Know before you Go – Uganda Travel Tips and Practical Advice
Best Uganda Travel Tips and Advice for Visitors-Safari Travelers & Tourists to Uganda-the Pearl of Africa
Know before you go – Africa no matters 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 a saloon here, it is not for a drink but to get your hair done.
This Uganda Travel Tips and Advice for Visitors page is to make your time here an enjoyable one, 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 the Uganda Travel Tips and Advice for Visitors before you go.
Uganda will be a life-changing experience for most, no matter if you are coming as a business traveler, or going on a Safari with us.
Travel to anywhere can be stressful and wear one out rather quickly and often because 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. Uganda is a different experience and it is best to be prepared and to be in the Know before you Go.
For People Who Want to Know more about Uganda But Can’t Get Started – We try to inform you in one place.
Your Guide to Uganda Travel Tips and Advice for Visitors
Visiting Uganda in the light of the Kidnapping of an American Tourist April-2-2019:
When it comes to visiting Uganda in 2019 there is the Elephant in the room that has to be addressed. Am I safe visiting Uganda as a Tourist in 2019? Before one looks at anything else on this page, that question has to be answered in the mind of those considering coming to the Pearl of Africa on a Safari.
The Kidnapping of Kimberly Sue Endicott and her driver was a first, an isolated incident, yet it was in the headlines, on the internet, TV, Radio as news for well over a week. The incident was orchestrated by Ugandan Criminal, bad apples in one of the safest, secure, welcoming and friendliest countries in all of Africa, yet it was another brushstroke in the hands of the media that paints Africa, Uganda, as dangerous.
We live here and work here, have families that we care about and the safety, the security of our Clients on Safari is more important than the profit as a company. As an American in Uganda would I invite my son to come with his family and visit on a Safari? The answer is a resounding yes. Uganda has implemented both in cities, towns and its national Park an unprecedented level of Security for visitors and Ugandans alike. After President Trump tweeted about the kidnapping we felt compelled to even invite him on a Safari in Uganda (read our tongue in Cheek remarks).
It is the Pearl of Africa, it is an incredibly beautiful country, the most bio-diverse in Africa, it is the premier primate destination on the continent, it is home to the River Nile and its source, it is Africa, condensed into a small country, it has been bestowed countless Tourism Awards, though located on the Equator, it has Holiday like weather all year long.
Uganda – a country under the Radar of most African Travelers making it Africa without the Crowds -A country that should be on your Bucket List and there are many more reasons you should visit the Pearl of Africa.
Whatever your reason is to visit Uganda, you will find it safe, secure, stable and most of welcoming and friendly, besides its many natural wonders, there are its people, their rich traditions and Culture, all no wonder that Winston Churchill called Uganda, the Pearl of Africa..
Coming to Africa, coming to Uganda, takes a bit of preparation, a bit of planning and it is best to use the services of a tour company such as Kabiza Wilderness Safaris that will aid you to make your time in Uganda a pleasure.
Read up about Uganda, both on our Kabiza Wilderness Safaris (bookmark it) website which has lots of helpful information about Uganda which will be most helpful. However read out local newspapers, join us on facebook for daily updates about the Pearl of Africa.
Traveling to Africa is unlike any other trip you have ever taken, it is best to be ready.
Read books. we have some suggestions, read local newspapers, watch a few National Geographic Films, you might want to watch Gorillas in the Mist, or Out of Africa to get you ready for your Safari in Africa. Get to know a few things about Uganda on our Fun and Serious Facts about Uganda page.
Trip Preparation can be an enriching Experience
If you are coming to Uganda on Safari the traditional Way is to fly into Entebbe International Airport and explore the country from there.
What most do not realize is this. If you are coming to track Mountain Gorillas, then you might consider into flying into the unofficial Gateway to Southwest Uganda – Kigali International Airport. From there it is 3 hours to Mgahinga Gorilla park and 4 1/2 hours to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Our Fly into Rwanda and Trek Gorillas in Uganda has become a popular option for our clients.
Most of our clients that come to trek gorillas choose that option for convenience, depending on the Safari they may choose to fly out from Entebbe International Airport eliminating long drive-times. (Drive time to trek Gorillas is 9 hours.)
Arrival and Departure Airports depend on your Activities – we give a Choice in order to cut down Drive-Times
Practical Advice for Packing for Uganda- and the most practical is that you do not pack the kitchen sink – keep it down to the essentials starting with the reason you are coming to Uganda for. That can decide even the type of suitcase that you will need and use.
If you are coming for a Safari – you will need to pack differently than if you are coming as a volunteer or business visitor – however every visitor while visiting Uganda should make plans to spend a few days in the African Wild even on a mini-safari
How much you can pack is determined by which region of the world you are flying from since different regions have different allowances for suitcases.
Packing wisely is the key and if you are coming for a Safari or as a volunteer pack with purpose and pack some things such as deflated footballs, books, dolls, no candy please, stethoscope, blood pressure kits and more…pack wisely.
