May 10, 2021

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Exploring Uganda On Our Self Drive Trip

Having read about Uganda and made a lot of research on our next destination for our summer holiday, we choose Uganda and best of all we wanted a self drive trip, a trip at our own pace, yes we have never been to this country and for sure it is encouraged to have a guided trip in a country you have not been to before. But we had planned it all out and we had aimed at doing the self drive thing, exploring Uganda on the driver’s seat, all we need are the guiding maps, a strong GPS and a little briefing from our car rental company “Uganda Car Rental Services”.

We had a warm welcome at the airport by Phionah Asimwe, our Reservations staff, after our morning flight to Entebbe. Right from the main gateway Entebbe, Uganda is search a beautiful country! Phionah took us through an interesting briefing about the country, what to  expect on the road, speed limits, best points to  stop, how easy to relate with people we find during our trip.

So this how our trip went day by day

Day 1: A visit to Jinja

After our airport pick up with Phionah and the company driver Julius, oh they were kind enough to drive us through the crazy traffic jam of Kampala Capital city, what a busy city Kampala is! So many motorcycles, also called Bodaboda locally, a number minibus taxi and many heavy trucks, personal small cars and a crowd of pedestrians. So we had to let Phionah and Julius go and now it is me and Jayson in the car, so Jayson had to drive and I had to read the map and enjoy the ride. Obviously it was not that easy with many cars on the road and having just two driving lanes but still it was adventure as we drove towards Jinja, through Mabira Forest, a stop at the road market to buy some roasted chicken, Rolex and some drinks. We were in Jinja in about 2hrs and 30mins, just to make sure to maintain speed limit, had an awesome view of the Nile at the Bridge and proceeded to the Nile River Camp where we had the rest of evening with dinner.

Day 2; White water rafting on the Nile

We just could not wait for the morning but we had no option other waiting in our beds until the sun came up, oooray!!! Today we are heading for the best adventure on the Longest River in the whole of Africa, white water rafting. We had breakfast and got ready for the adventure, I was quite nervous about the whole water thing but then when my feet reached the waters and the excitement in the air with everyone, i forgot about the nervousness and I embarked on the fun. We hit all the five tough rapids, screaming on the top of our lungs, it was such a memorable moment, best of all I had many friends, we came in two but left as family.

Day3: Drive to Murchison Falls National Park

Still Jayson Driving, we hit the road from Jinja through Kampala again and off to Masindi, the traffic today was not that bad at least we moved a little faster today. We had lunch in Masindi town and proceeded to the park. We had our evening at Red Chilli Rest Camp, search a simple and cool place, nice bandas, and good people, interesting evening around the fire place and above nice camping facility. It was such a quiet night with stinging sounds of the wild beast in the wilderness.

Day 4: Interesting Drives in the park

We had a delicious breakfast with fresh juice, some omelet and whatever nice thing that came along my plate. We were joined by a park guide or ranger to help us navigate around the tracks. We saw many elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, the Bushbuck; we did also spot a lion and so many birds as well. We took an after boat cruise with views of the hippos, crocodiles, the bottom of the falls the Nile Delta and interesting water birds. It was such an adventurous day, so much to see, we learnt a lot about animals, and we went back to Red chilli Rest Camp for our night. We were so tired to listen to the silence of the night again.

Day 5: Our Drive to Kibale

We are out of our camping tent by 6am getting ready  for the drive to Kibale, it was such a long route, there was so  much to  see on the road, many stops to  take pictures and nice little children waving to the 2 bazungu  people in the car. Now these murram roads got quite challenging, it had rained and the roads were slippery, so we had to be extra careful on the road. Last we arrive at kibale forest camp. All I needed was a warm bath, a tasty meal and somewhere to lie in the shortest time. It was search a cold night, western Uganda is a different world compared to central regions.

Day 6: Chimpanzee tracking in the Kibale forest

I am all excited to visit the forest, after our heart breakfast, we meet the other group at the briefing point and off we follow the guide in the forest. There was a lot of loud yelling in the forest and as you get closer it gets even louder, those are the chimps in the tree canopies, I guess they were happy to see visitors. They  are shy primates, before you  know , you  see one in front of you and then disappears quickly in the tree branches , so  we had to  be very  quick with the camera, trying to  follow him up, oooh my God, there he is with his other family members, their actions towards each other are more like human beings. This is one of the best highlight for a Uganda safari.

Day 7: we drive to Queen Elizabeth National park

Now this park is a destination we hear everyone talk about when referring to a Uganda safari, it is very popular. As we drive to the park, we enjoy views of the crater lakes, such beautiful country with beautiful features. The drive was not that long like before when we left Murchison Falls for Kibale. We had a chance to see many homesteads, cultivated lands, grazing farms, water wells, rock out crops, sheep, goats ducks and more. We had our lunch along the way and the best of the evening at the camping site of Mweya.

Day 8 : we have the best of Queen Elizabeth National Park

Our Uganda safari got even more interesting while Queen Elizabeth park, we had to get up early in the morning for a game drive along the queen’s mile there as so  many animals from the large elephants, to  warrior buffaloes, small mangoose, the playful kobs, antelopes, baboons and so  many others my camera had more than enough. A boat cruise along the Kazinga channel is also such a reward with views of the pelicans, crows, hippos, crocodiles name it. We had to retire in our camping tent for the night.

Day 9: we transfer to Bwindi

On our day 9 , we got a chance to  drive through the Ishasha sector , so  interesting to  see many lions lying lazily in the trees. Connect to  Bwindi  forest Park and the best part of the whole route are rolling hills, forests, thickest, homes that are scattered at distances and people here mainly do  farming. The roads were still wet after rains and yet very narrow, so mare care while driving was required. We had our night at the Buhoma community bandas with tasty meals, warm coffee and warm bedding too.

Day10: A day with the Gorillas

I read so many stories about Gorilla tracking before, how it is very challenging, and I am really anxious how this day will be. So after breakfast, we are at the briefing point and the park rangers take us through the whole tracking process, so we are in a group on 8 people. As we set off the routes are clear and well, but it gets some how tough in between the forest, but it was a rewarding moment after viewing the gorillas, we had the whole hour just watching these apes, at least my Uganda safari  was wholly and complete.

Day 11; we drive back to Kampala

Now we leave the other part of the country so green, so fresh, so natural for the busy city again, nice road worked all the way though such a long drive. We had a stop at the equator, relaxed a bit, visited the craft shops and off to Kampala.