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+256 792844373 [email protected] Time Zone : GMT+3

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Karamoja: A must see and worthy holiday destination in Uganda

A visit to Karamoja is a must for anyone desiring to see an undefiled and wild African culture and outback. It is a great holiday destination for anyone looking to get away from the much trodden tourist places of Uganda, with the desire for something untamed and off the beaten path.

Karamoja

MOROTO

The first stop on your Karamoja tour has got to be Moroto. Moroto is an 8 hour drive from Kampala, and you can get there using the eastern route that goes through the towns of Jinja, Iganga, Mbale, and Soroti. The road is all paved with a constant stream of activity, keeping your eyes occupied for most of the drive. Jinja (Java house) and Mbale (Endiro coffee) are ideal rest stops, with access to a clean bathroom and a place to get food or a good cup of coffee. Another alternative for food is trying something local.

There is a popular bus stop just 2 hours out of Kampala called Namawojjolo, renowned for their perfectly roasted and salted chicken on a stick. I highly recommend giving it a try, and if you do, then get out of the vehicle and walk down to the road side stalls and buy the freshest chicken off the grill. Avoid the chicken hawked on the street and displayed through the car windows, it may be contaminated.

Namawojjolo Chicken

Be sure to fill up the gas tank in Soroti before proceeding to Moroto, as there is no other gas station in between the two towns that are 106 miles apart. If you prefer not to drive, then Moroto also has an airstrip with a couple of aircrafts in Entebbe offering shuttle flights to the town.

Moroto is a small quiet town with very little activity, located in the valley right below the Mt.Moroto range. The town is a great base to experience most of what Karamoja region has to offer. Karamoja as a region offers very few comforts of modern life however, in Moroto you can find decent accommodation (Karamoja Safari Camp) with reliable power supply, hot showers, flush toilets and access to the internet. The town itself is safe, and you can walk around town without any concern for your security. A couple of the hotels offer western cuisine, although the menus are limited to a few meal options.

The top things to see in Moroto are the local tribes. These are among a few of the tribes in Uganda, and in East Africa that have remained largely isolated and undefiled by modern civilization, providing a great opportunity to learn and be exposed to a different way of life. The tribes still live off their land and follow the rules and lifestyle of their ancestors.

The dominant tribe are the Karamojong, who are a warrior tribe of nomadic pastoralists and live in villages known as manyattas.

 

For a satisfactory visit, you need a guide or tour operator to show you around, since you can’t visit any of the tribal communities or hike the trails on your own. There are no marked trails with public access or visitor offices in the villages.

In Karamoja, everything is privately arranged. I recommend using Kara Tunga, who are locally owned and based in Moroto. They have good relations with the tribal communities, and have worked with them to create a series of trails and activities in Karamoja. They also have a comfortable tented-safari camp that works well as a base for a stay in Karamoja. Here are my recommendations of the top things to do with Kara Tunga:

 

Take a 3 hour hike of Mount Moroto.

Mount Moroto is the highest mountain in the region, towering to the height of 3080m above sea level. A hike to the summit of the mountain can be done in a day. This hike mainly covers the foot hills of the mountain. It’s a relatively easy hike, perfect for inexperienced hikers and families. Along the hike, you meet the Tepeth, a small tribe that lives on the slopes the mountain and are even more indigenous than the Karamojong.

The trails pass through some of their homesteads, which offers an opportunity to observe an engage them as they go on about their daily chores. The hike also offers spectacular panoramic views of the Moroto mountain range and the semi-arid plains of Karamoja below.

The scenery up the mountain is reminiscent of the views of the great rift valley from the escarpments of Naivasha in Kenya. Along the trails, you are treated to various sights and sounds of bird life, some of which are only indigenous to Karamoja. This is a great hike to do with kids. It’s relatively easy, fun and offers lots of learning opportunities. If you are a more experienced hiker, you may fancy hiking all the way to the peak, then camp at the top of the mountain for the night, and descend the mountain the following day.

Visit to the Karamojong Village

The nearest Karamojong village (manyatta), is approximately a 30 mins drive out of town. The visit is a combination of sightseeing and participation. Everything about the Karamojong is fascinating; the dress code, their food, the design of the manyattas, the elders, the family structure, and the rituals. These all provide a captivating insight into their way of life. Each village is fenced using dry twigs and branches, intertwined together to form a tough exterior wall for protection from attacks from neighboring tribes.

