THEMA: 3333km Self-Drive
17 Jan 2017 18:10 #459577
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Hier ein Bericht zu unserer Reise über den Jahreswechsel, in Englisch, für afrikanische und internationale Freunde.

Just coming back from a 27–day Self-Drive, 3333 km through all of Uganda.

Practicalities first:
Car Rental: from Alpha Rent-a-Car, Kampala. Friendly and competent, recommended.
They came up with a good price, helped with prior accommodation reservation (advised between X-Mas and New Year) and provided the Trekking-Permits.
The Toyota Hilux Surf was old but in acceptable condition, pretty much EA-Standard. We came as usual with our own tent and camping equipment, got a gas-stove, cooler, jerry-can, shovel etc. from them.
Vehicle broke down once (front wheel suspension bush, fan-belt pulley, half-day-repair in Hoima) and we went through 4 flat tires. The jack provided was too small, making the wheel changes a pain.
Their map and GPS was pretty useless, as always we had our own.

fast and hassle-free due to the new e-visas

ATMs with international Credit-cards everywhere. UWA accepts them now even at remote NP gates.

Bradt Travel Guide 8th edition: perfect, Kudos to Philip Briggs.
Garmin Montana with OSM: very good, down to individual lion-climbed-trees, no need for T4A
RKH-map: good for overview, has some inaccuracies

Traffic & Police:
Most Ugandan drivers are inept and reckless, some utterly “psychotic” (Bradt), especially in head-on situations, so always play the chicken. Road traffic is by far the biggest hazard of the trip, we did not see as many wrecks and gore as in other EA countries however.
We were pulled over by the police 6 times, always friendly except one guy who was clearly ticked off that he had to talk to a female driver. Wanted 100 grand UGX based on fabricated accusations. We did hold our ground and he let go finally. Near Kampala they fiddle about with speed-laser-guns, so watch out.

Dangers & Annoyances:
None really, no theft, con-schemes or aggressive begging. Friendly people throughout.

Check them carefully, we realized only the day before that they mixed up the dates for our Chimp vs. Gorilla-Treks. Correction was a tough fight against their bureaucracy.

