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Top 7 Driving Tips for Uganda Visitors

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Driving in Uganda

Uganda, the “Pearl of Africa” as it is often referred with all its beauty is one heck of an incredible safari destination to explore at any time of the year. The different tourist destinations are straight out of a postcard with some of the most jaw-dropping views any one can ask for hence making them worth exploring during self drive in Uganda.

This country is Paradise and it is a wonderful idea for any traveler for enjoy a fantastic road trip. The 8-9-hour drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the 6-7-hour drive to Kibale Forest National Park or the 7-hour drive to Murchison Falls national Park are some of the most rewarding drives in the country because endless views are expected.

However, being a foreign destination for many travelers, it is always important to be acquainted with this country’s roads and certain rules and regulations before hitting the road. It is undeniable that driving in Uganda might seem easy and fun but there are a number of things you have to know and be mindful of. Therefore, here are the top 7 driving tips for any Uganda visitor;

Drive on the left-hand side

In Uganda, driving is on the left-hand side of the road, and all cars (including rental cars) are right-hand drive vehicles.

This is sometimes overwhelming and difficult following at first, but while driving and following traffic during your road trip, it wont take long to get used to it. However, more caution and care should be taken when driving on the road alone, to be sure you aren’t driving on the wrong side of the road.  Overtaking/pass is on the right.

Avoid driving at night/after sundown

Driving at night is not a good idea, although it is not a total no-no. One of the reasons we highly advise against driving after sundown/or at night is due to the high risk of hold up as well as robberies. However, if you ever find yourself driving at night, it is advisable to be more cautious and vigilant.

Car Doors and Windows should be locked

Car Doors and windows should be locked, especially while driving through Urban Centers and major Cities. However, it is safe to leave a small gap at the window top for fresh air (while driving, and not packed) and surprisingly also prevents the window from breaking.

Avoid leaving valuables in the Car

Leaving valuables in the car is sometimes inevitable but should be avoided if possible. Even when you do, make sure that it is out of sight from outside because nothing of value will attempt a thief. For Campers, ensure that all access points as well as storage sections are properly locked, and if you can put a padlock on your storage cabinets that have exterior access.

Speed limits in Uganda

Maintain the recommended speed limits while driving on Ugandan roads to avoid traffic fines/penalties and for this reason, the limit on National highways is 100 kilometers per hour. On urban roads/Trading centers you are advised to maintain a speed of 50 kilometers per hour while on secondary (rural) roads maintain 80 kilometers per hour.

It is always important to check the different road signs and follow the speed limits at all times, but if it is raining, misty or even when the road in congested, drivers are advised to reduce the speed even below the indicated speed limit.

Avoid picking up hitchhikers

No matter how innocent, appealing or lost they look, avoid stopping to pick up hitchhikers because majority of them are thieves looking to take advantage of your kindness. However, if you feel concerned about the person’s plight, it is advisable to instead make a stop at the next Town and make a report to someone there.

Avoid stopping at accident scenes

This might sound inhumane but it is one of the top driving tips we give to Ugandan visitors. You might be prompted to do it but it is better to continue driving and instead made a call or stop at the nearby Café/shop to ask for assistance or report the accident. There have been cases of thieves and hijackers staging accidents to take advantage of unsuspecting drivers.

Journey into the Ankole Cultural Heritage

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Ankole Cultural Heritage

Ankole is a region rich in cultural heritage. Unique dishes, language, folklore, you can name them, it’s all there.

Originally known as ‘Kaaro-karungi’ loosely translated as ‘beautiful village.’ the area is inhabited by the Banyankole – a Bantu group. They inhabit the present districts of Mbarara, Kiruhura, Isingiro, Ibanda, Bushenyi, Sheema, Rubirizi, Buhweju, Mitooma and Ntungamo in western Uganda.

Today, Ankole’s cultural heritage is fast fading. What remains is in tales and a few traditional ceremonies. But not all is lost. Igongo Cultural Museum, the biggest in Western Uganda, is preserving the Nkole culture through various artifacts.

Located 15 minutes away from Mbarara Town at Biharwe Trading Centre, the museum has become a leading tourist destination. With many legendary artifacts safely tucked away in transparent glass rooms, one is ushered into the rich Ankole heritage.

The name Igongo is itself of historical importance. It is derived from Igongo hill found in Rwenjeru village in Mbarara District. It is said that during the reign of King Ntare – which was between 1587 to 1615 – floods in Ankole Kingdom claimed thousands of people and livestock. King Ntare was compelled to seek divine intervention.

The diviner ordered that a white spotless cow (ente njeru) be slaughtered and the rituals were performed at Igongo hill. Miraculously, it is said, the water reduced and collected to form present day Lake Mburo. Pleased, the king named one of those.

A sculpture showing a traditional Ankole bride wearing beads

His sons Kasasira (the forgiver). Kasasira also later ruled Ankole from 1615 – 1643. Since then, Igongo hill became an important aspect of Ankole culture. It’s no wonder the museum is named after it. The museum has different sections of historical importance including: Social stratification Here one learns that Ankole society was/is stratified into Bahima (pastoralists) and the Bairu (agriculturalists).

