Bradt Uganda guide: additions/updates from Ineke van Kessel
Minibus taxi’s: we found that adherence to the rules for the maximum number of passengers is limited to Kampala-Entebbe-Jinja. Everywhere else where we travelled it was common to squeeze 4-5 bums in a row, sometimes with some passengers floating above the seated ones.
Mobile phone: a sim-card costs only Sh 3000 and makes travel so much easier. MTN has the best coverage.
Boda-boda: it does help to tell the driver to go slowly, preferably before you hop on. I also tried to throw in my age (‘careful, I am an old lady’), which was quite effective, but this option is not available to everyone.
We found the China Garden restaurant (indeed excellent food) on the corner of Circular Rd and Lugard, on the way to the Wildlife Education Centre.
Green Valley Guesthouse, Mugwanya Rd 0772-965290
US $ 50 for a double or twin s/c room with breakfast, incl. airport transfor
J-Courts, Bugonga Rd. Ph 0712 213050 or 0414323093.
US $ 50 for a double or twin s/c room with breakfast, incl aiport transfer.
Both places have a pleasant garden, can also organise day trips and are flexible in allowing use of the room in case of departure on evening flights.
We found nothing wrong with the Fang Fang hotel in Kampala: large rooms, a pleasant and quiet location and excellent food.
Masindi: the new ph nr of Court View Hotel is:
Hotel Triangle Annex: superb views on the Nile, but because of the lake flies meals are not served on the terrace overlooking the Nile but in a drab dining room. However, if you don’t mind dining in the dark, staff is quite willing to serve meals on the terrace. As long as lights are off, the lake flies keep their distance.
Kalita Coach from Uganda leaves from the Nakivubo busstation. It does not seem to operate on a fixed schedule. We rushed to catch the 12.00 o’clock bus, but found the bus waiting till it had fully filled up by 14.00 h.
Rwenzori View Guesthouse deserves all the praise.
We booked a tour to Semliki National Park with Kabarole Tours, but found the price of Ush 400.000 (for 2 persons) excessive for a day trip lasting about 8 hours: it is incl vehicle hire, hot springs lunch, park fee and the services of a unqualified park guide (“What is that? Oh, just another bird”).
We did enjoy our very reasonably priced bicycle hire with Kabarole Tours and the nature walk in Kihingami Wetlands with an excellent guide.
We found the visit to Baker’s Fort at Patiko worthwhile. The new caretaker, Constant Oneka,
is a local official who enjoys taking visitors around, telling a mix of historical fact and fiction somewhat reminiscent of the standard fare offered by the guides at the slave forts on the Ghanaian coast. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0782364677). Great views from the top of the ruins.
Gulu is experiencing a modest boom because it serves as headquarter for many NGO’s and UN organisations involved in relief work in northern Uganda. Even now that NGO’s and UN are scaling down, the boom continues because Gulu has become the shopping center for southern Sudan. As donor money flows into Juba, Sudanese increasingly travel to Gulu to buy foodstuffs, construction material, etc. Sudanese merchants also set up shop in Gulu.
When we travelled (June 2008) the security situation in northern Uganda had vastly improved, allowing trips to Kitgum, Lira etc. The roads however are in an appalling state, and tourist attractions are admittedly few. It is however interesting to observe the stark differences between the North and the rest of Uganda. The landscape is dotted with IDP camps, although the movement back home ( to so-called ‘return villages’) was picking up momentum.