This is the second part of what I got up to in Kibale, Uganda. Part 1 contains tonnes of information about Chimpanzee Tracking and a wonderful encounter with an impressive chimp named Ssebo, so if you missed that, click here.
In the afternoon our guide, Hassan, offers us the chance to do a birdwatching walk in the nearby Bigodi swamp, but after three busy days including a full day of wildlife viewing in Murchison Falls, we decide to take the afternoon off and go for a stroll near our hotel instead. We’re staying at the Crater Safari lodge, which as the name suggests, looks out over another crater lake – the Lake Nyinabulitwa. We set off to see if we can walk at least part of the way round it, and check out the view of the hotel from the other side.
An orange dirt track slopes gently upwards away from the hotel, skirting the edge of the lake. To our right, vivid green banana and palm trees fringe the crater lake, to our left is a rolling patchwork of small homesteads, simple lean-to houses and terraces planted with potatoes, bananas and tea.
Curious children come running to say hello. We stop and chat to them; their English isn’t great, but we learn that these two are twins and their names are Rachel and Rebecca.
We didn’t get these guys’ names, but they were able to tell us their ages: ten, nine and four. Don’t you just love those sunglasses?! They asked us for sweets, or pens, but we had nothing in our pockets at all, so as usual I just took their photo, and showed it to them, which they thought was hilarious.
A little further along the road we met James, on his way to market with his bunches of matoke. Matoke is a variety of savoury banana indigenous to South West Uganda; it’s eaten steamed or mashed and served with meat or beans. One big bunch of James’s matoke will set you back 9000 Ugandan shillings, or about £1.90 at today’s exchange rate.
Most people living in rural parts of Uganda are subsistence farmers. They have a small homestead or plot of land, they grow crops, and they sell or trade what they don’t eat. The result is this gorgeous green landscape, the neat plots laid out like the squares on a patchwork quilt. Up here, by the lake, the fields are so vivid, the air so fresh, it’s idyllic.
WHERE WE STAYED
We were lucky enough to be able to spend two nights at the magnificent Crater Safari Lodge, an award-winning luxury eco-lodge perched right on the shore of Lake Nyinabulitwa.
The lodge boasts a range of single, double, and family sized cottages, each with private bathroom and mosquito nets that make you feel like a princess in a four-poster bed (that includes you too, lads!)
There’s a swimming pool, though it was too chilly to go in when we were there…
… a restaurant overlooking the lake and serving amazing three-course lunches and dinners (usually included in the price of your accommodation)…
… and the lodge even has its own pair of resident African wood owls, who come and perch in the rafters of the restaurant after dark.
But by far the best thing about this place was the veranda. Every cottage has its own private deck, complete with hammock, where you can chill out by the lake or enjoy a beer, disturbed only by the gentle buzzing of lake flies and cicadas.
It’s the perfect place to relax after a hard day tracking chimpanzees through the jungle.
Note: My accommodation at Crater Safari Lodge was complementary. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I don’t accept freebies in exchange for positive reviews. All prices are correct at the time of writing.