In this small portion of Africa we saw incredibly poor and sad to drop dead beautiful and a land containing amazing sights to be discovered.
Would I do it again — yes! Do I wish I had done it differently — of course, I now know where to spend less time or skip all together and where to spend more time.
First the poor and the sad — the people and their living conditions. Without a doubt the poorest countries I have traveled are Uganda and Tanzania. And Uganda makes Tanzania look prosperous. To drive through village and sometimes village after village without electricity, clean water, the very minimalist in housing, and no commerce other than a very local market with local produce sitting in a basket on the ground is not what most Westerners can comprehend or want to see and experience.
Do I believe the life of the Africans I saw is getting better — yes. When you read about Idi Amin or Obote, Nyerere, and Karume or his son and compare them to today’s leaders you recognize a step forward (even if the current leaders may be positioning themselves to be presidents for life, etc.).
Is Uganda and Tanzania moving forward at a faster pace than Nigeria, the Sudans, Mozambique, Angola, Mali, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the list goes on and on — again in my very limited knowledge of the African continent I will say, yes.
The beauty is the people. They want to move forward. Many are in school with the expectation of improving their lives. Others are willing to work hard to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Are there
those who don’t want to learn or work hard; yes but name a place where those people don’t exist. Technology is changing the African peoples lives: mobile phones, micro-loans, banking by phone, and access to the outside world. Then there is solar power, the understanding of where disease start and how they spread, and better farming practices all of which make each day better than the day before.
The African landscape is beautiful. What is truly amazing to me is as poor as the people as a whole are they have committed a much greater portion of their countries to national parks than we have. They understand their protected parks which in turn protect the famous African animals, birds, reptiles, and fauna are economic drivers in their economies.
Is Africa a place everyone should visit? I will go out on a limb and say, yes. However, I think each individual must know their limits. I believe anyone can travel Uganda and Tanzania and enjoy the landscape and animals. Maybe not for 36 days, maybe not on a 12 hour day, maybe not on a rain slick trail that seems nearly vertical. However, with a little invested time I think anyone can assemble a trip to Africa they will remember forever.