You should stay at these two community lodges during your trip to Uganda. Owned and run by
the local communities living next to the most popular National Parks of Uganda, they offer a story of
both wildlife and culture, showcasing how they have lived all their life with the animals, including those
as large as the elephants and as hostiles as the Lions, king of the jungle.
Location: Rwenzori mountains National park
Activities: The activities offered by Ruboni Community camp include; accommodation, village tours,
Rwenzori trekking, traditional dances, and other cultural experiences
Prices for the year 2022: (as prices may change without prior notice, kindly contact us for current prices)
Other unique activities you can participate in, off the tourist network;
Location: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Activities: The activities offered by the elephant home include; accommodation, village tours, wildlife
safaris, Kazinga channel boat cruise, Lion tracking experience, bodaboda safaris, Chimp tracking, and the
crater lakes tour.
Prices for the year 2022: (as prices may change without prior notice, kindly contact us for current prices)
Please note: the park entrance fee of 40$ per person covers 24 hours and can cater to all activities you
do in the park within that 24 hours window. This means, that one entrance fee can allow you to do the boat cruise, game drive, and chimp tracking if they are done on the same day.
Payment is easy too. You have access to several flexible payment options in US Dollars or Uganda shillings;
I mention it again; please contact us to find out the current prices, since they may change without prior
notice. For more inquiries, contact us through this website via email, phone call, or WhatsApp.
These lodges are fully owned and run by the local communities. All the money spent on this facility goes
back onto the community improving the local standards of living, supporting environment conservation, and enhancing resilience to the impacts of climate change. If you want to explore and learn more about
how these benefits reach out to the community members, you can ask to visit some of the beneficiary
projects in the area. Besides, we have volunteer packages where guests can stay longer to participate in
community development and conservation initiatives supported by tourism.
Community Enterprise name: Bwindi Eco-farm
Location: Nkuringo gate, Sanuriro village, Bwindi impenetrable National Park
The location on the hills in the remote areas of Bwindi, Nguringo leaves the local residents with very little hope for water, food, or access roads to their homes. Like, many other surrounding villages, Sanuriro village is mainly covered by tea gardens as a key cash crop. Nyasio, a local resident has chosen to make a difference by establishing a food crop farm to address food scarcity in his family and the surrounding community. It requires extra effort to provide manure, water, labor, and security to the farm amidst scarcity in this hilly village. This calls for hard work and innovation on the farm. He has had no option but to train the short Batwa people, on how to grow some of the tallest bananas in Uganda.
Here, this farm gives visitors an opportunity to spend a day or a few hours on this mountainside with the Batwa people, experiencing a memorable moment of living with the Batwa. Sitting on 2 acres, this land has been planned to maximize the use of manure, water, and labor. It is an all-inclusive farm with few animals, (cows, goats, chickens) to provide the most needed manure. With a forest to supply the energy and building materials, Nyasio is able to spend all his time on this farm to ensure high production, skills exchange with the local community including the Batwa people. This farm is a food spot. Local people in the surrounding village, frequent the farm to buy foods including bananas, sugarcane, yams, and others for food or for resale as household businesses.
Nyasio’s effort has empowered the whole village. He also provides classes and job opportunities to the Batwa to help them earn the necessary income and food for their households. Now Nyasio has integrated tourism. He has opened the farm to welcome tourists to come and learn as they support his effort. This is one way he will continue to address climate change challenges on the farm, and empower the local village with access to food, income, and skills using the tourism benefits and connections.
Activities you can participate in:
• Batwa forest life experience:
• Batwa music and dance performance:
• Batwa skilling experience:
• Bwindi eco-farm tour:
Duration: Each activity takes 60-90 minutes. The full experience takes 4-5 hours
• Farming with the Batwa on the farm
• Learning how to use local tools
• Harvesting and eating local fresh foods
• Batwa traditional stories and dances
• great scenery of the hills and forest
What to bring:
• Insect repellant
• Buy drinking water from Nkuringo
• Walking shoes
• A hut as the area may be hot
• Sun cream
• some cash for tips and buying gifts
• Camera and binocular
• A leveled ground for camping with a pit latrine is available on the farm
• Camping $ 10 per person – Bed/ own tent
• Each activity 15$
• Full day experience 50$
• The employment opportunity for locals,
• Training and skills to the locals
• Support the Batwa marginalized group of people
• Market for the local goods and services
Assistance in booking by The Uganda trips
TEL: +256 706581477 Whatsapp: +256 780278010
Absolutely YES, and this is why?
