Recent trip report

Pim writes:

The past half year I stayed a total of 5 months in Uganda of which I was approximately one and a half month travelling in that country. Here I will share some of the experiences I had during my travels and I shall provide some information and updates to the Bradt Travelguide, that might be useful for other travellers.

Coaches: No reason to think that Horizon coaches is better value than any of the other coaches. The experience we had was with Bismarkan and Horizon coaches and both did not leave on time and stopped many times on the way.
The prices in the travelguide have changed a bit in general, expect to pay a bit more for accommodation, food and activities than is indicated in the guide.

I stayed in both the Kampala Backpackers and the Red Chilli hideaway. I agree with most of the travellers I met that the Red Chili hideaway has a better atmosphere. The prices might be a little bit higher but the place is bigger, busier and food is better to my experience.
I saw quite some of the attractions but have little to add on what is already in the travelguide.

Mabamba Swamp. I visited this from Entebbe. To get there I used a bustaxi and a boda-boda, which went all around the swamp. To get back I used the ferry at Nakiwogo which is free without a vehicle and goes every two hours.
A boat with guide costed around 100.000 Ush. The telephone number of Maria, the guide we had: +256774297164

Sipi Falls. I visited the falls from Mbale which is fine using a shared taxi. I can recommend to stay the night near the falls however since they are worth staying for longer than a morning. Some guides told me a guide is supposed to have a licence to make sure that some money from the guiding is used in local projects and community support. This sounded reasonable. Expect to pay around 70.000 Ush, “guides” without a licence might try to take you for considerably less.
The phone number of Tom (a guide): +2567772625199

Ssese Islands
The Ferry from Entebbe (Nakiwogo) leaves once a day at 14:00 and should cost 10.000 USh. It takes three and a half hours to get to Lutoboka (on Buggala island), where most of the campsites and resorts are located.
You can sleep in the Scorpion Lodge at Luku, at the other site of the island, but it is not really operating anymore. Moreover this side of the island is not really interesting.
The ferry from Luku to the mainland goes quite regularly but be aware that the only way to get to Masaka might be with a car containing twice as many people as it is supposed to take.

Difficult to find international food. The Gardens doesn’t seem to be open anymore and Bohjani didn’t serve any food when we were there. Kon Tiki has good food but if you don’t stay there make sure you have transport back.

Hoima-Fort Portal Road
Far from recommendable if you are dependent on public transport. Allow a full day with a lot of waiting and bad roads. If you come from Masindi it might even be faster to first travel to Kampala and then go to Fort Portal.

Fort Portal and around
Food. The pizzeria in the travelguide has moved and can now be found in the Dutchess which is mentioned several times on this website. They provide excellent food, including good ice-creams. The buffet at The Gardens is also certainly good value and currently costs 14.000 Ush.
Rwenzori hikes. Karabarole tours offers 4, but not every offer is as clear as another. Expect to pay a minimum of around 70 USD on basis of two persons.
Bicycle renting. The bikes of Karabarole tours are fine. But don’t expect to find any maps of good value (though the maps in the travelguide are helpful if you intend to head towards the crater lakes).
Ambarere Caves. Currently costs 20.000 Ush p.p. for a guide that takes you along the caves and the nearby crater lakes.
Lake Kifuruka Campsite. Really nice place, though the facilities are basic. The banana pancakes are good and the walk to the Mahoma Falls is recommendable.

Very warm and dry at the time we were there but even if you don’t go to the Rwenzori’s you can get some good views on the mountains if you walk a bit out of town. We couldn’t find the Margarita Hotel.

Kalinzu Forest
Chimp tracking is possible here for 100.000 Ush p.p.. At the forest station a small tent can be used (10.000 Ush p.p.), though it was in bad condition when we were there. Sleeping costs 10.000 Ush p.p. and a blanket and mattress (only one of each available) 2.000 Ush.

We were not able to find the Horizon Coaches area. The Riheka guesthouse is overpriced, with a shower with little water and only one working lightbulb. Food is relatively expensive and not good value, if available.

The backpackers hostel was a fine place to get to rest

Lake Bunyonyi
Book a place to stay in advance, especially in the high season. We had to move to another bed 4 nights in a row.
Byoona Amagara is a nice place to stay. Moreover they offer good food. Don’t expect to much from the cinema. And realise that you have to pay for many small things such as a hot shower and the canoe transfer back.
Crater Bay is a fine place with kind people but the small rooms they offer besides the cottages are a bit overpriced compared to other places in Uganda as well as the food for which you have to wait long. In low season you probably will be able to negotiate for a better price.


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