budgetbirders.com Check-Ins

Date Place Comment
June 17th, 2021 Stitch And Sew Garage Services

We were hesitant to stop here after the last review, but opted to anyway. Stopped to get an error code read and they wanted 100,000ugx!!! If they wanted to charge 30USD just to have an error code read, imagine what the rest of the bill would be. We left immediately. Would NOT recommend. Go elsewhere for sure.

June 12th, 2021 Tropical Gardens Hotel

New hotel being built. Mostly complete with nice garden, including bench seating in the grassy area and large-sized rooms. Owner friendly and helpful. Room for 60,000ush including breakfast. Hot water showers.
Quiet and perfect for a stop.

June 11th, 2021 Paraa Ferry

New bridge nearing completion and now partly open. Giant super highway now through the park (talking to lodge owners several animals have been killed as a result of large trucks speeding and not getting out of the way of the wildlife.) Apparently oil was found at the bottom of Lake Albert and a Chinese-built superhighway funded by oil giant Total has been created (hence the nice bridge and new road.) It's nice to have a new road and bridge, but the environmental cost seems to be too high.

June 11th, 2021 Red Chilli Rest Camp

After reading bad reviews, I think owner is attempting to make the place much nicer and we had a good experience here. It was still quite busy with people staying in the tents even during COVID, so during normal year might be packed. No other overlanders during our visit though and no line for showers/toilets. Parking for overlanders in grassy area overlooking Nile, although must first pass over broken rocks and small ditch to get there (hopefully this will be fixed but not sure if that is in the works or not.)

Food is very good at restaurant. Little pricey, but not too bad. Price expected for being inside park, plates for ~ 14k-21k.
Camping 8USD pppn.

3 showers and 3 toilet stalls available for campers. Cold showers, good pressure, but personally I think cold feels nice after long, hot days.

Anyway, decent option if you want to sleep in the park. Otherwise plenty of really nice places outside.

June 7th, 2021 Nataba Gate - Kidepo NP

The gate has been shifted and is no longer at this point. We showed up here and could not gain access. Later we asked and learned that a new road was created in March 2021. Unfortunately I do not have the point but it is possible to enter somewhere nearby via the new road.

June 3rd, 2021 Betty’s Ethiopian Restaurant

So glad we came to this place! Food absolutely DELICIOUS! Two dinners plus 2 drinks cost us 40,000ugx. Would highly recommend!
Bar and restaurant on premises as well.

June 1st, 2021 Malaba Border Post (Uganda-Kenya)

Kenya -> Uganda
The road to get to this border is packed with trucks. Just drive around them, all TWENTY KILOMETERS worth. (I asked, it literally takes a truck driver 2 days just to get to the border!)

On Kenya side:
Just stamp out carnet. Fixers will approach you from all angles and were incredibly annoying. You do not need them. But getting rid of them is difficult, and they actually lied to us that we had to show our COVID card, but we did not need to do this.
After you stamp your carnet, you can drive to the other side.
Of note, the Kenya customs office is to the far right of the parking lot and you want to go to that building. It's a little confusing because driving in we ended up on the far left.

On Uganda Side:
Stamp out of Kenya
Stamp into Uganda
* We are both vaccinated against COVID and had to show our card at both counters

Then walk through to pay road tax. Apparently mid last month they updated their system and now you must buy road tax for 3 months. You cannot buy for less. Price is 60USD for 3mo. You will get a ticket and pay at the nearby bank.

In total, spent 1hr40min at this border. Workers were incredibly slow, otherwise an easy border crossing. Despite the massive lineup of trucks that might indicate otherwise, it wasn't exceptionally busy.

May 31st, 2021 Hotel Anina Gardens

This is a lovely spot! Very secluded and private, although still close to main road with some road noise audible. Campground is spacious and flat. Compound gated with guard present all night.
This is a hotel and restaurant as well. We ordered food+beer and had a great time under one of the small gazebos.
Originally they wanted 2500ksh for camping, but we agreed upon 1000ksh plus ordering dinner.
Right now they do not have an outside toilet for campers, but let us use the shower/facilities in one of the rooms. The rooms looked great-- very clean and spacious. I did ask, they charge 3500ksh per night for a room (includes breakfast.)
Would recommend this place!

May 31st, 2021 Sunshine Automobiles

Very nice auto shop with large gated lot and security guard present. Very clean, organized, and professional with a very comfortable waiting room (there's a small water fountain inside with nice ambiance, comfy chairs, strong wifi, and they offered us bottled water when we arrived). If you need to spend any significant time waiting on work to be done, it's a nice place to have to do so.
Advertised as a 4x4 specialist that does everything from paint work to roof rack repairs to car trackers/alarms to complete engine overhaul. Worth checking out if you need any specific 4x4 work done.
Definitely ask for a quote first.
They probably have good capabilities, but quoted us 5000ksh for some welding and 1800 to secure the bashplate. We opted to leave because we needed no major work done and for our purposes a small welder on the side of the road would be more than sufficient.
Office number +254 720 815 706

May 29th, 2021 Job's Camp (Name pending)

Camping or lodging available. 3 bedroom/3 bathroom house available for rent. would be good for families or groups to share. Nice living/dining rooms. Kitchen available to use or can coordinate to have someone do the cooking.
Grassing area for parking inside gated compound. Flat, few trees for shade.
will update with more information and photos in a few days.

