Uganda Travel Tips
A few tips for travelers going to Uganda, Africa or anywhere else.
Uganda a landlocked country also knows as the “Peal of Africa” with an area of 236,580 sq Km of which about 25% is fertile arable land for cultivation of Foods. The source of the Nile provides water to Lake Victoria and The Nile River, which flows through much of the country towards the North to the Mediterranean Sea, also creates the best – watered areas in Africa. The Rwenzori Mountains is the highest in the country with its peak Margarita being at (5109m). The land area varies from semi desert in the northeast of Kotido to the lush and fertile shores of Lake Victoria in the central, hemmed in by the Rwenzori Mountains in the west and the beautiful, mountainous southwest in the Kisoro. The tropical heat is tempered by the altitude which averages over 1000m. The Country is bordered by Kenya in the East, Tanzania, Rwanda in the South, Congo Kinshasa in the West and Southern Sudan in the North
Uganda is a home to more than half the world’s mountain gorilla populations, and viewing them in their natural habitats is one of the most popular attractions for visitors to this country. Uganda is a fantastic country for bird life, with more than 1060 species recorded in a country the size of Britain. It is one of the best bird-watching destinations in Africa (if not the world). For bird –watchers coming to Uganda, the shoebill stork are one of the most sought –after birds, but there are many other rare and interesting species to be seen throughout the country.
As you might expect with abundant and varied birdlife, the diversity of Uganda’s terrain is astounding too. Vast open plains, deep forests, volcanoes, snow-capped mountains and deserts all make this small, equatorial country quite unique in its richness. A trip to Uganda presents plenty of riches.
After a chat with other travelers from all over the world, we have accumulated what would amass to a few travel tips that might make your life easier at some point or another. These tips will help you during your preparation to coming to Uganda.
Climate: Through out the year Uganda enjoys good weather conditions making it the darling for vast activities that include Farming, The temperatures range between 20°C to 25ºC; the heavy rains are mainly between the month of March – May and October – November in which seasons are good for planting crops while the soils become soft for the hoes to plough. The dry seasons are for harvesting crops.
Telecommunications: There are a number of Tele communication companies in Uganda that you can quickly get a hand set, fixed lines and internet services which include:- Pre-paid plans, Post-paid plans, International roaming, Dedicated customer care, One rate to all networks, Fax and Data, Call forwarding, Per second billing, Freedom. Forever, Mobile Top up
What to Wear: Uganda is informal country and for day time wear, need only sports shirts and slacks. It might be the most comfortable thing in the world to wear just some old ripped t-shirt and sweat pants but also realize that you get treated the way you look. We find that while a coat and tie might not be the most relaxing you do get a bit more respect a chance upgraded. On the Uganda trails, we recommend cotton clothing which is light and easy to wash.
Bright colors are not recommended if you want to blend into the landscape! Ladies need little more than light cotton dresses, skirts and tops. Make sure you bring a strong pair of walking shoes/boots for adventure safari. Also recommend sun glasses and a hat for protection against equatorial sun. In the evening you may need a sweater / coat on trail, and in the cities a little more formality is required. Don’t forget your swimwear as many Hotels and Lodges have swimming pools.
Requirement for Entering Uganda: When traveling to Uganda you need a valid passport, for at least 6 month to enable you get visas on either arrival at any entry point or at the Uganda representative in your country and it costs USD $50 for a single entry, USD $20 for Students, USD $80 for Multiple entry valid for 6month and USD $160 valid for 1 year. All has been made easier for you that you do not need any Photos to get the visa, you do the payment and you get you Visa, present your passport to the immigration officer at the post, however visa requirements are subject to change without notice, we advice you check with Ababa Safaris Uganda or you Ugandan embassy representative before your travel.
Tax for departure: If you have to purchase you ticket in Uganda, your departure taxes will be included in the fare you pay for the ticket at the time of issuing, this only to international passengers who intend to come to Uganda, Before you do the payment its always good to check with you countries travel Agency for the detail of ticket Issuance, either way Domestic travelers in the country will pay cash for taxes before departing to the destination.
Time: Uganda is GMT + 3 Hours.
Eating and Drinking: The Fruit/ food basket as its know in Agriculture, Uganda is an incredible bounty country; with a range of food stuffs grown or caught and eaten is enormous. Depending on the time you have in the country, try different local foods like: matoke (plantains) often baked in their skins or in banana leaves, yams, sweet potatoes, delicious fat tinny bananas, small white aubergines, legendary Nile Perch and Tilapia fish. In the major cities there is very good international food on offer, Chinese and Indian to Greek, Italian, Spanish, American and British. Almost all over the country you will have no difficulty in getting vegetarian food – the Indian vegetarian range is particularly good, if you are not able to get a good place, please inquire from your driver or the entry point.
Currency and exchange bureaus: As free economy, Uganda is where you can get to change different currencies in any part of the country, the Currency to change can be either in Uganda Shillings, and we recommend that you travel with Euros, Sterling or Dollars that you may exchange to get shillings. However, at the airport banks the rates are normally lower unless you have no time the next days then you have the chance to change from here.
The best place is to go to is either the central bank (in a major) city or even the local banks in the smaller towns. They will give you a better rate. Also look at the difference between exchange rates for traveler’s cheques, cash, credit cards and different currencies. Some of the best rates you can get are taking out a cash advance on you credit card or through an ATM, however bigger denominations of 50 and 100 bills fetch better rate.
Crime and Violence: After more than 20 years of instability where more than Hundreds thousands of people die, Uganda has enjoy more peace and become one of the safest countries in Africa (possibly the safest). However it’s sensible to take the same precautions that you would do while in any foreign country where you are a guest as you will never know the right and a wrong person. Proper care of your property including money is very important; you can either keep it safe at the hotel or bank for safety.
Please Remember: We care for environment and given that this country is country and profusion of wildlife is not only our heritage and responsibility – it is yours, please take great care to respect it and every rubbish that you have, put in secured places for easy collection.
Health / Immunization: There are Good medical facilities are available in the main cities that include private and Government Facilities, however we advice that you take medical insurance and treatment before your arrival. Bring any special medication you may need as you may not fine the right medicine in the drug stores and since Uganda is in the Tropical area, Malaria is encountered at certain times of the year, and it is advisable to take the usual prophylactics.
For your own comfort take mosquito/insect repellent. Bilharzia is present in some of our lakes and swimming is not recommended except in some designated areas. We recommend that you take only boiled or bottled mineral water to drink is available in all supper markets, in Hotels there will be flasks of water for drinking. Before you travel consult with you medical Doctor /centre regarding the necessity for vaccination for yellow fever and cholera.
Uganda Tourism Industry is growing: After over decades of stability, Uganda is now ready and able to welcome tourists and offer them great hospitality. Make no mistake; you are unlikely to encounter service standards which you may expect in a highly developed tourist resort. Many facilities have been renovated to good standards. We are sure you will find that what Ugandans lack in experience they make up for many times in helpfulness, kindliness, unfading smiles and concern for your well-being. As a tourist to a young and inexperienced destination, we would ask you to respect this fact and honors our willingness to receive you as a guest in our country.
What to buy: A souvenir is an essential purchase during your visit to Uganda, to bring back many happy memories when you return back home and some wonderful colorful handcrafts can be found in any point ether hotels or markets. In every village local people are skilled in creating colorful arts and crafts, both traditional and modern, which are hand worked to a very high standard. Many of the items are useful; many of these souvenirs will be found in village markets and on road side stalls, but in Kampala and Entebbe there are several shops and markets that specialize in crafts. You could ask for any thing you need to take back home.