Dude, it's happening

I finally booked: after 6 months of thinking about an East African roadtrip it's finally happening! In April, May and June I will be travelling through Uganda and Rwanda with my friends Dirk & Amilcar. We intend to buy/rent a car to travel freely up country, visiting various campsites and hostels throughout Uganda, Rwanda and possibly Kenya, discovering culture, stories and people along the way.

The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.

— Richard Mullin

Fresh off the boat

My friend Dirk has never been to East Africa before, so i'm sure he is in for quite a ride. For many the culture shock is too intense, for others it's truly invigorating. I hope to show him a fair share of the spectrum of cultural experiences characteristic to Uganda.

After flying to Entebbe on the 23rd of March we will head to Kampala to get our bearings, plan our travels and arrange transportation. As we will be travelling for at least two months the most logical solution will be to buy a car. After seeing Top Gear Killing a Toyota Hilux we're pretty sure it will be able to handle the terrain we intend to cover. The Kampala car industry is however notorious for polishing up cars on the outside and swapping parts for cheap chinese or used parts. Step 1: Find a mechanic.

Jinja

After buying a car, supplies and getting our affairs in order we will travel east to Jinja, near the source of the White Nile. Jinja had the second largest economy in Uganda and offers a wide variety of activities such as white water rafting, quad biking, paragliding and a bar or two.

Next we plan to travel to Karamoja, where Theo Vos, the founder of tour operator Kara-Tunga, will set us up with an introduction into the life of the Karamajong. In the past few months the area has experienced extreme drought and many people have paid the price. The Karamojong are known for their love of cattle and their resistance to the trappings of modern civilisation, which is why they have largely been able to preserve their ancestral cultural heritage.

If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.

— John Hemingway

Karamoja

Kara-Tunga has a guesthouse in Moroto which will most likely be our base from which we will visit geographical highlights as well as spend time with the local community.

We met Theo in Amsterdam this week to discuss our plans and ask advice about everything from phone providers to where to buy a tent. What really caught our dreams was to climb to the peak of Mount Moroto, a huge nature reserve that measures 483 square kilometres (119,000 acres) and contains over 220 bird species, monkeys and wild cats.

Next we may visit Lake Opeta Wetlands, for some birdwatching and a fair dose of local culture. Finally we will visit a Warrior Bush Camp, spending time with tribesmen and walking through the bush.

“If there were one more thing I could do, it would be to go on safari once again.”

— Karen Blixen

Murchison Falls National Park

There is no way you can visit Uganda for the first time and not go on safari. Murchison Falls National Park is a unique environment as the boat tour to the falls really adds a different dynamic to the safari experience. A completely different angle of watching wildlife, compared to driving. If you have a trained game warden along he will have some books along to show you what his trained eye has spotted. A unique experience that you will never forget!

Make sure to add Lake Bunyonyi to your bucketlist

Lake Bunyonyi

Our final stop (depending on what the rain does) will be Lake Bunyonyi, nicknamed the "Switzerland of Africa" due to its hilly nature and high altitude. This beautiful phenomenon counts 29 islands, widely ranging in shapes and sizes and absolutely deserves a place on all the “Places to See Before You Die” lists you see dominate the web.

I fell in love with Rwanda the moment I saw those verdant, rolling hills rise up beneath the wings of the plane as we descended toward Kigali airport.

— Naomi Benaron

Kigali

Many of my friends from Kampala have always talked about Kigali, highlighting it's beautiful nature, vibrant nightlife and last but not least, beautiful women. Reputationally Rwanda has always been coloured by the genocide of 1994, the slaughter of approximately one million Tutsi by Hutu militias. As many other cities around the world that have faced extreme attrocities, Kigali rebuilt itself and is once again a pulsating cultural hub in East Africa.

One of the things I love about Africa is the amount of dignity and respect and humility you see all the time. You don't realise how often you're disrespected until you are surrounded by respect.

— Jill Scott

Home

I haven't been back to Uganda in about 5 years, lost in the wanderlust and affordable forms of transportation in Europe, I filled my time exploring the cultural diversity nearby. Uganda is developing at such a rate that you're shocked by all the new malls, buildings and ideas that have sprouted since your last visit. After so long, it will be interesting to see what feels more like home, Amsterdam or Kampala. I can't wait till the humid Ugandan air floods the cabin when the planes doors open at Entebbe airport!