The Adventurous Jovita Babirye

This year I committed to read a minimum of 2 books a month on various topics. I prefer hard copies to kindle or audible which sometimes is a challenge especially when I travel without having purchased the books. I then miss opportunities of reading the free time which attempts to frustrate me.

On my last trip in Eastern Uganda, I traveled along with 2 books which I looked forward to read. I read Jovita Babiryes “The Pursuit of Adventure – Breaking barriers” which I enjoyed. As a matter of fact, I did not put the book down until I had finished reading all her pursuits. It is a small book with 81 pages which makes reading easy, you can do this in less than an hour. Reading this book got me feeling like I was right there being part of the various adventure activities.

The big ‘take home’ for me from the book was that in life I  need to push the limits and do that which is scary because therein lies the opportunity for growth. If you are scared of starting that business, taking on that task, engaging in an adventure activity… this book shows you that in life you need to push the boundaries and dare yourself. Get a copy for yourself .


The Magnificent Kidepo Valley National park

I had heard of Kidepo valley national park for quite a while and I longed to visit it. Tucked away in the furthest north eastern corner of Uganda, it is ‘out of touch’ with the rest of the country and only few determined adventurous folks make it there. For a long time, it was not only the distance from the Capital – Kampala and poor road that made Kidepo inaccessible but also the war which cut it off from the rest of the world. This led to very few visitor numbers and subsequently animal populations reduced due to poaching. On a good note though, it made the park a true African wilderness like its tagline because of few visitors.

The beautiful Narus Valley

Thankfully the war is long gone and the visitor numbers have increased, it is quickly becoming a favorite place for many who brave the long car drives like we did. One should know there are options of a flight from Entebbe or Kajjansi.  I was on a tour organised by nature Uganda and I must say I enjoyed my time in this wilderness. We set off from Uganda Museum in Kampala at about 7.15 am and arrived about 8 pm with a stopover in Gulu town for lunch. I wanted to arrive during day light so that I enjoy the sights leading to the park but alas, I missed.

IMG_8264Unlike the other Savannah national parks in Uganda, i.e. Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo, Kidepo valley is the only park with no water body to have a boat safari. This leaves one with ample time to engage in game drives and nature walks in the park. Our very first game drive was in the Narus valley which has some water throughout the year unlike Kidepo river which is seasonal. Off we went with our fantastic ranger guide who knows Kidepo like his own home. He shared about the different animals and birds found this area and the people groups that called this their home – the Karimajong, Tepeth and the Ik people who moved to create way for the park.

IMG_7799My highlight on this game drive was the the scenery of the valley against the mountains, such a wow moment throughout the drive. The animal populations are generally low but recovering and we had great sightings of Elephants, big herds of Buffaloes, Zebras, Topi, Water-bucks, Jackson’s heart beast, Uganda Kobs, Giraffes and warthogs. After a while everyone was anxious for a lion, cheetah and leopard, you could easily smell the anxiety of the people as the game drive continued. Eventually a leopard was spotted in a tree to everyone’s excitement but we missed the photos because it soon descended and disappeared in the tall grass.

IMG_8328We started the game drive early without breakfast, we were eventually exhausted and ready to return to the lodge for breakfast. Many were disappointed because they had not sighted the King of the Jungle but thankfully we had Day 2 to search again depending on the program. For me Kidepo is more for the culture, birds and scenery and not for the animals animal sightings.

My Top 10 places to visit in Africa – 2018

It is a new year and I am thankful for a great 2017 where I experienced God walking with me and stretching me to grow in good ways. Some days I thought I had hit dead end and could not go on anymore but every time this happened, He reminded that I have not reached it and have so much unexplored potential. I am typing this from cold Netherlands where I am attending Vakantiebeurs 2018 – a travel expo on behalf of Kagera Safaris and these conversations are on going with God.

Because I challenged myself to start writing weekly on this blog – I decided that I could not wait until I get back home before I could start writing again. There is no particular order in which to visit these areas, I will simply list them below. Here they come;

1. Jinja – Bungee Jumping – Uganda

I have always wanted to do Bungee jumping but like many activities I am interested in doing, it has not happened for a while. Water rafting was a high adrenaline experience on River Nile and it is only right that I follow it up with a “Kiss of the Nile” by doing a bungee jump.


