Apr 11

Scrambling up the Albertine Escarpment, Uganda

Today we are travelling to the Albertine Graben region in the East African Rift Valley. I visited this area to perform an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Chinese oil giant, CNOOC, as the Rift Valley is thought to contain large amounts of natural gas and oil. To access the site I had to climb roughly 300m down the steep escarpment, or cliff, which takes about 45 minutes. It might not look that hard, but because of the heat and the climb you sweat and pant for breath going up and going down!

There a group of able bodied men who wake up every morning and come below the escarpment to work as “helpers” to carry luggage for most of the people who come to the site. I tried to descend with my back pack but I was breathing heavily and drinking lots of water. To my surprise there were young girls who also come to this place to help ferry sugarcane down the escarpment. The biggest problem is during sharing of the money given to the “helpers” as they might not agree on how much each man gets because they help lift luggage of different weights and dimensions. It was on my way back up the cliff that I made these panoramas for vEcotourism.org.

At the bottom of the cliff, you can see the young men have tied up our luggage ready to ascend the escarpment as a young boy rests nearby with his sugar cane. At the base of cliff there are motor bikes (also called “boda boda” in Uganda) waiting to move travellers to their destinations in the Rift Valley, be it CNOOC’s installations, the Kingfisher oil site, local fishing villages or farm lands.

Click on the image or here to begin your tour!

– Mark O


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