After traveling nearly 24 hours, two happy “munzungu” (name given to white people over here) have finally landed in Entebbe, Uganda! Warmth, sun and smiles greeted us and we felt right away welcome in the country known as the Pearl of Africa… Going through customs was quick and easy as we already had our letter of approval and within 30 minutes, visa and backpacks in hands, we were ready to hit the road. Our host, Angella, had organized a driver and in no time we reached Secrets Guest House. Exhausted after our long journey, a restless night at the Doha airport and working hard for a year without any holidays, Angella’s place was exactly what we needed; the quiet and cozy huts and her delicious homemade meals (if you are in Uganda, you must try grilled tilapia, their local fish) allowed us to recharge our batteries before starting our 3-week backpacking adventure.
Angella’s extended knowledge of her country and kindness helped us to adjust our plans to optimize our Ugandan exploration. Angella also gave us hope as she shrugged when we mentioned $4000 for a gorilla trek. This was insane! It was for sure possible to join a trek for (much much much) less than that. We had two options: check around for a company and be flexible on our dates as the difficulty would be to find two permits available on the same day or call the park directly and see what was available, swing by Kampala, then make our way to the park and hire a guide on the day our permits were valid. Option #1 seemed easier so we started to do some research and I suddenly remembered the tour company I used 5 years ago during my world tour: Acacia Africa. I had such a great time traveling and camping through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa, with them, I decided to contact them. Yes, they had a tour in Uganda, 6-day tour to be precise that included gorilla and chimps trekking and yes, they had two spots available for their tour starting on December 19th in Kampala. While they still had to double check for the gorilla trekking permits, we couldn’t help but feel happy. Our hearts started to race, wondering if we might be able to see gorillas after all?! Luckily, it didn’t take long for them to get back to us: they couldn’t confirm just yet the chimps trekking permits but if we wanted two spots on the tour and two permits to trek the gorillas, they were ours! Needless to say it didn’t take long to confirm: I guess we are going on a camping tour!
Happily rested, happily booked and happily happy, we enjoyed our day in Entebbe with a few “firsts” on that trip:
- We became millionaire while withdrawing Ugandan Shillings
- We tried our first grilled Tilapia. We can see why this dish is popular
- We drank our first Ugandan beer! Nicely chilled, perfect on a hot day!
- We successfully negotiated and rode our first “boda boda” (motorbike taxi)
- We avoided our first road accident by a millimeter – our boda boda driver was skillful enough to furiously break and furiously honk at the same time
- We spotted our first black-and-white colobus monkeys
- We ordered our first iced coffee in (sounded like “iced coffee emu, bambi” – A for effort?)
- We took our first pictures of birds on this trip. To be fair, with over 1’000 species in Uganda, we were doomed to end up “twitching” at some point
- We got our first “slight” sunburn
Next stop: Queen Elizabeth Park!
Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!