The Unofficial Informational Guide to Uganda
Get to Know Uganda before you Arrive with our Informational Guide to Uganda
Welcome to the Informational Guide to Uganda where you find the information that you need if you plan to visit, go on a Safari in the Pearl of Africa. This small country in the Heart of Africa, is African condensed into a small country the size of Oregon filled with scenery such as the Western Rift Valley, the Crater Lakes of Western Uganda, the River Nile, Lake Victoria, the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon, the vastness of the most remote park in Uganda ringed by Mountains, Kidepo Valley Park, the Virunga Volcanoes and Mount Elgon and Sipi Falls.
Uganda is home to Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Golden Monkeys, Wildlife in abundance including Tree Climbing Lions, more Bird Species than most African Countries, the largest Fresh Water Fish in Africa – the mighty Nile Perch and more.
Uganda is also its 38 million people with over half of the population being under 15. Uganda is the most diverse country in Africa and Ugandans are rates as some of the most welcoming and friendliest people in Africa.
Your Informational Guide to Uganda – The Pearl of Africa
Uganda is part of what is referred to as the Great Lake Region – Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. Uganda is a landlocked country but shares a large part of the second largest lake in the world – Lake Victoria.
Though landlocked we have our own Mini-Zanzibar Islands called the Ssese Islands which are among the best hidden islands in the World – an archipelago of 84 islands including the sun-kissed Bulago Island a few minutes south of the Equator.
A large portion of Uganda straddles the Equator and yet the climate is pleasant due to the elevation of the country.
Getting to this landlocked country in the heart of Africa has become a lot easier as tourism has increased and more and more airlines have included Uganda as one of their African Destinations.
One of the things that makes Uganda unique is its topography – Uganda is made up of what can be called a plateau and that plateau is dotted with highlands which includes the tallest Mountain Range – the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon-the Virunga Volcanoes in the Southwest and in the East, Mount Elgon, what was once Africa’s tallest mountain until it blew its top off.
The Western – Albertine Rift runs through much of Western Uganda and you can see the evidence of it such as at Murchison Falls National Park where the Nile drops it 44 meters and flows into Lake Albert, other evidence of it can be seen in the Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve , Semliki Valley and Queen Elizabeth Park including the Kyambura Gorge.
Western Uganda is dotted with scenic Explosion Crater Lakes and in Queen Elizabeth Park you can take the most scenic Explosion Crater Drive which is the highest point of the park and you can look down the Albertine Rift and see the vast Savannah of Queen Elizabeth Park.
The bio-diversity of Uganda is simply amazing and can only be experienced when you visit the Pearl of Africa.
There are over 60 ethnic people groups that make up Uganda – in the Central – South and Southwest they are mostly of Bantu origin – Luganda is a common language – and the languages are Bantu in origin.
in the North the people are mostly of Nilotic origin and so are their (often variations of Luo) languages – there are over 70 different dialects.
Some tribal groups such as Baganda have a traditional cultural leader and in their case he is called a Kabaka – King – he is the best known cultural leader in Uganda.
You can visit some of the Buganda Kingdom Heritage site in Kampala and other nearby locations. English is the official language throughout Uganda – Swahili has also been declared an official language but is not commonly spoken in much of Uganda except the North.
Tribal Groups and Villages you can visit in Uganda for a better cultural understanding – North East Uganda near Kidepo Valley Park – the Ik People living in the Morungole Mountains – the Karimajong Warrior-Nomads near Kidep Valley Park the Bwatwa people near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Village Visits can also be done in Buhoma – outside of Bwindi Impenetrable Foest – Ruboni in the Rwenzori Mountain Foothills, Boomu near Murchison Falls and Bigodi Village near Kibale Forest to name just a few,
The Church of Uganda (Anglican) make up a large segment of society and in the case of Uganda it is evangelical. Catholics make up the largest part of Christians in Uganda, the Born Again Churches (Pentecostal for the most part) have made great inroads and their churches are filled with vibrant and dedicated worshipers.
