Day 36 - Kabale & Lake Bunyonyi
It was cold and wet when I woke this morning. Kabale is approximately 2000m above sea level and it felt as though the town had been completely encircled by clouds, cold damp air just seemed to have permeated everything.
Such an inclement outlook meant that I was in no mood to do anything or go anywhere this morning. Instead, I was quite content to find a cozy nook in the common room and just read. I had stumbled upon a copy of Camus' The Plague somewhere along the road and I was ingesting it eagerly. Do all college students go through a Camus phase, or is it just me? Anyway...
By lunch the clouds had lifted and the rain had cleared. The Canadian girls told me they were headed to Lake Buyonyi - Uganda's equivalent of an alpine lake and the main tourist attraction in the immediate region. Determined not to waste the day entirely and keen to keep hanging out with my new found friends, I decided to tag along. So we all gathered up our things, piled into a share taxi and headed down the pockmarked, puddle infested road that led to the docks.
The end goal for the afternoon was to reach an eco-hostel located on Amagara Island (one of the many islands sprinkled across the lake). One of the Canadian girls had read about it somewhere and convinced us that it was a cool place to visit. Apparently she wasn't the only person to have read that article, because there were a handful of other travellers also on their way to Amagara hanging around the docks when we arrived.
We introduced ourselves to the other travellers and soon discovered why they were stuck milling around the docks. The conundrum they (and now we) faced as we stood on the docks admiring the imposing lake, was how to reach this elusive island. Our options were laid out in front of us. 1) Pony up for a chauffeur driven ride in a little wooden boat with an outboard motor attached to it, or 2) save a couple of bucks and paddle ourselves over to the island in an open canoe. These guys might have been umming and ahhing or trying to haggle with the motor boat operator but there was never really any question of which option my group was going to choose. All of us were on pretty tight budgets whereas time was something we had plenty to spare... plus, it probably couldn't hurt to get a little upper body exercise.
So we paired off, climbed into our canoes and started paddling. Our enthusiasm had convinced the others that canoeing was the best option and they grabbed a paddle and joined us. We got a lot or looks from the locals as we set off - and why not? It must have looked pretty funny to see half a dozen boats full of mzungus thrashing away across the lake.
The scenery as we paddled was just stunning but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it was hard to admire its beauty at times... my competitive juices got flowing towards the end and my canoe buddy and I spent the last mile in a flat out sprint as we raced to be the first to reach Amagara. Apparently I have the very unfortunate characteristic of hating to lose, even at something as trivial as a casual Ugandan, alpine lake canoe ride!
It was almost 6pm by the time we reached the island, checked in and had settled into our dorm. The sun was just beginning to set which made for incredible twilight vistas from the hostel's open air common room. In such a beautiful, peaceful place it was impossible not to relax. So my now extended group of friends and I whiled away the night chatting and playing games. We drank beers, talked and played cards/scrabble/etc till well after midnight.