We more or less spent the whole day travelling again, but after a few hours we stopped at a tea plantation to have a quick look, the dew was still on the leaves and it was a sea of green being harvested.
From there we travelled on very damaged roads to our campsite on Lake Bunyoni. We were going to be here for four days and we camped only a few feet away from the lake.
After setup, we all went down to the dock for a swim. Lake Bunyoni is one of the deepest lakes in Africa, 6000 feet deep, which is a sizeable, though upside-down, mountain.
As well as the wooden deck, there was an amazing, wobbly, wildly unsafe platform at the top of a tree, maybe 7 meters high that you could dive from.
Me and a number of others did exactly that.
After swimming we had an incredible local stew with Ukale (a corn version of mashed potato) that Simon had spent quite a few hours on.
Before bed, I did something very unusual for me, I sat on the deck (after mildly vandalizing the lights to get darkness) stargazing without a camera, though perhaps it was the company that encouraged the change in approach.
Sometimes you just have to take a moment.
Back at the resort a day later after seeing the Gorillas, I showered and changed and headed to the bar to journal and wait for the other teams to arrive. We were the second group back; the others had been slightly faster than us. They had been faced by a young male who charged their guide and knocked him back, but in play.
The other two groups had not returned by 6:30pm so would have to have had a long trek!
After they arrived, with tales of four hours walking each way, and we’d all eaten, we retired to the bar for a long night, as for once we had no reason to get up early and all had reasons to celebrate! We also discovered that whilst beer is cheap, wine is very expensive!
We spent the night drinking and playing cards. A simple game of snap became very competitive, with us all stood, poised in a circle around the cards. We even had to introduce forfeits for people who were sayings snap on reflex rather than need. It was a great night!
This was the first of two days off that could be filled with optional activities. I luxuriated in the fact that I could stay in bed as long as I liked and got up at the princely time of 9am for a sausage sandwich to sooth my aching head.
I spent the morning in the bar playing “Scopa”, an Italian card game with its own cars and peculiar rules, but it was a lot of fun. I shared a thermos of instant coffee with the brunette I was playing against. This was not preparedness on our part, but rather how the coffee we ordered at the bar was served. Oddly, it was significantly more expensive than the beer!
After lunch, another masterpiece from Simon the cook, my brunette friend and I went out on the lake in a dugout canoe. For those of you who don’t know, dugout canoes are simply tree trunks with the interior chiseled out.
As canoeists, we were terrible. I personally blame a defective canoe, as it was totally unwilling to go in a straight line, no matter what we did. We had slightly more luck going backwards than forwards, but largely it was a failure. We spent much of our time spinning slowly in a circle as we splashed about trying to propel ourselves forward.
We finally gave up and took a nap in the sun, laying back in the canoe. It was surprisingly comfortable, partly because it wraps around you and rocks gently in the sun. There is a market for adding soft cushions to these canoes and selling them to people with indoor pools!
A couple of hours and a struggle back, we went to the camp for a few more hands of Scopa in front of the cook fire before dinner.
After dinner, we gathered around the bonfire that the resort had build, slowly more and more of the group joining us and never quite made it up to the bar, but just sat staring into the flames for hours and chatting. It was peaceful and relaxing.
I just managed to beat the rain back to my tent by moments so I was able to close up all the flaps, said good night to the good dogs who roam the camp site and got a solid nine hours sleep for the first time in the holiday it seemed!
The second of the two days of started with a shower on the wrong side of lukewarm and a bacon sandwich on the right side of delicious!
Most of the group headed off to a local orphanage/school, where they would be subjected to a pleading for donations, a children’s local dance and the opportunity to reinforce a bit of the colonial legacy. Having done more than enough of these in our time, my brunette friend and I headed up to the bar for some readying, journaling and desperate attempts to charge gadgets in between power cuts….
Unable to simply sit still for a day, I left my gadgets in the care of the reading brunette and headed up the hill on a trek to get a good photo over the valley and lake. It was the middle of the day, the sun was baking, I was still aching from the Gorilla trek and I had a heavy camera bag and no water. The walk was much much longer than I recalled from the drive and the view less inspiring, which was disappointing.
I was repeatedly called “Mzungu” which, from context means either “white person” or “Idiot”. I’m leaning towards idiot.
It took me almost an hour, I almost fell head first down a rockslide I’d tried to climb to get a good view, and I turned down repeated offers of a lift, but I finally made it to the top of the hill and setup my tripod for an HDR shot over the valley.
Our evening was spent in front of the bonfire again, with a few beers this time.