Based in Fort Portal for two years I have a chance to explore some of the less popular places of Uganda. Last month I visited Ibanda as mentioned in the guide p. 236-236 and want to update you with this mail.
The tarmac road from Mbarara to Ibanda is no longer the smoothest drive in Uganda. Time shows, and potholes are starting to appear. The smoothest drive is now the new tarmac road between Ibanda and Kamwenge built by the Chinese company that is now working on tarmacking the Kamwenge – Fort Portal road.
I was intrigued by hiking the Isingiro mountain, the highest point in Ankole. It turned out different from described in the guide book. There is no further information on the web about the the mountain – the search made difficult by Isingiro also having become the name of a district southwards. The waitress in a restaurant in Ibanda town could not name the highest point of the mountain/plateau in front of her. Driving down from Ibanda town towards Mbarara I could not find the trading center Lwesho that was mentioned in the guide.
However after 13 km on the road from Ibanda to Mbarara, past Nyabuhikye trading center, in a small trading centre without a name there was a right turn with a signboard towards Bwaahwa II school, 9 km up the range. I asked some bystanders about Isingiro mountain who confirmed that I should take that turn. The road was rough, narrow and steep but passable with a 4WD. It is also the accessroad to a post with a series of mobile phone antennas. Still no Lwesho, but I reached Bwaaha II school which is situated at a T-junction well on top of the plateau. Turning left after one km I parked on a farmer’s homestead, in a small trading center as the road seemed to start descending. The farmer and other passerby’s confirmed that I was near Isingiro. They called the area Buhungawanu.
No mountain, more of a fertile inhabited hilly area planted full with flowering peas. After a light walk of about half an hour I was at the highest point as far as I could see. There were nice views of the plains towards Mbarara , but was I really at Isingiro the highest mountain of Ankole region? People on the plateau all said so, from the altitude lines on google maps it seem so, the neighbors back down indicated before there was no road where a car could pass, but some doubt remains.
The plateau I visted forms part of the district of Bwehju. According to a short web search the district has minerals. Informal small-scale miners are already digging and registered firms are exploring.
Lastly, on the way back to Ibanda I searched intensively for the memorial of Harry St George Galt (I turned around three times to make sure I did not miss it). But I could not find it. Dissappeared under the pressure of town expansion?