Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Africa & the Middle East (
-   -   rwanda & uganda safari (

PJG Mar 11th, 2009 12:30 PM

rwanda & uganda safari
A few of us are planning a trip to Rwanda and Uganda, wanting to do 2 grilla trek and so on. We plan on being there about 18 to 20 days, has anyone done this ,Into Africa has one going there and seems very good.
We are wondering about the lodging etc and would budget or mid range be as good as upper ones? PJG

atravelynn Mar 11th, 2009 05:13 PM

Me too, me too in August 2009 for about the same amount of days.

I wish I knew more about the various accommodations to answer you question.

The itinerary is quite a bit of driving, but they list their times so you know.

Here are some comments.

I believe it is this trip.

Murchison Falls—Try to see Ugandan Kob and Rothschild giraffe there, not found everywhere. and rare shoebill stork, which is mentioned in the itinerary. Don’t know if time allows, but the falls and the delta offer different perspectives. Don’t know the spots. I’m staying at Paraa for convenience to both falls and game drives. I think that’s upper end, but not real expensive. The Red Chili stop is supposed to be nice.

Kibale--Nice you are doing chimp walk, then swamp walk. Don’t know about your accommodation choices. If you hear machine guns in the night, don’t fear the worst. It is likely rangers chases off eles from the nearby village. I aged a few years one night in Kibale because I did not know that.

Semuliki—Nice addition, I have not been there, but heard it is fascinating.

Queen Elizabeth—It mentions a walk in Maramagambo Forest. There was a cool bat cave there with pythons awaiting their bat meal. Afternoon was the most likely time for the pythons to feed I was told. The Kazinga Channel launch was outstanding. 1500 hours is a good time to go for light and photography. As you board the boat, choose the righthand side for the most action. Mwyea Lodge is the most convenient location for the boat trip. You can walk to it from the lodge. It is a big, bustling lodge and not remote or secluded but I’ve been there several times and am always impressed with the resident wildlife. Banded mongoose all over and warthogs too. You could get very close to the weavers in the trees. I sat on the ground next to nursing warthogs who chose to wander over to me. If you can avoid it on a weekend, that’s good because it attracts a large local clientele from the city. This park is the only one where I’ve seen Giant Forest Hogs. You’ll see the Ugandan Kob here too.

Bunyonyi—I know nothing

PNV—Gorilla’s Nest is nice. Great resident flock of crowned crane. Can be cold at night but you can request your own pot of simmering coals to warm up the room.

Bwindi—though I have not stayed at them, the Bwindi View Bandas looked nice. That’s good you have a second gorilla visit here.

Lake Mburo—Mantana camp was really nice. The “best nature walk in all parks” seems to be hyperbole to me. I did a walk on two separate occasions that was nice, but not best ever.
2 nights at Lake Mburo does not seem to be the wisest use of your time and I am generally a fan of 2+ nights in one place and don’t like one night stops.

Ssese Island—Don’t know much about it, but looks interesting. At one time a Jane Goodall Chimp Sanctuary was going to expand there from Ngamba Island. Don’t know if that is still in the works or happening.

Jinja—Know nothing but if you like whitewater rafting, you’d like it.

Last day—Kasubi Tombs have interested me. Never heard of anyone visiting Mabiara forest.

Some recent photos from MyDogKyle who did volunteer work and safari.

Good luck.

MyDogKyle Mar 12th, 2009 10:24 AM


As Lynn mentioned, I did a similar trip last October and had a terrific time. Uganda is really one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and the gorilla trekking in Rwanda is an incredible experience. We didn't go gorilla trekking in Bwindi, but we did drive through that area and it's just gorgeous. The link Lynn gave you to my photos has a description of our itinerary too, but I'm hoping to set started on a more thorough trip report this weekend.

As far as lodging and "budget," "mid-range" or "high end" goes, I think it's safe to say you're going to get something very different depending on which level you choose, but all that really matters is what YOU want and need from your loding. We had a mix of "high end" and, I guess, "mid-range" during our trip, depending on how that's defined. In general, unless you're really picky about where you sleep and need the little luxuries every night, I always think it's a good idea to have a mix of accommodation types -- save money in some places, and splurge in others. We thought the mid-range/budget places we stayed were perfectly fine, and it was great to have a chance to try Ugandan food and be a little less separate from the local folks than you are in a big lodge.

