|ABOUT THIS TRAVEL
18 days, june- july 2005
Kind of travel: alone
in a wholly independent travel
When: 24th june-
12th july 2005
How I moved: autobus,
minibus (matatu), moped (boda- boda) and hitch hiking
Where I slept: cheap
guesthouse, dormitory and rented tent
What I liked: the
safety of the country, the friendship of the people, lake Bunyonyi, the fresh weather and
travelling around on the mopeds (boda- boda).
What I disliked: being
referred as white man (mzungu), being packed like hell in the minibus (matatu), waiting at
the bus station and the breakdowns in the middle of nowhere.
How much daily: Uganda is
not a cheap country! For eating, accomodation, pubblic means of transport 30$/day
for a low budget travel + visa fees (30$ for every entry) + park fees (from 35$) + extras
(for instance: rafting (95$))
Freezing or baking?: very nice weather: hot (not too much), but dry. In the
south (lake Bunyonyi) can be even chilly (12-20 C), bring a good sweter!
Dangers: despite being a big city, even Kampala is safe. No
dodgeys and people weren't pushy. I didn't even have health problem, but protect yourself
against mosquitos and watch out bathing on the lakes (risk of Bilharzia). The last but not
the least, keep the distance from the Congolese border!!
What you do need: if
travelling by pubblic means of transport a lot of patience and don't forget a good flash
THE WHOLE TRAVEL
I flew to Entebbe, a small nice town on the bank of
lake Victoria that is a good welcome for those arriving in Uganda. It was midnight, hence
I slept in a simple but convenient guest house very near the airport (Farba hotel, 9$).
The following day by my first lift of boda boda, (on the back of a moped) and of matatu
(crowded minibus) I reached Kampala. Hanging around here I spent one day and the next
morning I was sitting on a comfortable private bus heading to Kigali. It took 9 hours
(10$, breakdown included) and it has been an easy travel despite the long distance.
In Kigali I slept in the Muslim quarter (very typical) and the day
after I arranged the Gorilla tracking. It was the 28th June and there was
almost no more availability, since the whole July was overbooked (I'm sure about it)!!
Luckily there was a place for the day after, so I didn't hesitate to book it and jump over
a matatu (minibus) to Ruhengeri. It cost a fortune: 375$!!!!!!! (for the details read here
XXXXXXXXXX) In 2 hours I reached this "big village" that is the base for the
Gorilla tracking in Rwanda. Here I met some other mzungu (whites) with whom I arranged the
jeep to reach the head quarters of the park, one hour away from the town (try to share the
cost since the round trip is 50$). I saw the Amahoro B family: it took from 8.00 to 16.00
by jeep, walking in the park tracking the Gorillas, spending one hour with them and coming
The next day I headed to Gisenyi by matatu (minibus, 2h) where I
spent one very relaxing day on the clean and desert sandy beach. Gisenyi is the last place
you wouldn't think to find in a country like Rwanda.
The leg Gisenyi- Kibuye has been the toughest of the travel: it took
9h to do less than 100km on a supercrowded rusty bus (read the story!! XXXXXX). However it
was worthwhile, since Kibuye turned out to be located in a very nice area of lake Kivu.
The next day I reached Butare by matatu, via Gitarama (7h). Butare
is definitely the nicest town I visited in Rwanda: very fresh climate, very nice people
and more lively then Kibuye and Gisenyi, but calmer then Kigali. Here I spent 3 days
visiting also the shocking memorial of Murambi, where hundreds of dead bodies are kept in
24 former classrooms.
Then by bus, matatu, taxi and finally boda- boda (moped) in 9h I did
from Butare to the wonderful lake Bunyonyi in Uganda, where I rented a tent with the
mattress (5$) and stayed for two days in a camping on the lake bank. My days here have
been the best of the whole travel: here I met a Slovenian volunteer (Brigita) who took me
to the local school where she was working for the last six months. This school is
supported by Miha, a Slovenian guy who found out that lake Bunyonyi is his place and moved
definitely here. Drop by their site: www.edirisa.org
and have a look to the great job they're doing there!
