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Uganda Travel Resources - Articles and Advise
Whether you are traveling to Uganda for business, pleasure or study, the best way to ensure a carefree and relaxing trip is to prevent problems before they happen. The more you learn about passports, visas, customs, immunizations, and other travel basics, the less likely you are to have difficulties during your travel. In order to assist you with the planning of your Uganda safari, we have provided an extensive list of traveling tips to help your journey go as smooth as possible. Alternatively, feel free to contact us should you require more information.
Uganda Travel Tips / FAQs
Uganda is the home to the mountain forest gorillas. It is located in east-central Africa, situated north and northwest of Lake Victoria. It is a landlocked country bordered by Sudan on the North, Kenya on the east, Tanzania on the South, Rwanda on the southwest and Zaire on the northwest. Uganda has a pleasant climate year round with minor temperature variations. The altitude on a Uganda safari varies from 1,000 meters to 2,400 meters above sea level. Days are pleasant, 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and nights moderate, 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At higher altitudes it can be cooler, especially at Bwindi. The green season is usually from mid March to mid May and again during November, in my opinion the best times to go to Uganda. East Africa is 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

The greater part of Uganda consists of a plateau about 4,000 ft in height. Along the western border of the Ruwenzori Mountains reaching heights of over 16,000 ft, while on the eastern frontier Mount Elgon rises to 14,178 ft. By contrast, the Western Rift Valley, which runs from north to south through the western half of the country, is as low as 3,000 ft on the floor of Lake Edward and Lake George and 2,000 ft on the flow of Lake Albert. The White Nile River has its source in Lake Victoria.

Getting To Uganda
Entebbe International Airport, which lies 40km from the capital Kampala, is serviced by a number of international airlines, including SN Brussels, British Airways, South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania, Rwandair Express, Egypt Air and Ethiopian Airlines. Uganda can also be reached overland from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

On Arrival in Uganda
Customs and immigration officials are polite and efficient, and a visa - for those who require one - can be purchased on the spot at Entebbe International Airport or at any overland border. Foreign exchange and ATM facilities are available at the airport, which is also serviced by several shops and restaurants. Most midrange to upmarket hotels in Kampala and Entebbe will arrange airport transfers by request, as will any tour operator based in or around the capital. Check you have the address and telephone number of either Uganda Tourist Board , Uganda Investment Authority , Uganda Export Promotions Board, Uganda Manufactures Association . If not the hotel, tour operator or local police should have this information. Check you have made a note of the opening hours. Most British Consulates have an answer-phone service detailing office hours and arrangements for handling emergencies at other times. In countries outside the European Union (EU) where we do not have any British consular officers, you can get help from the Embassies and Consulates of other EU member states.

Health Requirements
A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required. All visitors should take malaria prophylactic drugs. It is advisable to drink bottled rather than tap water.

Money Matters
The unit of currency is the Uganda shilling. The US dollar is traditionally the hard currency of preference, but Euro and Pound Sterling are also widely accepted. Hard currency cash can be changed for local currency at banks and private bureaux de change in all large towns, but travellers’ cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala. Local currency can be drawn against Visa and other major credit cards at selected ATMs in Kampala, at Entebbe International Airport, and in a few other large towns.

Language in Uganda
Educated Ugandans are generally fluent in English, which is the official language. Of 30-plus different indigenous languages, Luganda serves as something of a lingua franca.

When to Visit Uganda
Uganda can be visited at any time, though mountain hikes, gorilla tracking and other forest walks are more challenging during the rains, which generally peak over mid-September to November and March to May. The best time to visit Uganda is late December to late February, as the weather at this time of year is generally dry (though hot). A close second is the mid-June to mid-August period. However you can still get around outside of these dry tropical months.

What to wear
Daytime temperatures are generally warm to hot, so bring lots of light clothing. Evenings are cooler, especially at high altitudes, so carry a couple of light sweaters too. Those who intend to hike on the mountains will be exposed to alpine temperatures and should pack accordingly. Solid walking shoes and sturdy clothing are ideal for forest walks. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses and a waterproof jacket.

Recommended clothing list...other than normal clothing for a Uganda Safari.
> Strong walking boots with ankle support.
> Relevant socks
> Light shoes
> Cotton or gortex trousers
> Shorts
> Long sleeved shirts for trekking
> Sweater
> Light jacket
> Water proof clothing (not bright colors)
> Hat for sun and or rain
> Plastic bags for cameras and film
NB: However, be prepared for cool, dry, warm, wet weather when trekking Gorillas.

What to Bring to Uganda
A valid passport is mandatory, and visa requirements should be checked before you travel. To make the most of the game reserves and national parks, carry binoculars and field guides. Photographers will need a zoom lens for wildlife (70-300 or similar). Print film and developing is available in Kampala. Toiletries and other essentials can be bought in the cities.