May 27th, 2021 Ruma Hotel

Room for 1000ksh, small twin bed, room rather dirty. We hoped to sleep in our RTT (better, cleaner bedding) in the gated lot for 500ksh (something we've done at multiple hotels up to this point) but they wanted to charge us the same price as for the room. We opted to go elsewhere to get cheaper accomodations.

May 25th, 2021 Fisheries Campground at Gatamaiyu Forest

Very private, quiet, and secluded campground in a beautiful forest. Entry to forest is 300ksh per person, or 600ksh to camp. Unfortunately not many perfectly level locations to park, but I don't think many visitors come so you would likely have the place to yourself and therefore could set up anywhere. Places for ground tents under a small shelter (in attached photo) if needed, otherwise ample space in the clearing. Fires can be provided and there are several benches to sit at.
Majority of entry road was recently regraded and was not bad to drive. Road currently under construction for further improvements (possibly pavement) in future.
Very similar forest to Castle Lodge if you've ever been there and there is a trail through the forest to walk. We came to look for birds.
Abolutions basic, long drop toilet, cold shower. Rustic place to do a little camping, but for anyone who prefers to be secluded, would be a good stop.

May 23rd, 2021 Curry On

Multiple food options here, including fast food/street food and several sit down restaurants. We opted for Curry On which was very good. Good Indian and Chinese food options. Prices for meals 600-800ksh. Parking directly out front.

May 22nd, 2021 Ibis Hotel & Restaurant

Asked a local in town where to eat and he recommended Ibis restaurant. Really good food! Plenty of options on the menu. My main course even came with a vegetable soup starter which was easily the highlight for me. Main meals 400-500ksh. (ex: T-bone steak and side for 450.)
Wi-fi available but somewhat spotty during my visit. They did restart the router with some improvements.
There is a hotel on site as well although we did not stay here. Unsure of pricing.

May 21st, 2021 Archers Post Ranger Station

It was after 8PM when we showed up and the ranger, Sammy, was happy to let us stay. He opened up the gate and let us park on the inside and turned on the water to the bathroom. We tipped him 500ksh for letting us camp here since it was after dark when we showed up.
Flat area underneath some trees and toilet area near by. Very safe. Perfect for a night of camping.

May 20th, 2021 Catholic Church

Great place to spend the night. We arrived late and left early, but were welcomed regardless. Access to western style toilet and shower. Water is lukewarm, though with it still being 33° after the sun went down, a cold shower would have been nicer. Plenty of flat spaces in the gated church lot. Very windy during our visit.
We gave 500ksh to camp.

May 20th, 2021 Jirime Hotel & Resort

Would highly advise not coming here. We came for dinner and they tried to upcharge for things that we did not get. I'm not sure if they thought we wouldn't notice but it was very shady. Nice place but not worth the hassle.

May 19th, 2021 Deep water crossing in rainy season

On the drive up from South Horr all river crossings were completely dry except for a few small puddles. (several had small bridges but they were dry) so we decided to drive up. There is no bridge, but water in one small area was ~8cm deep and totally crossable.

May 14th, 2021 Coffee Shop/Restaurant

Coffee shop and restaurant with nice sized menu. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fresh juices, pancakes, eggs and English breakfast options along with seafood dinner options. A bit on the expensive side. For reference, they charge 50Ksh for chipati when the going rate at a local shop is 20Ksh. Otherwise nice.

May 12th, 2021 Mokowe Port

We took a private boat from Mokowe to Manda airport dock for 1000ksh. We negotiated with several boat operators and every single one was firm that the price was 1000. We were in a hurry to meet friends so we agreed. There are public options if you can wait.
On the return we took the 6AM public boat for 250pp from Shela back to Mokowe. Downside to this is it takes an hour. If you are pressed for time, take the slow public boat from Shela to Lamu and one of the faster public boats from Lamu to Mokowe (would save ~30 minutes.)

May 12th, 2021 Secure Parking

Gated dirt lot on outskirts of boat launch to park while on way to Lamu or Manda. We parked here for 300ksh for one night. The family that lives in the small house watches the vehicles. There were two other cars parked here during our stay.

May 11th, 2021 Mida Eco camp and lodge

Camping 500ksh for 2 people. Campsite is a grassy area.
They have several bungalows (two in the form of tree houses) that you can stay in, although I do not know the price of these and I'm not sure if I would 100% trust that the proper maitenance has been done. Otherwise campsite is fine, there was a fire pit with fire going when we visited. Toilet/shower area is not right next to campsite and requires a short walk. Also, abolutions could use some improvements as they are small with nowhere to hang clothes. Shower with good water pressure. Not bad for 500ksh!
There's a restaurant only 5 minutes drive away called Jambo Hamburger House that we ate at. (Location on google.) Hamburger tasted fine. You could eat here if you want a break from cooking.

