Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas hols on Mount Elgon

We treated ourselves to a hike on Mount Elgon after a weeks job hunting. Our plans are still unresolved but we're hoping to work as jobbing Medical Officers in a rural district hospital for a couple of months and then move up to Kampala. We were very impressed by Mbuya Reachout, a church sponsored HIV project, in one of Kampala's poorest parishes. They have worked extremely hard over the last 5 years to encourage HIV testing , starting people on ARVs and providing psychological, social and economic support for people with HIV and their families. There is impressive community support for the project with a lot of volunteering and the whole place had a buzz about it. I hope we can set something up with them - our placement Manager at VSO in Kampala, Sarah Kyobe, has been very supportive.

Mount Elgon on Uganda’s eastern border with Kenya is one of Africas free standing volcanoes ( like Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya), covers the largest surface area of any such volcano, and rises to 4321m. It’s a national park and we took a four day tour, with guides (Rogers and Abel)and porters (Fred and Bosco). The landscape is beautiful and unspoilt, the vegetation changing as you increase in altitude from bamboo and mountain forest to alpine moorland. The latter reminded us strongly of the peaks (on steroids) and walks on Derwent edge though of course everything - the hills, the heathers and the flowers are bigger and more exotic. The first nights campsite is shown in the picture - a huge bat filled cavern with a waterfall streaming down over its entrance. The walking was steady and not overly demanding though we both suffered the effects of altitude when we got to the top - feeling very sick and headachey. This got suddenly and dramatically better as soon as we descended to 3000m.

For Christmas we went back to the Haven, the beautiful campsite overlooking the Nile just north of lake Victoria at Jinja. Wonderfully relaxing and a welcome opportunity to lose ourselves in some novels. We’re still waiting to find out about jobs and have yet to compose our letter of resignation to the University of Mbarara........

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