Uganda & Rwanda: May 2009 Archives

Nkuringo Mountain Gorillas Teaser

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Adorable Nkuringo Infant

While the photography was frustrating, the first day's gorilla tracking of the Nkuringo group in Uganda was a great success.  We even got a few keeper photographs.  Most importantly, it was just an unbelievable and memorable experience overall.  We've had some thrilling wildlife sightings the past couple years, but seeing a few of these 700 remaining beauties in their natural habitat easily takes the cake.

We're posting this from Musanze, Rwanda (formerly called Rugengeri), whereabouts today we'll spend another hour with a different group of mountain gorillas.  And it's also where the internet bandwidth is limited and thus photo uploading slow.  So this is regrettably all we will provide for now!  We'll be at the Sheraton Kampala in two days and I hear they have one of the fastest connections in East Africa.  If so, I'll be putting it to the test...

So please do check back soon!  We hope to make it worthwhile for the majority of you who don't care for airplane food photos...

Arriving in Uganda and Driving to Kisoro

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Full house in business class on the BA flight to Entebbe.  Very good flight attendants, average food, and a decent night's sleep in the older 767 Club World seats.  So no big complaints, really.

Lamb Chops Fruit, Tea, and a Fruit Smoothie

On arrival we purchased visas for $50 USD each and were then relieved to find our bags on the carousel.  I was concerned they wouldn't do well transiting all those airports with us.  We had a bit of a snafu with our airport pickup, but we eventually got things sorted out, losing about an hour in the process.  For anyone arriving in Entebbe, there are loads of banks and cell phone shops after exiting baggage claim.

Following all these flights, we had a quite long drive to our first destination of Kisoro, Uganda.  It's about 500km and with the road conditions this was about 9 hours driving.  Ugandans are apparently quite good at cramming many people into their cars:

Full House

Two points that somewhat surprised us about Uganda initially.  (1) the main roads are in worse condition than Madagascar's.  Never thought such a thing was possible!  (2) the landscape is more stunning than we could have ever thought.  Coming out from the clouds on British Airways we were immediately taken aback by just how GREEN the land was.  Then as we started passing food stalls on the road, we realized the farms are producing a huge variety of fresh produce (everything you can imagine from pineapple to avocados to sorghum).  We'll attempt to capture these points in photos further down the road...

We made the obligatory stop en route at the Equator.  We also passed through the Equator precisely a year ago while in the Galapagos, so we're vets at that.


For lunch we stopped in Mbarara at City Top Restaurant.  I found a tip somewhere online about this Indian restaurant run by some brothers from Tamil Nadu (my family's 'hood).  Definitely recommended as a change of pace from eating at tourist hotels.  Below is what parothas (very good) and "meat roast" (turns out to be lamb gravy--my mom's is better) shakes out to.

City Top Restaurant

After lunch and many more hours, the road eventually brought us to Kisoro where we stayed at the Traveller's Rest Hotel.  Maybe a tad pricey for some at $120 USD for full board, but we loved our stay here and I can't imagine a better place in this town.  It's managed by a Dutchman and watched over be a friendly brother/sister pair of Rottweilers.  All three of them were great to spend time with.

Traveler's Rest Hotel

Nice, clean, and big room (this is the Mutanda room we stayed in).  And there's even scalding hot, solar-heated showers if you fancy.

Mutanda Room

The food was phenomenal.  The menu below might seem silly for a a small village in southwest Uganda, but consider that it's all made with very local and fresh ingredients and it was simply delicious.  Plus breakfasts feature honey made from the local bees.

Traveler's Rest Dinner Menu

So after a night's rest, the following day would be what we really came on this trip for.  Mountain Gorillas...