Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Nile

Today we have been in Jinja. This is a town on the Northern Edge of Lake Victoria and the site famous for being the source of the River Nile. The longest river in Africa. Located by the famous explorer John Speke. Although claimed to be the source, in truth it is the point from which the Nile leaves Lake Victoria and takes the name “Nile”. From here it flows to South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt, flowing out into the Mediterranean Sea. Since the Lake recieved water from further South, the true source is the Kagera River which begins in either Rwanda or Burundi. If this is counted then the Nile is actually longer then the Amazon and therefore the longest river in the world.   

Whether it is the true source or not. Jinja is a fantastic place to visit. The town is pretty with the air of a stereotypical American Town (think Back to the Future). The buildings are brightly painted, and some have an Art Deco feel. We stopped for coffee at the Source.  

 We also discovered a Commonwealth War Cemetry where soldiers from Uganda who fought in WWII are buried.  

  

  This evening we took a Sunset Cruise along the River. Sadly the iPhone ran out of power so just one pics for now. 

 

We had a great time and though it was cloudy we still had a good sunset. We sailed up and down the Nile and observed the birdlife – cormorants, egrets, weavers and kingfishers as well as fish eagles were seen. 

Amazingly, we spotted some work colleagues also in Jinja. Karl, Paul, Julian and His son were kayaking on the river just as we were leaving. 

We followed up our cruise meeting up for a drink in town with guys. A good way to end the day. 

A Tale of Two Cities

This afternoon we ventured into Kampala. Our purpose to get a SIM for Uganda and to see a bit of Western Civilisation – maybe even go to the Cinema. We took the local taxi (Matatu) equivalent to a Dala Dala in Tanzania and were deposited in Central Kampala. After 7 months in Mwanza it was a bit of a shock. It was so busy, so many people so many cars,  hundreds of Matatu and even more Boda Boda (motorbikes) equivalent to Piki Pikis in Mwanza.       

there were hundreds of little shops and  dozens of Shopping Arcades akin to Agoras in back MK – but not exactly what we were looking for. This was very much the centre for local Ugandans, very crowded. Think about Oxford Street in London on Christmas Eve  and treble it. We sorted out SIMS for the phones, then got directions to the Cinema. This was in a different part of town and might have been a different city, though it wasn’t. It was in the aptly named Oasis Shopping Mal. Here it felt like a drop of the West in the middle of Africa. A modern Supermarket (Nakamat), coffee shops, a multiplex cinema. We had not realised how much we had missed such things.  

          

We finished the afternoon with a film – Insurgent (from the Divergent series) in 3D and a free Pepsi to boot. We were the only ones in the cinema – if fact the film had just started so they stopped it and started again. We had a great time, then it was back out into the traffic of Kampala and off to our hostel.

Imaginary Lines

We humans have divided up our world into blocks and boxes. Some of these are geographically defined, mountains  rivers and oceans make for obvious boundaries. Some are derived by ethnicity or tribe, possibly dictated by the latter. Still  others are purely imaginary lines in the sand. 

Today we will cross two such lines – although one is mathematically derived, the other is a line of whom and fancy, dreamt up (no doubt in a foreign country).

Our first imaginary line is the Tanzania/Uganda border a straight line running West to East from the DRC to Kenya, crossing Lake Victoria. A strange border which completely ignores any geography. You have to wonder how it was derived, what negotiations took place to decide it or what randomness decided it. Almost certainly it runs parallel to the second imaginary line we will cross.

Our second line is geographically more significant, although just as imaginary and takes no account of natural features. This is the equator. Today we will move from the Southern Hemisphere back into the Northern Hemisphere for the first time in over 7 months. Last time we crossed this line we were 30000 ft in the air, today we will be on the ground. Hopefully we will be able to stop and straddle this imaginary line.

The last such line I straddled was the Prime Meridian at Grenwich when we visted Grenwich back in 2013. This line, even more whimsical separates East and West, it’s a linear crossed many times without a thought as we travelled from Milton Keynes to Harlow to see my brother. It is commemorated at Grenwich and had historical significance as it was first used as a way of measuring time globally at a time when this had been impossible to do so. The Grenwich Meridian runs North South from Pole to Pole. All times in the world are derived from Grenwich Meriian Time (GMT). Here in Tanzania we are GMT+3. 

Fir Trees and Bananas

Think of  fir trees and probably like me imagine the cold temperate forests of Northern Europe or Canada. You probably don’t imagine a hot equatorial climate. Yet here on the western shores of Lake Victoria there are plantations of fir trees alongside banana trees. Both seem to grow equally well.  An incongruity, a juxtaposition of unlikely neighbours.      

 

    

  

 

Weekly Photo Challenge : Ephemeral Dragonfly /Damselfly

A submission to the new Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

Dragonflies (and there relations Damselflies) are to me the epitomy of ephemeral. They are such short lived creatures on land, living most of their lives underwater as larvae.  They emerge from the water on one afternoon and emerge from their chrysalises. One dry they flit from place to place so fast it is difficult to capture.Here are some shots of Dragonflies over the years.

 

Bukoba Bound

Today we leave Mwanza. Our journey takes to Bukoba. This town on the western edge of Lake Victoria used to be an overnight ferry ride, now due to mechanical failure the ferry does not run, so it’s a lengthy bus journey from Mwanza, this is the first of many bus journeys which will take us out of Tanzania over the equator and into Uganda. 

It was an early rise for an 8:30am bus, sadly our booked bus was broken down. Although our tickets were transferable, the next bus on offer looked old and decrepit, with scratched down the side and rather overcrowded. Our original bus had been chosen for being more modern and of British origin, we had allocated seats near the front. We eventually got onto a second bus which looked more modern, although our seats were now near the back. It’s going to be a long drive.

For now Bukoba awaits us. This town founded in 1890 seems pleasant enough but offers a tourist little more than an overnight stop. Images from Bukoba will follow if time permits and images worthy.

Weekly Photo Challenge : Ephemeral Picture

A submission to the new Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral.

Sometimes you take a photograph which is so ephemeral that a second later it would not exist. Such is it is with a photo I took on a recent trip to Rubondo. The focus of the image was the hippo dead centre.

Rubondo 20 Feb (205)-1

 

It was definitely the star of the show. However, the Waterbuck which ‘photo-bombed’ the picture as it darted left is what makes this shot truly ephemeral. Within a few seconds it was gone, and the hippo remained chewing the grass.

Rubondo 20 Feb (208)