On Fridays you can see many Muslims on their way to their Mosque – there is a sizable Muslim population in Uganda (12%) – however the various groups live in a state of peaceful co-existence. Kampala is also home to the only Baha’i Temple in Africa – though there are only a small number of Ugandans that are Baha’i.
Orthodox Christian Churches can also be found here. For the Indian population there are both Sikh and Hindu Temples found both in Kampala and Jinja.
One Religious Place not to is the “Namugongo Martyrs Shrine.”
Traditional Beliefs are still practiced often along Christian and Muslim Beliefs.
Uganda the Republic:
Uganda gained independence on October 9th, 1962 from Great Britain under which it had been a protectorate unlike Kenya which had been a colony and gained a lot of settlers from UK – Uganda did not.
Uganda gained Independence in 1962 and the early years had a lot of ups and downs including the rule of Idi Amin.
Today the National Resistance Movement has been in power since 1986 and President Museveni is up for election for another five years by an overwhelming margin – during the next election where he is running again he will have been president of Uganda for 30 years.
Technically Uganda is a multi-party state – in reality it works out a bit difference. At times people may criticize the Ugandan system – however Uganda has enjoyed stability and peace and that is more important to many Ugandans who are raising families than the chaos that might be the alternative. Democracy is worked out the African way in a cultural context and it is often different from what you might be used to – however in Uganda we have peace, stability and security.
Uganda’s population is now over 38 million people – some claim 38 million – the size of the State of Oregon but six times as many people as Oregon has. The size of the Ugandan population has its benefits, however on the other side is the need for land. Renting is not how Ugandans want to live out their lives. They want their own land property and that often leads to land-grabbing moving into protected areas and presents and will present a real challenge of the Government of Uganda.
Uganda is also one of the youngest nation in the world – over half of its population is under the age of 15 years. Life expectancy is between 53 and 55 years – you will not find many in their 80’s.
The city that started out on 7 hills and now has spread to many others – there are over 2.2 million residents in Kampala – Kampala being the capital and commercial center of Uganda. It is 1400 meters above sea level – it is a buzzing city and filled with vehicles and the corresponding traffic.
Over the years it has modernized and many modern up-market hotels can be found here, also banks, commercial buildings are all found here – a most amazing city that never sleeps or seems not to sleep.
Kampala has many attractions near and in Kampala itself. You will love the hustle and bustle of Kampala – simply amazing
Other towns include Arua, Entebbe, Jinja, Kasese, Masaka, Mbale, Mbarara, Soroti, Gulu.
Uganda – The Pearl of Africa is regaining the luster There is no other country in Africa – like Uganda – the Pearl of Africa Uganda is a country that affected even the early explorers. They were amazed by its beauty, its natural wonders, its people.
When more modern travel became available it was Winston Churchill who came here and traveled throughout Uganda and was amazed by what he found popularizing “The Pearl of Africa,” and that was without tracking chimpanzees and mountain gorillas.
Today Uganda is still the pearl of Africa -its scenic wonders have not changed since Winston Churchill came to visit in 1907 – Enjoy the Pearl of Africa in the heart of Africa.
Uganda Fun Factoids – Things to know before you Visit Uganda such as Uganda is the youngest nation in the world.
Uganda grows and consumes more Bananas than any other African Country. The small nation of Uganda is number two in the world when it comes to Bananas and there are over 50 varieties found in Uganda.
The best Pineapple in the world is found in Uganda.
Tourism is Uganda’s number one Money Earner.
On a negative note – Ugandans drink more alcohol per head than any other African nation, except Nigeria- the World Health Organization has rated Uganda number 1 in the world and most of it is homemade.
The Things to do and see while in Uganda – This includes what you can do within the Wildlife Parks and Reserves but goes beyond and includes Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja, the Ssese Islands. some of Uganda’s Scenic Lakes and more.
People often include Uganda in their African Safari Itinerary because of the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees found in Uganda.
Uganda is much more than Mountain Gorillas – Chimpanzees as you will see as you take a look at “Things to do and See in Uganda.”
Biking and Hiking Safaris have grown in popularity. Rwenzori Mountains Foothill Hikes and the Volcano Climbs are being done by more and more people as are the dugout canoe safaris on Lake Mutanda and Lake Bunyonyi.
