LAKE RUTOTO,BANYARUGURU DISTRICT.
QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK.
I had this work thing,going down to Kasese district for the first time.much as it was work,I planned on having a siesta as well while I was down here,mostly cause it's game park territory.
I hadn't been here in a few years so I was excited to see some game,and enjoy what is the most satisfying silence.
I went with my cousin Flora,the ultimate jokester,this woman has stories for days and with her you're guaranteed a good time and lots of laughter.I have no qualms declaring her my favorite,I say while looking left and right.
We left Kampala via Bus.I absolutely hate buses,vile things!and if I have a choice in the matter I never use them but in this case I had to use one.the plan was to take it to Mbarara and then grab a cab to Kasese since the road to the Queen Elizabeth National Park is horrible,I wasn't looking forward to that.
It's supposed to take about 4 hours from Kampala to Mbarara but the driver kept making what I feel were unnecessary stops so we got there a bit later than expected.i will say the Bus ride was alright,I have no complaints on that front.
We stopped off at a friend of Flora's in Mbarara .she treated us to lunch,a nice hearty local meal that was just what I needed.
After making a grocery run for stuff needed at the lodge,we set off for Kasese.
It's a 2 hour journey mostly cause of the horrendous game park road.we went through districts I'd never been to before,it was a great experience.
The country side is beautiful!Ishaka,Bushenyi and its incredible tea plantations,
We went by a few like Ankloe tea estate,Igara and others,
Tea is a pretty crop,rendering the land a shade of,I'll say Emerald green. Very relaxing to watch go by.
We then came to Banyaruguru district,which I had never heard of,honestly how many districts do we have?i feel like each year over 6 more are born! If Uganda was the size of say Congo,I'd understand but nope!
Any who,where was I,yeah, Banyaruguru is home to what is apparently the deepest crater lake in Uganda,
I'd never heard of this lake before,I've got to do some research on this.
This lake is much feared by locals all round,no one dares fish here as the chances of survival are at an all time 0% apparently.
Even as we approached it was bare,because it was a cloudy dark afternoon,the whole scene looked icy and dreary,the dark lake deadly!
It's one of the most beautiful scenes out there.If you're ever out here and you've never seen it,please do,it will not disappoint!
We arrived in Kasese and took the road into the game park.You'd think,this being one of the most lucrative sources of tourism income,that dear old Ugandan government,ministry of transport and works or whoever deals with this would make sure this road was pristine,but no,this is one of the worst roads ,possibly the worst road in the area!
I was embarrassed as a Ugandan,like really,this is how we welcome tourists here.
The road should be a least a 20 minutes drive but because one has to maneuver around it skillfully,it takes longer.
That being said,it sure is scenic,the vast savannah on both sides,which this time of year was lush,last time I was here the whole controlled bush burning thing they do to rejuvenate the grass had been done,but today,it was great.
Also right at the entrance,monkeys,after the monkey forest in Indonesia I wasn't that keen,until one of them turned around and flashed me its pinky toe like crimson penis and the most epically light blue balls I've ever seen!wow,nature is a thing of wonder,how it's DNA was wired to color coordinate its genitals so well.....naturally I laughed out loud like a 12 year old.everyone in the car did.
We also saw Baboons,asses as red as ever,elephants,kobs and buffalos,so cool,I'm hoping lions are in my future.
We arrived in Kasenyi Game lodge,the abode with a potential marketing manager position I intend on taking.
It's a nice little place,6 cottages with a main restaurant and lounge area over looking the park and Bunyampaka salt lake.
What I love most about being here is the quiet,I appreciate some peace and quiet more than most things.good for the psyche.
Bunking with Flo,the cottage was comfortable,I liked the bathroom bit,it's cornered off with reeds and a kikoyi (African cloth) in place of a door,
The balcony overlooking the salt lake has two seats for one to enjoy the sunset.
Darkeness fell so we decided to go down to a neighboring lodge, Kasenyi Safari Park.
That was an experience that warrants its own post for later.
We got back at about 8pm,for dinner.I had the onion soup starter,the vegetarian option with rice which was pretty good,whatever that little pineapple dessert was,it made my night.
With an armed escort,we walked back to the cottage.Night time in game parks is very dangerous,this is when majority of the animals come out to play,or whatever it is they do in the dark,hippos most especially.always have someone walk back with you,you might never been seen or heard from again trying to Rambo it on your own,I can think of few things worse than ending up as animal dung!
