Travel Summary: 13h 27m driving 483 km, 30 min hiking 1.8 km
One of the organizations that IntelliTect supports is the International Justice Mission (IJM). One of the reasons for passing through Fort Portal was to meet with IJM to gain a better understanding of the injustice fighting work they are doing there around gender-based violence (GBV). Disappointingly, the leadership was traveling over the Easter weekend and we were not able to meet. It wasn’t the same; however, we have one of the victims of GBV coming to visit IntelliTect next month and meet with those interested in the work that IJM is doing in Uganda (let me know if you would like to attend). In lieu of such a visit, we continued on our journey along the Western side of Uganda with our longest travel day yet.
Following breakfast, we drove South crossing the equator (my first time on land), and then on to the Kyambura Gorge. (The latter has chimpanzees but that will have to be saved for another visit.) The gorge is impressive in its invisibility. If you didn’t know it was there, you would never see it. You look across the landscape and it is spotted trees and grass (African veld) as far as the eye can see. However, if you drive across, you suddenly encounter the gorge without any notice. We also stopped by the Kyambura Gorge Lodge to make a quick hike down to the river.
When driving long distances, with little infrastructure along the way, mindfulness of gas stops is obviously important. This is especially true when driving a Toyota Land Cruiser (albeit diesel) with over 200,000 km and a broken gas gauge. Frequently, the stops proved to be interesting, whether it was a manual gas pump or a small fishing village with hippos, sacred ibis, and hammerkop on the beach.
The final stretch was perhaps the most eventful with treacherous roads that extended on well after dark. Both Sean and the Land Cruiser were amazing – I’m pretty sold on the latter as my vehicle of choice if/when I drive the length of Africa, and I wouldn’t complain if Sean was my driver either.
The water crossing below was way more impressive when we first drove up and I hadn’t waded through and checked the depth.
The goal was to reach the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest by nightfall. And, while we could have taken the direct 7-hour drive, we decided to take a “slight detour” through the Queen Elisabeth National Park. Unfortunately, however, it ended up a lot more of a detour than we intended. While we did see a few elephants, giraffes, and baboons, they were brief encounters and didn’t warrant the extra ~6-hour drive over hair-raising, four-wheel only, cliff-hanging roads, and even a river crossing.
But hey, that is what adventure is all about.
P.S. We also had a gender-based violence encounter but it deserves its own post.