I'm travelling to Africa at the end of the year. I will have a spare four weeks to get from Aru in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Nairobi, Kenya. Can you recommend the best way to get around, some things to see on the way and a good place to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve?
- J. Dyer, Forest Lodge, Sydney.
In almost every source that I can find on Aru, the words "lawless", "violent", "dangerous" and "volatile" make frequent appearances. The chance of being robbed or even kidnapped is not to be taken lightly. You should read the travel advice for Congo on the websites of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (dfat.gov.au) and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (fco.gov.uk).
If that does not put you off, the usual way to get around in this part of Africa is by local bus or private car. There should be no great difficulty arranging a car, although you may need to bargain hard to reach a reasonable price.
Once over the border into Uganda, a detour to the south would take you along the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley to the Rwenzori mountain ranges, the fabled "mountains of the moon", where snow-covered peaks rise to more than 5000 metres. Hiking and bird-watching are local specialties.
From Rwenzori, you will be close to Queen Elizabeth National Park, a lush savannah stretching from the shores of Lake Edward and home to buffalo, elephant and more than 600 bird species.
Continue a little further south and you'll hit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, which together provide a habitat for about half the remaining population of wild mountain gorillas.
Once you cross into Kenya, you have many options for safari tours, although they will not have quite the same adventure component as travelling through the backblocks of Uganda. A good place to spend Christmas and New Year's would be wherever you happen to find yourself. It sounds like a ripping adventure. Very best of luck.