The trip:
Kampala: Shoprite Supermarket and Barclay ATM, traffic jam all over.
Jinja: Nile River Camp. We ditched the rafting as we have done the Zambezi gorge twice.
Sipi Falls: Lacam Lodge, our tent situated directly at the top of the fall, awesome.
Mt. Elgon: Kapkwai Rest Camp: we were alone with the rangers. The day hike is not spectacular but brings you to primary forest, a cave (with Ebola infested bats, uh…) and good views.
Drive to Moroto: graded dirt first, from Nakapiripirit on it’s a real tarmac highway, reasons remain a mystery.
Mt. Moroto Hotel: nice bungalow on Christmas Eve. Power cut in the province prevented re-fuelling (a new Shell station is being set up, had no generator yet)
Graded dirt up north, in Kotido Shell had a hand-crank fuel-pump, Kaabong has a petrol station in questionable condition.
Kidepo Valley NP: Apoka Rest Camp – the bandas are heat-ridden hell-holes. We realized too late that you can pitch your tent on two observation hills (with water and loos) right in the middle of the lions. Must be terrific. The park (as all others) is animal-wise a far cry from e.g. the Serengeti or the Luangwas but where else can you drive around at X-Mas without seeing other safari vehicles… We were lucky, the first to see Cheetah in many months.
Kidepo - Kitgum – Gulu: graded dirt, for whatever reason the Chinese road engineers build sleeping policemen every 50 yards (in the middle of nowhere, not to protect villages) slowing you down to snail pace for many miles.
Murchison Falls NP: Red Chili Camp: mass tourism finally arrived: tour-vans, car&drivers, even the good old overland truck. But still a nice atmosphere reminiscent of the old days. As young backpackers we had to evacuate MFNP once due to a sudden advance of the Lords Resistance Army, it still gives me the creeps…
The park was partly in flames, apparently due to controlled fire-ecology action, resulting in spectacular nocturnal displays.
Due to the car repair, we exited Hoima as late as 15:30. It was New Years Eve and memories popped up: down to this day, almost 25 years ago we staggered out of the Ruwenzori Central Circuit at dusk, only to find everbody drunk: drivers, pedestrians and bystanders alike. No way to drive in the dark today! So the mad dash to Fort Portal began: tough and slow dirt first (some grading later in progress), tarmac in the end. I really did put the pedal to the metal – and just made it.
Ineke from Ruwenzori View Guesthouse had made it for the occasion a sort of Dutch Harbour with respective Expats and a four-course menu a la Hollandaise. Outstanding.
Torrential rains after the midnight fireworks suppressed the desire to camp in Kibale NP. We ended up in the Kibale Guest Cottages: nice but overpriced, bad food, cheated us on the USD rate. Try Tinka’s instead – we had a great dinner there.
Time for our Chimp Permit: its nice to hear in the briefing that the 48 tourists present are split in groups of six, starting at different points. We saw some apes, mom and kids, first in the trees and then a bigger group on the ground.
Interesting primate behavior could be observed: dominance games, fights for best spots, hissing, exposing of teeth, pushing, running, ducking. The whole Jane Goddall shenanigans.
Well, unfortunately I’m talking the species Homo Sapiens and not Pan Troglodytes. Because the ranger called with her radio to all other groups, within minutes 48 tourists encircled 8 chimps in a bizarre photo-frenzy. Some approached as close as 2-3 meters. Our hairy relatives were clearly relaxed nevertheless (small wonder, the day before it was a solid wall of 150 visitors…) but ultimately they set off on the path, with the humans running like mad parallel through the undergrowth trying to get ahead of the gang and all others. We decided to be no longer a part of it, which baffled our ranger. What is it, a circus? Definitively not a nature experience.
In the afternoon we did a tour of the crater lakes, Top of the World viewpoint and all, but beware - some cotton soil roads here get tricky after the afternoon rainshowers.
On to Queen Elisabeth NP via Kasese. Due to the recent uprising of the Bakonjo royal guard there were more AK-47s in evidence than ever, together with Mad Max type water-cannon trucks for riot control.
Simba Safari Camp: we were almost alone, lots of cancellations due to the fighting. QENP is still decades away from its former glory, at least one can see the progress from our 1993 visit when it was shot empty by Idi Amins henchmen.
Ishasha: a couple of self-drivers had hired UWA-guides and cruised around the lion-trees, seeing nothing. Again we were lucky: already outside the gate we came along a group relaxing in the branches.
Bwindi NP North - Buhoma: Community Rest Camp. The walk with the rangers is great because you are not focused on gorillas (although sometimes you meet non-habituated ones), the forest is pristine, there are no bugs and the temperature is pleasant.
A nasty skin rash forced me to ambulant treatment in the local Hospital. Recommended – if you need it. (
The road via Rujiha to Kisoro is one of the most scenic and twisting in all East Africa. It would be a blast to drive it with my BMW 800 GS bike one day.
Mgahinga NP: Amajambera Iwacu Community Camp
We went for a day with the Batwas (Pygmies). When they show up in the morning wearing animal hides attached with plastic zippers one fears for a Minstrel show like the infamous Massai dances, but in fact it’s an encounter which preserves their dignity quite well. Again we were lucky: they found a nest of (harmless) mining bees and dug it out of the ground. Several liters of honey were distributed in the group and by their uninhibited greed you got an idea how valuable this rare sugar treat is to a hunter-gatherer society.
The Virunga volcanoes were all visible (in contrast to the Ruwenzoris) and in the evening we went for our yellowing copy of M. Crichtons “Congo” to read about those lost cities on their slopes, guarded by mysterious killer-silberbacks.
Indeed, we are slowly approaching the climax of the trip – it’s up to Bwindi South, Rushaga sector. Nshoshi Camp – a little paradise.
Besides us, only one other couple shows up for the Gorillas, what a contrast to the Chimp bedlam! We decide for the Bweza Group and at the trailhead the trackers report that they are approaching the fringes of the park.
So for us its Gorillas in the sun and not the mist. And three apes per Tourist, amazing. Touching distance, chest beatings, friendly mock attack, only the two babies are kept on a distance. Definitively one of those rare once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Rest & Recovery (from the ant bites…) at Lake Bunyoni: Overland Resort. Don’t forget to down some Nile Specials at the spectacular located hilltop-bar of the Arcadia Cottages.
As a buffer day we choose Lake Mburo NP on finals, but it turned out to be a quite nice farewell to the African Savannah – saw Leopard and Eland and had this “the-park-is-all-ours”-feeling again. Eagle’s Nest Camp: offers a grandstand view from the tent, not to be missed.
From there it was 4 hours tarmac to Entebbe, avoiding the madness of Kampala by diverting SE in Mpigi and coming back to the start: Papyrus Guesthouse with their friendly staff.
All in all a great and flawless trip, Uganda is perfect for relaxed self-driving.

Gruesse und Dank an alle die vorher im Forum unsere Fragen beantworteten
Letzte Änderung: 17 Jan 2017 18:24 von Pinback. Begründung: typo
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24 Jan 2017 21:31 #460739
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  • Boompjes am 24 Jan 2017 21:31
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thank you. very interesting. we will drive almost the same route in August!!
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16 Feb 2017 09:38 #464313
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Artikel über den Südwesten:

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30 Jan 2021 13:26 #605488
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Bericht über Corona-Auswirkungen auf die Bwindi-Gorillas:

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