The pygmies of Lake Bunyonyi


They call it the "most beautiful lake in the world". We do not know which part will certainly not, but it is the first lake we are after 25 days of travel, where there are no snakes, crocodiles, hippos or other bugs. That is, we can bathe without fear of being devoured. We arrive at Buyonyi Lake, touching the border with Rwanda ...

We leave Bwindi, after breakfast and checkout (12,250 UGX), with the same feeling that we enter and with an unforgettable experience in our hearts and retina.

The same feeling of floating above the clouds, which at times is absolutely real, with that fog down in the deep valleys waiting in the heat of the sun's rays ...

… and that unforgettable experience of having shared moments of our life with one beings not so different from us, so incredibly adapted to the environment, so exciting ... Even the four, Juve, Ruth, Paula and Isaac we have made a promise. Who knows when we will meet her but in 20 or 30 years we will return here to see Betina and our Kituruga family again. It will be the same eyes, but other thoughts and people, that carry these bodies. HERE IS WRITTEN THE PROMISE, between the clouds of Ruhija

After an hour and a half trip further south, we touch the asphalt of a road again. that we have barely seen since we no longer know how many days or on few occasions. Here when there is, it looks more preserved and in better condition than in Kenya.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, because it is possibly one of the causes of mass tourism not coming to countries like Uganda), the section is very large and we enter fully into the influence of Lake Bunyonyi, a magical place where we will make that little kit -kat that every phase of adventure requires, and that is covered in fog at this time, 10 in the morning

He Bunyonyi Lake reminds us (saving distances) to that lake, Inle Lake, that we visit the DAYS 14 and 15 in our trip to Burma 2006. We are facing a group of islands where a rural community is still connected with canoes as a means of transport, in an enchanted environment of terraces, intense green and mountainous slopes.

We are in one of the deepest lakes in Africa (900 m deep), at a height of 1,962 m and paradise of more than 200 species of birds. In fact it is known as the "Lake of the little birds" or the "Lake of the many birds".

Surely, in addition to Kabale and Kyevu, its main towns, what has attracted us so far is to try to reach one of the 29 communities that exist in this lake 25 km long by 7 km wide. Bakiga and Batwa tribes are our goal, pygmies, people consider by the government as outlaws, without land or rights, whose expulsion from their natural habitat, Virunga parks in the R.D. Congo and Bwindi in Uganda have allowed their siege to continue outside their lands.

It is not pygmies that we see while we skirt the lake, but the "how are you" of children, transport trucks or local customs have us crazy ...

Lake Bunyonyi is a lake that raises its water level to half a meter in rainy seasons, surrounded by hills, leaving a beautiful landscape of slopes of crops, small houses and villages. We see people walking along the road again, as we have seen on all roads, women with much more colorful colored rags in Kenya, carrying water cans, fruits or baskets with other things on their heads ... Even some get perfect balance without handkerchief with bags of potatoes or bags of materials for their homes. A beautiful contrast

We stayed in the first establishment on this island, with a lot of history, and now turned into a kind of family hotel run by a Belgian girl, The Bird Nest Hotel. It is undoubtedly one of the great successes of a trip in which we would not change anything so far, and with really wonderful lake views. The treatment is excellent, the rooms are absolutely original and the sounds of the thousand birds around us combined with absolute peace really make this place a dream place

Although there is a road that borders the lake, here the locals have as their main means of transport and cargo the canoes and motorboats. We will not be less and we will try to reach a nearby town in one.

Well, first test passed. It seems to float. The second costs a little more, synchronize, haha. After some round trip we finally got it. Isaac paddles to the left, Paula to the right, Juve corrects the course and Ruth ... mmmm ... Ruth ... let's say Ruth enjoys the scenery, hahaha. "Ruth are you comfortable? (Hahaha, phrase for the memory)

Arriving at our destination, what is said to arrive, we never did. Unintentionally we got into a private jetty of what appeared to be an accommodation, where a strange man gives us permission to leave the canoe. Better not ask more.

He walk through the town is rather fast, since there is hardly any remains of what was a market (only on Fridays) so walking we arrived at the Overland Resort, a somewhat neglected resort, but that offers internet service for 100 UGX per minute and thanks to which we could publish some story. The "booth" is better to see than to tell ... and computers alike (3000 UGX)

The canoe ride back is equally comforting and the views are even more beautiful with the sun located completely vertical.

We will not miss the opportunity to eat in the terracita of the Bird Nest, with the views of this beautiful volcanic lake in the background and with one of the best kitchens we have enjoyed in 25 days of adventure. We also bought some more gift (15,000 UGX)

But if we wanted something in our way through Bunyonyi, it's getting to know one of the most ancient tribes or populations of our planet, that of the pygmies. To do this from the jetty we take a motorized boat with a kind of guide that is not more than a kid of about 20 years and for which we pay about 25,000 UGX per person. It's around 2:30 pm and we can't get too confused, since they are almost touching the border with Rwanda, south of the Lake, about 45 minutes in the boat.

