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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

Lake Nabugabo and Masaka

UGANDA | Saturday, 1 November 2014 | Views [394]

It felt like a while since we had been out of the city so we planned a short trip away from Kampala. We decided to head to Lake Nabugabo, a little-known place 20km east of Masaka. It used to be part of Lake Victoria back in the day, well about 4,000 years back in the day that is but is now definitely its own lake.

We didn’t want to go too far so this place sounded worth checking out. We got out of Kampala fairly quickly and headed down the Masaka Road. After a brief brew stop at the Flamingo Jointz at the equator we soon found ourselves at a turn off for Nabugabo Beach. We weren’t quite at the point on the map where we intended to turn off but if someone could be bothered to put up a sign, a rare creature indeed in Uganda then who were we to not follow it? We headed down the dirt road through rural villages and banana plantations, quite a pleasant drive really and the road was better than most in Kampala. We came to a junction but picked up signs to the few resorts located at the lake and we were soon pulling up at very grand sounding Sand Beach Resort.

The ramshackle gate and sign didn’t live up to the name mind and then the guy wanted 2,000 shillings to let us in. We kindly explained that we were intending on spending money on food and drink and hey we may even stay the night. He still wanted the cash but surely he was joking so we drove past him. The resort was extensive with a huge lake front and had potential but in true Ugandan style it was in rack and ruin. We quickly changed our minds about staying overnight but thought we would try the restaurant for lunch. We headed for the restaurant where a group of locals were playing loud music and getting hammered on local gin. Erm, not the peaceful escape we had hoped for. We couldn’t find anyone in the shell of a restaurant nor could we find a beach with sand or otherwise. We wandered to the other end of the resort and actually found someone who said they could make us some food. We were spoilt for choice, there was fish and chips, chips and fish or just chips. As Emma is not a bit fishy we declined and decided to try our luck at the next resort along.

NabugaboTerrcae View was much more peaceful and welcoming and they said they could even rustle up a veggie rice dish for Emma. So we got a couple of cold drinks and enjoyed sitting by the lake watching fish eagles swooping down for their fish (without the chips!). The food by Ugandan standards was ‘fast food’ and we were troughing in only one and a quarter hours later (believe me that is good). It was actually tasty and cheap but Emma didn’t really fancy having the same dish for evening meal so we passed on the rooms although they did look a lot better than Sand Beach.

We decided to head into town and see what the delights of Masaka had to offer. The main Kampala to Mbarrara Road by-passes the centre of Masaka so we have by-passed it many times but never stopped. There is probably a good reason why they built the by-pass. Actually it is an ok sort of town but the phrase ‘nothing to see here’ could have been invented for it. We noticed a fort marked on the map but it is actually just a clump of overgrown grass and makes Malandra Castle in Glossop look like one of the 7 wonders of the world! Never mind, we found a decent place to stay, The Zebra Hotel with views out to the hills. As with most hotels in Uganda, shockingly overpriced and a complete lack of customer service but at least they had football on the telly (although they thought it was ok to switch matches to Arsenal even though we were the only paying guests watching – they didn’t even ask if we minded).

First we thought we would wander around town, 5 minutes later we had to come up with plan B. The Bradt Guide reckoned that Ten Tables was the best place in town. I quote ‘’This great restaurant serves a themed 3-course set menu every evening (Mexican, Continental, Chinese….)’, erm, all they actually had on offer was loud music and warm beer served in a hole of a building which hadn’t seen any DIY since Idi Amins boys trashed Masaka in the 70s!.

We retreated back to Zebra after a few colder beers that they got from the shop (we don’t give up easily) and managed to get some food at the Zebra café. Next morning’s breakfast was a shocker (banana stew, pancakes and a dodgy blue looking egg), so it was back to Kampala early as another attempt to get off the beaten track and see new places in Uganda turns out to be less than successful. Stick with what you know.


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