Not all those who wander are lost - but I'll be disappointed if I don't get lost frequently!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Anzac Day in Africa

After a rather restless, squished, and snoreful nights sleep, we all hauled ourselves out of bed for a 6am Anzac Dawn Service on the truck. There are eight Aussies on our trip, and our trip leader is a Kiwi, and we were all in attendance. Pretty much everyone else turned up to the service, so Canada, Britain and the USA were all represented.

Ed had been organised and got together some readings etc for the service (thanks Ed), and the service was led by Malcolm, our Kiwi tour leader. The readings were lovely, followed by the Ode to the Fallen, the Last Post and one minutes silence. To round off the service, the Aussies sang the national anthem, mumbling through many of the lines. We all forgot the words at least once! Then Malcolm sand the NZ anthem, all on his lonesome.

Abandon Ship!

We were back to the usual early starts today, up for 6.30am breakfast (scrumptious and more than adequate scrambles eggs with baked rams, provided by Team Adequate) and a 7am departure. This time it wasn't raining, so we redid our equator photos before hopping on the truck.

After a few hours driving around the outskirts of Kampala, we stopped at a supposedly huge (don't worry, there's a map inside!), and decidedly empty shopping centre. It was actually quite spooky to be in a shopping centre without anyone else being there. Everyone stocked up on supplies, then we made the final push before our final destination of the Nile River Explorers camp at Bujagali Falls, about a 20 minute drive downriver from the source of the Nile at Jinja. Bujagali Falls is actually now Bujagali Lake, as three months ago, they completed a dam which has turned the Nile River into more of a lake for that section and drowned the falls.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Gorillas in the Mist

We were up early at 5am as we were getting picked up for the gorilla trek at 6.15am. As usual, it was raining quite heavily. Everyone hopped into land cruisers and headed for the gorilla trek base camp, where we would be assigned into groups to visit each gorilla family.

Oasis passengers were split into two groups of seven, and my group was assigned to the Sabyinyo family. We met our guide, Oliver, who told us a little bit about the family. There were 13 gorillas in the family, with two of them silverbacks. The alpha silverback, was 40 years old and one of the largest on the mountain (gorillas live to a max of 45 years). There was also a new addition to the family, a two month old baby!

Lake Kivu and the DRC

Today was a day trip to Lake Kivu, on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). On the way there, out guide stopped the bus and pointed out prisoners convicted of partaking in genocide, serving out their community service in a nearby field. Due to the huge amount of people involved in the genocide and awaiting trial (even now there are still tens of thousands of people awaiting trial), if you admit fault in the community court, you will be sentenced to three years of community service.

Land of One Thousand Hills and One Million Smiles

Today we crossed the border into Rwanda, and made our way to the capital, Kigali. Rwanda is a beautiful country, so green and picturesque. I'm really glad that our gorilla permits are here in Rwanda, otherwise we would have missed this beautiful place.

We rolled into Kigali around 11am, and had a couple of hours to explore the Genocide Museum before a truck lunch in the car park. The genocide museum is well worth a visit. There is some very confronting photos, videos and testimonials in the museum, but what is probably the hardest to see is a room full of photos of genocide victims, and another room full of pictures and info on child victims. One of the pictures that had stuck with me was a picture of a two year old, who was killed by being smashed against a tree.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Early Starts and Late Nights

Talk about early mornings... Today was a 4.20am start so that we could get out of Kampala before the traffic got heavy. Apparently leaving half an hour later results in two hours stuck in traffic.

As you can imagine, the truck was pretty quiet for the first couple hours of driving, with most people trying to get some more sleep before we pulled up at the equator for breakfast. It rained and rained an rained all day, so we had lovely photos taken of us straddling the equator, decked out in our rain gear.

To keep ourselves entertained on the long drive day, the five of us on the beach after breakfast played the Alphabet Game, where you have to go around in a circle and come up with a word beginning with each letter of the alphabet for a given theme. It started off quite tamely (countries of the world), but after a few rounds descended into crudeness. I'll let you use your imaginations for the themes we came up with.

Chimp Island

Today I learnt what the four great apes were:

1. Gorillas
2. Orangutans
3. Bonobos
4. Chimpanzees

It was this last species that I had the pleasure of visiting at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The sanctuary is on a small island in the middle of Lake Victoria, and is the home to 48 orphaned chimps (except for one, called Surprise, who was born on the island when her mother's contraceptives failed). The chimps are brought to the island after being confiscated from the illegal pet trade or bushmeat trade.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Truck Life

These early starts are continuous! There hasn't been a day yet when I've been out of bed after 6.30am! This morning, my alarm was set for 6.15, but I was up at 5.50 in time for the call to prayer from the mosque near the campground. By the time this trip is over I'm sure to be a morning person.