I don't know about the some of specific lodging mentioned on the link in Lynn's post, but here's my thoughts about where we stayed:

Our splurge lodges were Paraa in Murchison Falls and Mweya in QENP, both of which were quite nice, had reliable hot water and electricity, swimming pools, nice views, big restaurant with continental food, etc. They reminded me of the big lodges in Kenya. Although I'm more a fan of the tented camps, everyone in our group thought these places were very nice and gave a us a relaxing break from some of the rougher parts of our trip. The wildlife viewing from Mweya was great, with hippo, warthog and mongoose roaming the grounds and huge herds of elephants on the peninsula down below, and at night we could hear lions and hyenas.

Some people in our group stayed at the Ndali Lodge in the Kibale area and thought it was very nice. We stayed at the Kibale Forest Camp (formerly Mantana Tented Camp) and loved it. The common areas are new and very nice, but the tents themselves are older and pretty basic, with bucket showers and composting toilets. It's right in the forest, so we saw and heard LOTS of monkeys around camp -- black and white colobus and red colobus, especially. The atmosphere is incredible. As I said, we all loved this place and the food and service were top-notch, but some folks who are used to the high-end tented camps in other parts of East Africa might find this place a bit basic. In the rainy season it was very cold and damp, but we just bundled up at night and were fine. I think this camp is described as a "luxury camp" sometimes, but I wouldn't describe it that way at this stage. They are in the process of remodeling the whole camp, so that might change. At this point I would describe it as mid-range, and be aware that getting to it requires a pretty rough ride through the forest over some crazy roads. If you like camping, it's worth it! The staff was the best we met on our entire trip, and they really went above and beyond to make our stay special.

On of the less expensive places we stayed was the New Court View Hotel in Masindi (for visiting the Budongo Forest), which had simple little one-room brick cottages with semi-decent showers. They serve very good Ugandan food. Nothing fancy at all, but I liked this place. I'd recommend eating here even if you didn't stay the night.

In Rwanda we stayed at La Palme Hotel, which was spiffy but had incredibly hard beds (the hot showers were great after gorilla trekking, though), and then we were at the Kinigi Guest House, which is a good mid-range option with comfortable beds, decent food and a great location near the trekking office. Our only problem with this place was that the water wasn't always functioning, but in the end everyone got showers and it was fine. We liked the grounds and common areas here, and our group enjoyed it (but it's definitely nothing fancy).

Some thoughts about non-game-drive activities:

We really enjoyed the Kasubi Tombs, and I would recommend them if you're interested in learning more about Uganda's history and culture.

FYI: When we were there, the Maramagambo bat caves were closed to tourists because of concerns about Marburg virus.

We went hiking to the Amabeere Caves and crater lakes in the Kibale area, and had a great time. It's really beautiful hiking country.

Hope these comments are helpful! In case you want to consider other companies, our trip was arranged by African Connection (, which is the U.S. office for East African Nature Safaris, based in Kampala.

PJG Apr 20th, 2009 09:53 PM

Thank you for all your good tips, so far we are 11 going and most of us have bought our airline tickets.. For some reason I am not getting any more emails from IntAfrica company..has me concerned, hope to get an email tomorrow.
We are all very excited about the 18 days trip, 20 days if you caount the day of arrival and the day of departure,
I guess if they fail to contact us by next week, I might have ot look at another company..but hope they do answer as we seem to have a great package.

PJG Apr 20th, 2009 09:57 PM

Have you been getting any response lately, I should ask have you made any inquiries with tem about the trip? If not send an email and let me know if you get a response, email me at [email protected]
I am also very curious as to how your trip will go as we plan the same one for Jan 27 to Feb 15, 2010

Gritty Apr 21st, 2009 05:39 AM

All I have to say is do NOT go INTO the "python cave" that has been mentioned. There were 2 cases of Marburg hemorrhagic fever among tourists associated with this cave in 2008. This is something you really do not want to get!

Hopefully, this cave is closed, but if it isn't, I would not venture in.

ovenbird Apr 21st, 2009 06:24 AM

I agree about the python cave. Here's a link to the CDC report from July 2008:

And there was an outbreak in Bundibugyo in Feb 2008:

In Uganda, it's probably wise not to enter any caves harboring bats.

