23-May-2021 -- On Sunday afternoon we set of to find the 3N 32E confluence. GIS and Google Earth research showed that it was in Amuru district, Pabbo Subcounty, which is not so far from Gulu. From the main road, a marram road would lead us some 18 km inside where we had to walk 1.3 km. Should not be too difficult, and I expected to be back before dark. What I did not consider was the condition of Ugandan rural roads… This is how it went.
I had asked James Opiro, our friend and guide from Northern Natures Safari, to support us with transport. We were 6: James and his brother Justin, Bosco the driver, my colleague David, and my wife Saskia and me. Shortly after branching westwards in Pabbo town, we found our first obstacle, the road was full of heaps of marram that were put there for grading. But the grading tractor had not come yet. There was a narrow space left of the heaps where we could pass, and we went like that for some 6 km. Until the road took a turn to the right, and we found even older heaps, somehow half spread out blocking the whole width of the road. We still had 8 km to go, way too far to walk.
So we hired two “boda boda’s”, motorbikes that take passengers. Each motorbike took two persons, driver Bosco and Justin stayed behind to watch the car. Although this caused us some delay in time, we could still go ahead. I had clearly marked the starting point for the hike, so once we reached the small path, we started walking, the boda boda riders joining us, ready for an adventure as well. At a certain point we had to go off the path, and what I expected to be lower bush and grass turned out to be thick bush (see some of the pictures for the vegetation). At certain parts we could quite easily walk through the tall grass, but there were sections where we had to crawl under the thick bush, enduring the thorns and termite bites. There were some rocky parts which were easy to walk. The destination turned out to be within thick bush as well. It made it quite difficult to navigate, but we found it.
After the necessary photos, we headed back into the direction of a homestead that was seen by the locals, with the expectation that we would somewhere hit the small path that we followed at the beginning. And so it happened, we were glad that we could avoid the difficult crawling parts.
While heading back, there was threat of rain, so James called the driver to start driving towards a safer place where the road would be easier to go in case of heavy rain. Around 5:30 pm we reached the car at that place, and after a soft drink, headed back for Gulu. Fortunately, the rain was not that much, but the road was nevertheless in a very bad condition because of heavy rain the night before. We proceeded slowly, but we were on the move. Satisfied; until the car got stuck in a very bad, slippery part with deep gullies. The wheels were slipping as we tried to get out of it. Pushing the car did not make it move even an inch. Locals came and offered help for some pay, we accepted. For 3 hours they were digging, pushing, digging, pushing, digging, pushing. We were completely stuck.
It became dark, and when it started raining shortly after 9 pm, the locals went home, we went into the car and were doomed to stay there for the night, no food, no drinks. Towards midnight rain stopped, and James, my wife and I went to look for somewhere to sleep, while the others slept in the car. The 3 of us spent the night in an African homestead. Next morning, we found out that another truck was stuck next to us. Unfortunately for them, but fortunate for us, because they had a good jack which we could use to lift the van enough to put some wooden boards under the wheels and at 8 am we got out! It was another hour driving back to Gulu, where I had to get ready for another working week. In the dry season, and with a Ugandan government maintaining their roads in time, this confluence should be easy to reach as I had initially planned.