If 2011 was busy, 2012 looks set to be busier still! Here are a few of 2011′s highlights for Diary of a Muzungu, Uganda travel blog …
TRAVELLING – Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Turkey – and of course, Uganda.
Kenya - The Naivasha Relay (84km from Nairobi to Lake Naivasha) is one of the highlights of Nairobi Hash House Harriers’ calendar. 40 Ugandan Hashers travelled from Kampala to Kenya for the week-end party (I mean run!) I did my share – 3km to be exact - ‘good enough’ as we say in UG.
The weekend started with a 12 hour bus journey:
Rwanda – a full day’s travelling across Uganda, through Kigali, and onto the fabulous Volcanoes National Park (Parc Nationale des Virungas). Rwanda’s reputation precedes it, in many positive ways nowadays. The smooth tarmac made a pleasant change from Uganda’s potholes; the legal obligation to wear a helmet on a boda boda (motorbike taxi) in Kigali came as a bit of a shock! This year I’m looking forward to taking up Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge‘s open invitation to revisit.
TIP: next time you fly, look at the map before you select your seat – choose a window seat, check which side of the plane to sit and have your camera ready. Some of my most memorable travel moments of 2011 have been from on high (and I haven’t even joined the Mile High Club yet!) Mount Kilimanjaro through the clouds; traversing the seemingly endless azure blue of Lake Malawi; skirting around the edges of Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater; seeing volcanoes emerge over the horizon as we approached Nairobi. The shot of Kilimanjaro – en route to Johannesburg – is a favourite. Sigh …
South Africa – U2′s ‘Beautiful Day’ will forever remind me of a great ten days in Johannesburg, with a great friend and her beautiful daughter, and something deeper – retracing my political and musical roots:
Thank you Holly! For the trip, for the friendship and for being a part of my VSO journey.
Ethiopia - Hashing – the ‘drinking club with a running problem’ – led me on a very merry dance (hic!) around Ethiopia for two truly memorable weeks. I can’t stop reliving and writing about Ethiopia, here’s one of my posts:
Turkey – On a trip back home to the UK, I stopped over in Istanbul for a day. Istanbul looks like my kind of place.
A day in … Istanbul got me thinking about how much I’d like to be travelling and writing about travel full-time.
Uganda - In September, I was really excited to take part in the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s new tourism experience: Walking with Mongooses, a really fun and informative day out in Queen Elizabeth National Park. You may have watched the BBC’s ‘Banded Brothers’ TV series, all about these fascinating fellas.
WRITING – articles for The Eye Magazine Rwanda, Uganda’s Business Today magazine and writing and producing Uganda Matters, the annual newsletter for the Uganda Conservation Foundation. My blog has been featuring on Lonely Planet since 2009 (PHEW! no wonder I’m knackered!)
CONNECTING - with published authors, Lonely Planet bloggers and the global travel blogosphere. Thanks in particular to Todd Wassel at Todd’s Wanderings, for the beautiful and fantabulous Around the World with 40 Lonely Planet bloggers ebook; Mazarine Treyz of Wildwoman Fundraising for her boundless creativity and energy; Wandering Trader Marcello Arrambide who dropped by Kampala and shared some awesome tips on travel blogging. Writing and blogging can be an introspective way to spend your spare time – but you guys keep me motivated. Thank you so much!
CHANGING CAREERS - I’ve always said that in Uganda, “business is social and social is business” and I like it that way…
After two and a half years as a VSO volunteer for the Uganda Conservation Foundation, it was time to move on and employ a local man to take over my role. I’m so proud to have been part of UCF (work trips to the Bush – safari yeah!)
Despite the global recession, UCF’s donors continue to support us. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is so pleased with UCF’s work in Queen Elizabeth National Park that UCF is now working with them to tackle poaching and human wildlife conflict in Murchison Falls National Park. (Damn, that’s one trip I missed out on!) As you can see, I still talk about UCF in the present tense and I’ll continue to do as much as I can to promote this fantastic charity.
Life as a VSO volunteer in Uganda has certainly had its ups and downs. It’s been a truly incredible three years so far. I love life in Uganda – but it does sometimes get the better of me:
Here’s a bit more about life as a volunteer in Uganda -
So why am I still in Uganda? Here’s one reason – one of my favourite blogs from last year:
Have a great 2012 everyone!