Uganda was beginning to feel more like South East Asia as Big Yellow putted up steep winding roads enclosed by abundant tropical rainforests, banana plantations, heavily cultivated fields and rice paddy farms. We noticed women everywhere working in the fields, shops and markets, doing the heavy lifting and carrying impossibly large bundles on their heads while the men sat around chatting, or pushing bicycles wrapped in bananas up the relentless hills. With the wet season approaching the bad weather made the already bumpy, terrible roads into a muddy obstacle course. Half dirt, half bitumen, broken and crumbling, we peered out of the front window nervously wondering who gets the right of way when everyone just drives straight down the middle. Never-ending road works made the drive slow going, thankfully with Patrick at the wheel we never felt unsafe, with his 15 years experience driving these trucks we new we were in safe hands.
Hugging the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in western Uganda is Queen Elizabeth National Park, a vast wilderness including one of the largest concentrations of Hippo’s in Africa. As Big Yellow bounced along Ntungamo Road in the distance we could see the West Rift Valley, a fantastic geological trench stretching all the way from Syria to Mozambique, and the expansive plains below of the National Park which we were on our way to visit. Standing at the viewpoint admiring the incredible vista extending all the way to the DRC on the horizon and the spectacular Rwenzori Mountains, we spotted our first wild African Elephant, miles away feeding beneath an Acacia tree, a tell tale sign of the animal adventures that awaited us in the valley below!
Finally, on day 367, our African Overland Journey was underway as we left the bustling capital of Uganda, Kampala, joined by two of our fellow overlander’s who had arrived late, New Zealanders Craig and Michele along with our Kenyan guide Kanyo destined for Jinja, a town on the banks of the raging Nile River, to meet the rest of our group. Our anticipation was growing as we tackled the traffic and passed by lush green fields and forests of the Ugandan countryside, through ramshackle towns and onto the bumpy dirt roads to our peaceful camp overlooking the White Nile in Bujagali Falls.
Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. When traveling it is good to have a flexible itinerary so if things come up, or complications arise, you can just move on to somewhere else. Our entire trip we have just planned as we go, always with a good idea of what we want to see and do. Originally we had planned to visit Jersey and afterwards embark on an expedition through Eastern Europe, across Russia and into Mongolia and China on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a journey which is slightly more difficult without a little prior planning. This whole leg of the trip was becoming quite problematic, when eventually we decided to just change course all together and travel somewhere slightly more exotic, like Africa, our seventh and final continent of our superamble about the world!
If Turkey is spoiled with beaches then it is absolutely inundated with some of the world’s most historically important ancient Greek and Roman cities in the world. Hierapolis and Ephesus are just two such sites in a country brimming with archaeological gems, most of which are barely uncovered. Making a stop to at least one of these sights is crucial if you want to learn about Turkey’s vivid past. And if a surreal landscapes like the dazzling white Travertine’s at Pamukkale just happen to be on the way, then it’s vital to make at least a brief stopover.
Turkey is spoilt with some of the most remarkable coastline in the northern hemisphere. Sharp jagged cliffs meet white sand and brilliant sparkling blue water, with cute fishing villages and remote beaches along windy roads following the sea. They don’t call it the “Turquoise Coast” for no reason! Picturesque seaside villages like Kalkan, with its fusion of Eastern European and Turkish buildings adorned in colourful flowers, and stunning beaches such as Kaputaş and the Butterfly Valley with their glittering white sand and superb turquoise waters, help to feed this romantic vision of the Mediterranean. Then there are seedy towns like Hisarönü and its overcrowded beach Ölüdeniz, which remind you that not everywhere can be so perfect.