Driving in Uganda
Driving is on the left side. Visitors without experience of African roads are advised to organise a vehicle with a driver rather than self-drive. More >>>

Tipping Advice
You won't be expected to tip in Uganda, though feel free to do so if you've received exceptional service. Bargain when buying things from a market, street stall or craft shop. Tipping is not standard practice at local hotels and restaurants, but it will always be appreciated. It is normal to tip 5-10% at tourist-oriented restaurants. Guides and drivers sometimes expect to be tipped.
Recommended tipping....
Driver/guides $5 per client per day.
Camps and lodges $2 to 3 per client per night
Gorilla trekking guides and trackers $10 per client per trek.
Baggage porters at hotels/lodges $2 per client per stay
Kibale Forest Guides $3 per client per walk
Tipping is better in Uganda Shillings, present exchange rate is, 1,700 Uganda shillings per $1

Facts for the Traveller
Visas: Citizens of most countries do require visas.
Time: GMT/UTC plus three hours
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

Safety & Security in Uganda
Just like in any other urban city elsewhere, visitors to Kampala are advised not to make themselves obvious target and do not carry large sums of cash in the streets.

Events in Uganda
Uganda celebrates many Christian holidays, including Christmas, Easter and Good Friday. The Muslim population honors Islamic holidays, which follow the Muslim calendar. Hari Raya Puasa , the sighting of the new moon, signifies the first day of the Muslim calendar and the end of Ramadan , the fasting month. Women's Day takes place throughout the country in early March. There are also several holidays associated with independence and events during the civil wars: NRM Anniversary Day is 26 January; Martyrs' Day is 3 June; Heroes' Day is 9 June; and Independence Day is 9 October.

Uganda Currency and Money Advice
The currency in Uganda is the Uganda shilling (USh). Since the elimination of the black market and the introduction of foreign exchange (forex) bureaus the Ugandan shilling is now a stable, fully convertible currency, fluctuating very little from day to day. It doesn't matter too much where you change your money, though the forex bureaus generally offer better rates than the banks. You'll find forex bureaus at most border posts and in all major cities. For maximum flexibility take most of your money in travellers' cheques and the rest in cash, preferably US dollars, British pounds or South African rand. Credit cards are accepted only at larger hotels and restaurants.

Travel Insurance While in Uganda
If you need medical care whilst in Uganda, it is best to be aware that medical providers may not accept payment through your insurance company. In these circumstances you will have to pay in full after your treatment and file a claim with your insurance company for reimbursement. Therefore you should have access to cash, either from a credit card or by wire transfer. If you need assistance contact the country's local embassy or representative. To be compensated you must be treated by licensed medical personnel and provide your insurance company with proper documentation and receipts. It is advisable to always ensure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy which covers you for repatriation to your home country.
You can check out the following websites which specialise in long term travellers, adventure travellers, backpackers and workers based abroad.

Domestic Flights
Air Uganda offers a domestic service to some of the major towns. Air Charter is also available. Usually you will be required to pay for flights in hard currency.
Train: There are services from Kampala to Kasese and Tororo but the service is slow, uncomfortable and erratic.
Lake Ferry: Lake Victoria has a ferry service which connects Port Bell and the Ssese Islands.
Bus: Bus services connect all the main towns but they can be slow, crowded and they make frequent stops. Minibuses and shared taxis are a good way of getting around. They have fixed rates and leave when full.

Climate in Uganda
Although Uganda is located on the equator, its climate is warm rather than hot, and temperatures vary little throughout the year. Most of the country receives an annual rainfall of at least 30 inches. In the Lake Victoria region an annual rainfall of 59 inches is distributed throughout the year and the average annual temperature is 21.6°C (71°F) with a daily range of 7 - 9°C (13-16°F). Further north rainfall averages about 35 inches, with a pronounced dry season in June and July. The mean annual temperature in this region is 15.5°C (60°F) with a daily range of 11-13°C (20-23°F)

VISAS & IMMIGRATION
Visas are required by all except nationals from Angola,. Antigua, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Comoros, Cypress, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Italy, (only Diplomatic passports), Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Singapore, Tonga, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe These can be obtained from Uganda's Diplomatic and Consular Missions abroad.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is possible to get issued a visa on arrival at Entebbe Airport as long as one satisfies the entry requirements. However, it is advisable that you get your visas before you embark on the trip to Uganda to avoid unnecessary paper work at point of entry. On arrival in the country, however, you may be asked to show you have sufficient funds to support your stay and that you have an onward ticket. This is however not a common practice currently.

Further information
Uganda: The Bradt Travel Guide is one the most detailed guidebooks in print. Other guidebooks are produced by Lonely Planet, Footprint Guides and Spectrum Guides. The Uganda Tourist Board website (www.visituganda.com) contains information about all tourist attractions and protected areas.

Related Pages:
Frequently Asked Safari Travel Questions
Kenya Travel Tips & Advice
Tanzania Travel Tips & Advice
 
 



 
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