A little local knowledge can make your journey unforgettable – for all the right reasons!
Getting to Karungi Camp
Karungi is tucked away in the southwestern corner of Uganda, and getting here is a journey and an adventure in itself. The closest airport is in Kigali, Rwanda and from there you can reach Karungi in approximately 5 hours by public transport, or approximately 3.5 hours by private transport.
You can also get here via an overland trip from Uganda’s Entebbe airport, located just outside Kampala. From Entebbe, you can reach Karungi in approximately 10-12 hours by public transport, or approximately 8-10 hours if you hire a car and drive yourself. Don’t worry, there are plenty of beautiful places to break up this long trip, including Lake Mburo National Park, Murchison Falls, and Semliki, Kibale and Queen Elizabeth National Parks.
For those of us experiencing the self driving option – whether arriving from Kisoro or Kabale, the simple rule is just turn/veer right 😀 Do not get confused by the over abundant mess of signs, always turn right when you see them and the road will lead you right past Karungi Camp 🙂
If you are heading west from any of National Parks in Uganda, it can be easier to reach Karungi Camp via the Muko. Karungi Camp is close to an hour from the turn off on a dirt “road” that has been graded and in much better condition than the “road” between Kisoro and Rubuguri.
Arriving at Karungi Camp via Kisoro
Leave Kisoro out by the Mutorere Hospital – you will be on tarmac for the first 5 minutes and then you will begin to experience rural Uganda roads – affectionately known as the African Massage. A private car will be approximately 80,000 UGX and take an hour or so depending on the weather (longer if it is/was raining recently). A boda is slightly more pleasant and a little faster and cheaper (20,000UGX), but not particularly useful if you are travelling with any more luggage than a backpack!
As you move around Uganda, you will notice there is an over abundance of literally everything, signs included!
So this is your first collection of signs you will meet, don’t feel overwhelmed – the rule to find Karungi is – always turn right at the collection of signs! We are a new camp and working with African Time, so a sign is not yet out at all the corners, however when it is ready, you will not find it with all the others cause we are different, in every way!
At the last corner before reaching Rubuguri, you will encounter another over abundance of signs – again turn right!
Arriving at Karungi Camp via Kabale
Shortly past Muko Village, there is a turn-off, again, completely filled with signs, turn right – the tarmac ends here, but the “road” has been graded and in much better condition than the road between Kisoro and Rubuguri. There is a small fork in this road about a third of the way, again, completely filled with signs, take the right fork and you will reach us. You will pass Rushaga – the small town which is home to one of the mountain gorilla trekking gates – in another 20mins you will be at Karungi Camp
Some random tips to keep in mind when you’re navigating transport in Uganda:
- You will be inundated by people when you step off a bus or walk down the street, with multiple offers for specials, boda rides or bus rides. Don’t be surprised if everyone seems to know where you’re headed… they’re not psychic. It’s just that most “mzungus” (travelers) are going to the same place!
- When you’re negotiating the rate for your trip, be sure to bargain, bargain and bargain some more! There’s almost always a better deal to be had.
- Don’t be afraid to turn down an offer for a boda (a motorcycle taxi) – there will ALWAYS be another one! They’re the most convenient way to travel, and even though they cost a little more than small taxi cars and matatus (mini-buses), they’ll take you to your destination directly (well perhaps with a fuel stop).
- Matatus and small taxi cars are cheaper than bodas, but they constantly stop to pick up and drop off people and packages, so it’ll take you a lot longer to reach your destination. You’ll also be in for a cozy ride as they almost always carry more people than their actual seating capacity.
- Matatus travelling from Kabale to Kisoro cost about 10,000 UGX and leave at specific times (9am, 1pm, 5pm). Matatus going to other destinations depart when they’re full, rather than on a set schedule, so if time is of the essence you’ll need to choose one headed to your destination that’s already almost full, otherwise you could be waiting an inordinate amount of time for other passengers.
- Buses travelling from Kampala to Kisoro cost about 25,000 – 30,000 UGX and buses travelling from Mbarara to Kisoro cost about 20,000 UGX (the fare will be higher to start, but you should be able to haggle it down). In all bus parks, buses headed in the same general direction will gather in the same general area. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with directions!
- Knowing just a few words in the local language will impress people and increase your ‘street cred’ significantly – it’s worth it, and is a great conversation starter!
- Boda Boda’s are always the quickest and easiest to move around with and you will find them all gathered together on a ‘stage’ – it is good practice to always choose a boda from the stage, as opposed to flagging down a random driver riding past. The boda’s on the stage are registered with that Association and can be reported if an incident were to occur
Exploring around Karungi
Karungi is an ideal home base for your adventures in Uganda! We’re located:
- a 15 minute walk from the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi is home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas (trekking experiences are available daily), or you can spend your time in the local community, learning a local skill, meeting local families or hiking through breathtaking scenery. If you want greater interaction with local community members than what you see advertised in Lonely Planet, just ask! We’re thrilled to connect you with our friends.
- a 1.25 hour boda ride from the Bunagana border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the opportunity for an adventure of a lifetime – climbing and sleeping on Mt. Nyiragongo (an active volcano!) – Barak is my trusted man from Nyiragongo Expeditions (www.safaribookings.com/p2918) –
- a 1.5 hour boda ride from the bases of either Mahubura or Sabinya – dormant volcanoes that form part of the Virunga Massif range. These volcanoes offer challenging day hikes with amazing views into the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
- a 1.75 hour car ride from Mgahinga National Park – in addition to climbing volcanoes, you can also trek to see golden monkeys or more mountain gorillas.
Please let Karungi’s team know if you’d like suggestions on how to best spend your time in Uganda, or assistance with arranging or booking trip. We can be as interactive as you’d like:
“I’ve been living in this region for over a year, have plenty of great contacts in Kisoro, Rubuguri Town and neighbouring villages and would love to connect your travel passion to unforgettable expereicnes here. I fell in love with Uganda right away, and I want you to as well! We’re here to connect you to Uganda, and I’d love to spend time with you and show you around the area.” (~Yoly)
So I guess someone better mention the famous Mountain Gorillas, the main draw for most travelers through the southwest corner of Uganda. Visiting the Mountain Gorillas is a dream come true for some, but once you come face to face with these majestic creatures, something changes …. it truly is a unique, once in a life time experience.
Every encounter with these majestic creatures is different – as are the trekking times to find them. They are wild creatures, and unfortunately the time you will take to find the family cannot be known ahead of time, you will be able to gain a much better (even a good idea) of how far you will need to hike, the morning of your adventure as the trekkers will know where they left them the day before.
Karungi Camp is located near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and we have a much more intimate knowledge of our Mountain Gorillas in this National Park and so all information provided here-in will be for trekking experiences in Bwindi.
Having Fun at Karungi
In addition to exploring around the Camp, we want you to have an adventure AT the Camp! Please check out our Calendar of Events to see what we have planned, and then join in!
Join us every Friday evening for Karungi’s Village Roast – we roast a goat in traditional Ugandan village style – 6,000 UGX will get you your very own Fred Flinstone sized meat stick with a small plate of accompaniments
Karungi’s Village Piggie – Once a month we will replace the goat / sheep with a pig on the spit and have beers in the outdoor dining area – 10,000 UGX
Badminton / Darts / Bocce – a fun and non competitive afternoon of learning a new (for the local community) sport, hang around afterward for a drink and a snack – the event is free