Green, greener, greenest

GroengandaAfter some relaxed days in Fort Portal, we ride out to the crater lakes just south of the city. Once we leave the center we immediately drive in a rural area along green fields and many bright green banana trees. The road winds up and down over the round hills. Here and there are small brown houses, sometimes right on top of such a round bump. The rain of the last days has done nature well, because everything sparkles in dozens colors of green.

The rain was less good for the state of the road. There should be small rivers flowing down these hills when it rains, because the water left some deep gullies in the sand. With a car it would be quite difficult  to drive up here, but with the motorbikes we are fine. We follow the trail some motorcycle taxis and bicycles made before and drive on without any problems.

GroengandaWe stop to take a photograph of one of the crater lakes and are immediately surrounded by a group of children. Curious about the sound of the bikes, they come running from afar. “Muuuuzzuuuuunguuuuuu” they shout. There must have been some tourists here before, because they directly ask for a pen, water and money. The advice is not to give them anything and hope that they will go to school and later on get a job to earn money. Nevertheless, it remains difficult when they look at you barefoot in a worn T-shirt.

GroengandaThe road through the hills becomes more and more narrow, so narrow that after a few kilometers it is one a single track and we have to bend over the tank to dodge the branches. On the road we only see a few motorcycle taxis, cars would not be able to drive on this road. We are both glad it is not raining, because the pieces that are still wet from the previous storm are full of thick, sticky mud. With our graceful pirouettes of the other day still fresh in our minds, we drive on until we get back on the asphalt. A fter about an hour we arrive at a nice hotel. According to our guidebook we can camp here. At the reception desk, it appears that we have an outdated version and the prices have risen dramatically in recent years. So much, that we decide to drive to another camp site.

We follow the main road to the south and pass the equator for the fifth time. Although we have crossed it four times before in Kenya, it is still good fun! This will be the last time for now. The next time we will cross the equator we will be in South America! We continue in the southern hemisphere, cross the Kazinga Channel and arrive at the Queen Elizabeth National Park, a wildlife park that is famous for its tree climbing lions.Groenganda There is no fence around the park and the public road runs right through it, a kind of free safari. Who knows what we will see!

By crossing the channel, we also entered another district, which we notice right away by the state of the road. It is as if we cross the border with Belgium from the Netherlands. The asphalt is full of holes and forces us to reduce speed. It does give us lots of time to look for wildlife, but they are well hidden today. Even Peter cannot find a giraffe or buffalo. After half an hour we leave the park again. The road winds up where we have a beautiful view over the park, the public road that runs through it and the dark rainy sky above it. Somewhere out there on that great plain are elephants, lions and giraffes!

GroengandaWe park at one of the hotels that was recommended to us. A beautiful place with cottages that overlook the park. It is deserted, there are no tourists. The staff sits at a table on the terrace and appears to be pretty bored. As at the other hotel, the prices for camping have increased a lot. For camping they ask $15 per person, which is a lot for camping in Uganda. We try to get a discount, but have no luck. We find it a strange phenomenon that they would rather see their only clients leave, than that they seduce us to stay with a slight discount. Especially because we might also like a cold beer or maybe even some food. Instead, they refer us to a camp a few miles away. At that campsite we are warmly welcomed and referred to a meadow where a group of cattle is grazing. The manager proudly tells that the site has just opened, but it soon turns out that the site is actually still under construction. The toilet is a storage room for building materials and the shower head is still in plastic. We thank the manager and for the fourth time that day check the GPS to find a place to stay.

The only suitable place that we can find is the Simba Lodge. Is is on the north end of the park, where we have just came from. We drive back through the park and have more luck this time. In a puddle of mud next to the road lies a pile of African buffaloes, Groengandawho are covered in mud from their horns to their tail. They look like statues! We cross the channel and the equator yet again and put up our tent in the Northern Hemisphere. Just when our tent is pitched, it starts to rain very hard. The threatening sky we had seen all day has overtaken us. It is raining very hard for a long time, no wonder it is so green everywhere.

