Replies: 13 - Last Post: Jan 29, 2013 1:34 AM Last Post By: ric_howard
Jan 22, 2013 10:12 AM
General InfoThis time I'll write down my travel reminiscences, because these from Uganda and Rwanda may prove particularly useful to the backpackers. This trip was unlike the ones I have gone on so far and I definitely wouldn't recommend it to those, who are just starting their backpacking experience. Below, you will find a collection of miscellaneous thoughts, which I'm writing down sitting at a station, in the middle of God knows what, covered in red dust and feeling that my today's plans came to nothing.
1. The offer aimed at tourists is poor, which translates into horrendous prices.
2. The ratio of price to quality is less favourable here than in any other country I've ever been to. In practice, this means that you should buy whatever is cheaper, since there's not much of a difference anyway and at least you don't end up feeling that you've been taken for a ride.
3. Because of the high prices, there's very little whites (wazungu in the locals' language) which in itself isn't so bad (from time to time, you can see them passing in a jeep somewhere in the distance), but makes travelling solo unpleasant and dangerous, which is also sometimes true about voyages with a companion.
4. The ratio of actual sightseeing to travelling from one place to another, if you know what I mean, is also unfavourable. The situation is made worse, because of the following:
the lack of long-distance coaches that would allow you to travel at night, hence no real possibility of night travelling, since minibuses are overcrowded, the roads are awful and you're likely to be mugged. What's more, there's no timetables and the minibuses don't leave until they are filled with passengers, which can last from three minutes to three hours.
5. The best thing to do is to buy a trip around Rwanda and Uganda in Poland for about 5000 $ and optionally buy a few two- or three-day trips to various national parks already in Kampala (the capital city). In such case, the ratio of sightseeing to transport is the most favourable, while the ratio of price to quality remains as in point 2. If it suits you, carry on reading, however, the prices of a one-day trip begin at 250 $ per person. In practice, a two- or three day organized trip costs from 380 $ (an actual price they offer in Red Chilli Hostel in Kampala for a trip to Murchinson Falls, the cheapest I came across) up to 2000 $. In contrast, the cost of a three-day cruise in Ha Long Bay in Vietnam was so low that I would spend more or less the same, had I stayed the three days in Hanoi. I'll also add that you can eat to your fill at street stalls in Uganda and get a good rest for the equivalent of 5 $. I'll discuss it in greater detail in the parts devoted to each country.
6. Well, when you come to Africa for a month, you have to put on your thinking cap, and that is when Lonely Planet East Africa travel guide proves invaluable. Although it is not always entirely reliable, which I will discuss later.
7. If you prepare a precise plan of the expedition, book hotels or trips online, I suggest you give up your plans, maybe read some Kapuściński and then cancel the reservations or even the whole trip.
8. In the majority of cases Ugandans and Rwandans are very kind and helpful, however, there is no end of thieves. Nowhere have I felt that my life or virtue were in danger, but here a moment's inattention can result in you exploring Africa in nothing but your socks. Kampala and the southern part of Uganda down to the Rwandan border are especially dangerous. We didn't go there, but I was told that the northern part is the worst in this respect. I'm very sensitive to theft and I register most attempts made at my own living organism, therefore I can state that in Kampala it happens approximately once an hour, including once every five minutes at the station. Adam is more carefree and gullible, therefore he had to kiss his mobile and a few notes he had in his pocket goodbye in special taxi. If they don't want to steal from you, they will at least swindle you out of your money in a business transaction; in other words, if you don't demand your change explicitly, you won't get it. The prices are obviously higher for whites than for locals, but in this respect, the place is no exception.
9. Rwanda and Uganda are as different as Poland and Belarus – in that particular order. Rwanda is more beautiful, wealthier and safer, however strange might it sound given the country's history. Kigali was also the only place I had the chance to drink some good coffee and connect to the internet at the same time :). I recommend Bourbon Café. However, in the same shopping center, I ordered a vegeburger with chips and cola, and what did I get? A burger with tomato and lettuce, but without the vegetable cutlet and without the cola. I ordered to take away, so I was saved by my acquired mistrust, which made me look into the box. When on top of that I was demanded 3500 USh from, outraged, I snatched the menu and pointed at the image picturing a cutlet and cola for 2500 USh. Ultimately, I paid 1500, because I gave up the cutlet, which they didn't have anyway, and the cola, which I didn't want.
10. The biggest backpackers' centers in Uganda and Rwanda and places where the tourist offers are reasonably priced are: Red Chilli Hostel in Kampala, its branch in Murchinson Falls and Entebbe Backpackers Hostel – in Entebbe, naturally (the only international airport in Uganda and a health resort at the same time).
