Uganda Travel Tips
Best Time to Visit Uganda
Uganda is generally warm all year around and its position on the Equator explains the seasonal temperature variations. However, you should check out on the seasons if you are planning to visit national parks because some roads become almost impassable during the rain season. Usually the rains come in April, May, October and November. During these months camping is not an option and hiking as it is, is an uphill task during the rains.
Paper Work Necessary
You will need a valid passport that is not yet to expire at least for six months of the date on which you intend to leave Uganda. Should your passport be lost or stolen, it will be easier to get a replacement if you have a photocopy of important pages.
If you are intending to drive while in Uganda, you will need an international driver’s license together with your original license.
An international health certificate indicating your Yellow fever status and other vaccinations like for Cholera.
Carry photo copies of your important documents and if possible leave copies of these documents with close relatives. Carry copies of your emergency numbers incase need arises.
All foreign entrants require Visas at the entry points. The good news is that these Visas can be obtained from the Uganda Embassies in your countries of origin or on entry to the country. Visa rulings are prone to any changes so all visitor are required to check with their embassies or high commissions before coming to the country.
FLYING TO UGANDA
The main entry point for air travelers is Entebbe international Airport. Entebbe is 40km from Kampala the capital city of Uganda. The terminal is operated by most big International Airlines like BA, KLM, SN Brussels, United Arab Emirates, South African Air, Kenya Airways and many other Airlines. All the above mentioned Airlines have their offices in Kampala and at the airport, just incase you need any information concerning these airlines, they are always to there to help.
Getting to Kampala
A private taxi from the air port to the Uganda’s city centre in Kampala costs around USD30. The other alternative is to get a motor cycle commonly know as Boda Boda and it drops you in Entebbe town where you will have to board a 14 seater taxi that will charge around 2-3 dollar depending on the prevailing rate.
EATING AND DRINKING
Meals are served in various restaurants in the towns and some small trading centers here and there in Uganda. The dishes range from local dishes to international cuisines and fast foods. These meals are very affordable with prices ranging from 2$-10$ and above depending on the place you decide to settle for your meal.
Bottled and canned beverages are on sale in shops, restaurants and bars every where, be cautious while taking drinking water because it’s not completely safe, I rather you only take bottled mineral water.
Fruits are every where in the markets and are in most cases fresh produces right from the gardens. Vegetables are also in plenty and vegetarian meals can be prepared on order.
Yellow Fever vaccinations are recommended and an international traveler we recommend it to avoid unnecessary inconveniences, we also recommend anti-malaria inoculations, especially during the rainy season. Most prescription drugs can be bought affordably and with ease over the counter in Kampala. We advise clients to take their Personal insurance
It is advisable that visitors to Uganda take anti-malarial medication. The use of mosquito repellents and nets are recommended for use especially those taking out camping holidays.
High Factor sun screen & After-Sun
Insect repellent (evening - esp. on the coast)
Diocalm & rehydration sachets
Antiseptic, cotton wool, plasters
Eye-drops (safari lodge charged me over $10!)
Uganda is sunny most of the year round with temperatures rising above 290C. The heavy rainy season is March –may, light rainy season November-December, though there will always be a few hours of sunshine.
The national currency for Uganda is the Uganda shilling and it comes in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 for coins and paper notes are available in denominations of 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000 and 50000. There are no restrictions n the movement of currency into or out of Uganda for current transactions.
Some one coming to visit friends or relatives or vacation for cultural tours/city tours will need light but descent clothes and some long sleeves and sweater for some few cold evenings. The adventurous type that will want to visit the Ugandan jungles will need long sleeve shirts for evening Sweatshirt or fleece for evening’s upcountry. Women in rural towns may feel more comfortable wearing clothing that covers their knees and shoulders, but this is not mandatory. It’s usually hot by midday, but evenings are always pleasant. Gorillas tracking will require you to have long pants - Jeans and long sleeved shirts and blouses, rain gear- water proof jacket or rain coat that will protect your cameras from rain. Rain in Bwindi Forest daily is almost a must. The terrain is steep and sturdy shoes are recommended.
The official language spoken in Uganda is English. Luganda and Swahili are also widely spoken.
It is possible to charter a light air craft to fly to airstrips around the country. There are quite a number domestic airfields upcountry some of which are in national parks like Kasese.
Road Transport is the most used in Uganda, using this means of transport will require you to go the Taxi Parks (New and Old Taxi parks) in Kampala or the Bus Park for public transport to almost all Destinations in the country. However, one can also use a private car hire or even self drive car hire. There are good roads on the main routes and travel is comfortable and swift. For quick town rounds, one can use a motor cycle locally called Boda Boda or even a bicycle but the bicycles are mostly found in the town outskirts.
LAW AND RESPECT
You will have to abide by the rules and law governing the country, because Visitors are given no exception to violet laws and no country welcomes law breakers. Visitor are expected to respect the people and the leaders of the destination country, be aware of values and practices of the natives ad treat them the same way they would want to be treated.
You should ask you guide for the dos and don’ts of the country in order to stay on the right side of the law.
Telephone services are widely spread allover the country. Some mobile phone companies operate rent- a-phone services for shot periods. Internet and email services can also be found in major towns. We have 5 mobile phone companies namely Uganda Telecom on 071, MTN on 077 and 078, Zain on 075, Warid on 070 and Orange on 079.
It is not possible to list all the characteristics of a culture. However, visitors to Uganda are advised to seek information about some of the Ugandan cultural patterns that the visitors are most likely to encounter in regards to social greetings, eating, manner of dress and some non verbal cues.
Visitors should not walk in towns or public areas in their swimming wear or very short patra shorts as this is against the African culture and you will end up feeling out of place.
WHAT TO AVOID
A void asking for help from stranger because you will not know how a con artist is and how is not.
* The 'tourist look':
- If wearing shorts - avoid socks pulled-up to the knee
- Sun-hat/cap with platitudes ('I Love Uganda' etc)
- Overt bumbag/money bag (keep hidden underneath clothes)
- Walking with map in hand (use with discretion) !
* Expensive accessories:
- Keep jewellery/watch hidden (ideally leave at home)
- Camera - more tricky! - When not in use, keep out of sight
- Don't store 'your world' in ONE bag
- Always have some money/cards back in hotel