If this was a really short story, it would go like, we left for Kampala on Friday (23rd March) Night, got there on Saturday and planted trees, came back to Nairobi Sunday night.
But so much more happened so i won’t be doing this trip article justice if I stop at that.
“How much to the Kampala bus station along River Road?” I asked the motorbike rider just outside Nyayo House, Nairobi Kenya after having picked my Travel Passport. I was too excited to step outside my country of birth for the first time without getting a stamp as a reminder. Btw, I had the option of using my ID only. “200 bob”, he said while sitting on his speed kinda bike. With no time to bargain, I hoped on, informing him to get me there as fast as he could. I was already late and if I was not at the station in 10 minutes, I would be left behind.
If you are a Kenyan, or have been to the Kenyan CBD, Nairobi, you know how motorbikes manoeuvre. They know no rules. My heart was in my hand as we sped past, opposite and across moving vehicle which are also driven pretty carelessly in some areas. Well, gladly am here narrating and also,…. the bus didn’t leave me.
I got in time to register my name along with roughly 10 more fellow Rotaractors, most of whom were already inside trying to get the whereabouts of the rest of us. Registration involves the Dreamline staff writing your details on a book, confirming your receipt, and aboard the bus you go. Stashed my luggage on the top luggage section and off we were, that is after waiting on one of us who was racing after us on a bike. He should thank the traffic along Accra Road. African Timing will finish us ooooh! (imagine that with a Nigerian accent).
Departure time being 5:15pm, we were well on our way to Kampala Uganda using the Busia route, YAAS! You can imagine the excitement we all had (well me especially)
We watched three movies on board, pretty weird ones. One being Jack and the Beans. Where there were these really huge giants fighting some really tiny people like us, and guess who won? You got it!.. The tiny people LOL!
By 9 pm we were at Nakuru, did a little visit to the washroom obviously and refilled on snacks and food, some very tasty warus (potatoes in Kikuyu/ more commonly known as chips)
As interesting as night travel gets, we ate, chatted with music in the air, and eventually we were sleeping bodies. I woke up next as we passed Kisumu City at 12 am. The main features i saw were; Maseno University and their main Airport, also a reflection of Lake Victoria. How i wish it was day time. Anyway, that’s a trip for another day.
And then ZZZzzz back to sleep till we got to the Busia border at roughly 3 am.
At the border, you fill a form and they check your identification (ID/Passport and Yellow Fever).
You know i always got you covered dear reader so here’s more important information to note;
Important Documents when leaving Kenya for other East African Countries and vice versa (because I have been to Uganda remember ;-))
- It is an injection that you get on your upper arm, 10 days prior to leaving Kenya, for it to be effective in your body. You only need to get it once in your lifetime. Several places offer it. The ones am aware of being;
- RUP Pharm Ltd Standard Branch; Sirona House, Standard Street, Nairobi Kenya for a price of Ksh. 2,300
- City Hall Nairobi Kenya for Ksh. 2,500 – 4,000
- Wilson Airport along Lang’ata Road, Kenya for Ksh. 2,500 – 4,000
To leave the country, you can use your Identification Card(I.D) for Uganda, or an East African (E.A) Passport for the other countries in E.A that don’t allow ID only or an international passport. Personally i would recommend the international one, which is valid for 10 years. I mean, if you are a travel junkie, you want to go further than just E.A. within 10 years yes? Yes.
So, the passport is applied via the government portal; click here for more info on ecitizen Kenya , at a fee of Ksh. 4,550 for the 32-paged international passport. And within a month, it is out.
The White Form;
It is for record purposes to the borders on who is exiting and who is entering countries. You fill basic information about yourself.
At the borders, you can also exchange currencies. The rate being 1KSH=35USH. The Kenyan shilling being stronger. You should have heard us make fun of the Ugandan Shilling LOL!
Journeying on, we got to Kampala at 6am.
Not to worry, your Safaricom and Airtel lines are still useful here; Safaricom registers as MTN Uganda and Airtel remains that, being dominant over Safaricom.
The major means of transport are; Motorbikes and 14 seater matatus. The matatus look pretty much the same. Not as fancy as Team Manyanga in Kenya that is; no graffitti, no music and no hurry. The police traffic dress in white, classy!
There’s always a sign and at least 3 sets of rumble strips before every polite bump in Ug. I was beginning to get comfortable with that since in Kenya, it is sort of a situation of “man for himself, God for us all”. Very few roads have warning signs ahead of a bump and, roads with rumble strips have them just a few steps away from the main bump. Which begs the question, What is the use of a rumble strip?
The reason we went was to do a project with The Rotaract Club of Kampala South; planting trees at Kiboga District.
I learnt that the forest cover of Uganda is a little over 80% while Kenya’s is lower than 10%.
The Rotaract Club of Kampala South had pre planned to host us, so basically, our cost was transport only. What an amazing club this one! Thank you guys. I was delighted to be hosted by three cools peeps, slept at one’s, breakfast at another and hang out later with another.
My pal Hildah was hosted by a Rotarian who lives somewhere near the lake, she says the view was breath taking! For a moment i was jealous (where is that monkey hiding it’s face emoji?!) haha
Meals to try in Uganda;
- Pork and matoke, matoke being their main staple food and a major income source.
- Rolex. In Uganda, this is not just a classy watch but also a snack. It’s a combo of chapati and fried eggs/omelette and well sliced tomatoes among other veges.
As we finished having our last meal in the land of Museveni “Himuself”, time was running out on us, so bikes and our hosts’ cars got us to the bus station asap. So you can imagine that at any time in the weekend especially, there are several Kenyans running to catch a bus, a flight or a train lol!
We get to the Malaba border and the Kenyan weather is like “welcome back to rainy home my people”
We got to Nairobi at 7 am which means i had less than 45 minutes to get to work. I quickly changed my outfit and put on the office one in the untinted bus. The bus became my dressing room. What can i say, i had pre-planned this trip really well. (Survival tips for travel junkies)
At the office typing, my world quiet, like my whole system shutting down but the screen still on typing this because yeah, me nostalgic. Happens every time after a trip. I keep wondering why, how it ended so fast.
Thank you for being kind Uganda.
Next I am coming to do some shopping, too many beautiful outfits on display.