I am sharing my hands-on experience, after traveling to Queen Elizabeth National Park Recently. I hope this information will help you to make the most valuable decision about whether you should or shouldn’t travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
I traveled to Queen Elizabeth National Park early this year. First I didn’t know what to expect other than the animals. I was not sure of the other attractions such as the beautiful landscapes, the friendly people, the excellent climate, and many more that I am about to tell you.
When you travel to Queen Elizabeth national park, you have good access to a range of accommodation facilities. You have an opportunity to explore the budget and standard that suits you. I think Queen Elizabeth is a complete destination with something to offer for every visitor. If you’re looking for accommodation, the elephant home was definitely my best due to the affordable prices, delicious food, hospitable staff, spacious and clean self-contained rooms, and easy accessibility by both public and private transport.
The secret of Queen Elizabeth lies in the budget, access, community, scenery, wildlife safaris, and cultural encounters that are easy to arrange through the local communities. I know someone may tell you that it is very expensive to stay in or around Queen Elizabeth. This will be probably because they look for high-end tourism companies, lodges, or safaris and end up losing the niche of this destination. Thanks to Rainforest and community tours being a specialist in community-based tourism around Uganda, I was able to find my best and will definitely come back to this “paradise on earth”.
Queen Elizabeth is an iconic ecosystem that stands out from the rest of Uganda. It connects an extensive rich habitat of fauna and flora. In this park, I found cross boundary wildlife such as the elephants, birds, and other water life that crosses all the way from the Virunga National Park. During certain seasons of the year, you can even find massive numbers of birds congregating on the banks during the famous Kazinga channel boat cruise. Lake Munyanyange, also a salt lake in Katwe is a hub for lesser flamingos that visit once every year all the way from Magadi in Kenya. This is when you participate in the wildlife safaris in Kasenyi or Ishasha sector or when you take the Kazinga Channel Boat cruise. This boat cruise is conducted on the freshwater channel that links Lake George to Lake Edward. Lake Edward is a cross-border lake whose main part is in Congo.
Besides the enormous holiday potential of this park, I was surprised to find out that, Queen Elizabeth National park is close to many other attractions in the western region than you can ever imagine. These include the great mountain gorillas that are just 146km away. The Rwenzori Mountains of the moon are also located about 40Km away. Other attractions include; the Kalinzu forest offering nature walks and chimp tracking experiences, the crater lakes area for scenic walks, and the cultural encounters in the surrounding areas.
This is the only park in Uganda that is easily accessed by public transport. With public means, you can reach all activities in the park. Again, the safaris and activities in this park are better organized by a local community service provider who is knowledgeable of the area. The elephant home plays this role very well. This protected area is a human biosphere. You will find safe roads that travel through to access the human communities that live within the park. Such villages include Kasenyi village, Lake Katwe salt-mining village, Hamukungu village, and others. When you visit these communities, you get the best story of people and wildlife.
If you want to go to paradise cheaply while in Uganda, you will have to choose Queen Elizabeth national park. I highly recommend it for people looking for affordable services such as food, transportation, safari options, and cultural encounters that share the story of how the people live with wild animals in the heart of Africa. The Bodaboda Safari organized by the youth at Kikorongo was my favorite. I was able to see the people, landscapes, local economic activities, and animals for barely 25$. The price may have changed by now, but it will still be low compared to Africa’s traditional safari prices. The Bodabda safari helped me save time and money. It was very easy to organize through the elephant home. They even have a package for this safari, that includes accommodation at the elephant home.
In the end, it is not risky to travel to Queen Elizabeth, at any time of the year. However, Queen Elizabeth is a destination that you need to plan more time for. To explore this area better, Rainforest and community tours, is your ultimate guiding star, and the elephant home lodge is your gateway. The staff at the elephant home is very hospitable and knowledgeable about all the activities you can do in and around the park.
