Know before you Go – Your Uganda Travel Tips and Advice for Visitors
Uganda – Know Before you – Here are the Essentials that you need to Know Before you Go to Uganda- the Pearl of Africa
Uganda Travel Tips and Advice for Visitors and Tourists on Safari. It is Know before you go. Africa, no matters what your background or your country of origin is, is different. Uganda often called the Pearl of Africa, is very different than how most visitors perceive Uganda to be.
Winston Churchill called Uganda- a fairy tale, where the people were different than anywhere else in all of Africa.
Uganda then as now is like an African fairytale. Biodiverse Uganda is Africa condensed into one small country, the size of the State of Oregon.
The Uganda that awaits you is Welcoming, Friendly, Safe, Secure, and Stable for Visitors. Safe Visits, Safe Safaris, Safe Gorilla Treks are the norm and not the exception.
Ugandan Hospitality means that you are welcome. It means taking responsibility for your well-being while you are in our Home, the Pearl of Africa. The concept of African hospitality is far beyond, offering you a refreshing drink. It means that you are part of the community, the family, and while here, we are responsible for you. That is, how we, as a tour operator, treat our Clients.
The Reality is that many arrive in Uganda, and they find how they were wrong about Uganda. Many see Uganda through the prism of its lingering past, the Myths, and lingering Ghosts of Idi Amin. Nothing could be further from what they find on arrival in the Pearl of Africa.
Our Uganda Travel Tips and Advice for Visitors to Uganda is for you to get to know Uganda before you Go. To understand the essentials of traveling to and in Uganda on a Safari.
Uganda, Africa, as you might imagine it only Better. Enjoy the Pearl of Africa; there is only one.
Uganda – Know Before you Go- The Essentials You Need to Know
Practical Uganda Travel Tips and Advice for Visitors and Tourists on Safari.
Uganda is the premier primate destination on the continent where affordability is an attraction
Whatever your reason for wanting to visit Uganda, you will find it safe, secure, stable. Uganda is the most welcoming and friendly. Ugandan, with their rich traditions and Culture, make your time here most enjoyable. It is no wonder that Winston Churchill called Uganda the Pearl of Africa.
Uganda, overlooked by many has created its own niche in the Travel Industry. Affordability has turned Uganda into the Premier Gorilla and Primate Destination in Africa. While here for Primates Tourists fall in love with the rest of Uganda.
If you are coming to Uganda on Safari, the traditional way is to fly into Entebbe International Airport and explore the country from there.
If you are coming to track Mountain Gorillas, then you might consider flying into the unofficial Gateway to Southwest Uganda – Kigali International Airport. From there, it is a three-hour drive to Mgahinga Gorilla Park and four hours to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Our Fly into Rwanda and Trek Gorillas in Uganda has become a popular option for our clients.
Arrival and Departure Airports depend on your Activities – we give a Choice to cut down Drive-Times
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 the River Nile is running through it. The Park has 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.
Uganda’s year around Holiday Weather is an added plus for visitors to the Pearl of Africa. Uganda, though on the equator, has a temperate climate due to its elevation, vast lakes, and mountains.
The best months of the year are June through September and December through March. Even during its two rainy seasons, the sun still comes out each day.
The Benefit of taking a safari during the off-season is that there will be fewer people, more permits, more choices at lodges. A reason that some choose April, May, and November er.
Gorilla Trekking takes place in a Rainforest, meaning that it can rain any time of the year.
Practical Advice for Packing for Uganda, we suggest to keep it down to the essentials. Start with the reason you are coming to Uganda. That will 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. Every visitor, while visiting Uganda, should make plans to spend a few days in the African Wild even on a mini-safari.
Packing the right stuff should be on your mind. If you are coming for a Safari or as a volunteer pack with purpose, pack some things such as deflated footballs, books, dolls, no candy please, stethoscope, blood pressure kits, and more.
Suggestion: Pack some face masks for Gorilla and Chimpanzee and protect the great apes of Uganda.
The most convenient Way for Tourists to obtain visas is on arrival at the airport in Entebbe if you are flying. By land, you can get the Uganda Visa at any entry point into the country.
You can apply for the Uganda Tourism Visa online if you want everything settled before 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.
The preferred Way by most of our Clients is the Visa on Arrival. Very few choose the online option.
