A TREK TO MPANGA FOREST CAMP

After acquiring a camping tent, my sense of adventure once more came alive just like it did that time I acquired my national id.
I have decided to trek to Mpanga forest in Mpigi and camp there for a few days. The plan was so random that when I invited my buddy Allan along, he told me he had laundry to do in the morning and therefore couldn’t make it. The thought at this brings me to laughter, so modest. But I don’t blame him, this was a personal plan therefore am going solo. I don’t see any other open minded person in sight.

PREPARATION

Am packing up, lightly of course and my biggest dilemma is whether to carry underwear or not. Because I know what 7 hours of trekking can do to a ninja. But am also thinking of the extra warmth they will provide once am in the tent in the middle of a cold forest. So I have decided to carry a pair, after throwing out the hair brush. I will bushman this out. But the Vaseline and deodorant stays. Vaseline and me are inseparable.
Am all packed up now and ready. Several items keep popping up in my head but if I listen to these thoughts of carrying mosquito repellant, torch, camping chair, 20 litre jibu water bottle, stove, matches, food….I might never leave kampala. So like I said before, am going to bushman it out.

THE ROAD TREK

I have just set up my tent now so I can just dive in and sleep off. The trek was gruesome, tiring, unforgiving and full of wise and stupid thoughts in my head. I almost felt hopeless, had lost hope of making it to the campsite. Luke Cage kept popping up in my head with his corny phrase ‘forward always’. Well Luke Cage is a beloved character but for some reason I find the series bor……here I go again with the tired body thoughts. Back to the trek.
It was small town after small town…Nabingo, Nsangi, Maya, Katende, Lugala, Kavule, Kalagala and on. Endless. But finally I made it here. If I had gone any further, I would probably sedate a whole town with body odour only. I have also made it out of a 20,000 shillings camping fee. I am tired but I remain sharp. So apparently this trek is now all about spreading awareness for healthy living and lifestyle, organised through my local Rotaract club of Ntinda…..hehehe far from truth, this is about using my time right now.

Am here but I cannot feel my lower body, yes from there below. But the sounds around will help me relax. The birds, monkeys, drum makers, the highway and some random guy shouting in the forest. I would like to go check on the drum makers but God am so knackered. Am not sure about how huge my trek was but am glad am here. It is a place I can stay for a week. If the camping fees don’t come up.
Now I just realised I came here with no plan on how I will get back but definitely am not walking. As for my provisions, I did not carry an inflatable mattress or sleeping bag but only a Masai throw though now I see in the camping site this very soft detachable seat cushions and am getting ideas. I think I got a mattress for tonight. I really need to be immobile for a while but for some reason I won’t settle till I fully survey this place. I need to go to sleep with a good plan for my forest trail excursion tomorrow.

CAMPING

The first night was awesome. It rained and being the only camper here so far I got the best spot. The spot under a palm tree and next to the forest. I was told by the very hospitable guide that this is the spot everyone chooses. Given that this was the first time to set up my own tent, I guess I have the instincts of a natural camper.
The body was exhausted but the mind was still awake so it took me time to drift off. The seat cushions made a good bed and my bag made a soft pillow.

I woke up early, took a shower and I have to say the camp water pressure was great and very cold, changed cloths and headed to the drum making village of Mpambire. It is amazing that drum making is one of the oldest traditions and occupations still being practised so I would say we have not completely abandoned our ways. It’s drums and hides everywhere in this village but I managed to also find a spot to have my breakfast and charge my phone. I did all this under extreme muscle pain but hunger is greater than any muscle pain.
I hurriedly got back to the camp through the village trails and drifted off into a morning nap. Am not sure when I will venture into the forest. Though the birds and monkeys keep calling.
They have to wait as I feel my body is going through change to that of an early man before I do anything. It’s also a painful process. I feel like a ware wolf right now. At least a vegetarian one.
The day is down and this is how it has ended, with me being immobile preferring the horizontal position only. Good enough I was joined by other campers earlier, a number of them arrived riding bajaj boxer motorbikes with a follow up van carrying their luggage. They are French speaking if I didn’t forget my languages. It now looks like a real camp.
I hope tomorrow I will be able to make it for my highly anticipated forest trek.
Meanwhile let me go enjoy a camp fire. So it is me, the fire and a Black Coffee music mix at Salle Wagram for cercle. Epic. Let us see who goes out first.

