Mbarara is a town about 150km southwest of Kasese. It is the only other Western town where GHC fellows are placed, the largest town in the Western districts (8th largest in Uganda), and a place we had been meaning to travel to for some time. So this past weekend, four friends and I packed up a car and headed there. It was such a beautiful 3 hour drive past crater lakes, matoke and tea plantations, and lush green flora. Mbarara is actually known as the “Land of Milk,” so you can imagine we passed more than a few cows grazing the lands.
We first passed through the town of Mbarara and continued a bit further to Lake Mbura National Park. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves! (There are so many good ones that I just created a super long slide show below.) It is only the second game park that I’ve been to in Uganda but was distinctly different than the one close to Kasese, Queen Elizabeth National Park. It felt much greener, less savannah-like, and had several additional animals that I had not yet seen. For example, the zebra! I was so excited to see one of these. And my favorite moment of the day was seeing two pairs of zebra hugging each other. Also, they seemed to have a bigger variety of birds, like the Ugandan crane which I had not yet seen. I’m certainly not a bird connoisseur, but there were several rare ones pointed out to us during a boat cruise that we took on the lake.
After the park, we met our GHC fellow friends for dinner at an Indian place called “City Top” that actually has a sister business/grocery store in Kasese that we frequent. The owner also happened to be in Mbarara for the weekend and gifted us some form of delicious chapatti that I had never tried before. Mmmm! The rest of the evening included checking out a nice view of the town, being impressed by the large Nakumatt grocery store, meeting our friend’s hyperactive but adorable puppy, and checking out the Mbarare bar scene.
Since we didn’t have much of an agenda for the next day, it was fine when what was meant to be a 30 minute visit to one of Uganda’s 7 Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) turned into a 3 hour visit including tea and lunch. Though I had visited a Hindu and Jain temple in Kampala, this was my first time at a Sikh one. There was a lovely worship room and a really sweet community. Some of them were from India, some from Uganda, some a mix of heritages, and some that weren’t even Sikh but included in the community that shares this beautiful, large meal together each Sunday.
I think that will be the last of any big travel plans until the holidays. 20 days and counting until Nick arrives for the holidays and we explore a few new places together including Jinja and Lake Bunyoni. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend at home, finally catching up on laundry, and a Ugandan-style “Friendsgiving” on Saturday.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home! xoxo