Day 158 - 159 Uganda : Kampala

Trevor spent Friday pottering around Sully doing little jobs that had been outstanding for a while.  I spent time at the laptop writing articles to get the blog up to date.  Time passed slowly but without any real excitement.

We had planned that on Saturday we would pack up the cars and take a trip out to the Mabamba Swamp to see if we could spy the little-seen Shoebill Stork.  As a twitcher, this was getting Trevor all aflutter as it's a twitcher's dream to tick off having seen a "lifer" (ie once in a life time viewing of a bird found only in 1 place!! snnnnnoooooorrrrrrrrrreeeeee).  So we duly packed up, let the campsite know we'd be back and set off for the 40km drive to Mabamba Swamp south of Kampala and on the road to Mbarara.  The first 5 or 6 kms to get out of Kampala took us at least 45minutes due to the weight of traffic but once we were through, we made good time to the swamp.  It's not very clearly signposted but the Uganda Bradt book details the route very clearly.  The idea is just to keep going along the dirt road until you can go no further.  Once there you reach a Tourist Office where for USG60000 you can book a dugout canoe and a guide to take you for a paddle around the swamp.

We set off at around 1pm for a 2 hour paddle in the dugout.  As the Shoebill Stork was top billing, it wasn't actually unti 5:30pm that Vincent, one of the eagle-eyed guides spotted it in the reeds about 100m beyond the swamp channel we were in.  I think it was becoming a matter of honour that the guides found it for us as they hunted up and down channel after channel, hour after hour.  Until find it they did and their honour was in tact!

In the meantime, Trevor spotted and recorded 10 different new species of birds (including a UFO which turned out to be an Angolan Swallow that he had never seen) and had a snoringly wonderful time.  Whilst I lazed in the bottom of the boat listening to the water slip gently along the hull, every now and again water dripping softly from the oars as they dipped in and out and caught up on some "me time" for reading, catching a tan and taking scenery photos every now and again when I could drag myself out of my somnambulism (ain't that a great word!!).

a_SG106241 a_SG106249 a_SG106248
  Pied Kingfisher
 a_SG106256  a_SG106266 a_SG106274 
Saddlebilled Stork Scuacco Heron Scuacco Heron
 a_SG106301  a_SG106309 a_SG106316 
Long-toed lapwing Yellow-billed (Intermediate) Egret Blue-collared Bee-eater
 a_SG106349  a_SG106379 a_SG106383
Common Sandpiper Yellow-billed duck Angolan Swallow (promise!!)
 a_SG106323  a_SG106363 a_SG106367 
 a_SG106386  a_SG106401  
Shoebill Stork (at last!) Shoebill Stork  

After such a relaxing afternoon, all we needed now was a relaxing drive home.  Huh, I swear I heard Pan giggle!  The first 37km back to Kampala passed in good time and as we approached the last 3km of the road to Red Chilli the sun had set and it was dark.  Traffic was really heavy and from this point just got worse as the matatus pushed in and made a 2 way road into a log-jammed 6 lane road with 5 lanes going one way and 1 the other.  Dear God, save me from crap drivers.  And the situation only went from bad to worse as traffic came to a standstill, tempers frayed and the last 3km took 3.5 hours to negotiate....  Kampala has fallen to the bottom of our list of most favourite cities and the drivers with their lack of regard or manners, piggish behaviour and single-minded view of "as long as I get through" caused more chaos than we had ever seen in Istanbul or Cairo ..... and we thought those were BAD!

So it was 10pm before we finally arrived at Nandos for a quick very ordinary chicken meal - our first food since breakfast - and made our way on now clear streets back to Red Chilli.  Never again.

#1 gary on 9.26.2009 at 1:07 PM

-Sounds like dad had a good time, he should have brought his yellow anorak! :-P

Too bad about the traffic though.