Fort Portal is an important town and centre of the Kabarole District in Western Uganda.
Link Bus and Kalita Bus have connections from Kampala to Fort Portal which go via Mubende (5-6 hours). The road has a good asphalt surface, Mubende is found about half way between Kampala and Fort Portal and you can fill up on petrol and buy food and drink there.
The Link Bus leaves from the bus station near the new Taxi Park in Kampala whenever a bus is full and there is also a Link bus park in Fort Portal. The ticket price from Kampala to Fort portal is USh 25,000 from Fort Portal to Kasese the Link bus cost USh 5,000. The first Link bus from Fort portal to Kasese is at 10AM. A van from Fort Portal to Kasese cost USh 6000 and the 1st van goes at around 7AM.
Fort Portal is a small town and it is easily possible to just walk. If you need to go further, there are Boda Boda motorbike taxis everywhere in town. For about USh 1,000, you can travel about 2-3 km. But beware, they drive fast and are not very safe, and there are no good hospitals around in case you have an accident.
You can also take a "private hire" (taxi cab) which you can find on the corner of the main roundabout in the centre of Fort Portal and some other locations.
Fort Portal's on the edge of Uganda’s equatorial rainforest. It's an enchanting land full of lakes, grasslands, marshes and forests on the lower slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda.
There are many wonderful lodges within Kibale forest where you can spend a night or two in a tree house experiencing the sounds of the forest's inhabitants including 8 species of monkey, chimpanzees, the forest elephant, bush pig and giant forest hog.
The only real sight in the town itself, and well worth an hour to explore, are the Tooro Botanical Gardens. Established in 2001, they’ve replaced 100 acres of eucalyptus trees with native species. Open seven days a week, 8.30-18.00, entry USh 20,000 including a guide to explain the plants and prevent you getting lost in the sprawling grounds.
Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park which is less than an hour's drive from Fort Portal on the way to Mbarara. The wide bio-diversity of habitats means that Queen Elizabeth National Park contains the most astonishing number of species - almost 100 types of mammal and 606 different birds! The Kazinga Channel alone is said to contain the world's largest concentration of hippos, but interestingly enough not many crocodiles! Other wildlife includes warthogs, buffalo, rare aquatic sitatunga antelope, giant forest hog, beautifully horned Uganda kob, topi, waterbuck, elephant and leopard.
This is a wonderful national park, sometimes dubbed 'the Pearl of Africa or Switzerland of Africa'. Quite simply this fertile equatorial area is especially scenic, with two lakes connected by a channel overlooked by a high peninsula. You will also find volcanic craters, grassy plains and tropical forest. As a result it has one of the highest biodiversity ratings in the world. Hunting exhibits such as stuffed lions, leopard skins, deer heads and elephants tusks may still be found adorning some hotels and lodges, but the emphasis is certainly more on shooting with a camera these days. Many of Uganda's safaris were poached out in the past, especially elephants, but now the area is protected and elephants numbers are boosted by those entering the park from the Congo, where poaching is still a problem.
There is also a really funny statue of Sir Gerald Portal on the main road of the town. Yes, he does have a gun in his pocket and yes, he is pleased to see you.
Golfing: The town has a nice golf course, just on the main road. Entrance is USh 30,000, and you'll probably have to find someone there to rent you their set of clubs.
- Kabarole Tours and Safari, Molidina Street Plot 1, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Crater lake tours and a safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park or chimp and gorilla tracking permits or bike and car hire.
- Nature and Wildlife tours, Fort Portal-Mbarara Road, Kiko Town council, 8 km from Fort Portal, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Crater lake tours and a safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park or chimp and gorilla tracking permits.
Fort Portal is famous for its tea. This area is gifted by nature with a cool climate which ensures a relatively slow plant growth rate. This naturally makes the tea a high grown, high quality tea.
The consumption of this tea is associated with many health benefits. These include anti-allergy, anti-oxidation, anti-hypertension, anti-viral, anti-obese, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, enzyme inhibition and many other human health problems. You can buy the tea in any local shop or even better visit one of Fort Portal's tea plantations.
