Day 9 of 25 Days Exploring the Pearl of Africa – Uganda

Today was a continuation of birding in Bwindi impenetrable national park – Buhoma sector. Yesterday after arriving in the early afternoon to the lodge, we had enough time to rest and recoup energies as we prepared for today’s birding on the waterfalls trail. The day started early at 7.30 am, we drove from the lodge to the gate where we started the birding.

Once on the main trail in the park, we were welcomed by Blue monkeys and L’hoest monkeys in the trees feeding. This was surprising because L’hoest monkeys are generally terrestrial monkeys. The clients have a high interest in the primates so we spent time to capturing pictures of these two monkey species before we officially started the birding.

The waterfall trail is rich in different Albertine rift endemics. We spent time birding this area which offered good photographic moments. The bird of the day must have been the Bar tailed Trogon which was kind enough to pose for photographs at various times, Purple breasted Sunbird was another good find but was difficult to capture on camera as it continually hoped on and off the branches. Unfortunately for me I forgot to charge my camera battery so today it blacked out a short while after the start of the birding. I know that for proper birding photography I need to purchase bigger lenses but for now I will enjoy watching more than photographing.

After a while birding, we continued the walk to the 3 water falls deep in Bwindi impenetrable forest. These provide beautiful views and rest while on this birding trail. We spent a few minutes admiring nature at each waterfalls stop as we took pictures and took in the sights and sounds of the forest. From the waterfalls, we walked back towards the lodge with brief stopovers of birding for only those species that were close by the road.

It was a good day, the terrain was generally flat except when we got deep in the forest towards the waterfalls but even this was manageable. This is what I needed after the steep terrain of Mubwindi forest. For any serious birder coming to Uganda, you must include Bwindi impenetrable forest on your itinerary because it has 23 of the 24 Albertine rift endemics especially between Buhoma sector and Ruhija Sector. Tomorrow we leave for Semuliki national park and Semliki wildlife reserve for the central African species.

Day 1 of the 25 Days Exploring the Pearl of Africa – Uganda

This year because of increased work in office, I have not had much time to explore this beautiful country of ours – Uganda. So when I received an inquiry for birding, primates and photography safari around Uganda for 25 days I decided that I will be part of this tour. I was really excited to join in on the tour but was also not sure considering the amount of work piling up waiting for me. I want to try and write everyday I am on this Safari  depending on how active the days are and availability of internet.

Day 1 was arrival of the guests and pick up from Entebbe international airport which is currently the only international airport serving Uganda. The rest are small airfields which serve the smaller air crafts traversing the country transporting especially tourists and NGO workers. Entebbe airport is by lake Victoria – the 2nd biggest fresh water body, this gives pleasant beautiful scenery of the Islands during the day but certainly not at night when it is more darkness than light.

We left Kampala about 7.10 pm with the plan of reaching Entebbe latest 8.30 pm because of the unpredictable traffic jam on the Kampala – Entebbe highway. This stretch is only 40 km but it can take one 2 hours or more to drive it because of the heavy traffic that comes from the numerous people who live along this route and the airport. For anyone taking a flight out of Entebbe from Kampala, we usually advise that you plan for 2.5 hours drive to be on the safe side otherwise you risk missing your flight.

We arrived about 8.38 pm and waited for the 9.00 pm flight. I spent time catching up Ugandan style with people I knew who were waiting to pick up a friend. We were then out of the airport about 10.30 pm arriving at the new beautiful Best Western Hotel in Entebbe town located on Victoria mall with beautiful rooms and great service.

The day ended with me arriving at my house about 12.00 am and taking a short sleep before starting the journey to Kihihi the next day for the afternoon pick up of clients who were coming with Aero Link via Kasese. They flew into Kihihi because the morning flight to Kisoro was full and the next best alternative was Kihihi in the afternoon. After this we then drove for about 4 hours to Mt Gahinga lodge near the entrance of Mgahinga Gorilla national park.

Growing from ‘last minute’ actions

 

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I am an adrenaline junkie and this partly contributes to why I do things last minute when the deadline is knocking. I have talked myself out of this habit but I am yet to succeed. I know it contributes negatively to my output sometimes but somehow I find myself back at it whenever I have a task. Some days I have felt so helpless and almost resigned to my fate but  I know that growth requires me to keep on and not give up concerning an area I am convinced I need to improve. I must say that going forward I will pick up again and work towards planning and accomplishing tasks without waiting for the deadline.

