Uganda is best known as a destination for treks to see the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and chimpanzees in Kibale National Park. And while both are must-do activities while visiting the Pearl of Africa, for travelers who enjoy trekking, hiking or walking, Kyaninga Lodge near Kibale Forest offers a plethora of other fantastic bipedal activities ranging from 1.5hrs to a full day.
On our Classic Africa Safaris FAM trip in April 2019, we spent one night at Kyaninga Lodge. Arriving in the mid-afternoon, I took the opportunity to stretch my legs and check out the crater rim walk offered by the lodge. While this walk can be done without a guide, I’d highly recommend hiring a local guide which the lodge can arrange free of charge (but tips are recommended/accepted). While the trail is pretty well-marked, my local guide Simon added so much to the experience. Simon is from the nearby Kyangina village and has been a guide since 2008.
Leaving from the lodge and taking 1.5-2hrs at a leisurely pace, the hike starts with a bit of a climb to the highest point on the crater rim. From this view point, there are incredible views of the surrounding rolling green hills, small homesteads and villages, a pyramidal-shaped ash cone and of the Rwenzori Mountains aka the Mountains of the Moon (though part or all of mountains are often shrouded in dramatic cloud formations especially in April when I visited).
“We are now in Europe,” says Simon while we are catching our breath at the top of the crater rim. “Do you know why I say that?” he asks, pointing to the crater lake below. While requiring a bit of imagination, from this vantage point, the lake looks vaguely like the shape of the African continent, hence we were standing above it in Europe!
We continued our walk down the trail, passing what seemed like an entire village of people, young and old, gathered around the crater rim. “There is a man who has gone missing,” Simon says. “The people are out looking for him.” Simon noted that typically you see very few people on the the crater rim walk. With Simon’s tutelage, I learned a few words of greeting in the local language. Greeting people we passed with my fledgling skills usually ended up in big smiles, laughter and surprise at the muzungu speaking their language!
Looking at Kyaninga Lodge perched on the edge of the crater rim from across the lake, I appreciated even more the incredible effort that went into the building of the lodge. And I understood why the build took six years and 1,000 hand-crafted logs to complete!
The second half of the hike is mostly flat as it meanders through a pine forest and farmers fields, bursting with lush, fresh produce. The lodge says there is a good change of seeing primates such as vervet monkeys and black and white colobus monkeys, although we didn’t spot any on our walk. Throughout the hike, Simon stopped and pointed out a number of plants and herbs used for medicinal or culinary purposes by the local people. We finished the hike at the Kyaninga Dairy which provides the lodge with incredibly delicious goat cheese and is worth a visit in its own right!
The lodge offers a number of other hikes, ranging from 2hrs to a full day. These include a 3hr village and cultural walk through the surrounding villages where hikers can meet and spend some time with the village elders at one of the farms, and to see how local crops are grown, harvested and prepared. Farther afield, there are several walks to the Rift Valley, which go to the very edge of the escarpment with stunning views of this vast expanse at the convergence of the Congo Basin and the Great Rift Valley, and on a clear day, the distant shimmer of Lake Albert. There is a half day (4hr) and full day option (6-8hrs).
Most CAS guests only stay 2 nights in the Kibale area. But for your travelers who enjoy hiking, we highly recommend adding a 3rd night at Kyaninga Lodge to take advantage of one or several of these fantastic hikes!
Read about all the hike in this informational document from Kyaninga Lodge.