Friday, November 22, 2013

A Relaxing Day on the Nile… and Quad Biking

Yesterday I talked about going to Jinja, Uganda to visit the source of the Nile.  Jinja was a nice break between gorilla tracking and teaching in Kampala.  The cottage and property where we stayed reminded me of the movie Out of Africa.  Here are a couple of views of the property:

And the cottage where we stayed:

Jinja is located on both sides of the Nile.  We were staying at a B&B on the west bank, but most of the activities were on the east bank.  Rather than driving 45 minutes through town to cross the dam, the B&B owner called us a boat which picked us up at the property’s dock and took us across the river:

During one of these river crossings we talked to our captain about the dams on the Nile.  He told us the dams had basically ruined the town.  I think he actually used the word ruined.  He said before the dam there was a giant island in the middle of the river which locals would farm to raise produce either for subsistence reasons or to sell.  After the dam was built the island flooded and disappeared, so their livelihood was destroyed.

He also mentioned that tourism was negatively affected by the building of the second dam because it made the river too calm, thus people who came for whitewater rafting and kayaking were turned away due to unfavorable conditions.  They are now looking at damming the Isimba Falls, about 15 miles from the existing Bujagali Hydroelectric Plant, which is predicted to put the nail in the coffin of adventure tourism in Uganda.  Since adventure tourism accounts for about 25% of visits to Uganda, that could mean a serious decline in tourism figures as a whole.

One thing our boat captain mentioned was that electricity does very little good for the people of Jinja.  He said most people couldn’t afford it; so to lose their livelihood (farming or tourism) and still not reap the benefits of what is replacing it (power) is like pouring salt in their wounds.

I did not participate in any of the white water rafting or kayaking while I was in Jinja as I developed a cold a few days ago and didn’t want to risk making it any worse.  But I did do my part to support the adventure tourism industry there.  I went quad biking (or ATVing or four-wheeling, whatever your pleasure may be in terminology).  I never quad biked before and was a little nervous about it at first, mostly because a friend of mine flipped over the front of her quad bike a few years ago and fractured several ribs.  Fortunately my experience was very smooth and I was able to see a village and the scenery around Jinja from a unique perspective.  I’m not sure if there is a Formula One equivalent for quad bikes, but I may have to investigate that.  Even if my skills aren’t there yet, at least I look the part:

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