By Lizzie Wright
Some of you reading this right now will be coming to join us in Masaka for the Uganda International Marathon, some may be thinking about it, whilst some of you would never do a silly think like run a marathon in Africa! I would imagine however that the most of you have never before heard of Masaka. The reason why Masaka became the location of the Uganda Marathon is because, despite it’s amazing community and phenomenal beauty, it’s often missed on the traditional tourism routes though Uganda. Having been here for just over a month now we are starting to realise that that has to change!
Situated amongst the green hills of Lake Victoria, Masaka is a an extremely vibrant little place, with friendly people and plenty to keep you occupied while you’re here…
The coffee house and lounge, Plot 99 is an initiative of UGoGreen and uses its profits for sustainable charity projects within Uganda. Whilst you’re here you can spend many a wonderful afternoon here, taking advantage of the free WIFI and meeting lots of interesting people involved in initiatives all over Masaka. It’s great coffee, all day breakfasts and homemade menu will be a perfect way to spoil yourselves during your stay. Nearby, Café Frikadellen also offers a very popular BBQ option with a huge range of salads, fruit, steak, lasagna and kebabs and the owners help to sponsor more than 1000 Ugandan children. After all this food we often fancy relaxing around the camp fire at the lovely B&B Villa Katwe.
For more local affairs, T-Tables offers friendly staff, a good game of pool and boasts views of Masaka main town from its roof top bar. Next door is Nyama Choma (meaning roasted meat) where you can pick up a plate of pork, enjoy a beer and watch the footie over some loud pop music. It’s great for a dance and is where Ellie and I invented the ‘rolex moves’ (you’ll love it when you see it!) We are also now regulars at The Elgin restaurant, a buzzing little place just off the main street and one which we highly recommend. A plate of matoke, yam, sweet potato, spaghetti and posho with a bowl of beans or something meatier will set you back little over a quid – what’s not to like?
For a swim you can head to Hotel Brovad’s spotless pool or to Lake Nabugabo, 20km east of Masaka; both activities are on our 6 day programme. Lake Nabugabo was parted from Lake Victoria 4000 years ago when sand created a barrier in shallow waters. It’s really popular with Kampala weekenders and can resemble a grassy Brighton beach on a good day. Have a swim and watch the fisherman pull their nets in before tucking into tilapia and chips from Sand Beach Resort. Idyllic.
Amongst all this, there is obvious need in Masaka; of particular note is the plight of the disabled. Disability remains a big challenge in Uganda and overcoming negative attitudes shaped by ignorance poverty, cultural beliefs and customs will take time. However, the Uganda International marathon will provide some much needed support in these areas and it’s been an eye opening experience connecting with some of the charities and NGOs operating here. We have certainly identified some cases for our medical team to assist with and some innovative charities for our runners to support with both their fundraising and their time.
Whilst the Uganda International Marathon is an adventure, an opportunity to experience things that you would never on any “normal” holiday, there is also going to be plenty of relaxing to be had. There is going to be plenty of time to drink a cold beer and play pool as the African sun sets, or sunbathe by the lake after a freshly caught fish and chips. Check out our Facebook page for a few pictures of these spots, we can’t wait to put Masaka on the Map and support its communities. If you are coming out to run, you should be incredibly proud – Masaka is certainly behind you!Let's get social! Stay up to date with amazing news and photos from Uganda, plus race tips and more: