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Old 29 Sep 2010
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A quick few Uganda notes: Sept 2010

A quick few Uganda notes:

For the full story of our travels, you’re welcome to have a look at the Blog on www.pictureafrica.org or http://africapicture.blogspot.com/. The purpose of this thread is to mention the places we stayed in Uganda, how much we paid and how we found it. I’ll also mention the annoyances of the country to hopefully prepare future travellers a little better.

We entered Uganda from Rwanda at the Kisoro Border post. This is the closest to Kinigi and the Volcanoes National Park where we saw the Gorillas. Border procedure on Rwanda side is quick, easy and free. Uganda was straight forward, costing $50 each for a 30 day visa and some $25 for Road Tax or something similar to that. The only other mentionable thing was that the tar ended at the Rwanda Border post and the track on the Uganda side to the town of Kisoro was fairly rough.

Bunyoni Overland Resort: (T4A)
The road to the lake from Kisoro was over massive mountain passes with fantastic views of the biggest volcanoes around. It was raining for us which made it wet, muddy and slippery, but we still managed the drive in half a day. The fee for camping was $6 each and the facilities were clean and neat and nice. Electricity was a problem, but when it was on, the water was hot! The bar and restaurant was very good value for money and although the parties were formidable when the overland trucks arrived, the camp site is far enough away so that you are not disturbed. They offer a full range of accommodation from camping to full board rooms. The fantastic setting and low rates made us recommend this to many people.

Royal Supermarket (S1 15.143 E29 59.232)
This small, family run Supermarket in the town of Kabale, close to Bunyoni, was very well stocked with very fair prices! We found cheese and wine cheaper here than most other places in East Africa and the friendly owner even offered us currency (Local and US$) at better rates than any other institution around. The town itself is a dusty bustling African town offering a great number of VISA ATM’s, markets and shops. This was our first opportunity to buy an Orange (Cell phone provider) Data Card which offered the best internet rates in Uganda by far! It was about $10 for 500MB.


Hippo Hills Community Camp site (S0 08.234 E29 53.627)
This fairly new community site is just outside Queen Elisabeth National park after driving through the park on a public road where no fees are payable. We spotted a lot of game on this transit road and camped for $5 each. They had hot water and flush loos and a nice big cooking Banda with electricity which made our stay very cheap and pleasant! There was also a sparsely stocked bar and restaurant. It offers a perfect staging post for day trips into the park if you do not want to stay inside. They also had Safari Tents available.

Mweya Camp site (T4A)
This is the QE NP camp site right by the headquarters and close to the expensive and exclusive Mweya Lodge. The fee was $6 pp camping, but also $30pp park entry and $50 for the car. The car fee was once off and the person fee per day. We went on a boat cruise on the canal feeding Lake Edward and chose the lodge’s 11 seater boat rather than the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) barge that would take 100 people. The cost was $18 each rather than $15 for the UWA barge and was absolutely fantastic and highly recommended! The camp site itself is up on a hill and very exposed. The wind was chilly and the bugs plenty. They did have flush loos and cold showers which were kept nice and clean and they offered free fire wood for bon fires.

The next morning we did the “crater drive” which does require 4 x4 but was spectacular! The most successful game viewing in the park was on the other side of the public tar road which was also where the lodges did their game drives.

Lake Nkuruba Community Camp site (N0 31.119 E30 18.133)
This is just south of the town of Fort Portal. (T4A miss-spells this as Fortportal) Coming from the south, the routing on T4A takes you off the main road at N0 26.817 E30 16.746. This is a mistake and the road soon becomes a footpath. It’s still passable, but if you simply ignore that turn, the gravel road will take you to a village at N0 30.228 E30 17.897 and you’ll be back on track.

This fantastic (Original) community camp site is breathtakingly beautiful and on the rim of a crater lake. You can swim and wash in the warm water of the lake, or ask the staff to prepare a hot bucket shower for you. There are flush toilets as well. They also offer Bandas, bar and restaurant as well as guided walks. The camping is on a lawn and cost us $3 per person. The primates are plentiful but well behaved and did not bother us at all.

Shoebill Camp Site (N2 15.066 E31 31.023)
From Lake Nkuruba T4A had an estimated travel time of 10 hours. We drove it comfortably in rainy conditions in about half that time. It is mostly gravel roads, so be prepared. The camp site is actually the property of the very exclusive and expensive Nile Safari Camp (Lodge) and seems like a forgotten project. It is unfortunately conveniently located outside of the Murchison Falls National Park and charges a whacking $10 per person for camping and another $10 per person to use their swimming pool. (Yeh right buddy!) The Baboons had wrecked the cooking Banda’s roof when we were there. The showers had zero water pressure and the toilet did not flush property. Both of these facilities were in a 1.5m high corrugated iron enclosure and were almost not worth he trouble. For your $10 per person you get a security guard with a bow and arrow to keep the baboons away. Before he arrived, we shared a peaceful afternoon with the local wildlife keeping their distance. We met a man called Mark Stephenson the next day who is was busy building a camp site between this and the closest National Park Gate and that would be our recommendation for sure! Mark owned an overland travel company in Jinja and obviously knew what people were looking for in terms of camping.

Murchison Falls Camp Site (N2 16.573 E31 41.374)
We entered the park just before mid day and paid our $30pp and $50 for the car. We organized another boat trip to the bottom of the falls with Wild Frontiers for $20 each instead of the $18pp for the UWA barge. This got us a modern boat with shiny engines and well trained guides. The boat left at 14:30, so we chilled out at the Red Chilli camp site close by and ate in their very affordable restaurant for lunch.

