Best time to visit:
from January to March and from June to October
In a word:
Hakuna matata (no worries)
Recommended Antitific, Antimalarial Prophylaxis and for Hepatitis A. In any case, inquire at the provincial hygiene office or your doctor
Spend a few days in the magnificent Queen Elizabeth or Murchison National Parks; Dancing on the Equator line; Leave for the unforgettable adventure in Bwindi NP to meet the latest silverback gorillas
In this great adventure we rented an old military 4 × 4 truck, modified for the transport, spartan, of adventurers in Nairobi, Kenya and almost a month later, we returned it to the same city after covering more than 4000 km around Lake Victoria.
We will sleep almost every night in tents in the most legendary national parks of East Africa, we will cook using our camping kitchen. We will come into contact with the Masai culture of Kenya and Tanzania; we will go into the "impenetrable" forest of Bwindi National Park, Uganda, discovering the latest silverback gorillas; we will be moved in the Kigali Genocide Museum, Rwanda until we plunge back into the life of the African savannah with our clumsy truck to parks such as Serengeti or Ngorongoro, Tanzania…
Of course this does not pretend to be a travel guide but simply the story of a great adventure in Africa!
Here is the part dedicated to the magnificent Uganda!
Our suggested itinerary (14 days)
Masindi (visit to Ziwa Rhyno Sanctuary)
|Murchison NP, Fort Portal|
Queen Elizabeth NP
|three days:||Kisoro, Bwindi NP (hike and search for silverbacks)|
A few hours of walking and we are in Busia, the last city in Kenya: border.
Here the usual disordered chaos reigns, the comings and goings of all borders.
There are those who want to accompany us by bicycle or motorbike to immigration; many offer us oddly advantageous shady currency exchanges; everything is sold and there are people from all over East Africa.
Kenyan exit stamp; discussion with a border policeman for an innocent photo of the flag; shortly after, Ugandan entry stamp while the sinuous and colored flag, photographed just before, waving welcomes us to this nation that will host us for ten days.
We wait two hours under a scorching sun for the handling of our truck's customs formalities: African times, no fear!
Once we leave, we notice that the landscape has completely changed. The red of the land of Equatorial Kenya gives way to a lush green, it often rains here!
We travel all day until we reach the chaotic capital: Kampala.
We get tangled up in the traffic of the center on any Saturday night; mopeds and cars clog all roads; we often risk investing some passersby; there are many newly built buildings, banks or embassies, which clash with the surrounding landscape.
Martin struggles enough to keep this great beast at bay and two hours later, finally, we arrive at the Backpacker Hostel to rest our tired bones in a large dormitory.
We leave at six in the morning along the main road that splits the bright green of Uganda in the middle of the earth and straw huts; stalls sell mangoes, papayas, carrots, cucumbers or beds and sofas ...
In the late morning we arrive at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and shortly afterwards, accompanied by a ranger, we go into the forest to discover the last specimens of Northern White Rhino.
Shortly thereafter, here are three specimens resting in the shade of a large tree. After all, it's 1.30 pm and it's 40 °! After a few minutes one of the three stands up ... shakes a little, looks around, is immense, but immediately lies down to rest again.
We leave for Masindi and at 16.30 we enter our lodges in the shape of a shed, very welcoming and with a fabulous hot shower!
We dedicate all afternoon to stroll in this small town. Let's take a look at the Sunday market; we stop in a music shop; we buy popcorn that we will leave to children at the market a little further on; we meet a lot of them, children with big and bright eyes like stars, we chat with them, we take photos while my heart is filled with serenity and positive thoughts.
We leave early in the morning in the direction of the Murchison National Park.
Along the way we stop at Butiaba and Bulisa, two fishing villages to admire their daily lives.
Butiaba. A strip of red earth marks the center of the village, among thatched huts, fishing nets stretched out on the beach surround the shores of Lake Alberto.
We stop in a large football field and immediately find ourselves surrounded by a myriad of children with torn shirts and a game begins with a green patched foam ball ...
The fishermen return with the old boats from the batting, some clean the nets, some women load heavy buckets full of small fish on their heads and go to the market, a woman washes a pot folded on the shore with water and sand from the lake, the children they play carefree ...
Bulisa. Yellow-colored huts form the backdrop to the small market. We buy some bananas while we wander among the stalls of old things used under a scorching sun ...
In the late afternoon we reach the Red Chilly Hideaway campsite; we struggle a lot to assemble the tents on a very hard ground, we are sweaty and tired and the pegs break continuously; cold and poor shower but we are happy!
At seven in the morning we cross the river and our safari begins in Murchison National Park. We meet elephants, many giraffes, herds of buffaloes and wildebeests, impalas, Thomson's gazelles but no felines ... not even carcasses around ... here the life of the docile herbivores seems to flow calmly ...
In the afternoon, by boat we sail along the canal until we reach the Murchison Falls.
Hippos yawn bored, crocodiles relax on the shore with sharp jaws on display; wildebeest, gazelles and impala drink carefully; a large elephant barricades us looking irritated, a fish eagle flies imperiously and suddenly dives to conquer a fish ...
Once near the waterfall, we get off the boat to climb a hill to the peak of the water jump. We climb and struggle to reach the summit, once there, with open arms with millions of droplets on the body after the sweat of the climb we enjoy the harmonious sounds of nature ...
We dismantle the tents and leave for Hoima.
