3 years ago, Jana Jachmanova, a life coach and mentor decided to embark on a journey. She left behind my job, my friends, my family and all what people could call stability in search for something deeper.
That journey brought her to Uganda where she says she is living the life she has always wanted. She coaches women on breaking their limiting beliefs and helping them to create a life they want.
Jana travelled to Bunyonyi and Kisoro with #KoikoiUg, an initiative by Kafunda Kreative in partnership with Airtel and Shell Fuels and Lubricants that seeks to tell more authentic Ugandan stories through documentation of affordable, more off-the-path possible local adventures. By documenting and highlighting Ugandan sights and sounds, people and culture, the campaign shows Uganda in a different, more positive light which ultimately works to challenge stereotypes and uplift local and international tourism.
Lake Bunyonyi loosely translated to mean “Place of many little birds” is in south-western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale and it is close to the border with Rwanda. The lake is believed to be the 2nd deepest lake in Africa going up to 900m at its deepest point. The lake appears on the 5,000 Ugandan shilling note under the title “Lake Bunyonyi and terraces” but It is more famous for its 29 islands; From the one shaped like a musical note, to the punishment Island where girls who got pregnant out of wedlock would be left to die. Its rich in both myth and history. From the Leprosy Colony of 1921 started by Dr Leonard Sharp on Bwama Island, that currently houses a school, to an island that supposedly was flipped upside down because selfish men refused to share local brew with an enchantress. It is a place of a thousand tales. Maybe a thousand and one, if you add Jana’s story.
One of the biggest attractions in Kapchorwa is abseiling down a 100m waterfall. Its magical. Imagine being suspended from a rope, coming down the distance equivalent to the length of a football field with nothing but the full glory of nature’s wonder underneath you: lush green bushes, flowing streams and an expanse of the natural plains further than the eye can see. Its breath-taking in every sense of the word, both in awe and in fright, in almost equal measure. I recommend that everyone does this at least once before they die. But before you do, here are something’s I think you should know. Must haves before you go abseiling in Kapchorwa, Uganda.
1. Balls: You must have a pair of big ones. The first time I abseiled, the instructor kept saying “Your mind will lie you, don’t let it.” You need to overcome the fear of being supported by a rope barely an inch in diameter, fastened by climbing protection the size of a key ring, in the hands of an instructor who is less than half your size (if you are as ‘small’ as I am), faced with a potential plunge to sudden death with no protective gear. As I said, big ones.
2. Friends: Abseiling is like sex. Although it’s possible to go by yourself, its more fulfilling done with others. Never do it alone, and here is why. The moral support or the fear of online shame, whichever drives you, goes a long way in calming your nerves. And if you let a couple go before you, the cheers coming from the bottom give you the much needed boost to keep going. And then there is the journey back, that’s where you need them, for the morale and the extra hand.
3. Hydration: This is never in the brochure, the hike to and from abseiling is to be revered. This is compounded by the fact that most of us carry a flimsy bottle of water for the entire distance. Pro Tip, carry as much water as you can comfortably carry. You never really imagine it, but you have to climb back up the entire length of the 100m back to the point of pick up, and Kapchorwa does get rather hot so dehydration is a common scenario. A couple of us almost passed out if it wasn’t for the heroic works of a good Samaritan.
4. Fitness: If you have read points 1 to 3, it is obvious that abseiling required you to be in some sort of descent physical shape. You will enjoy your experience much more that way because you won’t have aching muscles and difficulty to breathe robbing you of the ability to appreciate the beauty all around you.
5. An Action Camera: No, your camera phone is not an option here. The likelihood that you will drop it is highest. Between the nerves, the awe, and most likely hanging on tightly to the rope, this is almost inevitable. However, we live in a world of , if it’s not on Instagram, it never happened. So grab an action cam, like a go pro, strap it to yourself or to the rope, and share your scared face with the world.
