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Travel Uganda: Nature’s celebration
The 30-minute ride to Bulago Island is a tranquil glide on calm and clear waters, crossing the Equator on a speedboat from Entebbe.
We visit in February, peak season of the lake flies.The island has a wide variety of birds – African grey parrot, African kite, fish eagle, pied kingfisher, casqued hornbill, paradise flycatcher, glossy ibis, openbill stork, great egret – and those that eat this delicacy are having a feast, nibbling them in the sky. Bulago is nature’s celebration of wildlife, with animals ranging from Nile crocodiles and monitor lizards to forest cobras and even clawless otters. It is also home to Uganda’s first Lacustrine Protected Area,an initiative to replenish fishstocks and protect local, sustainable fishing.
The island is privately owned with a few resorts and guesthouses. On the western shore,where boats dock, is One Minute South Villa, a luxurious architectural delight surrounded by flowersand lush grass frequently crisscrossed by the hotelier’s horses. Pineapple Bay resort is on the north-east part of Bulago and there are a few guesthouses too, all run exclusively on solar power.
They look like fallen stars
Along the way to the village is a tiny abandoned airstrip. A new helipad has just been constructed, too. The village is a hamlet of six or seven mud houses tucked away in the island’s bushes. There is a small bar where the villagers gather to chat over bottles of Leading Waragi, a popular Ugandan brew.
Dawns and mornings are ideal for birdwatching, as the birds come ashore to sing and cackle on the beach and in the trees. When it gets hot, they fly back towards the lake or deeper into the island. Monitor lizards scuttle around the beaches in the evenings, while otters swim ashore at dusk in large groups, their small, pretty heads peeking in and out of the water. Afternoons are so hot all beings hide away.
Island walks are a good way to take in the scenery. The soil around the shore is fertile and covered with trees. The island’s interior is veiled by savannah and the north-east part is occupied by rainforests.
There are a plethora of spiders in the shrubs and trees. They look like fallen stars, as they hang unperturbed in their webs among the branches. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bulago had been named Spider Island.They weave skeins of platinum web strands that stretch across the branches, too. At night, the meshwork of webs glow gold, revealing the origin of their name, the golden orb spiders.
As it is a high-end destination, there are seldom very many tourists at any given time on Bulago, so life among guests there tends to be freestyle. With its serene ambience and its slowpace, engulfed in verdant nature, Bulago is the ultimate getaway.
This article first appeared in our October 2018 print edition of The Africa Report magazine