A caste-like system of the Bahima over the Bairu existed. There was a general belief that a hoe is what made a mwiru (singular Bairu) what he is. Similarly, the Bahima were identified with cattle. This kind of belief was not very accurate because merely acquiring cows would not transform one from a Mwiru into a Muhima. Nor would the loss of cows transform a Muhima into a Mwiru – this is very common currently as some Bahima have taken on digging and Bairu own cattle. Because of the different way of life, even their homes looked different.

Marriage There is a lot to learn about marriage in Ankole – from the function to the beliefs that marriage is a sacred affair. The bride was expected to be a virgin until the night she is deflowered by her husband. If the parents of the girl were aware that their daughter was not a virgin, they would formally communicate to the husband by giving the girl – among the other gifts – a perforated coin or another hollow object, in most times a cloth. A bride was also meant to dress differently from the everyday way of dressing and jewelry.

There was and still is a function called okuhingira (giveaway) which is the day a woman/bride is officially handed over to the boy’s family. Among the gifts a bride would take would be Omugamba. The Omugamba would contain various calabashes that a bride would use in her new home. It is still the case today. War Often, the kingdom of Ankole was at war with the neighbouring states. Sometimes there would be raiding expeditions to Buhweju Kingdom and Karagwe in Tanzania. The Banyankole weapons comprised of spears, arrows and shields. The Royal Regalia The royal regalia of Ankole consisted of a spear and drums.

The main instrument of power was the royal drum called Bagyendanwa. This drum was believed to have been made by Wamala, the last Muchwezi ruler. It was only beaten at the installation of a new King and had its special hut. It was considered taboo to shut the hut. A fire was always kept burning for Bagyendanwa and this fire could only be extinguished in the event of the death of the King.

The drum had its own cows and some other attendant drums namely; kabembura, Nyakashija, eigura, kooma and Njeru ya Buremba. Communication You will learn that the Banyankole had several forms f communication for different functions. If one brewed local beer, they would inform others by hanging a coil made from banana leaves at the road to their homestead. Whoever saw it would know there is beer in that home. To call for a meeting, the messenger would blow a trumpet locally known as enzamba or a drum.

Handwork was an important aspect of Ankole. It was through handwork such as carpentry, iron smelting, pottery, weaving, as well as making leather products that people got the different items for use in day to day life. For instance the milk pots (ebyanzi), emikarabanda (wooden sandals) were carved out of wood. Spears, knives, needles for weaving were all from iron smelting. Baskets, stretchers for carrying brides and sick people were woven.

Cultural Villages

Outside the Museum is the cultural village. This exhibits the ways of life of the two different Ankole castes – the Bairu and Bahiima. You are ushered into how they lived, stored food and the general arrangement of the interior of their house. A Muhima house, for instance, has a designated corner called Orugege. Here milk pots, calabashes to churn yoghurt and ghee as well as entsimbo – the special calabash for storing ghee, would be kept under strict hygienic conditions. In a mwiru house, there had to be obugamba – a rack made from tree stems where food and firewood would be kept. It was usually above the cooking stones.

Not only does Ankole have a rich culture, the region also has unique dishes one will not find anywhere else. One of the most important food is Eshabwe. This is made from cow ghee which is mixed with rock salt and water. It is often served with karo (millet bread) and matooke (bananas).

Another important Ankole food is Karo (millet bread). This is got from mingling millet flour. It is served in special baskets known as endiiro. This was formerly the staple food of the Banyankole until matooke infiltrated the region.

Enkuru is a special sauce got from cow skins (oruhu). After drying the skin, you peel the inside and the meat-looking pieces you get are dried and later boiled and mixed with ghee and hot water. It can also be served with eshabwe.

Witness Uganda’s Urban Nightlife

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Urban Nightlife in Uganda

Uganda is one of the liveliest countries on the African continent and Kampala is one of the best cities to enjoy an urban nightlife. This is witnessed by the number of events hosted every year as well as high profile musicians, comedians, and actors who frequent this country.

Uganda’s Night Clubs

Uganda’s nightclubs offer an excellent example of how our fun and exciting Ugandans are. When you visit any of the night clubs in Kampala, you will come to see how Ugandans enjoy life from their amazing dance strokes to fun filled exchanges. When Uganda is referred to as the Pearl of Africa, we do not refer to only its amazing wildlife and natural beauty but also the many faces of fun as much as its culture.

Many Ugandan nightclubs cater for the entire range of musical and stylistic tastes of Ugandans as well as those of our visitors. We have hang out joints that play jazz and salsa, rock music, hip-hop, traditional music and pop music. If you have a special interest, you will find a nightclub catering for it somewhere in Uganda. Top night clubs in Kampala include Guvernor, 90 Degrees, Capital Pub, Timeless, Angenoir, Club Silk, Club Ambience, Club Amnesia and more. Nightclubs in Uganda pride themselves on delivering a tailor-made experience to a discerning clientele.

