Crazy how am getting used to taking random unplanned low budget(out of budget actually) trips to nowhere. So on my way to Iganga in Eastern Uganda I see a sign post showing Dolwe rock arts, I immediately did some googling and decided to go check it out on my way back to Kampala. I cannot even explain the sudden interest in 500 year old rock paintings but I think it was the pictures of the place I saw on Google and on the different websites that pulled me.
The road to the Bwondha landing site was one fit to be taken on a dirt bike although my neck and back would say a four wheel drive all terrain vehicle and for my bank balance I wouldn’t dare seek that opinion because I did not have the will to walk a 50+km journey. Bwondha was the landing site where I got a boat to Dolwe island.
For the first time I spent a night at a landing site as I had to take the next day boat. It is some kind of peninsula with water on both flanks you can hear the waves from all sides of the small strip town.
The accommodation here is not to standard for visitors, I slept on a raised concrete bed (Ticks off bucket list).
But there is nothing better than having a drink in a strange new place and this place gave me that good feeling as I hoped from one dingy bar to the next with a new found highly inebriated friend who followed me around like a new found puppy. We later took different paths as we did not synch very well either in terms of communication or alcohol blood levels. This place is a multi lingual environment but most choose to speak Luganda and I didn’t meet anyone good at it.
The town was fast asleep by 9pm but I located a ‘karaoke’ club by the noise pollution and this one strangely had benches. Being a stranger I found it unusual and the general feeling was of a crowd seated calmly waiting for the mid night bell so they could go wild. Like anything could happen though nothing was happening as I was there. I was not patient enough for the mid night explosion so I retired to my surprisingly confortable concrete bed.
The early morning boat ride to Ndolwe island Golofa side was as smooth as the waves allowed. I was rather sleepy and the waves rocking the boat was comforting. It took 3 hours to get to the spectacular Ndolwe island Golofa side. It was quite a sight to behold. Scattered rocks many stacked on each other in the lake. This should be the site of the 500 year old rock paintings I thought.
On reaching the shore I was greeted by a ruckus crowd of fishermen touting me about my short swimming shorts which I geniusly assumed were great for this kind of environment of heat, Sandy beaches and water. It really got me thinking of scary things like travelling while black in a country with no black people. Or moving around in a mini skirt in down town Kampala.
Anyway I immediately ventured into the densely packed island with no particular direction in mind. Found myself moving in a circle with my bearings all tangled up, its then that I decided to find a charging point for my phone where I made the inquiries and I got myself a guide at a fee.
Muyonga Arajab and Semwanga though insufficiently informed about these rock paintings, caves and hollows used a guide book from TARA(Trust for African Rock Art) and showed me around. It is mind boggling that something as old as 500 years is still present. The rock paintings, curvings and inscriptions are still clear. One only wonders what kind of paint or ink was used.
The theory goes that the early people used these paintings as directions for migrating groups before them and also as teachings.
It is amazing. Most of the writings and drawing are incomprehensible to anyone today but I can only hope these were not writings warning people not to shit in the cave like many recent ones I see. One goes ‘ tofuka wano fine 40,000’ meaning ‘ do not urinate here, fine 40,000’
These new and many other recent rock writings by locals are a threat to the 500 year old early man rock art. Only difference is the current writings fade faster than the early man writings. Amazing again. I had to ask what kind of paint was used and no one knows.
The views of the lake and rocks are beautiful. The water waves against the many scattered rocks create a sea like aura. I bet no one will rightly identify this place once I put up pictures and create a challenge for anyone to identify it.
No wonder the place has been nicknamed ‘the jewel of lake Victoria’.
There is also a perfectly placed flat area among the rocks suitable for a campsite and as informed by my guides the plan is in place to set it up. Means I definitely have to return as I did not get my fill of the place. This place is beautiful.
I had come to see the ancient paintings but I spent more time taking selfies and landscape pictures.
The island itself where people have settled cannot be described as picturesque as it is mostly ramshackled temporary tin, mud and wattle houses packed together. Also the scanty internet network coverage was a headache. There is no banking or ATMs(what would you be up to to assume there is a bank in a remote island) so it’s better to carry cash.
Being a far island I had to sleep over to catch the next day boat back to the mainland.
I had not planned for this but anything goes for a solo traveller like me. So I got to catch an ‘instagrammable’ sunset on the shore and also sit at the beach for a while and listened to the waves. I guess the people here got tired of the beach because I was here alone. Not entirely though, there were some cats around.
Feeling too knackered I went to bed early with no will to explorer the night life here. It was not so promising as night heavy rain is a norm here and it rained heavily this particular night. So the rain buttering the roof plus my tiredness I slept soundingly with no hope of catching the early morning 7pm boat. I would take the 2pm one.
At day break I took a solo round back to the rocks and shore for more pictures. I have never taken pictures this much before. Everything looked so perfect and picture worthy, beautiful to look at and it was very therapeutic to be here with nature.
I was not putting on the best rock climbing shoes in the world so I had to be careful as I sought out that perfect view having earlier fallen on my butt.
It was very hot and I had woken up stinking and there I was alone on the most beautiful rocky shore of the freshest lake in Africa, so I skinny dipped. One with nature but I was not the only one being exclusive with it as many had made the nooks and crannies of the rocks as rest rooms. It felt so refreshing but unfortunately I could not drink it.
After as I waited for my ride back I was busy editing my pictures only to see the only boat of the day back to the main land leaving(time moved so fast). Getting stuck on an Island was not the experience I had come for, so on the advise of some boat repairers around I was told to jump on a bodaboda and follow the boat to the next docking site where thanks be to God I found it and I was the last to embark before we set off. Whew.
So back to the mainland, back to Reality.
More information on these ancient mysterious rock art can be found here https://africanrockart.org/news/documenting-rock-art-dolwe-island-lake-victoria-uganda/