Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lots of great updates out of Uganda

There's a lot of exciting stuff going on in Uganda right now. Classic Africa Safaris reports on news from the anti-poaching units, new experiences and lodge refurbs and updates.

Great anti-poaching news out of Uganda! Classic Africa Safaris is a corporate member of the Uganda Conservation Foundation whose financial support has helped the Uganda Wildlife Authority to grow their anti-poaching team in Murchison Falls National Park. This video shares their story.

Hot air ballooning over Queen Elizabeth National Park

Each year we see the Big Game safari experience improving in Uganda's parks. Traveler feedback and game viewing reports are impressive and now we have a new experience to round-out the already diverse offerings in Uganda. From traditional game drives and boat safaris, to walking and primate treks, guests can now add hot air ballooning in Queen Elizabeth NP to the wide variety of experiences available on safari in Uganda.  For full details on the experience, the hot air balloon operator and booking information, please consult CAS

The hot air balloon program:

5:30 am Pick up at Kasenyi gate. Transfer of the passengers, balloon, pilot and ground crew to pick the right spot for take off. The locations are limited to designated sites where the disturbance to animals is kept to a minimum. After the necessary weather tests for wind direction and allocating the final take off place, guests are served tea, coffee and refreshments while the balloon is unloaded and assembled. Then cold inflation takes place followed by hot inflation. Guests will receive safety briefing before the flight.

6:15 am Takeoff

The flight will take place for approximately 1 hour. Flights can vary from 45 minutes up to 1.5 hours depending on the amount of fuel on bard, the passengers’ combined weight, the temperature of the air and when the pilot finds a suitable landing area. The balloon will fly at an altitude range anywhere from tree tops up to 2500 feet (760 metres) which allows guests unique panoramic views and great photographic opportunities of the scenery and wildlife below.

7:15 am Landing & Bush Breakfast

After landing as smooth as possible there will be a celebration with sparkling (non alcoholic) wine and a full English bush breakfast will be served. Every passenger will be honoured with a hot air balloon safari certificate as a souvenir of this adventure.

8:30 am Return to the lodge (with game drive en route).


The price of the hot air balloon experience is USD $380 per person.
Children up to 12 years will receive 50% off the adults price.
Rates include the balloon flight, refreshments before and after the flight and a balloon certificate.


  • No minimum passengers are required. The maximum capacity of the current balloon is 16 pax. Any smaller number will be sharing with other passengers.
  • The minimum age is 6 years unless under parents responsibility.
  • Flights are offered daily all year round, unless the weather does not permit.
  • Hot air balloon passenger flights take place in winds less than 10 knots, with no rain or approaching storms in the immediate area. Flights also require a visibility of at least 4 km.
  • Should weather conditions dictate that the balloon safari may not depart, a full refund will be issued. Alternatively, if passengers have another morning to experience the balloon safari they may opt to try it again the next day (subject to availability).
  • The entire experience takes 3-4 hours. Passengers are expected to be back at their lodge around 9:00 -10:00 am (depending on the length of the game drive).
  • What to bring: guests can only take a small day backpack, camera etc. Main luggage must be left at the lodge. No special clothing is required for hot air ballooning.
  • The flight is not high enough for a change in temperature so plan to dress for the temperature of the day. Remember to bring your camera, binoculars, batteries and a protective bag.

Lodge refurbs and updates in Uganda

Baker's Lodge cottage overlooking the Nile River
  • Baker's Lodge in Murchison Falls has completed 6 of their cottage rooms overlooking the Nile River and is open for business; the lodge plans no more than 10 units in total. They will continue construction throughout the year with the goal to not disrupt guests. Murchison Falls is a year-round destination, but bird watching and the migratory species and endemics is best in October and November (remember to pair Murchison with Bwindi and take advantage of the discounted $350 gorilla permits in Nov!) and fishing is best September to April.
  • Primate Lodge in Kibale Forest National Park has started an in-depth refurbishment process, removing all of the tented rooms and working to replace them with 8 luxury cottages by 2016. 
  • Mahogany Springs Lodge in Buhoma, Bwindi has also refurbished their rooms and main lodge area. 

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