We are about 1850 meters high, with a sun that hits hard at this time, and the breeze of the boat is very comforting. We cross with canoes, we see a multitude of islands of the 29 that are in total in the lake, each with its own meaning and legend, until finally we arrive at a rustic jetty where people look at us in amazement

It seems that there are hardly any travelers in this area, and visits to the pygmies are only 1 visit per month.

We disembarked and started another hard walk, not for its orography that except the slope of the jetty is not too much trouble, but because the legs weigh quite of the hard day of expedition in search of the mountain gorillas of yesterday.

Surrounded by people, even some accompanied us part of the road, we entered the mainland between crops, some small town and more children shouting from the distance "how are you, how are you" "muzunguuuuuu, muzunguuu". Here we are strangers, the head of the locals turns to our walk.

Almost 1 hour after starting the walk and in a place that we would never have found alone (Juve takes a point in his GPS), we arrive at a small town of straw houses, poor hygienic conditions and some animals.

Quick rejoice to see us arrive. We assume that seeing a traveler arrive from time to time is a satisfaction for these people, not only for the economic benefit that we leave them and that is great for them to survive (50,000 UGX although they can leave whatever you want), but also For the curiosity we can get to lift them.

They offer us a very kind seat and start calling the whole town. They are short people, no more than 1.5 m, and no more than 65 members in total, many of them children. We barely see teenagers.

The pygmies are a town with more than 20,000 years old, but banished from its ancient forests cleared or converted into Natural Parks, as we read in some stories. It seems incredible that the lives of dozens of species of mammals are protected and that of a whole tribe that is being repudiated by society, even beggars, is not respected.

He greatest exodus occurred right here, in the mountains of the current park of the Virung Mountainsa, which began in 1925 but worsened in the 70s, leaving them without land to cultivate, making them sendental and turning them into citizens without rights and of inferior category to any other citizen of the country

Originally they were hunters, honey pickers, fruits or fishermen. Currently they barely live from agriculture and exchange tools with inhabitants of the Lake Bunyonyi area. Barter, as we saw the other day, is still a way of life here.

His way of thanking us for our arrival is none other than offering us their traditional dances and dances, which sometimes have a certain resemblance to Spanish flamenco, all with a lively voice and a lot of salt shaker

Children also learn quickly and in addition to being the first to receive us, with their small water drums on their heads, they offer us an exquisite dance full of good intentions.

A fun moment results when they take Juve and Paula's hand and offer them to dance with them. And they are not bad at all, hahaha. In addition, any gesture is well appreciated in this small villa.

It must be recognized that the melodies that are made by composing several voices and sounds become catchy and of great musical beauty worthy of great composers. Juve, Paula, to see those movements ...

His skin is dark, his hair almost completely shaved, black and curly, his nose flat and short. It seems that there are studies of pygmies in Asia but the main families are in the Equatorial Africa of R.D. Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Central African R., Burundi, Gabon and Cameroon.

What is in short supply here are both electricity and water, whether hot or cold. Hence the hygiene. Paula's face says it all doesn't? Hahaha

Although the dance is fun, we do not go unnoticed the demacrated faces of any of them, the dirt, the poverty that inspires. Their houses are barely a straw complex with an improvised shed taken from some enclosure. Your feet are barefoot. His old and even discarded clothes.

We do not see teenagers, not because there are none, but because their faces seem much older than they are.

Before we leave, we give him the money, all that we can do more than the stipulated one, and we leave the camp somewhat sad for not having brought clothes or anything else. This is another one of those experiences that we cannot forget ... and this trip is several

Return to the jetty and Lake, and after buying a water (750 UGX per couple I) let's go back to see islands of legend, like that island of doctors near the largest island of the lake where they isolated the lepers from which it receives the name, or also the island "of punishment", a small islet with a tree and four ice, where they banished the pregnant women out of wedlock and that with the sunset leaves us a beautiful picture

On the banks of the Bird Nest more canoes, some that seem to lie that float with those holes in their sides that even leave bubbles as they go

We can't avoid on days like today, recover those values ​​that the grandmother always taught us and that still instills us from a distance. She continues to travel with us, not only at the head of this little blog but also in every human experience we live. Communities such as the pygmy show us again how far we are to know beyond the news the crudeness that this unjust world holds in which we live and how privileged we should feel. Today we may have been able to help you a little in your struggle to survive, or at least to get another smile, although it seems that you never lose it, but of course those who have helped DE CORAZON are us. Thank you very much for this hug. The whole town with the hug of the grandmother cotters ...

Isaac, Paula, Juve and Ruth, from Lake Bunyonyi (Uganda)

EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 101,000 UGX (approx. 26.10 EUR) and GIFTS: 15,000 UGX (approx. 3.87 EUR)