Uganda Travel Tips and Advice

Posted by on July 6, 2014

Uganda Travel Practical Advice & Helpful Tips

Travel Tips and Advice Information for Travelers & Tourists to Uganda

Helpful Information for Visitors to Uganda


 

Uganda-Safe-secure

Africa no matter what your background or your country of origin, is different. Words may mean one thing in your country they mean another. If someone wants to take you to saloon here, it is not for a drink but to get your hair done. This Uganda Travel Tips and Advice page is to make your time here an enjoyable and remember to laugh, keep your sense of humor, put away your schedule at times and remember that relationships are more important than 20 minutes.

Enjoy Uganda and read Uganda Travel Tips and Advice

Uganda will be a life changing experience, no matter if you are coming as a business traveler, short term volunteer, or going on a Safari.
Travel to anywhere can be stressful and wear one out rather quickly and often a traveler is ill informed as to what to expect in Uganda. Uganda is Africa and Africa no matter what your background or your country of origin is different. Words may mean one thing in Uganda while in your country they mean another. If someone wants to take you to saloon here, it is not for a drink but to get your hair done.

This Uganda Travel Tips and Advice page is to make your time here an enjoyable and remember to laugh, keep your sense of humor, put away your schedule at times and remember that relationships are more important than 20 minutes.


Practical Tips & Advice that will make your African travel Tour in Uganda more enjoyable


uganda-visa-rquirementsUganda Tourist Visa:

A Uganda tourist Visa is easily obtained at points of entry such as Entebbe International Airport where all you need is 2003 or newer 50 USD bill and the entrance form that you filled out on the airplane.

You can also obtain a visa in countries where there is a Ugandan embassy located by either visiting the Embassy or via overnight mail – however you will spend more money on the express mail cost involved.

You will also need passport pictures when you obtain a visa by mail.

The time it takes is relatively short – no passport pictures needed at point of entry. Additional Visa information is found on the following pages.
When – Where do I get my Uganda Tourist Visa?
East African Tourist Visa 2014 is now available – one Visa – three countries – Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya


Uganda-Money-adviceMoney Advice and Tips for Uganda Travelers:

Here you will find the most Advice and Tips regarding using money in Uganda including money safety and security tips for Uganda.

Uganda is a cash based society where the US dollar reigns as the currency of choice, where the use of credit cards is limited, whereas Traveller Cheques are not accepted everywhere and it is a cumbersome process to get them exchanged into Cash.

Credit Cards can be be used but normally there is a 5% fee when you use a credit card.  ATM machines are found in major towns, have a Visa ATM Card – Master Card can be used at limited banks, forget American Express Cards with ATM machines.

In Uganda it is about Cash and here is the information you need in order to make right money choices.
Credit Card information for Uganda.

Current Exchange rate for US Dollar into Uganda Shillings


getting-around-in-UgandaUganda Transportation – Getting around in Uganda:

Hopefully you will have someone to pick you up at the airport such as I do when I have safari guests arriving in the country. Should you not and you did not book with a higher priced hotel that offers free transport to the hotel, do not fret, you can easily rent a special hire taxi.

No buses or so called taxi vans come to the airport and neither do boda-boda motorcycle taxis. The normal rate that will be asked is around 40 to 50 USD though some will ask for more, negotiate.

Self Drive is not suggested, you may have a heart attack traversing the Ugandan roads and our traffic jams can be most overwhelming.  Traffic Jams often last until 10 pm at night and begin around 7 am in Kampala.  Sundays is about the only day of the week without major traffic jams.

Avoid a Boda-Boda Motorcycle Taxi – they cause more Hospital emergency room visits than anything else.


Uganda-Hotels-LodgesUganda Hotels and Lodges:

Just because President Clinton stayed there, does not mean it is a good hotel. I recently reviewed comments on the Internet and found one hotel where President Clinton stayed on a visit and found that the majority of comments were extremely negative. No mosquito nets, no hot water, and more.

Book your hotel  through someone in Uganda such as Kabiza Wilderness Safaris who understands the Ugandan market and also knows your expectations and your stay will be pleasant at an affordable price.

The choices range from Shoestring to Luxury Accommodations, from hotels that look like they came from the old Soviet Bloc to lovely Tented Camps.

In Kampala and Entebbe there are also some great Boutique Hotels that may fit your budget and wishes for comfort.


