The Crater Lakes of Uganda
In line with the Crater Lakes “theme” ;)…
Fort Portal in Western Uganda is one of those places one visits and gets blown away. You know, like, “what have I been doing with myself all this time?” the area contains one of the most extensive concentration of crater lakes in the world. They are around 86 of them! Some of them are only a few metres deep whereas others run to hundreds of metres. They are differently coloured, and the vegetation surrounding them varies considerably. Seriously this is easily the most beautiful area I have seen in a while. That statement should never grow old by the way 🙂 As I keep saying, it can only get better. I experienced this utter bliss quite briefly, but is certainly an experience that will last me for days.
After a long bus ride from Kampala, we had to take a motorbike for around 2 hours. I was on a bike so many times in Uganda that after the trip it took me weeks before I got on one. It was a very tiresome journey. We got there at night, praying all that hustle would be worth it. I have a “bad” habit of not conducting extensive research on an area before I visit. I don’t watch documentaries and stuff before a trip. It has been working for me so I guess I’ll stick to that 😉
These crater lakes are found in Western Uganda, in the Albertine Rift Valley near the country’s border with Congo. The incredible Ruwenzori ranges and the awesome Virunga guard the crater lakes. These, coupled with vegetated calderas makes the place such a spectacle. Apparently, these lakes came about as a result of violent volcanic eruptions that took place around 10,000 years ago.
Most of them are now dormant, though if one is sensitive enough, there is subtle smell of sulphur. The volcanic explosions had a Pompeii-like effect on the surrounding areas but at least they created the spectacle that region currently is. Lake Edward was reduced to a toxic mess, and minor eruptions have been said to have taken place around the time when the Egyptian pyramids were being built (around 2000 BC).
I like local forklores. I’m sure that’s out there by now! There are local story regarding these past explosions. Matter of fact, one of the lakes is called Kasesankarange. This may be loosely translated to “spewer of roasted material”.
While an eruption will not take place when you plan your Ugandan safari, such an anticipation may not be so farfetched. Some of the crater lakes in Uganda have molten lava lying just around 10km deep so…
It’s good to know that the earth blew up in one of the most terrible of ways and brought rise to indescribable beauty.
As you might have gathered, the crater area is considerably large. That essentially means that one must make a deliberate choice on which ones to visit and where to stay. These clustered regions include Kasenda-Ndali, Bunyaruguru, Fort Portal, and Katwe-Kikorongo. The Kasenda-Ndali region is quite accessible and is, as such, very common among tourists.
There are numerous accommodation options, ranging from basic rooms and communal camping sites to eco lodges and luxury lodges. I recommend a place on the hills if you want to take in the views. It is also possible to set camp on some of the shores.
Waking up in paradise
We stayed in the heavenly Ayapapa open house. This eco-cottage is seriously out of this world. As a lover of organic food and flowers, the place was heavenly. The owner, Janusz, is very friendly and is committed to making your stay as memorable as possible. You can find the house on Airbnb. I can also send the contact number on request.
If you’re lucky, you will wake up to a view of the glorious Ruwenzori Mountains. A combination of the crater lakes and mountain scapes is certain to leave you in awe. Moreover, it’s also possible to swim in the crater lakes. You can never run out of stuff to do.
One of favorite parts was the many hiking options this region provides. We did one to a waterfall and another one to the Ruwenzori Mountains in search of hot springs. The latter is quite far but totally worth it. I will dedicate one post to that alone.
Be sure to visit the crater lakes in Uganda at least once in your lifetime. Maybe then, you’ll be confident enough to believe that bad situations (things) can bring rise to beautiful experiences. After all, that’s what travel should do to us. Even that seemingly hard situation will pass, and the result will shock you 🙂
PS: I had amazing guides that I can confidently endorse. Talk to Noah of Uganda Crater Lakes Tours:
Follow me on Instagram(@awachera) for more images on the Crater Lakes of Uganda and more.
Cheers to exploding!