Ruboni Community Visitor Center is a local tourist spot at the entrance to Nyakalengijoa central circuit gate of Rwenzori mountains National park. All tourism activities in Ruboni village are sold here. We also provide information about the different tourism activities in the Rwenzori mountains.
From just visiting the Ruboni area, to doing village tours or trekking to the High peaks of Rwenzori mountains on a multiday trek, the Centre is your one-stop point where you will get support. We provide information, do reservations, organize treks and receive payments. At the center, we have local guides that take you across the village on the many activities that are listed below;
This Community visitor center is a social enterprise that aims to empower the local people by acting as the sales house for the local tourism services and products for the local community. It aims a boost the local economy through support for training, enterprise development, production capacity building, and marketing of the local goods and services to both the locals and tourists.
The center also provides support to the community on tourism product development, marketing, capacity building, and networking.
Ruboni community camp is located in the Rwenzori foothills, at the entrance gate of Nyakalengijo, on the central circuit trail. This location is ideal for guests who want to spend some time in the mountain landscape that is full of unique cultural encounters. The main experiences here are; meeting the people, food experience, the great scenery, and getting to learn about Rwenzori mountains that are off the touristy route. An ideal stay in Ruboni community is two nights / three days long, though it has also been enjoyable for people staying shorter or longer. It is easy to reach Ruboni community camp on your way between Kibale and Queen Elizabeth national parks, by just branching off 17km to the west, at Nkenda electric terminal on Kasese – fort portal road.
This is how you can spend your three days during your stay at Ruboni Community Camp.
Day 1: Arrive at Ruboni community from Kasese town. You will be welcomed by the team, at the lodge. This evening, you will get an orientation about the available village activities as we validate the requirements. Retire to dinner in the cozy restaurant overlooking the Rwenzori Mountains. For those coming from far, it is possible to arrive from as afar as Kampala, Murchison falls, or Bwindi.
Day 2: Early morning village tour activity. Options to select from include a forest walk, hill climb trek, nature walk inside the park, or the overnight hill trek that takes you to 2400 meters. Whichever trek of choice, the activity will expose you to the beautiful mountains scenery, local crops gardens, and small animals unique to the Rwenzori foothills where you may sometimes find the three-horned Chameleons. After the tour, you will return to lunch at the camp. Relax the rest of the day or get ready for the next cultural encounter; a cultural evening at the community center.
If you choose to rest, you have the mountain scenery, the great foods, the hospitable staff, and the comfortable balcony in the restaurant to rest in the quiet home listening to the natural sounds within the camp. If you chose the cultural event encounter, then you will start off from the camp at around 4:00 pm. The community center is open for visitors throughout the day, the cultural events and festivities start at 5:00 pm ending at 7:00 pm. This gives you two full hours of living like a local with the locals.
Drive, or walk the 2km to the community center in the residential village where you will meet the locals during their social time. Ruboni community center is a place for fun in the cultural music and dances, local drinks and foods, cultural workshops such as percussion, cooking tours, and craft-making, or talking to the people firsthand to share their stories of the local life.
While here you chose who to socialize with women, men, or children as they live their local life. Staying here is also a moment to reach out to your family and share your Rwenzori experience with them. This is possible with the WiFi connection. During or at the end of the experience, you will have time to go to the gift shop and buy some of the local crafts and souvenirs to take back home.
Day 3: In the morning spend some quiet time on the lodge balcony to have a late breakfast while gazing at the beautiful mountains, as you relax. After late breakfast, take the village walk and retire to lunch. On the village walk, the guide brings you to several households to show you their local livelihoods. These include; crafts producers, a farmer, traditional healers, storytellers, and blacksmiths. On this walk, you will have an opportunity to buy local produce such as coffee, vanilla, bananas, and crafts, after participating in processing them locally, with your hand and a few locally made tools.
