Kabale, near the border with Rwanda in western Uganda, is known for its freezing cold nights. A cloud of fog envelops the town even as late as 10am.
The town is also popular for its scenic beauty and rare mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the place is a major tourist destination.
The transformation of its nightlife is adding to its attraction.
Kabale is surrounded by numerous hills and is also home to Lake Bunyonyi, one of the deepest lakes in East Africa.
The town is also a transit route for those travelling to Mgahinga and Bwindi national parks to see the country’s mountain gorilla population — Uganda’s biggest tourist attraction. Kabale is benefiting greatly from an increase in tourist numbers. The town is fast becoming a favourite stopover for its gorilla tracking, accommodation facilities and fancy nightlife. Tour operators say food and accommodation prices are slightly lower in Kabale than in Bwindi or Mgahinga.
Kabale’s nightlife has become a major attraction, despite the cold weather.
Before Rwanda closed its Gatuna border with Uganda, several Rwandans were crossing the border every weekend to party.
The town is seeing an increase in new resorts, lodges and recreation centres as investors seek to tap into the growing numbers of visitors.
Some of the new lodges are around Lake Bunyonyi, which offers some of the town’s most scenic views. They include Arcadia Lodges, Birdnest Resort and Lake Bunyonyi Overland. Low budget hotels include Kansiime backpackers resort.
There is an increase in high-end and budget resorts in Kabale, especially at the shores of Lake Bunyonyi. PHOTO | EMMANUEL KINTU | NMG
The prices range from $70 to $300, which is cheaper than neighbouring towns where prices can go up to $500 a night.
There are many interesting things to do in Kabale.
A boat ride to the Punishment Island is as chilling as the story behind its naming. Long ago, parents would abandon their pregnant unmarried daughters on this tiny island to die. While many died some survived after being picked up by poor fishermen who married them.
Then there is the Kyahugye island, a newly established eco sanctuary where you can see zebras, antelopes, impalas, birds and monkeys that were ferried to the island.
There is also leprosy island where long ago, residents with leprosy would be dumped on the island. It offers outdoor activities such as rock climbing and zip lining at the Lake Bunyonyi adventure park. You can also kayak.
You can also take part in bird watching in several of the islands.
Kabale has a cultural centre that showcases the traditional culture of the native Bakiga tribe from their dressing, way of life to traditional dances.