Whoever said jogging is better than trekking had better check out our monthly #KampalaTrek with Trekking Timmy. If you missed the Adungu-Loop Trek last Saturday, 9th June, make it a point to clear your calendar on 7th July because trust me, you don’t want to miss the next one…unless you don’t like having a good time.

It’s hard to say what the best part of the trek is. The trail itself has got some really interesting historical sites. For those interested in faith tourism, you will find the Aga Khan Mosque, Kampala Central Mosque (also known as Gadhafi Mosque), and Namirembe Cathedral on the trail: these sites have important historical and religious value to the people of Kampala.

At the Buganda Parliament in Mengo (Bulange), and the Royal Palace at Lubiri (Twekobe), one gets the opportunity to see photos and artefacts depicting Uganda’s history right from the arrival of the first Europeans to present day.

What You Missed At the Adungu-Loop Trek

There are no adungus on the Adungu-Loop Trek. The trail gets its name from a famous music instrument native to most cultures in Uganda because it is shaped like an adungu on the map; of the three trails we have explored since starting the #KampalaTrek, this one is arguably the most exciting.

With stops at all the tourist sites on the trail it takes about 5 to 7 hours to complete the trek. We, however, made only one stop at the Royal palace, completed the trek in just 3 hours and 25 minutes, a record for the loyal trekkers whod did the first trek in 3 hours and 50 minutes, and the second in 4 hours and 30 minutes.

As usual, we set off from Red i Lounge in Lugogo By-Pass at 11:00am., after briefing. With senior trekkers Tom and Solo at the front, the trek pick up a brisk pace from the get to go. Within just 30 minutes we had cleared the 3-4km stretch from Red i Lounge to the city centre in just 30 minutes!

As we bolted through the commercial hub known as downtown, we had to dance our way through the busy traffic; at this point the trek seemed more like street salsa than and a walking exercise.

The hilly climb to Old Kampala presented no problems at all. With the pace we had picked it was easy to clear the hill in record time as trekkers raced each other to catch up with our breezy pacesetter. Everyone was making jokes and telling stories along the way, one could hardly tell we were doing 15kms; it seemed like just 5km by the time we arrived back at Red i Lounge.

PHOTO STORIES

The Adungu-Loop Trek is the third instalment of #KampalaTrek, a set of monthly treks launched by Trekking Timmy in April, 2018. Besides the health benefits of walking, the treks are a fun way to meet new people, network, and explore the sites and sound of the city.

The first one – the Uganda Colony Trek – introduced the trekkers to a portion of Kampala’s history they didn’t know about (you can read the story here to learn more); the second,  dubbed the Dog-Loop Trek, went down in rain and sunshine in May (more on that trek is here); and the third, dubbed the Adungu-Loop Trek, went down last Saturday. The treks are mapped and organised by yours truly, Trekking Timmy, the chief trekker of Kampala city.

#trekwithtim #kampalatrek

The trek route to be explored in Kampala, this time round resembles a musical instrument locally known as the “Adungu/ Ekidongo/Ennenga/ arched harp”. Evident on the map, so is the experience on this trek that you will be walking with notions of style that will be reproducing rhythms for a particular dancing manner as we pave through the numbers, streets and the paved walkways thanks to the Kampala city authorities. These monthly walks we do for fun hold unfold sensual and contingent apprehension of the the various regions within Kampala. Check out our blog “How well do you know Kampala” (http://trekkingtimmy.com/uganda-colony-trek/).

Kampala is famously known for its history that majorly grew bigger in the 1880’s, eventually emerging into the capital city of Uganda, legendarily known as the “The Pearl of Africa”. Initially, it was the seat for the most powerful Kingdom, but later Asian and Colonial influence kicked in leading to the growing populace whose agitations led to independence in 1962. Over the years, Kampala experienced political turmoil until the current government took office and restored safety and harmony in the city; today. Kampala City is among the safest and most peaceful in Uganda is relatively peaceful and safe (Caution: as in any city, vigilance and common sense is the surest way to stay safe).

