Kabarole District

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13 travelers at this place

  • Day52

    Red beans and a pickup truck

    February 22, 2016 in Uganda ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Considering my excitement for the chimps themselves, I didn't elaborate on how this all came about. We knew that Kibale National Park was the place for chimp tracking. We also knew it was expensive. It's 150$ for the permit, entrance fee to the park, and they supply the guide. So kind of a package deal for chimp tracking. There's other parks in the country who offer "primate walks" for about 60-70$ on which you have roughly a 30% chance of seeing chimps. Jack and I discussed and decided I would be way too disappointed if I was to try another park and not see chimps, so we decided to bite the bullet and go big! A lot of tour companies offer something with the chimp tracking and crater lakes in a day, but those tours were 550$US for the two of us. One company did offer this crater lakes and chimp tour to us for 390$US, but that basically means you're paying 90$ for transportation there and around the lakes. We decided to do the crater lakes ourselves.

    We took a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) out to where we thought we needed to go buy the tracking permit. This was at 630am, because since I'm a nervous wreck about making sure this happens and I'm convinced something will go wrong, I wanted to be at the park office as soon as it opened at 730am to reserve for the next morning. That's right, we were planning on doing the hike the next day, but I was determined to make it there before yesterday's group started, in case it was full today or something and I had to go another time. Who knows.

    The boda ride is an hour long in red dirt roads with speed bumps and potholes. We were covered, along with our bags, in a full layer of red dust once we arrived at the park's head office, only to be told the permits are sold at the headquarters, not the office, 10km back up the same road. I panicked. What if someone had woken up just as early and was at the right place just in time to buy out all the permits? Exhausted from the bike ride, we decided to go check in to our hotel before going back to the headquarters with this boda-boda.

    We chose the Primate Safari Lodge simply because it was the only lodge walking distance to the head office, which is where the chimp tracking walk starts from. It's actually right next door, but there isn't another option close enough to walk from. And of course, the idea of missing the hike simply because of ill planned transportation would make me cry.

    Turns out, the lodge was 14$US per PERSON to camp, not per tent like we thought. Picture this : super nice, fancy lodge, advertising private cottages with stone showers and hers and hers bathrobes, and a "full board" option or meals of 19$US each... EACH. That's more then our camp site price. And here we are, two girls hanging up a hammock tent under the not so well kept shelter because we don't have a rain cover. Granted, why would they upkeep their camp ground site, I don't think they've ever had campers... They didn't really know what to do with us. Of course we attempted to argue the price, but we weren't getting anywhere. So we made sure to get our 28 dollars' worth. Keep in mind - this is the most we've ever paid for a room in Uganda, and this wasn't a room! This was simply the permission to put our tent up. Getting back from our crater lakes walk yesterday, they let us use the empty room's shower. The cottage was gorgeous! I didn't want to leave. Part of me was angry we were sleeping two girls in one hammock when this cottage was going to be empty!

    Having seen the prices of the meals in the morning when we dropped our bags off, we knew groceries needed to be done. So after "checking into" our hotel (dropping our bags off in the office), our lovely boda-boda driver took us to the headquarters to buy our park permits which acted as reservations. The man must not have known about my anxiety, because we expressed what we want, 2 permits for tomorrow morning, and he looks down at his computer and starts typing... Something... And not saying anything... A good 5 minutes of torture later I break the silence and ask "is there still permits available? Are we good for tomorrow?" to which he replies ever so casually "oh yes yes, that's OK long time ago". Damn him! Making me sweat! So it's confirmed! I hike tomorrow! (well today).

    All that to say we managed to do it on our own! Insert blog from yesterday - we walked the lakes on our own. Then boda back to the Primate Lodge before dark to set up our luxurious accommodation for the night. I've never drank so many hot drinks in my life! Like I said, we wanted our 28 dollars worth... And hot drinks were included, buffet style. That night, I had a hot chocolate (my first since I've left) and 2 teas. Today, I had 2 coffees and 3 teas. Why not! We had bought a bunch of fruit and mini breads from the little towns along the lake, so we got them to supply us with bowls and cutlery to make a fruit salad. We bought Rolex from the town to have for diner (eggs rolled into chapati). We didn't order a thing from them for the 3 meals we were there, and I was never hungry! This wonderful American older couple took pitty on us I guess, they bought us lunch today! Never say no to free. They wanted to buy us each lunch, but the kitchen prepares the food ahead of time, so they only had the one plate, so we shared. Super appreciated.

    It was clear that the people who stay in this lodge have money. Most of them had their own guide following them in the country. Mostly an older crowd. I guess with the price of the permits, not very many backpackers do this... After our briefing at the park office, our chimp tracking guide goes "OK, everybody in your vehicles and we meet you at the trial". Jack and I look at her and respond "what vehicles?" so the lovely American couple who had their own guide for a week gave us a ride... Apparently tours are a big thing here... Lol.