Theatres

There are several theatres if you would like to catch up with the latest drama within Uganda. From the local theatrical performances to dances for both local and international visitors, there are several places you can wind and relax in Uganda. Top theatres include Theatre Labonita, Bat Valley Theatre, Royal Theatre, Club Obliggatto for live musical perfomances and more. If You would like cultural and edutainment provided by some of the popular groups in Uganda visit the Kiika or Ndere troupe found in Kampala. There are also several orphanage dance groups spread through out the whole of Uganda that you can visit and help support orphans.

Local Concerts

There are also performances from the local celebrates as they organize numerous entertainment concerts through out the whole country at an affordable price. From as low as UGX3000 you can enjoy a pleasant evening at one of the local concerts organized in several local hotels and performance grounds such as Kyadondo Rugby Club. For those who want to party the whole night Kampala is filled with fast food restaurants open 24/7.

Bars

There are lots of bars in Kampala. From the local bars in several areas such as Kabalagala, Lubaga, and Central Kampala to high end bars in the Kololo side, there are plenty of places where you can catch up with other drinkers and sum up your day. In Uganda, there are a few restrictions on alcohol and there are a variety of beers and wines on the market ranging from local brands like the Nile Special, Club Pilsner, Bell Lager to international brands.

Whether your choice is to experience local culture or submerge yourself in an international trend, just come and visit the Pearl of Africa and have the time of your life!!!

Guide to Hiking Hills and Mountains Around Uganda

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Mount Muhavura

Yearning for an adventure that will renew and rejuvenate your positive energy, why not head out for a hiking encounter that will leave you with tears of joy. Here are some recommendations across Uganda. The one thing they share in common is that they are full of jaw-dropping scenery and gentle gradients. This makes “summiting” them possible even for those who are less physically fit. The experience they offer is perfect for team building and bonding with loved ones.

Mountain Muhavura
At an altitude ranging from 2,227m and 4,127m, Mghahinga is a visual masterpiece soaring high in the clouds. It has three summits that will catch your eye and carry you into endless vastness of the sky.

Looking at them from a far, you are bound to think they offer the same hiking experiences as they are all have a pyramid shape. Make no mistake, they don’t! And no, there can never be a better way to find out than hiking them all. As matter of fact, if you are looking to shade some weight the adventurous way, Muhavura is a perfect “gym”. Due to its steep gradient, it offers a hike that is sweaty, though climbing it is an assured way of feeling the alluring freshness of the mountain. At its top is a crater lake with a scenic beauty that revitalizes the inner most being.

On the other hand, Mountain Mghahinga is hard to miss, if you are looking to take a gentle hike to relax the mind and stretch the muscles. It takes the average hiker five hours to climb it and 2-3 to descend it. Ever wondered what it is like to be in three countries at the same time? If the answer is Yes, Mount Sabinyo is more than happy to make your dream come true.

At its summit is a vantage point where the borders of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda unite in harmony. You can have one leg in Rwanda, the other in Congo, your hands in Uganda, and your heart in no man’s land.

Kagulu Hill  

You can never know Kamuli District is truly paradise unless you have had a bird’ view of it from Kagulu Hill’s towering summit. And that is where a two hours hiking challenge comes in. It has a clear trail that best suits the kind of traveler who likes pleasure without pain. It overlooks a peaceful green village, vast blue rivers, and Lake Kyoga.  This trail is to be experienced, lived, savored. It will not disappoint, no! The thing that lures the most is that it has concrete steps. This provides an experience that is easy to tame. Kagulu is believed to be the first point the Basoga settled in—following their secession from the Bunyoro Kingdom in around the 17th Century.

Mountain Rwenzori
It is not a must that everyone who goes to the Rwenzori Mountains must hike it all the way to its highest summit. For that, the mountain has one to three days of hiking trails for the kind of adventurer who wants to just have a good time in the jungle. In general, they offer more of a mental challenge than a physical one. It is effortlessly easy to explore them thanks to the many bridges and ladders that had been erected over their impassable features like rivers. There are guides and porters to help out whenever need be, however, you could also complete it without any support. All one needs is a compass and a map of the park.

What to know?
Rwenzori has two main trails in the above regard, Rwenzori Central Circuit and Kilembe Trail. The former is for budget clients and the latter high end tourists. A day’s excursion will cost roughly $100 and $350 respectively. The fee covers for a full board excursion.

Got Ngetta
Thanks to its location in a semi-arid setting, the weather at Lira’s Got Ngetta Hill is not punishingly cold. This will lessen your vulnerability to altitude sickness.

Located in Ngetta, a rocky zone in the outer edge of Lira town, Ngetta is a magnificent solid rock standing at about 4,500ft above sea level. As you beat its hiking challenge, you will encounter several monkeys and birds. The natural attraction boasts of over 50 recorded butterfly species.

Legend has it that around the 16th century, the present day tribes of Teso, Karamojong, Acholi, Langi’s Kumams and Japhadola all belonged descended from this Hill. The best part of the story is that hiking it is free, like most of the other hills on this list.

Wanale Hill
Wanale is that hill with jagged slopes, located in the outskirts of Mbale Town and yes, it is from it that the town got its name. It is a grass green mountain that soars into the clear blue skies.