The Adungu Loop Trek with the head guide lasts between 4 -7 hours, where you see the colourful, vibrant, and friendly populations. Did you know the latest research shows that for every three persons you meet in Kampala, one of them speaks a different dialect? This trek gives you insights on how the natives have diversified the city’s art and architectural legacy. As one intersects through Kampala’s East to the West, and back to the East, be braced to witness the Kampala City play grounds in Lugogo, industrial area, the rich fabric of chiefly vernacular structures, often of character and individual appeal, faith houses, busy streets, taxi park, wholesale businesses, differentiating the Old and New Kampala. The walk is not only for sharing the rich city but we walk for fun and have beverages to excite our travelers.

This trek is a golden opportunity to see the few remaining structures of Kampala’s architectural heritage, because if prevailing developments continue, Kampala’s archectural flame is more likely to be swept away/ disappear. While many old structures are still surviving today, many buildings have notably either been put down or deteriorated to a big extent. You will explore different parts of the city’s landscape; old structures that have been demolished and replaced with “better” ones.

 

Some Tips You Need To Know

  1. The trek is good for any person above nine years. Incase of any health issues please let the lead guide know.
  2. You are welcome to take pictures but be mindful of security. You are responsible for the safety of your gadgets.
  3. You can carry a litre of water, or promote the small businesses along the trek.
  4. There will be a brief at Red i Lounge at the start of the trek.

Join us as we trek and connect to new friends, but do not stalk them! In case you wish to cancel please inform us in advance as this will affect will affect our preparations.

If you like this article, do give us a comment and share your views….

Last weekend a group of bold trekkers joined me on a quest to conquer the 20km Dog Loop Trek, our #trekwithtim challenge for the month May. What a great, great time we had! We trekked in the rain, mingled with vendors selling crafts by the road, traded jokes with boda riders who found it funny that we were walking for fun, and best of all, finished the trek in good time.

It took took us 3 hours to complete the 14km Uganda Colony Trek last month so we assumed the 20km challenge would take us at least 4 hours. We beat that time by 15 minutes, logging back at Red i Lounge 3 hours and 45 minutes after we set off. If they ever dare to make trekking a category in the Olympics, I’m sure we’d bring home gold!

You’re probably asking yourself, ‘what’s all the fuss with trekking?’ Well, if you haven’t tried a trekking challenge before, there are some good reasons why you should. Besides being an easy way to exercise all your muscles, trekking is a fun way to spend your free time. You get to meet new people, learn about places you didn’t know, and experience new adventures each time.

We bumped into the rain early on the trek…

We had just started the first leg from Red i Lounge when the rains began. It started as light drizzles just as we were crossing through Total Gas Station (Nakawa) to get onto New Port Bell Road, but the team was determined to let nothing get in its way so we elected to press on. It was hard first. The rain just kept increasing as we blazed passed Makerere University Business School (MUBS) Main Campus, and down into the the famous Middle East valley where Bugolobi market was constructed. But then it was just getting started. A heavy torrent descended on us as we scaled  Luthuli Rise to reach the hill’s crest, but luckily the skies relented and spared our drenched walking gear.

From Luthuli Rise we went down the hill to Luthuli Avenue, crossed over Nakivubo Channel and slipped into Namuwongo through the little known Godown Rd in Industrial Area. By now we were starting to get dry but our spirits were very high. Braving the rain had left everyone feeling like a winner and the most challenging hill was behind us.

Along Bukasa Road we found spectacular views of Luzira. Few people know that you can peer directly into the prison compound there, but just round the bend we were in for a pleasant surprise. We bumped into a street vendor selling lamp-holders and drinking glasses  made out of recycled glass. There is no bound to the creativity on Kampala’s streets!

We also met a guy who makes really colorful chairs.

