Uganda Travel Information, Advice and Tips
Uganda Travel Information, Advice and Tips
Visitor Facts about Uganda
Uganda: – Where to find what, when and how?
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Facts for Uganda visitors:
Capital City: Kampala
Total Area: 236,040 sq km’s.
Area under water: 36,330 sq km’s.
Area (land):199,710 sq km’s.
Population: 27 million people with a growth rate of 3% per annum.
Languages: English (official) Luganda, Bantu Languages, and Nilotic languages and Swahili.
Religions: Christians 66%, Moslems 16% Others 17 (including Pentecostal which has gained a lot of follower. Average Family Income; about US $ 200 per annum
Independence Date: 9th of October 1962.
Industry: Brewing, Sugar factories, Cotton, Tobacco , Cement, Coffee, etc.
Agriculture: Coffee, Tea, Cotton, Vanilla, Millet, Milk, Poultry, Goat Meat, Fruits,
Minerals: Copper, Cobalt, Limestone, Salt, Fish
Accessibility: By Air, Entebbe International Airport, by Land through Busia and Malaba in the East, Katuna in the west and Mukula in the South.
Without doubt the main highlight of a trip to Uganda is tracking of the mountain gorillas in the south-western rainforests, either in Bwindi impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However this is not all Uganda has to offer; the national parks of Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth are both worth a visit for their natural attractions, and the chimpanzees at Kibale Forest National park near Fort Portal are also a big draw.
For those who want a much more physical adventure, there is great trekking on Mount Elgon on the Kenyan border; the mountain offers a very affordable alternative to Kilimanjaro if your budget won’t stretch that far. Sadly, the Rwenzoris – the legendary “mountains of the moon” on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – had been closed several years due to landmines and the presence of rebels in the area. For real adventure seekers, the white-water rafting on the Source of the Nile increasingly popular adrenaline buzz.
Away from the challenge of rivers and mountains, Uganda has excellent spots for rest and recuperation. Lake Bunyonyi near Kabale in the far south-west is fast emerging as the most popular place to relax – you can canoe around its many islands or just soak up th breaking scenery. And the Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria have always been a great place to chill out a few days and let time pass you by. Out in the East, Sipi falls is another beautiful location to explore, with some stunning views across the plains below and the opportunity to explore Mt. Elgon.
Suggested Uganda Travel Itineraries
Visitors with just a week usually restrict themselves to short safaris such as gorilla and chimpanzee visit in the south-west with the possible option of a day or two’s afterwards at beautiful Lake Bunyoyi, then Lake Mburo Park and a visit to one of Uganda’s two largest game parks Murchison Falls or Queen Elizabeth. Another option is to forget about the game park and take on the raging white waters at the source of the Nile then relax at Jinja for a day or two. There is a whole list of options and itineraries for short time visitors …go here
With ten days, it is possible to take on an itinerary above and consider adding any extra activity such as such as chimpanzee viewing on Lake Victoria or in the forests of Kibale, Kyambura or Budongo. For longer safaris of about 5 day or more, check out this link. Some travelers and other mission teams may choose to have a day off the safari stuff trying to find time to visit Kampala slums, orphanage schools, and other disadvantaged African children and spend time with them.
The two weeks allow ample time to see many attreactions to the south-west. With your own transport, it is just possible to visit Murchison Falls, Kibale chimpanzee forest, Queen Elizabeth wildlife park, Bwindi or Mgahinga gorilla parks, Lake Bunyonyi and Lake Mburo. Again, there is a list of long safari itineraries, go here For long safaris, some visitors just choose to rent a safari 4WD car with a driver and tour the Pearl of Africa Uganda. Tour agencies car rental prices vary but may consider checking out rates by clicking on this link
Another option on a circuit of this sort would be to visit the laid-back Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria. Without support you are realistically going to miss a few places as two weeks doesn’t allow enough time for endless sitting on the side of the road. However the above sites are a straightforward plan.
Three weeks at your disposal, it is possible to start looking east at a number of attractions towards the Kenyan border. Sipi Falls is beautiful water fall located in the hills of Mount. Elgon, with some stunning views of all the plains below and a number of easy walk nearby. For those that prefer more energetic walks, there is the option of climbing Mt. Elgon, usually a five hour day trek, but possible in four days if you want to push it.
