9 04 2011

With ‘Worse-off Wednesday’ (so dubbed by the media) kicking off  the 2011-12 financial year and its attendant  austerity measures, it doesn’t seem like a bad time to quit the country, which is exactly what Chris and I intend to do – well at least for while!   

We both suffer terribly from wanderlust and are quick to pick up on any travel opportunities that come our way.

The flexibility of Chris’s part time working commitments, combined with a late Easter school holiday running up to the royal wedding and the long bank holiday weekend, has provided a convenient three-week window for us to get away to East Africa.

This will be my third visit in just twelve months, but this time it’s a holiday and Chris will be keeping me company!

It will be a great opportunity for me to catch up with friends, show Chris something of the country I lived and worked in for three months, and also so to take in some new sights and experiences.

We head out tomorrow evening on an overnight BA flight (luckily no industrial action pending this weekend – they can do what they like on the way back!) from LHR to Uganda, ‘the pearl of Africa’. We touchdown at Entebbe airport, around 07.45 on Sunday, and hopefully we should be welcomed by two VSO colleagues, Stuart and Elisabeth, who have a placement in Kampala.

They havekindly offered accommodation for a few nights and to show us something of their city. We will also be spending a couple of nights under canvas (at the ‘Red Chilli Campsite’) on a short safari to the Murchison Falls, which includes a game drive, a boat trip on the Nile and a chimp trek.

The second part of our journey will be spent in Rwanda, a nostalgic trip for me (although it is only four months ago that I left) taking in the capital city Kigali, Lake Kivu and a return to Kirehe District, where we will be staying with my friend Msafiri at his ‘KMC’ bar in Nyakarambi.

Msafiri has been a great help in organising the third leg of our trip, a five day excursion into his native Tanzania for a Serengeti safari. He will be providing a vehicle, accompanying us as driver/guide (and friend) all of the way from Nyakarambi to Arusha, via the Ngorongoro crater.

We are travelling towards the back end of the ‘green season’; in other words, it could be pretty wet! The up side is that the national parks will be less busy and hopefully there will still be plenty of wild life to see. If we are very lucky we might even catch the early stages of the great wildebeest migration.    

From Arusha it is a short hop by plane to the spice island of Zanzibar, where we will be chilling out in Stone Town for four nights.

A convoluted flight from Zanzibar, via Dar Es Salam and Nairobi, should get us back to Uganda on May 1st for a final night in the Entebbe Airport Guesthouse before catching an early morning return flight to the UK on 2nd May.

We should arrive home virtually a year to the day that I embarked upon my first ‘out of Africa 2010’ episode, working on the ‘Book Bus’. Talking of which, on flicking through my April/May issue of ‘Wanderlust’ magazine I was delighted to find that Kelly, who manages and co-ordinates the whole ‘Book Bus’ experience out in Zambia, has been ‘specially commended’ in the publication’s 2011 Guide Awards.     

When I emailed her with my congratulations, Kelly replied saying she was totally unaware but delighted to hear the news. Apparently she is on a bit of a roll, as she has also just won a worldwide competition, run by the Zambia tourist board.

The slogan, ‘discover Zambia, experience Africa’ has won Kelly a $15,000 safari holiday, but more than that she has rebranded the country!

I won’t be ‘blogging’ while I’m away but will be keeping an old fashioned hand written travel-log so that  I  can hopefully  post some exciting ‘out of Africa 2011’ adventures, following  our  return to ‘the Shire’.  

Check it out in the first week of May!




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