Thursday, 21 April 2016

Kennedy Sibling Reunion Tour 2016 Part One: On the Road Again...

It was just 11 months ago that the Kennedy Kids met up for an epic adventure. Last time it was Copenhagen and Manchester. This time it was the beautiful country of Uganda - and Michael's first experience on African soil. I had a busy week of activities planned for us, that started almost from the moment he got off the plane. Our first stop? Well, Jinja, of course!

I must say, I was a little nervous taking Mike to Jinja so early into our adventure - not because of Jinja itself, but because I was afraid he'd be uncomfortable hopping on a boda boda so quickly. Thankfully, he took to this mode of transportation quickly... and like a champ!

After witnessing his first rainfall, we made our way to the taxi park, and began the picturesque journey to Jinja.

When we arrived, we quickly checked into the guesthouse, and then made a b-line to the best pork I've ever consumed (which was conveniently located just a short walk down the street!). Then we wandered through the craft market, and eventually made our way to the Source of the Nile. Here I introduced Mike to Gandhi before we took a quick boat ride to the source of the Nile.

Pork. Smoked and then BBQed. AMAZING.
This is unquestionably in my top 5 things I will miss about Uganda!
Photo Credit: Mike Kennedy
Setting off on our boat tour. If you look close you can see a rizard.
At the Source of the Nile.
In the evening, Mike was introduced to some of the local cuisine. Then we played a few rounds of pool, before an early bedtime! Someone was tired... and it wasn't Mike!

Photo Credit: Mike Kennedy
Day two in Jinja consisted of Mike trying his first rolex* and rafting on the Nile. You will notice in the photos below, that I am missing from the main boat. This is because of my past history with Bilharzia (which it turns out, I still have!). So, I opted for a spot in the Safety Boat, or what is otherwise known as the Chicken Boat. And to that, I say this - sure, you may not flip and swallow as many litres of water as if you were on the "legit" boat, but the Safety Boat has added features that are missing from the standard rafting trip. These include, but are not limited to**: a luxurious cruise of the Nile with minimal but still present rapids, philosophical conversations on a wide range of topics, entertaining banter and shenanigans between Nalubale staff, and what I'd like to think of as the start of the first Nile River Whitewater Rafting Book Club. So, while Mike may have enjoyed a more bumpy trip, I gained a wealth of knowledge on rafting jargon, the history of the Nile, and a new reading list. Who's the real winner here?!

Mike and the gang receiving the safety talk from Ashiraf.
Photo Credit: Nalubale Rafting
See - the Safety Boat is quite relaxing.
And yes, I am rocking a plaid flannel shirt in 30 degree weather. Don't judge me!
Photo Credit: Nalubale Rafting
Mike is ready to tackle that rapid... I'm pretty sure they flipped here.
Photo Credit: Nalubale Rafting
The day's rafting team. I'll be honest, I felt like a traitor here.
Photo Credit: Nalubale Rafting
After a good few days in Jinja, we were transported back to Kampala, where we quickly unpacked and then quickly repacked, and showered. Then we were off to Red Chilli Hideaway***. Here we spent the night in the hostel before our next big adventure - Murchison Falls National Park, or as I have now dubbed it, the time we met the entire cast of Babar!

The first day of our tour we set off fairly early - 7:30am to be exact! We had enjoyed a good cup of Ugandan coffee and so it made that departure time a bit easier. To get to the park, it is approximately 5 hours, including pee breaks, and supply stops. It also included a flat tire stop. But, it was great to relax and taken in the beautiful scenery that never fails to amaze me about this country.

Eventually we made it to our first destination - a hike around Murchison Falls. Now when I say hike I mean a little more strenuous than usual walk. But, it was all worth it. Getting views from a distance and up close gave us a much deeper appreciation for the waterfall's power! It's also when I realized some of the rapids we had faced the day before weren't so crazy after all! To get a better sense of this spot, check out the short video that follows the photos below.

A view from on top of the falls looking out.
Murchison Falls.
Our little tour group, and guide for the hike.
Photo credit: Mike Kennedy

After our little trek, we were taken to basecamp where we were warned of late night hippo encounters, curious/hungry warthogs, and then taken to our tents. We were pretty quick to hit the showers before having a drink and relaxing while waiting for dinner. We were even visited by a few friends.

At camp, just before dinner. Unfortunately, these guys weren't on the menu.
Photo credit: Mike Kennedy 
The nightly campfire, less marshmallows.
Photo credit: Mike Kennedy
The next day was an even earlier start. We grabbed our packed breakfasts and were on the road by 6:15am. This took little effort however, because we were heading out on a four-hour game drive where I was finally able to live my dream of seeing lions in the wild - a mama and three cubs to be exact. It was pretty magical. The whole tour was, really. We saw such a variety of wildlife, and in far greater quantities that I ever could have imagined! A few highlights can be found below, along with a fairly lengthy video.

A beautiful landscape, and if you look hard enough, you might see some antelope.
The moment my dream of seeing lions in real life came true!
Hippos! Look how cute that one is smiling as he/she dreams. I wonder what hippos dream about?!
Sibling Selfie!

Next we were given a few hours to relax, enjoy some lunch, and even have a nap! Afterwards we boarded a boat and took a 3-hour boat safari. Unfortunately, I did not capture the largest crocodile I ever care to see in photographs, but if you check out the video that follows, you will understand why I wish not to see one bigger! This tour, however, was really great. It gave us an opportunity to get up close, and sometimes a little too personal with some of the wildlife. The turn around point was in front of Murchison Falls. This made for a great photo-op spot, as well as a decent backdrop of a cold bevy!

Look out for the hippos!
Hippos and buffalo
Sleeping hippos are pretty cute!
Elephant, hippos, and a few birds.
Murchison Falls.

As with the previous evening, there was dinner and relaxing in front of the fire. I forgot to mention that last part. But what was most enjoyable, was the epic lightening storms we were able to witness both nights! It made early bedtime a bit harder.

The next morning started around the same time and began with a hunt for rolex. Mike appears to have gained a bit of an addiction to these delicious breakfast snacks! Then we made our way to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This is home to 16 of Uganda's 18 known white rhinos****. Two of these residents include a 3-week and 6-month old rhino - and they're pretty freakin' cute!

It's a little hard to see, but that is a 3-week-old rhino laying down next to his mama!
This one is about 6 months.
Can you spot the chameleon?

We found ourselves safely back in Kampala just in time to head to The Lawns to sample some of the creatures we'd seen over the last few days. Meat. Is. Good.

Jinja, as always, didn't fail. If your'e heading there anytime soon and are brave enough to face the rapids, be sure to contact Nalubale Rafting (of course, I might be a little biased in this recommendation...). But my expectations of the safari were surpassed by far! Red Chilli offers safari tours at much lower prices than other tour companies, but the level of service offered was not reflected in those prices. My only complaint was that there wasn't any tours running during my last few days that would have allowed me to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park. Oh well! Guess I'll just have to come back...

-the Orange Canadian

*Oddly enough in the exact same spot I had my first rolex!
**Throw back to Mr. Bullock, once again...
***Which provided a very overtired and sunburnt Emily with far more drama than necessary. Next time, bring a map.
****The other two are in the Entebbe Zoo... which may or may not make an appearance in Part Two of this adventure. (Hint: THEY DO!)


  1. Hello Emily.....Chris Hubley told me about your is wonderful glad to see you are having such adventures.....look forward to reading more and seeing your photos and video!

    Happy travels.....Marilyn Rushton

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Marilyn! I hope you're doing well. I hope to post Part Two of our adventures shortly!