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Kisoro, Uganda



Kisoro is a characterless town, located in a wonderful setting under the peaks of the Mufumbiro Mountains which are part of the Virunga chain of volcanoes and home to the rare Mountain Gorilla. Because of this Kisoro has become a magnet to tourists.

Mountainous scenery, Lake Mutanda, Mountain Gorillas, colorful markets, and volcano trekking provides much for visitors to the district to do.

Kisoro is just about the end of the road for those visiting western Uganda. It is the nearest town to the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and is the access town for those proceeding to Rwanda or the DRC for gorilla tracking in the Parc Des Volcans or the Parc Des Virunga.

Approach to Kisoro
Approach to Kisoro

Kabale-Kisoro: 88 Kms 3 hours
Cyanika-Kisoro: 14 kms 0.5 hours
Bunagana-Kisoro: 14 kms 0.5 hours

Most visitors arriving in Kisoro will of come by way of the route over the mountains from Kabale. The route is a marrum road with very steep accents and descents. Large truck trailers use this route proceeding to and from the DRC. Arriving by way of Rwanda at the Cyanika border or from the DRC at Bunagana the road through to Kisoro is well graded volcanic stone. Delays should not be experienced. The border crossings should be easy going as both borders experience tourist traffic in relation to gorilla trekking activities in their respective national parks.

Potato cultivation
Potato cultivation is to be seen everywhere around Kisoro

By Public Transport:
Both Gateway and Horizon bus companies operates 4 or 5 buses a day from Kampala through to Kisoro and vice versa. The first bus leaves Kampala around 07.00am but incredibly all buses leave Kisoro around 06.00am. The first bus arrives in Kisoro by 16.00 hrs. Buses no longer continue to Goma in the DRC. The fare Kampala - Kisoro is Ushs25,000-.

There are several matatus daily making the journey back and forth to Kabale. These vehicles are seriously overloaded and in poor condition. Additionally open Pickup trucks ply the route to Kabale that collect passengers also.

From Cyanika and Bunagana throughout the day there is no regular public transport. On market days (Monday and Thursday) in Kisoro there is significantly more transport between the borders.

For those looking for transport to Mgahinga National Park the Virunga Hotel offers a return shuttle for Ushs60,000- for the vehicle. You could as many do take a motor bike boda boda for Ushs7,000-. The road can at times be very rough.

The Virunga Hotel also arranges transport for those travelling to Rwanda to track gorillas. The return trip costs Ushs20,000- per person to the Uganda border with Rwanda and US$20- return from the border to the Rwanda National Parks HQ in Ruhengheri.

Should you be staying in Kisoro and have a gorilla tracking permit for Nkuringo then you will need to leave 1 and 1/2 hours to get there on what is a 39km journey. It has been known for people to undertake this journey on a boda boda!

By Air:
There is a newly constructed airstrip in Kisoro where charters by many Entebbe based operators are becoming frequent.

Backpackers Only:
It is possible using a local canoe on Lake Mutanda and walking from its northern shore to arrive at Buhoma in Bwindi National Park. The journey will take 3 days. You can camp en-route at Nkuringo Safari Lodge at the northen tip of Lake Mutanda, then walk up to the Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite and stay at the simple Hammerkop bunkhouse outside the Nkuringo sector of the park. From the northern tip of Lake Mutanda the diatance to Nkuringo is 19km. To walk the 12km through to Buhoma from here will take 4 hours and you will need to engage the services of a ranger/guide to escort you through to the Park HQ at Buhoma. Park fees and ranger guide fees will need to be paid. Total distance from Kisoro is about 40 kms.

Lake Mutanda with Virunga distant
Lake Mutanda with Virunga distant

There is no shortage of places to stay in Kisoro, budget, up market and camping.

Top End:
Travellers Rest Hotel: Located in town 100m from the National Parks office. Newly refurbished, very clean, en-suite bathrooms and toilets. Bar and restaurant. Parking with watchman. Bookings through Gorilla Tours Uganda in Kampala. Tel.Tel: +256 (0)414 200221, +256 (0)777 820071. email postmaster@gorillatours.com or direct with the hotel on 0486 430021.

