Kasese to Lake Bunyonyi - Show me the money

Trip Start Dec 16, 2005
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Trip End Jun 12, 2006


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Sunday, February 5, 2006

A day of relaxation and waiting for the washing today in Kasese. Breakfast at the Saad, power back up so a quick check on e-mail and an update of the blog. Finished Dark Star Safari, a good book, but I now need another! Predictably back to the Saad for Tilapia dinner. Looking forward to getting out of this hot and dusty town and taking the bus to Lake Bunyonyi, known as 'The Switzerland of Africa' tomorrow. Listen to Hamid Karzai interview on the BBC World Service that evening - seems like a genuine, down to earth chap!

Next day woke at 6:30 to yet another power cut and had to root around in the dark to find my torch hidden somewhere in the bottom of my pack.

Not sure why I had returned to the Kogere. It was too hot to close the windows at night and my room was right next to the reception which tended to be the place for all the drunks and prostitutes to hang out when they wanted a break from the bar. By 2am once the bar had emptied the night watchmen did his damnedest to make sure he made as much noise as possible. Went for the 7am bus and round about 6:55am asked the usual question, what time will this bus be leaving? As usual the blatant lie of 7am came back. It always made me laugh as I knew buses in Uganda have a scheduled time but in reality they will never leave until they are full. This bus had 3 people on it! We did manage to get off by 8:30am, but as usual our first stop was for petrol followed by a few laps around the town to see if we could find another few passengers. It all frustrates the hell out of me as our 7am departure becomes 8:30 but in reality it is well after 9am before we actually leave - It takes longer for us to get going than the actual predicted journey time of just 2 hours! In Uganda any taxi, motorbike or bus will only carry enough petrol for its journey and for the rest of the time it will run on empty. The theory is, with an empty tank, if anyone steals the vehicle they will not get very far!

Great trip though, passed Lake George and through Queen Elisabeth National Park. This was like a safari and we saw buffalo, warthogs, waterbuck and over 100 Thompson Gazelle along the way! Oh also crossed the Equator! Apparently Uganda is only one of 10 countries in the world the equator passes through. It must be plantain harvesting season as there were bicycles loaded with them all over the shot. Arriving in villages there would be 40+ bicycles waiting while their crop was counted, put into sacks and loaded onto trucks. Besides the plantains there were also a number of cotton and tea plantations on route. The tea pickers were out in force!

Ordered some banana pancake thingies from a street vendor in Ishaka, but wished I hadn't been quite so keen as the samosa vendor came around a few minutes later!

I'd had to take a small detour though a town called Mbarara as it was one of the 3 towns in Uganda that had an ATM machine that took Visa cards. I was trying to get in and out of this place as quickly as possible and get on my way. I jumped on a boda boda and asked him to take me to the Standard Chartered Bank. After negotiation a price the bastard literally drove me across the street - easy money for some!

After my trip to the bank and hitting millionaire status again it was off to the bus park for my bus to Kabale. Unfortunately my good intentions to just take buses from now on fell down when a matatu pulled up. This one did have a big sign in the front saying Kabale Express. I though it may be direct but I was disillusioned, it was the same as all the rest, overloaded, driven by a lunatic and stopping every 5 minutes. We did get a ticket although I'm not too sure what for, the cop poked his head through the window and said something to me along the lines of what the hell are you doing traveling in this piece of junk.

It got cooler as we got up into 'The Switzerland of Africa' and Kabale. It was certainly a welcome change after the sweat box of Kabale!

I was umming and arring about staying overnight here or pressing on to Lake Bunyonyi. My guide book had mentioned it would take 4 hours to get here, it was 3pm so it had taken me over 8 hours. Not too sure where they get their times from - the author seems to talk about the best night spots in each town though so I guess we know where his priorities lied!

I checked out one hotel in which time I decided I'd press on. In this short space of time the proprietor had dropped the price from 10,000 shillings to 7,000. It made me realize maybe I should spend a bit more of my time bargaining rather that accepting the first price offered. Took 20 minutes on a boda boda to get to Bunyonyi Overland Camp. The views as we came over the pass over the lake were fantastic.

The camp was popular with the overland trucks. I had avoided places these trucks went in the past and as I sat in the bar that evening and as the gap year students streamed in I could see why!















I have to say first impressions of this chilled out place were great lots of beautiful flowers and birds in the campground that was right on the lakes edge - Good recommendation Francois. Went for a walk that evening and secured a wooden dug out canoe for a lake trip the next day - $2 total cost - bargain.

Some young lads helped show me the way to the top of the hill (Like I couldn't have made it myself!) and the posh Arcadia Hotel. In a beautiful location overlooking the lake I watched the sunset and promised to be back next day for breakfast.

Had a fantastic dinner of crayfish (fresh from the lake), chips and avocado for dinner all while overlooking the lake - definitely beats work!
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