Eating-out-in-KampalaEating out in Uganda – Restaurants:

Most likely you will not be cooking on your own unless you are like me and live here. If you are going to cook for yourself I can tell you where you will find a butchery and bakery that is reasonable and cuts meats in western ways. As far as eating out, there are some basic precautions that one must use in order to stay healthy.

Avoid food that is brought to you and is not hot, avoid buffets where candles are used for sauces, this is especially the case with some sauces that will attract all kinds of micro-organisms, avoid fruit salads, green salads, ice cubes, juices where water has been added unless it has been bottled or boiled water.

Spicy food does not mean you will not get sick. You do not want Amin’s revenge and be laid up in your lodging instead of enjoying Uganda. Avoid Street Vendors.

See the “Staying Well in Uganda” page.


Tipping in UgandaTipping-in-Uganda

Uganda is not a tipping culture country – however your tip will be gladlly accepted by a waiter, waitress, driver-guide, lodge or hotel staff during your time in Uganda.

What might surprise you is how much of an impact your tip left behind will have. It is also most appropriate to tip your driver-guide while on Safari and those those leading you on gorilla tracking or chimpanzee tracking and wildlife Game Drives.
Tipping may not be common in Uganda but as an ambassador of your country is  a good thing to practice.  The tip does not have to be large – keep in mind the low salaries that a waiter or waitress receives here in Uganda.

Your tip may pay his or her rent, pay a portion of the school fees or medical expenses.  Things that you may not realize when you are eating a meal in a restaurant.


Uganda-Safety-SecuritySafety and Security Advice and Tips for Uganda:

Be sensible and practical. Would you do this back in your own country? Uganda for the most part is safe and enjoyable.

Safety and Security is one of the things on the minds of travelers as they approach journeying to Uganda.

Uganda is one of the safest countries in Africa and Kampala one of its safest Capitals however it will be prudent to be wise especially when it comes to money.

Is Uganda safe for Travelers?

Safety Tips for Women Travelers in Uganda – Africa

Is it safe to track Gorillas in Uganda?

Safe Safaris in Uganda

Nightlife – Safety & Security


Uganda-Health-Tips-AdviceHealth Tips -Staying Well in Uganda:

When it comes health – most travelers do not become ill while in Uganda besides maybe some intestinal discomfort, none of our clients have ever come down with malaria for example and Uganda is presently Ebola – Free and there is also no present case of the Marburg Virus in Uganda

There are precautions to take before you arrive here and some things to do after you get here.

Most visitors to Uganda will get some immunizations prior to coming here and purchase a malaria regiment.  If you are coming from another country where there is yellow fever present you will need a yellow fever immunization.

If you are coming from a West African Country where there is Ebola presently you will have difficulty entering some East African countries, in other cases you may be monitored while in that country.
The Staying well in Uganda page has health tips and advice that you will find practical and make your trip to Uganda more enjoyable.
Preventing Malaria in Uganda


Mobile-phone-use-UgandaMobile – Cell Phones in Uganda:

You can bring an unlocked International Quad cell Phone with you and purchase a Ugandan Sim Card from MTN, UTL, AfriCell or Airtel.

International phone calls are at 20 cents a minute to places such as Europe, Asia and North America, at times there are country promotion such the US or UK, other times India and Pakistan.

You can even buy a local phone with sim-card for about 8 USD and give as a gift when you leave Uganda.

Phones can also be used to send or received money both in Uganda and Internationally – the latter uses Western Union which does have a price – in order to use the phone for sending or receiving money – an account is easily set up with your phone provider.

Every Ugandan in Kampala seems to have a phone – what is missing is airtime credit – a humorous look at Uganda’s Phone Culture


Internet-access-visitorsInternet Access in Uganda:

You can access at one of the many Internet cafe’s that you will find in Kampala and most larger Ugandan cities. Many hotels and guest houses will have internet access. WiFi is becoming more common and there are hotspots in Kampala. Some restaurants such as coffee shops will offer WiFi for their customers.

More and more Ugandans are accessing the Internet with smart phone and you can purchase data time for your smart phone or tablet.

You can also do something different if you need to have ongoing access to the Internet.

You can use your laptop and purchase a 3 or 4G USD dongle and if you are with a group you can even purchase a low-cost router that can facilitate up to 5 devices. Speeds can be up to 4G depending on the Network provider – MTN and Orange are the two best providers.


