All About The Almighty Rolex

All About The Almighty Rolex

When you mention the word ‘rolex’ anywhere in Uganda the last thing that will come to mind will be the Rolex watch. Rolex, in Kampala especially, refers to a chapati that has been rolled with eggs and vegetables inside of it.

While every chapatti seller in Uganda would love to take credit for inventing the Ugandan Rolex, it actually originated in Wandegeya, just below the Makerere University campus. The students wanted a meal that was affordable, yet filling, so chapatti sellers experimented with filling a chapatti with eggs. The name rolex came from ‘rolling’ (pronounced ‘lolling’ by many of the chapatti makers as a result of the heavy Luganda accent). They also pronounce it as ‘lolex’ but everyone understands what you want no matter how you pronounce, ‘rolex’.

A rolex always consists of egg and chapatti as the major ingredients but from there every rolex seller will get as creative as you allow them to be. Some make a plain egg rolex, while others will add onions, tomatoes, sliced cabbage and if you really want a king-size rolex…some pieces of meat before it’s all rolled up. Rolexes aren’t limited to Wandegeya – you can find them pretty much anywhere chapatti is sold at all times of day but especially around meal time hours.

Speaking to Mukasa, a chapatti seller in Namuwongo, he says he uses two packs of baking flour and two trays of eggs daily to satisfy his customers. “If I use one egg in the rolex then it is 1000/= but if I use two, then it becomes 1500/=,” he says. He sells plain chapattis at 300 UGX, so a rolex does increase the price.

How much money does he make from his rolex and chapatti business? “I make up to 15,000/= daily and I have managed to start building a small house at home in my village. Mukasa is married with a small son and he manages to look after his family with his small rolex business. It was not easy for him though when he started, “Getting new customers and a good place to sell is not easy but when then taste my rolex they keep coming back for more.”

Mukasa has built a rapport with his customers so much that they book rolex’s in advance and can even pay later. His best customers are the boda boda men at the stage where he sells his food and school children as they come and go to school. He also sells to house wives and housemaids who stay at home and are not in the mood to cook the lunch hour meal. These he says are the best customers because they buy more than one at a time.

If you are not in the mood to buy a rolex by the road side, you can make one at you own in the comfort of your own home.

Ingredients you would need per rolex;

  • 1-2 eggs
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 chapati
  • small handful shredded cabbage
  • 3-4 thin slices of tomato
  • cooking oil

You can also add the following depending on your taste buds;

  • A slice of cheese
  • A few pieces of meat or chicken
  • Thinly sliced green pepper
  • Add a pinch of black pepper to taste

Directions; Fry the eggs with all the ingredients in a frying pan and place on a pre-cooked chapatti. Then roll and serve hot. Eggs and other ingredients vary depending on how big or small you would like the meal to be. Enjoy!

The Great Burger-Capade

The search for a good burger is a lot like looking for unicorns. A unicorn is a mythical beast that looks like a horse and has a single horn on its head. Everyone has a story about where it was last seen and a tale about how to find it. In legends, the unicorn never materializes but the hunt always begins anew.

So why the seemingly futile search for a burger? First, a delicious meal is always worth a journey – good food has helped my sanity more than anything in this world. Second, the hamburger is universal. Shanghai to Istanbul, Kigali to Lima, New York to Kampala – there is always a hamburger. In Cairo they will deliver a hamburger to your doorstep. In Uganda, a menu at Chicken Tonight or The Sheraton will have hamburgers listed. A good hamburger is a refuge the world over, and whether it reminds you of America, or Iguanas at 4am, the search for a burger is a search for comfort.

The burger has to be “good.” A really bad meal sinks your soul. The definition of good will change from person to person and culture to culture, but there are some basic considerations:

The Meat

The Bun

The Sides

The Toppings

Each of these represents an essential part of the meal. This monthly burger review will focus on these four rankings to determine the overall quality of the burger. Each ranking will be on a scale of 1-5.

