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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.
Updated May 19, 2008
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.
Updated Feb 9, 2008
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.
Written Sep 6, 2007
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.
Written Sep 6, 2007
When I was first time in Kenya, in 2006, I thought those matatu boys are the craziest city drivers in the world. Wrong, comparing them with Kampala matatu boyz they look like a babies. During rush hours, but not only, the traffic in Kampala look alike to combat zone. If you still remember those road scenes from "Mad Max" than you know what I have in my mind.
Kampala matatu boys are very skillfull drivers, the best in public transportation I've seen so far. I have use their service many times, during my stay in Kampala, and was perfectly safe. Not of less importance, matatu is faster even than taxi (which is here called special).
Written Sep 6, 2007
In spite of huge and very frequent traffic jams, I never used boda-boda for transport inside the city area. You should only see them driving in a permanent slalom between all those cars, trucks and especially matatus who do not care much for others. In fact, as I was told, there are many accidents with boda-bodas and lots of them with tragic consequences. Use it, if you dare to, but its not recommndable.
Written Sep 2, 2007
If you stay in Naalya, like I did, which is situated in the outskirts of Kampala, sooner or later you'll have to use boda-boda. Boda-boda is motorcycle transport, available around the clock. This boys are permanently on the roads vaiting for a clients.
I had to used it one sunday night, around 11:00 am, because at that time and that day neither matatus or taxis were available. To tell the truth, it wasn't comfortable and I was scared like never before because the night was very dark (power was off) and the road conditions were very poor. This part of the road, from Naalya to nearby Ntinda where I could get a taxi, is full of holes but boda-boda boys don't care much about, they just drive as the road in a perfect conditions. Fortunatelly, I was lucky and reached Ntinda in one piece.
Written Sep 2, 2007
You can always get a single entry visa at the airport, except for citizen of Pakistan and Burundi (I think). The visa costs USD 30, and is given to you with no hassles. For multiple entry, you will have to get it from the consulate. The visa counter right in front of you as you enter the terminal building. 'Entebbe is a small airport .. very laid back.
Try to fly to Kampala via Dubai if you can. The stopover in Dubai beats the one in Nairobi at any time. I extended my Dubai stop over from 3 days to one week. It was totally worth it. See the Dubai page for more information.
Updated Mar 30, 2007
If you are backpacking to Uganda, then taking the $25 taxi from the airport to Kampala is an absolute rip-off. The cheapest, but slightly time-consuming way to do it is to take a taxi to the matatu stand, which is cost around USh 5000. If you share the cab with someone, then the price is obviously cheaper. The matatu that takes you to Kampala will cost USh 1000. Once in Kampala, take a motorcycle or bicycle boda-boda to your hotel/venue. If the venue is within the city, then the motorcycle boda-boda should not charge you more than USh 1000.
This trip could be time-consuming because the matatu waits till it is full to depart from Entebbe to Kampala. I was the last customer, and they immediately took off after boarding. So, I do not know what the standard waiting period is.
NOTE: There is an forex counter in the airport, and I did this trip with a lady there. She was very helpful, but I forgot her name. Maybe she can tell you what the waiting period at the matatu stand is.
A cheap way to do the return trip to the airport is the boda-boda. The trip from Backpackers to Entebbe cost me around USh5000. (less than USD 5)
Updated Mar 27, 2007
Matatus and boda-bodas are the easiest and cheapest ways to travel around Kampala is you are not constrained by time. Many talk about how dangerous/inconvenient it is to travel by matatu and boda-boda. While there is a certain element of truth in it, the fact remains that it provides the best bang for the buck, which is real good news for backpackers. Many of the backpackers in Uganda rely on these modes of transport. Basically, you get what you pay for.
Someone told me that boda-bodas started while providing transportation across the no-man's land in the borders of the East African countries. The walking distance across no-man's land is about a few hundred meters, and some people started using bicycles to transport good from one border to another border, hence the name boda-boda. This eventually spread to the cities, and one can see bicycle and motorcycle boda-bodas all over Uganda. Basically, you sit behind the motorcycle or bicycle driver while he drives you to your destination.
Matatus are mini-vans with four rows of seat, including the one for the driver. Each row can take about 3 people, but an additional foldable seat is welded in the passageway on to increase the seating. If a person in the back wants to get down, the people sitting on the passageway-seats have to get down first. In some cases, customers also sit in the narrow alley way between the door and the seat. While this could be quite unnerving to a European or American, remember that this is a developing country with no government-run public transport system. Hundreds of thousands of Ugandans travel by matatu every month. More dangerous than the in-city matatus are the inter-city matatus that race along the highways. Bus or shared taxi would be a better mode of transportation in such cases.
If you have the money, and/or are not looking for adventure travel, then you can definitely go for a private hire (what they call "special taxis") or do the shared taxi thing.
Updated Mar 27, 2007
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