Need a get-away from Kampala? Or just keen to find out what’s to do around Fort Portal town and the crater lakes area? Be inspired by our weekend trip to Fort Portal, Uganda, with ideas on accommodation and food. For the one who is looking for budget safaris as well as well more luxury options, read on. Get in your car and find out what this beautiful region has to offer!
Drive from Kampala to Fort Portal, Uganda
On a hot Friday morning we left Kampala around 11AM to drive up to Fort Portal. Excited about a weekend ahead full of awe and relaxation, we head out of town. We were in need of a weekend away from Kampala and keen to learn more about this area. The distance from Kampala to Fort portal is 300 km, and take you about 5 hours, including lunch break and speedbumps. Shortly after passing through a tiny bit of Kibale forest, we branched left taking a shortcut straight through McLeods's tea estates. A beautiful ride on small red soiled dirt road taking you straight through the tea fields and passed little villages. This is a self drive adventure as it is meant to be.
Also don't miss Village arts cafe & Bakery between Kyenjojo and Fort Portal!
Campsites & crickets
We stay the night at Rweteera Safari Park (camping & safari tents). The site is clean and the sanitary facilities are not great, but OK. It is also not the cheapest option ($30 camping, $40 for a Banda including breakfast).
Peter, the owner of the campsite is an enthusiastic hiker, and he invites us for a thorough walk on a trail over the surrounding crater lake hills. The views are amazing and we enjoyed it even though we were panting and sweating after 5 minutes. Back at Rweteera, we have a simple but tasty dinner, and with a cacophony of chirps and buzzes from the crickets, cicadas and frogs, we fall into a deep sleep.
Other recommended campsites & budget spots at Fort Portal and the Crater lakes area:
- The original Lake Nkuruba Community Campsite
- Lake Kifuruka Campsite
- Top of the World Campsite
- Kluges Guest Farm
- Kasiisi Guesthouse
Driving around the Crater Lakes area
The next morning we enjoy a simple breakfast on a lovely spot surrounded by trees full of Colobus monkeys who are curiously looking at us. Colobus stems from the Greek Kolobos – meaning mutilated. The monkeys are called this way because of their missing thumb. However, this enables them to jump spectacularly up to 30 metres flying through the air.
After breakfast we drive around the crater lakes, on off the beaten tracks. We find ourselves on rough and small dirt roads that are only suitable during the dry season, connecting to many crater lakes and eventually to the stunning Ndali lodge, where we decide to have lunch.
In case the accommodation slightly surpasses your budget ($530 per night), than at least have lunch at Ndali lodge instead. The food is only praise and compliments, and goes well with a nice glass of cold white wine on the veranda overlooking the Crater Lake.
Options a for Luxury stay at Fort Portal and the Crater lakes area:
After Ndali we drive towards the road to Semuliki. We stop for a visit to the Amabera caves and waterfalls. Our guide Wilson tells us everything about the history of the place, whilst I am distracted as I spot a tail of an animal that I later find out it is a Genet cat. The waterfall and the caves are quite nice, however the backdrop of the landscape on top of the nearby hill is splendid. Afterwards, we take the car and drive to Fort Portal town.
Besides driving the 4x4 roads around the Crater lakes & the Amabera caves you can also go for:
- Bicycle tour by Kabarole Tours
- Crater Lake walk at Rweteera Safari Park
- Swimming in Muhoma Falls
- Top of the World viewpoint
- Kiwa hotsprings at Kilembe, Kassese
- Hike into the Rwenzori mountains
- Birding at Semuliki NP
- Chimp tracking at the nearby Kibale National Park
Fort Portal town
Fort Portal town is the base of the Tooro, the youngest kingdom in Uganda with the youngest monarch in reign, Rukidi IV, who was 4 years old when he was crowned king. The town is overlooked by the Toro palace, in the hart of the beautiful town. We sleep at the Dutchess, a comfortable, Dutch-owned hotel. Choose this place if you're looking for good food, home-made cheese and bread and a properly hot shower.
Other Mid-range accommodation in the area with great value for money:
- Isunga Lodge
- Kibale Forest Camp
- Turaco Treetops (will open May 2019 - but has very promising offers!)
The breakfast the next day at the Dutchess is delicious! With a full stomach, we pack the car and take off to Kampala, feeling completely relaxed, energized and again amazed by the beauties of Uganda's country side.