Abseiling will cost you anything between 60,000 and 100,000 Uganda Shillings depending on season, numbers and your bargaining skills, for Ugandans. Peter Chemonges of Mountain Adventures is a good option, call him via 0750971682 will hook you up, literally. Tell him #KoiKoiUg sent you. So what are you waiting for, fill up your tank with Shell FuelSave (that’s more than sufficient to get you there) and head to the beautiful hills of Kapchorwa for an unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to share your experiences with us via the #KoikoiUg tag, and with Airtel you won’t have to wait till you get back.
Kafunda Kreative in the company of 30 photographers, writers, social media influencers and travel enthusiasts competed their second #KoiKoiEast tour in their first excursion of 2017. We did our best to fit it in 60 seconds.
Kafunda Kreative in the company of 30 photographers, writers, social media influencers and travel enthusiasts competed their second #KoiKoiEast tour in their first excursion of 2017.
The #KoiKoiUg initiative is a road trip experience that seeks to tell more authentic Ugandan stories through documentation of affordable, more off-the-path possible local adventures. By documenting and highlighting Ugandan sights and sounds, people and culture, the campaign shows Uganda in a different, more positive light which ultimately works to challenge stereotypes and uplift local and international tourism.
The Kafunda Kreative #KoikoiEast trip in partnership with Airtel Uganda and Shell Fuels & Lubricants traveled to Kapchorwa to explore the legends around the Sipi Falls where participants experienced everything from the high adrenaline abseiling, breathtaking vistas of the Kaphcorwa escarpment and Rift Valley, Sipi Falls, the Sebei culture and the therapeutic experience of traditional root beer tasting
“Returning to be able to continue telling Ugandan stories 18 months after we started this in 2015 is so thrilling for us. That has only been possible due to partners like Airtel Uganda and Vivo Energy Uganda. Our first 2017 excursion into Kapchorwa and the source of the Nile will seek to highlight what we believe is one of the richest tourism regions and culturally rich areas of this country. “ – David Ogutu. Team leader, Kafunda Kreative.
Speaking at the flag off, Airtel Uganda’s Head of Products, Simon Akuguzibwe commended Kafunda Kreatives for their Koikoi concept.
“At Airtel Uganda, we pride in promoting the magnificent pearl of Africa. Our partnership with Kafunda Kreative goes beyond Kampala to the countryside to bring this beauty closer to our fans through our social media platforms. This is in line with our commitment to reaching out to every Ugandan with quality service and an enduring experience with the smartphone network,” he added.
Shell Marketing Manager, Jean Mugisha who was also on the trip commented “These trips have the potential to really change how people see Uganda. I cant believe some of the things I have heard and seen. The serenity and landscape are breathtaking but the people are warm welcoming and come from a very rich heritage. I am sure that partnership bringing young people to such places expands their experience of this country and opens new opportunities. That way they find new ways of doing more.”
It is an initiative by Kafunda Kreative started in 2015 which aims to harness the power of social media utilising a variety of mediums like photography, film, written word and music to bring to the world stage stories about Uganda told from the perspective of Ugandan artists while creating fresh exciting content about Uganda.
About Kafunda Kreative:
A fellowship of creative professionals learning from one another, growing their skills and collaborating, working with existing and emerging brands to help build effective and relevant brands, products and services that kick ass in Uganda and then the world.
When I we started out on the #KoikoiUG campaign in 2015, I wasn’t much of a photographer. I am still not one but I have learnt lots in the last 18 months. My first instinct back then was to fake it, till I made it. So, in the spirit of faking it, I borrowed the biggest DSLR camera I could find and wentsnapping away. Really quickly I realised certain things .
1. I didn’t like the DSLR, its bulky and I was more of the slide your gear into your pocket type of guy,
2. DSLR’s are also quite intrusive. And for a culture that is suspicious of being photographed, itpresented many challenges.
3. Phones have come a long way since the first camera phone and pack some pretty decent features for photography and film making.
Number 1 and 2, were instant. The story of realisation number 3 was different.
