Lake Bunyonyi not for the faint hearts…
After a Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Mountain Gorilla tracking one has reason to suck in a deep breath of relief. This is because the terrain is very challenging. When the rains fall it gets very slippery. Fortunately, after eye contact with these primates for 60 minutes, the scene remains engraved on the mind.
“Keep seven meters away from the gorillas or you risk infecting them with human diseases like Coronavirus, flue, and cough,” John Rujuta the guide cautioned us during a briefing. “They share 97 percent of our DNA.”
To get to the treasured primates had to chop grass and trees to clear the way for trackers. This is because the vegetation, their habitat, has to be preserved. We were then given hiking sticks to enable us to balance when sloping down steep cliffs or climb up. It was after one hour walk under the cool canopy that we finally stumbled on the Oruzogo family. The hair on the nape of my neck stood on edge when one naughty scampered very close to me. It looked me in the eyes before proceeding on its way. In a distance were some females with their babies on the back. The Silverback kept a distance from his family but watched every move being made by humans.
An hour here becomes too short while in the presence of these giants. Before you know it, the guide calls your attention and it is time to say “Kwaheri” (bye) to your hosts. Uganda boasts having 50 percent of these endangered primates that are only found in Uganda, Rwanda and the DR of Congo that share the Virunga ranges.
There are things one must have when going to track gorillas. Hiking shoes are a must. On top of that is a good camera, water, food, and a raincoat.
Not so far away from Kisoro is an adventure destined to compete for adventure seekers in Uganda with Jinja which boasts having bangy jumping and white water rafting on River Nile the longest in the world or Lake Victoria largest fresh waterbody in the world respectively. It offers zip lining on top of Africa’s second deepest Lake Bunyonyi. The metallic string drops in height and one’s feet touch the warm water. Some merrymakers have the guts to summersault and holler themselves hoarse while zooming away.
This treat is located on one of the 29 islands called Supreme Adventure Park found a ten-minute drive out of Kabale town which is 408km from Kampala City via Masaka and Mbarara. People with high blood pressure, a history of heart attack and phobia for waters are advised not to dare by a guide Nicholas Ninsiima.
“Make sure your harness is in the right place or you risk meeting your creator here,” cautions the guide Nicholas Nimusiima. “Do not take chances by leaving your support hold. We need you to go back home and tell your followers on social media what you had in Uganda.”
The starter is a challenge to walk on ropes, balance on a bridge of logs stringed on ropes, sidle on upturned buckets. Many hold their breaths for hours before venturing to hold their grips and are propelled to hit a tree cushioned by a six-inch mattress.
A six-foot tightly muscled Nelson Tumushabe and six other attendants are on standby to respond to any emergency.
“There are beef clients who take the challenge and surrender midway,” revealed Tumushabe. “We help the challenged folks get down and opt for alternative adventures that suit their physical state. It is a matter of having fun.”
Akapene Punishment Island
A thirty-minute boat ride is punctuated with a narrative about the old times when girls who got pregnant out of wedlock were brought on Akapene Island and abandoned there to die of hunger or be eaten by wild animals.
“It is now occupied by cormorants and kingfisher birds,” said Tumushabe pointing at two dry trees. “Our forefathers were no-nonsense men. They minded their status in the public eye. If a girl was got a virgin by her the suitor-the family she comes from would be elevated to higher rungs in the community.”
Unlike the other islands surrounding it which are bustling with activity, greenery and human habitation, Akanpene is as quiet as a cemetery. Is it haunted by the ghosts of the girls who lost their lives.
“Anyway no news is bad news,” continued Tumushabe. “The poor guys of the times without dowry to pay for a spouse would keep an eye on Akapene Island. The moment girls were delivered there, they would also pounce and take them in their custody.”
The guide leaves his listeners wondering whether some of these swam to the mainland and begun another life as single mothers. The question that is often asked is why the culprits who impregnated the girls were left Scot free as the old adage has it.
A casual walk among the community is a revelation of how folks here while away their time. As expected of fisher communities the men are randy. They love their obushera (millet porridge) beer, women and making money.
“The Obushera is believed to be a libido booster,” whispers a pub attendant Ahakira Ayineplan. “That is why most women here have more than seven children by the time they celebrate their 40th birthday. The locally brewed gin just makes the men’s tongues able to say sweet words that seduce the hardest woman to woo.”
Nature walk Around Lake Bunyonyi
A nature walk offers the tourist a bird’s view of Lake Bunyonyi from several angles. There are chances of stealing a glance of the yellow yolk like sun setting at the horizon where the earth meets the sky. A chat with the blacksmith called John Irumba who still makes knives, arrowheads and wicker lamps was a revelation of evolution and development.
“Before the missionaries and explorers came to Uganda we had a life,” explains Irumba. “Can you believe the are traditional birth attendants who delivered children by C section. They used knives made by the blacksmith of the times. We had endeku (gourd) to sip our entulire and obushera.”