From here  we smoothed into Kansanga and trekked that long stretch to Nsambya via Kampala’s most famous entertainment hub – Kabalagala – where the night never really ends. As usual, the trek ended with feast. A mouth-watering platter of goat meat, beef sausages, pilau, gravy, and potatoes was waiting to congratulate us for finishing the trip. Thanks to Red i Lounge for the platter treat.

As we stuffed tasty meat down our tummies we shared travel experiences and talked about the trek. I was happy to learn that though most trekkers thought they wouldn’t make the distance, it turned out to be manageable. One of the trekkers said, “I was thinking of getting a boda boda three times all the way from Kansanga (halfway through the trek), but I saw the rest going strong and i kept to their pace till the end.”

It’s a good thing he didn’t give up. By the time we arrived at Red i Lounge we were all so fresh, our friends thought we hadn’t walked at all. “Bring on the next trek already, I can’t wait for the June challenge”, were the words from the trekking team.

#trekwithtim #kampalatrek #kampala

Last week I woke up to horrifying news. 11 lions had been killed in Queen Elizabeth National Park in a suspected poison attack. 11 lions  ̶  3 mothers and 8 cubs from 1 pride. I was terribly saddened. Lions are more than just a magnet for tourists; they play an important role in the park’s ecosystem, losing such a big number is bound to impact all animals in the park.

The grief over this loss cannot be measured. As a wildlife guide in Uganda, I have led numerous trips to Queen Elizabeth National Park because its big lion population made it attractive to my clients. Whenever I visit ‘Queen’, as we guides normally call it, I usually engage the park wardens in discussions on the condition of the animals so I know something of what it means to preserve a lion population — the long hours tracking them to monitor their health, the late night operations patrolling for poachers, the millions of dollars invested in tracking equipment, medical supplies, experts… not to mention the tourists who visit the park mainly to see lions in their natural habitat.

We should all be concerned. Lion deaths are increasing at an alarming rate.

National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative estimates that Africa’s lion population has declined by 90% in the last 75 years. Conservationists blame it on human development: when people in villages near the park learn that lions have eaten their livestock, they poison or shoot them. Other times, it is poachers and trophy hunters.

We should all be concerned. Lions play a vital role in regulating the population of animals in the park; they account for 85% of predation on big herbivores life buffalo, elephants, and hippos. This helps to maintain a balance in the Eco-system. There is a compelling scientific evidence to support this claim: Yellowstone National Park in the US re-introduced wolves in 1995 after 69 years and soon experienced a reduction in the elk population (herbivores), tree species that had gone extinct returned, existing species doubled in number, and coyote numbers reduced, causing the populations of small foxes and other small predators to increase. One small change at the top of the food chain resulted in greater diversity of plant, bird, and animal species.

We should all be concerned because Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most visited park. With over 95 species of wildlife, over 600 species of birds, vast species of vegetation, dazzling crater lakes, hot springs, and spectacular views of the Rwenzori ranges, ‘Queen’ boasts of the highest biodiversity in Uganda.

We should all be concerned because disruptions to its Eco-system reduces its biodiversity and this will have an impact on both national income and the livelihood of the park staff, guides, operators, and service providers who depend on tourism for income.

Whereas global climate change contributes to the pressures facing wildlife tourism in Uganda, pressure from human population remains the biggest threat. Organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wildlife Conservation Society (WSC), Uganda Wildlife Authority, and a number of NGOs I can’t list exhaustively, are doing a commendable job of sensitizing communities around national parks and improving animal welfare, more support is needed from the government.

There are many ways to manage human-animal conflicts in national parks. Government of Uganda can, for example, fence off conservation areas as has been done in Rwanda (Akagera Park) and South Africa (Kruger Park).

There is no shortage of ideas that Government could implement to address the challenges human pressure poses to wildlife. I therefore call upon Government of Uganda to take conservation matters more seriously and allocate more funding to wildlife protection. Uganda’s tourist industry brings in $1.4 billion annually, according to Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities, however, it has been allocated only $32 million in the recent budget proposal. I think we can do better.

