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What to bring for Mountain hiking in Uganda

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Hiking Gear List

Lots of people ask about the right gear to bring for a mountain hiking expedition in Uganda. Here is what you need to know about what gear to carry for a mountaineering trip in Uganda; what to bring, advice and particularly what to bring for a hike.

Some of what you put into your bag will be individual / personal requirements – stuff you can’t do without; your medication, any items with a special attachment etc … Put these in the bag first.

Moving on to the essential for mountain hiking in Uganda;

For starters, stock up with enough equipment and supplies – once the rubber hits the road, you will not have opportunity to restock. You will only survive on what you will have brought with you. You might be able to hire some essential climbing gear at the trailheads … but you’re probably better off not relying so much on this – unless of course the equipment is quite heavy!

Warm clothing and a decent 4-season sleeping bag are essential. It can be, and it’s indeed chilly and wet out there. At 3000m – 4000m, you dare not underestimate the equatorial chill. Have a good raincoat, waterproof over trousers, a woollen hat (one of those good winter ones will do) and have some plastic bags (very often they come in handy especially if you have to separate the wet and dry cloths in your rucksack).

… And yes! did I just say rucksack? … or is this one of the very obvious! Have a good durable one that can stand tuff conditions . Not one that will lose all its straps halfway into the trek. There are some good brands out there.

Bring plenty of snacks and sweets. A few bars of chocolate would do but I doubt if they would survive the heat before you get to the cool heights – you might end up with everything covered in chocolate!

Depending on how high you plan to go, you will need proper walking/hiking boots – quite essential for mountain hiking in Uganda! and for the boggy valleys, walking gumboots are preferable. Sun glasses of course, sun cream, lip salve and a flash light.

Lest you forget! First in the bag should be the camera – You don’t want to miss out on those ‘kodak moments’. Bring loads of films or if you are using the modern digital ones, then have lots of storage space, flash disks etc …

If you turn up and your rucksack is quite heavy, porters can be hired to carry your backpack up the ranges and back. Unfortunately they will only do a maximum of 15kg to 18kg and you will have the rest. So find ways of light travelling.

For the anglers, you might get chance to do some sport fishing – say at the Sipi falls in Mt Elgon National Park. It’s wise to bring your own fishing equipment.

Cycling too can be exciting. There might be cycling trails organised. There is one at Mt Elgon that starts at the Sipi trading centre – quite adventurous! Bikes can be hired at the Sipi River Lodge … but just incase … you can come along with one of those light ones that can fold away easily.

… And here is something you could easily laugh about but could turn out to ruin your memorable mountain hike; Charge your camera and phone at every opportunity – It can be annoying that just when you see that thrilling moment/ view, the camera shuts down! … take caution!

I hope you have a lovely time and let me know how your mountain hiking in Uganda goes.

Kiira Vehicles: Cars Made in Uganda

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Quite fairly I thought I should jot down something to update you on the impressive progress of the ‘KIIRA’project. Fast forward from 2011 … the ‘Kiira EV‘ has since evolved into ‘Kiira EV Smack‘ – a 5-seater edition lauched in 2014 that runs on a 1.8cc ecotech hybrid petrol engine and a high voltage battery. Projection is that the final model will be ready by 2018 – quite enough time for you to place your order!

 Kiira EV Smack – Hybrid Car

Kayola – the Solar Powered Bus

A few years on, the ambition has even grown bigger; Uganda launched the first ever and only Africa’s first solar-powered bus in 2016 – YES! You heard me right, the first of its kind made in Uganda. Dubbed ‘Kayola‘ which literally means ‘mass carrier’, the 35-seater bus is produced by Kiira Motors Cooperation – the same company behind the Kiira EV versions.

Agriculture, Energy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Health, Transport and Logistics are the sectors that have taken centre stage in progression and innovation of technology in Uganda.

Uganda in Pictures: 10 Interesting Photos

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And here is Uganda in Pictures – I have had quite some requests from my readers. Here is what they had to say;

From your writing, I can only imagine what Uganda looks like – without doubt it must be a lovely place”. “What does Kampala look like?” “Can I do some shopping in Kampala?” … “Please post some pictures of other towns in Uganda! … and more …

Yah right! you got me writing again and posting pictures of Uganda. How did I even assume Uganda is all out there for everyone to imagine!

You will find pictures of Uganda here exclusively provided by our readers who have visited Uganda and taken some wonderful shots.