A visit to this place will leave you with immense respect for this hilly land upon whose soils Uganda’s favourite coffee is grown. Arabica is its name, an enchanting beverage with a crisp, sharp and pleasant aroma. Like Elgon, a Mountain to which Wanale belongs, its sheer size, clear waters, and green vegetation make it way better than any theme park. That is why I call it paradise. But as is typical of paradise, it’s towering summit is not easy to reach. Only those who are patient enough to endure a two hours’ hike get to experience the champagne panoramic views it offers. From the bottom, Mbale looks very well planned and organized. However, from the top, the town looks like a beautiful mess. It looks busy and crammed with buildings. It is surrounded by virgin swamps and farmlands.

Mountain Moroto

In contrast to the tradition that the higher one climbs the cooler it becomes, the temperatures start to rise as you ascend Mountain Moroto, one of the highest Mountains in Karamoja(10115 ft above sea level). This makes scaling its serrated edges fun.

There isn’t much to see here in terms of scenery. Much of its trail is walled by a thick concentration of vegetation that blocks visibility across. This doesn’t translate into boredom though. The guides here are really funny storytellers with heaps of jokes.

Hiking Tips
Mountaineering is largely about attitude. If you go with a negative attitude, you will get knocked off very easily. Go with a positive mindset and I guarantee you, the results will be impressive.

Be sure to drink enough water as you ascend. It goes a long way in helping you acclimatize.

June is the rainy season in Uganda. If hiking this month, warm clothing and a boot with good treads are a must-have.

Uganda Tourism: How It Changes Lives of the Locals

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Uganda the Pearl of Africa

The Tourism income in Uganda has made huge strides in addressing and eradicating poverty in rural areas of Uganda where tourist sites and destinations are found. Most of the Ugandans believe that spending on tourism is more or less a foreign concept. However, tourism reigns up there as one of the main foreign exchange earners for Uganda.

The high tourism revenue is mostly received from the increasing number of tourists visiting the the different National Parks for game viewing safaris and gorilla safaris (within Bwindi National Park) in recent years. It’s on record that in 2004, 125,203 visitors were received in the Uganda’s National Parks and by 2009; the number had increased to 145,000. Even though sometimes, Uganda is talked about badly by the international media especially about incidences like the Bwindi massacre of tourists in 1999, the ADF incursions between 1998 and 2001, the murder of the Jimmy Sekasi Institute students in 2001 in Murchison Falls National Park and the violent raids on villages in the northern Uganda by Joseph Kony, all these are now hostory. The country has enjoyed a semblace of peace for the last 30 years and even the Northern part of Uganda is safe for all travels. The increase in the number of tourist inflows of 19797 in 5 years (from 2004 to 2005) is quite admirable.

The best option to minimize poaching and emphasize wildlife conservation is to address poverty in the rural areas especially among the communities neighboring the protected areas such as National Parks and wildlife reserves. To address Poverty in rural areas, the organization concerning wildlife conservation which is the Uganda Wildlife Authority has, for years, now implemented the revenue sharing programme under which neighboring communities are given 20% of annual National Park entry fees to help them in their communities and in most cases this money is given to community projects of these areas.

It’s on record that up to date a total of sh4b has been disbursed to neighboring communities through their local governments, with the funds being used to bring services closer to the people as well as start income generating projects for the local communities such as the Micro Finance Institutions which lends money to the local communities to start their own business which will benefit them together with the tourists. Such businesses are Craft shops, Museums, Community Cultural groups and so on.

There are over 30 districts neighboring the Uganda National Parks and protected areas. In all these areas, local communities have taken the lead in selecting a project for funding under the revenue sharing project. Most Local communities have over the years insisted on getting projects like classroom blocks, school latrines, health centres, teachers’ houses, irrigation schemes, construction of community halls, road construction and rehabilitation projects, trench excavation, tree planting schemes, gravity water schemes, Pig, Hen, Cow and goat rearing projects among others. These projects have helped to ease the life of several rural people who had to trek long distances in search of basic social amenities such as education, health care or markets for their produce and health. More still there has been improvement in sanitation in areas where School Latrines have been constructed, easy access to the markets in places where roads have been constructed, easy access to health facilities and hence reduction in the death rates and also pregnant women giving birth to their children from home and also reduction in mis-courages because of lack of medication to pregnant women. Among all there has been reduction in maternal deaths because of the easy access to hospitals with in their areas.

Uganda’s tourism sector has also benefited directly the local communities by offering markets to their merchandise like crafts which are sold to Tourists directly. Also many local community members are employed with in the tourism industry as Porters. They are also hired for local cultural performances as well as increased employment opportunities with tour companies, lodges and Uganda Wildlife Authority. Local Guides and porters earn more dollars in a month than any average civil servant will earn in a year.

You can now take a Uganda safari as a way of helping the local community and also poverty eradication in the rural areas. Just look for a local tour operator who supports ecotourism  in Africa. In addition, the revenue gained from tourism including park entrance fees, gorilla permit fees and other passes is distributed accordingly between the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the local communities and also these local people will get a chance to offer you their best products and services.