After the boat trip which was phenomenally good, we drove about an hour to the camp site right at the top of the falls. We still had time to walk around the viewpoints and set up camp before it got dark. The site belongs to UWA and they charged us $6 each to camp. There were pit latrines and apparently a cold shower which we never investigated. I would not feel happy driving there in a 2 x 4 vehicle. It would be fine in the dry, but it rained the whole night when we were there which made the drive out interesting to say the least! We were however the only people there that night and loved every second of it. You can stay at Red Chilli with a little more luxury.

Red Chilli Hideaway Kampala (T4A)
The drive from Murchison Falls, even in the wet took us five hours, which was way less than T4A’s estimated travel time. Driving through Kampala was nowhere near as rough as the other cities we dreaded so much. It was easier and more comfortable than Lusaka, Lilongwe, Dar or Arusha or Kigali!

The Chilli had free Wifi (Slow), electricity, bar and restaurant. Camping was $4 each and it was like camping in someone’s massive back yard! The showers were the best we had in more than a month and the swimming pool was great during the hottest parts of the day. They had dorms and cottages as well. For us it was a fantastic place to base ourselves for a well deserved rest from travelling. Kampala even had a Mac specialist that re-installed our operating system for about $20. Elite Computers was at N0 18.739 E32 35.156. The Supermarkets were well stocked and the markets cheap. Contrary to all the horror stories we had read and heard about Kampala we were very pleasantly surprised to find it a modern and well run African Capitol where anything seemed to be available at decent rates.

Entebbe Wildlife Education Centre Camp Site (N0 03.354 E32 28.723)
The Wildlife Education Centre is on T4A, but they don’t mention that they offer camping. The modest, lawned camp site cost us $5 each and that included the entrance fee (Supposed to be $10 each) to the centre. The facilities were clean and neat and offered flush toilets and cold showers. They also had dorms and double rooms.

The education centre is nothing more than a zoo, but the animals were rescued from hunters and poachers. They have a couple of Shoebill Storks and a few Chimpanzees which were worth seeing and the restaurant’s prices were very fair.

Nile River Explorers (N0 29.043 E33 09.808)
Jinja is the town at the point where the White Nile leaves Lake Victoria. It took us about three and a half hours to drive from Entebbe, through Kampala and on to the camp site. Bujagali Falls is a little way down stream from Jinja and the setting for the Rafting companies offering White Water Rafting on the Nile. We found three different companies offering pretty much the same thing. Nile Perch (Nalabali) had the cheapest rafting rates, but gave the least amount for it. Adrift had a nice atmosphere, but no access for vehicles with Roof Top Tents. Nile River Explorers charged $125 per person which included: 2 night’s accommodation, a full day’s rafting, three meals and two s as well as all transport to and from the camp. The bar was friendly and nice, the staff fantastic and experienced and the campsite good. Their normal rate was $6 per night per person for camping. The facilities were clean and neat and the showers hot. They had free internet, but no WiFi. The restaurant was well priced as well and they offered tents and small dorm rooms as accommodation.

Sipi Falls Moses Camp (N1 20.143 E34 22.483)
It took us about three hours to drive from Jinja to Sipi. The guide books talk about Crows Nest Resort as the pick of the bunch, but they did not have access for our vehicle. We tried every other place in the area and eventually settled on Moses Camp. It is a family run place with Bandas, bar, restaurant and camp site. We drove our car to the very edge of a 45m cliff where they offer abseiling. The view of the falls was the best in the area and Juma, the guide was friendly, professional and charged very fair prices! The pit latrines and bucket showers were neat and clean and the charge was $3 each to camp.

We did a 6 hour guided walk including all three big waterfalls in the area and Juma charged us $9 each for the pleasure of his company. This, keeping the time and work in mind was a bargain and well worth it to anyone with moderate fitness. We stayed for two nights, but could have stayed another week!

Rock Classic Hotel (T4A)
We tried the shortest route to Suam Border on the northern side of Mt Elgon. Land slides took out the muddy, clay covered slippery track and after winching out two locals who had gotten themselves horribly stuck, we had to turn around and head back past Sipi. Our next destination was still Kenya, but we had to find a stop over and at Tororo we happened upon the Rock Classic Hotel. This was not camping in the car park, but camping on a lawn at the back of the hotel and next to the staff quarters. They gave us access to flush toilets and hot showers and charged us $6 each for the night.

It would have been fine as a stop over place was it not for the all night club playing music at silly volume. Oh, this was a Sunday, so I would be surprised if the atmosphere changed for any other day of the week. It was still going after 8am when we left. If loud music does not disturb your sleep, it is a convenient place to stop as it was only half an hour from the Malaba border. Border formalities took us less than one hour.

General:
Money was easy to get out of the array of VISA ATM’s all over the country. People were super friendly and fuel amongst the cheapest we had seen in Africa. Our Orange Data Card provided fast and reliable mobile internet. The road system is challenging as most roads we drove were gravel. However, they are maintained and you can still cruise at around 60km/h on most of them. Uganda was by far our favourite country in Africa up to that time! It was easy to travel and our daily spending was 25% less than any other country further south, also making it the cheapest country we had visited to date.
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Dawie du Plessis
www.pictureafrica.org
www.photographersa.co.za
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Old 25 Oct 2010
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Excellent and helpful information...thank you for taking the time to post it!
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