Day 4: After an early breakfast, is a good time to transfer from Ruboni community camp to your next destination? People who want to trek the Rwenzori to the high peaks can also start their multiday trek on this day. You will find several treking options ranging from three days on the Mahoma trail loop, four to six days on the central circuit, or 8 days to margarita peak trek; the highest on mount Rwenzori.
Mahoma trek starts at 1646m. above sea level. The highest point on the trail is at 3020m. above seas level on the ridge between the first and second camps.
The collective attitudes of the camps on the Mahoma trail
The total altitude gain during the Mahoma trail trek is 1374m. on the ridge between the first and second camps.
On day one, the altitude gain is estimated to be at 847m while on day two, it is estimated to be 460m. suddenly, on day three, the altitude drops by 1334m when you trek from the lake Mahoma to the base camp.
The distances of the daily treks;
In total, the original trail of the Mahoma loop was estimated to be 28km. However, over time, due to the evolvement and changes on the trail route, it is found to be 23km based on the daily trekking distances. This journey starts and ends at the Nyakalengijo Central circuit park gate on a return trip. This return trip is planned to take trekkers, two nights/ three days with the following distances on each of the days;
When you spend a night at the elephant home, you have the easiest access to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge is located just next to the park. The elephant home is also one of the closest lodges to the Kasenyi tracks, where most wildlife safaris are conducted.
On the day of the safari, you will take breakfast at 6:00-6:30 am and join the guide to participate in the safari drive on the Kasenyi tracks in the northern sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. You should preferably reach there at around 7:00 am or earlier, when the cats are still in action. We will be looking for the pride of lions. Lions are commonly trailed by hyenas during the hunt.
The game drive will go on up to 10:00 am. At daybreak, we will look for other games including Buffalos, Elephants, Uganda cobs, waterbucks, warthogs, and others mainly congregated in large and small herds.
Return to lunch, after which you have chances of participating in the community experiences. Options include; the salt mining tour, the crater lakes tour, the village walk, traditional dance performance.
After the evening activity, you may choose to take a short evening game drive before you return to dinner and overnight.
Besides, at the elephant home, you will find short safaris that you can organize very easily. If you have more time for the safari activities, you can find a full-day experience package that is scheduled with a preset price per person. It requires a minimum of three persons for it to start. This full-day package includes;
It is so easy to arrange. Booking is free of charge! Please contact us today to reserve your room in the lodge or space on the safari drive/ Kazinga channel boat cruise.
Short safaris and trips you can do in southwestern Uganda
This is a short safari guide for western Uganda, covering two National parks and two communities neighboring these parks. The parks covered are Rwenzori Mountains and Queen Elizabeth, at the equator.
The three days you allocate on this safari will give you over six activities you can do flexibly and affordably. On this three days trip, you can choose to do between three and six activities, based on your time, pace, and budget. Besides, these activities cover all the four safari treasures of Uganda; wildlife, nature, culture, and scenery.
If you have three days to travel off the beaten path, I would suggest you visit the parks and communities in Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori Mountains National Parks. You can consider taking a short itinerary like this one;
Day1: Arrive at Queen Elizabeth. On arrival head to Katwe village and participate in the salt mining tour. You can also choose to do this as part of Katwe with Kikorongo Boda-boda safari, to give the day a better mix of wildlife viewing options. Dinner and overnight at the Elephant Home
Day 2: A relaxed breakfast and mid-morning transfer to Rwenzori Mountains foothills. Arrive for dinner and overnight at Ruboni Community Camp.
Day 3: Early morning you participate in the Ruboni hill trek. Return to lunch and then transfer to the next destination. This is also the best time to spend another night if you want to explore this area longer.
You can also choose to make one or a few of the following additions on these respective days;
From the south, you can do;
From the north; fort portal side, you can do;
Remember, Rwenzori is entirely off the beaten path. For this reason, we know you may resist the desire to explore these beautiful mountains and foothills longer. If you want to explore longer in the Rwenzori you can consider doing the nature walk inside the park, a three days/ two nights Mahoma trek, or other mutli-day treks that can take you up to margarita and other high peaks, to witness snow at the equator.