Electrical-Current-Plugs-UgandaElectrical Current and Plugs:

240 volts is the voltage in Uganda and you will need a UK plug. You can buy a converter plug that will make your appliance fit locally.

Power supply is iffy in Uganda – therefore it is best to stay in a hotel that has a generator system in place. Uganda can have extended power outages that last up to 12 hours. It is also good if you are using a laptop that you have a surge protector of one kind or another.
In Uganda you can easily buy electrical strips with outlets that will work with your devices.  If you are staying they might even have a powerstrip that will work your plugin

One thing to keep in mind – you might want to bring  a book light since nightstand lamps are often non-existent in Ugandan budger and moderately priced hotel.

Just keep in mind our power outages when choosing a hotel.


What-to-wear-in-Uganda What to wear in Uganda:

Ugandans in Kampala dress in style There is what you wear in town and what you wear on safari As Ugandans say “You are looking Smart”

When you come to visit Uganda one of the things that will amaze you is to see how well Ugandans dress in towns such as Kampala.

Short skirts such as mini-skirts – are not recommended -the style of dress for most of Africa is smart but conservative and that applies to women and mem.

Shorts – in Uganda the only people you will find in shorts are school-boys – though if you are a visitor – no such thing would ever be said.

It is good to have one more outfit with you for functions that you might attend such as church – a special dinner, etc.


The Weather and Climate in Uganda – East Africa Uganda-weather-climate

Uganda’s year around Holiday Weather – Is just another plus to visiting Uganda The Weather and Climate in Uganda Best Times of the Year to track Mountain Gorillas would be the dry seasons Uganda has the gift of Holiday weather year around.

There are two reasons, one is its location on the equator and the other reason is Uganda’s elevation. We have two rainy season, but even during them most would consider it Holiday Weather all – year long.

One of the nice things about Uganda is that the sun will come out even during the rainy seasons of the year.  For the most part we do not have dryers, or even washing machines – normally all laundry is done by hand and dries within hours when hanging on the line.

North of Masindi it is 5 degrees hotter than in Kampala, however in the Southwest of Uganda such as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest it can get quite cool at night and lodges give their guests hot-water bottles for a comfortable sleep.


ebola-marburg-virusUganda is Ebola Free:

Uganda as the rest of East African Union including Rwanda is Ebola. There is no case of Ebola in East or Central Africa presently. The USA has more cases than all of East and Central Africa. We understand the fears about people around the world fearing that all of Africa is infested with an Ebola Outbreak – We are over 5000 kilometers from the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa further than most European countries.

Uganda recently had one death from the Marburg Virus – almost a 100 people were isolated and observed all but 5 were released with no symptons of the virus – the remaining 5 will be quarantined bor 21 days and then released. I as an American living in Uganda feel quite safe and secure. The president has come out and asked people no to shake hands, not have casual sex, not to eat bushmeat including fruitbats, monkeys, chimpanzees – things that in West Africa are considered delicacies.  Uganda has been declared Marburg Free.


Going-on-Safari-in-UgandaGoing on Safari in Uganda:

Uganda is unlike any other Safari Destination in Africa – it is Africa in the authentic – magical Africa– it the the Pearl of Africa A safari in magical, authentic Africa means Uganda.
There is no other place that has as much to offer as the Pearl of Africa.

Uganda – the Pearl of Africa is the best all-around Safari country with wildlife plus Gorillas and Chimpanzees, African Cultures.

No matter what the reason for your coming to Uganda is – is certainly reason enough to go on a Safari.  You are in Africa – there is no reason not to go at least on Mini-Safari while in Uganda and catch a glimpse of the African Wild.

We can create a safari for you that will meet your budget and wishes.  We have taken groups as large as 40 on a safari in Uganda and would love to serve you.


Question about traveling to Uganda that you might have


Frequently asked Questions about Uganda Travel
Bradt Guide Uganda – a must read for Visitors to Uganda


“The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate upon Uganda – ‘The Pearl of Africa’.” Winston Churchill (My African Journey – 1908)


 

Rwanda-Uganda-Combine-the-best-of-Africa-650


 

Jon Blanc

You have our commitment to make your African Safari a successful one - Kabiza Wilderness Safaris does one thing only - create memorable Safaris in Uganda and Rwanda. We are the boutique safari tour operator of choice for Uganda and Rwanda and we will create for you a most memorable African Safari.