    All that to say, we did it! We relaxed at the lodge after returning around 1130am (left at 8am), and hung up the hammock in the front lawn for Jack to read from. I don't think they've ever had guest quite like us, they didn't really know what to do with us... I asked to lay my clothes on a chair to dry, and they offered to put it in the dryer for me. I didn't think dryers existed here... We asked for a knife, they would bring a whole place setting. We made our way back to town today riding in the back of a pickup truck full of bags of red beans... Covered in dirt again on arrival. Jack was facing forward so had the outline of her sunglasses marked in dirt. Sexy.

    I get to sleep in a bed tonight. I don't have to calculate if my hip bone is digging into Jack's leg, or if I want to move my leg I have to ask Jack to roll over, or contemplating if it's really that important for me to have sensation and circulation in my right leg since I'll wake Jack up if I move... Two people in a hammock is not recommended... FYI.
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  • Day50

    A record!

    February 20, 2016 in Uganda ⋅ 🌙 -5 °C

    We hit a record! 24 people in a minibus that seats 14. Booya! I had my left cheek oh so uncomfortably sitting against the door and the right half on a seat, half in the air.

    The last couple days haven't been too much to write about... Elections day - the 18th - everything seemed closed. It continued on into Kasese where yesterday and this morning it seemed like nothing was open... We had difficulty finding a tour agency to help plan for Jack's hike on the Rwenzori mountains, which was our only true reason to stop in this town. Had ourselves a local diner while we watched the news about the elections with provisional results being reported.

    Sorry for the lack of excitement, not much has been going on. Still exploring everywhere, still enjoying the socialness of Ugandans. Made it to Fort Portal today for a better chance at finding a tour agency. Found out the pricing is absolutely ridiculous as usual... Uganda and Kenya, as we were warned, have very expensive package tours. Example - they were offering a combination package of a trek in the Kibale National Park and a lunch around the crater lakes. Their advertised price for the two of us was 550$US. As we continued to talk and made it clear we didn't have that kind of money, he offered it to us for 390$US. 160$ price drop in a heart beat, how much profit do they get!? You basically pay a ton of money for them to drive you around the different places that are accessible by local transport. It's basically just for convenience of being able to do it all in a shorter amount of time. Luckily for us, we have time! So we'll attempt this on our own.

    The most exciting part of Fort Portal is a restaurant called Duchesse. I had a club sandwich with fantastic homemade multi grain bread (they fry all their breads here so everything is so greasy!). Jack had herself an open faced sandwich with grilled eggplant, cheese and pesto. Fresh, non greasy foods are so so welcomed at this point. Who would have thought, I, the Queen of fast food, would be looking for fresh!

    Pictures are of the Tooro Palace and the Royal Tombs we visited. The King of the Tooro district was crowned at 3 years old... Must have been quite the responsibility! Lol. They are burried with their most important possessions such as spears, drums and serving jugs. When the president reviewed the Kings' involvement in the country, it was said he would take everything away from the Kings and remove their power all together, but decided to make them in charge of culture...

    The funny part was the caretaker for the tombs (guy in white shirt) looked like he was woken from a nap to bring us over. He was shirtless when he came out of his house, his daughters got him up. He was groggy. Hardly spoke English so his daughter who spoke ever so slightly more English accompanied us. They explained that just like being King, being the keeper of the burial grounds is past down from father to son and is an important role.

    If all goes well, I'll be making one of my dreams come true in 2 days... So stay tuned. Until then, I'll try to contain my excitement...
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  • Day31

    Lake Nkuruba

    October 16, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Leaving Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary behind, we start a long drive across Uganda to the mountains. Specifically, we're heading to the Crater Lakes, which sit in the shadows of the Rwenzori Mountains. We predict a 5 hour drive, but it ends up being around 8. It turns out that, once the nice road from Kampala ends, we have to drive on a dirt road. Which has massive potholes. And has just been washed away by the huge rain storms. And we'll be on it for 100km. It's hard going, and mostly it's a case of just picking which pothole is the smallest and heading for that one, praying that it won't pop a tyre.

    At one point, we pass a group of guys trying to fix a particularly bad bit of road, clearing a path for a massive lorry. They're up to their knees in red mud, hacking away at the road with pickaxes and ferrying mud into the deep rivulets carved out by the heavy rains. As we pass, they gesture to us for money, for fixing the road. Chris feebly shrugs as we awkwardly drive through the group.

