Some useful updates from Andrew Roberts, who put together the 5th and 6th editions of Bradt Uganda, follow:
As of August 2011, the Uganda shilling is billed as the world’s worst performing currency. Bad news for Ugandans but great for tourists paying in shillings. I used a rate of Ush2000 to the $ when updating the last edition of this book. At the moment you’ll get 2800 shillings for your dollars. After trading against the pound at around 3500 for some time, the shilling is now at 4500.
The Ssese Islands ferry from Nakiwogo still departs promptly at stated times but takes 4 rather than 3.5 hours.
In Feb 2011 rafting between Bujagali Falls and Silverback rapid ended as work on the dam at Silverback entered its final phases. Rafters now launch downstream from the dam from sites on the west bank of the Nile.
Nile River Camp www.camponthenile.com This excellent new budget facility is located next to the Nile Porch (you can walk through the Porch site to the camp but vehicle access is off the Bujagali – Jinja road, 1km before the Buj turning) Smart bathrooms, comfortable dorms, small pool, communal building, good food, great river views. It’s been specifically developed as a family-oriented set up and this provides a useful alternative to the nearby NRE Explorers Camp – another worthy set up but one which can be a bit lively when the post rafting high move on to alcohol-fuelled exuberance.
Zen Tubing NRE runs whitewater tubing excursions from the river below Explorers Camp. This activity initially used vehicle inner tubes but have upgraded to ‘real’ tubes which are baby sized rafts (by which I mean a raft sized for a baby). You, a full grown adult are expected to sit in these as you bobble down minor rapids around Bujagali. You’ll find that minor rapids can seem quite major at water level sitting in a vulcanised crib and even more so when you fall out. Oddly enough, one tends to fall out quite a lot. This, apparently, is all part of the fun.
Andrew has just published a 48 page guide to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The booklet contains a checklist of 603 birds recorded in the park. The full list is officially 604. A prize to the person who identifies the missing bird!
A couple of new websites established with the help of a USAID-funded tourism development programme:
Birding in Uganda www.birding-uganda.com
Community tourism www.PearlsOfUganda.org