The journey is quite hard because of the rough road and full of big holes.
We meet several monkeys who observe us surprises as they jump from one tree to another until a large branch perfectly centers the windshield, just my side, and almost everything shatters.
Once we arrive at our destination, we take the opportunity to do some shopping as supplies begin to run out ... the sun is still high in the sky and we are full ... we then decide to make another little effort and continue to the stage scheduled for the next day ...
The day turns into a long transfer. We pass through various areas where the tsetse fly is said to reign and then we are forced to "seal" ourselves well inside.
The road is heavy and suddenly we are stopped by a broken down bus that blocks the path. We note that the rear axle is missing and in absolute calm all the passengers begin to get off unloading everything: huge bags of wheat, hysterical roosters, pots and pans, cardboard boxes up to gigantic durien ...
With African patience we try to help too; we hoe a whole rise in the ground to allow the passage of our truck.
The first attempt fails and the poor Martin almost ends up on the bus ...
Let's start hoeing hard ... second attempt ... it's dangerous this time we can!
All on board and traveling until evening, crossing tea and coffee fields, reaching almost 2000 meters.
Finally Fort Portal. It is evening, it is dark and it is difficult to find the right way. We settle into a perfect African-style hotel; we are exhausted but Nicolò delights us with a good plate of spaghetti and speck.
My watch shows almost 40 °. "It's really hot" - I think to myself, just as we cross the equator line! What an emotion!
In the late morning we reach the entrance of the Queen Elizabeth National Park; under a torrid heat we set up our tents and immediately after we leave for a game drive ... suddenly the sky darkens and from big black clouds it starts to rain heavily ...
The mood is not skyrocketing, we are tired, our curtains wet, there is no possibility of showering or relaxing but illuminated by the dim light of our headlamps we have dinner and spend a nice evening with friends.
The alarm clock rings early in this isolated Queen Elizabeth camp. The barking of elephants, the roars, the chirping of cicadas, the howls of jackals and the chirping of a thousand different birds still ring in the air.
I open the zip of the curtain and look out for a moment ... it's still dark.
The rangers armed with kalashnikovs chat sitting on a log in front of the fire that has heated them all night.
They point me three large hippos walking undisturbed in the distance ...
It begins to dawn: it is magnificent!
We go for the game drive.
Elephants, buffaloes, gazelles, antelopes; we see young lions jumping from one bush to another; what elegance and tenderness when shortly after they begin to fiddle and pamper themselves while, at a suitable distance, all the other animals of the savannah observe with extreme attention and respect every single movement ...
They must have already eaten since they don't care much about all the easy prey that surrounds them.
In the afternoon we leave on board a boat along the Kazinga Channel that connects Lake Edward to Lake George for an exciting photo safari.
Here too there is a succession of great emotions: dozens of hippos who dive into the water and then re-emerge with that funny head; zebras, antelopes and gazelles drink calmly; crocodiles prowling menacingly; kingfishers looking for some fish, then cormorants, elegant pink flamingos ...
A little further on there is a fishing village; it's amazing to think that these people lived with elephants, hippos and lions ...
In a circle in front of a big fire, between stories, anecdotes and songs we spend one of the most beautiful evenings while a starry sky is the background and the sounds of nature soundtrack.
Suddenly a loud distant roar rips open the air: it is the goodnight of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Long day of travel to the borders of Rwanda and Congo. We pass through very poor rural areas, small villages of straw and mud huts; children with too large and worn tshirts play freely; old people rest sitting on clods of earth ... we also meet a UN refugee camp, they tell me that hundreds of Congolese who fled two weeks earlier because of internal unrest are staying.
It's raining hard and we don't want to set up our tents, we opt for a hotel.
6.00 am. Pitch dark. On board two jeeps we climb to reach Bwindi National Park and the "Impenetrable Forest". The road is in poor condition and the two hours of travel are somewhat tiring. Today is the big day dedicated to the discovery of the silverback gorillas: these large endangered mammals.
Quick briefing with the rangers and let's start with the track seekers towards this new adventure.
We follow paths dug in the thick rain forest, the path is intense; we walk for about an hour when the ranger receives a radio call from the track seekers ahead of us ...
We should meet the Silverback gorilla family in forty minutes.
We climb through a small path just carved with machetes. We help each other by clinging to lianas or bushes until, suddenly, we hear noises coming from the top of a tree. We stop in religious silence, look up and catch a glimpse of the baby gorilla who tenderly makes his way from one branch to another. Funny, after eating a few leaves, it falls from the tree!
The throaty verse of a big Silverback is getting closer. Here it is, an adult specimen with a silvery back in front of our astonished eyes, just two meters from us.
He sits down, eats a few twigs and dives into the unknown of the impenetrable forest ...
The rangers look at us, understand that we want to follow him ... the real adventure begins ...
They cut everything that appears in front of their path with strong machetes, we follow them as best we can, sinking without even seeing where, down with our seat on leaves, branches, slimy trunks, mud is everywhere and at some point, in order not to fall I cling to a branch ... too bad it was full of very hard black thorns that stick deeply into my hand.
The Uganda-Rwanda border is immersed in fog, there is only a bar indicating the names of the two nations with a bored policeman who observes the few people passing by ... we, with our big truck, arouse a lot of curiosity.
Customs formalities are fast and in a few minutes we leave Uganda to cross the small area of nobody on foot. Welcome to Rwanda.