The costs and prices for this short safari experience are entirely dependent on what you take and what you leave or how you choose to take it. The option includes private transport, boda-boda or public transport, camping, or staying in a guest house.
Most importantly, in any case, this safari fits well in that weekend that you want to spend somewhere unique, off the beaten path.
Please contact us if you want this safari tailored to your interests.
RIBONI HILL TREK
Many people admire trekking the Rwenzori Mountains, but very few have been able to do this trip, due to budget fitness and time constraints. Fortunately, things have changed. Through this hill trek, trekkers will be able to get, an almost full experience of the Rwenzori Mountains in just one day or overnight. The trek starts at 1615m to 2400m above sea level and it is easy to arrange within one day’s notice.
This is what you get when you participate in the Ruboni community hill trek. First of all, the hill trek puts both the Rwenzori climbing and the community experiences in one beautiful, short and affordable trekking experience, making it the easiest way to experience the Rwenzori Mountains, at the moment.
The hill trek is either sold as a day trek or an overnight trek. The day experience takes a minimum of 3-4 hours on a return trip depending on the pace. The trip price for the day trek covers the guide and trek experience. For overnight trekkers, it is sold on a full board package that covers the meals, guide and porter, camping gear, and the entire experience.
Overnight trekking starts in the afternoon. After lunch at Ruboni community camp, start the trek with the porters and guides carrying your supplies. You cross River Mubuku and then start ascending. The hill is steep at some points, but our experienced community guides and porters will give you good company and support to enable you to keep on climbing to the top. Trekking time is 1-2 hours climbing and 1 hour descending back to the community.
During the trek, you find local Bakonzo people on the way in the local mode that gives you an idea of the local village life. The trail is also a community path that takes some community members to their homes and gardens over the hills. You will be passing through the community gardens where you will view some of the locally farmed crops around the village homes such as coffee, fruits, bananas, and vegetables.
Throughout the trek, you have resting points where you will take beautiful views, offering perfect picture moments. As you go up the hill, the scenery gets better, until you reach the peak. From the top, you will take a walk around to explore, where you will view the entire village, Lake George in Queen Elizabeth National Park plains, and the Rwenzori Mountain peaks.
Other attractions that you won’t miss along the trail include beautiful plants with bright flowers, chances of finding the small colorful birds of this area, and the fresh wind breeze typical of Rwenzori, which carries with them the mountain sounds from the portal peaks.
After setting your camp, is a good time for taking panorama pictures of the plains and villages. In the evening and early morning; at sunset and sunrise, are the best times to take the perfect views over the mountains.
It is a wonderful moment being at the top in the morning. Every clear morning, the sun rises pointing towards the Rwenzori Mountains in the west. On a clear day, this is a good time to take the view of Margarita peak, the highest point in the Rwenzori Mountains and Uganda at a height of 5109 meters above sea level. On such clear days, you will be able to take perfect pictures of this peak capturing Stanley plateau with permanent glaciers.
Margarita peak is believed to be standing on the border between Uganda and Congo. Trekkers through the central circuit trail take five days to reach this peak. This hill trek trail is a perfect alternative for that long-distance and time since it enables you to see the peaks in just one day or overnight.
For as long as you want, after reaching the top, you take very close views of the portal peaks, the mountain forest, and the village with homesteads lined along the Mubuku valley. After a memorable moment at the peak, you will return to the camp for a nice shower.
The key requirements on this trek include; a walking stick, drinking water, stable walking shoes, light clothing, sun cream, and other items of personal nature that you will need if you’re doing an overnight on the hill.
It is important to consider not bringing so much unnecessary luggage on the trek. The few items to trek with can be put in a small day pack that can be carried outside your main luggage. The rest of your luggage can be kept at the camp until you return.
THE OVERNIGHT NATURE TREKS IN THE RWENZORI MOUNTAIN FOOTHILLS
Offered by Ruboni Community, the overnight treks in the Mubuku valley are a trekking option that is off the beaten path and stands out from all other Rwenzori trekking activities. These treks give an opportunity to combine nature, culture, scenery, and nightlife in the outdoors. During this unique trek with the locals, you will prove that a campfire is the best way to light up your spirit and love for nature.
