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Rwanda re-opens border with Uganda

Uganda and Rwanda reopened their Gatuna border post on Monday, signaling the end of three-year frosty relations between the two East African nations.

In a surprise announcement last week, Kigali said the frontier would be open again after three years of closure, signalling a thaw in relations between the two East African nations that had long been at loggerheads.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s powerful son Muhoozi Kainerugaba — seen as playing a key role in Rwanda’s decision — tweeted: “Now our people can freely move, trade and interact as Almighty God always intended!”

But as the rain poured at the main Gatuna post, the situation was unclear, with Rwandans complaining they were not allowed to cross while delays were also reported on the Ugandan side.

“I was told that the border is open and I came with the intention to cross to Uganda and buy some things. But Rwandan immigration officials have told me that I cannot cross until further notice. It is quite confusing,” a Rwandan trader who was turned away told AFP.

Game drive at Murchison falls National park

Two-way trade collapsed after the frontier was closed in February 2019 as tensions between Kigali and Kampala spiralled over rival accusations of espionage and political meddling.

Kigali — which used to rely on the Uganda route for the bulk of its imports — announced it would reopen the border as a step towards repairing ties.

Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said on Twitter that trucks, Rwandan citizens and returning residents were able to cross into the country at Gatuna, in line with Covid-19 restrictions.

She added that “Rwandan & Ugandan health officials are working on joint covid protocols, which will enable all to cross on both sides”, without mentioning the situation for Rwandans wanting to travel to Uganda.

A Ugandan truck driver was one of the first able to return to his home country just after the stroke of midnight.

“This is a historic moment for our sister countries. I am so excited that this is happening,” Wasswa Ndugu Fabrison told journalists.

On the Ugandan side, some at the border reported delays for goods clearance.

Uganda’s immigration commissioner Marcelino Besigye told AFP the two sides had agreed to give priority to cargo trucks but that non-essential travel was not “encouraged” because of Covid protocols.

“Our health teams and that of Rwanda will be working out a mechanism to ensure passengers are tested and allowed to proceed,” he added.

Kainerugaba was seen as instrumental in the reopening decision, after he visited Kigali and met Rwandan President Paul Kagame last month.

Museveni and Kagame were close allies in the 1980s and 1990s during struggles for power in their respective countries, but relations turned deeply hostile.

Rwanda accused Uganda of abducting its citizens and supporting rebels seeking to topple Kagame.

Uganda in turn accused Rwanda of spying as well as killing two men during an incursion into Ugandan territory in 2019.

Before the closure, Ugandan exports to Rwanda — predominantly cement and food — totalled more than $211 million in 2018, according to World Bank figures.

Rwanda, which subsequently turned to Tanzania for trade, had exported goods worth $13 million to Uganda in 2018.

Trade plummeted in 2019, with the situation further exacerbated by the Covid crisis.

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Customer Reviews

Ngoni Safaris Uganda

Customer Reviews

Michael T 06/June/2021

TripAdvisor
Above & Beyond
Review of: 3-Day Gorillas trekking and Batwa Experience
Sedrick went above and beyond to accomodate our request for an itinerary alteration due to our compressed time in Uganda. He also compeltely took care of scheduling our covid 19 testing and drove us to the site on arrival.

Our driver/guide Ben was also outstanding!

**We highly recommend using a porter during gorilla trekking as their are some complex parts to the trail/terrain. This also benefits the local people by providing them work.**

David 24/June/2021

TripAdvisor
Seeing Lots of Animals and Uganda
The schedule suited my time in Uganda exactly and was a great opportunity to view some of the top wildlife and natural wonders of the country. Lodgings range from mid-range to near upscale and are in beautiful locations. Food is good and ample. My driver, Stanley, was expert at spotting wildlife and, very importantly on the Ugandan roads, a careful and skilled driver. You see various parts of the country on this tour, and due to distances, be aware you'll spend quite a few hours on the road. One thing they might add is an itinerary going into more detail ahead of time on each day's activity and suggested things to bring. I was concerned about the needed COVID test for return home, but they took care of arranging that, and it turned out successfully. Overall the tour was a real highlight and is highly recommended.

