Uganda is one of the best havens for backpacking in Africa, where you will not need to worry about a heavy budget and much planning. The Pearl of Africa lends itself perfectly to being an interesting yet budget-friendly country to explore.
This ever Green country offers almost all what you may need to make a memorable backpacking experience. From easily accessible destinations, cheap transport, accommodation, meals and shopping among others in addition to the pleasant weather all year round and extremely friendly people who would help you in sorting out this and that.
However, a backpacking trip can become a disaster even though you brought everything you needed? Enjoying to the fullest a backpacking experience can be cost friendly but may need proper planning and research. Therefore, let’s take a brief insight into the tips and basic rules to follow for a successful backpacking experience on a Uganda Safari.
Learn Some Backpacking Basics
You need more than good gear to assure a safe and enjoyable wilderness experience. You need to know how to do a few things such as learning how to make fire including when it is raining and cooking over it. Cooking over fire may not be as easy as it seems. It will include blocking the wind, covering the pan, keeping the fire small and concentrated among others that all need practice and perfection.
- The other thing would be learning how to pitch a tent so that the winds do not blow it away, rains do not wash it away among others.
- You should also learn how to walk since some destinations will be accesses by foot. Learn how to pace yourself and how to move comfortably over rocky terrain as well as making simple first aid such as treating blisters and dressing simple cuts and wounds.
- The last basic thing you have to learn is learning how to navigate. Maps and GPS devices won’t help if you don’t know how to use them.
You don’t need to be an expert in wilderness survival to enjoy a safe hiking trip.
Make Some Research
As earlier mentioned, backpacking can turn hazardous if you didn’t make a good research. Shallow research will lead to poor/ inaccurate planning that will cut short the fan during your adventure due to one thing or the other. The internet is turning the world into a global village, and it’s very inspiring to read a recommendation from a past visitor or from local content from websites, travel journals and blog among others. You can also raise a query or concern on travel advisory platforms.
The following can be a good start to add on your research regarding eating, sleeping and getting around during your backpacking experience.
Getting Around (Transport)
When it comes to transfer from one destination to the other. You shouldn’t worry about transportation since it is fairly easy and comes with a number of means. Besides Renting a car for self-drive that you can get from as low as $35 per day, backpackers sometimes use public service vans locally known as Taxi/ Matatus as well as buses for long routes, Motor Cycles (Boda Boda), normal bicycle among others.
Good accommodation is always guaranteed. You can have lodges available for the economical budget that are well dotted in every urban center of the country and around Safari parks/ destinations. There are also Camping grounds, dorms and hostels at an even cheaper budget.
A number of groceries and supermarkets are well distributed within towns and urban centers. From here, you can buy fruits, pre-packaged foods, and drinks among others.
No matter where you are, eating is always cheap while in Uganda. You can get local dishes that are mainly dominated by well-prepared Meat and chicken stew served with Matooke, Rice and Posho from as low as $2. Other served local foods may include Rice, Cassava, Irish potatoes, Gnuts, French Fries, Fish and the localized Rolex (an omelet, tomatoes and a choice of vegetables rolled into a chapatti) among others.
These can be downed by a variety of Fizzy drinks including Sodas, fruit juice, and local banana beer as well as hot drinks including black tea (chai) milk.
Prioritize the Activities that you want to do
Uganda offers a number of tourist activities that will keep your backpacking experience going from Rafting, Mountain Climbing to Gorilla and Chimpanzee Tracking. However, you will not be able to engage in all activities due to some circumstances by money and time, thus you need to priotise the activities that you will be engaging depending on your budget and time constraints.
For instance, one’s backpacking plan who is travelling with a very tight budget may not include Gorilla trekking that is quite expensive.
You can find it a good idea to spend your first days in Kampala not only to kick start your adventure with a remarkable tour but also enjoy the amazing nightlife of Kampala. You can get around the city using a boda boda i.e. motorcycle taxi and visit places like the Kabaka Palace, Kasubi tombs, man-made Kabaka’s lake, Namugongo Martyrs shrine, Bahai Temple, St Balikuddembe Market, different administration blocks including the parliamentary building, historical monuments, Uganda Museum among others.
Some of the other activities and places that are popular with backpacking in Uganda may include.
- Visiting Murchison Falls National Park that is well known for the world’s greatest waterfalls, the murchison Falls and as a favorite hiking spot of Uganda with an interesting hike to the top of the falls. In case you hired a car, you can go for a game drive through the park to see the big cats hunting, various antelope species, giraffes, buffaloes, elephants among others.
- Didn’t get a chance to buy a gorilla permit, you can still visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for other activities besides Gorilla trekking such as bird watching, nature walks, other primates tracking including L’hoest monkeys, Black and white colobus, Red tailed monkeys among others.
- Kibale Forest National Park, one of the most diverse rain forest park in Uganda can as well be a good backpacking spot since it easily accessible and offers good accommodation that comes at relatively cheap prices. The forest is a home to over 70 species of mammals, about 13 species of primates including the Chimpanzee, almost 400 species of birds and over 35o tree species some of which rise over 55 meters high and older than 200 years.
More activities may include Mountain climbing adventures such as a hike on Mountain Sabinyo in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park that is around $80, taking a boat cruise for bird watching while paddling on Lake Bunyonyi, taking the boat launch on the popular Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park and white water rafting on the Nile among others.