These overnight treks are wilderness camping experiences. The treks are done in the community forest reserves located next to the National park. During the activities, trekkers camp in established bush campsites. These treks can be arranged for varying time duration; from one to several nights outdoors.
Optional overnight treks that you can choose from
We offer two overnight treks. They are all outside the park, in the natural territories within the community land. The location outside the park means there are no park entrance fees required when you participate. The two optional treks include;
Overnight hill trek: Trekking from 1600 meters to the highest hills in the village at 2400 meters in 3-4 hours. The location gives sweeping panoramic views of the Mubuku valley from the Rwenzori Mountains to Lake Goerge, in the plains of Queen Elizabeth national park.
After a late lunch, you start the trek to reach the top in the late afternoon. The overnight hill trek scenery is breathtaking. As you go higher the views get better and the mountains get closer. At the scenic breakpoints on the lower altitude of the trail, you get wonderful photo moments when you scan the portal peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains.
At the top of the hill, you will be at the roof of the village. From here, you will take an opportunity to move around taking the views of the mountains and valleys from different viewpoints. On a clear day, especially in the evenings and early mornings, you can get a chance to view the margarita peak, the highest on the Rwenzori Mountains and Uganda at 5109 meters above sea level. Even without viewing margarita, the views of the Mubuku valley are beautiful when you scan the living patterns of the local people along the valley floor and hillsides.
In the morning, you will take memorable scenic views of the mountains in the west as the sunrises point at them from the east. Take great picture moments before you return to grab a cup of tea. After the tea, return to the community base camp with the rest of the team.
Buraro forest overnight trek: In a two hours walk from the community, guests trek towards the park in the Buraru area. You will cross River Mubuku and then trek on the northern banks of this popular river that drains from the fresh Rwenzori Mountain glaciers. During the walk, you take the scenic views of the residential villages on the southern hills of this valley. Mubuku valley was created as a result of the Rwenzori glacier activities many years back.
This forest trail heads to the area that is popular for chimps, monkeys, birds, chameleons, and the only remaining virgin natural forest outside the park. It is a community forest reserve that houses the oldest regenerated rainforest ecosystem in Ruboni village.
This is an established community indigenous forest. It is located next to the park. This habitat has no difference from the park as they share the same ecosystem. The trail gives an opportunity to trek and stay in real nature. Crossing the rivers, walking under the canopy, swinging on the vines, and listening to the forest sounds bring you closest to nature than you can imagine. The whole experience gives a feeling of a twenty-mile journey into the jungle.
On a lucky day, you can find primates and other mammals having crossed from the park. You can also have chances of spotting unique birds, reptiles, and chameleons on your way or while in the forest. In the evenings, you will set camp and enjoy the campfire in the real African jungle. Those interested in looking for the small nocturnal creatures will have a great time exploring this forest. Sleep to the songs of the jungle and wake up to the melody of the African forest birds. After a relaxing cup of tea in the morning, return to the community to nurse the memories of the jungle as you transfer to the next destination.
What do we carry on the trek?
On each trek, the team goes with all the supplies and equipment. The required equipment includes;
All equipment and supplies are included in the price and will be provided by the community. Unless you have a special attachment with your equipment on the items listed above, guests are only supposed to come with their own personal items other than the items listed above. The personal items that may be required can include;
In our packing, we make high consideration of weight versus necessity. We find it very important to pack very light to be able to reduce the amount of weight That normally reflects in the number of people to be on the trek. The fewer people we take the better for the environment and closeness and solace with nature. Smaller groups will also help to create room for enjoying the trek and ensuring personal and environmental health on the tour.
Each of these treks takes one night. The prices for the trek (rates 2022) are charged differently as follows;
The price above is for one night. Multiple nights can be arranged at 70% per additional night per person. It is also important to note that rates are subject to change without prior notice.
How to arrange or book the trek
Guests can book the treks through the lodge where they want to stay or directly at the community tourism center in Ruboni village. The list of lodges to stay in, the night before or after the trek can be found here. You can also book the trek directly here and space will be reserved on a scheduled or tailored trek.