Tag Archives: Nile

Sahara

One positive of our delayed flight today was the chance to see the Sahara from above. This vast desert stretches from Sudan in the South to the Egyptian shores of the Mediterranean in the North, from the Red Sea in the East to Morocco in the West. We fly over a narrow band to it’s East and flowing through it, the River Nile (a river we last encountered in Uganda). Here the river meanders through the desert providing much needed water and minerals which in turn allow the desert dwellers a chance to farm. Adjacent to the Nile, in the rugged brown ‘sandscape’ we saw strange circular patterns – more signs of irrigation as the farmers turn the desert green.

 

The desert is far from featureless for the most part with rocky outcrops of brown dispersed amongst the pale yellows, greys, beiges and whites of the ‘sandscape’. Pipelines cross the landscape delivering water or possibly oil. Elsewhere the sands are worn by long gone rivers and streams forming tree-like patterns.

Then out of the window looms as large stretch of water, the reservoir formed by the Aswan Dam, intricate filigree as sand meets water. Resembling the Norwegian coastline,  as viewed from space.

 

Then eventually Cairo and the Mediterranean, the end of the desert and a change to green then bright blue..

2015: 6 Countries, 4 Safaris, 3 Waterfalls, 3 Lakes, 2 Rivers, 1 Mountain ….and 2 Mums

What a year it was!

My first full year in Africa – the first year that I did not spend a single moment in the UK. We made the most of the year in terms of travel within Africa.

If 2014 was about moving to Africa then 2015 was about exploring part of it.

We travelled widely within Tanzania, visiting Rubondo, Bukoba, Dar Es Salaam, Mbamba Bay, Moshi (twice), Shinyanga, Tabora and Kigoma.

Rubondo Island on the Southern Eastern Edge of Lake Victoria. This island is a National Park, home to Elephants, Giraffe and Zebra which we we failed to see and Hippos and Crocodiles which we most definitely did see. We travelled there in February for a few days. This included a walking safari through the forest as well as a driving safari. The first of four Safaris in 2015.

We also travelled beyond the borders of Tanzania to visit Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

At Easter we travelled by coach to Uganda, our first trip outside of Tanzania. In two weeks we crossed the country  traveling to Kampala the capital and from there to Jinja, Murchison Falls, Mbale and Entebbe.

Kampala, the capital, was the hub of our journey from where we travelled to other locations, a busy city crammed with cars we spent Easter weekend here, visiting Watoto Church (home of the children’s choir).

In Jinja we encountered the River Nile, which flows out from Lake Victoria heading northward to the Mediterranean. We walked to source of the Victoria Nile though in truth this is just the place it emerges from the lake, the real source of the Nile is located in Rwanda to the south of the lake.  After a leisurely sunset cruise we then followed this up with a more vigorous encounter as we white water rafted along the upper reaches.

Murchison Falls as it’s name suggests is the location of an enormous waterfall where the Nile pours through a gap of a few meters into the Rift Valley. This was our first big waterfall of the year and certainly dramatic. Here also we had the chance to take a Safari into Murchison Falls Game Reserve and to see the many Elephants and antelope there as well as numerous bird species.

Mbale gave us a taste of Uganda off the tourist trail, and a chance to catch up with a girl we knew from home in the UK, working on a Street Child project. It also gave us a an opportunity to visit a second dramatic falls called Sipi Falls, a set of three falls flowing off a steep escarpment (another tributary of the Nile).

Finally on our trip to Uganda we travelled to Entebbe where we visited gardens and a wildlife park and chill a bit before returning home.

Later in the year we embarked on our multinational four week tour of Africa, accomplished purely on public transport. These countries formed part of our journey chronicled in our blog Victoria to Victoria.This encompassed a journey across Tanzania from Mwanza to Dar Es Salaam, Songea and Mbamba Bay.

This was my (though not Anita’s) first sight of Lake Malawi ( aka Nyassa). Three days here before chartering passage on a cargo boat to Likoma Island and our third country Malawi. From here the Ilala ferry to Monkey Bay and on to Zomba for a reunion with Anita’s old work colleagues and a chance to visit Chilimba Village her home for two years in the 1990’s.

Our journey northward then to onus to Liwonde (another reunion), Dedza and Lilongwe (more reunions) before crossing over to our fourth country of the year, Zambia. Our destination was Livingstone and the Victoria Falls. These immense falls were the third and most impressive of the year. We spent 5 days in Livingstone crossing briefly over into Zimbabwe (5th Country) and then had a day (and a third Safari) in Chobe National Park in our sixth country Botswana. Elephants, giraffe, water birds, kudu and hippos dominated the watery landscape. We travelled the Zambezi river a second great river of Africa.

We came close to but never quite entered Namibia at the near quadripont on the crossing into Botswana where these two countries as well as Zimbabwe and Zambia are separated by a mere 100m.

Our journey back from Zambia (and yet another reunion with former colleagues of Anita) commenced at an out of the way town called Kapiri Mposhi. Here we embarked upon two day  eventful train journey back to Dar Es Salaam through amazing scenery.

