Backpacking in Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi

10 December 2017

Backpacking in Uganda

For years I wanted to visit the mountain gorillas. When I found cheap flights to Uganda I couldn't resist the offer and booked the flight.

You can visit mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. My intention was to visit the gorillas in Uganda as it seemed the safest, easiest way. Rwanda is with $1500 for a permit out of question.

After research, I think visiting gorillas in Uganda seems expensive too. The permit was in this low season only $450 but the transportation seemed to be difficult and expensive. The public buses don't go all the way to the entrance of Bwindi national park, where you can visit the gorillas. Accommodation at or close to the national park was a bit expensive too. A lot of emailing and contacting tour agents. Most of them were very helpful and really tried to make a good offer for a tree day visit to the gorilla tracking.

During my search I came across gorilla tracking in Democratic Republic Congo. Since, I travel in November, which is low season the gorilla permits are half price. Which makes it more and more interesting for me to head out to DRC. Finally, I decided to do the gorilla trekking in DR Congo because they could also offer an interesting volcano climbing too.

Since I have bought my return ticket to the Uganda, I still managed to see some sights. I entered Uganda at the border of Cyanika - Kisoro.


In Kigali, Rwanda I started my trip. After a short stay in Rwanda I headed to DR Congo.

Kisoro is the first place after the border of Rwanda. I crossed the border at Cyanika. Kisoro is only a few kilometers after this border.
I had in mind to do the golden monkey tour from Kisoro, but with the entrance fee of the national park and hiring the guide it would be a bit pricey. I only had 5 days left, but I didn't want to do game driving.
I opted for a short hiking in the area, which was lovely in the morning.
The view over the volcanoes was beautiful! Unfortunately a little cloudy, but the view was still impressive. Although the hike was short, I enjoyed it.

Lake Bunyonyi

I took a shared taxi from Kisoro to Kabale. The shared taxi wasn't what I had in mind. I even think it was dangerous and I should've got out of the taxi. The driver managed to put 8 adults and 1 child in a sedan car. Four people on the front seats, four people and a child on the back seats. It was hot, crappy, painful and too dangerous.
I was happy I could get off in Kabale. Here I opted for a boda (motorbike) to lake Bunyonyi. At my first choice of accommodation I seemed to be the only person. The garden was beautiful with many flowers next to the lake. The room was old and in the end they didn't have a hot shower. I could get a bucket with warm water. They didn't have wifi, which I actually needed to contact my husband.

I enjoyed the lake and just sat there, read a book and watched the birds. I even spotted some otters in the late afternoon! In distance, I could see their head popping up and first I thought it were some strange birds. My lack of not bringing my glasses fooled me and when I zoomed in with my camera I could see it were otters. How cute!

In the evening, after dinner I started to feel uncomfortable with the young guys working there. The night in the damp room wasn't too comfortable so in the morning I decided to leave. But I wasn’t ready to leave lake Bunyonyi.

I found a nice hotel, Crater Bay Cottages, which including breakfast for the same price as the night before.

This stay was much better. The room seemed newer and clean. There was a hot shower and I could take a really nice breakfast of my choice. Important, they had wifi too!

This day I enjoyed again the lake, the sun, reading a book and just relax the sunbathing deck of the hotel.


An uncomfortable bus ride with post bus brought me to Kampala. This chaotic and busy city was one to skip. I didn't felt comfortable at all and took a matatu (mini van) to Entebbe. My hostel was fine, it could be a little cleaner tough.

As it was my 6th marriage anniversary with my husband, we made a long phone call. I ate a dinner and went to bed. The dormitory wasn't too bad, could be a little cleaner.

Shoebill birds

The next morning at breakfast, a German couple told me they booked a tour to the shoe bill birds. They invited met to come and in a split second I decided to join them.

I quickly packed my bag to change to a single room.

We took a boda to the ferry boat. When we crossed to the other side, we took again a boda. It took a while before we arrived at the landing for the boats. We boarded the boat with an extra guide. First bit we went trough papyrus field on each side of the boat. We saw some birds flying over.

The vegetation was thick grass, papyrus and Lilly pads.

The vegetation was thick grass, papyrus and Lilly pads.

Soon we spotted a shoe bill. To get us closer the engine was switched off and the boat man and guide maneuvered into a small canal. They used sticks to get further. The big stork bird didn't seem to be bothered by us.

He was standing still, staring at the water, probably fishing. He was in a 25 meter distance.

After a while, we maneuvered back into the bigger channel. We spotted king fisher birds, herons, bee eater, ducks and many more. The water was wide here, like a river. Again we spotted a shoe bill. The guide told us normally they are not seen in this place, as there is less food for them. We could get a good sight of him.

Then we continued for another half hour or so we floated around seeing more kingfisher, herons and ducks.

The tour finished and we got on the boda and ferry to return to the hostel.

The German couple left to Kampala, while I walked to the botanical garden. I had difficulties to find the entrance of the botanical garden. It was noisy with people and their cars inside the park, playing their load music. This was't a relaxing for me. A garden should be a calm and quiet haven to relax the flowers and plants. So after 15 minutes, I decided to walk back to the hostel. Here I spotted a horn bill couple birds in a tree. My favorite birds and I was very pleased! I went back to the hostel and just prepared to my flight thus night.


For traveling in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo you can read my other blogs. In the Uganda blog you can find a detailed tour plan.