Jan 22, 2013 10:35 AM
1Aha. Okay. May I highly recommend Ecuador and Peru/Bolivia for 2 of your next trips? If you haven't done it already.
Jan 22, 2013 10:44 AM
2Thank you. I did Ecuador last year, it was really great.
Jan 22, 2013 10:54 AM
3Emilia, the idea to mention Ecuador and Peru/Bolivia was that it's highly rewarding and way less stress.
Allow me a few words more. I will make it short.
The trick is always while being on the road to be present and vigilant. If you want to relax, you can do so. But always only at beaches.
Jan 22, 2013 11:23 AM
4Thank you again,I'm present, relaxed and honest at the same time. There are many less stresfull places in the world but everybody should have the chance to know the truth. For the beaches I recommand Thailand.
Jan 22, 2013 5:03 PM
5I am wondering if this post in genuine or a troll.... I dont recognize any of the things described in here. There are many offerings for tourists, granted some are poor, but thats what research is all about before starting on a backpacking trip.
AFAIK, the safari's are cheaper then kenya/tanzania, except off course the gorilla trek. 100 USD a person for a full day private driver 4WD landcruiser... from dusk till dawn... its okay for me (QENP).
Murchison falls price from Red Chilli is 280 USD, not 380 USD! And its 2,5 days including 2 nights stay.
Transport between towns is easy with coaches, granted the coaches are not geared to tourist destinations outside of town, but just get a matatu or special in the closest town.
If you are traveling to Uganda like its Vietnam, I can understand some of the criticism, but really, isn't part of backpacking investigating your destination before traveling? Uganda has been sort of at war until the mid-nineties.... so give them a break.
You can stay in Kampala outside of the touristy stuff in a nice clean comfy room with private bath for about 40k UGX including breakfast.... check out Sahel Suites in Ggaba, but there are several more of these places.
Cant comment on the Rwanda part.....
Jan 22, 2013 10:02 PM
6I traveled in Uganda during the early/mid nineties, barely post-Idi Amin, and it wasn't near so bad even then: nice country, nice folks, pretty good infrastructure considering all it had been through. If you're comparing to Southeast Asia, of course everything will appear expensive and perhaps scary. The OP's report, however, is grossly exaggerated in all its judgmental, ill-informed details.
All normal caveats apply.
Jan 23, 2013 1:02 AM
7Sounds like she's away for the first time in the big mean world.
I can read you've visited many other places, but it seems to me that you didn't encounter anything weird or ordinary on your travels yet.
Were you on organised tours all the time?
I've been to many countries before and Africa remains special. It's more expensive than SE Asia for sure. But you can experience things that you never can experience in SE Asia or South America (and vice versa). That's why you keep travelling off course.
Once in Indonesia I felt unsafe during the Australian thing in Timor. They kept asking me if I was an Australian and I had the
feeling that I said I was one, they would do something to me. So, as safety goes, it isn't 100% safe anywhere in this world.
In South America I didn't encounter any theft, despite the theft rates are very high. Depends on luck maybe, I don't know.
In Uganda some roads are bad and yes, you get stuffed in a minibus with 20 people. But that's part of their lives and is how the people travel. I bet if I come to Poland things are different from western Europe. I totally disagree with your statements about the unsafety of Uganda.
I also read your other (very long) post and I recommend you not coming back to Africa. You're not enjoying it too much.
Jan 23, 2013 2:08 PM
8How many was that in the minibus?
Counted 43 of us from Bissau to Ziginchor few years back. Friendly bunch. Maybe madame would be advised to try other destinations next year...Liechtenstein has beautiful scenery, fascinating wildlife and doesn't take for ages to get from one end of to the other and banks to deposit all the money you'll be saving from not going to overpriced hellholes.
Jan 24, 2013 7:40 AM
9I've been travelling for years all over the world. But it is the first time I write something. You may like it or no, but it is whole true. I am critical and that's the way I am. For me it's better be honest than LIKE everything only because it is exotic. At least when I say that somethnig is awsome it means thant it really is.
Jan 24, 2013 7:45 AM
Jan 24, 2013 8:09 AM
Jan 24, 2013 8:16 AM
Jan 29, 2013 1:34 AM
13another misleading, inaccurate, borderline racist and poorly written 'review' from this member. Please stop giving this sort of advice to confused and or potentially vulnerable travelers who look to these forums as genuine travel advice and not this bigoted nonsense. Why do you even leave your own country?
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