HELLO + WELCOME as we attempt to drive from Sydney to London through Africa.
Here’s how we went a week or so ago in Uganda.
It’s Kirsty here today.
After fourteen months on the road we drove into the Northern Hemisphere.
Stoked as can be we celebrated with a freshly cooked chipati!
:: Stoked as, standing at the equator
:: GARMIN confirms, ‘You are in the Northern Hemisphere baby’. *It may or may not have said that.
:: Troops crossing the equator and purring a dream.
:: Celebratory chipati
At this stage of the trip – nearly seven months deep in Africa – we have been thinking a lot about driving north.
After Uganda and Kenya we will drive to Ethiopia and Sudan. Both countries require us to arrange visas prior to arrival. The plan was to get these in Kenya, however with tension rising in the country we thought we would have a crack in Kampala the capital of Uganda. Even though our research told us not to bother.
Kampala is a bustling city and it’s easy to get stuck in traffic for hours. Gareth sat behind the wheel and I navigated with a determination to avoid as much insane traffic as possible.
:: The road to Kampala :: read, crap.
:: Road work but no warnings here
:: Getting closer to Kampala
:: Smart stalks sit above a butcher shop
The drive from Lake Mboru to Kampala took about about 3-hours. Gareth spent the time avoiding pot holes and oncoming cars. I spent at least 2-hours studying maps and plotting out the exact locations of the three embassies we wanted to visit and how to best navigate around them. Some people may rather avoid such an exhaustive effort and get stuck in traffic, but my inner nerd loved figuring it out.
I’m happy to report we did not get stuck once in traffic. But our 2-hour visit to the city got us nothing.
The Ethiopian embassy flatly refused, “Unless you are a Ugandan resident or have a Ugandan permit you can not apply”. She told us we should fly to Addis or cancel your plans. She delivered the information with a little too much pleasure we thought.
The trouble is that the Ethiopian embassy in Australia issues visas for just 3-moths duration or in special circumstances 6-months. However because of our extended travel we could not apply in our home country. So, after much questioning we finally got somewhere. It would be possible for us to call our Ethiopian Embassy in Australia and get them to call the head office in Addis and get them to grant authority to Kampala to review our application. However we would not be notified of any progress and would have to contact them everyday to follow-up. This would be fine if we knew the success of the idea would rely on at least three different people with various degrees of enthusiasm we would not have direct contact with.
We visited the Sudan embassy wondering what to do. A lovely lady told us that we can apply but that the approval would take a minimum of two weeks or more. We questioned at every angle to see if we could expedite the process but it was clear that the process was The Process. And just like that we were driving out of town with a knot in our stomach about going to Nairobi to arrange the visas.
It felt like the first time during the African leg of the expedition that we weren’t able to talk our way into or out of something. It was a real downer. Obviously not a valid feeling as it is simply the process in place.
At least we could get the hell out of Kampala unscathed – hoo haa!
:: Navigating to perfection. You are looking at: Bradt guide on iPad, Tracks4Africa on GARMIN, MapsWithMe on iPhone, me getting my nerd on.
That afternoon we pushed on to Jinja and fell asleep overlooking The Nile, the body of water that will be our constant companion on the road north to the top of Africa.
:: The Nile
:: Drinking a Nile while overlooking The Nile
* Have you got your free copy of our eBOOK A Year On The Road? Move your cursor to the right and you’ll find it.