Africa is different from any part of the world, quite different from anywhere else in the world and it takes the practical common sense to get the most out your time in Uganda
Nothing is predictable but the wonders of Africa. Often the African ways may frustrate a Westerner. Things like lack of customer service – something improving, the indifference of wait-staff, hotel management at times can drive a Westerner crazy.
Just before you lose your patience with Ugandan who is not getting what you want or before losing your sense of humor- take a deep breath and realize that in many ways we may do things differently, but well have similar dreams of tomorrow. Hakuna Matata – you are on Africa Time.
*Rely on your practical Common Sense along with a dash of adventure and awe along with a sprinkle of patience and a sense of Humor:“
The most convenient Way for Tourists to obtain visas for Uganda is on arrival at the airport in Entebbe if you are flying. By land, you can obtain the Uganda Visa at any entry point into the country.
You can apply for the Uganda Tourism Visa online if you want everything settled prior to arrival. The process in our opinion is cumbersome compared to the visa on arrival, there are photos, uploads of itineraries, plus a Credit Card fee.
We update our visa information for Tourists as it changes that you will not be caught unaware when you reach Entebbe International Airport
For those continuing on to Rwanda – as of January 1 -2018 visas can be obtained at the point of entry. There is also the East African Visa that allows you to move freely between Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.
The East African Must be obtained from the first Country that you arrive in – Uganda, Rwanda or Kenya. Only Uganda issues the East African Visa on Arrival. Each country has its own set of Rules which is an unfortunate thing.
Do they Speak English in Uganda:
Ugandans might find that question amusing since the World Linguistic Society declared Uganda as the best English Speaking country in Africa to the chagrin of other East African Nations some of which did not even make the top 10 like Tanzania. Tourists that speak English will get along quite well in Uganda,
There are over 40 languages and various dialects spoken in Uganda but English is the official language, Kiswahili is the other one, but Swahili has a checkered past seen as the language of Soldiers and Prostitutes in Uganda. In recent years the use of Swahili has increased due to it being taught in Schools and commerce – if you want to do business in East Africa you need to know Swahili. Luganda is the language most often used in Kampala and the Central area of Uganda.
Uganda has its version of English that is called UgLish and it is good to know the meaning of some of the Words,
Uganda is a cash-based society where the US dollar reigns as the currency of choice, where the use of credit cards is limited because Traveller Cheques are not accepted everywhere and it is a cumbersome process to get them exchanged into Cash.
Credit Cards can 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 to make right the money choices, plus our page on money will give tips on keeping your cash safe on a Safari or visit Uganda.
You can use a credit card in many places, but there is a surcharge of 5% or more in most cases.
Know about Money before you, it is yours that you are protecting.
Safari Tips that are practical and that will avoid potential grief and frustration. We do not just sell safaris we tell you about what is best for you while on Safari with us in Uganda.
Know before you go is best here, packing the right things without over-packing. Knowing what to wear to various activities and choosing where to stay while on Safari and of course what to eat.
Be informed before you go, especially about your Safari, a tour operator such as ourselves is more interested in the outcome than the income of it.
Gorilla Trekkers will find a special section on the Safari Tips Page that will give all the information needed for a Gorilla Trekking Safari.
Eating out in Kampala Restaurants:
Avoid food that 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 is not boiled or bottled.
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 except for Musana Vendors.
Cholera rears its ugly head at times and lack of hygiene is often the culprit. Intestinal problems can be encountered anywhere in the world. They are best to avoid by making common sense choices for you.
Knowing Ugandan Culture, a bit of background and history would help, the concept of family, time, relationships, language, and traditions all enhance your time in Africa.
Uganda is a coffee country, some of the best coffee in Africa comes from here but Tea is the beverage of Choice. Here are some simple and practical tips that are important to coffee lovers advice visiting Uganda. Call it a survival guide for those coffee lovers needing that just right cup of morning joe.
Great coffee may be easily gotten in your country, but in Africa, in Uganda where coffee was born and is grown, it is not always the easiest.
In fact, at budget lodges, budget restaurants, you just might receive tepid water and instant coffee, that in our opinion is like dancing without music.
Some simple practical advice for coffee lovers that you may be glad you read before coming to the Pearl of Africa.
Often Instant Coffee may be served at budget or mid-range lodges but that is like Dancing without music to a lover of real coffee.
Can a Vegan or Vegetarian survive visiting Uganda? This question is frequently asked.
Ugandans are not Vegetarians by choice, but by the limit of their financial resources that make buying meat, fish, poultry expensive and it is to vegetables and fruit that they turn to.
Uganda – has lots of fruit to choose from – vegetables such as Broccoli, Cauliflower that was not readily available, great dark green Salad greens are now available here and there and lodges are growing their own.
We have had many vegetarians or vegans on Safari with us in Uganda and they all had a delightful time and we were able to able to create an itinerary for them that including Hotels and lodges where their dietary needs were met in a most satisfactory way.
Can a Vegetarian or Vegan survive in Uganda – Gorillas do…
Uganda is not a tipping culture country – however, your tip will be gladly 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 will have. It is also customary to tip your driver-guide while on Safari and 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.
