Uganda Trip Report
Replies: 2 - Last Post: Sep 6, 2013 1:58 AM Last Post By: StanJoly
Jul 12, 2013 4:00 AM
Uganda Trip ReportDid a 10 day trip in Uganda in May. Travelled with a friend on holiday so there’s a mix of budget, mid-end and high range recommendations here.
Hired a car and driver from Habari Africa (www.habariafrica.com) for $110/day for a Nissan Terrano (fuel extra). Paid approximately $450 for fuel for six days of driving covering a lot of ground. They have self-drive vehicles and cheaper vehicles available as well. Kizito, the owner, is incredibly responsive on email so they’re very easy to deal with. They can also help get your gorilla and chimp permits for $50 fee. (I used this as I had trouble connecting with UWA myself). And help book your accommodation for no fee. We paid in cash on arrival in Uganda. Travelled in Mid May (rainy season) but only had a couple of short bursts of rain – weather was perfect otherwise. Other self-drive companies are Self Drive Uganda and RoadTrip Uganda. Estimate we saved about $800 total (for two of us) compared to booking with a safari company but was tempted by Kabiza who were prompt and helpful and had decent prices.
I took a Jaguar Coach bus to Kampala from Kigali (12,000 RF in Club Class – not sure what Club Class means) and took 11 hours. Baby Coach does it for 10000 RF I think. $40 at border for visa. Very easy. Paid 30,000 for a special-hire taxi (private) from bus station to Red Chili at night.
Stayed at Red Chili for three nights. Good place to meet others but a long way out of town. Rooms were $15 for a single and $25 for a large double (no bathrooms). Laundry available and good food. Supposedly you can pay on Visa but don’t count on it working. Main complaint was the wi-fi speed/connection was terrible. Apparently they are updataing it.
Also stayed at Speke Hotel ($138 including tax) which is right in the centre of town across from the Sheraton. Decent wi-fi in the rooms and was good value for such a central location. Able to pay on Visa. The Italian restaurant was bad through. Live music at the Sheraton and Imperial Grand across the road on Sunday nights.
The food market not too far from the Speke is a decent diversion – try the chili grasshoppers.
Drove 2 ½ hours to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary - $35 each for entry. We drove 10 minutes and walked 5 minutes to find the rhinos but it can be up to a couple of hours. Very cool to be on foot next to them. Recommended.
Then drove another 3 hours to MF to Red Chili Camp. $25/night for double banda – shared bathroom. Good location next to Paraa Ferry. No wi-fi. National Park Entry fee is $35 each per 24 hour period + 30,000 for the car (Ugandan registered) and 10,000 per Ugandan national per day. Return ferry crossing is 20,000 for the vehicle and 2,000 for each passenger. Paid $20 to have a game ranger join us on the drive. Not really necessary to spot the game – very obvious – but made it more educational. Saw elephants, hippos, giraffes, buffalos, antelope etc. No zebras exist in Uganda and there are lions – we just didn’t see them.
Paid $25 each for boat trip run by Uganda Wildlife Authority at 2pm. More buffalos, hippos, warthogs + crocs. There is an alternative trip run at 2.30pm by the private Wild Frontiers – it was unclear what the difference is between the two – I think the Wild Frontiers one is more expensive but also has a newer boat with roof cover. Got off at the bottom of the Falls (note – you do NOT get a good view of the Falls from the boat – it is more about the wildlife than the Falls) and hiked to the top (45 minutes; $10 each) with the guide. Decent views along the hike but the best views are from the top. Our driver met us at the top and we drove the 1 ½ hours back to Red Chili.
Red Chili tours are popular (their dates didn’t match ours) and also talked to Yebo Tours but had some attitude issues with them when we wanted to stay somewhere other than at their camp.
Kibale National Park
Drove 9 hours from MF to Kanyanchanu in Kibale National Park (about an hour past Fort Portal). You go through Fort Portal on the way and Visa ATM is available at the Barclay’s there. Stayed at Kibale Forest Camp which was lovely ($125 for double with half board and bathroom). Rooms were very nice, staff were sweet and four course dinner was excellent. Note – there’s not much water allocated for showering so plan this carefully. No wi-fi. About 6 km past the entry gate to the chimps.
