We used 4K Starwood points to stay at the Sheraton Kampala (excellent value, although it now costs 7K+). We were booked into their lowest category “Classic” room, but thanks to SPG Gold status were upgraded to a “Superior” room on an upper SPG floor. SPG Gold is pretty easy to acquire one way or another, and these little upgrades definitely keep us loyal.
I was pumped about the free wireless internet available here, but then was less pumped to find it running at 4 kbp/s. A nice room on the 9th floor, though it looked a bit neater at check-in:
At the same time, this hotel is a bit ridiculous with all the NGO peeps running around fighting poverty and such. We mingled with them at dinner, where a Korean trio with a scantly clad female member sang slow jams like Desperado, and I mistakenly ordered a Mexicana Pizza. (The first and only time I felt ill from food on this trip…an obviously stupid decision.)
We had grand plans of cleaning some clothes in Kampala. With our time constraints this turned into a dead end. The Sheraton wanted $10 for a single pair of pants, so that was a no go. However, this Kwik Wash place could be a great asset for others. We crossed our fingers we’d be able to figure out something at our next destination.
At 6:30am we started the 30+ minute drive (with no traffic) to the Entebbe airport for our 9am BA flight back to Heathrow. Here we said farewell to Baker. Great guy that we would recommend without any reservations (more on this later).
At EBB, business class passengers get access to the Karibuni lounge after security. I had very low expectations for this place and was blown away. Big (and clean) leather couches everywhere, computers with a reasonable internet connection, and delicious samosas that we ate too many of for 8am:
The BA flight was just another BA flight, which is typically a good thing for us. The only downside being the Club World seats on the 767s they send to EBB are in really dire condition. Though there really aren’t too many glamorous options otherwise, so no big deal. (Had we paid full price, I might not be saying that.)
Just for the sake of completeness, our BA brunch (which wasn’t all that amazing):
Notes regarding the planning of the gorilla tracking portion of the trip: I started by creating an itinerary that would allow us to track gorillas on both sides of the border. This was shaped by various trip reports online, the Bradt guide, and the BA flight schedules since they only fly 3x per week. All of this to achieve a nice balance in comfort with cost
My attempt to save some money had me booking things a bit a la carte. I wanted to have total transparency into how much everything costs–I’m not a fan of the convenience that a single package price provides. I arranged all our accommodations directly with the hotels via email. For a car hire with driver and gorilla permits, I exchanged emails with different tour organizers from this Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) list.
In the end, I settled on Crystal Safaris because they answered emails promptly and were a simple $100/day for Land Cruiser and driver for five days, plus actual cost of permits. We were responsible for paying for petrol along the way–this came out to $186.75. We prepaid for the car and permits in advance via wire.
Considering the quality of Baker, I am supremely satisfied with the value received. He was smart, punctual, anticipated any needs, funny, and spoke perfect English. We are very picky people, and we would recommend Baker to everyone we know.