We left at 5am, I packed 2 pieces of white bread and ate some peanuts. We hit a big white bird at some point, which I felt bad about for a while. I got to see the sunrise off to the right. Budongo is west of Murchison Falls, at the NW corner of Uganda. Sauda was our guide, and Larry also went on this tracking. A Dutch couple was also in the group. We drove a way up the road in the guide’s vehicle because the chimps were believed to be there. Sauda was great, obviously practiced and knowledgeable. She would listen, and then tell us what was going on with the chimps. There were more than one group, and she was trying to figure out if they would meet, or which way they would go, which is unpredictable. There were more vines in this forest than anywhere I’d been before. We were usually on trails in the beginning but later often went into the vegetation. It was not as thorny as Kibale.
I heard something fluttering around the back of my neck and I won-
dered if it was a bat. It made my hair stand on end in a kind of sensual
way. Later a simlar sound happened and I saw the source, a butterfly,
in front of me darting around, I hope it recorded!
We saw 2 chimps on the path ahead, females. Several times we heard calls, sometimes loud, when a baby got away from the mother and
started yelling for her. We saw them several times in trees and once coming down. We also heard various groups communicating.
It was a wonderful and tiring hike, and I think I probably have some
great sounds recorded.
Lunch was in Masindi at De Venue Hotel, where a guy wanted me to help him with an application to a school in England.
Larry noticed the bird had taken off the Nissan logo on the front of the
car. We drove on Gulu Rd again and turned east on Lira Rd, heading
for Lira. People in Lira were turning their heads at me, and I felt
We hit a rooster. I was playing with my camera and did not see it.
We saw soccer (football) games by the road. There was a naked boy in
a swamp fishing.
We stayed in Siroti, a big city relatively with pretty trees around the
houses. I helped choose the hotel. It was very nice but I had almost no
hot water in the shower and was not up for complaining. I heard something howling outside (dogs?) as I went to sleep.
We hit record potholes on the road from Sirota. I had been concerned
about going in the smaller car rather than the Land Cruiser which had
been vandalized, since we generally drive fast. But this Nissan seemed
to do well in all sorts of situations. Unfortunately the fuel guage got
stuck on 1/4 tank full, and we ran out of gas by the swamps. I recorded
sounds while Larry went for gas in a bus/taxi. Cows came by the road,
hearded by boys who were excited to wave at me. Larry came back
in 1/2 hour with guys with soda bottles full of pinkish translucent
We went on and the road to Sipi Falls turned into a very nice road. We
drove through the tribal lands where the boys are circumcised, to the
tribe where the girls are circumcised, which are south of where
the naked tribe lives. All Ugandans belong to some tribe. One tribe
has women who ride bicycles (I guess this is unusual in Uganda).
The views became wonderful as Mt Elgon became visible.
The walk was not as steep as some previous on the way down, and as
scenic as any. The falls were not huge, but very beautiful and I recorded audio and video with the guide, Peter’s help. He is from a tribe that
came from Ethiopia a while back. He wants to build a
better bridge at the falls, and study video. I really had a hard time with
this hike even though it was not as steep as some, probably due
to the altitude we had driven to this morning, after staying at
swamp level the night before. I had to rest a lot and my throat
became sore from breathing so hard. I thought maybe a bee
had stung my throat as I had choked on something, but it was
probably the altitude, according to Peter. I was unable to do the
2nd and 3rd falls hike, even though they were easier.
We had lunch at a scenic lodge, where I was shocked to get
quiche (the first time in Africa). Unfortunately it had bacon in it.
We headed back for Kampala, and I was aware this was my last
tour in Uganda on this trip. I tried to stay awake to enjoy the
ride. We passed babboons by the road, and crossed the Nile near Jinja.
Back in Kampala I had pizza for the first time in Uganda, and it was
good, with avocado, green olives and chicken.
I have 4 days left, and leave on Thursday. Today I tried on and picked
up the African dresses, which are amazingly beautiful. Then I met
with Kalungi and did a better recording than last week, this time
at the Art for Social Change school.
I will be trying to create sound for a piece with Kalungi, Livingstone’s
group, possibly House of Talent and the TATs installation before I
leave, which is a lot to do.
Uganda has been wonderful. It has been so good for me to see such different
cultures, such wonderful people and to understand a little about the
tribal peoples and traditional arts, music and dance. I’ve written
mostly about the parks, but the time with people here has been just
as fascinating. In 5 years I’m sure this will not be the same place,
and I’m glad I got to see it now. There are difficulties here for
Americans, drinking bottled water, watching what you eat,
the state of roads, some bathrooms, outrageous gas prices,
crazy driving situations, security and police with guns, etc. But those are a small price to pay for the experience of a unique mix of cultures,
chance to experience wildlife close up, and people who seem to make
a regular practice of kindness.
crossing the Nile again