On our first trip East, I didn’t have access to a DSLR. All I had was a basic Samsung phone, and I had to find a way to make it work. I spent the night awake watching youtube video after youtube video talking about mobile photography and by 6am, I was good to go. I would show the world what mobile photography can do. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
Going back East 18 months later was like a second chance at a first time. The East has spectacular landscapes and I was determined to focus on only that and apply everything I have learnt in the last 18 months. This blog post shares the lessons I learned in my attempt to shoot landscapes in Kapchorwa. But first, what is landscape photography?
Its photography that shows spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. Landscape photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes. That’s what Wikipedia says. What in the beginning seemed so obvious opened me up to new possibilities of the metaphorical, symbolic, and fantastical that can all be expressed in a landscape. That being said, here are some tips;
Tip 1: Focus
Because I realized disturbances, features and subjects would make my landscape better, focus was major. Every scene you like has something that attracts you to it, and I decided to trust my eye and make those things my focal points. Deciding where I put my subjects in the picture was decided by 2 things, the rule of thirds and the realization that our education teaches us to read left to right, and thus people read pictures the same way.
Tip 2 Foreground:
A photographer friend on these KoiKoi trips once said, when shooting landscapes, you had to invite your viewer to look into your photograph and keep looking. I quickly realized putting my subjects in the foreground rather that the background created depth in my picture.
Tip 3. Lines:
During my search online a few month ago I have read about leading lines. This could be a path, a road, a river or even a moving subject that draws your viewer into the picture.
Tip 4. The Sky:
When you have nothing in your foreground, and no subject to focus on, putting the land in the lower part of your picture and allowing the sky to dominate creates some pretty interesting scapes. With a little enhancing to make it pop, it can create very serene scenes
Tip 5. Perspective;
Always shoot your landscape straight on. Get it out of the way. And then try the same scene from top looking down, down looking up, the side, whatever vantage point you can find. Each one has its own power, why not explore all of them. You never know what the money shot is.
So how about you grab your phone and go shoot some Ugandan landscapes. And then load some data, Airtel has some great data plans, and share those with us via Instagram using the #KoikoiUg hashtag.
About the Author
Trained as an architect, David Ogutu sits on that fine edge between madness and genius making him a passionate creative and a consummate scholar of human behaviour. David is a popular radio and TV talk show host and an avid smartphonographer
When I joined the KoiKoi Uganda team on the tour of the East, I decided to be open minded. I did not have big expectations.
I have always loved to travel. Unfortunately there was not much of an opportunity to do so because I settled down early and tucked away some of that while I found different dreams and hobbies that fit within my schedule. But, life doesn’t wait for free time in a schedule. You have to make it.
And I did.
It was hard to relax amidst the focus of the numerous camera lenses, those with flashes and the ones that might have gone unnoticed. I was anxious but I had set out to adventure. And all of it faded away when I became at home with the true spirit of KoiKoi Uganda.
I was able to truly see my country. I used to think that the highlight of Kapchorwa was the three waterfalls and the ruthless FGM of the Sabiny girls. But there is much more: the humility and strength of the Sebei children who helped me climb the steep slopes, the rare jewel stones from the cliffs, the rich history of the Kalenjin people, the cultivation and livelihood practices of the area, the tasty local honey tonic and corn beer.
And the waterfalls! They are serene and unique. From a domineering high water cliff, to the cool meditation spot with a shallow pool and the exciting screaming water spray. All three falls presented breathtaking views and experiences.
I wouldn’t just recommend this as your next destination. I insist- this is a must visit location. [Note to self: How could you have thought Sipi falls was in Mbale? Obviously did not pay attention in Geography class.]
The experience wouldn’t be complete without the group mealtimes, the thrill of abseiling with its subsequent unspoken mountain crawling and rib cracking conversations at the camp fire.
Even as I file away this adventure into my box of favorite things, I am happy because I will keep the memory like a postcard that one day my great-grandchildren will read at a campfire.
About the Author;
Alive and glowing from the inside Juliet Mpiima brought mirth and her infectious smile to#KoiKoiEast making the trip a delectable sojourn. A trait we have found to be common amongst people who eat life with a big spoon. We certainly hope she can bring her vivacious life view to more trips and explore more of Uganda