Deciding on where to do the first review was difficult. After sampling burgers around Kampala for a while now, there has been a fair share of great hamburgers along the way. While the perfect burger still remains elusive, a few have come pretty close.

Le Chateau restaurant is in Le Petit Villages, a collection of shops and eateries on Ggaba Road. It’s been a staple for burgers in Kampala, back when their lunchtime burger was relatively inexpensive (the price of the lunch menu has increased dramatically in the past year). It was one of those meals where the client always knows what to expect. Though it may never equal up to the best of burgers, it is an investment that engenders confidence, something many restaurants fail to do. Consistency is always important, a dish you could trust equals far more than potential.

This is a series about finding the best, and sometimes that means setting a benchmark for what good means along with the realization that good isn’t quite great. Le Chateau had always been a stalwart ally, held a place of greatness for a long time. There is no better way to begin this tale of how to find a unicorn than to revisit an old friend.

Le Chateau, the restaurant, has two menus: the lunch (sometimes called the snack menu) and the dinner menu. The burger is on the lunch menu, so if you don’t see it at first, don’t worry, it’s there. There were originally two burgers, the Swiss burger and the regular burger. The only real difference, you guessed it, is the Swiss cheese.

Given that many have a proclivity for cheese, the Swiss option seemed the obvious choice this time around. After a short while the plate came out, good looking burger with a side of chips and salad. One bite proved to be a surprise, this burger was a lot better than expected. Not great, but pretty good. Well then my friend, perhaps we shall be seeing each other more…

The Meat- Really good, probably one of the better patties around. It was a juicy burger with a nice crispy outside. With a bit more flavor this would have been a 5.

4 out of 5

The Bun- This wasn’t great. The bun fell apart a little while eating. It was pretty dry. It took away more from the meal than added.

3 out of 5

The Sides- The chips, as usual, were great, but there just weren’t a lot of them.

3.5 out of 5

The Toppings- Lots of cheese, but not much else. It’s hard to give a high rating to toppings when there aren’t any options other than a kilo of Swiss.

3.5 out of 5

Total Score

The total score is……3.5! Above average with a really good patty, and confirmation that eating a burger here is a pretty sure bet.

Tamba: Blending African Styles

Sarah Tamba

Mention the name “Tamba”, and people from the western part of Uganda will think of its literal translation of “healing”. However, this time around, we are talking of a young lady many have come to refer to as, ‘the girl with the deep, rich voice’.  Such a summation does little justice to this young woman who is also strikingly beautiful, light hearted, enthusiastic, energetic and highly talented, and let’s not forget that infectious smile.

Born Mutamba Sarah, Tamba is a Ugandan musician who sings contemporary African music. She explains in her own words, “My music is a blend of ethnic and contemporary music and I always strive to highlight social and cultural issues”.

She chose the name Tamba in an effort to be more Pan-African rather than be associated with only one country, not to mention being tied down to a tribe.

“The name Tamba is a more inclusive word as it’s a verb you can find in many different languages in Africa. In Swahili it means walk/strut, and in Kirundi it means dance”. It’s also my name, Mutamba cut short,” She explains.

She embarked on a full time career in music, with Myko Ouma as her guitarist in late 2006 when she quit her day job at Shell Uganda. “It was just guitar and voice. I would sing at weddings, corporate events and birthdays, and this was enabled through the few contacts I had and people who knew me from church” she says.

Tamba goes on to note it was not easy back then since she did not have any form of publicity by way of popular media such as TV, radio. Not even a Facebook or Twitter page had her name on it.

In 2008 around July she joined Qwela band as a vocalist. She saw that Qwela had the same vision as she did. Qwela was performing music that was a mix of both contemporary and ethnic, and they upheld similar ideologies of taking music back to the grassroots.

Tamba broke away from Qwela in November 2010 venturing into her own career as a solo artist again after she felt that her career, plans, and music differed from where Qwela was headed at the time.