Why You Should Hire a Private Car for Uganda Travel

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4x4 Uganda Car Hire

or many years ago, Uganda has been ranked as a highly sought after travel destination in Africa due to its spectacular rolling hills, mysterious relief, verdant vegetation, diverse cultures and warm people. Though the country still holds a very dark history, characterized by the 19th century post-colonial civil wars which impacted negatively on this remarkable country for a period of time, but it was able to emerge dramatically and it is now a celebrated safe and most sought after safari destination in Africa.

Whatever your travel interests in Africa are, be it guided nature safaris, self-drive adventures, road trips or wildlife tours you will definitely come to understand that complete satisfaction is derived when you use a private vehicle to experience all on your own.

Benefits of using Private Car Services in Uganda.

It is highly considered an inconvenient to waste time in waiting, and this is the reason behind the emergency of private cars and diminishing preference for public transportation all over the world as this kind of transportation generally consumes a lot of time. In recent times, private cab services are a boom as they can take you anywhere you wish at reasonable prices and in a shortest period of time. Wherever you want to go, whether an airport transfer, a short city tour, a long holiday to the hidden national parks, etc., there is absolutely no better way than taking a private cab picking you up from your doorstep.

If you dream to have a memorable journey, trying hiring a luxurious sedan or chauffeured limo. The prime benefit lies in the fact that these private cabs, compared to public transportation, are very reliable, affordable and they help you reach your destination on time.

Another benefit of hiring a private car in Uganda is that you can travel in comfort and style without worrying or fighting for space and seats as it is the case ] in public transportation. If you plan to travel by public transportation, you are bound to follow the schedule of the bus or train, which is an inconvenience. However, if you make the same travel using a private car, you can change it anyway you need and make modifications according to your requirements.

You can also rent a private cab to explore your local city. Discovering a new place in relaxed, flexible and comfortable way is a magical experience. Unlike tourist buses, where you are given only limited time to a particular destination, whereas you can stay as long as you desire with a private rental.

Safety and security is a major factor, and this can only be assured when you travel with a private car. In private transportation, most travelers embark on a safari with people whom they are familiar with, like family members and friends.

Though public transportation is relatively cheaper than private hire, however the comfort, safety and freedom that one gets from the latter is unequaled.

With private hire, travelers can have opportunity to interact with their dear ones back home, stopping along the way to take memorable pictures as well as admiring unfamiliar landscape.

Though there many car hire agencies that provide the same services, one has always to be careful when they are making their last decision about the car rental agency to deal with. Remember to the check registration status of the company and their credibility by reading their online reviews, etc.

Choose a car rental company that has stood a test of time, experienced and reputable enough to offer undoubted car rental services in Uganda and all over Africa.

Timeless Huts of West Nile

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West Nile Huts

Like most corners of Uganda, the time factor and modernization have over the years impacted a lot of change in Packwach, a cosmopolitan pen­insular zone in West Nile mainly dominated by the Jo Nam tribe and Alur tribes.

From its once solitary hills and valley that are now jammed like an Internally Displaced Peoples camp-to the once deep accents of its locals that now costs more than luck to differentiate from speaking in spiritual tongues-almost everything defines change-just as much as change defines almost every­thing.

However, like a legacy, the originality and uniquely beautiful architecture of its grass thatched huts have weathered it all and stood the test of time. Even in the most affluent neighborhoods, only one out of every 10 homes doesn’t have a grass thatched structure.

A hut! In case that name is not familiar, do you remem­ber those festive season trips along muddy if not impassable narrow roads that led to the birthplace of your grandparents, a rural setting that was dominated by buildings that had a vernacular architecture built of readily available materials such as wood, stone, grass, palm leaves, branches, or mud?

Yes, it is those buildings constructed using techniques passed down through generations that are called huts. However unlike the many you might have seen, a look at the grass upon the heads of many huts in Pakwach will one thinking they are about to be blown off by violent cross winds that sweep through the zone especially in dry seasons.

However quite on the reverse, Simea Ocaki 42, resident of Pakwach says unless not fitted and fastened well, they can last up to twenty years before they start to leak thereby necessitating reroofing.

Also, they are multi weather resistant and safer thus an explanation as to why unlike most regions around Uganda where huts are quickly being replaced with permanent ion roofed struc­tures, in Packwach they are still a favorite to the extent that even the wealthiest prefer them to mansions.

Unlike modern houses which are a one stop structure as they have respective rooms such as sitting room, kitchen, bedroom under one roof, each grass thatched roof houses one or two rooms they are easier to construct. This explains why most homes have more than two each with an independent purpose such as kitchen, store, bed room among others. Though traditionally styled, they are comfortably furnished-and decorated with animal dung, chalk and soils of different colour.

Surprisingly, huts are not a favourite among locals alone, even tourists adore sleeping in them to bits. During her community tourism visit to Pakwach in January, Joan Abbo a tourist from Kenya who had planned her stay in them for 2 nights ended up staying 4.

