13 months
Oct 12:
a galaxy far far away
Oct 13:
any road, any load
Oct 15:
machetes & machineguns
Oct 16:
gentle giants up close
Oct 16:
gorilla bonus tracks
Oct 16:
local zero
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roadside market
Uganda; Oct 17, 2004

the low down

What we did: We spent a total of 5 days in Uganda – 1 very short day in Kampala after flying into Entebbe, 1 day driving to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, with a walk in the afternoon to a nearby village, 2 days gorilla tracking, and another day driving back to Entebbe. As part of our package (through Afri-Tours), we had a driver to pick us up at the airport and drive us to/from Bwindi. (Having a driver for the long haul to Bwindi and back was a good idea; it would have been almost impossible for us to figure things out on our own, let alone manage to drive safely. In fact, we’re not even sure that it’s possible to do it another way.)

kids waving near Bwindi

Overall: We loved the people in Uganda (especially outside of the cities). In general, the people in the countryside are poverty stricken so we were surprised by how friendly and warm they were towards us. As we drove through the small towns, children would run to the side of the road and wave enthusiastically. They seemed overjoyed when we waved back. The gorilla tracking was amazing and we recommend that you do it if you’re at all interested. Please see the other Uganda entries for more info.

Food: Our food in Uganda, in general, was mediocre. We ate out in Kampala at a local eatery where the small menu consisted largely of spiced rice, potatoes and curried meats. The food was cheap but not that great. During the gorilla portion of our trip, we discovered to our dismay that one lasting British influence on Uganda is the food that they serve to tourists. Breakfast was English style, lunch was small sandwiches and dinner was fish and chips or steak and chips or something else and chips.

Afri-Tours: This is the company that was sub-contracted by our Tanzanian tour operator (Roy Safaris) to handle the Ugandan portion of our trip. We thought they were great. We were met at the airport by our driver Ahmed, a no-nonsense Ugandan man, and Tilly, a British ex-pat who helped us get settled in our hotel (this wasn’t entirely necessary, but it was appreciated considering it was the beginning of our trip into the wild unknown). After that we were on our own with Ahmed. He took great care of us and we quite enjoyed his company. We would recommend them to anyone.

Kampala: It was great (and educational) to spend an afternoon here and walk around, but we’re glad that we didn’t spend much longer . There were a lot of armed guards outside all the shops (hired by the shop owners). Apparently there used to be a lot of looting, but it doesn’t happen much anymore.

Things we’re really glad we brought: Some type of energy bars to snack on (there really aren’t places to buy snacks out in Bwindi), rain gear, books or other entertainment, insect repellant, medications, quick-drying clothes, toilet tissue, detergent to wash clothes, headlamps

roadside market

Standard of living: Outside the cities, the standard of living is very low. In the villages near Bwindi, there is no running water (it must be carried, sometimes for miles), no electricity, no proper roads, and very limited medical facilities. People have almost no possessions. Families live in a tiny hut (made of either cement or dirt and branches) sleeping on the floor. It is one thing to see it on TV or in National Geographic; it is quite another to see it up close. It makes you realize how incredibly much we have in States. For us, the feeling of guilt and unfairness was overwhelming; we had a strong urge to give away everything we had. For the most part, we found that the people are happy. Family ties are strong and the kids are well cared for. In the cities, there is considerably more infrastructure, more crime, and, from an outsider's perspective, less happiness. It seems that the urbanites have a clearer understanding of how much they don't have, compared to some other countries.

Exchange rate: US$1 = 1,758 Ugandan schillings

Interesting facts: The official language is English, primary school is funded by the government and about 40% of kids continue their education after, the biggest industry is agriculture, supposedly it’s possible to buy an river-front acre of land on the Nile for about $500.

Lasting impressions: The things that stick in our minds about Uganda are the warm and friendly people, kids as young as 4 walking several miles to/from school, a teenager wearing a large-logo Sean John t-shirt amid all the other kids’ tattered t-shirts (P-Diddy makes it to Uganda!), and, of course, the amazing gorillas!

© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


I want to start by saying that your site is AMAZING!! It is, in my opinion, one of the best travel site's I have ever seen. You have so much wonderful information listed, and beautiful pictures. My husband and I (24 yrs old) have decided to begin traveling more, since we both have an over-whelming desire to see the world. We are planning on taking a safari in Tanzania, and we are also considering going to visit the rainforest and gorillas in Uganda (after viewing your trip). We will probably go with the same safari company and guide as you did, based on your amazing recommendations.

--Mia D. (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA); Jan 17, 2006