Image Alt

Kisoro Town

The amorphous and scruffy town of Kisoro, situated at the base of the Minima Mountains, appears to have grown significantly in recent years, presumably as a result of its proximity to the borders with Rwanda and the DRC, and sporadic influxes of refugees from both of these countries. As with many towns in Uganda, Kisoro is a pleasant enough place with a good face., but it is of little inherent interest to travelers. Should you be passing through at the right time of the week, the enormous Monday and Thursday markets along the Kebale Road are emphatically worth a look. Whenever you visit Kisoro, you may be approached about whether you wear to visit a local Pygmy (Batwa) community, who have been evicted from the forest to eke out an existence in a block of stable-like rooms supplemented by tents of plastic sheeting behind the district offices. This a  place to gain an even faintly accurate impression of the rich culture of Uganda’s oldest extant ethnic group. …I, visit Kisoro’s UWA office for details of more mutually rewarding activities, such as the Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Buniga Forest Trail at Bwindi’s Nkringo trailhead.

What Kisoro lacks in the intrinsic appeal is made up for by the utterly stupendous backdrops formed by the tall volcanic peaks of the Virungas to the south, and green hills rolling out of town in every other direction. The town is also an important travel hub, pawed through by all travelers who intend to visit Mgahinga National Parlx and a popular springboard for crow-border gorilla tracking excursions in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volans and (when security permits) the Congolese gorilla sanctuary at Djombe. Even if you have no intention of tracking gorillas, the undulating countryside is studded with lakes, caves and craters that make ideal goals for off-the-beaten-track day walks. The prospect of a night in Kisoro is gaining popularity as an economical option before tracking gorillas from Bwindi Nktringo or Rushaga trailheads, both of which are only a little over an hour’s drive away. ..son) has hosted plenty of Mgahinga-bound gorilla trackers over the years though for a less obvious reason, given that a cheap and beautifully located community campground lies just outside the park gate.


Kisoro lies a little more than 30km west of Kabale, but the distance by road is more than 80km, thanks to the obstacle presented by Lake Bunyonyi. The road has recently been tarmacked. making the journey infinitely more comfortable and enjoyable. However, the route remains extremely windy and the journey will still take the sensible driver the best part of two hours. Nor is there any reason to hurry for the Kabale-Kisoro highway is arguably the most scenic lathe whole country. Highlights include the drive through the bamboo and montane forest of the Echuya Forest Reserve, elevated views over Lake Bunyonyi and the Virunga panorama from the lofty Kanaba Gap. From Kabale, follow the main road through town out past the Highland Inn and the turn-off to Lake Bulayonyi. After roughly 20km, the turn-off to Bwindi Buhoma Gate is signposted on your right and after another 5km or so, the turn-off to Ruhija. Roughly 40km past Kabale, the road starts the northern tip of Lake Bunyonyi, and then crosses the Ndego River, shortly before reaching Muko trading center. An alternative and more scenic but narrow route branches north from the five-way junction on the summit above Rutin& on Lake Bunyonyi. Several buses run daily between Kampala and Kisoro though, with numerous stops along the way, it ft far from being the fastest. Of the private options, the Bismerken bra seems to be the current choke of foreign residents and volunteers in Kisoro. These leave the capital around 08.00 and Kisoro at 5.00. More locally, a few minibus-taxis and overcrowded pick-up trucks run between Kabale and Kisoro every day, leaving when they are full.


Local volunteers tell me that Club Vokmo is the place to stay up late, while New Kisoro View is a lively place for a drink and to watch European football.


Senlina supermarket is next to Ian Point Motel and there’s another shop on the same road close to Stanbic. However, you’re the best stocking, in Kabale. The main market – busiest on Mondays and Thursdays – is a short distance along the Kabale Road opposite the California Inn.


The Coffee Pot and Gorilla Junction (see above) both sell good selections of crafts, while a wide selection of Congolese ‘antique’ carvings and masks decorate the foyer of the Travellers Rest. Do seek out Jean Musisha’s decidedly eccentric museum and craft shop on Muhubura Street behind the taxi park. It’s worth a detour to meet the self-appointed custodian of Kisoro’s cultural heritage and tour the dusty room in which it is piled (Ush5,000 for the entertaining ten-minute tour).


For locations of places to stay in Kisoro town and nearby areas including hotels in Kisoro, Guesthouses, B&B, Backpacker Hostels and Campsites in Kabale, Checkout our section on where to stay.


Have an account?