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OUT OF THE ORDINARY TRAVEL EXPERIENCES

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UGANDA


Uganda Experience An Alternative Adventure


Contents Introduction to Uganda

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1. Practical Information Map of Uganda How To Get To Uganda Preparing For Your Trip Getting Around In Uganda Cultural Tips For Uganda Language Tips

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2. Things To See & Do In Uganda Kampala Source Of The Nile Hairy Lemon Sipi Falls Equator Fort Portal Ssese Islands Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Murchison Falls Bwindi Forest

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3. Places To Stay In Uganda Useful Websites

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Introduction To Uganda 7


Introduction To Uganda OFFICIAL NAME: The Republic of Uganda. AREA: 243,411 sq. km. CAPITAL: Kampala POPULATION: 35.36 million CURRENCY: Ugandan Shilling Uganda is located in East Africa, between latitude 1 0 30 ‘ and 4 0 N. Uganda is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), on the north by Sudan, on the southwest by Rwanda and the south by Tanzania. Uganda’s climate is tropical, though temperatures cool with increasing altitude. Its annual rainfall ranges from more than 2,100 millimeters around Lake Victoria to about 500 millimeters in the northeast. Vegetation is heaviest in the south. Plant cover thins in the savanna and dry plain regions in the northeast. 8

Christianity is widespread in Uganda. Nearly one third of the populace follows traditional religions. There are also several Muslim sects. Uganda’s land consists of a number of plateaus, which roll gently towards the northwest, where they meet the Nile. There are volcanic mountain ranges and numerous rivers. The mountain regions lie to the east and west. Uganda’s highest peak is Margherita on Mount Stanley (5,113 meters). About half of Lake Victoria lies within Uganda; this lake is a source of the Nile.


Country Profile The majority of Uganda’s people are concentrated in the nation’s southern and western regions. Most Ugandans derive from Bagabda, Bunyoro and Batoro ethnic groups; also represented are Bushmen, Nile-Hamites, Sudanese, Bantus, and Asian and European minorities. The current population stands at around 35.36 million people.

Uganda’s major exports are coffee, cotton and tea. Its major imports are petroleum products, machinery, cotton piece goods, metals, transportation equipment, and food. The main buyers of Uganda’s export products are the US, UK, France and Spain. More than 90% of the country’s total energy comes from indigenous sources of fuel, including charcoal and firewood. Oil, electricity and commercial energy account for the remainder.

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Practical Information

Uganda is located in eastern Africa. It is bordered on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the north by the Sudan, on the east by Kenya and on the south by Tanzania and Rwanda. The country, which lies across the equator, is divided into three main areas: swampy lowlands, a fertile plateau with wooded hills, and a desert region. Lake Victoria forms part of its southern border. Uganda is roughly the size of Great Britain or the State of Oregon in the USA. There are three mountainous areas - the Rwenzoris, Mount Elgon and the Virunga volcanoes. Rwenzoris, sometimes referred to as the Mountains of the Moon, has six peaks, capped with ice and snow and has three glaciers. Margherita, one of the mountains in the range, is the third highest peak in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. 10

The rivers and lakes in Uganda and Rwanda are sources of the Nile River. Volcanic lakes are found on the shared border with Rwanda, the largest being Lake Kivu, which is like a giant inland sea. Uganda occupies most of the Lake Victoria Basin, which was formed by the geological shifts that created the Rift Valley during the Pleistocene era. The Sese Islands and other small islands in Lake Victoria also lie within Uganda’s borders.


Geography Of Uganda

Throughout the second chapter there are close up maps of the different places to visit.

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Practical Information When to Go

Visa Requirements

Uganda can be visited at any time of year. Most of Uganda enjoys the perfect tropical climate. Temperatures average about 26°C during the day and 16°C at night. The hottest months are from December to February.

(Effective June, 2007)

Dangers & Annoyances Although much of Uganda is generally safe, there are some risky areas. North of Murchison Falls National Park, and around some towns, such as Lira and Gulu, the LRA continue to wreak havoc. It is also important to take care in the far northeast due to regular clashes between armed Karamajong people and anyone they don’t like. It is imperative to make inquiries with knowledgeable local authorities before setting off to these areas.