Back in Dar a fabulous day on the beach at Kipepeo Beach gave us rest and a chance to swim in the Indian Ocean. Then a further coach trip (one of many which lasted more than 12 hours) to Moshi. Here we hoped to see Kilimanjaro without  success.

After four weeks we arrive back home an amazing journey complete.

In October we took the car and travelled across to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika, second longest, second deepest lake in the world.   Our third Great Lake of the year. A relaxing week at Jakobsen’s Beach, doing little but swimming and chilling. Our site had it’s very own herd of zebra, lots of bird life and amazing cichlids.

December saw the arrival of Mum and Mum-in-Law and the commencement of a Safari through Serengeti centered about a balloon trip and some amazing big cat encounters. Not before a return trip to Moshi and a final sighting of Kilimanjaro.

Not forgetting an excellent Anniversary weekend at Wag Hill (recently reopened again after closure) and a birthday weekend return to Kipepeo Beach.

Of course these are just the highlights of our team me here with plenty of life going on here locally in Mwanza. All this and more can be found by checking out the blog and our adventures in Mwanza and beyond!

Uganda Retrospective: Nile Cruise

Whilst in Jinja on our recent trip to Uganda we were able to experience the River Nile in two very different ways. We spent one day white water rafting, but the evening before we took in the Nile at a more sedate pace as we had a Sunset Cruise. It was a great evening.

 

Before we set off we were pleased and surprised to bump into three colleagues from school (Paul, Karl and Julian also with his son) returning from a kayaking trip and holidaying in Uganda.  It’s a small world!

Our trip was supposed to have been shared with a party from a  brewery company but in the end they were late meaning the boat was just us and Anna, another ex-pat NGO on holiday from South Sudan. We all decided not to have the accompanying  disco music but to take in the Nile’s atmosphere. As the sun slowly set we got some glorious sunsets.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat (Well… Sometimes)

A shameless re-blog of our  experience of White Water Rafting on the Nile at the start of the month. However, with this week’s photo challenge being on the theme of Afloat, I just could not resist. 😉

It was an awesome experience and one of the highlights of our holiday. Here are some of the photos from our adventure. Full story here

Uganda Retrospective: Riding the Waves!

Now we are back home we have finally been able to view the photos from our White Water Rafting on the Nile at the start of the month. It was an awesome experience and one of the highlights of our holiday even though Anita missed out due to illness. Here are some of the photos from our adventure. Full story here

Murchison Falls 

today we returned to the nNile for the third day running. This time though we were a lot further North in a place called Murchison Falls.  Here the River Nile rushes through a gap only a few metres wide with awesome power. If we though yesterday Rapids were wild this is on a completely different scale. No iPhone pics again as mine ran out of juice, but Anita took one pic on hers do here it is. 

 

We stayed for many minutes before continuing our journey through the game park. Here along the Nile we encountered a variety of beasts, giraffe, buffalo, elephants, lions hartebeest, cob, bushbuck, ground hornbills, warthogs sand many more pics of some will come soon. The highlight of the game drive had to be a mother lioness and cubs hiding in a bush. 

If you had said Nile to me before I would have thought Egypt, but now Uganda has an equal claim in my mind.

Rapid Rafting Extreme

Today was the day we hit the water – literally! 01 Nile Rafting (89)After a stormy night with the most intense thunder I’ve heard we were booked to do White Water Rafting on the Nile. Sadly Anita was unwell overnight (tummy bug) and not feeling great, so it was just the three of us.  After a hearty breakfast we were fitted with helmets and life jackets and loaded onto a truck. There were 14 rafters, 2 kyakers and a Nile River Experience employees. A long bumpy drive across country brought us to the river. We were spilt into two rafts of seven and assigned a leader who was to guide us through eight rapids after some preliminary training. We shared our boat with a Norwegan couple and a British couple. Each had one partner who was working in Uganda and a visitor from home. The other boat was similarly international in flavour.01 Nile Rafting (1)

We set off and quickly encountered our first Grade 5 rapid we stayed afloat but missed going over the trickier route of the waterfall. All determined to do the crazy routes further down stream. The next rapid was a Grade 4 but hit by a wall of water we capsized – all great fun. Between the Rapids we had some 20-30 mins of steady paddling with a chance to catch up with our crewmates. We did a further rapid staying afloat this time even with the turbulence. We all got out and bypassed the awesome Grade 6 rapid. We got straight on and did the lower half of these Rapids which were Grade 4.01 Nile Rafting (5)

We had another capsize later and this took us longer to get back on the boat. At all time we were aurrounded by safety boats and one of these picked up Bex and took her to the other boat which had annoyingly not capsized.01 Nile Rafting (70)

Then the final rapids – amazingly although really turbulent and awesome walls of water most of us stayed on and we stayed afloat. Bex and one other crewmates did not and as we were tossed about on the waves I sat on Matt. We emerged drenched, but pleased with ourselves. We had survived and it was awesome. We all jumped in the water before returning to shore and a late lunch. A truly awesome day. 01 Nile Rafting (80)

01 Nile Rafting (89) 01 Nile Rafting (84)

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.