On the challenges of being a solo artist in Uganda she explains that it is a bit of a risk and very challenging but she realized that in life you only live once and thus decided to take the chance. She contends that it was and is still tough but has opened her mind to new challenges and uncertainties that lay ahead of her as an artist and how to deal with them.

Currently Tamba has her own band with a fully-fledged management crew and has managed to record five songs. She has also increased her fan base and is planning to hit the studio this year to record an album, which she hopes to release sometime next year.

On people she admires, Bob Marley tops the list due to his desire to use music as a tool to promote an ideology. She says he (Bob Marley) created a movement through his music by singing what he believed in.

“Thus my big break would be when I can influence people who know me, understand that am not just an artist, but a singer with a special message,” she says.

She appreciates Irene Ntale, her fellow Ugandan soul/ contemporary artist and adores her voice and ability to play guitar; on the international scene, she is inspired by Lauryn Hill’s vocal ability.

She advises young aspiring artists to stay in school, graduate or at least get a certain level of education/qualification. She urges them not to compromise their education with hope of getting educated in the theory of music.

In her own words, “Music is the one place where I feel like am being totally me and not struggling or competing as compared to the corporate world where people are encouraged to compete against each other. With music, every musician is exceptional and brings a unique sound that cannot be replaced or replicated”.

Tamba performs at the Sheraton hotel, Lions bar every first Thursday of the month.  Her concert normally last two hours (8-10pm) and costs 10,000 UGX. She doesn’t perform new compositions at each concert, as she believes she needs to allow the songs to grow on her audience and fans such that they learn the songs and sing along to her music.

Keep up with Tamba and her music on the following links and contacts;
Sound cloud: http://soundcloud.com/tambamusic
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tambafanpage
Twitter: @tambamusic
Mobile: +256 (0) 752 70 11 09
E-mail: tambamusic@gmail.com

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Uganda’s Love of Molokony

In Kampala, there are residents who will do things that could be regarded as a little too unusual all for the love of good food. It could be regarded as a little eccentric for a person to drive all the way from Kamwokya in the north of Kampala to the centre of the city in search of the perfect Molokony (cow’s hoof).

The most visited venue where the dish is served is The Pub on Dewinton Road, just opposite the National Theatre. The dish itself is made of long boiled hoof from a cow. Add salt and spices, plus requisite time it should spend on the fire and you have yourself a meal.

Molokony is cooked in a slow cooker. It needs a long time to be on the fire so it’s best to start the process in the morning. By 11am, it should be ready. The best molokony is tender and it can be detached from the bone with the slightest flick of your tongue.

Molokony has been a Kampala delicacy for a long time. But it is not just a Ugandan thing. In different parts of the world, it is known as a delight not to be ignored on a list of favourite foods. As far away from Kampala as Italy, cow’s hoof is eaten with relish.

At The Pub, you just walk through the narrow entrance and past the tall bar stools to the back of the tiny establishment. The bar tender will not stop; he is used to the traffic coming in every day with many of the clients asking for molokony.

Molokony is our main specialty,” says Steven Tumusiime, the manager of The Pub. “Many people come in from across the city and for that reason; we have to make it the best. No wonder that many believe we do it best.”

You will not wait long after you place your order. To while the short minutes away, you can catch up on the latest in the premier football leagues in Europe showing on the flat screen TV on the wall. Then your order will arrive and everything else will be relegated to after the meal.

The soup is one strong feature of the dish. It is probably what makes so many people keep on coming back for more. It is the aroma and the taste it leaves in your mouth that reminds you of a thousand different roasts on a carnival night. The marrow inside the wide bone is usually left for last.

Different grown people will be seen sucking on a hug piece of bone, soup flowing down their hands and yet they will appear not to mind. They are among people who understand.

Soup is another reason many older Kampala residents used to enjoy the dish. It was said to have medicinal properties to cure gout. The rest of Kampala caught on and started eating molokony as a major date. There are those who enjoy it as a status symbol; just to be seen eating what all the cool kids are eating.