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A single entry visa - US$50 Multiple entry 6 months visa - US$200 American Nationals, British, and just about all Commonwealth nationals and European nationals that make up the vast majority of visitors to Uganda do need a visa to travel to Uganda. All travelers to Uganda are required to strictly comply with the following requirements. 1. You must be in possession of a valid passport issued and recognized by your government. 2. You must have: a) An International Inoculation Certificate against Yellow Fever (although a strict requirement being requested to present it for inspection at any entry point into the country would be rare).


How To Get To Uganda International Flights Located on the shores of Lake Victoria about 40km south of the capital, Entebbe International Airport (EBB) is the international gateway to Kampala and Uganda. There are direct flights to Entebbe from Kenya (Nairobi), Tanzania (Dar Es Salaam/Arusha), South Africa (Johannesburg), Ethiopia (Addis Ababa), Egypt (Cairo), Belgium (Brussels), Holland (Amsterdam) UK (London Gatwick), UAE (Dubai).

Overland Arrival & Onwards Travel Kenya : The two main border crossings that most overland travellers use are between Tororo in Uganda and Malaba in Kenya, and Busia in Uganda and Kisumu in Kenya. Akamba, Busscar, Regional Coach and Scandinavian Express bus companies run direct services between Kampala and Nairobi (Kenya) every day. The cost ranges from USh23, 000 to USh50, 000 (depending on the level of luxury), and the trip takes from 12 to 14 hours. To do the journey in stages, catch a minibus taxi from Kampala to Malaba (USh9000, three hours), via Jinja and close to Tororo. From Malaba, there are plenty of matatus (minibus transport) to Eldoret or Nairobi. There are moneychangers on both sides of the border. The less frequently used entry point into Kenya is via Busia. Take a minibus taxi from Jinja to Busia (USh6000, two hours). From the Kenyan

side of the border, matatus frequently travel to Kisumu. Rwanda : The main crossing point is between Kabale and Kigali (Rwanda) via Katuna (Uganda) and Gatuna (Rwanda). There’s a second crossing between Kisoro (Uganda) and Ruhengeri (Rwanda) via Cyanika in Rwanda. Those travelling direct between Kampala and Kigali can travel with Jaguar Executive Coaches , Regional Coach (041-256862; 4 Luwum St, Kampala) or Gaso Bus (041-572917; Bus Park) Prices start from USh20, 000, most buses leave between 7am and 9am and the journey takes about nine hours. Gaso departs at 2am and continues to Bujumbura. From Kabale to Kigali there are lots of minibuses, but the journey involves a change of vehicle at the border. There are minibuses (USh1000) and special hire taxis (USh15, 000, 30 minutes) to Katuna. On the Rwandan side, there are regular minibuses to Kigali (RFr1500, 1½ hours). From Kisoro to Ruhengeri via Cyanika, regular minibuses link either side of the border with Kisoro (USh1000, 12km) and Ruhengeri (RFr500, 25km). Tanzania : The route into Tanzania follows the western side of Lake Victoria from Masaka to Bukoba, and it’s possible to travel this distance in less than one day. From Masaka, take a taxi (minibus) to Kyotera (USh3000, one hour), and then a pick-up to the border at Mutukula (USh3000, one hour). From the Tanzanian border, take a pick-up to Bukoba. 13


Practical Information Time Ugandan is GMT (+3), during British summer time Uganda is 2 hours ahead. Electricity Uganda uses British plugs so no need for adapters. Electricity in Uganda often relies on generators so be prepared that you may not always be able to charge your phone or camera. Money The exchange rate changes a lot between 4,000ugx – 3,500 ugx to the pound. Although general living in Uganda is much cheaper than the UK, if you are doing tourist activities expect to pay similar prices to the UK. ATM’s are widely available so bring with you a Visa Debit card. Do NOT bring Travelers Cheques or cards as you cannot change them in Uganda. 14

British Nationals will need to bring a $50 note (newer than 2003) to pay for visas. Phone With the unpredictablness of travel within Uganda, it is essential to bring a phone with you. Using a foreign sim card in Uganda can be very expensive so we suggest you buy yourself a Ugandan SIM card on arrival. These are easy to find and you simply add money onto it in the form of airtime credit. It is considerably cheaper to use this SIM to call home and to keep in contact with your travel companions when in Uganda. Check your phone is unlocked and ready for a Ugandan sim card before you leave for Uganda (put a different network SIM in your phone and check that it works!). Ugandan calling code +256 UK calling code +44