Uganda has many cultural offerings throughout the country that visitors can enjoying while visiting the Pearl of Africa.
When you are Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest you can also visit Villages on guided Village Walks and find out what local life is like. You can also visit the Forest with the original people of the area – the hunter – gatherers – the Batwa People.
If you are visiting Kidepo Valley Park – you can climb up the Morungole Mountains and meet the small Ik Tribe and in the Valley below you can spend time with the Nomadic Warrior Tribe – the Karamojong people.
Throughout Uganda you can get in touch with Authentic Africa – the various cultures of Uganda.
Uganda is Africa and Ugandan Culture is quite different the various Western Cultures such as in your home country.
Things are done differently in Uganda than what you might be used to in your home country. Take Greetings – even if you are here on business – greetings are normally started with a handshake – inquire about family and they are rather lengthy – here one is not just to the point and down to business.
Affection in public is something that is just not done, only in the home. Emotions such as anger show that you have no self-control.
Direct confrontation – again a no-no – here you give the other person you are taking a way out. Time in Uganda – it is Africa Time and you may have to simply wait.
You might speak English, but come from a far away county such as Ireland, the south of the USA, from Australia or New Zealand or you might speak English as a second language coming from Germany, Italy or India.
You assume that everyone who speaks English will understand you, not necessarily so. There are nuances, different uses of words, there is the speed with which you might speak or that a Ugandan will use all making a conversation even if your mother tongue is one form of English or another hard to understand.
There is also some social etiquette involved, we might be used to being direct and to the point because here conversation is relational and you being to the point will seem rude to a Uganda.
Learn how express yourself – Ugandan Style.
English is one of the official languages of Uganda. However the English that you may encounter at times can leave you perplexed, You have heard one things such as “I am going to make a short-call” which logically to you may mean a phone call, however in Uganda it means going to the Bathroom.
No matter where in the world English is spoken, over time that English of that particular country develops a unique local flavor and so it has in Uganda and here it is known as Uglish.
Here is just one example of Uglish – Ugandan English:
You are lost
You enter a home, an establishment such as a restaurant and are greeted with “You are lost.” It is the same as “I’ve missed you” or “have not seen you for a long time.” Welcome to Uglish…
Simple Luganda Phrases that you can use in the Central Area of Uganda and that includes Kampala. Ugandans will appreciate when you address them in Luganda – you will make instant friends.
Here is just one example:
Important Ugandan Greetings in Luganda:
In the morning you just do not say Good morning but how was your night? When someone comes back from a days work one will ask, how was your day? and the same in the evening.
- Good Morning: Wasuze otya nno?
- Good afternoon or Good Evening: Osiibye otya nno?
Ugandans in Kampala dress in style and pride themselves to some of the most fashion conscious people in East Africa. Even though many may buy second-hand clothing – they have a real knack at looking what is called in Uganda “smart.”
Smart and yet conservative is the rule of the day – if you are coming on business “how you dress” will determine how you are received – business attire is on the formal side.
Shorts or short skirts during the day are not recommended. In Uganda for the most part the only ones wearing shorts – are schoolboys.
Women may wear mini-skirts during the day but most often the mini-skirt is worn over leggings or pants such as jeans. In 2014 a law was passed against indecent dress – however it is another law in Uganda that is not enforced, all you have to do is to go out to one of the night-host-spots and you will see that the law is ignored. What you will wear on Safari is different than if you are staying in town.
Travel Tips and advice for the Ugandan traveler, whether Business or Pleasure related.
Here you will find most of the information that you will need in regards to travel to and inside of Uganda. Most everything that a traveler may want to know, from safety and security to visa tips are found there.
Explore and Discover Uganda before you arrive in the Pearl of Africa and enjoy the country prior to stepping off the plane in Entebbe.
The one mistake that many visitors to Uganda make is not knowing more about the country that they are about to visit.
Uganda -Information and Guide for Visitors -All About Uganda the Pearl of Africa – if you have any questions about a Safari in Uganda, Travel to Uganda – Please ask us.
“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)