2. Pian Upe Game reserve – Uganda

Pian Upe game reserve has been on my travel scope for 2 years now, but somehow the years end without me visiting it. This year I look forward to visiting this land of the ostrich and Cheetah with amazing cultural experiences from the surrounding tribes.

3. Mt Elgon national park- Uganda

First I must say that I currently do not have the courage to hike up the Wagagai  peak of Mt Elgon but I will do a one day hike to get the feel of the mountain. I have previously been to sections of the mountain which are outside the national park and I look forward to exploring the scenery and bird life of Mt Elgon.

4. Nyero rocks – Uganda

Nyero rock paintings make it to my 2018 travel list because just like Pian Upe they have eluded me for a while. They have a deep history to them and I look to learn about it. They are believed to have been of the stone age era having been left out by the Batwa who were hunter gatherers and are currently confined in the areas near the forest of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo

5. Mt Rwenzori 

Just like Mt Elgon, I will not be trying to hike up the peak of Mt Rwenzori in western Uganda. I know it takes a about 7 days in total to go up and down the mountain and lots of stamina which I currently do not have. However, who knows maybe one day I will gather up courage to explore this place. However I will do a one day hike to get the feel of this park and also visit with some of the communities bordering the park.

6. Virunga National Park – DR Congo 

I have not been to Democratic Republic of Congo except when I hiked up Mt  Bisoke which is shared between Rwanda and DR Congo. I am excited at the prospect of Congo and the opportunity to see it after hearing so much about it.

I am interested in trekking the mountain gorillas in Virunga national park and  compare the experience with Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable national park. I would also like to hike up the active Nyiragongo volcano.

 7. Kahuzi Biega national park – DR Congo

This park is close to southern Rwanda and is home to the Eastern Low land gorillas. They are much bigger that the mountain gorillas which I have seen several times in Bwindi impenetrable national park. I look forward to visiting and seeing these giants and the compare them to the mountain gorillas.

8. Zanzibar – Tanzania

After visiting Diani in Mombasa, its an absolute yes to warm beach destinations. I have heard so  much good about Zanzibar with its beautiful clear ocean coupled with great history and spice gardens to explore.

9. Capetown – South Africa

This is purely from reading about  this town online and several magazines that I picked interest in visiting it. However in the long run, I also want to visit every country and major city in Africa so I am beginning to tick off.

10. Swakopmund – Namibia

My interest in Namibia stems from the Namib desert and the tribal communities therein especially the Herero. I am interested in visiting the ocean shores and see the different shades of life.

This is my 2018 list of places I want to visit. I have visited some of these places before but did not do the particular activities so I look to do these activities. I will also visit many other places but my interest this year is these 10 areas which I know God will enable me visit.


The Botched Night life of Harare

When I travel I like to visit the famous places before I can check out the ones “off the beaten track”. For me the bucket list will always have some of the world famous destinations in addition to the hidden least talked about attractions. With Zimbabwe it was very obvious that the Victoria falls would be part of the places I wanted to visit. With dates confirmed we were ready to leave for Zimbabwe from Uganda as part of the Sanganai/Hlanganani travel expo that happens every year.

For any trips in Africa we have to travel between different countries before arriving at our destination, we do not have direct flights out of Entebbe to most destinations. Thankfully because of COMESA we do not need visas to Zimbabwe which was such a breath of fresh air. We arrived in Harare in the afternoon excited to visit a city and country which has been the centre of controversy for years in the media, it was exciting to see life happening in more ways than the media wants to admit even amidst the difficult economic times.

After check in at the Rainbow Towers in Harare we prepared for dinner thereafter were ready to explore the night life. Unfortunately the night life was such a disappointment because we could not locate any good hang out spot. Efforts to ask the hotel people for recommendations were futile, in fact we took a taxi and the guy literally knew nothing of Harare – I mean which taxi driver does not know the happening places in town? Anyhow we eventually gave up and came back to the hotel. On return to the hotel we found one of our hosts dressed ready to rock the night – we quickly joined her and set off once again to explore the night. One wonders why I insisted even after the earlier attempt but for me where possible I want to explore both the night life and day life of a city.

Harare though it was a short stay, I loved the town, it is greatly organized compared to most African cities I visited. The roads are quite wide, I cannot imagine how it was before the economic downturn. Amidst all the issues,  the Zimbabweans are such a resilient people pushing on amidst very tough economic times.