Some Safari Tour Operators publish lists as to what tips and the size of them are expected. We do not, Tipping is not an obligatory thing, but a reward for good service.
Tipping in a non-tipping culture is an investment in a Ugandan and their family
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 handling.
A night out on the town in Kampala is best done with a Ugandan at your side.
Be aware of a few things that will protect your valuables. If you are on safari it is the safest place to be 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.
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 buy a malaria regiment. All Travelers to Uganda are required to have a yellow fever immunization certificate in order to enter Uganda.
The Staying well in Uganda page has health tips and advice that you will find practical and make your trip to Uganda more enjoyable.
The most common illness travelers come down with is Idi Amin’s revenge, some sort of intestinal ailment. No one with us on Safari has ever come down with Malaria for example.
This has become a lot easier over the years. Most Hotel, lodges have varying quality of WiFi available to their guests. We still have clients who choose their Safari unplugged from it all.
Most rely on their smartphone, tablet which on safari and Skype will work and you no longer have to buy a local Sim Card, which has become more difficult for visitors to Uganda. You can use WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, Twitter.
Not all lodges are equal when it comes to WiFi some are slow, others work intermittently. Towers are not always near a lodge, however, most of our clients manage to stay in touch with home.
The smartphone is revolutionizing Africa, including Uganda. Mobile Money has become a form of banking here besides communication. Visitors that our visitors can use one of our registered sim cards while on safari if they have an unlocked phone. It works out great for most.
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.
The 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 power strip 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 budget and moderately priced hotel. Alternative read books on a Kindle App or Device.
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 men.
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 formal functions that you might attend such as the church – a special dinner, etc.
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 place on the equator and the other reason is Uganda’s elevation. We have two rainy seasons, 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.
There are some things you simply want to avoid in Uganda like crossing the road in Kampala, or passing through Kampala as your safari ends on the way to the airport at rush hour, or should we say Gridlock hour that lasts from 4 pm to 10 pm. You also want to avoid Self-Drive, Night Driving, it simply not safe. Speaking of Driving or being driven you want to avoid the leading cause of emergency room admission in Uganda, the Boda Boda Motorcycle Taxi – and a close second the minibus taxi which is not a taxi at all but a mini-bus with 14 passengers.
You might consider avoiding the nightlife scene, the one potential cause of problems for you in regards to safety and security, especially when you hang around with a mosquito girl whose sting may have lifelong effects.
Avoid Street food, unless it is from a Musana Food Cart, tap water for drinking. The list goes = best that you look it up yourself.
Here are the Top-Tips for Women Travelers to Africa – to Uganda. Tips that will keep you safe and secure while in Uganda on a Holiday.
The safest way is for women traveler is to be on a Safari with a company such as ourselves where our Driver-Guides act as almost a guardian-angel to ensure your well-being on Safari.
There are many things you might want to know, need to know about Traveling in Africa, it its Pearl as a woman, out site will have most of the information and the tips for women travelers will give you all that you need to make your African Holiday in Uganda safe and secure.
Learn about when and where to get your visa for Uganda, what to leave at home and what to bring. Enjoy your time here.
Uganda, the Pearl of Africa is a landlocked country however it has a lake that is as large as a Sea, the tallest Mountain Range, the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon, Kidepo Valley Park, remote, unvisited, Africa as it used to be 50 years ago in the lands of the Karamojong Warriors – Herders, the remote Ik People on Mount Morungole where the only Trail is a footpath.
Murchison Falls Park, that has a river run through it, the River Nile, a combination of abundant wildlife and the most powerful waterfall in the world, Murchison Falls, There is Queen with its Tree Climbing Lions and explosion crater lakes, Kibale Forest Jungle with the largest Chimpanzee Population in East Africa and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with the highest concentration of endangered Mountain Gorillas.
It is no wonder that Winston Churchill popularized the term of Pearl of Africa. Why Visit Uganda, the above does not even scratch the surface of the most bio-diverse country in Africa, Uganda.
We love to assist you in discovering Uganda in the near future with its primates, birds, wildlife, scenic wonders
Top Things you must experience in Uganda:
Many of our Clients and they like to read about Uganda before and during their time here.
We have selected a few books from Amazon for your reading pleasure. Most are kindle books, not packing needed.
Any profits go buying books for children, Uganda has not yet developed a reading culture. There are not many bookstores that you can find here.
You can find fiction, non-fiction about Uganda and some about Rwanda.
We are adding books on a weekly basis, all the books that we have read ourselves that we think you will enjoy.
Enjoy Uganda before you even arrive by reading a book about the Pearl of Africa including Winston Churchill’s “My African Journey.”
Kabiza Wilderness Safaris – we know Uganda – we Live Here:
We are a Tour Company, but beyond that, we are passionate about the Pearl of Africa and our favorite pastime is to take visitors to the places in Uganda that are dear to our heart. Places where we have experienced up-close the Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Golden Monkeys, Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Giraffe.
We like Winston Churchill, concentrate of Uganda the Pearl of Africa and its neighbor, Remarkable Rwanda, they are not places on a map to us, but places where we have experienced the Heart of Africa at its best.
“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)