#trekwithtim #stopthelionkilling

 

The Buganda Royal Mile, locally known as the “Kabaka’njagala Road” meaning “the King-loves-me” is a straight path connecting the Buganda royal palace and her parliament (administrative seat). The name Kabaka’njagala came into existence because the road was aligned with huge candlenut trees (kabaka’njagala in Luganda) that Kabaka Mutesa II distributed to his subjects to plant. Fifty two (52) candlenut trees were planted, each representing a clan in Buganda Kingdom.

The candlenut tree (Aleuritesmoluccanus) is a native plant in Asia, especially China where it is used for varnish, food, and in other places, as a property-line manager — because their silvery under-leaf made the trees visible and easy to distinguish from a distance. Here in Uganda, candlenut tree seeds are used as an improvised toy to play a marbles game locally known as “Dool”.

Twekobe, Buganda’s Royal Palace

Along the Royal Mile, you will see the Buganda court house. It is a custom in Buganda that the king’s palace and the court house face the same direction because the Baganda believe that the King’s spirits walk in a straight line so there should be no obstacle in the King’s way.

The Buganda parliament was initially confined within the palace premises and its seating was carried out under a big tree, later upgraded to a small room. While in exile in Scotland in the 1950s, Kabaka Mutesa II admired the architectural design of the Scottish parliament. He promptly obtained a copy of its plans and used them to build the current Buganda parliament on return. He also picked up the idea of the Royal Mile, which is a long historical road that connects the Holyrood Palace to the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, brought it to Buganda and created a Royal Mile that is exactly one mile to connect the Buganda Royal palace to the parliament.

Bulange, Buganda’s Parliament

Just halfway between the royal palace and the parliament is an interesting round-about where only the Kabaka is allowed to drive through. This round-about is not a mere ordinary place but a place highly respected with significant symbols of different meanings in the Buganda kingdom. The Kabaka’s round-about has a special cleaner to keep it clean, a gate that is always kept locked with a guard on a stand-by to open when the Kabaka is nearing to go through it and close after.  With this arrangement of the Kabaka passing straight through the round-about, he attained a name “Lukoma Nantawetwa” meaning “the king does not go around the round-about”.  

Hi, my name is Tim, a.k.a Trekking Timmy. I work as a travel guide with G-Adventures and I want to show you how beautiful Uganda is.

4 years ago I left a good job in the bank to follow my passion for travel. Everyone I know thought I had lost it but I assured them there was gold in travel — Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and I believe it will soon be the world’s top travel destination.

We have the highest number of Mountain Gorillas in the world (did you know that some scenes in Wakanda were shot near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest?). We have the best river-and-lake network in the world; we have snow-capped mountains, abundant wildlife, welcoming people, and diverse cultures.

One of the things I love most about travel is meeting new people and learning about their cultures and lifestyles back at home. In just 4 years of guiding, I have helped 358 travelers find magical moments in the most remote locations in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Do you know what bothers me most? Not more than 40 of them have been Ugandan!

It is said that you can never know the gold you have at home unless you have traveled. I see this everyday I’m out there in the wild with a group of Americans, Europeans, or Australians who have seen more of Uganda than most Ugandans. For most of us, life starts and ends in Kampala, or in whatever town you find yourself posted to.

So much has been written about the benefits of travel, but did you know how important travel is to your health?

Did you know that lifestyle diseases are today’s number 1 killer? You are more likely to die from cancer or diabetes than from malaria or an accident.

Doctors say it’s because people are eating more junk and exercising less. Our life has become work-party-home, day in, day out — the only changes in this routine are visits to church or the mosque, and occasional trips to the village.

When I was in primary school my teacher used to make us sing “prevention is better than cure”. It took me growing old enough to travel all over East Africa to understand how true this statement is. In the global fight against lifestyle diseases, small changes in your lifestyle can have huge impact, and regular travel is one of the best antidotes.

