Kasese was the end of the line for ardent rail travel enthusiasts. The train stopped operations in 1997 due to security issues and the fact the bus service was taking the market share of passengers. Visitors to Kasese prior to 1997 came primarily with the intensions of organizing trekking trips to the nearby Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The national park re-opened to visitors in 2001 and Kasese is starting to see a return of tourists to the town.
There is a large market and plenty of shops to buy fresh and dried provisions, and rubber boots for those trekking in the Rwenzori. There is a bakery on the main street and several restaurants. The Post Office is on the main road next to the Shell filling Station. There is a UTC card phone there, however MTN Publicom phones can be found around town and at the Shell Filling Station. Internet access is possible at Reroc Internet cafe close to the Post Office on Rwenzori Road, Ushs100- per minute.
There are several buses that leave the Kampala bus park in the mornings for Kasese by way of Masaka, Mbarara. There is a Post Bus also leaving from the main Post Office on Kampala Rd at 08.00.
Those driving themselves the road are tarmac all the way by way of Masaka, Mbarara. The journey time is in the order of 6-7 hours. There are many heavy trucks on this road proceeding to the DRC, Rwanda and Western Uganda. By way of Fort Portal the road is now tarmac all the way from Kampala after a long awaited completion of a 50 km section in 2005. This route via Fort Portal is faster than via Mbarara avoiding the slow moving traffic on the Masaka-Mbarara road.
Kisoro is a characterless town, located in a wonderful setting under the peaks of the Mufumbiro Mountains which are part of the Virunga chain of volcanoes and home to the rare Mountain Gorilla. Because of this Kisoro has become a magnet to tourists.
Mountainous scenery, Lake Mutanda, Mountain Gorillas, colorful markets, and volcano trekking provides much for visitors to the district to do.
Kisoro is just about the end of the road for those visiting western Uganda. It is the nearest town to the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and is the access town for those proceeding to Rwanda or the DRC for gorilla tracking in the Parc Des Volcans or the Parc Des Virunga.
Kabale-Kisoro: 88 Kms 3 hours
Cyanika-Kisoro: 14 Kms 0.5 hours
Bunagana-Kisoro: 14 Kms 0.5 hours
Most visitors arriving in Kisoro will have come by way of the route over the mountains from Kabale. The route is a marrum road with very steep accents and descents. Large truck trailers use this route proceeding to and from the DRC. Arriving by way of Rwanda at the Cyanika border or from the DRC at Bunagana the road through to Kisoro is well graded volcanic stone. Delays should not be experienced. The border crossings should be easy going as both borders experience tourist traffic in relation to gorilla trekking activities in their respective national parks.
By Public Transport:
Both Gateway and Horizon bus companies operates 4 or 5 buses a day from Kampala through to Kisoro and vice versa. The first bus leaves Kampala around 07.00am but incredibly all buses leave Kisoro around 06.00am. The first bus arrives in Kisoro by 16.00 hrs. Buses no longer continue to Goma in the DRC. The fare Kampala – Kisoro is Ushs25, 000-.
There are several matatu’s daily making the journey back and forth to Kabale. These vehicles are seriously overloaded and in poor condition. Additionally open Pickup trucks ply the route to Kabale that collect passengers also.
From Cyanika and Bunagana throughout the day there is no regular public transport. On market days (Monday and Thursday) in Kisoro there is significantly more transport between the borders.
For those looking for transport to Mgahinga National Park the Virunga Hotel offers a return shuttle for Ushs60, 000- for the vehicle. You could as many do take a motor bike Boda Boda for Ushs7, 000-. The road can at times be very rough.
The Virunga Hotel also arranges transport for those travelling to Rwanda to track gorillas. The return trip costs Ushs20, 000- per person to the Uganda border with Rwanda and US$20- return from the border to the Rwanda National Parks HQ in Ruhengeri.
Should you be staying in Kisoro and have a gorilla tracking permit for Nkuringo then you will need to leave 1 and 1/2 hours to get there on what is a 39km journey. It has been known for people to undertake this journey on a Boda Boda!
There is a newly constructed airstrip in Kisoro where charters by many Entebbe based operators are becoming frequent.
It is possible using a local canoe on Lake Mutanda and walking from its northern shore to arrive at Buhoma in Bwindi National Park. The journey will take 3 days. You can camp en-route at Nkuringo Safari Lodge at the northern tip of Lake Mutanda, then walk up to the Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite and stay at the simple Hammer kop bunkhouse outside the Nkuringo sector of the park. From the northern tip of Lake Mutanda the distance to Nkuringo is 19km. To walk the 12km through to Buhoma from here will take 4 hours and you will need to engage the services of a ranger/guide to escort you through to the Park HQ at Buhoma. Park fees and ranger guide fees will need to be paid. Total distance from Kisoro is about 40 Kms.