campsite
21st MON Drive 3 hours to Entebbe, visit the Botanical Gardens, depart Entebbe 5PM
22nd TUES Arrive Lagos Airport 5AM

It was another amazing trip in Africa. I was very impressed at the organization within the parks run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Park entry fees were not cheap (~$30US per day) but I felt like the money actually went into the park.

The details and pictures are still to come...

Bug Bites No More...

If you were always eaten alive by bugs when you were outslide, what would you do to minimize the bites? Would you have your boyfriend inject you with Vitamin B12? Would you take Prednisone (a steroid) while you were out in the woods and bring along a topical steroid cream to help minimize the itch if you did get bitten?

I DID IT ALL when we went to Uganda! On our first trip to IITA here in Nigeria, I had over 100 bug bites all over my body and I was an itchy mess. I went to the clinic to get some topical cream to help control the itching. On another trip to IITA, I got about 65 bites when others had very few. I realized that others got bites but I just had a much more severe reaction to them.

When I was in the US, I saw a doctor friend whose daughter had the same issue and was getting B12 injections for general health (all the girls in the office were) and it helped her on the bug bite front on a trip to Yosemite. I thought it was worth a shot (Ha!) and got a prescription and a few syringes and needles. Prednisone is not a medication that you want to be on for much time but I thought I would try it to see if it would help. I think it helped with my tendon tear too! Bonus! ; )

OK... so I should be a bit better about bug spray but I hate the smell and feel of high DEET insect repellent. I did bring along repellent with Picaridin and it seemed to work on my legs, the primary place I applied it while in Uganda.

Once a month Bob gets to give me an injection and I think he is getting used to it now after just two shots.

Whatever it was, it worked. The B12 injections? The prednisone? The things we do for sanity!