Hi, my name is Joan and I had not been to Kabale (Uganda) until last weekend. I am placing aside my shame for not doing so considering what I encountered and making sure I get a blog post out while it is still fresh in my mind to give you a handbook of sorts for if you are planning a visit.
I’ll go according to everything I saw to give you a full picture of things:
It will be a long ride:
Everyone knows Kabale is far. Anyone who lives in Uganda whether they’ve travelled to Kabale or not will mentally think of it as being a long drive. Regardless of what they’ve told you or what you’ve seen, you will still be unprepared for your long ride. It takes about six hours with a really quick driver, and seven or more if you’re an average one like me. Needless to say, carry a book, music, a pillow; anything to ease the hours of sitting by and watching your surroundings get away from you. Locals or people whose village is in Kabale will tell you it’s not far at all. Don’t listen to them; they are probably so used to making the journey that they see it as nothing.
You will get really really cold:
Before my journey, the wiseass that I am went to the weather app on my phone to check and see what the temperatures will be like to inform me on what to pack. I blinked twice when I saw that Kabale was the same exact temperature as it was in Kampala. I had even gone so far as to unpack some of the heavier jackets I had put in my bag because I figured they were extra, unwanted baggage. Right before I set off, I decided to listen to the warnings from people who had been there before, and I’m glad I did. I saw temperatures ranging from 25 to 7 degrees centigrade from the days to the nights respectively. So my advice, pack something light for when it gets warm, and some heavy duty clothes for when the cold comes to surprise you. This especially applies if you are Ugandan and are accustomed to being in warm weather. So bring your jackets, carry a scarf or two if you are female, and come along with some really warm woolen socks too.
The beauty of your surroundings will overwhelm you:
Right from your drive out, soon after you’ve passed Mbarara, and you start to encounter all of the rolling hills and greenery on the way to Kabale, it might start to dawn on you that you are away from everything you are accustomed to in Kampala. Because of all the curves in the road and the fact that you are driving to a higher altitude, you might get freaked out with worrying that your car might tip over and throw you into a valley – but chances are it won’t. Also because you are so high up you might experience your ears popping; be ready for it.
Your choice of accommodation will make or break your trip:
True story. Do not try and skimp on where you will stay. Stay somewhere where you will have full view of Lake Bunyonyi (the same lake that features in Wakanda in Black Panter). I do not know about you but views are everything to me. Things like hot freshly made and really tasty meals, being assured of hot water, wooden floors to curb some of the cold, board games in the hotel lobby and rooms to keep you busy, and books to read in the lobby should you need to. Not to mention friendly and extremely attentive staff. I would, and probably will always recommend Arcadia Lodges if you are looking for accommodation.
There is so much to see and do:
Waking up to Lake Bunyonyi, watching the mist rise from it in the morning and seeing the sun set on it is quite literally a dream. Arcadia can arrange to take you on a boat ride on the lake where you’ll have a vantage point of the hills surrounding you. There is an island that has Zebra’s and Kobs and this is one of the pit stops. It was such a nice surprise for me to see these animals. You will get to see and ride right by Punishment Island (an island where women in the area were left to die if they got pregnant before they were married) read the whole story here. Arcadia will also arrange to take you zip lining with Supreme Adventure Park if that is your kind of thing. I actually zip lined, but had to keep my camera away because it was raining. You can catch some of my trips highlights on our Instagram highlights under the Travel section.
Overall, it was an amazing trip. I would give a lot to unplug and get back to living away from the reality of my everyday life, but everything in small portions right?
Ask any questions you may have in the comments section below, and I’ll answer them. Let me know your experience if you’ve been to Kabale before. Is there anything you think is a must see for the next time I visit?
PS: now I know why Bakiga are so proud of their roots.