REMINISCENT. Food, adrenaline rush and nature walks in Jinja left Easter memories.
Easter might be a couple of days behind us but the memories it brought with it linger because that is what it was about.
For a change, your writer and photographer, with two friends, chose to take some adventure, this time to Jinja, Uganda’s escapade capital. The skies opened just as we made our way out of dusty Kampala.
We interpreted the heavy downpour for the lord’s blessings for journey mercies. Having a trusted female driver on the wheel and in control of gears and the speed pedal, was all good reason for me to relax.
Our first stop was in Namawojjolo, a market popular for roasted meats. It is hard to get enough of the chicken at this point and for me, it is about chancing on a well-salted crisp roasted wing.
We made a right turn to Rainforest Lodge, a facility in Mabira Forest. We placed our orders and we had to wait at least slightly under half an hour. In that time, we lingered in nature’s splendour. Playful, chirping red-tailed monkeys welcomed us as they jumped from one tree branch to another in the thicket.
Occasionally, they proved they were at home by taking a short call at leisure. We were glad to dodge their liquid waste. Meanwhile the rich green made for some beautiful Nikon and ‘selfie’ moments that got us trail through tree canopies and semi-wet concrete walkways that lead to rooms which you might want to spend time in on a holiday, or better still, honeymoon.
If not for cottages that will let you interact with nature, the customer care will. Lunch was hot, sumptuous and in good portions. As the forks and other cutlery were put to use, we appreciated the artistic ambience; pillar put together with stone and lighting suspended on metallic décor.
The drive out of the ecolodge was on full stomachs and photographic experiences. I wish I could share as much proof as my travel buddies could allow me to. Some moments felt like photo shoots.
Search for accommodation
Jinja was close by but the search for accommodation in the early evening hours made it the real adventure capital. As we turned into hospitality drives, one after another, some left a bitter taste in our mouths, particularly because of the wanting customer care service that ultimately hurts our hospitality industry.
My memory came to our rescue when I recalled an interview I had done with Arfoon Abdi, the proprietor of Al-Nisaa Hotel & Spa where we found comfort, warm souls and also made some firsts, (at least for your writer).
I was not prepared to take a Moroccan bath but glad that I did. Soaking up in Moroccan soaps, clay and rinsing liquids was all nourishing in a steam bath. The steam bath leaves your body feeling like a baby.
The adrenaline went into a rush as we drove to Kalagala Falls. Our destination was the opulent Wildwaters Lodge only to be stopped at the gate by a security guard who informed us that we had forgotten to make a prior booking.
As we digested the disappointment, the ferocious Kalagala Falls helped calm our nerves as we watched boys swim and frolic in the speedy waters. Lunch had been planned at this gem.
We drove back and had it at Ling Ling Restaurant whose Chinese offerings were good culinary treats. Jinja Sailing Club had its doors closed by 10pm. We found an alternative in Velvet Club, which was not ‘happening’ as much. The walls were swanky and the waitress’s heart warm.
The slow business did not ruin it. The deejay rocked the night and in-between enjoying the music and chatting with my travel-mates, it occurred to me that I had not honoured the people who are the masters in making chapatti and ultimately, the ‘rolex’.
I ordered one and it was delivered hot and tasty. Easter Sunday offered a good-ender, with a trip to Adrift where the weak and strong-hearted take leaps of faith. Off to the jumping tower, into a bungee and down into the waters of the mighty River Nile. The tension at the viewing end is minimal. Watching it through the lens left my heart pounding, from the fear of heights and water.
Nonetheless, water rafting is off my adventure list. Bungee jumping is next. The experience at The Black Lantern deserves a fresh page.
If you want to go by car, the driving distance between Kampala and Jinja is 78.99 km. If you ride your car with an average speed of 112 kilometers/hour , travel time will be 42 minutes.