Aengus’s updates

Hi Philip

Just returned from my second trip to Uganda. Thanks for your great book – it was invaluable on both occasions.

Some little snippets of information from this trip:

1. The Kisoro-Kabale road is now paved bar about 22 km starting about 2km outside of Kisoro. Strangely there are little bits in between the paved bits that are unpaved (50-100m stretches) and which look like they will remain unpaved.There are also upgrade works on the Kampala Kabale stretch.

2. If you are crossing the Uganda/Rwanda border at Katuna (this probably applies to other land borders as well), you should really sort out a visa before you go there, or at least apply for one online (http://www.migration.gov.rw/singleform.php) before you go. I did manage to blag my way through, but it was a lot of hassle (I was also first given a fake US$100 bill by the money changers, but they changed it without any trouble).

3. The exchange rate at the border for Rwandan Francs is probably better than it is in Kampala (the bus company guy on the bus also offered me what was actually a good rate, but I turned him down). If you change in Kampala, the currency exchange places in Garden City and the Oasis are rip-offs – they originally offered me to exchange on a 2:1 basis, before moving to 2.5:1. In town I saw 3:1 in many places (the mid-market rate was 3.85:1).

4. In terms of eating out in Kampala, Emin Pasha is superb, if a bit pricey; the buffet at the Serena is also really good (just be careful you don’t over-indulge); wasn’t very impressed with the Lawns and Fang Fang is good quality proper Chinese (full of Chinese when we were there, which is always a good sign). Didn’t try either of the Mambo Points, but my friend who lives there said that the one at the guest house is up there with Pasha.

5. Got a private hire with a company called Connex (Patrick and David – both good guys) – paid UGS140,000 per day plus fuel for a 4wd Hiace. They said this was a special rate for friends of the Irish Embassy, but you never know.

6. Stayed again at Mgahinga Community Campsite (or whatever it has rebranded itself as). It’s looking in need of a bit of work now, but although it is very basic, I love it and the guys there. The Batwa trail was probably the highlight of this trip, although they didn’t do the archery this time round. If you have a decent torch, you should bring it with you, as the lighting system in the cave has been vandalised and the torches the guides have aren’t great. I didn’t bring mine and regretted it. That road up to the campsite is still a bit of a shocker, although apparently much better than it used to be.

7. Its a personal thing, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the buildings around Parliament Avenue in Kampala, although I did like the Foreign Affairs one. Probably better to focus on the area around the bus stations/Mosque and outside Kampala.

9. I got Jaguar Coaches from Kampala to Kigali. 9 hours travel there, 9.5 hours back. The VIP bus is comfortable enough and very cheap (UGS25,000 each way, dearer if you pay in RwF) but I’d consider flying the next time.

Kind regards,

Aengus

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