A TRIP TO THE HIDDEN ISLAND – KALANGALA, UGANDA

During my stay in Kampala Uganda a country located in the Eastern part of Africa with a young population and a great number of entrepreneurial mindsets, I was amazed by the plenty of food options, the climate, the people and the environment. A beautiful landscape being that the city seats on 7 hills which give it that spectacular geography that is eye catching depending on the area you view it from.

During my stay I had made a few friends that helped me move around the city as it gets too busy and navigation through it gets more complicated for even the best mapping software to comprehend. With buildings everywhere being used as access routes it was always quite a challenge walking alone. The greatest transport option was not one I was used to or expected anywhere but a motorbike as a public transport means was something new to me. This is the most efficient and fastest way to go around the city without any delays, it made me wish some countries would adopt the idea.

For all the time of my stay I was adventuring and learning new things, from cultures to languages. I was however advised to go an extra mile and move away from the city to far less developed places where I will experience firsthand, the true African feeling. Some of the options that were provided were visiting a wildlife reserve or an island far in one of the largest fresh water lakes (Lake Victoria). The two options seemed interesting but challenging at the same time to a person like me who lacked the knowledge of swimming or even a mere staying afloat. Though for this I was assured that there was a safe means of transit and that was a ferry. The option of going to the wildlife reserves felt safe and dangerous at the same time, being that were meant to be on land always was enough for me not to worry about drowning but then nightmares of me being attacked by a lion in the wee hours of the night kept haunting me even when I was assured that the game parks have security keeping people and animals apart, I’m also one who envies lions for being lions at the top of the food chain “AHHHHHHHH”, I can’t stomach witnessing them kill to other creatures no matter the case.

Finally, I was confident enough to take up the Island visit option and off we went booking our ferry tickets bag packing and all that “get ready we are leaving for a long trip”. As it is the case traffic and more traffic with no bike option since we were traveling to a far destination with a lot of luggage, we were forced to be patient and after a long wait of close to one and a half hours we were able to reach to our destination. The shores of the lake looked mesmerizing and the endless view of the lake is one thing that I really adore. It took us some time to reach the actual destination as we cut the speed so that we may have a better view. It was time and we were at the ferry landing site but at our surprise the only booking we had made and the last one for the day was no longer valid, the ferry had already departed the area heading for its next destination Kalangala Island.

I never wanted to miss out this trip so I pushed for an immediate option, along the shores were fishermen and a market. A stroll through the area had us making new friends while on a quest to find that savior who would take us to the island. It took a great time and we were indeed patient as we witnessed the sunset view, looking at the sun hide under the lake with every second that passed and the light reflection from the lake casting a gold color to our eyes was breathe taking. The great savior arrived in a wooden boat about 1.5 meters from the ground. This here was a great leap of faith for me and I had to trust in my God because I was going for what I could not even handle; traveling on a lake. We made negotiations and he agreed to transport us to Kalangala at 100 USD. It was hefty compared to the 10 USD we had paid for the ferry. We had to stock a great amount of liquor and before the engine started running a group of locals joined and requested for a lift to their next destination. The boat itself was big for just a mere 5 people we were and it was in good spirit that we agreed by the time we dropped them off and set for our main course it was already dark and all that was visible were the stars in the sky and a few meters to where the eyesight stopped. I was completely lost but the captain was confident, with no compass or map to guide us on where we were heading to, the captain did his role of assuring us that the only brightest star in the night was the one we had to follow, this felt like the birth of Jesus with us being the wise men seeking the bright star. Very lucky the weather never turned its back on us and the lake itself was clam but for a great number of times we kept going off course. At some point I was frightened when in the middle of nowhere surrounded by darkness the boat engine got trapped in a fishing net and the captain had to go down into the water to cut it. It was a terrifying moment after the captain had showed us a few boats that were floating around with people sleeping in them, saying these were fishermen waiting for their catch but chances of them being pirates who steal boat engines were high. I got more frightened when I was reminded that the design of the boat with small spaces at the wood joints was allowing in some water into the boat and we had to keep fetching it out. That was a shocker, I cursed why I didn’t choose the game park because at this point I had seen myself leaving earth without saying good bye. After a great struggle of close to 20 minutes we were finally free and my brain was back to sober, the cold winds kept hitting us hard and the star we were following was back again for us to follow. The whole journey lasted for a close of 5 hours from 7 PM to midnight, very cold with the engine running at full speed but little progress made.

At around midnight were at the shores of our destination and ready to disembark, with all of us cold as winter the night that was meant to start the island fun was actually spent in tents trying to gather more blankets to feel warm. The night passed and the morning was welcomed by a heavy shower of rains, glad it didn’t happen during our transit, we waited in our tents until it came to a stop. Stepping out of the tents for the first time in the daylight gave me the true African sites Kampala never offered. The huge forests where we went for forest walks, the lake was all calm with ducks swimming around; it was so peaceful, the smell was all fresh and energizing, though the cold was now part of us. We spent a night around on a camp fire with different groups of people having fun, listening to music, dancing, telling stories, drinking and more drinking. The time spent there was remarkable and breathe taking. We went back to the tents late as the morning star was already out and after what felt like a short sleep we were woken up by the camping team to gather our belongings and leave or we risk missing the only scheduled ferry for the weekend. No matter how adventuring the small boat was, sailing with one hand holding a liquor bottle and the other in water hoping to grab a fish, I was not at all ready to put my life on the line. Jumped out of the tent with a lot of energy and made sure I was in the front seat of the car; I didn’t want to be left behind. Time had elapsed and we were on the ferry sailing back to the main land.

The trip was short, daring and adventurous. I didn’t expect any chance of having the kind of fun I had in just one night. If it wasn’t for the short holiday I had in the country, I was in full gear to have my stay at the Island extended. One experience I attained and feel proud of everyday, a long hours ride in a wooden boat that was even leaking. Make plans and visited the hidden island it is worth it.

A TRIP TO THE HIDDEN ISLAND – KALANGALA, UGANDA
Kalangala, Uganda

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