#ExploreWest Uganda – Day 4 Report

I wake up in my Garden of Eden, as one of the guests labeled it in the guest book, and take another stroll through the forest, this time with daylight to give me the full experience and man is this place burriful. Tom Mbojana, the owner of the property who is a retired hotelian, tells me the place has been in their family since the 30’s and he’s grown up and lived there for 70+ years. He is the one responsible for maintaining the forest as is and for building the numerous fish ponds that dot it. All this is a passion for him and even the fishing done in the ponds is for sport – where you put the fish back after – and not commercial. A true man of nature. He’s turned down lucrative offers from real estate developers and foresters that wanted to use the land for commercial purposes and personally, I am glad he refused because the tranquility it provides is invaluable. Highly recommended for campers and yoga/creative type retreats.

I walk away from paradise and join the rest of the group for the days activities. Our first stop is fittingly the Tooro Royal Palace. We are welcomed by a Kingdom official that briefs us in Rutoro. I like that they insist in giving the tour in Rutoro and your guide translates for you. Keeping it 100. Putting on hats and showing thighs is not recommended when entering the premises. I miss most of briefing because I have since given up on listening to the official explanations because of crowd size and left that for the ministers delegation. But most of this information is readily available on the internet if you are into the details. As with all the other palaces I have visited, the location is atop the hill with views for days. The rain threatens to beat us and some of us run for shelter in some brick hut structures near the palace and are chased out because they are sacred spaces for the royals. I move out hoping a royal type spirit has possessed me. Omukama Oyo doesn’t appear to greet us but I’m told by someone that we resemble. Must be the recedding hairlines. This is hairism, bald people don’t look the same. The Prime Minister is with us during the tour and Amos Wekesa is also spotted.

We flee Fort Portal and head out to Semiliki National Park. This one has not even been on my radar at all because it’s existence hadn’t properly registered in the conscious. Semiliki, it rarely appears in our in tourism material. It’s found in the valley of the rift valley in the Ntoroko District area so we wind down the hills excecuting sharp corners with our convoy. It’s giving Kabale Kisoro vibes. The views, chefs kiss. The shades of green popping from the flora, the creator was in the zone. The road, bambi Sevo has tried with his roads upcountry – even though the potholes of recent are finishing our shock absorbers and backs – and this one is done all the way though some of the sharper corners have eroded back to murrum.

In the valley, we reach our main stop of the park, the Sempaya hot springs. There’s two of them, the female and male hot spring. The nearer one is the female one so we head there. Having missed the briefing, I will share with you the heresay I overheard that the female one is called so because it’s hot enough to cook boilo food while the male one is just lukewarm. Feminists shouldn’t hear about this. The trans community wasn’t also considered during this baptism. The female one also has hot water squirting from the ground so…

We are scientists though and need to prove these claims so we’ve come with trays of raw eggs to see if they boil. I leave the cooks doing their thing and start the 2km forest walk to the male springs. But first, I finally see Sheila Gashumba. She’s tiny, as advertised, and looks fresher than all of us. I’m sure her self care routine is better than ours but also, she’s joined us late when we’ve already been on the road 3 days. I witness her doing tiktok dances at the springs. Now I can brag and tell people I was there when she doing her thing. Heck, I might even have accidentally appeared as an extra. My celebrity spotting is complete.

It’s a sweaty walk to the male springs which are located in the middle of this grass swamp like landscape with a wooden bridge taking you across. And then there’s tree covered hills surrounding the area. The female spring might be hotter but the male one takes the points for being more picturesque. I have arrived at this one with the celebrity group and I appear as an accidental extra in more videos as they record content for the socials. There’s another girl dancing for tiktok and I can’t help but wonder if they plan their choreography with the location in mind or if it’s randomised?  I leave them dancing without getting answers.

We climb out of the tranquil valley as we eat the boiled eggs from our successful science experiments. Someone also brought a huge flask of brown porridge onto the bus and I manage to tap some of that action too. I’m not completely sold on the whistles but I really like the spirit on the vibes bus. The route back is through the corners and with an extra spice of rain to give the heights-phobic travellers mini heart attacks. The drivers know what they are doing and we all come out intact.

Another dancing troupe accompanied lunch has been prepared for us at Nyakasura, the base for Amabere ga Nyina Mwiru and the Kirenzi Hill hike and Crater Lakes viewing. Once we have cleared the food, I join the group climbing up the hill to see the crater lakes. The rain samples us a drizzle but we’ve travelled to far to chicken out now. Some people do chicken out though. Punks. I make it to the summit after moderate struggle and soak in the achievement. Medals are given out in order of arrival and I don’t get one along with my other backbenchers of the hike. Kasta we have pictorial evidence to the should of Amapiano from a Bluetooth speaker that climbed with us. By the time we get back to base, the Amabeere are closed to tours so we miss out on that one.

Our tired selves are delivered back to town and I take a cold shower at my camping site just so I am refreshed enough to make an appearance at the final after party. The Pavilion place where it’s going down is packed but the DJ has understood the assignment and a good time is had. In the morning, I say goodbye to Mr Tom and his little corner of heaven and join the rest of the group to head back to Kampala. Here are some pics from the only stop we made from today’s schedule, due to time, at the Katoosa Martyr’s site in Kyenjojo.

Explore West Uganda, folks. As you can see, it has plenty to offer for your travel and chill plans and we barely scratched the surface.

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#ExploreWest Uganda – Day 3 Report