Canoe Trek

    Agandi!

    I am writing to you from an internet cafe in Kigali, Rwanda! Although we were sad to say goodbye to Uganda, we are looking forward to experiencing the culture and learning about Rwanda’s history!

    We ended our adventure in Uganda by doing a three day, two night canoe and trek on Lake Bunyonyi. Our trek was led by a superb tour guide named Owen who captured all our hearts. We arrived on the tenth where we spent the day canoeing. First, we canoed to Bushara Island where we drank delicious passion fruit juice. Owen showed us some of the local plants. We were even able to taste some of them! Then, we paddled a short distance to Bwama Island which is known as Leper Island. In the past, those who were suffering from leprosy were sent to the island. In 2004 the last leper died. Bwama Island is now used as a primary and secondary school. The island also has a health center which was cool to tour. The health center even delivers babies. On Bwara we saw a few crested cranes which is the Ugandan national bird. They are legally protected.

    We then left Bwama island and paddled past Punishment Island. In the past, women who got pregnant prior to marriage were exiled to this tiny island. The only exception was if a man could not afford to pay a bribe price for a wife, then he could take a wife for free from Punishment Island.

    For lunch we ate on Sharp’s Island. We ate local chapatis with different spreads to put on them and had some fruit. We also played some group games such as Ninja and Peaka Peaka.

    After lunch, we paddled for about an hour to Mama’s Bena’s house where we just beat the rain. We ate a traditional Ugandan dinner of rice, beans,potatoes, cabbage, g-nut sauce and lamb. We slept in two big tents all wrapped together. The sky was so clear we could see every star.

    The next morning, we woke up and ate a filling breakfast. We then piled into three canoes and paddled to the island which had Karembe Mountain on it. We walked three miles to get to the bottom of Karembe mountain. On the way to the base we stopped to meet the Batwa tribe. They are a small tribe who used to live on the mountain but got kicked out of their home. The Batwa tribe was very welcoming. They introduced themselves to us and preformed some songs and dances for us. We even got to join in!

    When we reached the base of the mountain we had a 2 mile hike upwards ahead of us. It was a challenging hike for most of us. We all stuck together and motivated each other which made the hiker easier. The view on top of the mountain was worth the hike. It was breathtaking. We were surrounded by many large mountains. We overlooked Lake Bunyonyi which wrapped around the mountains. We ate lunch on top of the mountain and then had a nice rest.

    Then, we began our trek back down. On the way down the mountain we stopped to meet the Bachiga tribe The Bachiga tribe sang to us in their local language and preformed tribal dance. We continued to hike down the rest of the mountain. We encountered local women who sold their crafts such as baskets. Eventually, we reached the bottom of the mountain and climbed into canoes. Our trek was 17.77 kilometers and took us 10 hours to complete. Even though it was long we all enjoyed it!

    We canoed to Tom’s cabin where we spent the night. The next morning, Tom gave us a tour of his island and explained a bit about his family’s history. We then left Tom’s cabin and canoed to the Bird’s Nest Hotel! The hotel was gorgeous and overlooked the lake. We had a marvelous buffet lunch where we stuffed ourselves with two or three servings of food. We then napped or relaxed for a few hours under cabanas. In the afternoon, we left the hotel and drove back to our hostel in Kabale.
    We spent a night in Kabale and the next morning on the 13th we took a matatu to Rwanda! We will spend the next four days going to the Rwanda Genocide memorials. As we embark in some emotional days ahead, keep us in your thoughts and hearts!
    We love and miss you all,
    Kyra