I left Elaine’s apartment a little later than planned this AM. When I got to the Post Office on Kampala Road, I learned that the Post Bus had just departed for Fort Portal. It was the only Post Bus going to Fort Portal that day. The Post Bus staff are the absolute best – they called the bus driver to let the driver know that I was on my way and then flagged down a boda driver to take me to the bus. When I reached the bus a Post Bus employee got off of the bus and negotiated the trip price with my boda driver who the Post Bus employee had observed was trying to overcharge me.
The ride to Fort Portal was about four hours on decently paved roads – passing through beautiful countryside. Uganda is uniformly beautiful. The bus route ends in downtown Fort Portal. From there I had to find transportation to CVK (Crater Valley Kibale), where I would be spending the night. CVK is located 21 km from town. From CVK it’s another 9 km to the park entrance. A moderate rainfall made the trip to CVK more interesting. I found a boda driver willing to make the run, which seemed to take forever since the rain was falling so hard that I had to close my eyes at times, and the road was muddy and challenging in parts. We rolled up and down hills, passing between tea plantations, villages, and fields of other crops. It stopped raining just as we were getting close to CVK.
CVK sits on the edge of a crater lake (was once a crater, now a lake) that’s known for its approximately sixty species of frogs. CVK’s owners, one of whom used to be a Forestry Professor at Makerere University (where Elaine lives), planted native species along the water’s edge, on a steep hillside that slopes from the buildings towards the lake. CVK is a monkey sanctuary – I saw my very first Vervet Monkey this afternoon, right next to the patio where meals are served. After putting my things into a banda on the top of the hill (I was the only guest) I went for a walk along the lake. Once I started walking down the main road towards the park entrance, I quickly came across a family of baboons, crossing the road.
After my walk I sat in the office and talked with David and his wife about environmental issues, over tea. They are so welcoming. I was also welcomed by a staff member named Glad, who just started a few days ago. She was great, and exemplifies her name. I also met Ben, who it turns out is good friends with Nash, who works at NRE in Jinja (where I had been staying not that long ago). So from the start, it was a very nice welcome to one of Uganda’s rainforest environments!