We got up bright and early the next morning,had breakfast and I spent sometime taking extensive pictures of the lodge.
In the afternoon we went into kasese town which was a good 34 minutes away,we had a brief stop over at the equator as I had no previous clue there was more than one equator land mark in Uganda,cool.
Kasese was a pretty dull and unremarkable town,I thought it would be popping like Mbarara or shining like Fort Portal.Sad really.
We did some grocery shopping in the market and also a one Rwenzori Supermarket,the most ridiculously expensive joint I've ever seen,day light robbery!
Just before 2pm,we called the lodge to book us the boat ride at Mweya.
It was a bit of a drive,we went by the salt lake ,Katwe,it's been interesting seeing all these land marks i last heard of in school.
Rain clouds were gathering on the horizon to which Flora remarked it was going to be a cold night!
When we got to Queen Elizabeth's main gate,we had to pay entrance and car fees,for locals like us,15,000ugx,and the car charge was 20,000ugx.
We drove up,nothing special to see except loads of cacti,I like cacti,I find them fascinating,which reminds me of the untimely demise of my pet cactus IT,I'm still sad about that.
Arriving at the top,we took a left turn to the Jetty,a man there directed us to where we had to go get tickets for the boat ride,we had about 20 minutes to 3pm the set off time. We hurried to the Uganda Wildlife Authority office where for 30,000ugx each we got tickets,we drove back down just in time,boarded the boat,got some good seats and waited for the adventure to begin.
Naturally the boat left a few minutes late,I don't know why I thought it would leave on time.
We set off a good 15 minutes later and were about 6 minutes out when in the distance we saw a bus load of Chinese tourists gathering about .Suddenly the boat turned back to shore,the tour guide announced that since the group had paid we had to go back for them ,seriously! They weren't 3,7 or 9 minutes late,a whole 20 minutes, I found it disrespectful to those of us that had bothered to show up on time or even earlier and those apologies fell on deaf ears,we all just wanted to get on with it.
In all honesty the boat ride was pretty boring and I once spent a good 30 minutes pruning in a bathtub waiting for my mum to tear herself away from whatever she was watching.it was pretty slow and for a good while there was nothing to see,until we turned a corner and saw a herd of Buffalo and school of hippos.
There was an eagle or two,some birds and later a dead hippo,One of the tourists seemed particularly concerned with the demise of said hippo,the guide assured him they'd be an investigation into its death and later it would be buried.its reassuring to know they care about the animals this much,gives me hope they'll thrive so the next generation can experience them too.
We saw one lone crocodile and lots more hippos and warthogs.we came across a bird sanctuary which smelled to kingdom come.birds are nasty aren't they?
As we left Lake George through the Kazinga Channel to Lake Edward,we saw fishing villages and the locals going about their business,apparently,this area,the channel,is designated for tourism only and the locals aren't allowed to fish here,so they have to go to lake Edward or parts of George.
We stopped about 20 kilometers away from the Uganda-Congo border in lake Edward,in the distance canoes went off to Congo. I wondered what life was like out there.
We headed back,most people dozing off.in all it took about 2 hours.it was a lackluster bit ride at best.If I'd paid more than 30k for it I wouldn't have been happy.We drove back,and must have taken a different turn cause we ended up exiting at a different gate,the Katunguru gate 2.
It started raining as we drove back.it's almost like the rain brings all the animals out,elephants,kobs,hippos but sadly no lions.
Getting back to the lodge,we had some tea and watched night fall,one of the workers started a camp fire which after dinner,along with a Polish family staying at the lodge as well,we all sat round it chatting about different things.
We did eventually call it a night at around 10pm. Another thing the rain seems to bring out in droves is Lake flies! Irritating things,they were so many but thank God for mosquito nets.This right here would be any lizard or frogs ideal vacation,for humans though,not so much.
I missed out on seeing lions that were hanging near the restaurant as I was busy packing up and lounging in my cottage,seeing as I was heading back to Kampala I clearly wouldn't be seeing them this time round.I'll definitely be back for them soon though.
Queen Elizabeth,you are majestic as always.Kasenyi,you've got a long way to go but I'm optimistic in the future you'll be up there with best of them.
It's great to be going home as well,all this sprinting to and from my cottage out of fear of being eaten had gotten super detrimental to my bones.
Till next time.X