After few days I set off again to the Queen Elisabeth National Park:
thank to www.absoluteafrica.com had a lift
from the lake to Kabale, then it took the whole day by bus, matatu, bus again, on foot,
and finally private car to Mweya village. Here I found a cheap accommodation but I quickly
realised it's not a good place to be without your own vehicle. I had the typical launch
trip visiting the hippos and the elephant but then I was just looking forward to be again
on the road. I had to beg a little bit some Germans for a lift from Mweya through the park
till the main road where I hitch hiked till Kasese. The funny thing is that during the
lift they diverted to chase the lions hence I even had my unplanned safari for free!! From
Kasese I did by matatu just half way to Fort Portal then because of a breakdown they
dropped me off on the road. By miracle after a while a bus passed by and let me to the
My money were running out so the day after I was in Kampala (6h,
10$) to withdraw some cash by the only one working visa ATM in Uganda. At end of the
travel I spent two days at Bujagali falls (Speke campsite 5$) where I rafted (95$ full
day) and it turned out really cool even if easily harmful.
IMPRESSIONS ABOUT UGANDA
I didn't expect the travel in Uganda (the central and southern part) to be
so easy. It's quite plenty of means of transports: for the long connection there're big
and comfortable buses, then matatu (minibus) everywhere for the medium- short distances,
while by boda- boda (moped) you can avoid to walk even 100m!
You can find cheap accommodations almost everywhere, where water and
electricity are not such so unreliable as in Rwanda. Being an english speaking country
helps a lot, but the fact that the people are more used to the whites made my staying more
relaxed than in Rwanda. Locals are not pushy to sell you their services and I didn't
experience particular attempts of cheating. Unlike in the neighbouring country
overcharging is not common, and it's not necessary to bargain like hell everywhere, anyway
being still far from fixed prices.
Besides there are some tourist spots like the lake Bunyonyi (very
nice place) or Bujagali falls where it has been a pleasure to meet some foreigners and
exchange some travel experiences. Kampala is for sure not the nicest town I've ever been,
but to be a big town in Africa, it's not that bad, and above all it's safe. Besides here
you can find the only one VISA ATM in Uganda and Rwanda!!!! In the south the weather is
quite fresh (lake Bunyonyi even chilly) while eastwards is hotter, but still very
As for Rwanda, Uganda is not a cheap destination (cheaper than
Rwanda), especially for the park fees (50$), the rafting (95$) and everywhere you need to
rent a private vehicle (like in Queen Elisabeth National Park).
One thing you've really to keep in mind: you are in Africa, you need
to have patience; things will work out, but they need their time, in particular dealing
with the public means of transport.
The last but not the least, you will need a steel ass to travel by
I HAD A LION SAFARI WHILE HAVING A LIFT
It was a big effort to get to Mweya in the
Queen Elisabeth N. P. from the lake Bunyonyi by public means of transport.
Besides in the final part from the main road (Mabarara- Kasese) to Mweya
I had to get a taxi being not allowed to walk in the park.
I got a little disappointed when I saw that from
my crappy hut in Mweya it is was not possible even to walk 200m around
without, at least, hiring an armed (and expensive) guard. Frankly I expected
something more similar to the green landscape of the lake Bunyonyi but
I found a dry hot area suitable only for jeep safari: in short not for
Since the very first moment I arrived, I wanted to leave but my
budget didnt allow me to have a taxi called till there, so I waited
for a lift. I spent there one day and half also to have the classical
launch trip to see the hippos, then a group of Germans arrived. I humbly
asked them for the 10-km lift till the main road from where I could hitch
hike. After a quick voting they agreed and the following morning I was
on their jeep.
On the way we met another guide warning us about
the sighting of two lions further in the park; they decided to look for
them and of course I agreed. It isnt easy to spot two animals in
a huge area, as it is the Queen Elisabeth National Park, even being not
very far from them. After 30min driving we met two guards riding a moped:
they were very funny because, while the front one was just driving, the
one in the back was wearing the crash helmet (in the middle of the savana
(?)) and holding a riffle. I still laugh thinking about this two black
guys chasing the lions by moped. They were supposed to take us to the
exact point. In fact after wandering a little bit and patiently observing
through the binocular we got them.
They were a couple of lions and the driver managed
to get about 50m from them. They didnt seem bothered by us and behaved
as we werent there. I must admit that, even without doing anything
of special, they were quite impressive.
Later while I was getting to Kasese on a pick up
that stopped where the Germans dropped me off, I thought I would have
never imagined to have had a safari for free while having a lift.