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help with Uganda itinerary

Silver Spring, MD
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help with Uganda itinerary

Hi all. Working on an itinerary for my first visit to Uganda and I need your expert advice. We are especially interested in seeing the gorillas and chimpanzees, but would also like to see a variety of wildlife. We are not birders. In addition,we would like to visit the Abayudaya. In the U.S. or Europe, we would generally stay at small mid-level hotels if available. The full itinerary is at the bottom - here are the specific questions.

I had selected Murchison River Lodge in Murchison NP as it had great reviews on tripadvisor. However, one operator suggested I change to Paraa Lodge as it would be more convenient for game drives. However, it is more expensive and reviews are not as good. What do you think?

Is Bwindi to Kampala too long a drive for 1 day? One operator suggested we should break it up with a stop for one night at Lake Mburo NP.

We are spending an average of 2 nights/lodge. Is this reasonable or are we going to feel rushed?

Any other comments or advice?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Day 1 arrive Entebbe, transfer to hotel in Kampala

Humura Resorts or equivalent (doesn't have to be luxury but would like air conditioning)

Days 2,3 Mbale and visit Abayudaya

Adayudaya guesthouse

Day 4 Ziwa Rhino sanctuary

Amuka Lodge

Days 5,6 Murchison Falls NP

This should include game drives in park, boat trip to bottom of falls and hike to top of falls

Murchison River Lodge

Days 7,8 Kibale Forest Forest National Park

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience CHEX

Ndali Lodge

Days 9,10 Queen Elizabeth NP

This should include game drives and boat trip along Kazinga Channel.

Mweya Safari Lodge

Days 11,12,13

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

2 days of tracking mountain gorillas

Silverback Lodge

Day 14 return to Kampala

Humura Resorts or equivalent

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1. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

Sambya River lodge is mid-range where as Paraa safari lodge is Luxury.

And yes in terms of location, Paraa is in a good location compared to Sambya and all lodges are good.

About the Time to spend in each national park, how many days do you plan to spend in Uganda.

If you are not in a hurry, you should spend 3 days in Murchison falls

Isle of Man, United...
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2. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

I agree.

Try not to squeeze in too much. Pole Pole and see more.

My answers:-

Murchison is worth three nights. I have stayed at both Paraa and Nile Safari Lodge. both good, both at top end. Paraa wins every time for me as it avoids the ferry crossing each time you wish do Game drives north of the river. Ferry does not start until 7.00 so you lose an hours driving each morning.

I have never had any complaints with Paraa or the service recived. It scores on location and whilst 'big' in feel the service is personal enough.

Bwindi to Kampala is a looong day. If you can spare more days for your trip I would extend it and stay at Lake Mburo. (Trying to see all that Uganda has to offer in 14 days is a bad mistake.)

My ideal would be 21 days and three ni9ghts in most stops.

To your itinerary:-

Day 1. Stay in Entebbe. Airport guest house is good value.

Day 4. Why not Ziwa Guest House? Great value for money. Amuka is nice but raises your budget again. (Guest House had Rhinos on the lawns during my stay.)

5-7. Murchison. Paraa for UWA launch to falls etc.,

8. Long tough drive.Allow 8 hours.

Considering your budget I would query Ndali as a base. You can save money by using one of the Camps nearer Base.

9. OK for chimps.

10-12. Mweya is a good choice. (sister Lodge to Paraa) It is again location and convenien t. There are other Lodges outside the NP and I quite liked "Bush Lodge" overlooking the Channel.

13. Drive to Bwindi. You don't say where in Bwindi. Choose a Lodge close to where your Gorilla Group is. Buhoma is the central area. Lots of Lodges.

One or two up in ruhija and others 'down' near the Southern Groups.

14-15. Gorillas. good luck with that.

16. TF to Mburo. You should have time for an afternoon Game drive.

17. Back to Entebbe. Depending on the time of your outbound flight you can go straight to the airport this day and save a Hotel bill.

Consider this.

Not a birder ("Yet") You will be by the end of this trip.

Edited: 4:59 am, January 23, 2013
Baltimore, Maryland
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3. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

For Mbale, keep in mind it will take you 4-6 hours to get there from Kampala depending on traffic so you might not have too much time there

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4. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

Hello WL

I agree with much of this, and usually agree with UGS on most things, except our experience of Sambya River Lodge a couple of years ago wasn't great, and IMHO it's a bit too far away from the ferry crossing.

The whole debate on whether to stay south of the north of the River at MFNP centres around the silly departure time of the ferry. I do think that Paraa is a better option for a first time visitor, as you are down on the delta looking for lions and elephants, as the first south-side guests are entering the Park. I am yet to stay at MRL, but I have many friends who have been and had a great time, and they are installing a pool. I think it is probably ready now, as they were hoping to finish before Christmas.

