I'm watching the Top Gear Africa special where they try to find the source of the Nile and I know they exaggerate a lot, but I've been to Uganda and they're pretty fucking bang on what it's like to travel there. I've actually pretty much done the exact journey they did, Kampala to Fort Portal to Lake Edward through the tea plantations, the great roads and the shitty, shitty roads. Here are my Thoughts as I watch, because I want to talk about Uganda and I think they deserve some credit.
Kampala really does take most of a day to drive through and there really are that many of those vans, which are like a cross between a taxi and a bus - they'll go where you want, but you'll probably pick up other people on the way. You really can buy basically everything, including a million bananas for way less money than you think. I think the bit where Jeremy says "is this a chair leg," he's buying sugar cane. It's way too fibrous to eat but you can chew on it and the sugar will come out, which is okay until you're just left with a big inedible lump of fibres that burn your throat until you spit it out of the window. They give it to children as snacks for school.
The long distance roads are fantastic, although in my experience they were actually mostly built by the Chinese, and not, as suggested on the programme, the Swiss. As I understand it, it was part of the deal in return for mining rights. They're really good, although I did get stuck in quite a lot of roadworks while they were widening the roads.
As demonstrated, the speedbumps are perpetual (I think my driver said there were about 100/hour on the drive between Kampala and Kasese, where I stayed). They were also fucking huge. When you get off those main roads, as demonstrated, the roads are all on a spectrum between reasonably flat tracks to impassable because they're basically just muddy rivers alongside a 40 meter drop, via "more pothole than road."
Everywhere they stopped seems to be pretty authentic too. Top Gear might be a bunch of dickheads doing dumb shit, but they represented their subject with a level of accuracy that suprised and pleased me. There's basically nothing about this which I'm finding to be particularly misleading.
Supplemental thought: yep, every other building really is painted entirely yellow with MTN MOBILE MONEY written on it in big letters. Mobile phones are really big there - they kind of skipped computers entirely, and while the prices aren't much cheaper (I worked it out and I'd barely save anything by buying an iPhone there rather than here, maybe £100 or so at most) they have a huge supply of non-smart-phones that you can pick up for like £5-10. Pay as you go is big and you can buy top ups at any of those yellow buildings (or you have to find the rare red AirTel building if for some reason you don't go with MTN).