Sara & Adrian’s updates

We’ve  just spent several fascinating weeks travelling round
Uganda (mainly by public transport) & have enjoyed the
experience & using the guide. Below are a few
thoughts/comments/recommendations:
edition.

1. Re minibus-taxis, I’d say that the law of 3 passengers
per row is strictly enforced in Kampala but did not find
that to be the case elsewhere. Special hire (again outside
Kampala) the norm is 9 people. Four in the front including
the driver on a passenger’s lap!) and five in the back.

2. The Post Bus now has a new fleet of buses so is very
comfortable. Link buses were also good.

3. Lake Mburo. We encountered many unexpected extra costs
worth pointing out. The park charged us for the special
hire we engaged at the Sanga trading station even though
they were only dropping us at there. Don’t know if this
would be the same in other parks. Highly recommend the
safari tents; as you said, good value. The issue of being
far from the canteen by the lake was a problem. A boda
boda will be suggested but they charge Ush2,500 per person
per trip to take you to the canteen. Thus, if two of you
are picked up and deposited later, they charge Ush10,000.
They will provide a walking escort for free but there’s
often not one available. One classic time a young guide
was provided as an escort minus gun; I asked why and he
told us he hadn’t yet started his shift so was not yet in
uniform and therefore couldn’t carry a firearm! We asked
him if the buffalo was aware of this ….. Arcadia
cottages ..Good food costing relatively little more than
at the canteen. They’re happy to accommodate campers if
you book (and best if you order) in advance. Lake Mburo is
now firmly on the Overlander route (three trucks in two
days) so if one’s there/due, get to order the food early
as the kitchen often runs out of options. Latrine toilets
in foul state at campsite plus crap (literally) round the
back where some have decided to avoid the latrines
altogether. Shame as the location is fabulous.

4. Mbarara – Riheka Guesthouse – Good recommendation: very
friendly staff; good value and nice food. Garden great for
bird watching.

5. Rwenzoris – Rwenzoris Trekkers – good guiding (went on
memorable 6-day trip to Weismann’s) but otherwise rather
disorganised. Advertised the possibility of hiring
equipment; when we got to Kampala they then told us we
couldn’t hire sleeping bags or fleeces – they were all
out. So we borrowed from a friend and shopped in Mbarara
(got two excellent fleeces) but when we got over to
Kilembe, there were sleeping bags available after all!
Worth emphasising more is the MUD. So energy sapping. Our
guide said a fair number of alpine climbers (Swiss &
German) in particular had complained about the mud and
some even got quite aggressive about it. It has to be said
that the high number of hikers (we were two but had two
guides and six porters!!!) passing along the trail in high
season (supposedly the dry season) was clearly causing the
mud highway. Hostel in Kilembe rather lacking in shower &
other facilities (given the number of trekkers that can
arrive at one time with sodden, muddy bodies and kit).

6. Fort Portal Rwenzori View Guesthouse: excellent as you
recommend – superb food. Good food too at the Gardens &
the pizzeria. Note gears on mountain bikes for hire at
Kabarole Tours suspect and “sketch” map pretty hopeless
but they do sell a decent area map (by Andrew Roberts I
believe!).

7. Bigodi Wetland (Kibale Forest) Excellent – saw six primates and
numerous birds – guide good. Note that there are hardly
any minibus taxis along that road now; they are nearly all
shared taxis, apparently because the drivers earn more
money.
8. Lake Bunyoni. Stayed in Byoona Amagara in the VIP
geodome – can’t recommend the place enough.  Staff
efficient & friendly. Food good and inexpensive, as were
costs for all services.

9. Bwindi – Ruhija; possibly as a result of a new
habituated gorilla group, there are now five places to
stay. Best budget option is the new Ruhija Community Rest
Camp – three very rudimentary rooms & facilities. Nearest
place to walk to park entrance if you’ve come with special
hire & are therefore on foot. USD15pp plus inexpensive
local food (plus will do lunch pack). Very friendly with a
nice garden and a log fire at night. Birdwatching – felt
rather cheated by UWA. We paid the park entry and the fee
for bird-watching. Only after they’d taken the money and
found us a guide, did they tell us that the guide was a
free-lancer because they didn’t have any birding guides
available (they’re apparently suffering from staff
shortages at the moment) so we had to pay an extra USD30.
UWA refused to refund the money they had taken for a
guide, arguing it was for the armed escort, who also
didn’t stay with us the whole time because they had to be
shared between a couple of groups. what can we say about
the gorilla tracking – truly magical.

10. Kabale – new wi-fi cafe/lounge, run (I suspect) by
Royal Supermarket. Good snacks, light bites.

11. QENP. In Mweya Hostel canteen we had the best steak
we’ve had in years two nights in a row. Generally food
inexpensive and very good. Tembo Canteen has great vista
but is somewhat dilapidated & in need of TLC. Boat trip
small Mweya Lodge boat more comfortable & slightly cheaper
than the UWA launch.

12. Masindi  can’t recommend the New Court View Hotel
highly enough – stayed twice and owner Sally was extremely
helpful in every respect helping us arrange a driver for
Murchison. Food, as you say, excellent.

13. Murchison  Stayed at the still not fully open
Murchison River Lodge. Excellent value, view, facilities,
food & friendly staff. Wild Frontiers now doing morning
birding boat trip down to the delta at 7am several times a
week.

14. Gulu – excellent new Lebanese restaurant now open.

15. Kidepo – drive in superb, as you state. Stayed at Nga
Moru (Place of Rocks), run by Fugleys, who no longer do
camping tours into the park. Nga Moru slightly overpriced
really at USD150pp full board. Unlike Murchison RL, which
has been thoughtfully designed, it’s a more organic, and
therefore ad-hoc development. View from the safari tent
porches superb but the dining area could have been better
planned (food good – especially salads from own organic
garden) and the ensuite bathrooms don’t have solar-powered
showers (though you can order a bush shower in advance),
which you’d expect for the price, especially since it can
be quite chilly when wet. Fugleys in Kitgum way overpriced
(USh180, 000 for double).

16. Public transport – generally could do with better
coverage in places. Two routes that come to mind: if
you’re trying to get from Kabale to Masindi, by far the
best way to go is to take the early morning post bus to
Kampala and then catch a Link bus out to Masindi. Going
north via Fort Portal and attempting to get across is not
on. Also between Kasese & Kabale, there were no taxis that
go the back route; you have to go via Imbarara and double
back. Worth perhaps pointing out perhaps (and apologies if
you have and we missed it!) that if you take a shared taxi
out into the country (e.g. to Bigodi or Busingiro) you can
easily get a seat on the way out because you set out from
the starting point of the journey. However, on the way
back out in the country, you could be waiting for hours
(speaking from experience) since the shared taxis only set
out from the population centres when full so unless
someone gets out you’re stuffed!

Sara & Adrian (Barbados)

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3 thoughts on “Sara & Adrian’s updates

  1. Sofie says:

    Hi guys,

    Do you have a website or blog, where I could get more detailled information about the transport you used during your trip? I’ll be basically doing the same trip in July/August of this year and apart from the public buses, am wondering how to get in and around the natural parks.

    Thanks

  2. Uganda safari says:

    This is very good information and spot on. If you are traveling on your own those are some of the challenges you encounter as you have to face some hiked fees where it would not be necessary.
    Thanks for sharing

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