Preparing For Your Trip Vaccinations Take a trip to your doctor a minimum of 2 months prior to your trip to get advice about Anti-Malarial and the Injections you need. Obviously it will differ from each person, depending on what you already have had, however these are the usual vaccines you will need for Uganda: Hepatitis A Hepatitis B Typhoid Yellow Fever Polio Rabies Measles, Mumps, Rubella Tentanus-diphtheria Anti-malarial tablets

First Aid Kit It is important to make sure you have a comprehensive first aid kit with you while travelling in Uganda as it is often more difficult to get to a hospital or

doctors surgery than it is at home in Britain. Consider these items for your kit: Plasters Antiseptic cream/wipes Antihistamine cream/tablets Pain killers Imodium & Re-hydration sachets Malaria tablets DEET/Insect Repellent

Insurance Buying travel insurance is essential to your trip. It is always best to buy it early simply because if you experience an unexpected incident that stops you from travelling most insurance companies will reimburse some or all of your costs. Some travel companies, such as STA, do deals wth insurance companies which will give you good cover at a reasonable price. If you plan on doing adventure activities while in Uganda it is important to make sure your insurance covers grade 5 white Water Rafting as a lot just cover up to Grade 4. 15


Practical Information

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Uganda has nearly 27,000 km of roads. Its railroads total about 1,240 km and provide the country’s chief transport link with the Indian Ocean. The railroads are, however, in a state of severe disrepair. Uganda has five airports with paved runways. Entebbe is the only airpirt in Uganda which caters to International flights. Because Uganda is a landlocked country, it depends on Kenya and Tanzania for access to the sea. Two inland ports, Jinja and Port Bell, serve the areas around Lake Victoria.

Travelling around Uganda has never been easier than today, flexibility exists in use of private or public transport. The improving transport network and extended communication facilities to upcountry regions is constantly making the more areas of the country even more accessible.

Water transport

Public Transport

There is a regular inland ferry connecting Nakiwogo in Entebbe and the Ssese islands on Lake Victoria and one between Bukakata pier near Masaka town.

Buses, Taxis, VIP vans and several touring trucks operated by Individual tour operators are all available for the tourists to use and reach to their destinations.

Travelling around Uganda is truly an elegant adventure. There are several ways to get around in Uganda, and the option you choose will depend upon your time constraints and your budget. Travelling by road is the most accessible and probably the cheapest way to travel, and public transport connects all major locations, and ventures far off the beaten track.


Getting Around In Uganda To have the safest journey possible when using boda bodas, try to acquire a Boda Bodas as they are locally motorcycle helmet to take known can always be used for short distances and at the with you, agree the price with the driver for the journey minimum speed possible. before getting on the boda Please note that there’s no boda and always mount it guarantee of safety on using any of these transportation from the left hand side to methods. Make sure that you avoid burning yourself on the find the right operator or guide exhaust. Ugandan women are to assist you in this. Costs for all expected to ride side saddle on boda bodas but this is not these vary from time to time. expected of tourists. Motorcycles

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Practical Information Dress Code Ugandan’s take a lot of pride in their appearance with the men wearing smart trousers and shirts and the women dressed in beautiful long skirts and tops, therefore it is important for yourself and your reputation to ensure that you respect this too. You do not need to bring out suits but you will need to ensure you have something nice to wear for more formal occasions, comfortable and respectable clothes for travelling in and to always cover your shoulders, chest, midrift, thighs and knees. Women – It is important not to expose your shoulders, chest, midrift, thighs or knees in Uganda, locals will not comment upon your dress but they will feel uncomfortable. Leggings are fine to wear but underneath a skirt or dress that covers the knees not just under hotpants! It may also be 18

useful to bring a scarf or pashmina to drape around your shoulders. Strap tops that cover your cleavage are fine. Men – Men in Uganda dress incredibly smart, nearly always in suit trousers and shirts. You do not have to copy this but take this into consideration when packing. Shorts must cover the knees and t-shirts are fine, but might be an idea to bring a casual shirt for smart occasions. Drinking Alcohol People in Ugandan do not often socially drink, as a massive generalisation people are often either T-total or alcoholic’s.Feel free to drink in Uganda but be sensible and respectful. Tipping You won’t be expected to tip in Uganda. Bargaining


Cultural Tips For Uganda is the norm when buying things from a market, street stall or craft shop. Smoking Smoking is massively frowned upon in Uganda and therefore if you do smoke then you will need to find a place to do so where there is no one else present, and ask permission from people around before you do light up.

