It is home to the deepest lake in Uganda, 3rd deepest in Africa and also home to the rarest silverback baboon kind of moneys.
Today, we take you 409 kilometers out of Uganda’s capital across the equator and deep into South Western Uganda. Welcome to Kabale district, former Kigezi. It’s also home to the famous adage about a former Ugandan president, owing to his inability to speak the Queen’s language decided to call the town ‘kastone” literally meaning small stone. Kampala, formerly known as Kigezi, Kabale town located 409 kilometers from Uganda’s capital of Kampala, Kabale is the chief town in deep western Uganda and whilst some 260 miles from Uganda’s capital city of Kampala, Kabale is just 49 miles from the capital city of Kigali in neighboring Rwanda. Sometimes nicknamed “Kastone” as in the local language Rukiga, a “kabale” is a small stone.
But what makes Kabale town so unique and yet interesting. Beyond the deepest lake, the hilly terrain and enigmatic people, what else strikes out about a town hitherto silent eruptive? Read on….
A village mistaken for a town.
Looking for a silent village with cluttered shops, maneuvering hotels and sketchy night bars disguised as night clubs? Then jump on that bus to Kabale town. It’s hard to imagine that a town so popular with a tribe whose fertility ratio ranks high, can also turn into a ghost town during evening hours. Beyond that, expect to get every service you ever imagined at the lowest cost possible. The best hotel rooms at less than 40,000Ugx at places like Kings Hotel to car rental, banks such as Barclays, a museum, cafes all surrounded by rolling hills with Kabale itself perched some 6500 feet above sea level. Its height makes for somewhat chilly nights with daytime temperatures averaging just 18 degrees which are much lower than elsewhere in Uganda. Its rumored that Kabale never switches on their fridges.
The deepest lake, yet silently hitherto.
A simple google search will reveal a few things about this lake and yet nothing will bring its experience closer than a quick bus trip to Kabale town. For geography lovers, there is no better place to understand volcanicity than in Kabale town. It’s believed the lake got formed after erupting lava blocked off River Kabaga hence creating twenty-nine island some of which are inhabited and some turned over to tourism, particularly Eco Island. Lake Bunyonyi, with Bunyonyi meaning “Place of many little birds”, is sixteen miles long and just over three miles wide.
It is also home to the infamous Punishment Island where unmarried pregnant girls were marooned and left to die. As a side note, remember to take the window seat when using a bus to Kabale town. You will thank me later.
Where promiscuity met death.
Imagine a tradition that treasured virginity so deeply that its loss was punished by death over a cliff? At one point, I wanted to prove this legend by physically searching for skeletons of dead girls who are said to have been thrown over this cliff. (pun intended). So if you are like me, then grab that bus to Kabale town, experience the amazing boat ride through Lake Bunyonyi to the acclaimed Akampene Island or better known as “Punishment Island”. Go on a search as to why the boys who got the girls pregnant in the first place went unpunished themselves. The island is little more than a 215 square foot raised muddy platform that protrudes from the lake and is currently being eroded by the gentle lapping waves that float across Bunyonyi. Those, just like me expecting to see an island strewn with bones and skeletons of lost girls will find none. In reality whilst girls were ritually humiliated and left there to die, many attempted to swim back to the mainland but perished in their attempts as few Ugandans can actually swim.
Others were saved by men without worldly goods looking for a wife without a “bride price” (money or property paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom), whilst on other occasions the young man who got the girl pregnant in the first place would row out to save her and they would escape together setting up a new life far from the community that punished the girl in the first place. The practice ended in the mid-twentieth century as missionaries moved into the area however there are still survivors alive today to tell their stories.
The Golf course.
The golf course at Kabale was founded in 1930 however in recent years fell into disrepair before undergoing refurbishment in 2012 with 2013 seeing a return of professional tournaments at the course with the John Ngorogoza Memorial Tournament. Kabale golf course also recently hosted the White Horse Inn golf tournament won by Entebbe based golfer Abraham Ainemani. Described as “the most challenging par-69 9-hole golf course in Uganda” it covers 150 acres of land and golfers not only have to navigate many trees and bunkers but also an abundance of wildlife as the golf course in next to gorilla trekking hotspots.
Kabale Airport is an airstrip serving Kabale, it is one of the 46 airports in the country. The airport is about 5 kilometers by road west of Kabale, on the Kabale-Kisoro Road. It is approximately 311 kilometers by air south-west of Entebbe International Airport, Uganda’s largest civilian and military airport.
As of January 2010, the airport was not under the administration of the Civil Aviation Authority of Uganda. The airport has a single unpaved runway. Aeronautical charts show the runway length at 610 meters and satellite images indicate a maximum length of 1,400 meters while a newspaper article stated the land set aside for the runway was 1.5 kilometers.
All that being said, you may wish to take a bus ride to Kabale and see this and much more, all you have to do is Download the Ugabus App from Play store or visit the website www.ugabus.com to book your bus!