When the Koi Koi Ug team decided that we’d go to Fort Portal, I knew I was in for a treat. A colonial town, one of the top tourist destinations of the country that is also home to Tooro Kingdom, will definitely be something to write home about I thought. But even this prior awareness had not prepared me enough for what I was about experience. This is an account of half my experience, not because the other half was not worthwhile, because believe me it was, only because these places stood out for me. They were the marvels.
Getting to Fort Portal was nothing short of an adventure in itself. Had we had a TV crew following us around right from 8 pm when we set off, I bet you your bottom dollar we’d have given any of the local TV Dramas a run for their money. I’m talking minor car accidents on the road, empty fuel gauges in the middle of Kibale Forest, casualties and hospitals, name it. But the Koi Koi Squad are real troopers I tell you, there was no mood dampened nor energy drained and as such, after we finally managed to reach our destination at about 6 am the next day: tired, hungry and sleep deprived, we ( a team of 14 amazing photographers and social media enthusiasts) proceeded to freshen up, have breakfast and get to work; capturing amazing shots of the town and its surroundings. With every shot a story was to be told. The Koi Koi story. The Ugandan story, in this case, particularly that of Fort Portal town. The world must be made aware of our country’s beauty, culture, geography and infrastructure; we went on a mission to make this happen.
Kabarole Hill, on which the magnificent Tooro Kingdom palace stands was our first stop. From a top this hill, you have a bird’s eye view of the entire, yes entire I daresay, Fort Portal. The palace, an imposing structure that emits power and royalty on sight stands in the center of the hill. Surrounding it are other visibly traditional structures; one that stood out for me, the royal kitchen is what i named it. In this, what seems like an abandoned hut built entirely with grass, it was revealed to us, the Omukama (King)’s meals are prepared. 10 young men are carefully selected for this royal job and get this: they must refrain from engaging in any sexual activity every 10 days prior to preparing these meals! Thank God the King traverses the world most of the year and is not often home, is what I thought. Otherwise I don’t think these young men would ever know coitus. I mean, can you imagine? Hey, judge not, I know this job description would be a real challenge for you too.
At Kyaninga Lodge, our second stop, were the most breathtakingly beautiful visions of nature I have ever seen with the naked eye. The openly enclosed feel you get as you step out into the parking lot is a quick reminder of why this place is truly a getaway. You will immediately feel closed off from the rest of the world, but in a way that you enjoy and seem to have longed for. The crater lake that can be viewed from every corner of the lodge is reminiscent of those clearly edited photos from travel magazines from the South of Africa. The still navy blue waters appear to be held together by a certain web that you’re tempted to think that if you dive into it, you will float. Disclaimer: do not, at any cost dive into the crater waters, at least if you still wanna live. Surrounding the Kyaninga Lodge in the horizon, just below the clear blue skies are trees and meadows of a rich lush green, reminiscent of a rainy forest. The air is exceptionally clean and fresh. I fail to satisfactorily describe Kyaninga in words, it is something you have to experience first hand.
Amabere Ga Nyinamwiru Caves & Nyakasura Falls: now as a P.3 pupil, Social Studies class of 2000, I had been told the story of Amabere ga Nyinamwiru in detail, a story of the caves whose current existence is based on the legend of the Batembuzi Dynasty of the great Tooro and Bunyoro Kingdoms today. So I had imagined them, I had seen media pictures. This time, i witnessed them myself. The multiple caves have breast-form-like stalactites hanging from their roofs, through which white breast-milk-like water drips. Now, of course this “milk” we all know are just calcium salts formed from the rocks but for a moment, it helps to let your mind delve into the myths and enjoy the story as told or retold by the tour guide. I did exactly that. About halfway through the caves are the Nyakasura falls. Cascades of crystal clear water falling rapidly from above. The freedom that this view will bring to your soul cannot be put in words. Beautiful is an understatement. I would wish for one to experience it. Pro Tip: If you ever visit, remember to carry a swimsuit which you can strip into, sit or stand on the rocks and let the water fall freely on you. It is one of the most liberating feelings in the world. Or you could just go with your clothes and get drenched like I did. I mean, how often do you deliberately have all your clothes and shoes soaked in water anyway? I thought so.
These to me, were the sites that stood out. The ones that you MUST visit the next time you’re in the serene town of Fort Portal. However, there’s a lot more that we captured and you’ll find it all on Instagram when you search for: #KoiKoiUg. Alternatively, you can look at the Instagram accounts of the dedicated Koi Koi Team who took some of these amazing shots and many more:
@iamogutudaudi,@nyaruoth, @yimzy_motif, @kreativadikt, @the_nimusiima, @joeljjemba, @shawndaviskawalya, @spartakussug, @she_infinite, @kemigisha, @qatahar, @ayampatra and the lovely @only_thursdays
“Stories have to be told or they die and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”
―Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life Of Bees