Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Ber's visit....travels around Uganda

To say I was excited about Ber coming to visit, would be putting it mildly.... I'd been counting down the days since it was day 146 (no joke)! She was my first visitor in Uganda so I was really looking forward to showing her the sights.....and I'd missed her so much! Back in the UK we'd see each other regularly and chat on the phone for hours, so a good catch up session was well overdue!

We had a fantastic 3 weeks, which basically went like this..... lots of chat.....safaris.....good food....nice lodges.... swimming in crater lakes......visits to the market.....visits to the tailor... boat trips.... some more chat.... tasting local food..... meeting Lucy and Kato and Kakuru....sun bathing and well it wouldn't have been a holiday without a few G&T's, Pimms and the odd bottle of red wine thrown in for good measure!

We visited Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Bunyoni, and Fort Portal. The trip was made even better by having a great driver, my friend Alex, who seemed to make all the journeys on some of the worst roads seem effortless. Ber left saying it was the best holiday she'd ever had, which was fantastic!

Showing off the banner I'd made to welcome Ber at Entebbe airport - I waved it furiously, so she had no chance to miss me when she walked into the arrivals lounge.....!

The obligatory 'tourist' photo at the Equator on the way from Kampala to Mbarara... Ber's first taste of Ugandan roads
A very angry looking Ankole cow at Lake Mburo National Park - he had a terrific scar on his forehead so had obviously been in a bit of a tussle.
Mihingo Lodge at Lake Mburo - we stayed there for 2 nights and it was fantastic, lovely food and wine, great scenery. I had a 1-hour full body massage in the open air....I was so 'chilled' afterwards I could hardly speak...
Some of the many zebras we saw on an early morning game walk at Lake Mburo

A riverside market on the shores of Lake Bunyoni - a crater lake in southern Uganda. We had to take a dug out wooden canoe to cross the lake to get to the island where we were staying.
A view of Lake Bunyonyi  - the area is often referred to as the Switzerland of Uganda, because of the beautiful freshwater lake and surrounding mountains. It's much cooler in this part of Uganda, but the weather was lovely while we were there. 
This is the Deluxe Geo Dome that we stayed in at the Byoona Amagara resort at Lake Bunyonyi - the dome is made from papyrus reeds and bamboo and is completely open to the elements. At first I was a bit worried that we only had mosquito nets for protection, as I have a huge fear of bats, but fortunately it was fine!
The spectacular early morning view over Lake Bunyonyi from the verandah of the
geo dome. The lake is free of hippos, crocodiles and bilharzia, so is perfectly safe to swim in.

Our last day at Lake Bunyonyi - we were both really sad to leave, it was such a
lovely place

A crocodile spotted on the banks of the Kazinga Channel between Lake George and Lake Edward at Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)
Elephant in QENP
Water buffalo and hippos live along side each other on the Kazinga Channel
Outdoor showers at Bush Logde, the tented camp where we stayed at Queen Elizabeth - the water tank is filled with cold water in the morning and by evening it's piping hot. The camp is in a great location outside the park boundary but it attracts lots of wildlife - there's a family of hippos who live in the channel just below the camp and regularly come into the camp; while we were there we saw an elephant, forst hogs and lots of baboons in the swamp just below our tent.
A dried up salt lake in QENP

Lake Ninyabalitwa in Fort Portal  - this area of Western Uganda is well known for its crater lakes that are bilharzia free and so safe to swim in . The lodge where Ber and I stayed was way off the beaten track but had a fantastic location right on the edge of the lake. We were told by the owner that it was safe to swim ..... that is if the lone hippo isn't around! And true to form the lone hippo arrived next morning, though that didn't stop the local children from swimming only a few hundred yards away from it.
This is not the best picture but its of prisoners picking cotton at a prison in Kaese, the most desolate and depressing town I've seen in Uganda, it's extremely hot and dry and has little of any interest there, so it tends to be a place that people just passs through.I couldn't believe that the prisoners were being made to pick cotton in the searing heat, it was like a scene from the Shawshank Redemption.

Enjoying a beer...

Ber with Kato and Kakuru - they were showing off the clothes that some of her friends had given to them.
Ber picking tea at a plantation in Bushenyi

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