Kampala in Pictures

Nature and Beauty of Uganda

Uganda in PicturesSee More Exclusive Pictures of Uganda’s Beauty and Landscape…

Thinking of doing an African Safari? Think Ugandan Vacation – lots of places to visit and wonderful attractions; National Parks, Magnificent Mountain Ranges, Lovely people with rich cultures to explore … You will love it here!

Meet The People of Uganda

Uganda in PicturesSee More Exclusive Pictures of the People of Uganda…

Read More about the People and Culture here …

 

Have you visited Uganda before?

Got some lovely pictures and stories you would love to share with us? Feel free to share your story and post your Uganda in pictures; Use the form at the end of this pagethank you! A new page with your story/pictures will be created on our site. You can choose to be anonymous, or post your name and even links to your website.

… And if you run a facility or own a business in Uganda, you can talk more about it HERE – the easy way to publicize on i-Uganda.com.

Internet Facilities in Kampala

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Internet Service Providers

Internet Cafes in Kampala

Is there Free Wifi in Kampala?

Guide to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

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Mgahinga Gorilla

Home to mountain gorillas, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the best places to go gorilla tracking in Africa. Located in South western Uganda, the park has a diverse collection of tourism activities, though gorilla tracking stands out as the most popular adventure. The park also offers incredible opportunities for bird watching and golden monkey tracking yet the nearby 3 volcanoes offer great opportunities for hiking.

With Uganda hosting about 400 mountain gorillas, half the world’s total population, Mgahinga National park is one of the two places where a visitor is guaranteed to have a glance at the endangered species. Though the gorillas of Mgahinga National Park were known to be good nomads, at times moving to the Rwanda side, today the Nyakagezi gorilla group offers opportunities to adventure seekers to visit and the watch the endangered giants in the wild.

For those looking for unique experiences on a Uganda Safari, a visit to Mgahinga National Park is a rewarding adventure that you should not miss. There are lots of things to do in this park;

Meet the Gorillas of the Nyakagezi Gorilla Group

Nyakagezi Group Size: 10 individuals including 1 silverback

Nyakagezi Gorilla Group is the only habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga forest. The group is led by Mark, the dominant silverback, who likes traveling and keeps on crossing borders between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – therefore, Nyakagezi group keeps on rotating from Mgahinga forest to Volcanoes bamboo forest and to Virunga National park.

Over the past few years however, the group has been stable and they are trying to settle on the Ugandan side since November 2012, and are likely to stay for a while. In May 2013 when a newborn baby gorilla arrived, increasing the group to 10 members- the number of gorillas goes on increasing as they go on multiplying. To that note therefore, Mgahinga Forest National park is expected to get more Gorilla groups in near future- we expect splits from Nyakagezi group.

Book Your Gorilla Permits Early

Due to quite unpredictable behavior and movements, permits for this group can only be booked at the ground at the ground – however, the Uganda Wildlife Authority through the Mgahinga ranger guide, gives updated information about the availability or absence of Nyakagezi gorilla group in Uganda.

To read more about park check out the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, one of the best places in Africa to see the mountain gorillas.

Mini Guide to Uganda

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Guide to Uganda, The Pearl of Africa

First hand, practical information about Uganda is quite hard to find …and particularly on the web. Since I started this website, I receive quite a good number of emails with questions on general issues about traveling to Uganda … and many of these come up again and again ….

Those questions are all addressed and answered somewhere on the website, but who has the time to read through over 400 pages on the web…

Here is a complete Guide to Uganda which is intended to address such worries; to help people who are thinking about a trip to Uganda. It’s a printable guide that is packed with real information.

Quickly learn about the climate in Uganda, about the wonderful people, about all the popular destinations and tourist attractions, safety & security and a lot more … Just fill in your details below and download your FREE Copy of My Mini-Guide to Uganda straight away!

Don’t worry, there is no catch with this offer. I enjoy sharing what I know about my country, which has made this website so popular that I sometimes just can’t keep up with the enquiries.

I hope that you will find it useful, too!

4 Amazing Uganda Parks for Night Game Drives

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Night Safaris in Africa

Uganda is a Paradise with a number of riveting activities that are offered to the expectation and satisfaction of tourists who visit the country for safaris.  Night game drives are one of a kind, and recorded to be among the most fascinating and breathtaking activities that creates everlasting memories for a lifetime. While on this interesting activity , tourists get to chance to experience a spectacular sun downer before being driven to their designated view or picnic points, and sight a variety of wildlife species (nocturnal) such as the Lions, leopards, Genets, Hippos, Civets, porcupines, bush babies, night jars and numerous reptile species. Of all the 10 magnificent National parks where tourists can visit for Safaris activities such as wildlife safaris, mountain gorilla trekking, adrenaline packed activities and mountain climbing, Night game drives are conducted in only three Savannah Parks that include the Murchison Falls National Park (the oldest and largest Protected Area in Uganda), Lake Mburo National Park (the smallest Savannah National Park in Uganda) and Queen Elizabeth National Park (the second largest National Park in the country).

