Thursday, 13 March 2014

Lake Mburo National Park, Uganda

For our first night at Lake Mburo NP, we decided to camp in the campsite beside the lake.  This has good views over the lake, where local fisherman take their canoes out to fish at dusk.  The campsite is pretty basic, but a nice chap comes and lights a campfire for you near your tent.

There is also a lakeside restaurant, which does nice cold beer and food.  Fish and chips for me, and veggie curry and chips for Karen.

Lake Mburo Restaurant

We arrived in the campsite at the same time as an Exodus overlander truck/bus.  So it was a race to see who could set up camp the quickest.  It's a matter of pride that we were enjoying our 2nd beer in the restaurant while the overlanders were still trying to get their tents up.

The lake has hippos swimming around, kingfishers diving and a fantastic colony of weaver birds in a tree beside the restaurant.  The campsite also has a healthy population of over fed warthogs, who spend the whole time raiding the bins for food.  They've learned how to tip the bins on their gimbles to empty the contents onto the ground, they then tear open any bags with their tusks.  The poor campsite warden has to constantly go round tidying up after them.

Crossing the border from Rwanda to Uganda at Kagitumba

We left the Akagera park by a gate some 100kms North of the park headquarters where we had entered.  This seemed to be an unmanned gate, which was wide open so we reckon if we'd entered here we might have saved ourselves $320 in fees.  We tried hard to like Akagera, it could be an amazing place with the right kind of development - but we just didn't feel comfortable in our car, constantly worried about whether it was about to fall to bits.  There are some nice animals (minus the tsetse flies of course) and the rolling landscape is beautiful.  It deserves to be more successful, but then that would bring in the crowds...

We were soon back on the lovely, smooth blacktop of the Kayonza-Kagitumba road.  What a relief after the bone jarring hell of the roads in the park.  We fair scooted up to the border crossing for our second visit to Uganda.

Thankfully all our worries about crossing at this point were quickly dispelled.  There is little traffic here, so there is not the tense atmosphere that we felt at Gatuna.  There is a less formalised procedure here, which seems to involve showing all our paperwork to anyone who wants to look at it, including someone whose clothing suggested he had just woken up in a bush after a few nights on the sauce.

The Rwandans let us leave without a fuss, and we were told to park in no-man's land.  I presented myself to the Ugandan authorities and then spent a happy 15 minutes chatting with various different officials who all wrote out our details in various dusty ledger books.  The third office I was supposed to visit to finish the formalities was empty, but a man sitting in the shade of a tree said the official had gone away so I could happily be on my way.  Karen sat and roasted in the car throughout all of this - stuck between two lots of chainlink fence.  Returning to the car, another man (this time in uniform) unlooped the chain and waved us onto the road.

This being Uganda, the road was indistinguishable from the surface of Mars.