Guest Story: Thomas & Martina
"22 days of self-drive tour through Uganda are far too short to capture this fantastically beautiful country in its entirety."
Written by Thomas (translated from German), December 2021 (referring to a self-drive safari in June 2021)
In October 2019 we visited a travel show to get inspired for our next travels. After looking at different offers we decided on a 22 day self-drive adventure through Uganda in May and June of 2020. We were really excited but everything changed because of Covid. Uganda closed its borders pretty quickly and we had to postpone our trip to June 2021 and turned it into a vacation to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary.
At the beginning of June 2021 we arrived in Entebbe, got picked up at the airport and driven to our accommodation where we met Axel the next day. Axel was our contact person during our trip and he was also the one who handed over the Toyota Land Cruiser with an elevating roof, which was quite the advantage in the following days.
It was time to get into the chaotic traffic of Kampala and head to our next stop, the Sippi waterfalls in the east of the country. Google Maps told us that we would arrive there at about 6 o'clock in the evening. However, the Ugandan government was kind enough to impose its second lockdown on the country. Luckily, tourism was exempted. In Kampala people tried to get their children out of school and clogged the city’s streets for hours. We finally managed to arrive at our destination at around 10 pm.
After a hike to the falls, we were drawn to Uganda's northernmost national park, the Kidepo Valley National Park. A must do for every safari fan. A park with lots of wildlife. Only the tsetse flies were a bit of a nuisance, but they didn't stop us from seeing lions, buffaloes and other animals.
From there, our journey continued to the Murchison Falls National Park where the Murchison Falls squeeze through a narrow crevice. It is a breathtaking natural spectacle which let’s you experience the power and beauty of nature with all your senses.
The chances to see lions in the park are normally pretty high but they decided to hide from us. Luckily, the sighting of a leopard did make up for it.
The Kibale Forest National Park, which is famous for its chimpanzees and forest elephants, was definitely a highlight for us. We only saw the droppings of the forest elephants during our chimpanzee tracking but seeing the chimpanzees in their natural habitat was an experience we will never forget.
The serenity with which they accepted our presence was very impressive. It surely is a must do, especially for anyone interested in wildlife. The fact that the visit is limited to only one hour is a pity for us tourists, but absolutely right and important for the animals.
After this very touching experience, we continued our journey to the Queen Elizabeth National Park. In the Ishasha sector of the park the famous tree lions can be spotted and this time the safari luck was on our side as we discovered a presumably pregnant lioness relaxing on a tree. The next day we spotted another rare hyena family.
A scenic drive along the volcanic mountains took us to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This is where we did our Gorilla Tracking. After a proper briefing, us tourists were assigned to different groups visiting different gorilla families. Our backpacks were carried by local porters, who also helped us with rough spots in the jungle. Our group was preceded by scouts who had already searched for the gorillas and were in contact with our rangers. After a challenging walk through the rainforest, we arrived and after a brief reminder of how to behave, we went to the gorilla family which was peacefully sitting in the thick forest doing their favourite activity - eating. We were greeted by a young animal of about three years, which wanted to attract our attention with a show. The silverback was sitting right next to us and it seemed like nothing could bother him. A truly imposing animal, whose impressive body gives no hint of how peaceful it is. After a few more steps, we also discovered the female family members these were a bit shy. We were allowed to get as close as 10 metres to the animals, which made the experience indescribably beautiful. It is hard to believe how quickly an hour can pass, because that’s when we had to leave these gentle giants again and make our way back.
After this unforgettable experience, our journey continued to Lake Bunyonyi, one of the deepest lakes in Africa, beautifully embedded in nature. We celebrated our silver wedding anniversary here, right where the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo meet, with a spectacular sunset over the lake, far away from any hustle and bustle.
We finished our trip with one last stop at the Lake Mburo National Park, the park with the highest density of zebras in Uganda, before we returned to Germany via the Entebbe Airport.
22 days of self-drive tour through Uganda are far too short to capture this fantastically beautiful country in its entirety. It always made us a little sad when we heard from other travellers that they were only there for 9-14 days. Axel was crucial for the smooth running of our great trip, and no matter whether it was a blocked SIM card, a flat tyre or confusing Google Maps, he was always available for us and could solve all our problems. Thank you for your "all-round carefree support"!
22 days were just not enough for us - we will come back!