Conversation in the dimly-lit high-ceilinged roof is typical of Kampala’s denizens. The decibels start rising as the minute hand moves away from the hour of noon. By 1pm, the place is almost full with the conversation shifting from one subject to another as they suck at their bones.

“I think the way we cook it is our main strength,” Tumusiime says at the counter, as he receives clients. It is rush time; lunch time is here and there are many people to satisfy.

Molokony goes for 7,000 UGX at The Pub. This is decidedly dear but for a place that draws its clients from near and far, it is a fair price. In other places around Kampala, the dish can be found at prices ranging from 2,000 UGX to 5,000 UGX. If you do not go to The Pub, you can find molokony in the St Balikuddembe market area or around the different restaurants on Luwum Street.

Slim Emcee (UG) talks Poetry

Kabubi Herman, known in the Poetry Fraternity as Slim Emcee [UG], is a Ugandan poet who was born in Kampala, Uganda in 1990.

He started reciting poetry at the tender age of 12 and his first poetry piece was called “Val for Val”. He is currently working on a Historical project “Celebrating 50 years of Uganda” centered around past, present and future Uganda.

When did you first realize you wanted to become a poet and why?

Ten years ago in 2002. I was 12 years old. I felt that the art of poetry was lacking and it needed resurrection.

How long does it take you to write a poem?

It depends on the kind of topic am going to tackle. But as a poet I write all the time so I move with notebook and pen. If I was doing a poem about a topic like Fistula it would take two days.

Where do you get your ideas for your poems?

To be able to be a writer, you have to be inspired. I read a lot of literature on topics I want to write about. At times I tackle topics about the daily life of a basic human being and since I’m an African and a Ugandan I tackle topics that affect Uganda in most of my poems.

How many poems have you written? Which is your favourite?

I’m not sure about the number of poems I have written because they are many but my favourite poem is always my latest piece and that is “Hope you tell your Neighbor” a piece I wrote to raise awareness about Obstetric Fistula.

Do you have any suggestions to help one become a better writer / poet?

You have to be very creative and very conscious of what runs in your community and in your country and be very inspired.

What kinds of things do you hear from your audience about your work?

They say I redefine the art of poetry in Uganda in a way that even somebody who is not willing to listen to poetry is forced to or is touched, or is moved by what I recite

What do you think makes a good poem?

The subject content: Is it inspirational? Does it touch someone? How does it make the listener feel? Are they moved? Do they feel inspired to move others or do something about their community through your poetry? This is what makes a good poem.

As a poet what differentiates you from all the other poets?

Rhythmic madness is what I bring to poetry in Uganda.

Lastly, what are some of the avenues where one can see and hear you recite?

Poetry in Session at Isha’s Gallery in Kamwokya once every month. That is every last Tuesday of the month but the dates are changed sometimes. Authors Forum every first Wednesday of the month at The National Theatre.

Slim Emcee can be contacted on +256 (0) 789 835593. His Facebook page is Slim Emcee [ug] the poet.

The Uganda National Theatre can be found here.

Travel Kidepo By Car

Travel Kidepo By Car

Ever thought that Kidepo National Park sounded nice but was only accessible by air? Think again. Thanks to much improved security and gradually improving roads, Kidepo by car is definitely do-able.

If you have the time to make the drive visiting Kidepo is well worth the hours on the road. So, what do you need to do it? As with all road trips in Uganda, preparation is everything. The trip is not for the badly organized or those preferring a spur of the moment adventure.

Given the remoteness of Kidepo, which is part of its appeal, ensuring that your car is fully serviced and properly functioning is imperative. Book it in for that long overdue service before you go. It’s worth it. A map is also a good idea so check out Aristoc’s selections. Plenty of fuel is also a must since supplies are unpredictable in remote areas. Try and calculate your vehicle’s consumption (fully laden) and take jerry cans of fuel in reserve to be safe.

