In the shores of Lake Bunyonyi, slovakian Miha Lohar started this sort of N.G.O. project that means "window" in the local language. This is because its main gol is to be a windown for the world to see Africa and for Africa to see the world. They work hard in encouraging the local people to believe in themselves and in their potential, working main ly in cooperation with the local school and selling/showing local traditional handcrafts and art. If you drop yourself there and manage to walk into their small cottage just behind the school (a difficult task as dfozens of children will surround you all the way), Miha will be happy enough to tell you about their projects and Uganda in general. If you want you can also share some work with them (they mainly work with temporary volunteers who drop themselves down there for some days or weeks) or have lunch.
It is not really and activity. It is about a nice place to spend some nights VERY CLOSE to the Rwenzory National Park. It is idealy situated if you plan to visit the Park.
They try to entertain their guest...and that is one thing not many places in Uganda do. They offer "village walks", forest walks, pipeline walk(yes, there is a pipeline made by a big company, and you can walk following that path). You can do those activities without entering the Park, so no fees to pay.
The comunity has a childsponsorship project too. They offer information about that too.
Food is simple, but o.k and staff do their best.
They have two self contained bandas and camping area.
I would recomend that place to "independent" travellers. They are doing a big effort to improve their comunity.
A few Kilometres east of the town of Kumi and just past the village of Nyero is the site of the Nyero rock paintings.
No one seems to know when exactly this series of paintings were first painted but was in existence when the Teso arrived in the area around 300 years ago. It is possible that the paintings existed hundreds of years before that and possibly a thousand years ago.
There are 3 different sites. Site 1 has some damage where some old dear tried to remove the paintings by scrubbing them away. This site was initially protected by a wall and a wire mesh screen but the site was used as a base by rebels of the UPA (Ugandan Peoples Army) in the early eighties and the wall is now half demolished letting you have full access to the site.
Site 2 is the most impressive with a huge rock face covered in red painted circles, what look like two men in a boat and possibly seed pods and animals.
Site 3 is only viewed by getting on your back and looking up at the ceiling of this narrow cave. The white circles of what look like a sun is apparently the moon with legs!!!
The two guides that work at the site and employed by the government told me that they have many visitors but when I looked at the visitor’s book the last entry was 4 days previous.
1/2 an hours taxi ride away from the centre of Mbale is the small village of Bududa.
Bududa is situated to the south east of Mbale tucked just south of the peaks of Mount Elgon. The whole area is surrounded by hills and behind them higher peaks again making this place one of the most beautiful places I've been to in Uganda.
In the village of Bududa itself there is not a lot apart from a post office and a small collection of dukas. When I arrived there was a small hoteli/ restaurant open where I was able to get a chapati and chai before walking a complete circle around the hill to the east. The guy in the hoteli suggested I do it by boda, when I asked if it was possible to walk he said
"Yes it is possible it will take you about 2 hours".
2 hours after I set off from Bududa I was only halfway around and only found out then that to complete the circular route I would have to walk 10 miles.
4 hours later I wandered up the hill passed the post office back into Bududa and sank a well deserved bottle of Pilsner.
More about this area is found on my Mbale page. I have already written this tip in my Mbale page but the place was worth mentioning twice.
This a traditional site that the Bacwezi people have visited since the year dot to consult and make offerings to the spirits. The tree can be reached by walking up or catching a boda-boda to the top of Mubende/Nakayima hill from the centre of the small town of Mubende.
Mubende is about half way between Kampala and Fort Portal.
In the 1930’s a British company conducted petroleum exploration on the shores of Lake Albert; there were some shows (“oil springs”) and the company drilled a well nearby; this well head is there since the 30’s and shows that petroleum is a protector from corrosion. The oil is very viscous and does almost not flow at ambient temperature. We could not find out whether the people of the villages use that oil for whatever usage; The bubbles in the ring show it is an active seep.
Bukuma village is located a few kilometres from Lake Albert , on the road to Masindi; the pictures here show a rather big village, with very few people present and almost no activity; a weird feeling when walking in the village. And looking at some houses, reading what is written on, gives a more scary feeling. . .
There are many isolated villages on the Ugandan shores of Lake Albert; at that time the foreigners were not welcomed, and I do not know for today, if things have changed. It is a strange feeling arriving at these very quiet villages where there is almost no life. . .
Many villages are accessible only by boat or by trails descending the Rift escarpment. Kybyiro is a small and poor village living on fishing and salt extraction; the salt is carried by feet up the escarpment and then transported to the village markets.
This village is quite isolated and people there have their only revenue
from fishing , a few cattle and from the salt mines.
The poverty in the village was compensated by the friendliness of their people, despite recent suffering.
At Kyibiro, The hot spring form a littles stream which rapidly infiltrates into the soil and deposits its minerals.
The small creek has a rather hich temperature (60°) and its water tastes very very bitter, due to the presence of some nitrates among the many minerals it contains; I do not know to which mineral the the colour of the water is related.
The hydrothermal springs near Kybyiro are heavily mineralised; the waters arriving at surface near the main rift escarpment fault impregnate the sands and soils at surface; the minerals concentrate in the soils which are washed to extract soluble salts and then “distilled” in very rudimentary manner; the salts recovered are not only table salt (halite, NaCl) but many other minerals which give this salt a very bitter taste and is probably not very good for health in general
If you want to see the "real" Africa, and meet people that have never seen white people (muzungos) you just have to drive some kilometres from Kampala inside the countryside.
The place we visited was located in the middle of the countryside, somewhere located between Kampala and The Equator.
When we arrived to the first village, all the people started to look at us very surprised. For many of them, mainly for the youngest, it was the first time they met white people.
It was very funny the reaction of the small children when we started to walk around them. Some began to run and tried to hide themselves, others started to laugh of us, others to cry.. and some of them started to follow us with some metres of distance.
It was an unforgettable experience for many of them, and of course for us as well.
Sipi Falls are a series of spectacular waterfalls on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, although that's what I was told.
I was stupid enough to choose the end of the dry season for a visit and found the Falls not much more than a big shower.
The half day waterfall trail is a very nice hike but tough. With a local guide you visit the 3 biggest falls and see some spectacular scenery in-between.
Moses Campsite offers rock climbing!!, but I did not try that.
Dominique fulfilled his dream and bought an island. A handful of staff takes care of the few hassles in the islandlife. Half a dozen of dogs take care of security.
Some days a fishing boat comes by to pick up a shopping list or to deliver the ordered goods from the mainland. Only necessary if there are guests. And that doesn't happen every week.
Some days a fishing boat brings guests, because he advertises on small scale an all-in stay for 20000 Ush ($12) a day.
"When I asked the girls to come for free, they didn't trust it, but now I'm charging $10, they say, well that's cheap!", Dominique explains.
That's all that happens on Banda Island...
****You're invited to check out my exciting page on Banda Island too!!****
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