After it has been raining all night, it is finally dry the next morning. We can continue, but both do not feel like riding today. We sleep in later, muddle about the bikes and the website and only get back on the bike the day after. We cross the equator (again), pass the bridge and re-enter the park. And today appears to be a good day for a public road safari. We are less than five minutes on our way when we see a large group of at least 20 elephants in the distance. Not long after that we see the long necks of giraffes sticking out of the bushes. On the other side of the road buffaloes are grazing, each of them with cattle egrets on their backs. And not much further, right next to the road, there is a huge elephant, with two family members just behind it. GroengandaThey are wary and seem to want to cross the road. We keep our bikes running and quickly get out our cameras. What a magnificent animals and what a super safari today!

We ride up the hairpin bends again and continue towards Kabale. Once the GPS indicates that we are above 1,800 meters we ride past sprawling tea plantations. It is like a bright green blanket that is spread over the round hills. So green that it almost light up, even on a cloudy day like today. The tea bushes are close together and barely give room for the tea pickers. On their trimmer a canister is attached that is filled with the freshly cut leaves. When the canister is full, they sway the scissors up over their shoulder, throwing the leaves in a large basket on their back. I would immediately sign for a cottage overlooking tea plantations, I love it.

GroengandaIn Kabale, we suddenly come back to the civilized world. Supermarkets, office buildings, a university and a football stadium. It immediately is also very busy in the streets. We go shopping and leave the busy town behind us quickly to go to Lake Bunyonyi. A beautiful lake which is said to be no less than 900 meters deep. We find a camping spot at Lake Bunyonyi Overland Camp and see to our surprise Mélu her tent. Her we had not expected. She will stay a few more night before heading further south, nice!

It is a nice place to spend a few days, so we do! “Bunyonyi” means “place of many little birds” and we indeed see a lot of them. Among others, we see a African Harrier and the graceful Grey crowned cranes, the national bird of Uganda. Now most of the work on the bikes has been done, Peter tries to fish for our diner in the lake. GroengandaThe catch of the day are some mini Tilapias, just enough for one bite.

For Peter it is high time for a haircut. In the small village there are more hotels than houses, but no less than three hairdressers. On the outside it is hard to see that it is a ‘Saloon’, but inside it looks like a barbershop. On the wall hangs a large mirror with below it a shelf with scissors and combs. And old office chair serves as a barber chair. The posters on the wall do not have much to do with the latest hairstyles, but definitely give something to look at during your cut. Football posters with teams from the English Premier League. I am sure Manchester United has more fans in Africa than it has in England! Although the village is without electricity, hairdresser Francis has a generator that gives enough power for the clippers. A sheet is tied around Peter and after half a hour he has a nice short haircut again.

Our evenings at Lake Bunyonyi are spent with Ard and Tania, a Dutch-Danish couple on a BMW R1200 GS Adventure that travels from South Africa to Europe (blog). We exchange waypoints and movies and talk endlessly about their lives in Cape Town, the South African Braai Groengandaand the most beautiful spots along the coast. Pity that they travel in the opposite direction, because it was very nice! After a few days we wave Ard and Tania goodbye wishing them safe travels to the north. We continue south. Today we only ride a short distance to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park where we will search for Mountain Gorillas in a few days!

Click here to see the pictures.

Distance travelled to Lake Bunyonyi: 17,014km (10,572 miles)

Previous story “About Rolex and the Hilton“- Next story “In search of Mountain Gorillas

| Leonie | AFRICA, Uganda

4 Reacties (Comments) - Green, greener, greenest

  1. Danielle vd D

    Prachtig is het daar! Ik geniet van jullie verhalen. Naar de kapper in Uganda en woeste foto’s van motoren in (en onder) de modder. Het contrast met Leonie’s processtukken, die ik nog regelmatig tegenkom, kan bijna niet groter zijn. Enjoy globetrotters!

  2. Ross

    Your stories make me smile and laugh. Awesome keep them coming!

  3. deon

    Hi you guys. have you found anymore biltong on the way to Stellenbosch. keep well

  4. Frederike

    Sprookjesachtig mooi is het weer! Wat fijn dat we weer een beetje ‘op de hoogte zijn’ de laatste dagen, had jullie gemist! xxx