On a hot Sunday afternoon, the family after a 4 hours drive made it to Masaka Equator crossing point, we parked our car in what was the last ferry leaving the dock that day. Yellow feathered Kingfisher’s fluttered about the vessel, picking at grains of rice and sim-sim as the ferry transporting tons of cargo and vehicles trudged along the blue waters of the Lake.
The journey was long and arduous. By the time we arrived at our destination Island of Kalangala we wore the tire on our faces. Our stay was however very refreshing. Our return to Entebbe on Tuesday morning came way too early. My Family packed up preparing to leave Brovard Sands Lodge perched on the Kalangala Islands.
Our return vessel was in stark contrast to the ferry we boarded two days earlier. It was only 8 am but we were in a frenzy trying to catch the 9 am MV Vanessa. We scooped hot fingers of chicken ‘Katogo’ a Tanzanian now-turned-Ugandan delicacy and ate bits and pieces of toast as we sipped hot coffee, trying to make the best use of our bed and breakfast account. As the crisp breeze swooshed by we clutched our jackets and run into the car in a bid to catch the very punctual cruise. At the port, we were greeted by a calm yet tranquil stewardess. Donna, I recall, was her name. “Forty thousand shillings per person” she said, “come on in!”.
Docked on the shores of the lake was the MV Vanessa strutted about as a Lake heavy storm threatened the breezy morning. Structured by Covid-19 SOP’s the Vessel was only at 50% capacity, and all passengers were required to wear masks and ensure social distance. Donna briefed us of the safety precautions we would take in case of a fire or an accident and pointed to the emergency fire extinguisher, fire escape and life jackets.
The MV Vanessa, Donna said, was fully equipped with an ablution unit, air conditioning, coatrack, storage space, TV, fridges, drinks, power sockets for and Wi-Fi. The amenities were amazing. At 9:00 we hit the stormy lake, against thunder, and strong winds. The Vessel sailed strong against the winds.
The leather seats aboard the vessel were sturdy and comfortable sending my mother and almost all of us to sleep. Besides the occasional baby’s moan and yawn and passengers’ morning phone call, the cruise was silent. The engine was baritone and waters rough. To pass time I pulled out my iPad and began to read “Fear Trump in the White House” by Bob Woodward.
As we approached our destination I caught a glimpse of the airport and the newly created Entebbe city, clouded behind the gray haze and nimbus clouds. A testament of Uganda’s burgeoning economy and national fortitude.
We arrived 15 minutes earlier than estimated. An impressive feat, all things considered. We were greeted by pouring rains and anxious fishermen, with frail looks that told of a denied chance to land their prize catch, the Nile Perch.
Our short yet superb trip from Kalangala to Entebbe on MV Vanessa was quick and comfortable. About an hour in total in stark contrast to the 5-hour long journey we made two days earlier.
The vessel and team were worthy of praise. They had ensured our medical and physical safety were guaranteed and our trip as seamless as could be on a stormy, windy day.