Abbo says though she was initially very hesitant to put up in them because they are highly flammable, she is glad she took the chance otherwise she would have missed out on their air conditioned feel in a region where temperature soar as high as 40o due to the unforgiving shining of the lava hot sun. In her opinion, this is so because their designs favour airflow configurations as they are built from non-conducting materials, which allow heat dissi­pation. Best of all, they are eco-friendly.

However, she advises folks who plan on doing the same to go knowing they are also a habitat for insects and spiders and creepy crawlers-as they are built with thatch. They also house crickets which are extremely noisy at night so sleep may not be as sound as it should be.

Where the huts most concentrated?

Due to their pastoral background and undying love for fish, West Nilers have settled and built huts along the banks of the Nile River where they welcome visitors according to how fat their wallet is. If one is a rich guest, a goat will be slaughtered and prepared for him as a welcome meal.

If he is moderately rich, his welcome meal will be chicken. However in the event that he is a broke chap, he will be served fish. But hey, in the event that you are hosted to fish, do not take it personal. All the host means is that you are a favourite ordinary visitor; hence you deserve a favourite ordinary dish like fish.

See, unlike most settings around the country whose day to day dish is posho and beans, fish and millet bread is the basic meal in Packwach-like most west Nile Districts. From Monday to Sunday, most families here bewitch their pallets with dif­ferent species of fish-from the salty waters of the Albert Nile. Among many, such include helicopter fish, elephant fish, alakre fish, otete and the famous manpower booster anja fish among others. Most feared among these is the electric fish because it electrifies one at the slightest touch.

Away from the fish, plenty of land would be left in the compounds before the huts-for an entertain­ment arena. It is here that the various West Nile dances music, dance and drama performances are performed to spice up/harmonize whichever ceremonies is being celebrated weddings to vigils.

Among many, such included the adungu dance, a dance in which young boys enthusiastically elbow left and right to the ear piercing tunes of the adungu-or rather local harp which is spiced up with pitch high drumming. On the other hand, the young girls fire up the performance by wiggling their waists like they are possessed by spirits.

Then there is the agwara dance, a dance that got its name from the agwaras, the local trumpets made of horns as blown by men and danced to by women.

Rent a Car and Go Gorilla Tracking in Uganda

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4x4 Uganda Car Rental

Uganda is pearl of Africa with many wonders any one wouldn’t miss to enjoy. Among the many attractions in Uganda, there are those that are rarely seen elsewhere and endangered. This makes Uganda a unique country and gifted by nature.  Attractions in Uganda ranges from wildlife, great mountains, forests, rivers, great lakes, culture, gorges, forests and the great primates.

Primates in Uganda is one of the pulling factors as to why visitors put Uganda on their bucket list for a holiday. Great apes/primates here include Chimpanzees and Mountain gorillas. They are residents in national parks of Uganda and reserves. Mountain gorillas in Uganda are found in Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks.  The good news is that any visitor above 15 years old can visit the Mountain gorillas in their natural environment.

There are two main options of doing safari in Uganda, booking all-inclusive safari and rent a car for self-drive or go with driver.  Both options are possible. At 4×4 Rentals Uganda, we have a fleet of cars which are capable and equipped to travel on different roads of Uganda. Some of them include, 4×4 Land cruiser TX/TZ, Land cruiser V8, Land cruiser GX, safari land cruiser extended and many more.

Most of our 4×4 Uganda car rentals have pop up roof which can make it easier to view wildlife. For Gorilla tracking, the pop-up roof has no importance since the activity is done on foot. But if the Itinerary includes other wildlife parks, it is very important for clear viewing and taking good photos.

We can book our car rental clients gorilla permits, and other activities subject to availability. The information like passport details, the day of tracking, the park and the region will be asked. Our company is reliable and we handle clients bookings and permits responsibly. The gorilla permits and others information will be given to you while delivering the car.

What to take note when purchasing a gorilla permit

-Uganda has two gorilla parks, when organizing gorilla tracking, you have to choose which park whether Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park. This may depend on the flow of your itinerary, special interest in a certain park and many more.

-Bwindi National Park has 4 regions and when booking you need to specify the region of your interest. Each region has different gorilla families. The regions are Nkuringo, Buhoma, Rushaga, and Ruhija.

-The Gorilla permit has to be allocated on a certain date. You will have to look on the flow of your itinerary and determine the day for gorilla tracking. The gorilla permit will include that date, region and the gorilla park.

-Gorilla permit expires in one day. When you purchase a gorilla, it expires on that same day appearing on the permit, you can track twice using the same gorilla permit, unless you purchase two gorilla permits on different days.

-Gorilla Tracking starts very early in the morning, you need to assemble at the park headquarter for briefing before entering the forest in search for gorillas, you need to carry your purchased gorilla permit for verification at the headquarter.

-Time spent Tracking gorillas is unpredictable; it depends on the movement of the gentle apes. (Though there some gorilla groups which are known to be found near). But after finding them, you will spend 1 hour with them.

-Get equipped with enough drinking water, good hiking shoes, socks, gloves, cape, sunglasses, warm clothes, Jumper, rain jacket and etc. The forests where gorillas are found are quite mountainous, though be prepared to hike in some places, that’s why some exercise is need prior to gorilla tracking.