Kidepo lies in the very north of the country on the border with South Sudan. The journey itself is best done over two days. This avoids unnecessary driving at night and allows you to make the most of the amazing scenery. The most accessible route is north through Gulu to Kitgum, and then east towards Kaabong/Kidepo. A stop overnight in Kitgum is recommended. (Try the incongruously-named Fugly’s for the beef burger alone!) The drive to Kitgum should take anywhere from 6-8 hours depending on the road. The second day’s drive to Kidepo is much shorter in distance, but depends on the state of the  murram road surface. Expect to take at least four hours to reach the park entrance.

Kidepo is best attempted in the dry season (December-February and June-August) owing to the fact that after Gulu, all roads are murram and not paved. Whilst this might not be the optimal time of year to view wildlife it does make it easier to get to that wildlife!

The best part of the journey is unquestionably the unique scenery of northeastern Uganda. Reminiscent of a Malboro advert, the mountainous terrain alone is worth the journey. Imposing mountains form the backdrop to pristine cotton fields in a part of Uganda that for years has been better known for its insecurity rather than its rugged beauty. Signs periodically remind you that parts of the terrain off-road are still mined, so be careful where you stop for a short-call.

After Kitgum, there are few shops, so load up with fresh fruit and snacks at Kamidini Trading Centre before you reach Gulu. Before leaving Kitgum, stock up on fuel, food for self-catering and water. Once inside the park, there is a Shell filling pump, but don’t rely on it having fuel.

Accommodation in the park is divided between the exclusive Apoka Rest Camp, bandas managed by the UWA and camping. The bandas are perfectly adequate and simple local food is available for a reasonable price. The campsite is arguably one of the most beautiful in Uganda and you’re likely to be joined for breakfast by a pride of lions. Nature doesn’t get much closer than that!

Take A Day In Mbira

Take A Day In Mabira

A few years ago there was some controversy about the use of Mabira Forest land for the establishment of a sugar plantation. This was put on hold leaving the 300 square kilometres available for your exploration and now is a great time to visit.

To get there take the Jinja road from Kampala toward Jinja. The Mabira Forest is on either side of the highway about 50 minutes from Kampala, or 20 minutes from Jinja. The turn-off is prior to the Najjembe village so if you reach the village you’ve gone too far. The forest is sign-posted but it’s easy to miss. Turning left you’ll travel about 30 metres down a dirt road, past a few houses before arriving at the Ecotourism Visitor’s Centre. The centre is a tidy building surrounded by a few benches, picnic tables, camping area, public toilets and a few bandas. If you intend to stay make sure to call ahead and bring everything with you as both the campsite and bandas are self-catering.

Entry fees are paid at the centre and are 5,000 UGX for residents, and 6,000 UGX for foreigners.  Children are half those prices and those under six enter for free.

The forest itself is criss-crossed by well kept hiking trails. Choose your trail based on the type of hiking you wish to do, your intended speed, and the amount of time you have to accomplish it in. All of the trails can be done in three hours or less but it is recommended that you take your time and have a look around. If you’re a mountain biker there’s a special trail just for you.

If you’re a bird watcher there are some 300 species to be spotted or, if you’re just generally interested in rainforest ecosystems then Mabira shouldn’t be missed. Don’t expect to see much in the way of wildlife, as monkeys are pretty much the only mammal you’ll encounter.  Butterflies, moths, and other notable insects, however, abound.

None of the hiking is particularly rigorous although you will want to have a good pair of hiking boots and watch out for the safari ants which sometimes cross the trails in wide swaths. While the forest features heavily on tourist websites and itineraries it is rare to find groups there as most speed right through headed for the bright lights of Jinja. Unless it’s the high season you can expect to see only one or two people on your hike.

If you want to get out of the city for a few hours, get some fresh air and have a nice quiet walk in the woods then Mabira is the right choice for you.

To contact the Forest’s Tourism Project call +256 (0) 414 230 365.

