Uganda – What an unexpected surprise 

We thought Rwanda would be a hard act to follow with its natural beauty but Uganda is also magnificent. Unfortunately it’s people don’t share the pride of the Rwandans when it comes to litter. The border crossing was easy and quick and the officials very friendly. Our crossing was at Kisoro near to the Gorilla National Park in the Virunga mountains. The road into Uganda towards Lake Bunyoni is a magnificient winding pass through terraced farmland similar to Rwanda.

Terraced hills similar to Rwanda

The pass has excelent tar and stunning views. 
T4A  battled again as it had in Rwanda even though I have the latest versions of Garmin and Tom Tom compatible maps. I hope that after Karen Theron’s recent extensive travels through Africa the next editions will be better! I will send them my tracks too. The tarred pass was new so we didn’t expect that on the maps.

We followed T4A to to our overnight stop along a 4×4 track on the side of Lake Bunyoni even though we were quite sure we should have stayed on the beautiful new tar road. But the lake was so beautiful we enjoyed it anyway!

Lake Bunyoni Overland Resort is an absolute delight. It’s location is on another of those stunning Rift valley lakes.

Magnificient sunset at Lake Bunyoni Overland Resort

 Their facilities are very good. We spent two nights there.


Boatsmen that took us on the lake

We went for a boat ride in a group on the lake to a small island where King George had sought refuge during World War II. Dr. Strong from Scotland had also stayed on the island in the past and treated lepers in a leper colony on an adjacent island for many years.
Before going to the Bwindi Impenatrable Forest, a World Heritage Site,  we went to Kibale to stock up with essentials.

Vendors use whatever they transport their goods in, to sell from
Plenty of Bananas!
Going bananas in Uganda!

We managed to find an ATM where I could draw Ugandan Shillings, but could not find a supermarket we were used too. We managed to get some shopping from an Indian grocery store, but it stocked a selection of goods not familiar to us.  We were now in a part of Africa where South Africa had less influence, although MTN and DSTV are everywhere.

The Bwindi forest was a treat. These equatorial forests in the high Rift valley mountains, as with Nyangwe forest in Rwanda, are different to anything we were accustomed to. The birdlife was incredible with many species new to us. 

Regal Sunbird

We saw a variety of primates too. That night we camped in the Bwindi forest at the Ruhiza community rest camp run by Goodwin. Expensive as community camps usually are for what we received, but the people are so friendly and proud of what they have achieved. The stay was another memorable occation for us.

More Sunbirds in the campsite gardens

We had a stunning view of the forest and there were masses of birds in their garden too.

I avoided the ablutions with their Asian slot toilets! I’m not able to squat since my knee replacements. I  wasn’t partial to them before my operations either!  

Pristine river in the Bwindi Impenatrable Forest

We continued our trip northwards through the forest although most people turn back to Kibale and take an alternate route north.

Tea picker at a tea plantation on the edge of the forest

 We experienced a day of continual rain which turned the gravel roads into rivers. The wet season had begun. We proceeded with great care. By the time we eventually reached tar again the rain had passed for the day. 

Our route took us through the Queen Elizabeth Game Reserve. As it was a public highway we never had to pay the ridiculously high foreign vehicle enterance fees of $150 for the park. We did see some wild animals but I couldn’t enjoy the free game drive as I had to keep my eyes on the road because of the potholes! 

We crossed the equator before reaching our stop for the night at Simba Safari Camp. 

Although the camp is situated on a hill just outside the park, it’s  a great pity they hadn’t thought of providing their guests with a view! T4A described the camp as having no shade. There were trees everywhere providing plenty of shade but blocking the view. Although I’m criticising T4A, we could never have coped without their maps and information, but their coverage of East Africa is not up to date. So many roads have been tarred and local conditions changed.