Homosexuality In Uganda, as in many African countries, there is ‘little tolerance’ (Foreign Commonwealth office website) of homosexuality with there being a drive to make it illegal. It is a very sensitive subject and you will not change their minds about it within your trip! It is safe for homosexual’s to travel in Uganda just please do not mention or discus your sexuality.

Food Relationships The staple food around Lake Victoria is a starchy mixture of baked bananas known as matoke . In the West and Northwest, the staple foods are millet and sorghum supplemented by peanuts and cassava. The pastoral tribes subsist largely on animal products, including animal blood and meat. Fish is also popular.

Men and women do not show public signs of affection to one another, if people do it is expected that they will be married, please respect this! However men holding hands with each other is a sign of respect and friendship so please do not be shocked if someone holds your hand for a long period of time.

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Practical Information English is widely spoken in Uganda, and as it is considered to be the official language, most Ugandans have very good English. Luganda, a central

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language, is widely spoken across the country, and multiple other languages are also spoken including Swahili.

English

Swahili

Hello, how are you?

Habari! Hujambo?

Good/fine

Nzuri

I am fine

Sijambo!

Thank You (very much)

Asante (sana)

Welcome

Karibu

Goodbye

Kwaheri

Danger

Hatari

Where are you going?

Unakwenda wapi?

I am travelling ....

Ninasafiri....

Please

Tafadhali

Excuse me please

Samahani

Sorry

Samahani/Pole

See you later!

Baadae!

Gentleman

Bwana

Lady

Mama

My name is...

Jina langu ni...

I don’t know

Sijui

How much does it cost?

Bei gani?


Language Tips These translations will give you a starting point for greeting a Ugandan across different areas of the country although even if you struggle to communicate

with them, Ugandans will usually still be very willing to help you out. Ugandans will generally welcome your attempts to speak one of their languages.

English

Luganda

Hello, how are you?

Oli Otya?

I am good

Bulungi

I am fine

Jen di

How are you? (Many)

Moli Motya?

We are fine

Je toli

Thank You (very much)

Webale (Nyo)

Goodbye

Welaba

I am happy to see you

Insanuse kuku la ba

Where are you going?

O la ga wa?

I am going ....

Ngenda....

Good Morning

Wasuze otya?

Good Afternoon

O Sibi otya?

Good Night

Sula Bulungi

Gentleman

Ssebo

Lady

Nyabo

My name is...

Ndi ...

I don’t know

Simanyi

How much does it cost?

Ssente Meka? 21


Things To See And Do In Uganda 23


Kampala

Kampala is easily reachable from all areas of Uganda and can be used as a base for your travels out into other parts of the country. The taxi park services all areas of the country.

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The Capital City With A Difference Kampala is a compelling and confident city, the centre of political intrigue, commercial activity and intellectual excellence in Uganda. Today’s forwardlooking capital is vastly different from the battered city to which it was reduced to in the 1980s. Modern

buildings have sprung up all over the city, and old, dilapidated ones are slowly being renovated. But it’s not only the buildings that are in better shape; there is a confidence about Kampala residents today that is infectious. Kampala cuts it.

In relation to the rest of Uganda, Kampala does not have any where near as much to offer to tourists but there are still attractions to see. A visit to Kampala will break up your adventures and safaris and will undoubtably show you a different side to this amazing country. The main attractions to

Kampala are the Uganda museum, Kasubi tombs, Ba’hai `Temple, Kabaka’s Palace, the various cathedrals and of course the different craft markets which are a perfect opportunity for buying souvenirs. Also, a day trip to Entebbe’s Botanical gardens is a fantastic way to relax. 25


Source Of The Nile

The Source of the Nile is located at Jinja which is easily reachable via the Kampala-Jinja road and there are many main roads connecting Jinja to other areas of Uganda.

