| 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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. Dont forget to bring a hat, sunglasses
and a waterproof jacket.
clothing list...other than normal clothing for a Uganda
> Strong walking boots with ankle support.
> Relevant socks
> Light shoes
> Cotton or gortex trousers
> Long sleeved shirts for trekking
> 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.
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 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
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.
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
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
for the Traveller
Visas: Citizens of most countries do require visas.
Time: GMT/UTC plus three hours
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
& 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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