UPDATE: There is a Mida Eco Camp and a Mida Nature Camp in close proximity. We initially were going to Mida Eco camp when we saw a sign with ”Mida Camp" on it and an arrow pointing right and accidentally turned up here. Above review is for Mida Nature Camp, not Eco Camp. sorry for confusion.

May 9th, 2021 Jungle Junction

We stayed here for one night. Price was 20USD for 2 people for camping. Campsite nice but basic and seems overpriced for what you get. I think until there are other decent options for overlanders in Nairobi, JJ will be able to charge whatever they like.

May 5th, 2021 Namangara TZ/KE

Going from Tanzania to Kenya.
A few update from haveaniceway's detailed information:
1. Don't give anything to anyone at the entry gate. A guy tried to ask for some fictitious document and when I didn't understand what it was that he wanted, he offered to show me in my paperwork. You do not have to stop here! We just drove by and went straight to the building.
2. Have a printed copy of your PCR results. We had it on our phones, but the health department will want a copy. (Even though all they want is the number to look up in their system.) FYI: it is possible to print at the gate, but the man in charge of the printer was charging an excessive rate. (If you do need to print, price is 10 kenyan shilling for 1 page. He wanted us to pay him 100x that much. We paid him the going rate and when we needed something else printed later he refused. Avoid this man at all costs.)
3. You can no longer get a visa at the border. Applications need to be done online. We did not know this, as it is a very recent change. We were able to apply and pay on our phones but it took nearly an hour to process. You need to give a color copy to immigration. Our friend with the printer refused to print anything else for us. Thankfully a different worker realized what was happening and agreed to print for us but he said he was not supposed to do this. Best to bring in advance or have a hotel print for you beforehand.
4. It is also possible to pay for road tax online through same website that you do eVisa. it is $21 for one month. Pay online and print the receipt to bring along. Otherwise you will have to do it when you are there.

Everything else is the same. If we had our evisa ahead of time it would have been a super easy process. Very tame border.

May 4th, 2021 Mobile Mechanic (Kenneth Autoworks)

Highly recommended. We had a number of issues to get fixed on our Toyota Hilux including replacing an upper control arm, fixing a crack in our secondary fuel tank, and trouble shooting a leaky fuel pump, among others. We contacted Kenneth late on a Sunday and he was eager to get started the next morning, even suggesting as early as a 0600 start. I showed up at 0630 and we figured out all of the parts we needed. We went together to buy parts when the shops opened at 0800. I paid for all of the parts, so no markups.
His shop is outside of town, but he was willing to drop me back off in Arusha and pick me up when the work was done. Extremely nice and knowledgeable mechanic, fluent in English. In the end he charged a very reasonable rate for his labor.
I went to Pitu the last time I was in Arusha, and although he has a larger shop, he was quite pricey. I think you would be mistaken not to go to Kenneth.

May 4th, 2021 The Blue Heron Restaurant

Closed on Sunday and Monday. Apparently has great food. Plenty of excellent reviews in Google. We couldn't visit because it was a Monday, but wanted to add this restaurant to ioverlander so others could enjoy.
Has wood fire pizza that is highly recommended (per the reviews). Also can camp here, see informal campsite listing by another user.

May 4th, 2021 Smiley's Sports Bar & Grill

Nice place. Kind of pricey (20,000tsh) for main course, but food is good. Great ambiance and plenty of TV's. Nice seating areas. Several expats here during our visit.
Large, gated lot. We asked if we could sleep in our truck and the workers were fine with that. Large gated lot with security on premises.

May 3rd, 2021 Covid test

Super easy to get a COVID test here. When you arrive at the hospital, the testing area is set up outside in the back near several tents. No one else here when we visited. According to the worker, only 20 people per day are getting tested. Cost is 100USD. In order to get tested, you must first register on Tanzania's Ministry of Health website. They will then text you a confirmation number which you take to the NMB bank in order to pay. Bring the payment slip with you to the hospital for your test. No lines. We took test at 11am on a Monday and received results via text 50 hours later.
Of note, test is dated for when results are received not the date test was taken.

May 2nd, 2021 Ngorongoro Conservation Area Gate

There really is no reason to visit Nogorogo unless going to the crater, but the crater is incredibly expensive. We opted against the crater and instead drove through to get to Serengeti. It's rather unfortunate to have to pay such an expensive fee to drive a terrible wash board road, just to get to the entrance of the Serengeti (also expensive and facilities are run down but at least there is game to see.) It's also unfortunate that when in Nogorogo you cannot stop anywhere without seeing cows (or goats or sheep) and masaai people, who will run up to you and beg for money. It's unfortunate that this behavior exists, let alone is condoned. If possible, would recommend avoiding Nogorogo. There are other gates to enter the Serengeti.

May 1st, 2021 Hippo Viewing

Area overlooking a large pool of water full of hippos and crocodiles. Can get out of car and walk here. Parking area, restrooms, and picnic tables available.