Kampala to Karamoja, Uganda: A Photo Essay

A 12 Hour Journey That Took Us Back In Time

Kampala is the largest city in Uganda, and as such, as most amenities most of us expect in 21st century life. But once you start to leave the hustle and bustle and roam onward, the scene fast changes to the reality that faces most in Uganda: extreme poverty and a much simpler way of life than most of us in the west have ever been accustomed to. I’ll let the photos tell most of the journey; I could only capture so much while shooting out the side window of a land cruiser hellbent on making it to Karamoja before dark.

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Kampala to Jinja, The Journey Begins

The Jinja road does not let up as far as commercial activity the entire way. As we left Kampala it was morning, and businesses were just getting ready for the day, kids were setting off to school, and daily society began to wake up.


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Jinja to Soroti

The next leg of the journey took us over the headwaters of the Nile river (I was told that I was not allowed to take photos here). This is where the step backward in time began and wouldn’t let up until my return to Kampala. The scene included a lot of livestock and the beginnings of the mud-and-grass huts that are synonymous with the African countryside.


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Soroti was a large enough town where we stopped for lunch and one of our travel mates had a meeting. As I shot photos from the balcony of the restaurant I found some interesting scenes that once again reminded me that this journey was far different from any other journey I had experienced.

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Into Karamoja

As we left Soroti we came upon a sign of the future: Road building crews every few kilometers. This is the last frontier of Uganda; and within no time it will have a high speed roadway leading into what was before a dilapidated dirt road. The mountains in the distance gave hint of the rugged beauty that would pop out of the savannah from time to time. But it was still a long journey ahead.

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Just as the golden hour hit we caught sight of Mount Moroto; the staging grounds for where we would be building trails and riding bikes to the confusion of many locals. It’s a massive massif; with ridges extending every which way outward to allow for a blank canvas to trail builders. We got in right before dark and decided to watch the sunset from the highland; imagining the future of a tourist lodge and bike trails on the slopes.

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When we drove up the mountain be were greeted by a half dozen of the local youth, the Tepeth clan who wanted to know what we were up to. I couldn’t speak the language so had no idea how to communicate, only to give a smile and hope that we were welcome. By the look on their smiles, I’d say we were.

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The scenery was like that of another world. The volcanic remnants popped out of the savannah. Mixed with the fading daylight it gave a welcoming sight that I’d be in for quite a ride over the next few weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what was to come.

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