By David Kangye
The only time Ugandans travel is when they are going to attend a wedding upcountry or a burial. Short of that they will always ply that one route from their country homes back to their village of stay.
If we were asked to draw a map of Uganda basing on the parts of the country we have travelled to, you would see how small people’s maps would be. I can only imagine the shapelessness of some and the magnitude of others. Thing is, we don’t travel.
There is a big part of Uganda unknown to Ugandans. This applies to all across the board; elite and non-elite. Travel as a concept also, to some people, comes with crossing borders. No wonder, Ugandans are among the top 3 lead tourists to Kenya. It is cheaper to travel to Kenya either by road or air that many are willing to give it a try.
There are many excuses people give for not travelling but all they ever amount to is that- excuses. This country is very beautiful, peaceful and the wild is very inviting.
The idea of limiting travel to going to game parks is what defeats the purpose of travel. There is more than just going to the parks where you need to pay for permits.
Driving 50 kilometres out of Kampala gives you a different feeling altogether. A lot of things change. The sights change. The green comes alive and more pronounced as the air becomes fresher and lighter. There are more genuine smiles; broad and homely. There is a way you get humbled as you see people carry on with their lives in different places.
When you visit a fishing village in Katosi, you will be surprised by what you see. Their ways are far different from the sugarcane farmers in Budongo who have to deal with chimp raids. When you go to the tea-growing villages in Fort Portal, you will be surprised by how different their lifestyle is from the communal farming practices of Amuruu.
Travel reveals a lot to you than you can read in a book. It is a book with pages that turn to no end. I remember the sound of a coyote (do we have them here though?) in the dead of the night while at the Rainforest Lodge in Mabira Forest. I was informed that it makes the noise in circles to confuse its enemies and that is how it survives. Nature teaches you things NatGeo World has not yet learnt of.
The serenity of seeing the dusk mask up the day as the sunset fights on is one of the beautiful scenes being stuck in traffic will never afford you. The experience of listening to the crescendo of the nocturnal orchestra leaves one wondering why they ever bother with singing.
You do not need to go so far away to have a feel of some of these beautiful experiences. All it takes is a change in the environment. To sleep at one of the campsites in Kapchorwa and listen to the Sipi falls rambling away throughout the night is a sound that cannot be captured on Dolby Atmos. Have you ever sat on a night bus to Kabale and it rained? It is like the breeze that hits you when you sit by any of the beaches in Entebbe on a weekday when crowds and their chaos are away to play. Or that nudge from slumber as the bus slows down in Packwach to let an elephant cross the road. These experiences are so ordinary to some people but they mean a lot to the many of us who rarely step out.
This year, if you can, take off sometime away from the normal. Even a day is enough. Find a book or someone and hit the road running. Widen the size of your Ugandan map today.
Kangye is a digital publisher at Akira Digital.
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