Karungi Camp Article and Images by Yolande Phillips
A unique destination that makes the wild, beautiful and friendly heart of Uganda accessible to everyone. Join us to escape ordinary and discover your Uganda!
The scenery through the rift valley as the mist rolls out of the forest down into and along the valley is absolutely breathtaking. It will grab you by the shoulders and even if you are not the “gratitude moment” kind of human, you will find yourself extraordinarily thankful for being witness to it. The light from the early morning sun reflects off the mist, brings awareness to the vistas of Bwindi off to the east and illuminates the Virunga Mountains in a sea of purple.
I never imagined I would have constructed and been running a 5-bed camp in rural Uganda. It was created naturally out of my love for this region, the people, and a desire to share my experiences with others and to make as many small impacts in the community, which I now call my home. Uganda captured my heart almost immediately. The area brought a profound sense of peace to me. I somehow felt at home in a very different world.
This biodiversity cannot be missed within the camp, as we are home to many species of birds. Our cottages are named after some of our favourite locals. The white-tailed blue flycatcher loves the yellow flowered shrubs that line the driveway, our Robin-Chat will always coast through the dining room, sit on the edge of the railings and sing us a song around 8:30 am, and in the afternoons the Regal Sunbirds flit from the emblematic flame trees to the branches outside the dining room which bloom with bright pink flowers.
The area is also rich in human history. Community members are from the Batwa or Bakiga tribes. The Bakiga tribe historically are agriculturists who speak Rukiga, a Bantu language. Their origins are hidden in varying traditions but we understand they migrated from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in search of fertile lands and other riches such as gold, timber and good meat. The Batwa were originally forest dwellers and the first inhabitants of southwestern Uganda. Their livelihood was completely dependent on the forest for food, clothing and shelter. The early 90’s saw their displacement from Bwindi as it was made a national park after extensive logging and gold mining and pressures upon the government to improve Uganda’s conservation efforts meant the land was reclaimed. This left the Batwa displaced and rendered them a marginalised population which struggles to adapt to a lifestyle they are not accustomed to.
At the core of our ethos, is supporting the local community and we do this through a number of small scale ground-up projects.
If you speak to the local community members, they will tell you their biggest challenges are finding a market for their product. Karungi Camp attempts to be the market or help find that market, supporting our local community members. The coffee in the region is delicious and the honey is the purest I have ever tasted. We have recently begun receiving our coffee deliveries from a man who has 30 of his own trees in a nearby village, his name is Fred and he attended coffee workshops I helped to facilitate a number of years ago, it’s a success story that makes my heart sing.
and sustainable farming techniques, how to turn their produce into sellable products and also be a community hub. We have started compost with all our organic waste, which is then used, throughout our gardens where we grow eggfruit trees and passionfruit, which are turned into jams and juices for our guests. We are currently saving our shillings to build a greenhouse to support the growth of the tomatoes and other more sensitive vegetables, which require a little more care than the local crops do.
About a year and a half ago, I went to the market and carried home two little baby piglets. We added four more to our family and those little babies I carried through the town have since given birth to piglets of their own. A young boy who we help through school, in return helps take care of our family of pigs and we have recently given away pigs to two local community members to continue their lineage!
For us, community is key and you will have the opportunity to meet locals as they come for dinner or stop by for a drink in our bar area. Our aim is to be the conduit between the international guests and the local community to learn more about one another and as such we advise you to stay beyond trekking the gorillas and experience all that this beautiful region can offer. There is time and space for you to relax and simply enjoy the gardens while watching the plethora of birds flitter through, hiking trails abound if you want to explore the panoramic peaks we can recommend great local guides who will tailor the hike to you, or spend time in (and support) our local community by trying your hand at a wood carving or jewellery making workshops, joining a traditional dance or cooking and tasting a local lunch hosted by one of our neighbours.
Karungi Camp is a small boutique business with a wealth of local knowledge and we love nothing more than opening up our little patch of heaven to newcomers. We are a hub of advice not just for the community but for travellers too and sharing knowledge is vital to our mission. So even if you are not staying long or just passing through we are happy to help with any general travel enquiries. Come and visit soon! And we hope to ensure you take a piece of Uganda home with you, in your heart.
For more information on Karungi Camp, please contact:
Mobile: +256 779 806583. WhatsApp: +256 772 682718
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