On arrival, the guide introduces you to the elders, and once permission is granted, he proceeds to give you a tour of the village. The tour includes meeting a Karamojong family, learning how each manyatta is structured, how the huts are built, the critical role of the women, and even learn how their local brew is made.

 

Evening in the Kraal with the Nomads

Extend your village visit and join the cattle herders in the evening. Cattle keeping is a very important part of Karamojong culture. In the old days, part of a Karamojong warriors ‘duty was to protect their cattle, and if necessary raid their neighboring tribes for cattle. As part of the tour, help the passionate herders bring the cows to the Kraal, learn how to milk a cow and witness traditions such as spearing a cow for blood to drink.

If you have more time to spare, then check out the Kara Tunga Tours website for more activities.

KIDEPO

The second stop is Kidepo Valley National Park. If you have more than a weekend to spare, then a safari to see the attractions of Kidepo Valley National Park is a great addition to your itinerary. It is a 6 hours’ drive north of Moroto, and the road is not paved and can be difficult to maneuver, especially in the rainy season. A 4×4 vehicle is essential for this part of the trip.

The road goes through Kotido and Kaabong towns, which are ideal rest stops for fuel and bathroom breaks. The drive to Kidepo really feels like a drive through the wilderness outback. You can also access Kidepo directly from Kampala through the northern route that goes through the cities of Gulu and Kitgum. This route is better suited for those seeking to visit Kidepo alone.

Kidepo

Why visit Kidepo?

Kidepo may not be as renown, or boast of large populations of wildlife as other East African safari destinations. However, due to its remoteness, Kidepo offers a safari experience that is unique and charming. Away from the big numbers of tourists and safari vehicles, here you have the pleasure of viewing the wildlife at their pace, while enjoying the calmness of nature that often lacks in the major parks.

This gives you an intimate feeling of being one with nature. In addition, Kidepo is also known for its crisp terrain and a variety of Wildlife. Roam the savannah along the banks of the Narus river, and you are likely to see an impressive showcase of wildlife including large herds of buffalo, elephants, zebras, hartebeest, giraffes and elands.

In Uganda, only in Kidepo can you find all these species in one place. Plan for a minimum of 2 night’s stay and you will have plenty of time to explore the park. The park has recently seen a growth in the number of lodges available. You can now choose from a number of options including budget, mid-range and luxury lodging. We recommend a stay at Savannah lodge, a mid-range outfit offering comfortable en-suite safari tents, or Adere lodge with en-suite cottages more suited to families, and travelers seeking for amenities similar to what you would find in a hotel.

If you are on a visit to East Africa, we highly recommend adding Karamoja to your itinerary. And if you are a resident of Uganda, then spare a long weekend and take your loved ones on an educational and adventurous getaway from the urban comforts of Kampala. You can also save yourself the trouble of planning this on your own, and contact us. We will be delighted to plan a trip for you.

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The Premium Plan

Choice of Accommodation: Gorilla Safari Lodge

Gorilla Safari Lodge is a private and secluded upmarket lodge with spectacular views of the Bwindi rainforest and located close to the Gorilla Trekking starting point. The lodge consists of spacious chalets, the main lodge area with a restaurant, and a bar overlooking the Bwindi rainforest and a gift shop. It also has free WIFI available at the main lodge area.

Room description:

These are chalets, each consisting of a spacious room, a private terrace, and en-suite bathroom. They are beautifully decorated and nicely lit with great views of the Bwindi rainforest. Each room is fitted with large comfortable beds, plush linen, mosquito net wrapping around the bed, lounge furniture, and a fireplace. The bathrooms have flush toilets and showers with hot and cold running water.

Meals:

Meals are all included; 2 breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. The restaurant offers 3-course meals of local and international specialties.

Benefits

Spacious and nicely-decorated rooms

Great location

Spectacular views of Bwindi rainforest

Elaborate meals and variety of choices

Spacious restaurant

Free WIFI

Drawbacks

No WIFI in the rooms

What is the price?

Pax123456
Price per person$2,125$1,754$1,692$1,661$1,642$1,629

Prices are based on double room occupancy. You can upgrade to a single room for $106 per person.

