Our 2016 Expedition Team arrived into Entebbe and as an introduction to Uganda spent their first day at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary on an island 23km’s out into Lake Victoria.
Visiting the cheeky chimps was a superb experience and educational too, learning about the rescue and rehabilitation programme of man’s closest relative, they even got to see the new baby chimp, a surprise birth on the island!! The team enjoyed a traditional Uganda lunch, including Matooke, Groundnut Sauce, Tilapia Fish, Chapatis and Beef Stew. Dinner upon their return was a whopping 8kg Nile Perch, freshly caught from Lake Victoria that morning, it was totally devoured!
Our next stop was the stunning Mount Elgon region, the village of Budadiri. Rose and her team were waiting for us with a very warm welcome and had cooked us a spit roast pig for dinner. The following day we went straight out to begin our project.
On the way to school our guide, Tony, gave a nature walk to educate us on the crops, medicinal plants, trees and terrain that we would be staying in.
We received a hearty welcome from the children of the Sironko Demonstration School, where we have so far built them 2 new classrooms, one in 2013 and another in 2015. This year we came to add the finishing touches to the newest classroom, which included plastering and painting the walls, reconstructing a giant blackboard laying down a cement floor.
It was all hands on deck as already waiting for us was a few tonnes of sand which needed sieving and moving inside the classroom. Once this job had been done then the fun part of mixing the plaster could begin. Once again it was a mucky job and the slapping process proved quite hilarious as the splash back from the wall also very nicely plastered our Team!
As well as the manual work, all of our team had the opportunity to take part in the teaching of lessons in the school. A fun cross cultural experience and I think all were amazed at the high level of education in a Ugandan Primary School! It can really rain sometimes in Uganda and we got to really experience that as the heavens opened, a few of the team decided this would be great fun to go and get wet!
Part of the Expedition is a 4 day/3 night climb of Mount Elgon. Our team this year set off in earnest, and reached the Sasa River Camp at the end of a very hard first day. The Leader had to make the tough call on Day 2 not to attempt to try to summit with the group due to a few not feeling well so as not to jeopardise the safety of the rest of the group. They returned on Day 3 to Budadiri and although disappointed, knew that just to attempt the mountain was a real achievement.
Back in camp was a Mini Olympics, some totally crazy games in a rather wet and muddy camp ground made for a lot of fun.
Before we left Budadiri we had a fun day with the local Mamas, it was off to the market with a shopping list and a budget for the traditional Ugandan dishes they were going to be making.
Once the ingredients were bought then back to camp and everyone set about shelling beans, peeling green bananas, kneading chapati dough and chopping and dicing vegetable. Once this had been done the fun part of learning how to cook the local way!! The outcome was a magnificent feast that fed the whole campsite.
Our next stop was Jinja, some souvenir shopping, and a relaxing lunch cruise on the Nile River before a visit to Hairy Lemon Island for some R & R.
Everyone loved the Hairy Lemon and enjoyed the relaxation in the hammocks and comfy cushions, catching up on their diaries as well as playing Frisbee and football on the green lawns followed by cooling off and playing volleyball in the river.
Camp Ziwa had some very exciting activities waiting for us and first on the list was the rhino monitoring. Essential data is collected during this activity to help protect and understand this endangered species. Just before our arrival there had been two baby rhinos born on the sanctuary and we were lucky to see them.
As well as the rhinos, there are also other animals on the sanctuary and often a bushbuck or some cheeky monkeys can be seen around camp. There are some important duties that need doing at Ziwa and here our Team are getting stuck into the fence repair and maintenance duties.
A safari in Murchison Falls National Park was the final highlight of the trip, they saw so much wildlife on the game drive and boat cruise to the Murchison Falls, cameras were snapping away, many batteries flattened!
We headed back to Entebbe after an epic adventure, a lot of fun, a lot of banter, some craziness and most importantly after really making a huge impact to the daily lives of the people and wildlife in Uganda.
(Let’s Go to Uganda)!