How to access the gorilla parks

By Road how to access Bwindi

Bwindi National Park is found in south western Uganda, the park has 4 region and each is on a different part of the forest. The park is accessed using many routes there is a common one Kampala Ntungamo, Kihihi town and then Buhoma, there is also Kampala, Kabale, Kanungu and then Buhoma.

Another one is from Kampala Kabale, Ruhija sector, Buhoma Headquarter

Kampala, Kabale, Kisoro Nkuringo sector or Rushaga.

Some other routes depend on the Itinerary, for instance, from Queen Elizabeth National Park, you take Ishasha route, Kihihi and then Buhoma.

We encourage our clients to download Uganda map of their phone and locate all the places and destinations easily. All the above, 4×4 car is recommended.

How to Locate Mgahinga National Park

By Road

Drive from Kampala to Kisoro. Kisoro town is just near Mgahinga National Park. 4×4 car is recommended.

The Best Time to visit Gorilla parks

You can visit and track mountain gorillas any time of the year but the best time is in dry season, that’s also called peak season here in Uganda. The reason why most people prefer to visit in dry season is during this time the roads and trails are not so muddy, the weather is also moderate. Dry season months include, June, July, August, September, October, January and February.

Where to sleep when you go for gorilla tracking

There are many lodges and camps around Bwindi and Mgahinga’s, they range from Budget, Midrange and Luxury, there it will depend on the client to choose the level of accommodation. We give good advice and information about the lodges for our clients both for self-drive and all-inclusive safari, we can also give options for the visitor to choose. Here below are some of the lodges around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Rushaga Gorilla Lodge.

The lodge offer good services to clients, and besides it is just 10 minutes away from the park headquarter of Rushaga. They have different rooms like luxury cottages, standard rooms, camping space and many more, a visitor is free to choose the kind of room depending on the amenities.

Some of the amenities and services here include, free WIFI, cable TV, Daily Housekeeping, Room service, free parking, Ensuit bathrooms and many more.

Haven Lodge, Buhoma Community.

The lodge is managed by Buhoma Community rest Camp ltd, a community-based organization. Some of the advantages of Haven lodge are the endless views of the forest, it’s near the starting point for gorillas Buhoma region, they have a total of 8 designed twin and double cottages and 1 family room, they offer quality service to clients and its categorized in Midrange class.

The profits from this facility, goes back to the community, by sleeping at haven lodge in Buhoma, you will be contributing to the wellbeing of the community around the park.

Trekkers Terven cottages

This facility is found in Ruhija region of Bwindi, not far from the starting point of gorilla tracking, they offer quality services, like delicious local and international foods, good bathrooms, WIFI, room service and many more. They have family cottages, standard rooms and for honey moon.

Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

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Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

A life-changing experience! This is what most tourists say after they visit the mountain gorillas in Uganda. We totally agree since we spend many days in a year taking tourists to see gorillas each day is exciting, and discoveries happen all the time. But doing so involves an Indiana Jones-style journey into the depths of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park and Mgahinga National Park.

The jungle is a seemingly everlasting thicket of tangled emerald green with no street signs, walking trails, or Google Maps voice directions. To find the gorillas’ nest, you must get up early and, with the protection of park rangers, religiously follow the footsteps of a local tracker. The tracker uses a machete to clear a path through the jungle, detecting and tracking gorilla trail from the last spot where a gorilla group was seen. These traces can include hand and footprints, bent vegetation, remains of plants the gorillas have eaten, and other signs. Every tiny detail is investigated as the trackers determine the gorillas’ direction.

The hike up or down the mountain slopes that tourists take to get to the mountain gorillas is an exciting experience in itself because it brings you to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the few remaining tropical mountain forests located on the Albertine Rift edge.

Go Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to almost half of the world’s population of the mountain gorillas. Bwindi Forest hosts a population of over 320 mountain gorillas with 116 gorillas already  habituated. On a hike within the forest you can see other primates that live in the park.

The park is inhabited by about 500 mountain gorillas, known as the Bwindi population, which makes up about half of all the mountain gorillas in the world. The rest of the worldwide mountain gorilla population is in the nearby Virunga Mountains shared between Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, DR Congo’s Virunga National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

With four trail-heads spread over the edges of Bwindi Impenetrable NP (Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo & Ruhija), make sure you pick the right one that will be gentle on your physical fitness and great for forest lodging. The walk to reach a gorilla group can take from one to several hours, but no matter how long it is, the result is always amazing.

It’s not possible to predict how far the gorillas have moved from the previous day or what direction they’ve taken, so patience is definitely a good state of mind while following trackers at this time. But sooner or later, they will find the group they are seeking.

Gorilla tracking is one of the most interesting activities that makes a complete tourism package in Uganda. Gorilla tracking is so challenging, adventurous through rewarding. It is carried out  in two national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that is located in the South Western part of Uganda and Mghinga Gorilla National Park. These national parks constitute of more than a half of mountain gorillas in the whole world.Gorilla tracking is conducted in the morning hours. For one to engage in this activity, you must posses a gorilla permit. Therefore it is advisable to book a gorilla permit in advance given that gorilla permits sell out first.’

