“howareyooohowareyooohowareyooo” is the sound that rises from each village that we pass through. The small children seem tuned in for vehicles, and start shouting and calling long before we can see them. Suddenly, they burst onto the side of the road from the houses and lands, grinning, waving, dancing, calling … this is our welcome as we explore the crater lakes.
The crater lake area south of Fort Portal is so very pretty. The landscape is dotted with many small crater lakes, and we set off to explore and see what other campsites were on offer.
The signs for Ndali lodge seem to appear everywhere, and so we headed off to see if they offered camping. They are located at the top of the hill overlooking Nyinambuga crater lake, with stunning views of the water below. Unfortunately, they were more towards the luxury end of the tourist market, so their chalets were a few hundred US dollars per person per night, and no camping was offered.
Price: no camping
LAKE KIFURUKU ECO CAMP
Almost across the road from Ndali lodge is Lake Kifuruku Eco Camp. It appears to be a community camp initiative, but sorely lacking in facilities for the ambitious price. The toilets were African and limited shower facilities. The small campsite was raised above the parking level without shade, and difficult to drive the car up. There was no communal covered area, or bar / restaurant. We were quickly ignored when a taxi pulled up with more potential guests arriving. There was no view of the lake, and it was surrounded by farmlands – no natural forest remaining. Not very appealing.
Price: US$10 pppn
KASENDA BEACH RUIGO
A bit difficult to know what the name is – different signboards had slightly different names! This was the furthest south from Fort Portal. The road to the site was very rutted and rough – it didn’t look like there was much traffic in this direction. The Kasenda crater lake is very pretty and doesn’t have the same steep sides as other lakes, so the campsite and accommodation is right near the edge of the lake. This lake was again surrounded by natural forests, although not too far away farmlands abound. The campsite was easily accessible for a vehicle, with space to open a rooftop tent and with trees nearby. There was a central bar / restaurant area, but it looked a little short of maintenance. The ablutions promised hot showers. It all looked a bit tired, and the staff almost unsure what to do with guests!
Price: US$10 pppn
CVK LAKESIDE RESORT
Not far from the entrance to Kibale National Park is this little spot. It is on the main road and seems to cater for overland vehicles. It has a bar and restaurant overlooking the Nyabikere lake. The campsite was right next to the parking lot, but was on sloping ground and the grass hadn’t been cut in a long time. The ablutions were western flushing toilets (but didn’t seem to have water) and the showers cold. The monkey sanctuary that was advertised didn’t seem to exist. There didn’t seem to be any staff around, and when we finally managed to rouse one, she had no information about pricing, or camping, and made up a rather steep price. Very disappointing for a place once highly rated.
Price: unsure. Only indication was about US8 pppn
NYINABULITWA COUNTRY RESORT
The outside of this spot looked very inviting – but we struggled to find anyone to open the gate for us. Eventually, we walked in through the pedestrian gate. It is a beautiful property overlooking the Nyinabulitwa lake – gentle crater sides so very close to the water. But, it seems the only human habitation was the locals wandering through. There are a few gorgeous chalets (we peered in the windows) and a communal covered area. The campsite – or grassy area that could be used for camping – was very pretty. There didn’t seem to be any ablution facilities, so maybe no camping? A bit of a chat with those who would talk to us revealed that it is currently closed and the owner is looking to sell. It seems a pity that it is just standing unused, but then again, there is a new development not far away on the same lake …
PICK OF THE BUNCH: NKURUMBA COMMUNITY CAMPSITE
For completeness, this campsite in included again. After heading up a steep hill, the campsite is located on a flat grassy patch overlooking the Nkurumba crater lake. The crater is steep sided, and is still covered in natural forest. The forests are home to a number of monkeys, which you can see as the move around. There are flushing western toilets and the shower is a bucket – I believe you can ask for warm water if you so wish. There is a covered communal area and restaurant area. We were warmly received and well looked after! It was easy to see why this place had a constant stream of backpackers.
Price: US$4 pppn
NEW ONE COMING: TOP OF THE WORLD
We took a stroll up to visit Top of the World – a new development perched on the highest hill in the area, overlooking Lake Nyamirima far below. The views are gorgeous – you can see 3 crater lakes on a clear day – and the new resort looks to be of a good standard. The campsite area is grassy and flat with lots of trees – although I am unsure whether a vehicle would be able to get through. The ablution block looks modern with all the modern conveniences of flushing toilet and shower. It should be opening late in 2013 or 2014, so worth visiting.
Price: not sure