Murchison Falls National Park

In Murchison Falls National Park specifically, the activity is conducted in the vast open Savannah plains that extend to the Northern side of the Nile River, hence offering tourists with remarkable views of the nocturnal wildlife especially the Cats (carnivores) that tend to hunt in the late evening hours. The magnificent views of the Nile River in the moonlight are so rewarding and worthwhile. Expect to see animals like lions, leopards and spotted hyenas among others.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

In queen Elizabeth National park, the nocturnal game drives are undertaken in the popular Mweya peninsular situated between the spectacular Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward. This activity is however forbidden in the Kasenyi sectors to reduce the stress on the Wildlife because most tourists during safaris in this park tend to flock this particular sector for day game drives. Some of the nocturnal wildlife that can be seen during night game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park include the lions, the leopards, the spotted hyenas, the Mongooses, Civets, the Hippos and several serval cats.

Lake Mburo National Park

In Lake Mburo National park, the activity is carried out within its vast savannah plains that extend across the acacia woodland, hence rewarding expectant tourists with the remarkable views of the diverse nocturnal wildlife species such as the rare African hares, the occasional African lions, porcupines, the white Mongoose, the Honey badger, the serval cats, the bush pigs, the Genet cats, the spotted hyenas, the leopards, the thick-tailed Galago, the Civets, the black Galago, the Aardvark, the side-striped jackals and many others.  Besides the wildlife species, you are likely to see some of the Park’s nocturnal bird species such as the Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, the Pennant-winged Nightjars, the Fiery-necked nightjars, the African Scops Owl and the White-tailed winged Nightjars among others.

Semuliki National Park

This is the pioneer park for the concept of night game drives in Uganda. The night game drives usually start from about 8:00pm and end at around 10:00pm and bookings are done just like for other tourist products at either the Uganda Wildlife Authority Headquarters or the National Park offices. Also, the activity can be conducted in the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) vehicles that are open-roofed and covered on top to provide protection and perfect views to the tourists on the night game drives or the vehicles of the Tour and Travel Companies and should be done in the company of an armed ranger guide in addition to a spot light torch. Believe it that night game drives are such exceptional encounters that allow tourists to explore the wildlife species and breathtaking landscapes under the stars of the tropical African Savannah National Parks.

Whereas the day game drives cost only $30 per person, the night game drives go for $40 for both foreign residents and foreign non-residents and Shs 40,000 per person for East African Community residents when using UWA vehicles and $100 per vehicle for both foreign residents and foreign non residents, and Shs 30,000 for private vehicles.

In conclusion, night game drives are one of the most interesting adventures conducted within Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park, and reward tourists with the views of nocturnal wildlife species such as Lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, side-stripped jackals, Civets, mongooses and Galagos among others.

Cost of Living in Kampala

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Cost of Living

Cost of living in Kampala – hmm! Just wondering where to start! I have had several requests for information on the monthly costs, so I decided to publish a few pages outlining the possible expenses one could incur.

Again just to make it clear, this is not another of the many published briefs on international living that want you to believe how wonderfully cheap it is to live here in Kampala. Yes! It’s definitely a lot cheaper than living in London in many ways but is it always cheap?

… And using Kampala as the bench mark – perhaps not! A lot of what you will read here is not cast in stone. Keep in mind the global economic downturn with the ever fructuating prices. This should give you an insight.

Having said that, lets get down to the details of this cost of living;

Housing

There is a wide range – you will get anything and just about every thing. Remember, ‘how do you want to live?’ and ‘how much can you afford?’

Let’s take for example; many average Ugandans living in Kampala live in one bedroom apartments with a reception area/living room with bathroom inside – a small kitchen/store outside. The toilet is some times outside especially if it’s the pit latrine, with electricity but with sometimes no running water. Using jerry cans one will get/buy the water from a communal tap to use for the cooking, laundry, washing-up, bathing and more.

Such a place would be in what I would call an upscale slum in one of the suburbs of Kampala and will go for anywhere between $40 to $100 per calendar month – cheap, not so! … Yes! It might come cheap but the down side is that it might not be the safest place to live let alone giving you the sort of comfort you want.

