A wild trip to Uganda with national parks and election campaign is written by Jacob Gowland Jørgensen
When you come for the national parks, and get an election campaign on top of that
"I ganda, U ganda?", "Oh yes, I ganda!"
The cheekiness spreads on the small porch in front of the pile hut, where I have camped with my friend Thomas. We are traveling to Uganda. We sit with a whiskey juice in hand and look out over the Kazinga Channel in the middle of Queen Elizabeth National Park. We are close to the border with the less democratic Republic of Congo.
We have come from Kenya and has been a smut inside Rwanda, but the feeling that Uganda is just the icing on the cake is spreading with the pleasant warmth and the natural scenarios that unfold in front of the hut. I like Uganda, yes, I ganda!
Plan A - and plan B
While enjoying the view of the national park, we talked about plan A - and B.
We would rather not be in any city at the very moment when, to our surprise, there was a presidential election campaign. And municipal elections. And all sorts of other democratic processes that the Tunisians and Egyptians in the very same days fought for with their lives during what later became known as the Arab Spring.
We had landed in the middle of what we were going to experience Uganda in election campaign. But it did not turn out to be quite as bad as further north, where the Arab Spring was about to spring out. Should it get too hectic in Uganda, our backup plan was to get to Rwanda or to Uganda's former capital Entebbe, where the airport was located.
But until now, we had only seen a lot of happy campaign parades, whimsical election posters with clear symbols so that the illiterate could also be involved, and a lot of cave optimism, curiosity and kindness.
The president with the white hat
We saw quite a few local women who were more than adept at balancing their package carnations upside down. But it was another headgear that proved to be important here.
Most Ugandans turned out to be quite joking with their president Museveni, who had been in power for 25 years, and he was consistently wearing a white hat on the posters.
As president, he had united the many tribes and kingdoms, had created a marked growth and, among other things, secured women's rights in the conservative north.
He had, with the help of donor organizations, forced the AIDS epidemic to its knees - until the Americans and George W. Bush's government came and demanded that the unchristian talk about condoms stop if the poor country wanted money. Then the number of sick rose again, but to a lower level than elsewhere in the region.
Missionary work still requires its victims.
On a trip to Uganda, you meet Africa's most dangerous animals
After a phenomenal round of food in the open air, and a cold Nile Special served by an extremely friendly and efficient service moth who called himself Bunny, we had to spend the night in the pile hut.
We were not allowed to go there alone from the dining area, as Africa's most dangerous animal comes up from the canal in the evening, we were told by him. To graze. It does not sound so dangerous, we thought and dabbled the 50 meters to the cabin in the twilight. Then the Bunny came over and asked if we wanted to see the animal, the hippopotamus?
With our pulse racing, we crawled to our beds under the mosquito nets, and the sounds of the night crept in. All sorts of sounds mingled until it suddenly sounded as if an oversized horse with an unusually deep voice was lurking around just outside and like taking over the entire orchestra. And when it started, the others started too, just further away.
A chopping bbbbppprrrruuuhhhhuuuhhh… And there it was - maybe 20 meters from our eatery it was snorting, the animal that had killed five locals in the last few years in the national park. Among other things, because the ton-heavy animal easily panics and thereby mows people down on the way to the canal.
It sounded completely supernatural, as if a Gothic monster of the past had moved into the neighboring cabin. But it was just our new friend the armored horse from the river.It was not the best sleep we got, but an experience of Africa at its best, compensated so abundantly for it.
The next day we saw the beautiful animals in free dressage, and when the baby hippopotamus appeared on the river, the excitement would never end. Just like when I met them on my safari in Tanzania.
Meet Uganda's wildlife - see travel deals here
The next day we sat on the porch again. We had seen lions chasing savannah pigs and sailing on the Kazinga Channel, where you get close to Nile crocodiles, buffaloes and birds in all sorts of colors and sizes.
Although we were at the equator, the weather was pleasant as most of Uganda is located quite high on the East African Plateau at about 1.100 meters above sea level.
We were thrilled, nothing less. And when the trumpets began to sound from the other side of the camp, we had to leave, of course, to see what it was.
A herd of 60 to 70 elephants worked their way through the message on the other side of a small swamp area, and we could stand and admire it all up from the cliff. Rarely has a more efficient and elegant tree clearing team been seen.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Before coming to the Queen Elisabeth National Park, we had climbed the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, which lives up to its name as “the impenetrable forest”, and here had come face to face with some of the last mountain gorillas in the world.
We had to keep seven meters away from the giant monkeys, but they did not know the border when they considered us part of the herd. Eventually, the most curious climbed up the trees in front of us and sat looking at us while peacefully guffawing on. It was deeply fascinating, mega-hard and a completely wild experience to meet the mountain gorillas.
In the days that followed, we hiked on volcanoes, saw the source of the Nile at Jinja, and not least we greeted the now re-elected President Yoweri Museveni as he drove through the streets of the capital Kampala with his obligatory white hat on.
The wife was with, also with white hat.
On a trip to Uganda, you will meet the most pleasant people in the world
It had been a reasonably peaceful presidential election campaign, so the dramas came mostly on screen Egypt.
On the other hand, we managed to talk to a lot of locals, who with their solid kindness, openness and excellent English must be candidates for one of the world's most pleasant people. The locals make traveling to Uganda an even greater experience.
Uganda is now on my list favorite places in the world, a country you should experience - I ganda, U ganda?
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