If you are thinking of staying at Paraa, Mweya and Silverback, I would email Marasa Central Reservations and ask for a discount.

Same thing for Amuka, email direct. Did you read my review?

Ndali is an excellent choice, but it's not your mid-range price. Aubrey is an excellent host and the atmosphere round the dining table is very interesting. It takes 50 mins to get from the Lodge to the chimps, on a very interesting road, although thinking about it, you may not be taken that way in the dark!

Agree that is a huge journey back from the SW, look at Rwakobo Rock (budget but very nice) and Mihingo (top end and fab).

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5. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

I agree with Mfuwe,but concerning the Bayudaya it always takes more than 3 days to most visitor there,did you put that in consideration?

Silver Spring, MD
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6. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

Thanks for the replies so far. I wish I could spend a month in Uganda, but we have only so much vacation time. We're coming from the U.S. so there's a lot of travel time as well. We'll have to figure out the maximum number of days we have and work from there.

We may decide to cut out the Abayudaya since they are out of the way. Of the parks, Queen Elizabeth NP sounds the least interesting, but it seems to be on the way from Kibale to Bwindi, so skipping it probably doesn't make sense, correct?

I also wanted to clarify what I said before about the lodges. We don't need super fancy, but at my age I have become very fond of private bathrooms with hot showers.Also, I would prefer most lodges have a place we can recharge camera batteries etc. I'm not sure if that means mid-range or not.

We're definitely willing to pay more for a great location. For instance, sounds like Paraa would be worth it to be able to start our game drive early and not be dependent on the ferry. If Ndali is not in a good location, what would you suggest? Also, we are willing to pay for at least one splurge lodge if it's unique or memorable. Is there a particular place that you recommend?

Isle of Man, United...
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7. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

Right again in order.

No it does not make sense to skip QENP. the Kazinga channel alone makes it worthwhile and of course it breaks up a longish drive. Bush Lodge is about the right grade level for you but Mweya has the location.

It is very rare to have shared facilities even in modest Lodges. Just ask before booking. (I share your views here. There comes a time in everyones life....) Most places again have chargeing facilities usually in the Office if not in your room.

Paraa and Mweya are sister properties. worth the money for location.

For a splurge, for splurging sake then look no further than Ndali despite it being further to drive.

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8. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

Good contributions. I think it all depends on the nature of properties you are looking for. If you are interested in "Big Hotel kind of Accommodation in National Parks" Then Paraa and Mweya Safari Lodges will definitely win the day. TV, Swimming Pool, Internet etc. But if you are looking for the safari African atmosphere, African touch , unique accommodation facilities with personal services and not over crowded, try Nile Safari Lodge in Murchison Falls National Park, Ndali or Kyaninga Lodge in Kibale NP/Fortportal, Kyambura Gorge Lodge/Kyambura Gamelodge or Katara lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, then Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany Springs in Buhoma Bwindi NP. If your budget can afford the above, go for this and I await your trip report. Wishing you the best

Oakland, CA
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9. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

FWIW, my take on some of the properties you enquire about:

Paraa--loved it Wish i'd had more time there. Perfect location for seeing morning wildlife (without queuing for the barge ) , as well as the boat up the river toward the Falls. Do not miss driving or hiking to top of the Falls.

Mweya--didnt stay, but wish i had!! Four hours there relaxing and eating and enjoying the view, was far better than the two nights i stayed at a "more African touch "(whatever that means) place that i did stay (Ihamba)

Kyaninga--stayed due to great reviews and intriguing website. Woudlnt stay again, something just too impersonal about it...hard to put my finger on it. It costs a lot and i would next time chose Ndali instead for that price.

Buhoma Lodge--FANTASTIC!! Assuming you track the gorillas from there, I can't imagine a better place--it is right IN Bwindi, just a minute or so down the road from the morning meeting point. Lodge rooms feel more like tents, so open and surrounded are they by trees and the hills. Fatnastic food and staff!!

I too wanted to see the Abayudayah, and went through Mbale on way to Sipi River Lodge. Limited time prevented an overnight in Mbale. IF you were doing that, it should include a trip to Jinja (on the way) and to Sipi Falls (fantastic) but as everything else you want is on the other side of the country, leave it for next time.

(Search kulanu.org website, to read more about the Abayudayah, and see when/if Aaron Kintu Moses or another of the group will be in the USA, if that is where you live).

Have fun planning your great trip!!

Isle of Man, United...
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10. Re: help with Uganda itinerary

Support Calinurse's take on Paraa and Mweya. I don't use Lodges in Buhoma now but if I did I would take a look at Mahogany Springs. I have used Gorilla Resort and enjoyed it. I used to stay at Forest Camp until they priced themselves off the scale.