Rates 2012
Single US$70-, Double/Twin US$80-, Virunga room US$90- B&B.
Single US$82-, Double/Twin US$114-, Virunga room US$124- HB
Single US$88-, Double/Twin US$124-, Virunga room US$134- FB.

KisoroTourist Hotel: Tel. 0486 430135, 0774 383448, 0782 361004. Self-contained rooms all with showers and balcony. The hotel has large garden and safe secure parking is provided for visitors with their own vehicles. The booking offices of the Uganda Wildlife Authorities are situated directly opposite the hotel.

Single US$60-, Double US$65- including breakfast.

Mgahinga Rest Camp: Bookings through Volcanoes Safaris Kampala. Tel.041 346464/5. Located outside the Ntebeko Gate at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The camp offers up market accommodation on a full board basis in luxury bandas. Double luxury Banda non resident full board basis U$$820-.

Nkuringo Safari Lodge: Tel. +256 (0)782 762528 email. powernkuringo@yahoo.co.uk. Located some 14 kms outside of Kisoro on Lake Mutanda. Tented camp with en-suite bathrooms and toilets. Bar and restaurant. Scenically a great location and well worth the drive if you have your own transport just to come and view or photograph the volcanoes from here.

Rates 2012
Self contained tent double occupancy US$200- full board
Self contained tent single occupancy US$130- full board
Self contained tent triple occupancy US$100- per person full board
Campsite per tent US$10- without meals

Mid Range:

3 Way Gorilla Resort: Tel. +256 (0)392 827604, +256 (0)772 414051, email: 3waygorillaresort@gmail.com
Located on Cyanika Road (access road from Rwanda border) 2 kms from Kisoro town. Spacious camp ground, 5 traditional bandas and the main house with comfortable rooms, a bar and restaurant.

Single/Double room or double banda self contained (Bed and Breakfast) - Ushs50,000

Bugondo Guesthouse: Tel/Fax. +256 (0)486 430326, +256 (0)774 583925, email: bugondoguesthouse2007@yahoo.com. Located at 56 Chuho Road and sign posted on your approach to Kisoro town. 12 rooms 8 of which are self-contained.
DSTV in rooms, safe and secure parking facilty. Activies arranged for visitors. The guesthouse has a campsite on Lake Mulehe some 1o kms from Kisoro on the road to Nkuringo.

Double room self contained (Bed and Breakfast) - Ushs40,000
Single Room self caontained (Bed and Breakfast) - Ushs25,000

Heritage Guesthouse: Tel. +256 (0)486 430126, +256 (0)772 517146, +256 (0)782 800200, email heritagekisoro@yahoo.co.uk. This small centrally located guesthouse is opposite the Standard Bank on Kisoro's short strip of tarmac. You will find 9 rooms all self-contained with DSTV. There is a small bar and restaurant area where meals are served. The hotel arranges local activities for clients.

Single Ushs45,000-, Double Ushs65,000-. Rates include breakfast


Countryside Guesthouse: Tel. +256 (0)782 412741, +256 (0)711 412741, +256 (0)702 412741, email: countrysideguesthouse@yahoo.com. Located on Bunagana Road 500m from the taxi park. 14 clean rooms, restaurant and camping grounds.

Rates 2012
Double/Twin occupancy (self contained rooms) - Ushs50,000- B&B
Single occupancy (self contained rooms) - Ushs35,000- B&B

For self-campers, the gardens can accommodate 6-10 people in their own tents. Shower and toilet facilities are available. US$3- per person.

Camping rates exclude breakfast. A breakfast menu that includes coffee or tea, eggs, toast cereals and fruits in season is available at Ushs5,000-

Landmark Tours and Travel Guesthouse: Tel. +256 (0)712 054719, +256 (0)772 675642
landline (0)486 4951514, email: landmark_tours&travelguesthouse@yahoo.com. Located on very central at Plot 27 Mutanda Road that loops behind the main Bunagana Road. Simply clean rooms with bar and restaurant. Tour services are available to for visitors wanting transfers to Mgahinga or Nkuringo.

Self-contained rooms Ushs35,000-
Non-self contained) Ushs25,000-
Twin rooms Ushs30,000-
Room rates include breakfast.

