Day 9: Kampala, Uganda – Big Brother’s African Brother

Kampala, Uganda

Day 9: 6 August 2002 10:00 pm

The group are in disarray due to the news about the gorilla permits.

Last night we were shown a video of white-water rafting down the Nile by an
Aussie outfit called Adrift. Grade 5 rapids named the "Bad Place", "Hair of
the Dog" and "Kulu Shaker" featured heavily as rafts flipped over in
spectacular fashion, causing our group to gasp. They are currently offering
a full day’s rafting for $65 instead of $95.

The gorilla permit controversy continues. Last night we were told that
there had been a major mix up and that the guy that said he had booked the
permits in Rwanda had not. So we now have to stay another night in Kampala,
while our tour leader and truck operator frantically phone round to get
permits. This means that our original itinerary has been shot to pieces,
but I never expected to keep to it. Tom and I have decided that if the
group cannot get enough permits and we lose out in a ballot, then we will
leave the group for a week or two and head independently to Bwindi. For us
and most people on the trip, the gorilla trek is the main highlight and the
reason we came in the first place. I am now praying with the ‘happy
clappers’ that we can get permits.

At 10:30 am, our tour leader confirmed that they had finally booked permits
for August 7, 14 and 16, but three people had to travel by local transport
today to do the gorilla trek tomorrow. The tour leader took $250 from each
of us to buy the permits, and was heard in a very loud voice, that the money
had been transferred, so that any locals overhearing would not phone ahead
to ambush the taxi.

Pascal, Heinz and Tara volunteered as they were all on the three week trip. Our
tour leader would accompany them while our driver would take use to Jinja
tomorrow, and we would meet up with them at Lake Bunyonyi in four days time.

We decided to take a ride into Kampala so that we could visit the internet
cafe again, but we never made it as we were told to be back at the truck
after only an hour. We ended up on truck security duty for over two hours as
no one turned up. To say that we were a little pissed off was an understatement. I guess it was penance for locking the safe key inside the strong box this morning. We did manage to visit a couple of pharmacies, but no one wanted to diagnose my rash.

I keep thinking about those independent travellers we met yesterday and
wonder why we just didn’t bite the bullet and try and do this on our own.
We have given up trying to conform with the group and we are going to do our
own thing from now on. We had a chat with Martine, who said she finds the
group travel rather taxing and wouldn’t be surprised if splits from the
group, as she is sensing tension already. So, we have not given into peer
pressure tonight and are avoiding the bad taste party.

Now that our tour leader has left, I can see the group tasks descending into
chaos, along with the rest of the trip. Only time will tell.

Positives: I’m in Africa fulfilling a dream and now have a gorilla permit.

Negatives: We’ve given up conforming to the group and don’t care anymore.

 

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