Exploring south-western Uganda

After two weeks in the south-east of the country; white-water rafting on the Nile and climbing Mount Elgon, and our self-drive safari in the north at Murchison Falls, we were back on the bus to Fort Portal to explore south-western Uganda.

There are many crater lakes around Fort Portal and we first headed to Lake Nkuruba. It’s a beautiful forest-fringed lake that’s safe to swim in (and around 30 minutes from town). We camped at the lovely Lake Nkuruba Nature Reserve, a community-run hostel and a brilliant spot to chill for a few days. There are loads of black-and-white colobus and vervet monkeys around the reserve and many birds in the trees, including the beautiful Grand Blue Turaco. It’s also a great base for exploring the area and the we really enjoyed the view of three crater lakes from the ‘Top of the World’ viewpoint.
Catherine enjoying a swim

Nearby Lake Nkuruba is the Bigodi Swamp where Diana, the first female guide on our trip, introduced us to many beautiful birds. Uganda is home to over 1,000 species of birds, many of which are brightly coloured and have amazing names (Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Red-chested paradise flycatcher,  Red-throated bee-eater to name a few) and both Catherine and I are really getting into our bird-watching on this trip.

The tiny town of Bigodi is very close to the Kibale Forest where around 1,400 chimps live. We camped at the Safari hotel in the village next door and spent an amazing day meeting some of our closest relatives. (It was such a special experience that warranted its own blog here).
While in the area, we also caught some local football – Bigodi FC vs. Kabuye FC in the Kamwenge District League!

It was very easy getting back to Fort Portal as it seems any car here doubles as a shared taxi to earn a little extra money, and we used the lovely ‘YES’ hostel as our base to further explore the area. ‘YES’ stands for Youth Empowerment Services and money from the hostel is used for a number of charitable projects.

We hopped on a boda – boda for the 8 km ride to Lake Kyaninga, a beautiful and large crater lake. We walked around the crater rim for 90 minutes and found a path down to the water where we could enjoy our picnic and have a refreshing swim.

The beautiful Lake Kyaninga

The next morning we headed for Karagutu, 45 minutes from Fort Portal in a 14-seater taxi, and enjoyed a lovely trek in the Rwenzori Mountains. We had seen a poster in Kampala for a hostel in the area and the hostel owner,  Daniel,  was our brilliant guide for the day. We headed up the mountain and would have had the most amazing view across the Semliki river and into the DRC had it been clear.  Nevertheless,  we could see the winding river and thick forest and it was a very enjoyable day trekking and chatting with Daniel.

You can just make out the winding river!

We continued south to Lake Bunyoni – encircled by steep terraced hills and dotted with 29 islands, it’s a beautiful spot to hang out at for a few days and great for a swim.

Sunset on the lake
Traveling by dugout canoe is a pretty cool way to get around

The lake also has some lovely community-run accommodation. We camped first at Edirisa, with their wonderful tree-house, and then at Byoona Amagra on Itambira island. It takes around an hour in a dugout canoe to get across to the island but be prepared to paddle! If you don’t fancy the sometimes wobbly free canoe, you can take a boat for $8.

Both hostels had a nice campsite and good facilities, including lovely outdoor showers. Edirisa lets you use their dugout canoes for free should you fancy a paddle while Byoona has a little jetty you can swim off.  We also got very excited when we saw otters here! Byoona serves the tastier food but the African tea at both is delicious. Weather wise,  it was often very cloudy in the morning before clearing into a lovely afternoon and we enjoyed a few delicious sunset beers.

Loving the rubber-rings!

Comments

4 Comments
  1. posted by
    Janis
    Feb 2, 2018 Reply

    Amazing just amazing!

    • posted by
      Jumping Jazza
      Feb 17, 2018 Reply

      Thank you 🙂

  2. posted by
    Len Carter
    Jul 6, 2018 Reply

    Hey Jazza, you guys popped into my head today so I thought I’d have a look at your blog! Was really good to meet you and Catherine at Boonya Amagara. All the best, Len (+ Bobbi and Eli)

    • posted by
      Jumping Jazza
      Jul 31, 2018 Reply

      Hey Len, great to hear from you and hope you are all well. It was lovely to meet you too and we would love to pop up to Wales once we’re back in Sep to see the theatre. Please do send on your number – mine is 077 587 80292.

      Hope you enjoyed the blogs too 🙂

      Cheers for now,
      Jazza

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