If you are visiting other East African counties such as Kenya or Rwanda, then the East African Must be obtained from the first Country that you arrive in. Uganda issues the East African Visa on Arrival. Each country has its own set of rules, which is an unfortunate thing.
Safety and Security is one of the things on the minds of travelers coming to visit Uganda on a Safari.
Uganda is one of the safest countries in Africa, and Kampala is 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.
Security is wrapped up in the concept of African Hospitality. It means taking responsibility for your well-being while you are in our Home, the Pearl of Africa. The idea of African hospitality is far beyond offering you a refreshing drink. It means that you are part of the community, the family, and while here, we are responsible for you. That is, how we, as a tour operator, treat our Clients.
Uganda is a cash-based society where the US dollar reigns as the currency of choice. The official currency is the Uganda Shilling, however most Tourist Activities, Hotels, Lodges, Tour Operators ask for payment in US Dollars.
The use of credit cards is growing but still limited, though the government is trying to make it more popular.
Traveler Cheques are not accepted in many places, and it is a cumbersome process to get them exchanged.
Credit Cards can be used, but typically there is a 5% fee when you use a credit card. ATMs are located in major towns. Have a Visa ATM Card – Master Card can be used at limited banks, forget American Express Cards with ATMs. If you plan to use a credit card in Uganda, notify your bank that you will be doing so.
Safest Way a for a traveler is to use an ATM Machine for money instead of bringing large amounts of cash with you.
Can I 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. 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 used in commerce.
You will find the meals a delight in Uganda. Uganda is Africa’s Tropical Food Basket. Organically grown Vegetables are abundant, and its Beverages from Tea and Coffee to the much stronger Waragi will awaken your taste buds.
Some lodges and hotels serve of all things, instant coffee. Take a look at our Coffe Lover Survival Kit, and it will save the day.
If you like Beef, the Ankole Cattle provide the lowest cholesterol Beef on the planet without being tough. Most meals and lodges will be African Fusion Meals that you will enjoy for taste and presentation.
Enjoy your meals while in Uganda, and yes, Vegetarians and Vegans are welcome.
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 familiar 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.
In Uganda, Tipping is not a necessary thing, but a reward for excellent service.
When it comes to health, most travelers do not become ill while in Uganda. Some may develop 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 before coming here and buy a malaria regiment. All Travelers to Uganda are required to have a yellow fever immunization certificate 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.
Rarely do travelers come down with an illness. At times there are some that may contract some intestinal disturbances, that we call Idi Amin’s revenge.
There are some things you 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 naturally not safe. Boda Boda Motorcycle Taxis are the leading cause of emergency room admission in Uganda. A close second the minibus taxis, which is not a taxi at all but a mini-bus with 14 passengers.
You might consider avoiding the nightlife scene, which is the one potential cause of problems for visitors. This is especially true if you hang around with a mosquito girl whose sting may have lifelong effects.
How are the Roads in Uganda?
The roads have been greatly improved over the past. Access roads to parks are being worked on as you read this. Game drives anywhere in East Africa are not on tarmac roads.
That would no longer be an African Safari, but a drive through a wildlife park in the US or elsewhere.
Roads can be dusty; after a rain shower, it might be like driving in the snow. Our driver-guides know what they are doing.
Most take it in as part of the safari, the journey. Few have complained about it, but we, do not want to skip a topic that might want to spend a lot more money since Safari flights tend to run quite high here compared to commercial aviation. We do our best to keep drive-times to a minimum.
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.
Westerners are often straight to the point. Things are not that way in Uganda. Everything in Uganda begins with a lengthy greeting.
Ugandans have a different concept of time. The style of Conversations and communication will often be culturally diverse from your country.
Even if you commit a cultural mistake, most often, you will be quickly forgiven. The best thing you can do is come to learn what life is like for Ugandans.
It is good to know some of the Cultural nuances in Uganda before you arrive.
It has become a lot more accessible over the years. Most Hotels, lodges have different 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. Transmission Towers are not always near a lodge. However, most of our clients manage to stay in touch with home.
What about Electricity?
Two hundred forty 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 useful 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 the Ugandan budget and moderately priced hotels. Alternative read books on a Kindle App or Device.
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; we concentrate on Uganda, the Pearl of Africa that we have experienced, know, and love.
We know Uganda, not just about it. We know it; we do not need a GPS Device. We do not need a google map, we have it imprinted inside of us, we know each, and the experiences found there.
“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)