Justo Nov 18, 2019

Safaribookings
I went on an 11 day safari visiting Kampala, Jinja, Lake Mburo NP, Bwindi NP, Queen Elizabeth NP and Kibale NP. Communications with Ngoni were prompt and easy from the start. As soon as I made my booking, Sedrick contacted me through WhatsApp and guided me through the rest of the process. Leading up to the tour he made sure I was well-prepared to begin. He was always very clear and friendly. Service was exceptional. I had the pleasure of going on this safari with three members of Ngoni's staff - Sedrick, Nelson and Joel. These guys made my comfort their priority from the moment we met. Whether it was checking if I was okay with the accommodations or making sure I always had a bottle of water, I always felt like I was being well taken care of. Nelson is an excellent guide. His knowledge about the flora and fauna of Uganda was extensive, always able to answer any questions I had and was eager to teach - it's obvious that he has a great love for his country and it's environment and is eager to share this love with his clients. My experience with Ngoni and Uganda surpassed all expectations I had. Absolutely amazing, and thanks to the guys at Ngoni it feels like a new home - can't wait to come back and visit. Webale, brothers!

Stephany Aug 13, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Sedrick was unique and stood out from the rest in the high quality communication he provided since the first inquiry. He called me to provide information about the itinerary and see if I had any questions even before booking the tour. We communicated through WhatsApp for any other questions that came to mind after that call. After picking me up from the airport, he and Pilot (additional tour guide) provided plenty of information about the country to give me some context and we started our long drive to the impenetrable forest. The food was delicious with many options; the accommodation was very clean with exceptional service; and the transportation from Entebbe to Bwindi park was very comfortable (although long). As a solo female traveler, both tour guides (Sedrick and Pilot) did an exceptional job at enduring I accomplished everything intended to in Uganda, and always made me feel safe. I highly recommend to book your safari with this company because the quality and professionalism will not let you down.

Shakira Dec 14, 2018

Ngoni safaris uganda is the best tour operator in Uganda. A few weeks back we traveled to Bwindi impenetrable with sedrick to explore the beauty that is Uganda. This company took care of us . with most comfortable car , Great guide .We highly recommend it to the next travelers

Winnie Dec 19, 2018

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
I was going on a gorilla safari with my friend and this was going to be the first ever safari for the both of us. Luckily, the communication with the office was super easy and we got answers to all of the questions we needed. The driver / guide (Sedrick) was very professional and funny and made our time very pleasant. Also, he had a proper knowledge of the local area close to the Mgahinga national park and he promptly spoke some 7 languages which we thought was super positive. The safari was surely the highlight of out East African trip!

Ritah Jan 2, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
My Team and I did a five day trip, including Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls and Kidepo. It was truly an incredible experience. Our guide, Sedrick, was knowledgeable, skilled in driving in some challenging settings and just plain fun to hang out with for five days. The lodging was perfect, especially Savannah Lodge. The tents and beds were high quality. The views were spectacular. Meals were delicious and varied. I recommend Ngoni safaris Uganda with all my heart and soul!

Pilot May 28, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Our six days trip was amazing. The driver/guide had an incredible knowledge of animal and bird-life and are so interesting to talk to. His driving skills through lashing rain and massive puddles was admirable! The cooks managed to produce varied and delicious meals from the kitchen, which we ate both at accommodation or roadside when we were travelling from one place to another . At all times we felt safe and well-looked after. All in all, an incredible experience, due not only to the abundance of wildlife we were lucky enough to see, but also to the great efforts put to have our Safari a better one . The safari was full of fun. Traveling with ngoni safaris is my life time memorable experience and I highly recommend it to travellers who would love to visit uganda or EastAfrica for holidays, vacations or Adventure.. Even five stars are too small .
 
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