You will find much bigger and safer places from say; 2 bedroom apartments/flats with 2 bathrooms/ toilets, a living room, hot water in the bathroom, kitchen, garage (would be a bonus), compound/garden, located in a nice neighborhood with a good view. Such would go for; between $150 and $300 (that is excluding bills) or even more depending on where you find…

… To 3 bedrooms plus apartments/flats/houses/bungalows in a nice neighborhood, safe with breath taking views – which could have the view of the lake, garage, good compound/garden, in a clean modern environment. Here you are looking at anything more than $500 – depending on where and what you find, the rent could be much more with all the contemporary facilities that come with it …

And just to note that in all this, you are looking at unfurnished properties. Furnished properties would go for more. The trend is; more and more landlords now require a payment of 6 months rent upfront with a month rent deposit. The utility bills will very much depend on your usage and are usually not included in the rent.

As you consider the cost of living in Kampala, finding the right house can be hectic. You will have to use the services of a house broker at a fee but if you are staying longer or making a permanent move to Uganda, you might want to consider the great offers the Ugandan real estate has. They will have houses to let with much more variety and quality and houses for sale too.

Renting self-catering accommodation is by far the most cost-effective option. Live like a local when you travel – so they say … One website I would recommend for such accommodation is the Airbnb.com.

You might want the services of a maid/nanny say; twice a week for a month. This will cost you in the region of $50 to $100. Look around – there are some groups with professionally well trained maids/nannies that will do a good job.

Car Maintenance and Fuel

Again considering that the cost of living in Kampala has fluctuated through the economic down turn, Uganda’s recovery hasn’t been the fastest but more brilliant than had been anticipated.

I wouldn’t know how much driving around you intend to do but let’s just drop a figure here to start with and to help us with the math.

Let’s take $150 per month for both car maintenance and fuel? Hmm! Lets see how it works out;

Say you spend about $50 on maintenance/service, that leaves you with $100 for gas, at about $1.4 per litre of premium (4.5 litres for a gallon), that is about $6.04 per gallon.

Now, if your car is the kind that gives you 30 miles per gallon, $100 will give you about 17 gallons which works out at about 510 miles per months, which then gives you about 128 miles a week.

That is very much possible – it could even be very much on the higher side if you only use the car for commuting to work, but…there you are!

…And don’t forget to take out your car insurance.

And then of course there are things I will entirely leave to your discretion. Yes, they are very vital and you could probably not leave with out them but they could considerably increase your cost of living…

…Things like: how much you spend on clothing, the internet/phone bill, going to the gym every evening, wine at dinner, swimming, dancing lessons, if you enjoy steak twice a week, if you have got a pet and more…

With health care, there quite a few facilities that offer international health care and which could be quite expensive too. Shop around; you could look at spending about $20 – $25 a month, which is about $240 – $300 a year or more … It entirely will depend on what sort of cover you go for.

You will find it certainly not as expensive as living any where say; in north America but again not as cheap as anyone would like you to believe. The thing is; you won’t be disappointed once you set up your home and experience the true cost of living in Kampala.

It is very possible to put caps on your expenses. You could spend quite less if you are willing to live within something that is not luxurious but again good enough to enjoy yourself.

More to the cost of living in Kampala, Click here to see costs related to Food, Dining out and Entertainment.

Romance on the Nile

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Nile River in Uganda

Picture this: You and your loved one cruising down the majestic Nile River, sipping on an ice-cold cocktail, gazing and enjoying the staggering natural beauty all around you. An impossible dream? Not if you spend your holiday at the enchanting Murchison Falls National Park, North Western Uganda. An experience you’ll never forget.

Fall in love all over again in Murchison falls. As far as romantic backdrops go, they don’t come any more spectacular than this. Everything about this huge natural national park seems to provide a thrilling accompaniment to a romantic holiday.

This is the largest park in Uganda, covering over 4000 sq. km, and is one of the most spectacular parks in all of Africa. Renowned for its scenic beauty and the spectacular falls from which it gets its name, Murchison Falls NP supports an abundance of flora and fauna to delight the visitor. From rolling savannah and tall grasslands to thick bush and woodlands, the diversity of this park never ceases to amaze visitors and residents alike. The magnificent Murchison Falls thunders from a height of 43 meters, catching and refracting the sunlight in a never ending kaleidoscope of prismatic patterns.

The wildlife variety is amazing and can be enjoyed by taking game drives and enjoying a leisurely 3hour cruise on the Nile, viewing the animals on the banks as they come to quench their thirst. For your cultural experience you will have the delight of visiting the local community groups like the Boomu Women’s group, Asera Azola Women’s group and the Kafalo Association. Marvel at the beautiful crafts they make and you can have a chance of purchasing souvenirs for your friends and family back home.