It’s Time To Take On The Nile

It’s Time To Take On The Nile

While Murchison might be considered the ‘most exciting thing that happens to the Nile along its journey – what happens through Jinja is pretty exciting in its own right. True, the new hydro-electrical dam at Bujugali has reduced a few of the rapids (not that any of us who are benefitting from increased electricity are complaining!) but there’s plenty more to replace them.

A day trip to Jinja to raft or kayak the Nile seems to top most tourists itineraries but a surprising number of people who live in Uganda seem to have missed it. IN KAMPALA check’s out some different options for the day visitor.

  • White Water Kayaking: If you’re an expert kayaker you’re not reading this article. For those adventure seekers who aren’t there is tandem kayaking where you have an expert kayaker helping to guide you (and flip you back upright).  Prepare for an adrenaline-filled day – some of which is spent underwater.
  • White Water Rafting: This is the most popular – and often tourist filled – activity. Going over a range of rapids ranging 1-5 is a breath taking experience that shouldn’t be missed.
  • Kayak School: Want to learn how to kayak before diving right in? There’s all sorts of courses – from week-long specialty courses to day courses.
  • Open-top Kayaking: Not interested in hurtling over grade four and five rapids? You can choose a number of different paddling opportunities in open-top kayaks (the kind you simply sit in and paddle). You’re unlikely to end up in the river (although you still get a bit wet) and a guide will help you find your placid way down the river pointing out flora and fauna as you go.
  • Low-key rafting: If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key then most of the companies offer less frenetic ways down the Nile. This is great for families, those with younger children, those frightened by the prospect of the rapids or those who just want to have a look at what they might eventually be getting into.

Undoubtedly you have a number of questions and all of the companies have FAQ pages which will likely address those. These companies also offer a number of different combinations and options and all have excellent websites:

Adrift: http://adrift.ug/

Kayak the Nile: http://www.kayakthenile.com/

Nalubale Rafting: http://www.nalubalerafting.com/

Nile River Explorers: http://raftafrica.com/

Check Out the South Side Gyms

Check Out the South Side Gyms

Ugandans are getting serious about fitness. Just drive over Tank Hill in Muyenga one evening and you’re likely to see as many joggers as cars slogging up the steep hill…and sometimes the joggers are faster.

For many though, gyms are a great way to burn off the lunchtime buffet and stress of long days sat behind a desk. For others, the chance to build muscle and impress the ladies is irresistible. Everyone, though, is looking to stay healthy and no matter your motivation, gym usage in Uganda is on the rise. So whether you’re building biceps in Bugolobi, Bukoto or Bunga, or toning your muscles in Munyonyo, Muyenga or Makerere, there is bound to be a gym in Kampala for you.

The gyms with the greatest variety of equipment are invariably at the big hotels of the city, and are unsurprisingly the most expensive. At Kabira Country Club in Bukoto, there are countless treadmills, bikes and weight machines. Facilities are modern and second to none, with a good mixture of free weights and machines. At 30,000 UGX for gym use, including swimming pool, sauna and squash court, Kabira is at the upper end of the gym spectrum. However, if you wanted a truly indulgent exercise day, for 25,000 UGX the club offers a one hour full body massage, which is exceptional value and well worth it. The Speke Resort at Munyonyo is also an excellent gym choice, and for 30, 000 UGX you get use of the gym, squash court and Olympic size swimming pool. Facilities are of similar quality.

In the centre of town, Garden City contains a well-stocked and popular health club with an excellent range of modern gym equipment for all tastes. A variety of classes, including aerobics and pilates, are held regularly and a number of serious lifters populate the weights benches. With a scenic open view of the golf course this is a great place to work out. At 18,000 UGX per session, it is pricey but very convenient for an after-work workout. The Sheraton boats tennis and squash courts in addition to the gym all available for 15,000 UGX per person but the gym lacks the variety of equipment of the other higher priced gyms.

