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DARIUS’ MEMORABLE SAIL ON MV KALANGALA TO SSESE ISLAND, KALANGALA

They say water is life, BUT to me there is life on water. Just when you see yellowish dirty water on the shores of Lake Victoria at Nakiwogo landing site in Entebbe town, I bet it’s not appetizing, and so was my mood as boarded the MV Kalangala ferry. Okay!

 

I must admit it was my first time to sail on a ferry and for all my years I have been hearing of it in stories from uncle Ben who used to be a District Commissioner ( D.C) in my hey days. So I can’t hide the excitement of stepping on the ferry for the first time and seeing the magnificent thing that carries other boats and cars, goats, charcoal, people and anything that cared to get on board. It flashed my memories of bible times about Noah’s ark. Albeit Uncle Ben’s phone was off to tell him how my dreams came true.

MV Kalangala on Lutoboka docking point

At exactly 1:45 pm the ferry alarms for the first time. We are all lining up to join others onboard already. First you need to have a ticket which is around 10,000 Ugandan shillings and 12,000 Ugandan shillings for Economy and Business class respectively. If you have a car you need to book for space early enough or else you will not get space for it. The ferry carries around 8- 12 cars maximum with some other luggage and people who love sailing on open air. However am different, I want to have a taste of all corners of cabins and since I had gone for a documentary, at least talk to so many guest on board and understand of their feeling was as exciting as mine.

Darius Touring the cabins

MV Kalangala is actually the only vessel which plies Entebbe- Kalangala route and is run by Nation Oil Distributors and was built in 2005, so it has been over 13 years in operational although initially it used to work between Mwanza and Port bell Luzira. Sources say, government is in the late stages of procuring a new vessel that will be 100% carrying passengers without too much luggage and if the process doesn’t go “the Ugandan way”, it will be available this year. This will be taking only two hours or less from Entebbe to Kalangala or vice versa.

At exactly 2:00 pm the captain hoots for the last time and we are leaving. It’s a three and half journey on water. Doesn’t that sound so tiresome? I guess so. But wait, not all journeys are so tiresome. It actually depends on the fun and excitement on board. It was not until the titanic sank that Juliet and Romeo’s journey became so long. Otherwise it was the sweetest journey of all times. To us who did not expect the Titanic story to repeat itself in Uganda, then we had a good travel story.

MV Kalangala has a modern sitting area with full onboard entertainment to keep you busy on your favorite movie or TV station.  Each sitting area for VIP section has comfortable chairs with a sitting capacity of 4 pax on either side facing each other sharing a table. The sitting area that is more like a modern road bus with four sitting lanes divided into two sections with one section on the entrance and the other one towards the stairs to the upper captain lounge. The ferry can carry a total of 150 passengers in both VIP and Ordinary sections, toilets and all facilities for a modern traveler. Am in agreement with Mr. Kit Yahya the logistics manager at MV Kalangala.

MV Kalangala has a well-stocked canteen on board where you can buy a snack or drink. I took stair to go and view Lake Victoria from the top and it was awesome. Few minutes from take off a gentleman approached me to ask if I needed a snack or so. He told me of course on the lake we love to give you fish accompanied by chips and salads which I Okayed and he told me to pay first. Wait, a meal on MV Kalangala is not for the faint hunted. We waited till we forgotten we had ordered for a meal and slept off. Just when we woke up, this man turned up with one plate yet we had ordered for four and he told us to wait for the other three remaining plates with no apologetic face. I can’t recall his name in case he told me but I would possibly advise you to travel with your snacks since it’s allowed on the ferry.

There is no much to see along the way apart from fading sky blue waters of Lake Victoria, magnificent fading views of the islands across to the Tanzanian boarder and few water birds sailing or catching fish. Sometimes the lake is calm and sometimes it’s windy with a lot of waves thus slowing the ferry speed. Wind is too much mostly in dry season. But most important are the different races of people you meet on board. I met almost everyone on the ferry especially Kalangala politicians and business men who are accustomed to the routine. Also on board were tourists who were more like me since it was their first time to go to Kalangala too. But trust me you can always fall sleep if you are not a fan of stories and storytelling. To my shock when you approach the landing site at Lutoboka which is the main docking site for MV Kalangala, you will find people waiting for their guests like it is on any landing site of the world. What do I mean here? Just like it is on international airports. People waiting with Name-pads and many signposts directing guests, vans and all kinds luxurious plus non luxurious cars, with faces looking very excited to meet their guests. Ohm my God!! Alas I didn’t expect this on just a mere ferry docking point. Maybe on Canadian cruise ship lines or on Heathrow airport yes, but not on the lake. That’s fine but here I think it’s not fine and I owe nobody an apology to say this is unusual.

Victoria Forest Resort

When you get close you start seeing many luxurious resorts on the water fonts with white sand stretching beaches and you can cry out of joy asking yourself where you have been. To me it was a memorable start for my trip to Kalangala, Ssese Island. Time check, its 5:30 pm local “Basese-Kalangala” time First check in at Victoria Forest resort that looked like calling me from a distance to come as faster as I can and I will continue my story in my next series about Kalangala.

Please check on the video here and remember to subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9h7ZFFn1fA

 

 

Please note that all views expressed in this blog are my own and from my experience. They not the views of my sponsors or my partners. Pictures maybe subject to copyright.

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