The Remnant Rhinos of Ol Pejeta conservancy

I needed to quickly make up my mind between visiting Ol Pejeta Conservancy or Nakuru while on my visit to Kenya attending the annual Africa travel Association conference. For me Sweet waters was the easy choice because I find Rhinos fascinating and also compared to other big game, these are not easily seen. I had heard that this is the best place to see them in Kenya.

We set off early from Nairobi to destination Ol Pejeta with a short stopover at the Equator monument for photo sessions and a bit of craft shopping. Because I always cross the equator traveling home from Kampala or even when visiting the national parks south of Kampala, I was eager to see the monument in the Kenyan side compared to the one in Uganda. The sign did not blow me away maybe because I secretly hoped to find something grand but alas it was a mere signpost. Anyways since this was not my destination, after shopping for some crafts we started the journey again continuing on to Ol Pejeta.

We arrived and after clearing us we drove directly to Sweet waters Serena camp before we could start exploring the conservancy. Ol Pejeta conservancy’s flag ship animals are the Rhinos. It is home to the 3 remaining northern white Rhinos and over 100 black Rhinos are protected amidst the high poaching levels for Rhino horns in the world. One of the easily seen Rhinos at Ol Pejeta is Baraka – the blind Black Rhino now living in an enclosure where it is fed and taken care of because of loss of sight. The care taker informed us that Baraka lost his sight due to a fight and then a cataract, this allows one to come closer to a Rhino.

The plight of the Rhinos is a sad one as seen by the increased poaching and extinction of some species. Sad to note is that as of now only 3 northern white rhinos are left in existence, how sad! Ol Pejeta is home to about 112 Black Rhinos which is equally a sad occurrence when you compare them to the other mammals in the conservancy. I personally think the fight has to be taken to the areas where there is a demand for Rhino horns i.e. China and Vietnam. It is sad that human beings can be so short sighted as to bring an animal to extinction because of stupid believes of what a Rhino horn can cure or even for ornamental purposes. What will happens when all is extinct, will they then find another source of medication?

After all is said and done, I enjoyed my time in Ol Pejeta conservancy and highly recommend a visit to this areas which hosts other animals like Giraffes, Zebras, Impalas, buffaloes etc. There is also the Sweet waters Chimpanzee sanctuary where for an extra fee you get to feed the chimpanzees thus learning about them and consequently giving towards their protection. Sweet waters Serena Camp is a great location while at Ol Pejeta for all your excursions in this area with amazing animals sighting while at the lodge.

Day 20 of 25 Days Exploring the Pearl of Africa – Uganda

Today we spent the entire day in the heart of Murchison falls national park continuing on our bird watching safari. We started off from Bakers lodge with a morning boat ride towards the Delta on River Nile in search of the Shoebill in addition to other birds and wildlife. The Delta joins River Nile to Lake Albert and is the lowest point in Uganda at 621 msl. When everyone was on board, we stopped by the Murchison River Lodge to pick up more clients and then officially start the birding tour.

The first part of the journey accorded us the usual water birds like the elegant pied kingfisher, Black crake, Black heron, night heron, cattle egret, long tailed cormorant etc, but everyone’s interest was the magnificent Shoebill.  We continued with the boat ride with sightings of Hippos and Crocodiles. At some point someone claimed to have seen the Shoebill but with closer look it was the Heron to everyone’s disappointment.

We eventually disembarked the boat as the rest turned back and we got into the car for the game drive to bird in the Savannah area. After birding for over 2 hours we decide to visit the hippo pool area again with hope of finding of sighting the Shoebill and voila. We spent several minutes photographing before eventually continuing on with the game drive. We were also treated to a sight of a pair of the elusive Sitatunga feeding in the open next to the papyrus reeds.

Thereafter we continued birding with a new interest of sighting the Leopard and Lions. These are usually more elusive than the other mammals already sighted like the Giraffes, Kobs, Oribis, Elephants, Jackson’s Heart beasts etc. In the evening as we left to catch up with time for the ferry, we found 2 lions by the roadside. One seemed wounded from probably a fight and another faithfully by its side. We spend some minutes photographing before leaving for the ferry.

This marked the end of a beautiful on game drive enjoying sightings of numerous bird species,  mammals and the ever beautiful landscape. Unfortunately I did not proceed to Kidepo valley national park because I needed to travel to Djibouti – a country I only heard of in the news.  This therefore marked the end of the tour for me as the rest proceeded and completed the remaining 5 days.