Uganda, Rwanda, and Zanzibar-Brief Trip Report

Oct 9th, 2015, 06:33 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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Uganda, Rwanda, and Zanzibar-Brief Trip Report

We recently returned from a three-week trip to Uganda, Rwanda, and Zanzibar. Our primary focus on this trip was trekking to see the Mountain Gorillas, Chimps, and Golden Monkeys. We flew into Entebbe and then flew to KIdepo NP in Uganda. We stayed at Apoka Lodge. We had a great experience there. Our first drive the evening we arrived resulted in seeing lions in trees at very close range! We did not expect this at all. Later, we also saw a pride sitting on high boulders which was an incredible photo op! Kidded seems rather new to the tourist industry and the guides were so gracious and informative. The highlight was doing a walking drive where we walked between a "tower" of giraffes while they all watched us but never shied away!

We then flew to Murchison Falls. This park is just gorgeous! We saw so many birds as well as lions, giraffes, and hippos. The boat ride on the Nile was great as was hiking to the top of Murchison Falls. It is really awesome to see. One thing we would probably do differently is to stay in Paraa Lodge which was our original choice. Although we were advised that it is a large hotel with little local flavor, it is on the same side of the river as the park which is a major time factor. If you are staying across the river and doing game drives as we did, your day revolves around the ferry schedule. Our driver tried to do his best to show us everything but we ended up "flying" to the ferry to make it back across the river.

We next drove to Kibale where we did the Chimp trek. We saw many Chimps at very close range and loved every minute of it.

We then drove to QENP which we enjoyed. In addition to the Kazinga Channel boat ride and the tree-climbing lions. we really enjoyed the landscape with all the volcanic craters/lakes.

We then drove to Bwindi for our first gorilla trek. We actually ended up trekking at the Ruhija entrance but saw many gorillas and loved the scenery and the experience there. We stayed at Buhoma Lodge which we loved.

The people in Uganda are so gracious. Everyone went out of their way to be helpful and encouraged us to return.

We drove across the border to Rwanda where we did the gorilla trek at Volcanoes NP. We saw many more gorillas for a longer period than in Uganda. It was a great experience and the bamboo forest that you hike through to reach the gorillas is really beautiful. We also did the Golden Monkey trek which is at the same locale and enjoyed it as well. There were so many monkeys moving all around us; terrific!

We flew to Zanzibar where we stayed two nights in Stone Town before taking a boat to Chumbe Island for 3 nights. Stone Town is a very different place but we enjoyed it. The Islamic culture was new to us. After having very little shopping sites in Uganda and Rwanda, it was great fun to shop in Zanzibar.

Chumbe Island was all we had dreamed it would be with respect to the accommodations, the beautiful Indian Ocean and the incredible reefs. It was a very relaxing end to our trip. Don't expect to be pampered as the service is rather basic. We were three women traveling together so maybe it was a bit of a gender/culture issue but don't expect much help schlepping your baggage in and out of the boat or wading across the water to the pier in low tide. Anyone with mobility issues would have a difficult time.

Anyone who is considering this trip, do it! It was a great experience and very easy to book the itinerary and our driver through an agency in Kampala. It seemed that everyone we met was following the same itinerary through Uganda/Rwanda.

We were told that we needed USD in $100 bills to pay for visas and also to take only large bills. This is not accurate. The agents were accepting $10's, $20's etc. for the visas and we were kicking ourselves for not taking smaller bills to use for tips and incidentals as US dollars were accepted widely throughout.
nankar123 is offline  
Oct 9th, 2015, 07:44 PM
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Thanks for your report nankar123! Any photos to share?

I loved shopping in Stone Town - walking around the narrow streets and hearing the call to prayer.
KathBC is offline  
Oct 10th, 2015, 06:48 AM
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I took so many photos but it may be some time before I get them organized!
nankar123 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2015, 05:34 PM
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Thanks so much for your report! I've been to Rwanda and absolutely loved it. I dream of doing a combo Uganda-Rwanda trip someday. How very encouraging that you saw lions in Uganda--lucky you.

Glad you had a good trip, and again thank you for reporting here.
Leely2 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 06:05 PM
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Thanks nankin, for the report!! Glad you loved the area!!
I was just thinking of and missing Uganda--which is what brought me to this report! BTW, i loved Paraa Lodge when there 3 yrs ago. The rooms and public areas were great, as was the location! which you noted.
Besides...sometimes it is nice to have a larger place with pool. I always think those places are just as "local" flavored as smaller ones---just with a different emphasis, perhaps
CaliNurse is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 06:06 PM
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typo.grrr!! thanks nankar
CaliNurse is offline  
Oct 17th, 2015, 07:46 PM
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Yes, after a bit of "roughing it", Paraa Lodge would have seemed rather welcome!
We were really surprised that the lions in Kidepo were so amazing! We saw them in the trees on the first game drive after we arrived. Later, when we were returning to Apoka Lodge, we passed high boulders by the road and the lions were resting on top! The photo ops were the best ever!
nankar123 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2016, 11:40 PM
Join Date: Jun 2016
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Thanks for your report i was also in Uganda last month i trekked chimps at Kibale, drove to Queen and later to Bwindi where we tracked Gorillas. It was amazing time to be with the Gorillas and the Batwa community who are very social and friendly their culture is very unique. I slept in Engiri game lodge in Queen, Trekkers tervan in Bwindi and Kibale guest house. Thier food was nice and great!!!
Hessa is offline  
Jul 7th, 2016, 04:57 AM
Join Date: Jul 2016
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I havent been yet, but i play to in 2017, and with this report it has "hyped" me up so much! Cannot wait to go to Uganda, P.S Great report! Really well explained.
AndrewPeterson is offline  
Jul 28th, 2016, 12:40 AM
Join Date: Jul 2016
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Hullo, thanks for your report it helps many o plan for their trips to Uganda and Rwanda its very encouraging. i was in Uganda but i missed Kidepo because the time was not enough but i hope one day i will be in Apoka
Marike is offline  
Jul 28th, 2016, 02:32 AM
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This sound like real great trip. Thank you for sharing.
elmundosafari is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2016, 12:18 AM
Join Date: Aug 2016
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Thanks for your report it was very helpful to me, i used it i had the best safari in Uganda in July. I went to Bwindi for gorilla tracking and i slept in Buhoma community it was great their services were very good, i missed paraa in queen because of my budget but i was in Engiri game lodge in queen every thing was nice.
Our tour operator Agonga Tours and travel made us save a lot when all the activities which we wanted were covered and we did not miss to see much us we were lucky that we saw lions in atree on our game drive from ishasha and other big game.
Jackyson2 is offline  

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