Trip Planning For Uganda
Uganda is different from other Safari locations in Africa – the reason is that Uganda is more diverse. You can find the usual African Wildlife, but then there is more – The tallestt Mountain Range in Africa, Volcanoes, an abundance of Lakes including the 2nd largest in the world and one of the deepest and most scenic in Africa – Lake Bunyonyi. There are the Rainforests, the only jungle in East Africa, the mountain gorillas, the chimpanzees, and golden monkeys and even more such as the best White Water Rafting in the World. Coming to this condensed version of Africa within one country – Uganda – takes planning, so that you take in and do what you would like. What would you like to do on a Safari in Uganda? Go here to explore the available possibilities.
When to visit Uganda
The best available map of Uganda is the Macmillan 1:350,000 Uganda travelers map, which is available in bookshops in Kampala. It also has insets of the Murchison Falls and the Queen Elizabeth national parks, and a street map of Kampala. They also have separate foldout map of Kampala.
The country’s temperatures range between 26° and 30° during the day and 16° and 20° at night with the hottest months being January, February and December. Apart from some northern parts of the country that receive average annual rainfall as low as 100mm, the rest of the country is green throughout the year with an annual rainfall between 1,000mm to 2,000mm with the coolest season being mid-September to November, the March to May. Click here to see Uganda’s year around Holiday weather and climate
Uganda Tourist offices
The Uganda Tourist Board (UTB) is in IPS building, near the UK high commission on parliamentary Ave. open week days.
Uganda -Visa & Documents
Tips about obtaining a Ugandan Visas
Most non-African passport holders visiting Uganda require visas. Three-month single entry tourist visa cost US$50. Six month multiple visas cost up US$160. You can apply and purchase a visa abroad in many countries such as Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation, South Africa, United Kingdom,USA. This is usually done by applying either in person, with two passport pictures and an application that you can download from the Embassy website in your country of origin. You can also look for instructions as to how to mail it to them with express mail of some kind and receive it back to you in a short period of time.
Two photos required and the are visas issued within 24 hours, or possibly same day if you ask the embassy staff nicely enough.
Category of visa
U$ 50 per individual
Multiple entry visa 6-12 months
Multiple entry visa 24 months
Multiple entry visa 36 months
Student Pass – 1 year
The second and convenient and easier way is for tourists to apply for the visa at the point of entry such as the border or Entebbe Airport. Same fee, though you probably won’t need a photo, lowering your cost and no mail is required. Just fill out your entrance form and fill in the passport information and dates, and that is your application.
Immigration, either at the airport or at the border crossing, may less than 90 days but the visa is renewable. If you want to avoid the hassle of getting it extended, be clear about how much time you want to spend in Uganda and they may give you more time.
Uganda Visa extensions
For visa extensions pay a visit to immigration office which is located on Jinja Rd, on the right-hand side 300m past the roundabout after Centenary Park.
Other Visas Kampala is a good place for picking up visas to other countries as there are usually no queues at the various Embassies. For more information about Uganda visas go here»
Tips for Uganda Driving and Licenses
If you have an international driving license then you should bring it (although you only need your local driving license from home).
Things you will need to obtain your Uganda visa upon entry.
Valid Passport issued by your country of origin.
International Health Certificate showing that you have had a yellow fever shot.
Return Ticket to country of origin: This is usually not asked for, but can be.
Enough funds or ways to obtain funds: In some rare situations, you might be asked if you have sufficient funds with you while you are in Uganda.
Uganda Money exchanging tips
The Ugandan shilling is relatively stable currency and floats against the US dollar. It is also fully convertible (ie, you can by Ugandan shilling with US dollars or US dollars with Ugandan shilling) at the bank and foreign exchange bureaus. Notes in circulation are Ush50,000, Ush20,000, Ush10,000, Ush5,000, Ush 2000 Ush1,000 and coins in 500, 200, 100, 50 Ush. Travellers should note that the bank of Uganda has since April 2010 printed new bills, same denominations but completely different looks. It was at this very time that a Ush2000 note was brought into circulation. Learn more about money in uganda and foreign exchange »
The Ugandan shilling trades at whatever it’s worth with the US dollar/UK pound and there’s usually little fluctuations from Day to Day. However, as the currency speculators prey emerging market, this might change in the future. Small US bills attract a much lower rate of exchange than US$50 and US$100 notes. So unless you don’t mind losing as much as 20% of your money in a transaction, come with large bills.
