Coming down from a high...
Trip Start May 05, 2006
43Trip End Aug 21, 2006
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We piled into the back of the rafting truck with all the other people and bounced our way to town. I held onto those bars pretty hard! The British guys had the great idea of free-loading breakfast off the rafting company since, having been there the day before, we blended in pretty well. Jono was feeling pretty sick though and it seemed like we'd have to delay the departure to Mbale a bit until he felt road-worthy. We could see he was suffering, but it wasn't long before we took off in a private hire taxi to the taxi park together. Unfortunately we forgot our shopping bag of groceries (with yummy ginger snaps and Matt's new soap in it!) and only realized once we were sitting in the matatu waiting for our departure.
A little money and a boda-boda (motorcycle) solved this problem. Since the Mbale matatus take awhile to fill up, Matt negotiated a boda to take him back to the camp, to Kwiksave to buy water and back to the taxi park for 2,000 shillings (just over $1). When he came back, we were still not that close to leaving...Jono was leaning over the front seat (that we had negotiated for him to take - they don't cram people in up there) and Ed and I were chatting in the back, making fun of all the silly things they sell in taxi parks, like hankerchiefs that say "Kiss me" on them, and watches with Bin Laden's face that flash a message that says "I Love You!". We were trying to figure out the meaning of that one, but Ed thought it was fabulous anyway and bought one for "the best 2,000 shillings" he'd ever spent.
We finally set off, and Ed and I ended up dozing most of the way in the back - quite a comfortable ride, with only 3 people in the row (there are often 5). We had a quick roasted matoke (plantain) snack on the way, but arrived in Mbale quite famished. The first stop was a local restaurant for some matoke and chicken. Then we parted ways...Matt and I having to figure out how to get to Sipi Falls, since the matatus seemed pretty irregular and 3 pm is a bit late in the day to be heading out. We decided to take what seemed a pretty good deal - a private hire taxi negotatiated down to 40,000 shillings from 80,000. For just over $20, it seemed worth it for peace of mind...and we got stop offs at an internet cafe, the post office and Akamba bus to buy our tickets for Nairobi on the way. Unfortunately my e-mail issues were not yet resolved, but I decided to not let it bother me and instead enjoy our laid back time in Sipi!
The ride to the falls was quite beautiful. The backdrop to Mbale town is lush hills and mountains (including Mount Elgon, a wild mountain where you can do amazing treks to the top) rising into the background, and that was where we were headed. The road is one of the best in Uganda, built by a Bosnian road team, and it was a pleasant drive winding up through the hills. Sipi falls is set next to a small trading centre and has a handful of campsites to choose from. We settled on Moses Campsite, a simple and affordable place, set on a cliff overlooking a valley with the main Sipi waterfall off to the right. The site is relatively small, with a central mud hut gazebo for reception and eating, all sorts of tiny hills dotted with bandas and a nice flat camping area near the cliffs. Moses, a soft-spoken and extremely genuine man is the owner. He is helped by his mother, who cooks the meals, and two of his nephews, who do odd jobs.
Our driver had picked up a guy at the trading centre who was keen on showing us the campsites and probably booking him as a guide the following day. We really wanted to spend the day relaxing and found him a bit pushy, so we told him that we would sort things out the next day and if he was already booked, then so be it...We were probably still exhausted from rafting, and so lay our sleeping bags out on the grass for a little rest after setting up our tent. It would have been a completely peaceful rest had there not been a movie blaring from the trading centre (one is shown each day in the evening), but it was nice nonetheless. We then each had a very cold bush shower, after having turned down the offer of water being heated up for us (it seemed like such a bother!).
We spent the rest of the evening in the gazebo reading and waiting for the omlette dinner we had ordered...we had heard two other people had arrived to the campsite and, when they appeared, it was the Italians! (who we met in Murchison Falls). Since they already had our stamp of approval, we invited them to join our campfire that would take place after dinner on the rocks outside our tent. When our food eventually camp...very late...with many apologies...we all ate together and then went out for the fire, which warmed us all up almost instantly. By the time it was done, we were all ready for bed. Matt and I bundled up for what we expected to be a cold night in the mountains...