I always ask the travelers I guide how often they travel: 8 out of 10 foreign trekkers tell me they travel at least 2-3 times in a year. When I ask my Ugandan friends the same question, they tell me, “ebyo bya bazungu” (trans. “that’s something for white people”).

According to scientists, travel lowers stress levels, decreases risk of heart disease, enhances creativity, improves bone health, aids with weight control, boosts your immunity, strengthens personal relationships, and makes you happy.

It makes sense.

Since I quit a well-paying bank job to become a travel guide and live my passion for travel, I have never been happier. I feel healthier, more creative, more energetic, and more balanced than ever before. 

As a guide who has been to every corner of this beautiful region and seen how immensely gifted it is, I have made it my life mission to share my passion for travel with the world, and convince my fellow East Africans to put at least one trip on their annual budget.

On April 2nd, I took my first step. I rallied a small band of 24 residents of Kampala City to join me on the first of a monthly series of treks. Here’s more about the first trek.

I wish to invite you to join me on my personal campaign to promote travel in Uganda: #trekwithtim is a simple campaign that anyone can join. I am organizing monthly treks under this campaign, and taking road trips to different destinations in the country as a way of showing Ugandans how amazing their country is.

All you have to do is sign up for a trek, or a road trip, take great pictures of all the fun you’re having, and share it on facebook with the hashtags:

#trekwithtim #tulambuleuganda

We are having our next hike on 6th May 2018. Follow Trekking Timmy on facebook, twitter, linkedin, or instagram to keep yourself posted on updates of the campaign.

Timothy Kintu (#TrekWithTim) the guide aka Trekking Timmy, launched trekking as a monthly activity with the first one done on Easter Monday  April, 2nd 2018. Follow us on our social media handles for updates on the forth coming challenges.

I have to start with a big Thank You to all the 24 walkers who turned up for the Uganda Colony Trek. You brought good vibes and fun energy. You made the trek fun.

In last week’s blog I gave you some background on the Uganda Colony Trek. But if you haven’t read it yet, here’s a snap recap.

This trek goes round the territory where the British first established their presence in Uganda. We call it Uganda Colony Trek (Uganda was actually a protectorate) because this particular ring was in all respects a British colony. It was a settlement managed in the apartheid style, with its own laws and governing system that did not apply to the native (local) communities surrounding it.

The British built rings like these everywhere they settled during the colonial era. Black people were not allowed into this ring unless they were laborers or clerks working in the offices and homes of British administrators.

As bulwark against possible attacks (they were surrounded by African settlements on all sides) they built a ring around the hills of Kololo and Nakasero (which form the central business district) and fortified with a ring of Indian settlements along the road we were walking.

First Leg

Remember how we said the trek is 12km. It turns out ‘those guys’ at Google are not as good at calculating distances as they think they are. The trek is actually 14km. All the better for us; everyone who initially thought 12km would be a tough stretch found themselves wishing the trail had been longer. Walking is so much more fun than running.

Here we are at Lugogo By-pass, where the trek started. This road is the line between Kololo and Naguru. Kololo is where top officials in the colonial administration lived. It was the most coveted real estate during colonial times. Still is today.

We had our first water stop at a Chinese supermarket in the middle of this stretch. As many trekkers would later come to learn, most of the businesses along this ring are owned by foreigners so in some respects the ring has not yet changed its character.

Below left, Josh, a volunteer guide, keeps the engines revving at the backline; while right,  a volunteer guide explains the history of Kololo hill and its significance in today’s social structure.

Here we are at Lugogo By-pass, where the trek started. This road is the line between Kololo and Naguru. Kololo is where top officials in the colonial administration lived. It was the most coveted real estate during colonial times. Still is today.

At the junction where Lugogo-Bypass drops into Kira Road is Kira Road police station, we turned into the stretch heading to Kamwokya-Mulago, and onwards into Kampala’s central business district.

The houses left of this photo are surviving structures of the Indian Quarters which served as a bulwark between the colony and the native settlements in the hills across. In this photo, Trekking Timmy (far right) is captured describing it to some guests on the trek.