THE FOREST TREK

I think am lost. Am lost definitely. After an hour of walking on a route that says 45 minutes, am lost. I have never been a map reader, I do not know why I tried to do it this time , only the sound of the highway gives me hope. The red-White tapes along the trail did not help much apart from reassure me that there have been humans here.
I had decided to take the butterfly trail which I think I did successfully and later join the family trail because it’s shorter but looking at the time which has been a major guide, am off somewhere. And ooh that was not the highway am hearing, it was a plane flying overhead. Planes fly over this area all day. Time to prepare for an emergency evacuation because I have no idea where I am.
A big trail always means something good…right? But I still feel lost. Getting lost is not good given I had to make a u-turn back to this point where am writing this. The red tailed monkeys won’t be of any help. They are actually shy. Then there are these black bluish insects that won’t let go of my legs, I can’t tell them to get a room, this whole jungle is a room. Maybe they are trying to tell me something. Unfortunately I don’t grasp the groping language.
After about 20 more minutes of walking, I don’t feel lost anymore. No one has ever been so relieved to see a garden of cassava, maize and matooke. Am finally exiting from the forest through someone’s garden.
The village I have come out from is called Ndugu which is far off the camping site but with help of a villager I got directions back. ‘ndugu’ means friend in Swahili so I guest it explains the helpfulness of this stranger. He also informs me that Mpanga is a peaceful forest. Thank God there are no black panthers otherwise I need to have a conversation with it on why it is not claiming rights to copyright or trademark from Chadwick Bosman and others.
I have finally made it back to camp after another full hour of walking from Ndugu village then through Mpambire town. I Will get a little rest, pack up and head back to Kampala with the fastest means possible. Maaso awo conductor.

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Kigali!

Have you been to a town so different from yours?Have you been to a town full of possibilities? Have you been to a city that makes you feel like starting something, even a fight. Not  out of anger or any other emotions that  might make one clench fists but because of the chill nature in this city, the peace and the general organization and cleanness. Being from Kampala you would want to push over something so everything can seem normal. You cant believe things can run this smoothly.

I should have written about this in November last year but for some reason i was locked out of my word-press account but am in now. feels good.

Going to Kigali was a random trip i took on a random weekend to appeal to my adventurous and spontaneous side and it was worth it. Worth the missed hours at work. Nothing scares me so much like getting bored by anything am in for a long time. Scares me cold.

From the shocking language barrier to the scenic hills, i was impressed how different this city is yet not so far away from the chaotic Kampala.

I went by bus and as always on every long distance bus there is a lost guy on it. This time it was me. Thought i was on my way to Katuna border but alas i was on a bus that passed via Kagitumba border crossing which threw me off track both in time and directions. Ended up being the inconveniencing lost passenger and guest. Yet earlier i was laughing at a couple that was lost in Kampala. karma. This mix up only gave me more opportunity to explore Rwanda and i would say i covered the whole country given my journey lasted a full 12 hrs.

With a sense of delirious abandonment i arrived into Kigali and started a stroll of self discovery, exploration, meeting new culture, drinking malt beer at the roadside Duuka and at the upscale bars and clubs being surrounded by the most magnificent rolling hills one would ever see. I mean with good company consisting of old school mates and friends who could hardly handle a drink, this was an epic visit to the most beautiful city in Africa.

Soldiers on each corner of the street wielding a nameless authority with their semi-automatic weapons did not only give me a sense of security but also fear but this only added to the excitement i had to continue my stroll around Kigali entirely on foot. This stroll did not take a toll on me in anyway as i did not even draw a sweat, it was rather refreshing to walk down good pavements except for forgetting to keep right as i walked and crossed the well marked streets. Almost got run over on several occasions.

I can say its submissive and law abiding citizens make the city what it is and i appreciate everyone from there especially the curvecious, tall female ones. I like hygiene but i also found it weird when they gracefully wiped each beer bottle with paper tissue before indulging. As for me a beer indicates masculinity and one can drink anything labelled beer anyhow even if it was deer urine. The other surprising and rather delightful surprise is the mayonnaise given along with french fries, this was awesome. Down here in Kampala one can hardly get good ketchup at an upscale restaurant with any order.

If it was not for the exorbitant Visa transaction charges by my bank, i would have completely and unregrettably enjoyed spending my money cashless as kigali is on a fast track to a cashless society. In fact i almost failed to take a bus from Kanombe to the city center as i did not have a prepaid card but thanks to  a stranger, i managed to get on in exchange for my pocket change. Being popular and hated for as one who usually doesn’t have cash on me always, this was a perfect setting.

Am definitely going back.