I’m sad to say this is the last day of the Schaffer family 3-country trek through Central Africa. We had a great time and, more importantly, nobody fought, nobody got sick, and everybody survived. In fact, we may even do it again soon (Spain!?).
Archive for Travel
Today was another big driving day, as it took 7 hours to get from Kisase to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. We got started at 0930 and didn’t arrive at our hotel, the Emin Pasha Hotel, until 1700. We stopped for lunch for about 45 minutes at an orphanage in a small village, and Marv made a donation. Leslie picked up some shawls at a vendor at an earlier stop, where we also picked up some Fantas.
Upon leaving the lodge, we saw elephants, buffalo, and antelope but moved on without stopping: “That was so yesterday,” Leslie remarked.
The drive was unremarkable, but did include beautiful rolling hills and vistas, tea and banana plantations, and a variety of farming. We also noticed that a lot of the infrastructure development was foreign managed. Robert explained that the Ugandans still had close ties to the British, who had leases to run industrial endeavors, such as cement factories. As we got closer to Kampala, we noticed Chinese road crews building roads and undertaking construction projects.
We also noticed the influence of Indian culture in the cuisine, the look and feel of the businesses, and the advertisements. For example, samosas were on every menu and the presence of large Indian conglomerates manifested themselves in architecture and marketing.
The hotel was is called the Emin Pasha Hotel, a German Jew who had quite an interesting and adventurous life in Africa (but not much to do with the hotel that bears his name). It was a walled oasis/villa amidst the capital city.
Lush gardens, immaculate, tasteful, and luxurious furnishings, and delicious food. I had dinner in while Marv and Leslie went out with Robert for Chinese food (I wasn’t feeling well – slight stomach cramps, which Cipro ultimately cleared up). I also watched the first television in many many weeks (CNN), and learned about the freezing weather in the US (including my home city, Boston).
When Marv and Leslie returned from their outing, I learned that they went to the Fang Fang restaurant, and that it was outstanding.
Tomorrow we fly out of Kampala and I begin my adventure alone in Ethiopia.
We woke up early and a cup of coffee fueled us for the morning safari drive, where we opened up our Land Cruiser top and to spot animals. Our drive started at 0630 and we returned around 1000. We actually ended up seeing more variety the night before, but here’s what we found that morning:
Today was a driving day since we had to get from Gisenyi, Rwanda, to Lake Albert in Uganda, where we’d be spending two nights at the Mweya Safari Lodge. The drive took 10 hours and ate up the entire day, not including an hour stop for lunch and the border crossing (45 minutes).
Day 5 started when we drove from the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge to the lake resort town of Gisenyi – right on the Rwanda-Congo border.
Today was a big day. We got up at 0600 for a quick breakfast and then a drive to the Gorilla meeting place to receive a briefing and get paired off with other travelers for the trek. Robert explained to us that typically there is a slow, medium, and fast group – we urged him to be our agent, and find others to form a slow to medium group.
We started out on the road early, around 0800 since we had a big driving day ahead of us (about 5 hours) to transit the entire South-North expanse of Rwanda, through winding, mountain roads, not to mention several stops along the way. Today was the big day to really explore Rwanda’s history – from pre-colonial, to colonial, to neo-colonial, to modern.
On our second full day, we spent most of the time in the car on winding mountain roads, crossing from Bujumbura (Buja), Burundi into Butare, Rwanda. The road was very good, but we didn’t top 35 mph because of the steepness and the switchbacks. We also got a later start than we wanted, leaving Buja around 0900, getting us to Butare at around 1400.
The day started over a nice breakfast on the beach. My favorite food items was sliced up avocado with stringy onions and carrots in lemon juice. I also enjoyed a bowl of granola with dried bananas and fresh yogurt atop. True to the Schaffer way (Schaffer is my mom’s side of the family’s last name, her maiden name), my grandfather brought a enormous plate of French breads back from the buffet line. We love the carbs.
It was a 30 hour journey from LAX to BJM (Bujumbura, Burundi) that started at 2230 Dec 26 and ended at 1500 Dec 28. Somehow we lost a day in there due to the time change and the 13 hour flight from IAD – ADD (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). All told we have 4 flights: LAX – IAD; IAD – ADD; ADD – KGL (Kigali, Rwanda); KGL- BJM.
I waved goodbye to my parents and my grandfather and I set off to LAX.