Road Trip in Rwanda Uganda

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Car Rental in Uganda & Self Drive Road Trip

Are you interested in experiencing Uganda and Rwanda’s nature on a road trip, then look no further with Self-Drive Kigali because they have the best 4×4 vehicles for rental tours. I am a solo traveler in my 70’s and dreamed of traveling to experience Uganda and Rwanda for many years. I rented a car with a driver from Self-Drive Kigali and all went well.

However, I hesitated because I was concerned about my safety and comfort in Africa for the first time. My friend recommended I call Self-Drive Kigali for a customized itinerary and the “must see” areas of Uganda and Rwanda. I called and talked to Jackie at Self-Drive Kigali and she went right to work to be sure every aspect of my adventure was perfect.

The first question after every trip is: what was your highlight? At times, this is the most difficult question to my side. Either one has none. Or one has so many, that it would be unfair to declare a single event as the highlight. So, my answer is: the whole trip was a highlight since it was my first time in Africa and I had longed for it.

But let‘s start at the beginning. I booked two weeks Uganda Rwanda Safari round trip for my holiday. Once I landed in Entebbe, the first in the whole line of people waiting was Emma, who will be my guide/driver for the whole trip. How lucky I was to have him! Pick-up accomplished. After a long journey to an unknown country, you know what I am talking about by saying, smooth pick-up is worth a lot“.

The next really positive and unexpected surprise was the car. Instead of one of the non – descript luxury 4×4 with tinted glasses or a mini-van there were so many waiting for tourists, Emma opened the doors of the true safari icon: a Toyota Land Cruiser. No Air-Con (I can‘t stay it, really), super comfy seats, fantastic suspension, five different levels of gear (from rear-wheel-drive to 4×4 in full differential mode) making sure, you will never stuck in mud.

Alone this gave me already a truly Safari feeling, and I hopped on in fantastic mood despite the long journey and late hour. I booked but I did not bother where I will stay nor how long I will be in one place, I set a budget and the overall time, the rest I left to Self-Drive Kigali. Now, sitting on the balcony of my last resort near Kampala the day before flying on, I congratulated myself.

Self-Drive Kigali booked everything in a way, that whatever expectations I might have had were exceeded. Maybe one of the reasons is, that I did not bother with homepages of lodges, I did not compare and choose, I did not make the itinerary ourselves. I said, what I would like to see (like 2 x Gorilla tracking, 1 x Chimpanzee tracking, and ideally all Big 5 plus what have you in other wild animals), and that was it.

By doing so, you avoid being disappointed by being focused on this or that lodge, amenity, view etc. Every stay comes as a surprise. And at Self-Drive Kigali, they seem to know their business really well, as there was not a single disappointment. In addition, their planning is very thoughtful. For example: coming back from a Gorilla tracking, muddy, wet, tired, you are extremely grateful if you stay in a lodge, where they take care immediately of all: your dirty shoes, your cloths, and yourselves. Emma‘s credo is: „Never hurry with Emma. If you rush, you will miss a lot “and it is so true.

Emma was my driver and guide. At the beginning, from other experiences I had, I were a bit skeptical when I learnt that. But then, I had to change my mind. With Emma, I had a guide who was not only savvy about the general things, but very much able to give me great and balanced insights about Uganda, the history, the culture, the economy, the animals.

As they put in great effort to give you a smooth and rich experience, I did not have to intervene nor had I the urge to change anything. Especially the fact, that Emma spared us the often ridiculous or even close to insulting experience of so called „cultural events“ (purely and only set-up for tourists, far from contemporary habits) and the often inevitable visits to craft-shops and factories without asking you first is highly valued by me. If I wanted to see something particular, Emma advised, whether it is possible or worthwhile. I appreciated his honesty.

To summarize: I found a new true friend in Emma and understand, why Self-Drive Kigali that time called Uganda, the pearl of Africa. The name of said company was wisely chosen.

My guide Emma was as knowledgeable, pleasant, competent, helpful and accommodating as stayed at Kigarama Wilderness Lodge close to Lake Mburo National park where a lovely afternoon safari greeted me with zebras, giraffes, warthogs, impalas, elands, water bucks, baboons, and many birds.

From Lake Mburo I visited Queen Elizabeth National Park. I saw a lot more animals and learned a lot more information from my guide than I expected. I never felt bored since I was constantly learning something on the drives. Emma is also very good at finding animals. He would spot animals from very far away. Even if we were leaving or entering a destination, he would stop for me to take pictures and talk about the sights. In addition to animals, Emma would stop to discuss various cultural or natural scenarios. For example, he stopped where there was a brick oven to discuss how bricks are made.

We did the “normal” chimp visit of one hour. We had an amazing guide and took incredible photos and videos of the chimps. But the pushing by others in our group was a drag. We are not like that (always pushing to be in front) and found this experience uncomfortable. The gorilla trekking was short and successful. I also visited Lake Bunyonyi where I stayed on an island, trekked to see the mountain gorillas at Bwindi.

We also hiked to see the gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. The tour was well organized and informative, the visit to the gorillas was extraordinary, humbling and moving, and there was evidence that real conservation is being done, the mountain gorilla numbers are improving, the time spent with the gorillas is carefully controlled, local communities benefit from tourism and conservation, etc. Plus, the beauty of the volcanoes and their surrounds was breath-taking. I’d definitely go back. My trip ended at Kigali International Airport, where I had to fly back home.

All was spectacular and so well planned, including a lovely accommodation for my special gluten-free and dairy free diet. I highly recommend Self-Drive Kigali for the wonder services extended to me and this goes to everyone who reads this. You will have the worry-free adventure of a lifetime.

To refer to some issues often discussed in this context:

  • As a woman traveling alone, I felt safe first guarded by my guide and second because of the mainly friendly people I met everywhere.
  • As a passenger in the vehicle I felt safe because my guide is an experienced, attentive and safe driver
  • Booking directly, without a European agency, the communication and the service provided left nothing to be desired.

So maybe Uganda is the country where you can start to experience Africa and feeling safe. For sure Self-Drive Kigali as the responsible company, Jackie as my contact person at the office and Emma as my guide have helped me, both times, to get the best out of the time available for these journeys.

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