Jinja is a large town on the shores of Lake Victoria, to the East of Uganda’s bustling capital Kampala. It is a friendly place and known as the source of the Nile river. In recent years it has become a popular place for travellers to visit and there are many exciting activities on offer. Jinja is the adventure capital of East Africa with it hosting fantastic white water rafting, bungee jumping, jet boating, horse back riding, quad-biking, stand up paddle trips, fishing, bird watching explorations, 26

guided tours of the city of Jinja and sun downer cruises. Even if you are not an adrenaline junkie it is a wonderful place to relax and take in the wonderful views and do a bit of shopping! Jinja also has a lively night life with many different bars and clubs catering to tourists and locals a like. Different clubs, cafes and bars that welcome tourists are Flavours, Casinos, the Source Cafe, The Keep and Sombreros Discotheque amongst others.


Breath Taking Views And Adrenaline Rushes Explore Main Street Jinja’s Main Street is an interesting collection of shops, businesses and cafes run by religious missions. Shade is offered along most of the street by the roofs which overhang the pavement. As you walk along eye-up some of the intricate architecture which has been poorly maintained since the Indians were expelled by Amin in 1972.

There are many shopkeepers offering interesting local crafts for sale. Common African crafts like wooden carvings are available, but if you want something more unique to Uganda, take a look at the necklaces made with beads made from rolled up magazines, just try not to get them wet.

Relax hotels, such as Kingfisher Resort and Spend a quiet afternoon relaxing in a swimming pool with views over the Nile Jinja Nile Resort allow day visitors access or Lake Victoria. Different resorts and to their pools and other facilities. 27


Source Of The Nile

Adrift Nile High Bungee Leap over the source of the Nile from one of the most spectacular bungee jumping sites in the world. Adrift specialize in tandem jumps, water touches and full-moon jumps Jumps can be organized at most times (including in the dark). It is an option to touch the source of the Nile and you can choose whether you would like to stop short of this or take the 28

plunge. Imagine being able to say that you jumped for 44 metres for your first touch of the world’s longest river. Adrift also offer adventure packages where the price of a bungee jump is reduced if you combine it with other adventure activities such as white water rafting.


Breath Taking Views And Adrenaline Rushes Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking

Quad-biking

Bujagali, near Jinja, is a small unassuming settlement, but it is also Uganda’s adventure sports capital. Several operators offer whitewater rafting and kayaking activities here, on the Nile. The rapids along this section of the Nile are grade 4 and 5 so make sure you have travel insurance to cover this. Some of the different companies operating rafting adventures in Jinja are Adrift, Nile River Explorers and Nalubale.

If you are not a natural thrill-seeker and the whirling water of the hugely popular local white-water rafting is not appealing try an exciting quadbiking tour. Once geared up in overalls, footwear and safety helmets (this is as much a reflection on the driving conditions and terrain as it is on what sort of driver you look like) you set off along the Nile shore and also get to explore some of the local area, offering a fascinating insight into the local way of life.

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Hairy Lemon

Hairy Lemon can be reached by travelling up the Nile from Jinja. Hairy Lemon is located just 40 km downstream of Jinja on the Nile River. The journey takes approximately 1 hour from Jinja or 2 to 2.5 hours from Kampala by car. On arrival at the landing dock, a guide will be available to take you over to the island in a traditional canoe.

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Nature And Relaxation

Hairy Lemon is a unique kind of place and pretty much in the middle of nowhere. But that’s the idea, it’s a getaway, a retreat, an isolated island for relaxation and reflection. Facilities include hot showers, and three hearty meals are served a day, including veggie options. Volleyball, swimming and bird-watching are all possible, and just down the river is Nile Special, a world-class hole for those with their own kayak and plenty of experience. Accommodation includes secluded bandas, family cottages, dormitories

and tents under rainforest canopies. Accommodation can sleep up to 40 people and consists of two dormitories that sleep 20 people and several large dome tents that sleep three people each. There are two communal lounge areas on the island fitted with hammocks that are perfect for relaxing and soaking up the scenery. www.hairylemonuganda.com for more information.

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Sipi Falls

Sipi Falls can be reached by public transport; matatus and other mini bus taxis travel up from Kampala or Jinja to Mbale and on up towards Kapchorwa.

