Crossing the border into Uganda was fairly uneventful except for the argument I inadvertently caused on the mini bus. I hadn’t realised that I needed to buy a second ticket for my bag – not a problem as it was only about 40p but the conductor didn’t seem to want me to do that – he wanted to squeeze more people on to the already packed bus instead. The whole bus seemed to get into an argument which I had no idea what was being said. In the end they forced a small child onto the seat aswell so it was a little cramped but was only for 40mins.
I arrived in Kisoro in Uganda to stay at the Travellers Rest hotel – the place where Dianne Fossey said was her second home and Jane Goodall used to stay there. Nice place with rooms around a courtyard.
I was immediately faced with a problem through – getting money out in Uganda is not easy! ATMs don’t seem to like to work very well and then when you do you can only every get 250,000 USH out a day – about £62 – which when you need to pay for hotels and trips is not good news. Add to this the added complication that because someone has managed to clone my bank card I have to phone to phone the fraud line of my bank to get them to temporarily remove the block on my card while I get money out and they need to be on the phone while I do this. My phone bill is going to be huge! I have even had to resort to getting cash out on my credit card which is really not good news either. And mum before you start panicking the bank picked up the fraud very quickly so no money was lost. My chief suspect for the cloning is the ATM in Kigali airport! And the card has been tried to be used repeatedly somewhere in Kenya.
Anyway money issues a side in a fit of madness I decided that it would be a good idea to get a training hike in for Kilimanjaro – sensible you might think – until I mention that the hike in question was up a 3,700m high volcano called Sabinyo which had been graded as strenuous and difficult. So up I got at 5.30am only to find that I wasn’t the only one stupid enough to attempt it – there were 5 others. However all of these turned out to be 19/20 year old guys on a gap year. I was nearly 20 years older than then which was an incredibly depressing thought. And of course there was no way I could keep up with them.
The trek started and although for the first few kilometres it was gradually uphill it was made all the harder that it was incredibly boggy so it was quite tough walking. During this time although I lagged behind a bit I managed to keep up with the young guys admirably well I would say! Soon after though we got to the volcano proper they were off and I didn’t see them again! I was also surprised that the main guide (who was in his 40’s) soon swapped places with the guide that was at the back with me. He told me later that he couldn’t keep up with them either and preferred my pace – I don’t know whether he was just saying that but it made me feel a bit better.
Now this climb was tough. We were starting at just over 2000mtrs and to get to the top required climbing higher than Ben Nevis at 2000m higher altitude! And being conical shaped it was straight up through 3 different stages of rain forest. Now to begin with it was very warm and I coped reasonably well with my pole pole style. However the rain soon came and the steep climb became slippery. And the repeated climbing ladders of round slippery bits of wood wasn’t fun.
Soon the altitude also started to take an effect and breathing was hard. I was getting wet and then the climbing ladders got even steeper. I made a few of them but I was starting to get really scared by them and after falling over several times going upwards I finally made the first summit. I had climbed over 1000ms and that was enough for me, I was cold and dizzy. I couldn’t face anymore of the ladders in the rain so turned back. I had still climbed higher than Snowdon on a much steeper climb. Going down the ladders was even worse. I think I fell over at least 10 times – and that was with climbing poles that saved me repeatedly. I have a few bruises to show for it. The guide told me that this climb was much harder than Kili – I really hope he is right!
When I was finally back down I had been walking for over 7 and a half hours with no views what so ever due to the clouds. Later that evening back in the hotel the clouds finally left the mountain and I got a view of just how high I had walked and I was quite pleased with myself.
I then headed over to the Birdsnest Hotel on Lake Bunynoni – a beautiful hotel on a beautiful lake. Here I kicked back and did nothing – which was a good job as for 2 days by thighs were screaming at me after the climb. I am the only person staying there – apparently they are very busy at weekends but it is rainy season so quieter during the week. Swimming pool was lovely and staff very friendly – had the best steak I have had since leaving the UK in January. And there is a lovely labrador called Pacino who has befriended me – ever since I gave him my pork chop bones – he follows me everywhere and sits and whines outside my bedroom door!
Stayed here longer than intended but it was good to do nothing for a few days and I read the whole of the book Shaking Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire the UN commander during the genocide – very gripping book but really quite depressing – I think I need to read something light-hearted next . Went into Kabale today to buy my bus ticket – I wasn’t impressed so pleased I stayed at the lake.