Take for example assignments, I can have them for as long as a month but I will still keep pushing them aside until it’s the last day. One given Friday, the electricity was off for most of the day and night ( who makes these decisions at UMEME) and I needed to finish reading a book and a write a report on my reading before midnight. You should have seen me reading the book using the torch from my phone. This lasted up to about 11pm and later start the process of writing the report . Thankful that the computer had enough battery which allowed me work. Once the writing was complete and ready, the internet connections was playing hind and seek with me. It was difficult to attach the documents to the email. Thankfully eventually they attached and I was able to send a few minutes after midnight. The voice inside me (God) inquired why I do not consider doing all this much earlier to avoid the hassle.

And yet it is not only in tasks at work or school but even concerning travel. I usually know weeks prior to my travels and I wait until the night or morning before the trip to do the packing. This is disorganizing because I tend to forget some items which I need on these travels. It’s in times like these that I remember the advice from my dad while growing up. He suggested to me to consider packing my luggage at least one week before the travel ( this was especially in relations to school) because that way when I forget an item I am able to include it before the travel date. He even suggested that I consider making a list of the items I must pack.

Today while thinking about this I almost quickly acknowledged my weakness and accepted it as me but then I remembered that if this is not helping me be effective then I need to drop it and find ways  of growing. In life if we hope to grow, we cannot allow certain areas of our being to go unchallenged but rather engage with them and come up with plans to improve them. I look forward to operate from the ‘not urgent but important’ quadrant as opposed to the ‘urgent and important’ quadrant which is draining. Which areas in your life which areas do you recognize need growth? What are you doing about it? Or are you justifying their existence instead of improving them?

‘My take home’ from Proverbs 18

 

1A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment.

A fool has no delight in understanding,
But in expressing his own heart.

When the wicked comes, contempt comes also;
And with dishonor comes reproach.

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.

It is not good to show partiality to the wicked,
Or to overthrow the righteous in judgment.

A fool’s lips enter into contention,
And his mouth calls for blows.
A fool’s mouth is his destruction,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.
The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,[a]
And they go down into the inmost body.

He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.

10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
11 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own esteem.

12 Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,
And before honor is humility.

13 He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him.

14 The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
But who can bear a broken spirit?

15 The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

16 A man’s gift makes room for him,
And brings him before great men.

17 The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him.

18 Casting lots causes contentions to cease,
And keeps the mighty apart.

19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.

23 The poor man uses entreaties,
But the rich answers roughly.

24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly,[b]
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

‘My take home’ from Proverbs 18 

Seek knowledge. I should keep learning and never feel that I have arrived because as long as I live there is something I can learn. Growth is a deliberate choice on my side, I have to spend my resources and read books, listen to great teachers, attend conferences etc. but whatever I do I have to keep on the journey of learning.

A combination of hard work and gifting. I have to work hard knowing that this is God’s way of blessing me. I should remember that work is not a curse as some view it, because God asked Adam to work the garden way before the curse. In addition to hard work is utilizing my gifts or talents because with no hard work the gift’s effect diminishes (think of it as practicing for the athlete or musician). God’s promise is that my gift will open doors for me. I have seen glimpse of this in my already.

I need to continuously find ways of keeping my spirit alive. I have been in a place where my spirit has been broken and it is not a good place. I felt stuck and was vulnerable to all the lies the enemy threw my way. So for me this is very crucial – I have to continuously ‘protect’ my spirit and keep it alive because it’s what keeps me alive. I know it is a catch 22 but well I must figure it out. The most consistent way to keep it alive is to keep in the truth of who I am and whose I am.

The tongue is life and death. Woooohhh, I think this is deeper than we can ever comprehend. This also contributes to a man’s spirit being alive or dead. I will keep proclaiming life in whatever situation I am in. It is difficult because it goes against the status quo but this here is about life and death, maybe if I view as ‘life and death’ I will be more deliberate in what I speak in/to my life and that of others.

And that folks were my highlights from my reading today. What are your highlights from Proverbs 18? Share and we learn together.

 

 

My Bujumbura Escapades

After the long but rewarding ride from Kigali to Bujumbura, I settled in the little beautiful New Cayor hotel. It was affordable compared to the service it was offering. I was later informed that 2 years ago such a hotel cost about triple its current price but due to the political issues the number of visitors have reduced. The hotel pricing in a bid to attract the very few courageous tourists and business travelers lowered their costs.

The day was spent exploring the different sites in and near Bujumbura town. I got a taxi to take me around town for the entire day armed with my list of to see places I sent out. After we set off from the hotel, our first stop was the forex bureau for some Burundian francs to be able to buy some souvenirs. It is very important to me to contribute to the economy beyond hotels by buying souvenirs. This I believe is one of the ways the general population benefits from tourism.

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My main reason for visiting Burundi and Bujumbura in particular was to learn about the country and the possibility of including it as a destination for Kagera Safaris. O how I love my work, I am forever thankful for what this work allows me to do. Travel and more travel which by far one of my favorite hobbies. On my list was visits to the hotels and other main tourism sites around this beautiful town. I was pleasantly surprised by this small town, there are quite a number of tour attractions in and around the city. There are also a number of beautiful hotels in Bujumbura and business was ongoing amidst the tense atmosphere because of the political issues but generally slow at the moment.