Chimps were $150 each and this includes all your National Park Entrance Fees. Really enjoyed the chimps – very interactive and worthwhile. Took from about 8am to 12.30pm but had to walk quite a way. We all tipped the guide between 3000 and 5000 each.
A trip to the Top of The World lookout is worthwhile (5000 entry each) – the area is beautiful if you have time to stay longer.
Also talked to Kabarole Tours who are based in Fort Portal and know this part of the country well.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Drove 3 hours from Fort Portal to Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge. Paid $65 for a twin tent with half board. Tent holds two beds and nothing else but the ones at the front have a lovely river view and there is an outdoor area. Bathrooms are shared but outdoor and fun. Rooms are $140 here for double but I didn’t think the decoration was as nice as at Kibale (owned by same company). Wonderful outdoor dining experience around the campfire.
Drove 2 hours to Ishasha to see the tree-climbing lions but had no luck. Usually they can be seen though. This road can be impassable in rainy season. Paid $35 entry fee each to National Park (for each 24 hour period) + 30,000 for car + 10,000 for driver. Paid $20 to hire park ranger guide – definitely recommend doing this here. We drove the whole park searching and it took two hours so this would be the maximum time you need.
Bwindi – Ruhija
Drove one hour to Buhoma Turnoff and then another 11/2 hours to Ruhija. Stayed at Ruhija Gorilla Lodge for $150/night/person (full board). Overpriced and bad. Stay away. Would recommend Bakiga Lodge (three rooms – tents with beautiful views for less money).
Hiked the Ozorauka group. Took about 45 minutes of up and down slash through the jungle hiking to find them. Quite difficult to see through the dense jungle but still magnificent. $350 each with low season (April/May) special. Tipped 5000 each to the guide and 5000 each to the group of trackers. National Park Entrance Fees are included in your permit.
Had also talked to Engani Tours who are based in Kabale and know this part of the world well.
Drove 1 hour to Kabale from Ruhija + another 20 minutes or so to Lake Bunyoni. Stayed at Boonyara Amagara. Highly recommend. Dugout canoe free to get there (50 minutes) or pay 20,000 for the speedboat (15 minutes). Paid 17,000 each in big dorm and then 48,000 each in Deluxe Geodome (well worthwhile). Did House of Edrissa 1-day canoe trip for $75 each. Quite expensive but pleasant day out and enjoyed the traditional healer and craft maker more than expected. Lunch is in a community home but dinner is at another resort. Can also arrange canoe trips at Boonyara.
If you’re looking for accommodation that is less frequented by travellers, African Explorer Village (firstname.lastname@example.org) looked nice.
Paid 60,000 for taxi from lake to Rwanda border (Katuna/Gatuna) – was quoted 20,000 for taxi to Kabale.
Overall thought Uganda was great. Well worth a visit.
Jul 12, 2013 9:57 AM
Sep 6, 2013 1:58 AM
2Having just come back from a trip in Uganda myself, I think this description is very accurate, but I would like to express different views on certain topics.
For Murchison Falls, I thought Red Chili were a bit arrogant and that their campsite was a bit impersonal. Yebo might be a bit rough on the edges, but his campsite is beautiful and much more authentic. And the fact that it isn't in the park doesn't change much. Since the first ferry at Paraa leaves at 7 am, being at Red Chili does not allow you to go see the park earlier, just to wake up 30 minutes later. Also, Yebo's staff is much nicer than the one at Chili, where people don't really seem to care for smiling to their customers. And one last details, it is frequent to see baboons roaming around the camp looking for food, and they can quite aggressive!
For the Rhino sanctuary, it all depends on your budget, but I thought it was a bit expensive for what it was. It is true that it is very cool to stand next to them, but the guides don't give a lot of details on the history of the sanctuary or its goals. The place doesn't really feel like they are in the wild, more of a large zoo.
I would also recommend to go to the East of the country, especially to see mount Elgon. I suggest the hostel **Rosa's last chance** which is 20 meters away from the guide's office and where Rosa is very sweet and cooks a great dinner.
Hope this helps somebody!
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