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Adrenaline Fuelled Mountain Adventures

Sipi Falls is a beautiful part of Eastern Uganda which consists of three waterfalls and breathtaking panoramic views. Sipi Falls is in the foothills of Mt Elgon and there is a chance for you to take a day hike around the three waterfalls, take a shower under one and then head to the largest of the three waterfall (100 metres) to take in the amazing views by abseiling down next to the waterfall! If this doesn’t take your fancy then just being in Sipi Falls is exciting enough!

basalt cliffs, often several kilometres in length, over which the mountain’s rivers plunge as beautiful waterfalls. The best known are the three waterfalls at Sipi on the Kapchorwa road, just outside the park. The lowest of these falls is the most spectacular as it cascades over a 100m cliff. The second, known as Simba, plunges 69m over the entrance to a cave. Visitors can stand in the cave and enjoy a view of the back of the falls. The third waterfall, also known as Ngasire, gushes over an 87m high ridge.

The northern and western sides of Mount Elgon rise in a series of massive 33


Sipi Falls

Day hikes in Mt Elgon National Park are an increasingly popular option. A full day hike will take you through thick jungle and bamboo forests to Tutum caves where you can have lunch before returning back to the lodge. These hikes are organised with the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Climbing on nearby crags can be arranged, as can abseil descents of the main Sipi Falls. There are a variety of climbs to suit all standards, made up from 10 sport climbing routes 34

bolted into the cliff face adjacent to Sipi Falls. Abseiling options range from ‘easy’ 25m descents all the way to the 100m waterfall descent. Robs Rolling Rock - a Ugandan company initially trained by Italian climbers - operates climbing and abseiling activities. Short hikes in and around the local area can be arranged to see the plethora of waterfalls, breathtaking landscape and abundant birdlife. These walks can take anywhere between 1 to 4 hours, depending on routes taken.


Adrenaline Fuelled Mountain Adventures

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The Equator

The Equator runs across the road from Kampala to Masaka. Public transport services this route but it is also possible to hire a guide to take you there.

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Perfect Postcard Opportunities

Uganda is one of the few countries in the world where the imaginary line that divides the earth into two half passes. The Equator or the Uganda equator crosses into Uganda at a point situated 72km south of Kampala along the Kampala – Masaka road, At this point, there are two cement circles marking the equator line and it is worth stopping if you are traveling to Masaka or Kampala for a photo moment. Also watch a demonstration by local entrepreneur on how water swirls in opposite directions in the

northern & southern hemispheres at the equator line. Being able to stand on the equator is a privilege only a few have the opportunity to experience as the line passes through central Africa, South America and several islands; seas mostly cover the imaginary line. Go on an adventure across the equator, allowing you to stand on the centre of your map of the world and bask in the warm temperatures and tropical climate of Uganda. Feel the exhilaration that comes with knowing you’re standing in the middle of the world. 37


Fort Portal

The direct route to Fort Portal from Kampala is along what is known as the Mityana, Mubende, Fort Portal Road and usually takes just over three hours on this route.

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Exploring The Jungle

There may be no fort, but this is definitely a portal to places that offer sublime scenery, abundant nature and genuine adventures. Explore the beautiful crater lakes in the area, track the chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park and drop down into the Semliki Valley, with its wildlife, hot springs and Pygmy villages. With Kibale Forest National Park, Semliki National Park, Semliki Game Reserve and the attraction of the several outstanding community tourism projects surrounding the

Crater Lakes of Kabarole district there is enough to do to justify several days exploring the region. Attractions at Kihingami Wetland include forest walks, tea plantation visits and bird watching. Kihingami is regarded as the home of the White Spotted Flufftail a must see for bird enthusiasts. The town of Fort Portal is lush and liveable, and one of the nicer urban centres in Uganda. Located at the northeastern end of the Rwenzori Mountains, it is the heartland of a verdant tea-growing area. 39


Ssese Islands

There are two large ferries serving Buggala Island from Entebbe and Kalangala bay, and also from Masaka. Transport to Bulago Island by speedboat can be arranged with the owners.

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Relax On Pure Sandy Beaches

The Ssese Islands are an archipelago of eighty-four islands in the northwest of Lake Victoria. About forty-three of the islands are inhabited. The islands vary in size from less than 10,000 square metres, to over 40 kilometres in length for the largest island, Buggala. Buggala Island is easily accessible by ferry, and is a regular weekend destination for Kampala residents. Banda Island is another small island, more remote, that also has a guest house. Other islands that can be visited (with varying degrees of ease) are Bulago, Bukasa,Bubeke and Bufumira.