The walk was going smoothly up to this point. The walkways newly built by KCCA ended here and we had to walk single file. I hope the authority sends a representative to walk with us next time.

Second Leg

Rain trapped us at the Uganda Museum, pushing the time count forward by an hour . Luckily for us, there was an intriguing storytelling session to capture our attention. The trekkers are treated to rare accounts of Uganda’s history, and a tour of the museum.

It isn’t a trek without good photos; the trekkers pause for a selfie with PR guru, Simon Kaheru. We are on Jinja Rd round about at this point, just outside what used to be railway yard. There is just a kilometre, or two, left on the trek but the trekkers feel fresh and ready for more.

And to wrap up the trek, after stretching the legs and learning something new about Kampala’s history, we sat down enjoy this delicious goat, graciously donated by one of the trekkers.Travel Massive was represented too. We had some talks about hiking and travel as we settled down to a variety of beverages and hot plates of Uganda’s breakfast staple, “Katogo”.

Special thanks to Simon Kaheru for contributing Rwenzori Water to the trek. Simon is also the guy who published the article that inspired this trail. Keep supporting the cause Simon.

Special thanks to Tom and the Red i crew for supporting the trek. Tom is the guy who contributed the goat we enjoyed after the trek.

This is all the fun you missed. Be sure to follow us on facebook, twitter, or better still, drop us an email on trekwithtim@trekkingtimmy.com

 

#trekwithtim

 

Photo Credit: mccrow.org.uk

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW KAMPALA?

Some time last year, while I was somewhere in the jungles of Bwindi, I received a strange text. “Tim. I’ve sent something on your email. Check it out as soon as possible.* I had just concluded a 6 hour Gorilla trek on behalf of National Geographic Journeys with G adventures. We had been rewarded with an encounter with a large group of Mountain Gorillas and after the encounter, I was in a high spirits. I was getting ready to cool the day down at the hotel bar. I was in no mood to read mail. It was time for pombe.

I opened the mail anyway. I was curious. It turned out to be a link to an article, which I found even more curious. I did not know this friend of mine to be a reader, and it was a long article. I was amazed. Read it here for yourself and find out why.

As a guide, one of the things I love most about my job is sharing information, so you can imagine my excitement when upon reading this article I discovered that I had been born and raised in Kampala but knew virtually nothing about this history.

I handle tours for National Geographic and G-Adventures, and throughout my adventures with them I have encountered many foreigners who know more about our country than many of us do, and many more who are more interested in its beauty than we who live in it. I had been asking myself what I could do to get my fellow Ugandans more interested in travel — I do freelance local tours themed around trekking/walking, which is why people call me Trekking Tiimmy — and when I read this article, I had a Eureka moment.

This Easter Monday I am organising the Uganda Colony Trek. It’s a trail that starts in Lugogo, through Lugogo Bypass/Rotary Avenue, goes into Kira Road at that famous police station, all the way to Kampala Road through Bombo Road, onto Jinja Road, and back to Red i Lounge at Lugogo Showgrounds where the trek will begin at 10.30hrs.

Have you ever sat in taxi from Ntinda or Bugolobi and heard the conductor say, tugenda Kampala? That conductor may not have known what they meant, but this ring, around which we will walk on Easter Monday, is the original Kampala, and the original Uganda colony.

Map Credit: skaheru.com

This trek goes around the boundary of what used to be Kampala during the colonial days. Yes. In the days before independence, everything within this ring was for white people exclusively. Only blacks who worked as servants or clerks could cross this road. This is actually how the Britain’s colonial system worked everywhere in the world.

Do you want to know something they never taught you in school. Every time you’ve hear the words colony, or protectorate, contact us and we’ll walk you around the Uganda Colony Trek.

In the coming blogs I’m going to share with you stories about buildings and activities that took place in Kampala back in the colony days, and compare them what happens today.

@trekkingtimmy

#trekwithtim