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Ssezibwa Falls

Ssezibwa Falls

You could find it halfway between Kampala (the capital and our home), and Jinja, the famed source of the Nile: Ssezibwa Falls, a lovely little waterfall and an easy day-trip out of town. So Christmas morning after the kids had opened presents, we bundled children and dog into the car and sauntered out of town to check it out.

Turning off the highway, we followed a dirt track through fields of sugar cane, down across an irrigation channel, and further down into a little forest, a grove of Eucalyptus and hardwoods, a glade I suppose. And we saw it. What a gorgeous waterfall. The water appeared out of nowhere, rounding a last-minute bend in the river. And then it dropped from about 100 feet, churned in a fast spinning pool, and poured forth in a stream that immediately divided to swallow both sides of a little island. The two streams rejoined a few dozen meters afterwards in a shady, little forested spot, and then disappeared out of sight as it headed down to Lake Victoria.

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Kabale

Kabale fields

A few places remain on earth where the beauty of nature rises to catch the casual eye, but avoids the gaze of the rampaging tourist keen on seeing "the sights" Kabale is such a place, and I count myself as fortunate for having had the rare and surprising opportunity to spend some time there in 2015.

Eight hours west of Kampala, nestled just over the line from Rwanda, and not all that far from the famed Rwenzori mountains that draw the masses in search of gorillas, Kabale is a quiet, farming town nestled at the southern tip of a valley carved millenia ago by glaciers. Unless you had reason to stop there, you'd almost certainly whiz right by, on your way to a border crossing, or a trekking adventure with reclusive animals. And you'd miss something lovely.

The land's natural fertility and the rich peat soils give up vegetables of all sorts here, from Irish potatoes to cabbage and carrots, and the morning sun chases the mist off the chilly fields before the equatorial heat seeps in. But the temperature remains chilly here, especially at night: you're well over a thousand meters up here, nestled in the thin branches of pines and surrounded by bird song.

These days I visit lovely little, quiet corners of the earth, and imagine what a lovely site it would be for a Peace Corps volunteer, arriving with two duffles full of books, and a pouch containing pen and ink: watch the smoke curl from the wood stoves, watch the stars wheel over the horizon, sit back and marvel at the wonder in God's limitless universe.

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi seemed hell-and-gone from nowhere, tucked in a volcanic crevice 8 hours' drive from Kampala. And nature's tension mounted as we made our final approach: the wind picked up and began blowing spirals in the dust as the road wound upward through forest. The sky darkened in impending storm, and then, just as our car emerged from the forest on a forest ridge overlooking the lake, the first icy drops began to fall. But below us - almost vertically below us, it seemed - was the lake, and it was bathed in a silver light by a band of sunlight that snuck through a hole in the clouds. Stunning.

Bunyonyi means "place of the little birds" and lived up to its name. We toured the myriad islets the next day on a motorized launch and visited one I'd like to return to camp on. But the real memories will be of the view from the hillside, those dark nights of stars, and the chilly night air. Continue reading "Lake Bunyonyi"