Buggala Island is large enough to have diverse terrains. From the tops of the hills the views are stunning. Most of the southern area is dominated by palm oil plantations, which spread over the landscape somewhat repetitively. Along the southern end near Mulabana, there is a swamp that contains hippos. Along the western end of the island, not far from Luku, is the Mutumbula swimming beach. www.traveluganda.co.ug/ssese.asp for more information 41


Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary can be found on the road from Kampala to Murchison Falls National Park, a short drive before reaching Masindi. See www.ziwarhino.com for directions.

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Experience The Rhinos In The Wild

Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch located in Nakasongola district is the proud home of the only wild rhinos in Uganda. The Rhino re-introduction project is a project of Rhino Fund Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The sanctuary provides trained rangers who will ably guide you through this expedition. You will have the opportunity to observe the rhinos at a very close and safe distance. While at the sanctuary you will also encounter a range of other wildlife species including Uganda kobs, bush bucks, oribis, rich bucks, hippos and crocodiles.

Ziwa is conveniently located 176km (100 miles) north of Kampala on the Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls (branch off at Nakitoma trading centre). Due to the location of Ziwa Rhino Ziwa is the only place where you will be Sanctuary, visitors often incorporate a trip to the sanctuary as part of a longer able to see rhinos in the wild. safari trip up to Murchison Falls National The sanctuary has become increasingly Park or one of the many other safari parks Uganda has to offer. popular with tourists; for rhino trekking, bird watching, nature walks www.ziwarhino.com and relaxation. for more information 43


Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison falls National Park is a 300km drive from Kampala. It is advised to go with a guide into the park as the roads can be dangerous to navigate. Many safari tour companies can collect you from Kampala or other large towns to take you on your adventure to Murchison Falls and through the park.

Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds. The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last of the river’s energy, 44

transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors to the riverbanks include elephants, giraffes and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents. It is possible to stay in the middle of the national park in a hostel overlooking the wildlife and many hostels and back packers have swimming pools and gardens in which you can spend a relaxing afternoon.


Experience The Ugandan Wildlife

Murchison Falls is characterized by eternal war between rock and water. The waters violently compress through a narrow gorge, spraying misty droplets along their wake over a 50m radius. This creates a permanent rainbow over the battlefield and causes a continuous roar. From Baker Point on the southern side, you can also view the Nile splitting into the smaller Uhuru Falls, created in 1962 when the river burst its banks. During the day, the temperature is around 25-32°C, making this one of the hottest regions in Uganda. Nights are cooler, dropping to around 18°C,

and there is little rain – though when it arrives it can be torrential! The best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park is during the dry seasons from December to late February and from June to September, as the animals congregate around water bodies making them easier to observe. The best time for bird watching is January-March which tends to have plenty of bird activity with fewer tourists. www.murchisonfallsnationalpark.com for more information.

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Murchison Falls National Park

The Buligi game tracks, stretching between the Victoria and Albert Niles, are the Murchison Falls National Park’s most popular safari destination. At around 120-170km in length, they pass

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through open savannah grassland, woodland, acacia and riverine vegetation. Most of the park’s game can be viewed here, especially during early morning and early evening tours.


Experience The Ugandan Wildlife

Paraa, meaning home of the hippo in the local Luo language, is the park’s tourism hub. All the park’s access roads converge here as the northern and southern banks are linked by a passenger ferry, and

several accommodations are located nearby. Additionally, a museum and gift shop can be found on the north bank, and most game drives, launch trips and nature walks commence here.

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Bwindi Forest National Park

Bwindi can be reached from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (6-8 hours). The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate. A 4WD vehicle is necessary during the rainy season. A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi. A matatu (public minibus), hire car or boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) can be taken from Butogota to the park entrance gate at Buhoma

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Trek To See The Remaining Mountain Gorillas Also known as the Impenetrable Forest, Bwindi is one of Uganda’s most recently created national parks. The park, which covers 331 sq km, encompasses one of the last remaining habitats of the mountain gorilla, and is where almost half - an estimated 330 individuals - of the surviving mountain gorillas in the world live. A major conservation effort has been going on here for a number of years to protect the gorillas’ habitat. Gorillas are not the only animals to have benefited from this project. The park contains about 20 forest elephants, at least 10 species of primate (including chimpanzees, colobus monkeys and baboons), duikers, bushbucks and the rare giant forest hog, as well as a host

of bird and insect species. It is one of the richest areas in Africa for flora and fauna. A visit with the gorillas is an incredible experience but it can be difficult to arrange and the walking is not for strollers. All bookings must be made through the UWA office (041-346287) in Kampala, and only 32 permits per day are available for Bwindi. The terrain in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is mountainous and heavily forested and you might be walking for up to four hours before you sight the gorillas. Be sure to prepare well and take a good camera to get good photos in the shade of the forest.

