Lake Nkuruba fun!
Trip Start Jan 22, 2009
33Trip End Jul 22, 2009
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Where I stayed
Lake Nkuruba Campsite
All of us had to work that morning so asked the driver to come at 1430. Of course at 1430, not one of us was ready. Moreover, we seemed to have a sizeable amount of luggage, that was growing at an alarming rate! Fortunately the car provided was a true safari vehicle, seating up to 8 people; needless to say there is no way we could have fit any more people into the vehicle! On the plus side most of our luggage consisted of food and I estimated that we would probably be able to survive about a week on our provision of bananas alone!
At around 3:15 we set off. Our driver went at a snappy pace, something that became increasingly obvious after we embarked onto the dirt roads: we bounced along merrily and I only came close to real fear once when, on trying to overtake a car on a downhill stretch, we came face to face with an oncoming vehicle and our sudden braking caused our own car to skid diagonally across the road. It was all rather worrying but I could understand his concern: driving around in Uganda after dark is not the best idea in the world and I'm sure he was racing against the sunset.
I was excited to notice that we were taking a route leading straight past the Chimp's Nest, my abode for the chimp tracking weekend. This meant that we had to cross the Kibale Forest and I was soon delighting in familiarity: I loved the feeling that I was the resident expert (aside from the driver ...)! Soon after entering the national park we paused so our roof could be popped up and it was amazing feeling to career along with my head poking out the top, catching my first glimpse of the Rwenzoris as a hazy blue smudge on the horizon as the sun set behind them.
We did not reach our campsite before dark but this was not an entirely bad thing. Firstly, it meant that we got a true indication of how remote we were, in the form of an inky, star sprinkled sky. Secondly, I got to observe Miss Dent putting up her tent in about 3 minutes by the light of head torches, which was really quite impressive. It certainly gave a sense of achievement (even though all I did was angle the light) and I felt that I'd earned my Stoney ginger beer!
Our accommodation was at Lake Nkuruba campsite which has a collection of bandas and cottages, as well as space for camping. Being on a fairly tight budget, Es and I decided to camp whilst the other 3 shared a banda that is right next to the lake. As it turns out I think we got the best deal: in the morning the Swedish girls (Karine and Lisa) told us that they had been woken in the night by loud scurrying noises. These seemed to be coming from somewhere near Dr Helena's head (although fortunately she didn't wake up!). We were just debating the possibility of a midnight mouse party when we found firm evidence in the form of some very holey bananas. I imagine that the mice thought Christmas had come early when they saw how much food the silly mzungus had left out!
Despite having our food stores depleted, it was hard to feel annoyed in such a pretty setting, especially when we had a breakfast of nutella crepes to look forwards to! After breakfast, which was trully yummy, things got even better: we arranged to be taken on a walk around the crater lakes, giving me the opportunity to gaze my fill once and for all.
The crater lakes were formed following volcanic explosions about 1 million years ago. For such a violent beginning they really are wonderfully peaceful and picturesque; I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through farmland and small villages, then suddenly coming to the edge of a hill and gazing down upon waters of turquoise, teal and deep blue. My favourite, however, remains the lake by Ndali lodge: it is the biggest in the region and it always seems to be such an intense shade of blue; I would happily have eaten my lunch by the roadside in order to spend more time looking at it! However we had yet to reach the 'highlight' of our walk so only paused for a few photos; besides we were going to Ndali lodge the following day for lunch, which would give ample gazing time!
'Highlight' is a good word for what came next: it was most definitely 'high' in almost all senses of the word! Our guide led us to the top of the hill, from which we were promised views over the valley, encompassing several crater lakes. The climb up was quite something: we journeyed past small houses clinging to the hillsides amidst matoke plantations, along a path that aspired to become vertical at any point. I was a sweaty mess by the time we were halfway up and felt thoroughly envious when we passed a few pigs that lay conked out on the ground! Luckily the view at the top was worth it and we were rewarded with a lunch stop ... And news that we would not have to venture down the same way as we came up (in which case I would have definitely been 'bum-shuffling' down the hill!)!
That evening I got to shower in an outdoor enclosure of bamboo; it was my ideal bathroom! Why oh why can't it be warm enough to have showers like that in the UK?!!
That night we went on another walk. We were looking for bush babies but I think someone must have failed to wash properly because, aside from Es thinking she managed to see bush baby that was winking, there were none to be found! To be fair I was not looking particularly carefuly myself: partly I was knackered from our earlier walk but I was also rather concerned about the rain that threatened to drench us at any second, and was rather preoccupied with trying to stop my purple flowered umbrella from getting snagged in the trees.
Sunday was our last day and guess what we did?? Yes, another walk!!! This time we were hunting out Mahoma falls, which are very pretty indeed! As the path down was very steep we were provided with walking poles but my descent was still remiscent of Ben Nevis last year, although fortunately this time I wasn't holding up an entire mountainside of people! The ascent was almost as sweaty as the previous day but this time our reward was lunch at Ndali lodge ... definitely worth it!!!