Virunga Hotel: Tel. +256 (0)4864 30109, +256 (0)782 360820. Located behind the National Parks office. Cheap clean rooms. Clean toilets and hot water showers. Restaurant and bar. Secure parking. The Virunga is the best bet for most backpackers and those with their own vehicles that want to stay in town. Loads of Gorilla trekking advice and help with obtaining permits for trekking in Rwanda. Return transfers arranged in the 'Virunga Shuttle' (hotel Pick-up truck) to Mgahinga or Rwanda for activities. The cost for this is best shared with a group. The hotel is the hang out for a small group of reliable tour guides that can arrange just about anything you need or may want to do in the district at a price that includes gorilla tracking in the DR Congo.

5 Self-contained rooms Ushs42,000-
3 non self-contained rooms: Ushs22,000-
Triple room Ushs42,000-
Dormitory: Ushs10,500- per bed
Camping: US$5-
Mobile tent: US$7-

Mubano Hotel: Located next door to the Virunga Hotel. Twin/Double rooms Ushs15,000-, Suite self-contained rooms Ushs25,000-.

Rugigana Valley Campsite: Located 200m from the National Parks office in the direction of Bunagana. Situated on the right after the Travelers' Rest Hotel. Basic facilities. Pit latrine toilets. No meals available but has a bar. 4 double bandas are planned to be constructed in the near future Ushs10,000-. per banda. Situated with splendid views of the cultivated high ground behind Kisoro. Village walks and other activities arranged on request. Camping Ushs5,000-.

Lake Mutanda Campsite: This superbly appointed campsite is located on a peninsular with panoramic views out over the lake. The site also known as Sheba's Campsite provides a uniquely tranquil venue for visitors looking for simplicity and wishing to be in a natural setting.

Currently only one log cabin is available with a double bed and a grassed level camping area is available for those self camping. Simple meals are provided for visitors.

To get to the campsite many intriped travellers will choose to walk over the volcanic crater that straddles the land between Kisoro and Lake Mutanda. This is a walk of about 2 hours. The site is also accessible by vehicle for those that choose to take a private hire vehicle. This is a great location for those trekking to Nkuringo and onto Buhoma.

Log cabin x 1 Ushs40,000- per night
Our furnished tent Ushs30,000- per tent per night
Self camping Ushs6,000- per person.

The National Parks Office: Tel. 0486 430098, 0772 383030. Pass the Caltex station and Commercial Bank of Uganda on your left coming from Kabale and proceed for 500m up a slight hill, NP office immediately on the right. It is well sign posted.

Internet facilities are available at Microcare Kisoro Internet Services @ Ushs50/minute. There are several other locations in town now providing Internet access.

The Kisoro Beekeepers Association located next to the Agip fuel station in town is a wonderful place to pick up some local honey from the forests of Mgahinga and Bwindi. A tour of the production area is always forthcoming.

Public water tap - Kisoro town
Public water tap - Kisoro town

Mechanical Emergencies:
Surprisingly you can deal with most mechanical emergencies in town. Several workshops are hidden in the back streets of town where both gas and arc welding is possible. New spare parts are limited but if you have a Landcruiser or Landrover you may well find a second hand spare part. There is 2 petrol stations where both petrol, diesel and paraffin are available. These stations carry engine, gear and transmission oils that can be purchased in small quantities from large barrels.

The boys at the Virunga Hotel will most certainly know where you can make a repair or find a spare part.

Good meals are available at the Virunga Hotel, Countryside, Travelers' Rest, and Tourist Hotel. There are many small groceries in town and a bakery.

The Standard Bank has a branch in Kisoro. US Dollars can and should be used to pay for Gorilla tracking, National Parks fees and Volcano treks. There is a signpost below the National Parks office indicating a Forex Bureau, but its location was not ascertained. The Virunga Hotel will also change US Dollars, Sterling and Kenya Shillings. Rates in Kisoro will be very poor needless to say.

There is a market on Monday and Thursday in Kisoro. Markets in the district are very colourful occasions. There is a big market twice a week at Bunagana on the Uganda / DRC border on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Kisoro market
Kisoro market

Activities from Kisoro:
Lake Mutanda is walking distance from town. For those with transport the northern end of the lake offers spectacular scenery over the lake with the backdrop of the volcanoes. Local canoes can be hired for visits to islands in the lake.

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