As I arrived at 10pm yesterday rather than the 220am of my old flights I was able to get up early enough to be able to explore Entebbe for a while before my friend arrived to collect me for the journey to Jinja. After getting up, repacking my bags and discovering how bad the ants are in Uganda I checked out of the room and headed out towards the Uganda Wildlife Centre to see some African animals. It was to be quite a walk but a guy was waiting near the hostel with a boda motorbike taxi and took me to the zoo in only a few minutes.
Almost every guide book about the region recommends staying away from Bodas due to the risk of injury. The roads in Africa can be chaotic and the traffic laws tend to be used as guidelines more than rules so when combined with the quality of the roads and the lack of helmets there can be a lot of accidents. However when you’re in Africa without your own transport and on a budget they tend to be the only way to get from A to B within a town. TIA after all.
I enjoyed my time at the zoo as I was able to see and get close to so many animals that I missed out on last time I was in Uganda including Lion, Crocodile, Snakes and Monkeys – the latter of which were wild in the grounds and got VERY close on occasions. The grounds themselves were lovely and and extended all the way down to the shore of Lake Victoria and as I was one of the only visitors this morning I was able to walk around in peace and soak up the atmosphere.
While I was looking at the Lions I noticed a jeep pull up near me and a man in a suit got out and started watching me. Originally I thought I was standing somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be but after walking towards him he introduced himself as the manager and he wanted to chat to me just to see what my views were on the zoo. We chatted for a few minutes about his zoo and other zoos I had visited and he asked my opinion on a few things they had done recently – it seemed like they genuinely care about what people think rather than just presenting the animals for you to see like in some other zoos. I was also asked what I thought about the entry price of the zoo and whether I received a receipt but didn’t think anything more of the answers I gave until I got back to the entrance. As I walked out I heard somebody trying to get my attention from the side window of the ticket office – it was the ticket clerk who sold me the ticket wanting to give me my receipt. It seems the manager had a word with him to find out why I didn’t receive a receipt, I assume to stop him pocketing the money himself.
A short, fast Boda ride later and I was back at the Entebbe Backpackers where I chilled with a magazine for a bit while waiting for my friend to arrive to take me to Jinja. I was chilling for maybe an hour before my friend arrived with Job, the Ekisa Orphanage driver of choice, and two kids from the orphanage (Paul and Zeke). The kids were really happy to see me, despite not being able to speak English, and we all sat around having some drinks and snacks in the shade for a while to give them a rest before heading off from Entebbe towards Jinja.
The journey progressed slower than we expected so we decided to stop in Kampala for lunch at a place near the American Embassy called Le Petit Village. It looked like a really expensive hotel, built in traditional African style, but we stopped for their deli which served a great selection of baguettes. I opted for a nice Salami baguette which definitely filled a gap. I caught up with my friend and interacted with the kids for a while but it was soon on to Jinja.
It was a great feeling when we finally arrived in Jinja and made our way up to Ekisa which is on the outskirts of town near the Adrift campsite I stayed at a few years ago. As soon as I got out of the minibus I was greeted by another one of the kids, Mweru, who came flying through the air and hugged me. I have a feeling this will be the start of a lot of attention from him, but all of the kids were so curious when I arrived and I spent most of the rest of the day relaxing at Ekisa and interacting with the kids. The building has a couple of rooms for volunteers, a few kids bedrooms, two bedrooms for the Emilys, a lounge, kitchen and is set in a great walled compound which allows the kids to run around and have fun in safety.
I’m now relaxing in the room I’ll have for the week I’m here which usually belongs to one of the directors, but she’s in the USA on a fundraising trip, so it’s giving me a chance to get away from the constant chaos that seems to pour through the building.