There is no black market. As a result, it doesn’t really matter too much where you exchange your money, the foreign exchange bureaus generally offer a slightly better rate than the banks. The trouble is that not every town has a foreign exchange bureau, and where one does not exist, the banks take the advantage of this by giving lousy rates. You will find foreign exchange bureaus at both Malaba and Busia border crossings (Uganda-Kenya border), Fort Portal, Jinja, Kabale, Kisoro, Masaka, Mbale and Mbarara. Elsewhere plan ahead so you don’t get caught short.
Using Travelers Cheques in Uganda
Travelers cheques can generally be exchanged at most banks in Uganda and most foreign exchange bureaus. Rates offered are generally slightly lower than those advertised for cash. It is also possible to buy US dollar travelers cheques from Barclays, Standard Chartered and Stanbic Banks in Kampala for small fees. Learn more about travellers cheques in Uganda
Using ATMs in and Credit Cards in Uganda
Barclays, Standard Chartered and Stanbic, Crane Banks have now been upgraded to accept international credit cards. Click here to find out more about money, using ATMs in and Credit Cards and so much more in Uganda.
International Money Transfers
Money transfers are actually more straight forward than you might imagine, but are an expensive way to get your hands on cash. Western Union, Moneygram are quite well represented in many banks and major towns throughout the country. And apparently there is PesaPal which works much the same as Paypal, – a way that you can pay online in a safe and secure manner, receive a receipt for your payment and the cost is quite favourable in that, itis 3.5% of the total amount of the bill. Visit the money information page for details.
Uganda Post & Communications
There is an efficient poster restate service at the main post office in Kampala. For a list of towns serviced by the EMS Post Bus Servicing a number of provincial capitals, it often only takes a day more than from Kampala.
Phone communications both domestic and international are both pretty good, although not so reliable in provinces. The provincial network is slowly being digitized, but you will still need patience and understanding in smaller downs.
Emails and Internet access in Uganda
Email and Internet access is very simple in Kampala, there are thousands of internet cafes. However, beyond the capital, options dry up very fast, although with the onward technology, many have started in major towns in the country and basic email services are available and in most of the upmarket lodges in national parks.
Uganda Technical Tips
If you are hoping to get decent shorts, of the gorillas, then you are going to need fast film, but not too fast as the pictures will come out grainy; the best is to use ASA 400. And likewise for the wild life in national parks, as you tend to see most animals at a dawn or dusk when there isn’t so much light.
Uganda – Restrictions
Although there are no official restrictions on photography, there is a certain amount of paranoia about photos being taken of anything that could be interpreted as spying (military civilian infrastructure) or of poverty or deprivation, but try asking for permission before taking photos of people in some places.
Power in Uganda is supposed to be 220V AC, but all the power cuts, surges and switch over to generators mean you should take great care when using valuable electrical equipment. In most parts of Uganda, power cuts are commonplace. Even Kampala some suburbs have to go without power every other day. Most power points in Uganda take 13-amp three pin square plugs such as those used in the UK….better pack up your multi/universal plug adapter.
Uganda security tips, dangers and annoyances
Kampala is safe as far as capitals in Africa go and there is no need to be suspicious when out late night. However, from time to time, incidents do happen, like anywhere in the world, so it pays not to have all your valuables on you in poorly lit areas at night. The only areas in Kampala in which you should take great care is around the taxi parks, as pickpockets as operate here.
Unlike in the past, there are no more security concerns in Kampala with terrorists campaigns coming to the capital. There was a spate of bomb attacks in 1998 and early 1999, but the ringleaders were captured. However this does not mean security at government buildings, embassies, bars and nightclubs is extremely tight. However you get used to the searches pretty quickly, and remember it’s for your own safety. Connect with a travel consultant in Kampala for today’s security status and detailed safety and precautionary measures in Uganda.
Baggers have greatly reduced in central Kampala, and the few that exist are not very persistent. However if you get plagued, try and be patient as there isn’t much of the social security system in Uganda so they have no fallback except to beg.
One final annoyance in Kampala is that taxi and motor bike (locally refer to as “boda-boda” drivers have a tendency to run out of gas at the most convenient times
Things to do, see and where in Uganda
Great things to do and see for Visitors to Uganda, best tourist attractions in Uganda. Uganda has lots to offer to the tourist, visitor and traveler to Africa. Here are some of the things you do not want to miss when visiting the Pearl of Africa-Uganda.
Whether you are looking for additional Uganda safari information, Safari itineraries, competitive quotes, or have any other questions, feel free to contact us at email@example.com or even just call +256 (0) 777201697, we are always happy to answer your questions