Traveling by bus between Kampala and Kigali is pretty straightforward. One bus will take you all the way. No transfers required. The journey takes about 9 hours and can be made during the day or overnight. In this guide, I’ll outline how to buy tickets, prices, bus times, and more.
The Best Kampala to Kigali Bus Company
The best bus company making this trip is called Trinity. They have the newest, most comfortable buses and operate, for the most part, on time. Another decent company making this trip is called Jaguar. They offer a similar service in terms of safety and reliability.
Anumber of other companies operate the route between Kampala and Kigali as well, but they may run older buses or are not as reliable. Safety is also a concern as some of the bus drivers speed like maniacs. Regardless of which company you choose, they will all get you to where you are going.
Where to Buy Bus Tickets Between Kampala and Kigali
In Kampala- The Trinity ticket office is located near Namirembe road and Old Kampala road. The Jaguar ticket office is just down the street. The buses leave from the ticketing offices where you buy your tickets.
In Kigali- If you are traveling from Kigali to Kampala, the ticket office for Trinity and Jaguar is located at the Nyabugogo bus terminal. This place is located a ways outside the city center. You’ll probably want to take a motorcycle, taxi, or city bus to get there. Every driver knows where the station is.
Buying Bus Tickets
Several bus companies operate the Kampala to Kigali route multiple times per day. It is generally not necessary to buy your ticket in advance if you don’t care about which company you travel with. If you want to travel with a specific bus company, you’ll want to buy your ticket at least one day in advance to make sure you get a seat. Busses do fill up occasionally.
I prefer to buy my ticket at least a day in advance if possible. I do this so I know where the bus station is located on the day of travel. It relieves a lot of stress not having to frantically search for an address early in the morning.
Ticket Prices Between Kampala and Kigali
Bus tickets cost between 40,000-45,000 UGX from Kampala to Kigali. For the most part, all of the companies will charge about the same so you might as well go with the best, most comfortable service. You may be able to find a slightly cheaper rate with one of the smaller, lesser-known companies if the cost is an issue for you.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can make this journey with a series of minibusses and save a few shillings. From central Kampala, you can catch a minibus heading southwest toward Rwanda. You’ll probably have to transfer in Mbarara, Uganda and at the border. You may require several more transfers along the way.
Trinity and Jaguar have buses leaving at 7 am and 9 am. Night buses are also available leaving in the evening and arriving in Kigali early in the morning. Between all of the bus companies operating this route, there is a bus leaving from Kampala to Kigali every hour or two. The journey takes about 9 hours.
I generally prefer to take night buses when I travel because it saves me the cost of a night of accommodation. For this trip, I took the day bus because it fit my schedule better.
Breaking Up the Trip
If you have an extra day and would like to break up the trip a bit, I highly recommend visiting Lake Bunyonyi. It is a picturesque lake located in the southwest of Uganda, just outside the small town of Kabale.
I spent a relaxing day just strolling around the lake and the town. This turned out to be one of my favorite places in Africa. To get to the lake from Kbale, you must take a short taxi or motorcycle ride. There are several hotels in town where you can get a room for around $10.
Lake Bunyonyi is a great stopover to make because it is so convenient and easy to do. Trinity and Jaguar both make stops in Kabale anyway. To make this stopover, you can simply buy a ticket from Kampala to Kabale then catch another bus the next day that is continuing from Kabale to Kigali. Buses make this trip frequently so it isn’t a problem to catch one on its way. From Kabale, you are only about 2 hours from Kigali.
The Gatuna Border Crossing
You will cross between Uganda and Rwanda at the Gatuna border crossing. This crossing is smooth and fairly efficient. You will most likely be asked to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate at this border crossing regardless of the direction you’re traveling. One thing to remember is that plastic bags are not allowed in Rwanda. When customs checks your luggage, they may confiscate any single-use plastic bags. If you have the East Africa visa, you can cross this border without applying for another visa.
The Rwanda Visa
The Rwanda visa is available at the border and costs $30 for most nationalities. After the immigration official checks your passport, they will give you a form for you to take to another window to pay for your visa. After you pay, you will be given a receipt. Next, you will return to the immigration office and present your receipt. The official will then stamp your passport and send you on your way.
The Uganda Visa
For most nationalities, Uganda does not issue visas on arrival at the border. You’ll have to apply online in advance. The cost is $50 plus a few dollars for a processing feel. You can pay by credit card. You’ll need to send a scanned copy of your passport and yellow fever vaccine along with your vis application. The visa takes just a day or two to process. They will email you an approval letter. After you’re approved, you’ll have to find a place to print the approval letter. You’ll need his letter when you cross the border. You can apply for your Uganda e-visa here.
Arriving in Kigali, Rwanda
Trinity and Jaguar buses arrive in Kigali at the Nyabugogo bus terminal. This is a big, busy bus terminal located on the edge of the city. Most likely you will need to take a taxi or minibus to your destination in Kigali. If you want to withdraw Rwandan franks, there are ATMs located across the street from the bus terminal.
Have you traveled between Kampala and Kigali by bus? Share your experience in the comments below!
For a list of more step-by-step bus guides, check out my Ultimate African Bus Guide.
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