- Stanbic Bank, Lugard road. Has a MasterCard/Visa ATM.
- Kenya Commerial Bank. Has a MasterCard/Visa ATM.
- Andrews Supermarket. Sells fresh bread.
The two "foreigner" restaurants in town are the Gardens Restaurant just opposite the Shell petrol station on the main Lugard Road, and the Dutchess Restaurant (and hotel) on Mugurusi Road, right after the Uganda Human Rights Commission building. Both places have good pizza and other Western and local dishes, starting around UGX10,000.
There are also many good local restaurants in Fort Portal, and they are much cheaper. But go early, as food preparation in Uganda takes time. Half an hour for some simple fast food is not uncommon.
- Sweet Aromas Bakery, Malibo Road, ☏ . 9AM-9pPM. Sells cakes, tea and coffee. Cakes from USh 2000.
- Little Rock Cafe, Kasese road, ☏ . 8AM-8PM. Home of hamburgers from USh 6000, chips USh 3000 and pot of tea USh 2000.
- Momo Tea Room (right on the main total roundabout). 6AM-9PM. A good place for breakfast: eggs USh 2000, chips USh 2500, bread USh 1000, black tea USh 700, milk tea USh 1000, soft drinks USh 1500.
The many varieties of tea, fresh fruit juices including pineapple, passion fruit and mango. And for the less health conscience Uganda have some excellent beers, Nile, Bell, and Pilsner.
There is accommodation everywhere in Fort Portal town. If your interest is not being as close as possible to the national parks, you can just head to Fort Portal and find a place that suits you upon arrival.
- Meshs Inn, Malibo Road (over the street from the Tabes Resthouse), ☏ . Clean single room with outside bathroom, clean double room with own bathroom. USh 15,000/31,000.
- 1 Yes Hostel Backpackers, Lower Kakiiza Rd. (about 2 km north of the town centre.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Free Wi-Fi. Has a nice garden. Own room USh 30,000. Dorm USh 25,000, camping USh 10,000..
- 2 Rwenzori Travellers Inn, Plot 16 Kyebambe Rd (City Centre, left after Shell when entering from Kasese direction), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Has Wi-Fi, breakfast included. Single USh 51,000, double USh 75,000.
- 3 Mountain of the Moon Hotel (Mountains of the Moon Hotel 2000 ltd), Plot 4, Nyaika Ave (about 2 km north of town centre along Toro Road), ☏ , , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. A top high-end tourist hotel on the way to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Wi-Fi, restaurant, bar, conference, pool, gym,accommodation and wedding receptions. Single USD125, deluxe double USD145, superior double USD170, family room USD235, twin USD165.
- 4 Fort Motel (400m from main postal station, next to golf course), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Breakfast included, nice gardens and pool. Free Wi-Fi. Single USD45-100, double USD70-140.
- 5 Rwenzori View Guesthouse, Lower Kakiiza Road (About 2km north of town centre.), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Family run, nice garden. Home cooked meals at big joint dinner table. Breakfast included. Single from USh 60,000, double from USh 90,000.
- Exotic Lodge, next to Kabarole tours (Behind Dons Plaza). 10 single/double rooms with shared bathroom. Single USh 15,000 double USh 20,000.
- Tabes Resthouse, Plot 4 Malibo Road (off Kasese road), ☏ , . Check-in: 10AM, check-out: 10AM. Clean single room with outside hot water bathroom or clean double room with own bathroom. Has nets. USh 15,000/25,000.
- Place Motel Limited, Plot 33 Muzosi Road. Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 10AM. Double room with own bathroom and breakfast USh 44,000.
- Golf Course View Guesthouse, Rwenzori Road, ☏ . Single/double rooms with own bathrooms. Sometimes has hot water. From USh 30,000.
- Visitours Guest house, plot no 2 Babiiha Road, ☏ . Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 10AM. Double with own bathroom. USh 30,000.