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DARIUS EXPERIENCES LIFE ON THE FARM: PART 1

Why “Life on the farm” slogan is still unimaginable experience in the Ugandan tourism experience

When you mention south western Uganda and tourism at ago, what comes to anyone’s mind is the likes of Queen Elizabeth national park, Rwenzori and Lake Mburo national park. It’s okay to think that way. When I was discussing with my friend a week ago, I told him am off to Ankole and his immediate question was; are you going to Rwakitura? I was so fast to tell him close to Rwakitura. I guess I left him wondering if was posted in any political office or so. Yes, that’s a mentality of Ugandans vs this region.

But listen am not a politician but rather a travel gospel teller. I transmit the gospel of nature, wildlife and animals. My friend was right because when you ask someone what they can do in the whole of Ankole region, everyone mentions Lake Mburo national park. Today I will tell you why they are wrong.

The fortunes of this place have been awakened by the recent opening of Life on the Farm experience by Emburara Farm Lodge. In the following series I will tell you about food, animals, culture, lifestyle and much more on the farm

What is Life on the Farm experience?
Emburara Farm Lodge is a high end facility that just opened within a distance of 10 minutes’ drive from Mbarara town which is the main administrative town for Ankole region. It’s just located close to Nyakisharara airstrip on Mbarara- Ibanda Road. Am told its where life on the farm experience crops up. After 4 hours of a highway drive, am ushered to plain Savannah land with cows freely grazing and one tall man following them step by step? In the middle of farm lands is a mega modern era structured property with cow horns intersected welcoming each guest.

Emburara Farm Lodge is a high end facility that just opened within a distance of 10 minutes’ drive from Mbarara town.

Emburara Farm Lodge is a high end facility that just opened within a distance of 10 minutes’ drive from Mbarara town.

Am greeted by one Sam with a wide smile and offered a welcome drink in a relaxed in ambiance of mixed cow dung smell and nature at its best. I guess the cow dung smell was a bit psychological since I was told am on the farm. “We are the first of its kind in the region, with high end facilities that meets everyone’s budget, with a unique experience of what we packaged as life on the farm. Everyone thinks about wildlife with their touristic lodges. But for us we thought about a unique farm experience before we take you to the wild. Many of us have grown up in cities and towns where we did not get a chance to milk cows, prepare cow ghee, and take cows to graze and much more”

Echoes Sam Nkurunzinza the supervisor for service department in his soft touchy voice. He made me laugh my lungs out when he told me that his young sister grew up knowing milk came from the fridge. Sam insists don’t make your children think like his young sister.

It is these whole farm activities we have packaged to make what they call “Life on the Farm experience” Says Sam

It did not last longer than my urge for the Life of the farm experience was calling. Below I compiled a list of activities you can do to get your golden share of this experience offered by Emburara Farm Lodge.  90% of these activities are done on the farm or outside but supplied by Emburara Farm lodge and its sister company Emburara Safaris.

Episode 1. Let’s talk about Kraal experience
The Kraal experience is number one on the list of activities that make up Life on the Farm experience. Benon is a flamboyant and always smiling dark skinned young man who has just been certified as a professional tour guide. He is confident and has just been hired by Emburara Farm Lodge as a resident tour guide. He offered to take me around the farm. Faster, faster, I shoot a question. Do you know this whole thing of Life on the Farm experience? He smiles, and narrates to me it’s been part of his life.

Benon is a flamboyant and always smiling dark skinned young man who has just been certified as a professional tour guide.

Benon is a flamboyant and always smiling dark skinned young man who has just been certified as a professional tour guide.

I was born a herdsman. I am a specialist in birding but then cows form part of my life story. Guiding people about cows make me feel it’s a new era in the history of cows and herdsmen. This region is known to be a tourism region but the cow and farm life aspect have been missing in the whole tourism experience in Uganda and Africa to be precise. I nodded my head in agreement. Uganda ranks 24th in the whole world of cattle inventory with Brazil leading the list and third in Africa after Ethiopia and Tanzania. Apart from New Zealand others have slept off the cattle tourism ladder. This experience coming in rural Uganda makes it something unique not in Africa but the whole world and has aroused my appetite to go and have my own share.

Guiding people about cows make me feel it’s a new era in the history of cows and herdsmen - says Benon.

Guiding people about cows make me feel it’s a new era in the history of cows and herdsmen – says Benon.

