Lost in the Beauty of the Amazing Nyakasura ‘Mabere’ Caves
Rwenzori, as seen from Nyakasura.

Lost in the Beauty of the Amazing Nyakasura ‘Mabere’ Caves

Inside the caves, the huge flat cave roof basement is dotted with water drops splashing in the magnitude of normal rainfall.

By Enoch Mutabaazi
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First published: December 7, 2005

Even if you are a tourist from within Uganda, being in Fort-Portal, a western Uganda town is enjoyable and interesting. Seeing over six well developed hills, one of them housing Tooro King Oyo’s palace, lush green surroundings and the yonder fascinating Rwenzori mountains is a view worth any one’s visit.

So don’t blame me for responding with a doubtful grin when I was told this was just a preamble of the natural, historical and cultural attractions that Fort-portal has to offer.

Another beautiful hill in Fort Portal.

I mounted a motorcycle to one of the places I was told continues to stupefy locals and foreigners alike because of its cultural and natural escapement features. Even the journey through beautiful hills and valleys, punctuated by fast flowing streams couldn’t prepare me enough to meet the magnificent pressured water falls flying over the Nyakasura Mabere caves, approximately 10 kilometers away from Fort Portal town.

Fort Portal town.

It is the steaming sound of waterfalls that welcome you at the rear entrance of the legendary Mabere ga Nyinamwiru caves, which are rich in cultural and physical attractions.

The huge falls dictate the moisture content of the atmosphere surrounding the caves. At the entrance to the caves, the snake size slippery path we are guided through penetrates into a cool green world of moss and fern covered by trees and rocks. It is a sight whose beauty and calm aura will keep in your memory for ages.

Just when I felt I had got the feel of the place, I glanced at the overhanging climbers intertwined with rocks that surround this cultural and eco-tourism abode.

It provides another beautiful scenery of what will surely satisfy your expectations on your maiden tour of these caves.

Hanging rock pillars broken down by ‘chemical reaction between water and salt’ in the course of years form breast-like pointed small pillars from which the name Mabere comes from. Mabere is a local name for breasts.

Grayish watery substances slowly trickle from the hanging pillars (breasts) in a space of every 30 seconds. The white substance, according to our guide, Mzee Amooti Kasaija represents ‘breast milk’ that Nyina Mwiru’s breasts should have produced.

The name of these caves is based on historical mythology whose origin is widely believed here in Tooro kingdom. Kasaija says that the breast-like pointed pillars are a result of Bukuku’s beautiful girl, Nyina Mwiru who fled to this place protesting her father’s refusal to allow her to marry a man of her choice.

Bukuku who was a very rich man served as a chief in the legendary Batembuzi dynasty that preceded the current Babito kings of Tooro and Bunyoro kingdoms.

“In anguish and frustration she decided to cut off her breasts at this spot”, says Kasaija pointing to one rock basement. He narrates all this with obvious relish and pride that defines the historical importance of the place.

Inside the caves, the huge flat cave roof basement is dotted with water drops splashing in the magnitude of normal rainfall.

The lush foliage inside makes the bottom surface dangerously slippery, but interestingly overshadowed by its glittering surface that leaves a lasting impression on the mind as one balances stamina with the appetite to discover more. At this stage, the steaming waterfalls are in clear sight to give you a complete image behind the buzzing sound you hear as you enter.

Here, nature and culture have mixed in a century-old harmony. As one moves further into the caves and the sound of waterfall fades, you are welcomed by the buzzing sound of bees, which form a cluster at the roof corner of one end of inactive rocks.

The vectors lazily fly around seemingly with no apparent sense of direction on detecting disturbance from those moving around.

As you still wonder and mumble about the relatively peaceful bees, your attention is quickly taken hostage by the ecstatic rock birds whistling and chanting that you can’t help but enjoy the wonder tour of these Mabere caves.

The path becomes busier further inside as your movement is constantly checked by rock squirrels and giggling monkeys crisscrossing, probably protesting the invasion of their paradise. But it is still an enjoyable experience since none of the animals are violent.

The path.

Mzee Kasaija has mastered all turns and slopes of the path however small and invisible it seems to me. “Some visitors complain about the state of the path. Some would like to have it cleared. However, it has been left as it is intentionally to allow visitors appreciate things in their natural environment,” he says.

According to Kasaija, the name Nyakasura (most known for the near-by Nyakasura School) also comes after one king of Tooro who came to this place and tested the water from these rocky caves. Finding the water salty, he called the place Nyakasura (salty place) and it has been known by the same name to this day.

The left wing of the caves is the dullest with less scenery to showcase, save for the scattered range of stalactites covered with moss and fern. Kasaija says this side is called inactive because there’s no water flowing through the rocks.

But even the inactive rocks are surrounded by shallow craters, which mother stagnant water in one corner. I’m surprised that the water is clean and there are no mosquitoes. According to Kasaija, geological activities are responsible for the changes of water channels here. “As the rocks break and melt under the pressure of chemical reaction, new basements and channels are formed to replace the old one,’ he says. What a beautiful site and sight. You surely can’t blame me for wanting to go there again. Can you?

By Enoch Mutabaazi
more from author >>
First published: December 7, 2005
To learn more about Ultimate Media Consult go to www.ultimatemediaconsult.com.

Enoch Mutabaazi is a media practitioner at Ultimate Media Consult with more than six years experience in the print and electronic media. Since he majored in Broadcast Journalism at his graduate studies Mutabaazi first worked as a reporter at Uganda Television (now Uganda Broadcasting Corporation TV) before he discovered his multidimensional skills in writing and public relations at Ultimate Media Consult. He is currently the Production Executive at Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd and writes occasionally.