Today was another truck day, and we crossed the border into Uganda in the late morning, parting with another 50USD for a stamp in the passport. Crossing the border seems to take some time, as we first needed to clear Kenyan customs and be stamped out of the country before getting our Ugandan stamp. To pass the time in no-mans land, there were lots of touts selling fruit, soft drink and samosas.

On The Road Again


Last nights cook group was in charge of making breakfast, so I was up with the sparrows at 6.30am. Tonight's campsite doesn't have shower facilities, so I made the most of the showers at Kembu camp. Breakfast was baked beans on toast, and I was in charge of grilling the toast over the gas hob. I didn't think it was the greatest idea feeding everyone up on beans when we would be spending most of the day on the truck, but all good so far.

Lake Nakuru Safari

As many of you may know, I'm not much of a morning person, so a 5am start to the day is pretty hard for me. But when a safari game drive is involved, I'm more than willing to get up before the sun does!

Six people climbed into each of the 3 safari minivans at 6am for the drive to Lake Nakuru National Park for our first glimpse of African wildlife. The tops of these vans lift up, so that you can stand up in the van during the game drive to spot game and take photos. Not quite the open topped Land Rover I'd been picturing, but practical all the same.

The first thing we spotted was the tail end of some lions in the far distance, but I barely saw them for a second so not really crossing them off my list yet. We spent quite some time observing a troop of baboons, fleaing each other, fighting, then having make up sex. I've seen plenty of baboon penis to last me quite some time!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Africa Bound


I had a morning flight to Nairobi, and luckily enough, two of my truck mates were on the same flight so we organised to meet up at the airport. We exchanged description of the clothes we were wearing and managed to bump into each other in the bathrooms near our gate.

The flight to Nairobi was bumpy but uneventful, and getting my Kenyan visa was a breeze, so I was one of the first at the baggage belts. Murphy's Law though, my bag was one of the last off the plane!

Dubai in a Day

I'm currently at the airport awaiting my flight to Nairobi, where the real adventure begins. This is a quick recap of what's happened so far...

I flew out of Adelaide heading to Melbourne on Friday in business class. That's right - business class. Sadly, it sounds far more exciting than it actually was. For domestic flights, business class's highlights are slightly wider seats and glass cups. For a short 1.5hr domestic trip, not really worth the mula unless you need the extra baggage allocation.

The flight itself was uneventful, as were the 4.5 hours I spent waiting around the terminal for my onwards flight to Singapore with Emirates. I was rather slack this time round and didn't check in online, so the lady allocated my seats for the MEL - SING and SING - DXB legs. Which meant exit row seat on the second leg - yay! But window seat, locked in by two old fogeys for the 8 hours to Singapore. In that leg of the trip I watched four movies - Contagion, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Jane Eyer, and another movie that must have been interesting cos I haven't a clue what it was.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The African Adventure

In case you haven't heard, this week I'm off to explore Africa. On the way I'll have a short, 30 hour stopover in Dubai to quickly explore the highlights of what I'm sure will be a very interesting city.

Then it's off to Nairobi to begin a 73 day truck trip through the East and South of Africa, finishing in Cape Town. Here are some of the things I am looking forward to most on my trip:

  • Trekking up to see the gorillas in Rwanda/Uganda
  • Safari through the Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater National Parks
  • The Smoke that Thunders & Mt Kilimanjaro
  • Chilling on the beaches of Zanzibar
  • Wine Tasting in Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Lion Walks, Cheetah Parks & Elephant Swims
  • Learning about (& tasting) local African cultures & cuisine
If you're interested in what I'll be up to, you can find more details of my trip with Oasis Overland here.

It most definitely won't be a glamorous trip, as for the whole 73 days I'll be camping out in a little tent and cooking meals with the group round a camp fire. But this trip is about experiencing Africa, not hotel rooms, so bring it on!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Second Time's the Charm?

Ok, by now you've probably realised that I was a little slack at updating my blog last year... And by slack I mean totally incapable of even coming up with a single measly word to post on my blog. It wasn't that I lacked time or Internet access, not at all. Rather it was the sheer volume of sights, sounds, feelings, experiences and historical facts that I wanted to be ordered and packaged into neat little blog entries (all in chronological order of course!). A very daunting task. No wonder I didn't know where to start with it all. But this time it will be different, I promise! Any blog entry, however out of order, rambling and unedited it may be, is better than no entry at all. I'm determined to keep you all up to date on my adventures through the wilds of Africa! So stay tuned folks, prepare yourself for the trip of my life!