… Uganda and Rwanda!
It was a long and tough battle! Trying to decide which countries to explore this month was not an easy task; Ethiopia and Djibouti didn’t lose by much and they definitely remain on our travel list! After long talks, M and I agreed: our hearts, souls and minds knew it was time for us to discover Uganda and Rwanda. Burundi will be explored if we have some time left as we don’t want to be rushed but to be fair, after doing some research, we realized that we might have time… With a heavy heart, we stumbled upon a distressing truth: Gorilla trekking is not affordable. For a two-day trek, tour operators are trying to extort $4000 from us for a 2-day trek per person. I repeat PER PERSON. Say goodbye to a dream, hello to greed. As you can imagine, disappointment was huge. We knew it was not cheap, we had been warned but there is absolutely no way to justify $4000 for a two-day trek. We will decide while we are there, [you never know, it might become cheaper and affordable, if you show up instead of booking internationally. One can hope] but it is unlikely to happen.
Luckily our research showed that both countries have countless national parks with waterfalls to be explored and wildlife to be spotted. Less touristy, quite remote and not that easy to reach? Tell me more! Disappointment was quickly replaced by excitement and eagerness to be again off the beaten track. What is meant to be is meant to be and if skipping gorilla trekking means to be closer to nature, to hike for hours with only the sound of the jungle surrounding us, to wander around trying to spot wildlife, any wildlife, as it doesn’t have to be an overpriced gorilla and to take as many pictures as Marcos patience allows us, well then yes please!
While outdoor is very important to us, on that trip, we have another mission: learn more about the painful and dark pasts of both countries, which we expect will emotional and tough but we owe it to those victims of dictators, fanaticism and extremism. We must remember the same way we do remember while walking through Auschwitz, in Poland or meeting a survivor of the S-21 prison in Cambodia. Nothing can prepare us for those horrors but we must educate ourselves to make the world a better place and hopeful be better humans.
I still cannot believe that in one sleep, we will be sitting on a plane to Entebbe… well to Doha and then to Entebbe. It seems like yesterday we booked our flights! Funny enough the first question we were asked by people when we mentioned our upcoming trip (and most of our trips as a matter of fact) is: “is it safe?” According to travelers testimonies, those two countries seem relatively safe and backpacker friendly. Of course, we will use our common sense and hope for the best. The first question, however, we asked ourselves after we booked our flights was: “how to get a visa”. With the Eastern African visa, granting you access to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya, the paperwork was really easy and quick. Since we start our adventure in Uganda, we used the Ugandan website and after filling carefully our applications, we hit “submit”. We paid the $100 dollar fee and within two days, our approval letter came through per email. That letter and our yellow fever certificate (mandatory, it seems) should allow us to land in Entebbe and file for a visa upon arrival. Wish us good luck!
Next stop: Entebbe, Uganda!
Happy trails and remember: happy trails!