Trip report from James & Bonita

We really enjoyed Uganda. Its eemed a cheerful helpful place and my son really had a chance to play with local children here and enjoy himself. It is certainly harder going in terms of roads and facilities than the Southern part of Kenya, but frankly we didn’t find that an issue and instead relished the opportunity to really engage with local people. Provisioning outside of Kampala is a bit ad hoc, but most things can be found. Kampala has a Shoprite.

 

The Route

Pretty simple really. The North is out of bounds, so we went as far North as Sipi Falls and then Kampala, Entebbe, back to Kampala and cross country to Fort Portal. Our son is too young to go chimpanzee trekking but we still enjoyed visiting the Kibale area. I would instead recommend the Magombe Swamp for monkey spotting if you have children. It is just outside the Kibale Forest. Queen Elizabeth National Park was great fun and the absolute highlight was Lake Bunyoni – stunning.

 

Tororo

Our first stop after the border. We camped in the garden of the Rock Classic Hotel. It was 25,000USH for all of us with hot showers and toilets. Whilst it is a decent hotel, they do have a camping spot on grass right at the back and are happy to have camping guests for the odd night.

 

Sipi Falls

We camped at the Crows Nest which was fabulous. Basic but clean facilities and some delightful people. Our son had a ball here playing with all the local children and we had a great time chatting to the locals. We also hired a guide for a trip to the lowest level of the falls (our son walked all the way and back again), which was very informative especially about local life and the local flora and fauna.

 

Jinja

The Explorers Campsite was where we stayed and so did many other overlanders. Lots of adrenalin activities available if you were so inclined, but also a good place to relax and plenty of space to run around for the children. Free internet and helpful staff. Although we were about twice the age of their average guests we were made to still feel very welcome!

 

 

Entebbe

Entebbe Backpackers. Brilliant. Camping on the lawn with access to toilets and showers and brilliant owners. The cost was 800USH each and my son ended up playing all evening with their grandchildren. Very welcoming place.

We drove from Entebbe to Fort Portal via Kampala. Be warned, the first 30 miles of the Fort Portal road is horrendous. After that it is ‘suicide alley’. The cross country buses come racing along these roads with a death wish. After one near miss I just pulled over and let the buses pass any time that I saw them in my rear mirror.

 

Ambere Caves

This was the first place we stayed near Fort Portal. Not recommended. It was noisy and had lots of awful dogs. Very expensive at 15,000USH each. The caves are also underwhelming and overpriced. Don’t bother.

 

Kibale Forest

We stayed in two places, one either side of the forest. The first, coming from Fort Portal, was the Chimpanzee Guest House. Great. Lovely place with wonderful views – be prepared to camp on a slope – and great facilities. Loved it. It also had a old colonial house which was beautiful.

On the other side of the Kibale Forest we stayed at the Chimps Nest. Again, really excellent and the view was like ‘Gorilla’s in the Mist’. Bring a torch though – no lights at all at night. Cosy bar.

 

Katwe

This is the part of the Queen Elizabeth National Park where one can camp without actually being inside the park. The Hippo Hill campsite itself is fine. The facilities are no more than OK, but the staff are helpful. However, the local children are a nightmare here. They hide in the hedge to spy on you and we were warned that possibly they might be a little light fingered. Our son found them all a bit intimidating and whilst the QENP itself was great, Katwe is quite a hassly town in comparison to other places in Uganda.

 

Mbarara

We stayed at the Agip Hotel which was lovely. Just camped in the grounds, but they had facilities for campers and everything was clean and everyone helpful. We have especially fond memories of the kindness of people both in this town and at the hotel, as our son chose this place to vomit endlessly and everyone was most kind and helpful!

 

Lake Bunyoni

We loved Lake Bunyoni and stayed an extra day. It is beautiful and relaxing. We chose a small campsite called Kalebos Camping which was run by a Dutch chap and which also did fabulous home made pizzas.

Most people head to Bunyoni Overland Camp, but frankly they were very rude to us and friends of ours who camped there moved down to where we were the next night. The overland camp is also a ‘split’ site ie: it is a good walk from the camping area to the bar. I had the feeling that they were moving their market away from independants more towards big groups and if so, then there are  plenty of options for everyone around Bunyoni.

 

Kisoro

One horse border town and we couldn’t find a vegetable in the entire place. We camped in the grounds of the Virunga Hotel. Basic but clean facilities and very helpful staff.

 

Border Crossing

Both the Kenya/Uganda and the Uganda/Rwanda borders were fairly easy. The latter is down a long dirt track though (dreadful in the wet). All the usual form filling in and handing over of US dollars, but no problems and helpful people who seemed delighted we were coming to visit their country.

One last thing, ordering food in Uganda at any kind of restaurant takes time and I mean about an hour! Fort Portal is especially bad. Just order about an hour before you want to eat and all will be well. The kind of thing one especially needs to know with a hungry child in tow!

 

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