If I can find my info from our Uganda trip, I'll look up the places we stayed at. We took a similar trip, but it was focused on birding.

atravelynn Apr 21st, 2009 03:04 PM

Thanks for the python cave updage and its diseases. The cave I saw did not require you to go inside. It was more like an indention in a wall of rock. You could see everything without entering into a structure.

ovenbird Apr 22nd, 2009 03:29 AM

Lynn, we probably went to the same cave you did. We stood outside and watched the bats come out.

Found another case of Marburg from January 2009:
Hope that cave is closed.

Still can't find our Uganda info!

ovenbird Apr 22nd, 2009 01:19 PM

Found the info! On our trip to Uganda in Nov 2006, we stayed at 2 places listed in PJG's itinerary, Mweya Safari Lodge (top end) at QENP and Mantana Tented Camp (mid-range) at Lake Mburo. Both were very comfortable as folks have previosly indicated, but very different experiences (lodge vs tent which we prefer). The other accommodations we used were Paraa Safari Lodge at Murchison Falls, Masindi Hotel at Masindi, and Gately on the Nile at Jinja...all three were also very comfortable. Paraa was fairly luxurious, but we preferred the mid-range Masindi Hotel and Gately.

We spent half a day in the Mabira Forest. It is an important area for birders, so we stopped on our way from Kampala to Jinja. It is a beautiful rain forest and we very much enjoyed hiking the trails. If you're interested in going here, you might want to look for trip reports from non-birders to give you a better idea of whether or not you might like to spend time there. Recently, there has been a movement to turn the forest into more sugar cane fields. That would be a tragedy as it is the largest block of moist semi-deciduous forest remaining in the central region of Uganda. As an aside, we were told this forest had been a dumping ground for Idi Amin...a sobering reminder of the country's history.

It looks like a wonderful itinerary...good luck with the tour companies/ground agents!


fourwheelinit May 15th, 2009 10:41 AM

Two of us are going to Uganda and Tanzania in November. We are only doing an 8 day trek in Uganda and are staying alot of the same camps that have been mentioned. We are not going to the falls unfortunately.
Our trip was arranged by Go2Africa. Janine was our booking agent but has left the company.

simbakubwa May 15th, 2009 01:54 PM

For Lake Mburo, nothing comes close to Mihingo Lodge with its infinity pool...

loru100 May 17th, 2009 02:27 PM

We did five days in Rwanda last September in addition to our safari in Kenya. We stayed at Gorilla's Nest and for the price, it can't be beat. Considering how little time you spend in your room, I can't imagine spending 4 to 5 times as much for the Silverback Lodge. You're up early in the morning and the three treks we did never had us back to our rooms before 4:00. And Gorilla's Nest is about a 10 minute drive from the park headquarters, compared to Silverback which I think is an hour away.

We used a company called R & N Xplorer (after quite a few Fodorites recommended them). I was nervous at first as you have to wire transfer the money, but it all worked out in the end and we saved thousands of dollars compared to other tour companies.

LuciaBoston May 24th, 2009 10:14 AM

I was in Rwanda for 10 days in August, 2006. We did a very budget trip, which I highly recommend. Essentially, here is the bare bones our trip, let me know if you want further info.

Kigali--stayed at the Milles Collines, which was our treat. Rooms are average to subpar, food is amazing, pool is great. We kept our luggage w/ them as we travelled around, which they were fine with.

Took a matatu, if you want to know which one I can look it up, but I'm sure they've changed names, for $1 to Ruhengeri. Then walked to the Hotel Murabura (had reservations and our room was $20-30). Very basic, but clean and comfortable and the manager was awesome. Food is good as well. The manager arranged for transport for our gorilla trek ($50 drop off and pick up).

We booked one of our gorilla treks in advance and another when we got there. You do NOT need to go thru a tour, you can book direct w/ ORPTN.

We then took a taxi from Ruhengeri to Gisenyi and stayed at the Palm Hotel, paid for what we got. Food was good. From there we took a boat (well worth the $120) across Lake Kivu to Kibuye and stayed at our favorite place, Hotel Bethanie for $25. From Kibuye we took a matatu back to Kigali (and then went back to Ruhengeri for our last trek).

My fiance also went to many other places in Rwanda before I got there, if you're interested in hearing more, just let me know.

So gorilla tickets aside (which were $375 each when we were there) I think we spent less than $1000 for the two of us on accommodations, food and transport for 10 days in Rwanda.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:34 AM.