A cow has been the most significant animal on the farm. Through this trip i shall take you through a memorable experience. Enjoy an up close and personal experience with a wide ride through a herd of milking cows and much more. Visit a traditional Ankole Dairy Farm and experience a personal and very up close tour of the farm and all the animals.

We offer a fully guided tour with hands on approach. You are able to massage and touch our animals and at the same time learn about them. A very popular part of the tour is grazing our cows (Okusetura) in the local language and watering or Okweshera. Spending the whole day grazing cows evokes everyone’s memories that make some even shed a tear or two out of happiness when am guiding them on the farm, Says Benon my guide of the day.

You will also visit our traditional milking shed and learn about the milking process and what happens to milk in Ankole. We have high Ankole long horned cattle that are so friendly to you and will allow you to milk, massage and even smile with them. One thing I assure you, get ready to wake up so early and please don’t leave behind that fur coat or jacket of yours. Kashari is super cold, but above all, I promise you will have fun. I did, yes I repeat this, and I did!!!!

To enjoy the whole Kraal experience you will need around 3 – 4 days of staying on the farm. And if your background is cowboys or South America, New Zealand and the likes, even a week is less. Plan for about 1 full week of vigorous fun and farm life. We woke up around 5 am and straight away went for early morning milking. Before you milk please make sure you familiarize with them. Make them your friends. This takes almost an hour or more depending on the cows.

Before milking the cows, you to first familiarize with them and make them your friends.

Before milking the cows, you to first familiarize with them and make them your friends.

Second activity is releasing them to go and graze. Besides grazing, watering and milking cows you will also find a house where milk processing is done called Ekihongore in the local language. Here am not talking about modern methods that chun milk but rather contemporary Ankole methods. Am taken by my guide Benon to visit Ekihongore and have a taste of this grass thatched house on the farm. From out it looks like any other African traditional Masai type house. Getting inside, am greeted by the smell of milk, so many milk containers and beautiful faces of two ladies who sit opposite facing each other on either side and am offered a small traditional wooden stool.

After milking, you release the cows to go and graze.

After milking, you release the cows to go and graze.

Carpets in the small house are made from cow’s hides and skins. Beatrice [not her real name] was born elsewhere and has been a resident of this place married for over 45 years. With her sheer smile and short hair dressed in Ankole attire called Omushanana we jump to the story of this grass thatched house. I have been here for the last 45 years and milk is part of our diet on daily basis. When it’s collected from the farm after milking, we keep it in safe containers you see here displayed. Traditionally we would smoke these containers and put milk as it is from the farm. But with modernization we now boil the milk first. I have never had any sickness from taking non boiled milk.

In an African traditional Masai type house where milk processing is done, I enter and am greeted and welcomed by beautiful faces of two ladies seat on carpets made from cow’s hides and skins.

In an African traditional Masai type house where milk processing is done, I enter and am greeted and welcomed by beautiful faces of two ladies seat on carpets made from cow’s hides and skins.

For me its daily food from my hey days, but for my cameraman Justus who was born in a family without cows it was a new experience. He took less than 100 mls of Amakamo (fermented milk). Benon says from the farm after milking they clean the milk, boil it and then leave it to cool down. After cooling, the next steps is smoking local containers and then keep the milk ready to drink. He says all visitors who come have to be offered a small container of milk and its mandatory to finish it. To Justus who did not, that wasn’t to their taste I guess.

Some of the milk which is not taken remains to be separated from ghee and the ghee is churned and used as an appetizer for food. Listen the other watery milk that is separated from ghee, amacunda (as called in the local language) was for young children to enable them grow very well. I swear this I couldn’t try too. To my children I always travel with, it was a celebration.

Watery milk that is separated from ghee, amacunda (as called in the local language) is for young children to enable them grow very well.

Watery milk that is separated from ghee, amacunda (as called in the local language) is for young children to enable them grow very well.

After that the next step is using the ghee collected to through the process of churning to make “Eshabwe” or processed ghee. If you taste Eshabwe, you will go back asking whose daughter is single in Ankole. By the way it’s mostly used on Ankole weddings as part of the food and guess what, I couldn’t miss it at Emburara dining table. Like the saying goes these days, if you know you know.

In Episode two we go for local Banana beer making using unwashed feet as part of life on the farm experience, don’t miss!!

Please note that views expressed in this blog are out of my own experience. Not the blog and other stakeholders mentioned in here