A one-way to Nairobi
Sadly no passenger service is available from Kampala train station anymore! This lovely old building hasn't seen a fare-paying passenger for some years. There was some hope a year or 2 ago when the stations and rolling stock were bought by a South African company but up till now there only seems to be freight moving along the line.
I think they are missing a trick here especially with cracks appearing in the side of Owen Falls Dam, if they have to close the bridge in Jinja down they could be on a nice little earner use the rail link again!
The organised chaos of the Bus Park
If you are travelling out of Kampala the obvious to place to head to is the Bus Park the other side of Nakivubo channel from the new taxi park. Buses travel to all parts of the country from here. Up and till a couple of years ago the bus park used to be three times the size it is now. The City council were also keen to sell off the remaining plot but the bus companies refused to shift to an out of town bus park fearing they would lose business.
I've never got on a bus here and left straight away the minimum wait for the bus to fill up is around 1 hour and at other times much longer. At least while you are waiting you can buy food from the dozens of hawkers selling everything from plates of chips, chilled drinks, the days newspaper, any amount and shape of loaf on the market to coffee beans wrapped in their little banana leaf pouch.
Cheetah Safaris Uganda Ltd
We used Cheetah Safaris Uganda Ltd for all our safaris and tours within Uganda. The owner and safari/ tour consultant Robert is a former safari driver I had employed. Robert adds personal touch to the tours/ safaris because he is the one driving you and if he is not available, he will give you someone as qualified.
I had contacted Robert while in the US to arrange for a Gorilla tracking adventure for my husband who was traveling to Uganda/ Africa for the first time in his life. I wanted to make it an exiting and special time. One of the things Uganda is well known for is Primate Safaris including Gorilla and Chimpanzee tracking.
Robert secured the necessary gorilla permits for the dates I requested as well as reserved the necessary accommodation we would need in Bwindi.
The other reason I chose to go with Cheetah Safaris was because they offered me the best and cheaper 3 days package including accommodation, permit, all meals and a driver/guide for under $2000 for Mark and I.
Once we were done with Gorilla tracking, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We booked a 3 days/ 2 nights safari to Murchison Falls National park. Again, Robert gave us a great deal and was very professional in dealing with our needs.
I liked that he was calm during stressful situations where Mark and I, were almost freaking out. I guess coming from the US, we are used to get things in a hurry, so a little delay here and there looked liked forever.
Other trips we booked with Robert include a day trip to the Source of the Nile in Jinja, and a city tour of Kampala.
I definitely recommend getting in touch with him, if you plan or are planning a trip to Uganda.
- National/State Park
- Adventure Travel
Sadly Aklamba are no longer in business
Good old Akamba bus safe and reliable and possibly reassuringly slow now have a website whose information I found contradicted what I was told at the office.
I always thought paying the extra for the royal service would be a bit of a rip but I was well impressed with the no messing drivers and the veg samosa and eggy bread included in the price for breakfast.
If you can make out the photo it has the prices of the buses as of Nov 2010.
If you can't its
48,000 UGX or 65,000 to Nairobbery
78,000 or 95,000 to Arusha
75,000 or 92,000 to Mombasa
Departures for Nairobi leave from their compound on De Winton Rd at
7;00 in the morning and at
14:00 15:00 16:00 in the evening.
Nairobi to Kampal overnight Bus- Price 2,400 Kenya Shiling
Departure 8.00 PM from Nairobi River Road
Arrival Kampala at Yusuf Lule Road/Nakumatt Oasis Kampala next morning 8.00 AM
Air Conditioned Bus with Reclining Leather Seats, Audio and Video Entertainment, Coffee, 1 Small Bottle of Water and Soft Drink is provided.
Kenya Uganga ticket from Kipepeo Hotel River Road Nairobi (Opposite Bank of Africa) Queens Coach Office at Cross Lane/River Road, Casino Cinema, 10 meters from the Kampala Coach (KS2,500) Office GPS -1.281241, 36.826113
Return Trip cost was UGSH70,000 departure ar 8.00 PM from Nakumatt Ocasis at Yusuf Lule Street GPS 0.319374,32.592423 the Booking office is at the Basement parking
- Budget Travel
MOTORCYCLE TAXIS - WHERE TO FIND THEM
Although they usually find you in the street, the easiest place to find Motorcycle Taxis is at the Caltex on Kampala Road and the Kampala Casino on Kimathi Avenue – in that order. Why do you want to find huge hordes of these guys? It makes it easier to literally name your low price. If 5 guys refuse, one will take you for the price you want. Works every time. Bizarrely there are few of them at Garden City, so negotiate a pick up time and reconfirm the same price to return. They will come back for you!
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
Taxi from the airport to Kampala
Taxis from Entebbe airport to Kampala are fixed priced at 60000 UGS (27 USD), which is a bit too expensive for African standads. The distance to Kampala is 35 km, but the road is not fast. It goes through Entebbe city, some villages and the suburbs of Kampala before it reach the city. The trip takes about 35 minutes without traffic, but more than one hour in the peak hours.
The return price from Kampala to the airport is cheaper, about 45000 UGS + 2000 UGS (fee to enter the airport area). There are some security roadblocks on the way.
- Arts and Culture
- Road Trip
Boda-Boda motorcycle taxis
Kampala is a city of motorcycle taxis, or Boda-Boda as the locals call them. The motorcycle takes two passengers, but I have seen it with 3 passengers. Crash helmet is only mandatory for the drivers and not the passengers. Boda-Boda is a cheap way to travel around the city. Remember to bargain the price before you enter the bike. 1500 UGS (less than 1 USD) is normal for a short ride. 5000 UGS (3-4 USD) should be an OK price for a 15-20 minutes drive.