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My highlights of my visit was to Muse Vivant which unfortunately is a dilapidated Zoo in Bujumbura. The building could use a new coat of paint and some warmth from the staff. The animals in the cages too did not look the best. It seems like this place was once glorious but had certainly lost this glory. However amidst all this I was thankful for a rare opportunity of touching and sitting on a crocodile. I mastered all the courage I could gather and decided to risk and experience this.

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The other highlights was a visit to the monument where Livingstone met with Stanley. This is just a rock, it goes a long way to show how anything can be a tourist attraction. I also visited Louis Rwagasore Monument in the suburbs of Bujumbura. Louis was the first president of Burundi who was unfortunately assassinated within days of being announced president according to my guide. He was also a prince to the then Kingdom of Burundi. I was able to buy some unique Burundian crafts from the craft village.  Lastly I visited the large local market which has anything and everything, with parking for cars to other parts of the country and those across the border.

img_7291I highly recommend you visit Bujumbura, they have beautiful beach along Lake Tanganyika with affordable hotel rates, you will be surprised by the rates of Club Du Lac Tanganyika rates. Link up with a local to take you through this beautiful capital. Remember to ask permission before you take photographs of anything and everything. I lost over 30 minutes of my time because I took photos of a catholic cathedral. According to the guard, for all they know I could have ill intentions. Even after deleting the photos he was adamant to let me go, instead he insisted I talk to the Priest who would come in later. I thought this was unnecessary but well I obliged. Otherwise explore Burundi even beyond Bujumbura, that will be on my next adventure, for now Bujumbura is all I could bite and chew.

There is no rush in Mombasa, enjoy the white sand beaches…

Sometimes you hear of a place and watch videos and photos of these places and they seem out of this world and unreal. Truth is these places exist, thanks to God who knows human beings love beautiful places (even though sometimes we tend to destroy) and created this beautiful universe. I think it is not too much on us if the request is that we take care of it and leave it better so that those who come after us will enjoy this beauty.

Iconic Mombasa tusks
Iconic Mombasa tusks

My second trip to Mombasa was both leisure and business. I initially traveled to attend the yearly magical Kenya travel expo and stayed extra days to explore a bit of this beauty. My plan is to visit again this time on a purely leisure and indulge more in the different activities available by the Indian Ocean.

Magical Kenya 2015 - Selling destination Uganda
Magical Kenya 2015 – Selling destination Uganda

I love the relaxed spirit of Mombasa…the people are ‘forever’ in a holiday mood and whatever you do, they will not be rushed. There is a joke that unlike other African cities and towns, in Mombasa the cars actually stop because the people have to cross the road in such a relaxed way. This will make sense to you if you have traveled to other cities and seen how we have to run across the streets, because for some reason the traffic laws in many African cities forgot the pedestrians and if they exist, they rarely observed.

Coconut juice at Leisure Lodge, Diani beach
Coconut juice at Leisure Lodge, Diani beach

I recommend Mombasa as a great relaxing holiday destination. There are affordable domestic flights out of Nairobi if you fly into Nairobi and quite a number of flights directly to Mombasa. If you are in East Africa, there are several bus companies plying the route from major cities to Mombasa. If you go, I recommend at least 5 days experiencing the beach and history of the place.

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

My journey to Reno – Nevada for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders began on 18th June 2015 when I left home at 6pm for the Airport. Or it probably began much earlier when I applied for the fellowship last year in October/November.

Javas - Victoria Mall.
Javas – Victoria Mall.

My friend offered to drop me at the airport to which I was super thankful. The usually jammed roads gave way for me – it was surprising that there was much less traffic than usual. We arrived in Entebbe about 8 pm. After a quick bite at Javas – Victoria mall we proceeded to the airport. The check in was not dramatic except that the handle of one of my suitcases gave way. I then joined the other Ugandan fellows heading out to different Universities in the US for a last ‘catch up’.

Entebbe Airport with other Ugandan Fellows
Entebbe Airport with other Ugandan Fellows

The entire trip was about 27 hours and that took a toll on me. By the last connection flight I was so worn out and getting irritable. The first flight was 8hrs 30min to Amsterdam, Netherlands and next was 10hr 15min to Salt Lake City, USA and lastly 1hr 15min to Tahoe International Airport, Reno-Nevada. I am thankful for journey mercies and looking forward to such a rich experience as I interact with business leaders and fellows from across Africa.

Arrival at Reno Tahoe International Airport
Arrival at Reno Tahoe International Airport