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Fort Portal

Uganda

1/3 A curious perch
© Catherine Ronan A curious perch
2/3 Youngsters will often be curious and come right up to you
© Gorilla Forest Lodge Youngsters will often be curious and come right up to you
3/3 Big-maned lion in Uganda
© Catherine Ronan Big-maned lion in Uganda

Fort Portal is the heartland of the verdant tea-growing area and an important commercial centre

Fort Portal is the heartland of the verdant tea-growing area and an important commercial centre. This is a very convenient place to base in order to explore the crater lakes, Kibale Forest and the Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve.

Ndali Estate is owned privately by the Price and Sturdy families with a history in Uganda through their English grandfather, Major Trevor Price, since the 1920's. Travelling down from Cairo, Major Price's aim was to grow tea - a scarcely developed crop in the country when he arrived.  In true colonial spirit, he set off for the west where he had heard the conditions were ideal for tea: plenty of sunshine, high altitude, good rainfall, and rich, dark volcanic soil.

He became one of the first to grow tea successfully in Uganda, developing a string of tea "shambas" north and south of Fort Portal. In the process he built roads, a school, a clinic and planted many African hardwoods. In the early 1960's he bought Ndali, but apart from some acres of tea and robusta coffee the land was left to grow wild. He developed a close relationship with the King of Toro (the Omukama) whose regalia he risked hiding after the suppression of the four hereditary kingdoms by President Milton Obote in 1967.

When all Asians and Europeans were expelled in the early 70's, Major Price was given permission by General Amin to stay on at his house at Rwetera ( a two-hour walk from Ndali), although his land - Rwetera and Ndali - had been confiscated. His house at Rwetera still stands today, surrounded by the rare conifers he brought over from Kenya.

In 1991 the new government, led by Museveni, invited all dispossessed foreign landowners to reclaim their land. Major Price's son, Mark Price - who had spent four years in Uganda working with his father until the time of explusion - took up the invitation and began building Ndali Lodge in 1994 with moral and financial help of friends.

‘Captain Mark Araali’, as he was fondly known by the Toro people, sadly died in September 1998. Since that time the lodge has been run by family and friends including his sister Caroline, his niece Lulu, who now runs the farm, his son Aubrey and Becky Holt – the daughter of James, a close friend of Mark and a keen investor. Aubrey has now shed his pub in Edinburgh and has settled in Ndali permanently. He and Lulu are now the third generation of the Price/Sturdy family in the Fort-Portal area and it looks like they’re here to stay.

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Catherine Ronan

Rumour has it that Catherine Ronan used to be a spy. We find this slightly hard to believe as she loves nothing more than to divulge her travel secrets and infect other people with her enthusiasm.

How we can help you

At Natural High, we've had long experience putting together trips in Africa that really work. Whether it's intimate bushcamps in out of the way places, or a private lodge in one of Africa's top-billing wildlife areas, light mobile camping or remote island escapes, we know there is a lot to choose from. We're absolutely confident that we can recommend the right places for you.

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