- Arts and Culture
- Road Trip
Gone are the days when the only bus that plied the potholed roads from Kampala to Nairobi in Kenya were the ones operated by Akamba Road Services. One of the many new kids on the block (well certainly new to me) are Starways Bus.
They have a very organised booking office in a large compound on Buganda Rd near constitutional square. The buses that I saw coming and going while I was there looked like fairly new Scania models.
A trip to Nairobi will set you back 45,000 UGX. Departing at 7:00 am and 3:00 pm.
The Kigali bound bus costs 30,000 and departs at 2:00am.
Other departures are
Juba 12:30 am
Dar Es Salaam 2:00 pm
Kampala Coaches: The Bus Company From Hell
The bus between Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, leaves at 5:30 in the morning – and takes fourteen hours. Kampala Coaches claims on their website to provide a safe, comfortable, and worry-free journey. Their mission is “to exceed customer expectations, all the time and everytime,” and their vision is to “provide unparalleled services.”
We arrived at the bus station at 4:30am—as instructed by the agent we called—to make sure we had a seat. Like most of the bus stations we’ve visited from New York to Nairobi, this one was in one of the shadier areas of town. By 6:00am the bus hadn’t arrived. At 7:00am we were still waiting. Finally, at 8:00am the bus pulls out of their tiny Nairobi office. We’d pulled an all nighter the evening before, thinking we’d be able to sleep during the bus ride.
When the bus arrives it is crammed full with people continuing on to Dar from Kampala, Uganda. We’re forced to squeeze into two seats in the very back of the bus, with people on either side of us.
The whole ride was a comedy of painful experiences -- a nearly 350 pound women sat next to us, the odor of people who had traveled all night hung in the air like a fog, we couldn’t recline our seats and there was almost zero leg room. Welcome to traveling in Africa, we thought to ourselves.
Soon, the coaches staff realized they wouldn’t be able to fit all the luggage under the bus, so they decided to pack the entire middle aisle with bags stacked on top of eachother. Keep in mind that we were in the back of the bus and the luggage prevented any sort of escape route if we should crash.
And just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. The driver drove so erratically that we later thought he must have been drunk, stoned, or completely insane. Danielle thought cocaine, I voted for alcohol. The bus was flying over the unpaved roads and because we were sitting behind the back wheels we felt every single bump and wild turn of the wheel. At times, the bus was airborn as it flew over bumps and up and down hills. Both of us were jolted out of our seats on several occasions.
We begged them to stop -- just to let us use the bathroom -- about four hours into the journey. Bernie had to tell the staff that Danielle was pregnant (she’s not) to get them to stop. When they pulled off the side of the highway, they told her to just “walk behind the bus”—where any passing cars could see.
After that, we'd finally had it.
When the bus stopped in Arusha, Tanzania (the first feasible destination for us) about seven hours into the journey, we just got off. Enough was enough.
Kampala Coaches is one dirty, dangerous, disaster…
Just FYI (hopefully this site is of interest to you)
We've [Bernard Pollack and Danielle Nierenberg] been traveling across Africa and documenting our journey on a website called Border Jumpers [www.borderjumpers.org].
You can also follow us on Twitter @borderjumping
Currently en route to Uganda... (just came from Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania!)
One of many companies that pound the pot-holed road from Kampala to Nairobi but having the added advantage of leaving Kampala from across the road from where I stay and arriving in Nairobi spitting distance from where I usually stay.
Nowt wrong with door to door service!
Cooper Complex, Kampala to Duruma road, Nairobi!
As well as locations in Kenya, Kampala Coach can take you to Juba, Kigali or Bujumbura.
Another company to take you to Nairobi
If you really like long journeys you could always hop on a Modern Coast bus to Nairobi and then on to Mombasa. Several companies do the journey even fewer do it all the way to Mombasa. Modern do it all on the same bus without a change at Nairobi.
They have got a smart booking office and waiting room on De Winton Rd opposite the national theatre.
It will cost you 77,000UGX first class and 65,000UGX business class on the Kampala to Mombasa route which departs every day at 12:00pm. First class from Kampala to Nairobi is 50,000UGX and Business class 45,000UGX
It costs about $1-2 to get just about anywhere with the motorcycle taxis. They will always try and charge you more, but just tell them what you will pay. Most are very safe and it’s also a lot of fun. Cheaper and quicker than the car taxis. You can also hire them by the hour for about $5-7.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
I had two problems to resolve because I never done it before, driving on the wrong side of the road and doing it by automatic car. The fact is, I get used on "wrong side" more easily than driving in automatic way. First day or two I wasn't able to find out which is the proper way for breaks.
My intention was to rent 4x4 car but first, it wasn't available and second, the price (not negotiable) is 100 dollars per day which is far too much.
I rented car for 55.000 shillings per day, which is about 25 euros and it is more expensive than in Europe. The cars are in very poor conditions, actually my first car has to be replaced. The second one was Vento again and it was in poor conditions too. Red light, indicating lack of oil, was permanently on but the guy kept telling me its all ok with the car.
The major problem, however, are the road conditions. I never saw so many and so deep holes on the roads. It makes normal driving almost impossible and very dangerous, especially if one is not used on such a conditions. Therefore I quit using car after 5 days only.
Although equally cheap, the bus cannot compite to matatus especially inside the city areas. Locals use it for far distant outskirt destinations and surrounding villages. Most of such a buses are in pretty bad conditions offering all but comfortable ride. Besides, as much as I could see, this buses are constantly overcrowded.