The journey along the western border of Uganda was beautiful. The Rwenzori Mountains towered to the left of us and Mt.Stanley at 5100m stood out with its permanent snow covered peak. When we got closer, clouds had covered them and we were not able to get any photos. We arrived at Kisomoro near Fort Portal in the early afternoon and booked in at Kluges Guest Farm, Kabahango. The owners, Stefaan and  Mariam were the most welcoming hosts.

More bananas

It’s a well run active farm with cattle and bananas and situated on the side of a hill with a stunning view. 

Sunset over the Rwenzori Mountains at Kluges Guest farm

We would loved to have stayed here for awhile and chilled but we’d planned to chill later. We made a lovely contact with a Danish family overlanding with their three children. They promised to try contact Janne on their return home. 

It was a long drive to Kampala and we only arrived at rush hour in the evening, but I guess anytime would have been bad in the city traffic. Then the most dreadful thing occurred in the gridlock. Although we always travelled with our doors locked, Solveig had her window open and her cellphone on her lap so she could take pictures whenever she wanted. One of the throng grabbed her phone from her lap and disappeared into the crowd before she knew what had happend! She lost so many photos she’d taken since the last good WiFi connection, including a unique one of a motorcyclist with a lady and cow as passengers! The phone is insured and can be replaced but the photos are now just memories we’ll treasure together and not be able to share.

As we progressed towards our destination in the city we realised that we had two different locations for Red Chilli backpackers on our two GPS’s. We chose the closer one. Just before arriving a broken down truck blocked our path and we had to make a very difficult detour. After driving around the block on an unbelieveble road we reached our destination to find it was the wrong one! And the truck was still blocking our further progress! 

We tried the other GPS (the one that was usually incorrect) and followed that for about another 10 kms. Near the new destination the roads were even worse, but luckily the destination was correct.

New location for Red Chilli Backpackers in Kampala

Certainly nothing to get excited about but the ablutions were good. It was late, we were angry for our earlier stupidity and decided to try their famous pizzas for supper. They were very good, but big. We had enough to have leftovers for supper the next day!
In the morning we were still upset but were determined to enjoy all our experiences. Can you believe the first good experience was Shoprite! It was great to be back in a shop that stocked brands we knew. So much easier too. The next good experience was a lovely lunch in Jinja.

Good things come in threes! 

Our campsite at the Haven on the Nile

Our third was The Haven, about 30 kms up the Nile from Jinja. Our temporary home for the next few days

A colourful lizard and a Tree frog….two of the many creatures in the camp

We’d heard from many fellow travellers how special The Haven was as a place to chill after travelling through Uganda and needed a rest.

Pale Chanting Goshawk

Nothing had prepared us for what we found. It’s possibly one of the best campsites on our entire trip. We were surrounded by nature. 

Jack Fruit griwing next to our campsite

New trees we hadnt seen before which grew these huge fruits
 Creatures and birds everywhere.

A pair of Eastern Grey Plantain Eaters. 2. Juvenile African Fish Eagle. 3. Open Bill Stork

Then there was the river…….

Fisherman in his mokoro

We did something we didn’t do often and that was to treat ourselves to an excelent restuarant meal one evening.  

Fried Tilapia. Delicious!

The restuarant overlooked the rapids where we could watch rafters each morning around 10.00am.

White water rafting on the Nile

As usual, we were enriched by the people we met and made contact with. The staff at The1 Haven made us feel really welcome. We swapped stories and destinations with a young Swiss girl Sebrina.

Sebrina and I discussing campsites and routes

We can really recommend The Haven to all fellow travellers passing by that way. Eventually we tore ourselves away and left for Kenya looking forward to seeing Karen again……

Author: Ian & Solveig's Overland Adventures

Although we never achieved our original goal of reaching Norway overland through Africa, our experience was so unexpectedly rewarding that we've not been able to settled down again! So we added new destinations to our lust for adventure. We hope that you will join us in sharing new exciting places and encounters with the amazing people we meet along the way.

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