Travel to Beni

My travel companions were Jonathan, Jon, and Lauren. We made it into a two day trip so that we wouldn’t have to be worried about arriving in Beni before nightfall. We stayed the night in Fort Portal at a place called Ruwenzori View. On the way there we took a detour to have dinner at a place Jonathan knew of called Kyaninga Lodge. we had to go a ways down a bumpy dirt road to get there. It was worth it though because the lodge was a beautifully contructed set of buildings high up on the edge of a hill. The area has a view of the Ruwenzori mountains and there are a cluster of crater lakes nearby. Unfortunately we arrived too late to take in much of the view. The building was worth seeing though. It is built out of large timber logs with a steeply sloped straw hatch roof, a feat of contruction for its location. The restaurant area was designed with a few seating areas up in the rafters. We had a delicious dinner of pumpkin soup, roast beef and potatoes, and mango parfait. There is nothing quite like good food in a wonderful atmosphere. Jonathan told us that it was built by the owner who is a carpenter from the US who constructed most of it himself with a team of local tradesmen. I’ve discovered that Africa offers a lot of these secret treasures created by eccentric and yet brilliant people. Kyaninga Lodge reminded me of places like the Harry Lemon outside of Jinja or the Kariba Bush Club in Zambia, both also quite a ways off the beaten track. I got this picture off of the Kyaninga Lodge website because you must see what it looks like!

The next day we passed through Kasindi and were at the border well before noon. We switched our things from the van into two taxis. Leaving Uganda was easy enough but getting into the DRC took a few hours. It took a while to get our stamps and then we had to fill out health forms and received a lecture about Ebola, the symptoms, how it can be contracted, etc. I immediately got to start using my french. I was confused when I thought he was saying to stay away from a sick person’s salt (sel) when he actually meant waste (selle). Finally we were on our way. Overall it was a smooth journey even though it was literally very bumpy. The road is a key access point to the DRC, is only 75km long, and yet remains unpaved. For people here it is the norm and is a part of life. It simply takes longer to get places. We arrived in Beni in the late afternoon and I was dropped off at the guesthouse where I will be staying for the next three months. I enjoyed unpacking my things after being a nomad for two weeks! I slept better that night than in the last two weeks. I think my body knew that I was finally in a place where I would be staying put for a time!

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