Adventures en route to Kaabong

What you need to know:

MAIDEN VOYAGE. It was a first attempt to travel eastwards and there were sights to behold for a first time traveller. Kennedy Odokonyero shares his experience.

Makerere University College of Health Sciences Student’s Association organised a medical camp at Kaabong Hospital. Though we parted with Shs30,000 to get a slot in the team to travel to Kaabong, it was a great opportunity to tour Eastern Uganda since it would be my first time journeying through that side of Uganda. I was especially eager to visit Karamoja region because I’ve heard so many stories about the place and its people.

The journey
The organisers duly informed us that departure time would be 5.30 am. I made it to the set off point with a few minutes to spare. But guess what, we set off at 10am. A couple of things caught my attention along the way.
1. The chicken thighs at Najjembe in Mabira along Jinja highway. It stirred a bit of debate on Facebook whether they were actually chicken thighs or not. Irrespective of what people think, the fact is they’re very tasty and I think even quite tastier than the Wandegeya chicken. It is a must eat if you’re travelling along the highway.
2. A brief stopover in Mbale. The town itself is not very clean especially around the market. Inside the market, though, was bursting with activities. Something unique was people busy ironing clothes using charcoal iron boxes. My assumption was these are laundry service providers. Can you imagine in this era people still taking their clothes to the market to be ironed.
You cannot talk about Mbale without mentioning the Imbalu (the traditional circumcision ceremony of the Bagisu to initiate Boys into adulthood). I was glad to briefly witness a session.
3. Soroti town. This did not live up to its high billing which my friends from there are proud of. I was barely impressed by the multitude of buildings and houses with rusty iron sheets along the main street, though the town looked cleaner than Mbale.
If you plan to travel to Kaabong, beware, it is a tedious 13-hour drive, by Google map estimate, over 600km journey via the eastern route and likely to be prolonged due to multiple stopovers to give the driver a break. The road from Soroti to Kaabong doesn’t help either, due to pot holes and the huge stones on the surfaces. After turns of sleeping, waking, standing in the bus, we finally set foot at Kaabong hospital at 4.20 am. It was so cold probably below 15°C.

What to carry
A first aid kit
At least three pairs of shoes
Extra pairs of clothes depending on how long you will be away
Extra money as you could have to buy some souvenirs