The gorilla trekking permit

Because Bwindi and Mgahinga are protected environments, the local governments introduced trekking permits to control tourists flocking the destination. This serves to maintain the natural habitat and avoid the gorillas becoming overexposed to humans and continue funding the gorilla conservation efforts.

This has made the demand for gorilla permits higher than the supply. Tourists are flooding to this part of the continent to get a piece of the action, don’t be the last one. It is advisable to book your gorilla trekking safari well in advance so that you can secure the slots in time.

With just about 19 habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi available for tourism, 8 permits are issued for each gorilla group per day, making it just about 152 permits issued out for Bwindi gorilla trekking per day. Will you get yours when you need it? Luckily enough, our local partners deal with the permits, so you won’t have to.

A Uganda gorilla permit costs US$700 per person since July 2020. It is issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at face value, and when you book a gorilla trip, you get the permit processed for free, and you find the original with your tour manager.

Planning a Gorilla Trek

The following should be considered when preparing for the gorilla trek in Uganda or Rwanda.

Packing List

Things to Pack include the following

  • Solid walking shoes,
  • Rain gear
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Binoculars
  • A camera a

To protect gorillas and visitors, the following should adhered to when planning a gorilla trek;

  • No one with a communicable disease such as flu is allowed to visit the mountain gorillas
  • Do not  surround the mountain gorillas but remain in a tight group
  • Leave a distance at least 5 meters between you and the mountain gorillas
  • If the gorillas approach you, move back ward slowly

Explore Uganda with a Self-drive Car

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Self Drive in Uganda

Have you ever thought of coming to the Pearl of Africa? If yes its very better to explore Uganda on self drive. Uganda is known as one of the best safari destination in the world due to its tourist attraction some of which are not seen elsewhere in the world. Whenever Uganda is mentioned, many people’s mind rush to the endangered mountain gorillas. It is true Uganda is blessed among the three countries in the world to host these endangered mountain gorillas. Other two destinations where mountain gorillas can be found are Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However Uganda is known as the leading gorilla safari destination as it hosts almost a half of the giant mountain gorillas. Over 480 mountain gorillas live in Uganda shared by Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla national park. Although many travelers prefer tracking in Bwindi Forest since Mgahinga gorillas tend to migrate to the neighboring countries that’s Rwanda and the DRC in search for new adventure.

Driving to this park is just about 501 km (8-9 hrs.), but with yourself drive car this is very easy as you won’t feel a long drive, you will be in position to stop at any interesting place like at the equator crossing for snacks and photography, you can as well stop at Mpambire a local drum making place and other locally made items, if interested you can buy yourself the locally made items, after here, you can make another stopover at Mbarara for lunch either at Agip Motel or in any of your choice restaurant ,from here drive with good views and interesting landscape and rolling green hills up to the park overnight stay at your choice accommodation.

In the next day you catch up with the most gorilla safaris adventure in the rain tropical forest of Bwindi impenetrable national park, the one hour you are allowed with these rarely seen giants is a magical experience as you will enjoy watching them doing their daily activities as well as taking photos. This is just a few on what you can enjoy on a Uganda safari with your car hire from Uganda self-drive.

From Bwindi impenetrable national park you can easily cross to Queen Elizabeth National Park just about 3-4 hours passing through the Ishasha side a famous place for the rare tree climbing lions, you will enjoy watching them sited on frig trees or tree blanches and also upon your arrival at the park game drive is superb as you will be in position to watch games like buffaloes, elephant, various species of antelopes, warthogs among others , other activities at the park include launch trip and chimpanzee tracking. From here depending on your safari, connecting to Kibale forest national park is a walkover, Kibale is a gifted park with over 13 species of primates couple with chimpanzee the most close relative of man, other primate species you will enjoy to see include the black and white colobus monkey, baboons, civet monkey just to mention but a few. Other activities to enjoy at kibale include nature walk, birding, among others.

Other interesting places to explore on a Uganda safari with a self-drive car include;

Murchison falls national park in the north eastern side of Uganda, here you will go for a game drive to see games like giraffe, buffaloes, elephant, antelope species, among others, launch cruise along the Nile river is also superb, enjoy the top of the falls which is a fantastic view among others activities you will be interested in like chimpanzee tracking in Budongo forest.

Why don’t you also explore the un touched unique features in Kidepo national park, its located in the remote northern part of Uganda but with the courtesy of our good and comfortable cars you can still reach this part of Uganda with a lot easy., at here you will go for cultural encounter with the local people, it’s really a very interesting activity leaning more about the life style of the African people also game drives is fantastic, going to kidepo you are recommended to use a 4WD since the park is located far way in the northern part of Uganda.

White water rafting is another adventurous activity you won’t love to miss when on a self-drive safari to Uganda it’s one of its kind go Jinja in the eastern side of Uganda’s about 4 hours from Kampala Uganda’s capital and its largest city. Rush and book with us through info@ugandaselfdrive.com.

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