    After hours of the deepest "African massage" we've ever come across, we reach the crater lakes. Unfortunately, Google Maps is not on our side today, and it takes us through some tea plantations, with red dirt paths barely cutting through the rows of green tea bushes. A small child waves at us as we start a particularly hair-raising descent. Rather than the ubiquitous shout of "MZUNGU!", he says simply "bye-bye". It is quite ominous.

    Finally, after navigating the tea fields, we reach our campsite. And it is worth it. Three species of monkey bound around the trees and scamper across the ground. On one side of the campsite is a beautiful serene lake, surrounded by colonies of black-and-white colobus monkeys. To the other side, the hills drop away to reveal the Rwenzori mountains stretching across the entire horizon.

    We get talking to the only other people there- a Dutch couple called Bas and Vera. They've also hired a car, and have almost the exact same route as us. We would end up following them across most of Uganda.

    The next day, we head out on a walk with our guide from the lodge- Good. And I'm not describing the walk there: his name is Good. Which, I'm sure we can all agree, is a great name.

    We head to a waterfall, with Good telling us about everything and anything. We ask him about the chimpanzees. He tells us that when he was small, the chimps would be all around this area. He would be outside in the garden when a chimp would chase him, crying, back inside. Now, though, the apes are confined to a small national park just north of here. It's quite sad to hear. He does also tell us a story about a mother chimpanzee stealing a human baby when her offspring had died. The villagers had to hush the (human) parents' tears, or else the chimp would get so aggravated that she might tear the baby in two. On second thoughts, I'm glad that there are no chimps around.
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  • Day118

    Fort Portal

    September 1, 2017 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    A short drive after our chimpanzee trek took us to a campground/lodge just outside of Fort Portal. We were going to do a few day trips from here, but since the camp was a little further out of town than expected, we decided to stay put (plus the rain and humidity made the idea of hiking unattractive).
    The best thing about this place was the farm-to-table food. The owners (a Ugandan woman and her German husband) had created a working farm alongside the accommodation. They raise different animals and have a huge vegetable garden that supplies the restaurant. We asked Miriam, the owner, if we could buy some fresh vegetables to take away with us. The next morning she took us around the garden and let us pick whatever we wanted and did not charge us anything. It was great to get freshly picked lettuce, eggplants, carrots, radishes and tomatoes. She also gave us a loaf of homemade bread. Our friend, MT, will be very excited that we are getting a serving of fresh veges at every meal! This is pretty much as far north as we will get on our drive through Africa and we now start heading southeast towards Kenya.
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  • Day100

    Fort Portal: Sitz des Königs von Toro

    January 10, 2017 in Uganda ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    Die letzte Station vor der Rückreise nach Kampala war Fort Portal, entstanden aus einem ehemaligen Militärstützpunkt am Fuß des über 5.000 Meter hohen Rwenzori-Gebriges. Nach kurzem Einchecken in unserm Gästehaus ging es auf Entdeckungstour rundum zu einer kleinen Tropfsteinhöhle mit tollem Dschungelwasserfall und Besichtigung der umliegenden Crater Lakes, entstanden aus alten Vulkankratern. Auch eine Besichtigung des (auch heute noch bewohnten) Königsitzes konnten wir noch ins Programm übernehmen. Parallel zum Präsidialsystem, bestehen nämlich auch heute noch die Königshäuser, die Uganda in 12 Herrschaftsbereiche unterteilt. Viele Einheimische fühlen sich dieser Unterteilung sogar eher zugehörig als einem der offiziellen Distrikte. So merkt man, dass die Ansichten und Meinungen, die ein König äußert, trotz fehlender exekutiver politischer Macht, durch die Entscheidungen seiner Untertanen (bspw. bei Wahlen) wiederum doch Einfluss nehmen kann. 
    Zum Abschluss dieses vielfältigen Tages saßen wir dann in sehr internationaler Gesellschaft mit köstlichen hausgemachten Speisen am großen Round table unseres Gästehauses. Im Nachhinein fanden wir sogar noch die explizite Empfehlung in meinem Reiseführer, dieses besondere Ritual nicht zu verpassen - also echt gut, dass wir mit dem Check-In gleich unseren Wunsch fürs gemeinsame Abendessen angemeldet hatten 😃 So erfuhren wir mehr über den Alltag eines Uni-Lehrerteams im Kongo, die Clienton-Foundation in Kampala, sowie über das langjährige Engagement eines holländischen Farmers unter ugandischen Kleinbauern. Am nächsten Morgen war es dann Zeit aufzubrechen zum Ausgangspunkt und Abschlussziel der (für mich) fast dreiwöchigen Reise zurück nach Kampala. Wir verabschiedeten unseren Guide Gershom und traten die 4-5 stündige Busreise an, sodass wir am Nachmittag im Haus in Bukoto ankamen.
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Kabarole District

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