Available Extensions to your 3 days Gorilla Trekking Safari to Bwindi

  • One night extension to Ishasha for a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park - $510 per person
  • Two nights extension to Ishasha for a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park - $965 per person
  • One night extension to Lake Bunyonyi including canoeing excursion - $239 per person
  • Two nights extension to Lake Bunyonyi including canoe trekking - $418 per person
  • One night extension to Lake Mburo National Park for safari - $415 per person
  • Two nights extension to Lake Mburo National Park for safari - $799 per person
  • Two nights extension to Lake Mburo National Park for safari including a 4-hour Horseback Safari and Bush Breakfast - $934 per person
  • One day extension of the Gorilla Trekking Safari including 1 Gorilla permit - $1,066 per person

The Medium Plan

Choice of Accommodation: Rushaga Gorilla Camp

Rushaga Gorilla Camp is a mid-range mountain lodge located in the south-eastern part of the park near one of the four gorilla trekking starting points known as Rushaga. The lodge has excellent panoramic views of the Bwindi forest and is a 5 minutes' walk to the gorilla trekking starting point. It also has a restaurant that offers a full English breakfast, an a la carte lunch menu, and a choice of 3 set meals for dinner. You can also access free WIFI at the main lounge and restaurant area of the lodge.

Room description:

These are spacious cottages with large comfortable beds and linen, lounge furniture, and a private terrace looking towards the Bwindi rainforest. All rooms have a spacious private bathroom with flush toilets, solar-powered hot showers, a sink, and a dressing countertop and mirror.

Meals:

Your stay includes two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. The meals are all made from western or intercontinental cuisine.

Benefits

Relatively good price

Great location

Spacious rooms

Views of the Bwindi rainforest

Free WIFI

Drawbacks

Not nicely decorated

The linen is comfortable but not plush

Limited food items at the restaurant

What is the price?

Pax123456
Price per person$1,834$1,448$1,385$1,354$1,335$1,323

Prices are based on double room occupancy. You can upgrade to a single room for $146 per person.

Available Extensions to your 3 days Gorilla Trekking Safari to Bwindi

  • One night extension to Ishasha for a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park - $290 per person
  • Two nights extension to Ishasha for a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park - $527 per person
  • One night extension to Lake Bunyonyi including canoeing excursion - $239 per person
  • Two nights extension to Lake Bunyonyi including canoe trekking - $418 per person
  • One night extension to Lake Mburo National Park for safari - $279 per person
  • Two nights extension to Lake Mburo National Park for safari - $527 per person
  • One day extension of the Gorilla Trekking Safari including 1 Gorilla permit - $913 per person

The Basic Plan

Choice of Accommodation: Gorilla Valley Lodge

Gorilla Valley Lodge is a small, low-budget lodge located in the south-eastern part of the park near one of the four gorilla trekking starting points known as Rushaga. The lodge has a small restaurant that offers a basic continental breakfast and a few options of international cuisine for lunch and dinner.

Room Description

These are clean and modestly furnished brick and motor rooms consisting of a comfortable bed, linen, towels, and en-suite bathrooms. The bathrooms have solar-powered hot water showers and flush toilets. The rooms also have lighting, power plugs, and mosquito nets over the beds.

Meals

Only breakfast and dinner are included in the basic plan. You can order lunch daily at the restaurant.

Benefits

Affordable and comfortable rooms

Good location

Drawbacks

Basic facilities

Small rooms

Limited meal options

Limited views

No internet access

Note:

If there are no rooms available at the time of your booking. We will provide a suitable replacement.

What is the price?

Pax123456
Price per person $1,438$1,187$1,125$1,094$1,075$1,062

Prices are based on double room occupancy. You can upgrade to a single room for $89 per person.

Available Extensions to your 3 days Gorilla Trekking Safari to Bwindi

  • One night extension to Ishasha for a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park - $234 per person
  • Two nights extension to Ishasha for a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park - $415 per person
  • One night extension to Lake Bunyonyi including canoeing excursion - $169 per person
  • Two nights extension to Lake Bunyonyi including canoe trekking - $278 per person
  • One night extension to Lake Mburo National Park for safari - $212 per person
  • Two nights extension to Lake Mburo National Park for safari - $392 per person

The Premium Plan

Choice of Accommodation: Paraa Safari Lodge

Paraa Safari Lodge is an upmarket lodge with the refinements of a 3-star hotel, located in the center of the park looking over the Nile river. Facilities include spacious rooms, a restaurant, a bar, a pool with a bar, and a gift shop.

