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Grade 5 Rapids? Let’s look in Wikipedia!

GrandEscapades-Uganda-194There are six levels each referred to as “Grade” or “Class” followed by a number. The scale is not linear, nor is it fixed. For instance, there can be hard grade twos, easy grade threes, and so on. The grade of a river may change with the level of flow. Often a river or rapid will be given a numerical grade, and then a plus (+) or minus (-) to indicate if it is in the higher or lower end of the difficulty level. Also note that while a river section may be given an overall grading, it may contain sections above or lower that grade. Continue Reading →

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The Livingston Feel – Rafting the Nile

GrandEscapades-Uganda-195Were there also village people around to haul his boat around unsurpassable rapids? We only needed such external help once. Otherwise the river did the carrying. But for most people, rafting is not so much about floating than about flipping over. Gilles’ raft turned over five times on the 27 kilometers of river travel. Heidi chose the rescue boat, which travels the same river but approaches the rapids less hazardously. Continue Reading →

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Volunteering at Soft Power Education

GrandEscapades-Uganda-188Hannah Small, a former overland bus driver, saw the need and poverty during her many tours through East Africa. In 1999, she returned with a project in mind. Counting on the support of tourists, she started in the village right next to Bujagali Falls. Today, Soft Power Education is a true success story. They run pre-schools, primary schools, a health clinic and a community center. The project has been even extended to other villages and regions. Continue Reading →

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Idd-El-Fitr At Disappearing Bujagali Falls

GrandEscapades-Uganda-184Many Muslim families from Kampala, Jinja, and as far as Kenya used this holiday, which ends the fasting month of Ramadan, to visit Bujagali Falls. Dressed up the nine, they all were posing in front of the falls to have their photos taken. Many asked us to join in and happily accepted our offer to send the pictures via eMail. A bible yielding group with a preacher and a lot of Asians was less pleasant. Angrily they demanded to delete the photos we had taken. We simply ignored their aggressive behavior. Was it a secret sect? Continue Reading →

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Jinja’s Many Gems

In Jinja - Lots of seamstresses sit outside sewing away on old Singer machines and other incredible skills are on display here. Our favorite was an elderly man producing individualized stamps made from wood and rubber. With a tiny razor blade he cut name, address into a little rubber disc, for 2 USD. We could not think of a better souvenir!

In Jinja…

Jinja took us by surprise. The second largest city of Uganda is surprisingly relaxed, quiet and free of the horrible traffic that plagues Kampala. “Main Street” is lined with small shops tugged behind a covered passage way, free of hassle and screaming vendors. Outside on the sidewalk various skills are on display, like seamstresses sewing brightly colored clothes on old Singer machines. Our favorite was an elderly man producing individualized stamps made from wood and rubber. With a tiny razor blade he carved name & address into a little rubber disc, for 2 USD. We could not think of a better souvenir! Continue Reading →

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Jinja – At The Source Of One Nile

The Sources of the Nile, Jinja, Uganda, Africa - In 1862, the British explorer John Speke identified the geographical Holy Grail, the very place where the White Nile leaves Victoria Lake to start its three month and 6.650 kilometer long journey to the Mediterranean Sea.

The Sources of the Nile, Jinja, Uganda, Africa – In 1862, the British explorer John Speke identified the geographical Holy Grail, the very place where the White Nile leaves Victoria Lake to start its three month and 6.650 kilometer long journey to the Mediterranean Sea.

In 1862, the British explorer John Speke identified the geographical Holy Grail, the very place where the White Nile leaves Victoria Lake to start its three months and 6.650 kilometer long journey to the Mediterranean Sea. Back then, its exit from Lake Victoria was a bit more dramatic than today. It parted from the Lake via Ripon Falls, as Speke named them. However, these have disappeared in 1947 when the Own Dam went into business and swallowed them all up. So we basically marveled at the myth of this legendary place that now presents itself as a very normal river gliding along. Also Speke’s trip was quite different: he was stabbed, speared and became temporarily deaf and blind. Continue Reading →

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Poaching In Uganda

Alpha Male, Northern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium Simum Cottoni), Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, North Uganda, Africa

Alpha Male, Northern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium Simum Cottoni), Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, North Uganda, Africa

Only a casual conversation with Johann, the South African manager of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, made us aware of the true dimension of this problem. Of course, we knew that rhinos had been hunted down for their horn and brought close to extinction. But we had no clue how bad the present situation was. Continue Reading →

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Meeting Obama In Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Northern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium Simum Cottoni), Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda

We were not quite sure of what to expect – some kind of zoo or rhinos roaming around in the wilderness? Even after we arrived it was hard to tell. Apart from passing a guarded gate, nothing hints at the extreme measures necessary to protect the 10 rhinos that live in the 77 hectare large park. All we knew was that we could not wait to see these massive animals. Only once had we caught a distant glimpse of them in Tanzania. So within an hour after checking into our modest little room near the park head quarters, Raymond Opio, our guide, was directing our jeep along dirt roads. The longish trip increased our suspense. The park seemed huge! Continue Reading →

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Coughing Chimpanzees at Budongo Forest

Chimpanzee (Pan Troglodytes), Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls National Park, North Uganda, Africa

Chimpanzee (Pan Troglodytes), Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls National Park, North Uganda, Africa

Lucky us – famous Sauda was assigned to be our guide! She has become a bit of a celebrity as she became the first female ranger in Uganda 17 years ago. This bit of news even found its way into the Lonely Planet. The night before our chimps track, it had rained heavily. So when we finally found them in a huge fig tree, most of them where still in their nests, many coughing, feeling cold, wet and miserable… None of them felt coming down. Waiting high up for the sun to dry them off seemed more rewarding. Continue Reading →

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Nile Safari Lodge – Just Like Paradise…

African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus Vocifer), Murchison Falls National Park, North Uganda, Africa

African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus Vocifer), Murchison Falls National Park, North Uganda, Africa

The Nile Safari Lodge, overlooking the Victoria Nile, is probably the most service orientated place we have ever stayed at. To give a few examples: cool, wet towels are handed to the dusty travelers every time you drive into the parking lot. While you enjoy your superb dinner your bed is being “prepared”, which means the wide mosquito net is lowered, ready for you to crawl into your bed. These are in large wooden bungalows on stilts, with a bathroom and an adjacent outside shower. Warm water is delivered upon request and filled into a bucket high up. Continue Reading →

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