To the avid birdwatcher the thrill of seeking out some of the 424 species identified in the park is unmatched. Try out your fishing skills by waiting patiently above and below the falls, for 20-100 kg Nile Perch. Other game fish found in the Nile include Barbel, Electric Catfish and Tiger fish. While on the delightful game drives, Cape
buffalo, Rothschild’s giraffe, Uganda kob, hartebeest and waterbuck are commonly seen. You may also spot oribi, bushbuck, Bohor reedbuck, the shy sitatunga, bush duiker, warthog and bushpig. Large carnivores found in the park include lion, leopard and spotted hyena. Chimpanzees and olive baboons head the list of six species of primates found in the park. Crocodile and hippo will be seen along the banks of the Nile. Some of the more common birds that can be seen include Goliath heron, Egyptian geese, pelican, bee-eaters, kingfishers, hornbill, cormorant, saddle-bill stork and the rare Shoebill stork. A boat cruise to the delta is a highlight for the avid birdwatcher.

The accommodation is as lavish as the park. Two luxury safari lodges are perched atop a gorge, towering above the mighty Nile River, an economy/budget lodge is also available. There numerous places where you can pitch your own tent and enjoy the mystery and excitement of spending a night in the wild Africa. Also a budget campsite is available. One of the things you’ll definitely enjoy is relaxing on the verandah, sipping cocktails while drinking in the panoramic sights and the atmospheric sounds of the authentic Africa.

Savor the exquisitely prepared lunches and candle lit dinners over a cool glass of wine, or leap at a chance to taste the flavors of a bush dinner. Pool side BBQs and buffets complete the menu of mouth watering ways to eat and be merry at Murchison falls NP, before retiring to bed, anticipating the beauty the morning brings.

Experience the Uganda Martyrs Trail

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The Uganda Martyrs Shrine

A young king. Intrigue. Conspiracy and harrowing brutality sums up the tale of 26 brave Ugandan martyrs who were burnt alive because of their faith. The story of the Uganda martyrs is a story of faith, courage and cruelty. It is from its ashes that Uganda’s and probably East Africa’s most important place of Christian pilgrimage was built. Their fate was climax of a two year wave of religious persecution of Christians, eight years after the first Christian missionaries set foot in the country with high hopes of spreading the gospel.

Missionaries were invited to Uganda by King Muteesa1 in 1875. Protestant and Catholic missionaries arrived and set up schools, churches and hospitals in the kingdom. Unfortunately the king died in 1884 and was succeeded by his 18 year old son Mwanga. The king misled by tradionalits and Arabs in his court, was threatened by coming of Europeans to Buganda and he realized that the first converts put loyalty to Christ above the traditional loyalty to the king. He then ordered that all Christian converts be burnt alive after giving them a chance to denounce their faith. The Namugongo martyrdoms produced a result entirely opposite to Mwanga’s intentions. The example of these martyrs, who walked to their deaths praying for their enemies and executioners, so inspired many of the bystanders that they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians.

Exactly how many Baganda Christians were speared, beheaded, cremated, castrated and clubbed to death is an open question. 45 deaths are recorded by name but the actual tally was probably several hundred. The persecution culminated at Namugongo on June 3 1886, when at least26 catholic and Anglican converts having rejected the opportunity to renounce their new faith was roasted alive.

Within a few years, the original handful of converts had multiplied many times and spread far beyond the court. The martyrs had left the indelible impression that Christianity was truly African, not simply a white man’s religion. Most of the missionary work was carried out by Africans rather than the white missionaries and Christianity spread easily. Uganda now has the largest percentage of professed Christians than any nation in Africa. The 22 catholic martyrs were finally canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 18 1964 during the Vatican II conference. In July 1969, Pope Paul IV visited Uganda, the first reigning Pope to set foot in sub-Saharan Africa to make a pilgrimage to Namugongo, where he instructed that a shrine and church be built on the spot where Lwanga, the young leader had been killed. The site of the massacre was visited by Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury in 1984 and Pope John Paul II in 1993.

The tour will take you through the awe-inspiring story of these young men. It begins at the Kasubi tombs where the King first welcomed the first Europeans to his kingdom and where the four great kings are buried. It will then lead through the oldest Catholic and Protestant churches and then through the various sites some of the martyrs were killed on their long walk to the final execution grounds where they were finally burnt alive at Namugongo.