Paraa safari lodge boasts the best location in the park and offers the conveniences of being so close to the jetty for your boat safari on the Nile river, and close to the game viewing areas of the park. No lodge offers more conveniences for your 3 Days Murchison Falls Safari than Paraa Safari Lodge.

Room description:

The rooms are nicely lit, decorated with plush linen, and towels. All rooms have a private bathroom with hot showers and a hairdryer. The rooms have a coffee bar, a reading table, refrigerator, complimentary bottled water, and a private balcony.

Meals:

Meals are all included; two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners. The restaurant offers three-course meals of local and international specialties.

Benefits

Spacious and comfortable rooms

WIFI available in all rooms

Great location for game drives and boat safari

Elaborate meals and variety of choices

Drawbacks

The standard rooms have a ceiling fan, but no air-conditioning. You can upgrade to a deluxe room for $35 per person per room.

Note: If there are no rooms available at the time of your booking, we will recommend a suitable replacement.

What is the price?

Pax123456
Price per person$1,241$902$825$786$763$748

Prices are based on double room occupancy. You can upgrade to a single room for $106 per person.

.

The Medium Plan

Choice of Accommodation: Pakuba Safari Lodge

Pakuba Safari Lodge is a mid-range lodge, located on the northern side of the park facing the Albert Nile. The facilities include a restaurant, terraced room blocks and a swimming pool.

The lodge is in an excellent location for game drives and with nicely furnished rooms, offering you better value for your money compared to other mid-range accommodations, making Pakuba the ideal lodge for your 3 Days Murchison Falls Safari.

Room description:

All rooms have a private bathroom with solar-powered hot showers, a reading table, a closet, and a private terrace. The rooms are all air-conditioned.

Meals:

This plan is inclusive of all meals. The price includes two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners during your stay. The meals are all made from western or intercontinental cuisine.

Benefits

Reasonably priced.

Excellent location for game drives

Comfortable rooms with air-conditioning

WIFI at the main lobby and at the restaurant

Drawbacks

The lodge is a 45 mins drive from the Paraa jetty, where the boat safari begins and ends.

Rooms lack a coffee or tea bar and Hair dryer.

The linen is comfortable but not plush

Note: If there are no rooms available at the time of your booking, we will recommend a suitable replacement.

What is the price?

Pax123456
Price per person$1,141$763$685$647$624$608

Prices are based on double room occupancy. You can upgrade to a single room for $146 per person.

The Basic Plan

Choice of Accommodation: Red Chili Rest Camp

Red Chilli Rest Camp is a low-budget camp located in the center of the park on the southern side of the Nile, only 500 meters from the ferry crossing point. You stay in brick and motor, African thatched houses locally known as bandas.

The camp also has a restaurant that offers an a la carte breakfast and lunch menu, and a choice of 3 set meals for dinner. The combination of a great location and a right level of comfort makes Red Chilli Rest Camp the ideal budget accommodation for your 3 Days Murchison Falls Safari.

Room description:

The bandas all include a double bed or two twin beds with linen and a mosquito net. A few bandas have private bathrooms, but most uses shared bathrooms. All the bandas have lighting, power plugs, and a fan. There’s a limited number of Ensuite bandas. The camp has shared toilets and bathroom stalls with hot water available.

Meals:

The basic plan includes breakfast. You can buy lunch and dinner every day at the restaurant.

Benefits

It’s inexpensive and safe.

Drawbacks

Even though Red Chilli Rest Camp’s location is better than other budget accommodations, it’s not the best for game viewing. It takes about 30 minutes, including crossing the Nile on a ferry to get to the wildlife. The ferry has set crossing times, and these can limit the amount of time you spend viewing the animals. All the other low-budget camps have the same challenge. None is close to the wildlife.

Electricity is only available at set times of the day, except lights are always on. The set times are from 7 am to 9 am, 11 am to 2 pm, and 5 pm to 10 pm. Outside these hours, guests charge appliances such as phones and camera batteries at the restaurant.

No WIFI

Note: If there are no rooms available at the time of your booking, we will recommend a suitable replacement.

Price Scale

Pax123456
Price per person$918$597$520$481$458$442

Prices are based on double room occupancy. You can upgrade to a single room for $89 per person.