Rwanda – Uganda: Crossing the Border
Русская версия Having spent several days in Rwanda, we had to move on, to the next East African country – Uganda. We applied for the East African visa in advance here which also allowed us to visit Kenya. We had all the documents at hand and did not worry too much about crossing the border, but the transport could be a problem. That is why we decided to describe the route for those who may need it (at the moment there is almost no information in the internet).
Crossing of the boarder.
As it often happens, there is not too much transport between the two countries in general: only between the capitals. To cross the rest of the borders you have to use several types of vehicles. From the bus station of Gisenyi in Rwanda we took a bus to the border town Ruhengeri (also called Musanza, 1100 francs for the ticket). On the way, we were enjoying the last views of the Rwandan villages.
Then from the bus station of Ruhengeri (by the way, the locals advised us against staying in Ruhengeri, since, according to them, major instigators of Rwandan genocide come from this particular place) we took a dala-dala to the border – about 25 kilometres and 400 francs.
At the border, we had to fill in two forms, and all went smoothly, as we expected.
How to get to Kisoro.
The adventures started when we finally crossed the border. The money exchangers and taxi drivers immediately started to harass us, offering crazy money exchange rates and even crazier prices to get to the nearby town of Kisoro (up to 25 euros). After bargaining, we reduced the price to 10000 shillings (about 3 euros) for the car; boda-boda (a motorcycle) welcomed us on board for the price of 2000 per person. The driver delivered us to the doors of the tourist information office in Kisoro, and we added one more thousand for that.
Kisoro and gorilla tracking.
In Kisoro, we were thinking about visiting the national park, but seeing the prices we changed our minds. As it often happens in Africa, the prices for activities meant for mzungu (“white man” in Swahili) are not comparable with other prices in the continent. Some prices for tracking to the volcano, gorilla tracking, visiting Batwa tribe, etc. (we decided to publish them since we could not find this information on the internet when we were preparing our trip):
Entrance fee for foreigners
Foreign non-residents 40$ (children 20$)
Foreign residents 30$ (children 10$)
Motor car 50$ for foreigners (20000 shillings for East Africans)
Motor-cycle 30$ (10000 shillings for East Africans)
Additional fees for different experiences:
Game drive: day 20 $, nights (from 6.00 to 10.00 PM) 100$ per vehicle (the rent of the vehicle is not included, it is 90-120$)
Guided nature walk: 30$ (birding, day nature walk), 40$ (night nature walk) – per person
Gorilla tracking: 600$ (500$ for residents)
Chimpanzee tracking: 150$ (100$)
Chimpanzee habituation experience 220$ (150$)
Golden monkeys: 50$
Hippo Census: 100$
Research and forest: 100$
Lion (predator) tracking: 150$
Mgahinga volcano climbing: 80$
Batwa trail experience? 80$
Accommodation: from 30$ for camping per person per night
Even the prices for accommodation (the camping is more expensive than comfortable European hotels) allow to understand why we decided to move further away. There is a bus station in Kisoro, and you may take the buses of Horizont, Bismark, and Jaguar companies to Kampala (the capital) at 6 and 7 AM, there is also a night bus at 8 PM (40000 shillings). The price to Kabale (our next destination) was 10 to 15000, the timetable was the same. We turned up in the bus station in the afternoon and did not want to wait till the evening. While we were thinking what to do, a car reached the bus station, and there were two Mzungu in it. The car was driving to Kabale and the driver offered to give us a ride for additional fee. After having a deal with the driver, we started off.
On the way, the driver stopped to pick up a man with a baby, as if his acquaintance. Then he made another stop and picked up two more people despite our objection. That is how we were driving (there is also a baby in the front).
Only baboons fed by the drivers on the road could help us to make this trip a bit more pleasant. Meanwhile, the Mzungus were telling us how wonderful it is to experience the gorilla tracking for 500-1500 euros per person in Kisoro and other African national parks (just to remind: children in Africa often really starve).
Finally, we reached Kabale, had a dinner and a walk. We tried to get the internet connection in two internet-cafes, in vain though.
Yet, we learned the timetable of the buses from Kabale to Kampala (the ticket price is 30000 shillings):
There are two hostels in Kabale in the centre next to each other: the one with a small museum was full, while the nearby hostel did not only accommodate us, but also organized the guided tour for the next day. The more participants, the cheaper the tour is, that is why we were glad when another traveller from Vietnam, Hien joined us (we paid 266 thousands for three people, they also accept dollars). Indeed, we did not know how good gorilla tracking is, but our next day with this guided tour was one of the best experiences not only in Africa, but overall compared to our other travels. Since the gorillas are of course interesting (as well as watching other animals, for instance, during safari sold for the huge money to mzungus), but, to our minds, people are far more interesting. With our guide named Monday, the next day we visited the sorcerer and the smith, and then unexpectedly decided to go and see the tribe of Pygmies.
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