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By the lake in the mountains

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th April 2001 03:00 AM

Tucked away in isolated mountain villages is a country side resort pitched on a little piece of Western Ugandan soil–– an enclave of undiscovered charm,

Tucked away in isolated mountain villages is a country side resort pitched on a little piece of Western Ugandan soil–– an enclave of undiscovered charm,

By Raphael Okello Tucked away in isolated mountain villages is a country side resort pitched on a little piece of Western Ugandan soil–– an enclave of undiscovered charm, beauty and near perfect weather–– that makes an ideal retirement haven. Situated 13 miles south of Fort Portal town on the Kamwenge Road, Crater Valley Kibale (CVK) Forest Resort Beach is located at the edge of Kibale Forest National Park, an extremely exclusive moist tropical rain-forest, and sits prettily on the shores of Lake Nyabikere (Lake of frogs), one of the craters that splash the area with dramatic beauty. The mastermind project of the Ruyookas was a natural inspiration. The site, rejected by a purely agricultural oriented community who considered it a waste land, was embraced by a visionary architectural family who saw a potential paradise. A tropical western paradise there is indeed. Initiated in l 994 as an eco-tourism project, it has expanded from just a camp site to a lodge arid now a tourist trap! A visit to this little known tropical gem provides peaceful rest comfort in the most exquisite accommodation, 'eco-bandas' (traditional huts) which were built with African cultural conscience to depict a typical African village built on undulating terrain. There are punctuations of different light and shade moulded by the canopy of broad-leafed evergreen tropical trees. The 'bandas' are in a cool and serene environment which is recommended for those who are tired of living life by the clock. Distinguished by its very uniqueness, CVK provides a magnificent camping site on a natural terrace covered by a soft carpet of green grass overlooking the blue and tranquil lake of frogs. It must have been one of those evenings. We had just made it to the Resort. I opted for an evening chill out on the terrace, not that I could resist it anyhow. I watched one of the most amazing sunsets. The sun loosely hung over the hills as if about to give way. Its rays had lost intensity, but dropped down like finely-cut curtains that formed a glimmering spread over the rippling lake, causing sparkles like floating pieces of diamond. Moments later, it was a yellow ball that disembarked shyly over the great 'mountains of the moon'––Mt. Rwenzori. It was simply breath-stealing and by any sensual standards, romantic. I could not explain the attraction any more than I could resist it! So much for an emotional guy, I think I was falling in love. Even with the sun long gone, activities never seemed to come to a halt. My friends and I listened to the most exciting and humorous stories over a campfire. We nearly spent half the night awake. With a maximum expanse, the self-contained campsite boasts of a carrying capacity of 20 tents, making it adequate for the more oriented mass of travelers and large families too. It is fully fledged with modern facilities such as tap water, standing showers and flush toilets The following morning broke with the whispers and echoes of tropical birds. It was not long before the sun had fully risen. We set out for a guided walk. We took an adventurous walk around the lake and to the top of the hills through the beautiful eco-gardens, with ever- green trees and flowering shrubs, unfolded a hidden gem of geographic treasure: There are five inlet rivers to the lake–– Buhoro, Kibo, Kanyabaisiki, Kamunga and Kanyabuhuka–– and only one outlet, R.Nyabikere, which plunges down a rock out crop to burst out to form the Crater Valley Kibale Falls, that relentlessly fills the Resort with an endearing refreshed sound. The other three crater lakes–– Nyinabulitwa, Nyaminima and Nkumba–– form a stunning panorama. On an early morning walk you may see over 50 bird species. We managed to catch sight of grey parrots, hummercocks, fish eagles and kingfishers. You will find moths, leeches, numerous colourful butterflies, gracing the tropical air. An expanse of tea estates that seemingly appeared like a splash of green, and enormous diversity of fauna–– Hippos, coloured frogs, toads and monkeys–– all combined to paint a whole new world of nature and beauty reminiscent of The Garden of Eden. We, however, did not spread our itinerary to include the near Kibale National park, which boasts of unspoiled Geography and abundant fauna: lions, elephants, chimps, monkeys and baboons. Chimp tracking in Kibale rain-forest is done at Kanyanchu visitors' centre only nine kilometres away from CVK. Chimps are being habituated for this reason. Booking can be made at the park headquarters, one kilometre across the lake. After the long day's activities, we unanimously decided to stroll down and cool off with a swim in the fresh bilharzia-free lake, Nyabikere. However, a notice in bold scratched on a tree cautioned "SMART RISK." Further down slope and at the immediate shores of the lake posed a tree with the same caution on its very wide trunk, as if for emphasis. It came to my comprehension in awe that the depth of the lake (400m) picks up instantly at the shores! For someone who can hardly keep afloat in an ordinary pool, I naturally needed a lot of time to contemplate about the swimming. I was not just about to do that from there, considering the consuming temptation of the thrill of water and the compelling desire to challenge my friends who were darting around like excited ducklings. I retreated up hill to the bar and restaurant at the reception building. It was generously stocked with ice cold soft and alcoholic drinks. . Well, I figured a cold bottle of soda would do just the trick and that is what I settled for cozily under an umbrella. Ends

By the lake in the mountains

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