For those looking for a decent gym on a lower budget, southern Kampala has many options. Hotel International on Tank Hill, Muyenga has a decent gym at approximately 10,000 UGX per session, although the range of cardiovascular equipment far outstrips the more meagre selection of weights equipment. The Muyenga Club on the opposite side of the road, has some weights machines, although most of them are several decades old. However, with squash being only 10,000 UGX per game, the squash court is very popular. Headed down the hill, Bamboo Health Club also has a decent gym, and at 5,000 UGX UGX per session offers aging machines with decent variety and overall value. It has some free weights too for the more experienced weight lifter.

Towards Munyonyo, Buziga Country Resort has a well-stocked, if crowded, gym in a series of tiny rooms located at one side of the hotel. The weights machines are in good condition and there are some good free weight options. The treadmills, however are manual and not electronic. At 5,000 UGX though it’s very affordable, even if it is perhaps not the best choice for a cardiovascular workout.

The best value gym at present is arguably RM gym in Kansanga, on Ggaba Road just past the trading centre. For 5,000 UGX there is a small variety of cardiovascular equipment and a decent range of free and machine weights. Sauna and massage facilities are available at extra cost. As with all of these gyms, membership is available, but remember to calculate honestly how many sessions you are likely to commit to in a month before you make the payment.

Whether you are looking to pile on pounds of muscle or keep the pounds off, Kampala is full of gyms that will meet your needs, and many more are starting up. Exercise has been proven to make you stronger, healthier and happier. So give no excuses, get off the sofa and get exercising!

Bring The Nile To Your Door

Bringing The Nile To Your Door

You know that a place is seriously relaxed when there is a hammock behind the bar and seriously relaxed is the essence of Hairy Lemon. A secluded private island in the middle of the Nile just outside of Jinja provides the perfect Mecca or kayakers or for those just wishing to chill out.

Booking is essential as the island is only reachable by boat and they do not cater for day guests. Arriving in the secure car park on the other side of the river, you’ll be greeted by a menagerie and a wooden boat is quickly summoned to shuttle to the island – about two minutes away. The island itself is surrounded by small bathing pools sheltered from the roaring rapids. These claim to be bilharzias free, but without a conclusive answer there is always a risk. There is a net set up in one pool for water volleyball, and ample space for Frisbee, football or whatever sport strikes your fancy.

Accommodation ranges from various sized bandas at $51-60 pp/night through to a 10-bed dormitory (approx $40 pp/night) which sleeps 10. Camping space is also available ($22) in the centre of the island. The bandas are basic, consisting solely of a bed (with mosquito net) and table. However, since most visitors are focused on getting on/into the water a sparsely furnished room is not a significant deterrent. All accommodation is clean and well maintained. Bathrooms are communal, and are a combination of basic showers, pit latrines, and eco-composting toilets. The Nile does flow right past your doorstep and the communal areas are well furnished.  All prices for accommodation include full board.

Light or late sleepers might like to invest in an eye mask and ear plugs as the curtains are made of pale material so the rooms are bright early. Combine this with the sound of rushing water, and the monkeys like to make their presence known by tapping on the tin roofs of the bandas in the mornings.

In keeping with the island’s ethos, meal times are a relaxed and communal affair. Lunch was one of Hairy Lemon’s own pigs expertly spit roasted with a range of salads and home-made pita bread. Dinner was a generous spread of soup and stew with accompaniments. Timing, however, is everything. There’s always enough food but it’s wise to get in the queue ahead of the hungry kayakers! The bar is well stocked with a drinkable glass of wine at 4000 UGX. There is also a small range of snacks which are reasonably priced. Breakfast was a slow affair, taking over 1.5 hours to arrive so be prepared to lounge until a quorum of guests hits the dining room.

Give Hairy Lemon a miss if you’re looking for luxury lodging or a romantic getaway. Give it a try if you’re looking for a secluded spot to hang out with friends on a budget or you are a keen kayaker wanting the Nile on your doorstep.

Hairy Lemon can be found on google maps at:  Or on their website here: hairylemonuganda.com