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Places To Stay In Uganda 51


Places To Stay In Uganda Kampala Kampala Backpackers’ Hostel & Campsite www.backpackers.co.ug / 0414 274767 Prices range from US$3 - US$7.50 per night

Red Chilli Hideaway

www.redchillihideaway.com / 0312 202903

Prices range from US$3.50 for camping to US$7 per night for dorm rooms

Tuhende Safari Lodge

www.tuhendesafarilodge.com / 0772468360 Prices start at US$6 for a dorm rooms

Entebbe Entebbe Backpackers

www.entebbebackpackers.com / 0414 320432

Prices range from US$3 for camping to US$6 per night for dorm rooms

Wildlife Education Centre

www.uweczoo.org / 0414 256041

Prices range from US$30 including the zoo entrance fee

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Budget Options For An Affordable Trip Jinja Explorers Backpackers

www.raftafrica.com / 0434 120236

Prices range from US$3 for camping to US$7 per night for dorm rooms

Jinja Backpackers

www.jinjabackpackers.com / +256 775 860 876

Adrift

www.adrift.ug / 0312 237438

Prices range from US$5 for camping to US$10 per night for dorm rooms

Hairy Lemon Hairy Lemon

www.hairylemonuganda.com / 0434 130349

Prices range from US$30 for camping to US$38 per night for dorm rooms

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Entebbe Backpackers

www.entebbebackpackers.com / 0414 320432

Prices range from US$3 for camping to US$6 per night for dorm rooms

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Places To Stay In Uganda Sipi Falls Crows Nest

thecrownetts@yahoo.com / +256 752 515 389

Prices available upon request

Sipi River Lodge

www.sipiriverlodge.com / +256 751 796 109 Prices range from US$60 per night for dorm rooms

Lacam Lodge

www.lacamlodge.co.uk / +256 752 292 554

Prices range from 40,000USH for camping to 60,000USH per night for dorm rooms

Fort Portal Rujuna Hilltop Guesthouse (Bed & Breakfast) www.rujuna-guesthouse.com / 04834 25077

Prices range from US$25 for single rooms to US$40 per night for double rooms

Wooden Hotel

+256 772 402 770

Prices range from US$8 for single rooms to US$11 per night for double rooms

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Budget Options For An Affordable Trip Ssese Islands Kingfisher Camp +256 754 157 888

Prices range from US$3 for camping (with your own tent) to US$15 per night

Banda Island

banda.island@gmail.com / +256 7772 222 777

Prices range from US$15 for camping to US$20 per night for dorm rooms

Murchison Falls Red Chilli Rest Camp

www.redchillihideaway.com / 0312 202903 Prices start from US$5 for camping

Murchison River Lodge

www.murchisonriverlodge.com / +256 714 000 085

Prices for camping range from US$10 self catering to US$35 full board

Bwindi Forest Buhoma Community Rest Camp

www.buhomacommunity.com / 0312 100 060

Prices range from US$22 for camping to US$28 per night for dorm rooms

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Useful Websites www.fco.gov.uk/travel British Foreign & Commonwealth Office site, containing up to date, generally rather conservative information on trouble spots and places to avoid

www.ugandahighcommission.co.uk General practical information about visas, transport, costs, etc.

www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/world.htm Free online maps of countries and major towns

www.traveluganda.co.ug Uganda travel planner - a site aimed at the independent traveller

www.aboutuganda.com General information about Uganda, flights, safaris, etc.

www.ugandawildlife.org Official website of the Uganda Wildlife Authority - contains useful information about gorilla-tracking permits and other fees/facilities in the national parks and wildlife reserves

www.visituganda.com Official website of Tourism Uganda

www.backpackers.co.ug Budget travel advice compiled and updated by the staff of Kampala Backpackers

www.kampala-entebbe-hotels.travel www.safari-uganda.com Useful sites for booking accommodation online

www.lonelyplanet.com/uganda Lonely Planet travel guide to Uganda 56


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