Uganda is situated in East Africa and it is bordered by Sudan in the North, Kenya in the East, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the West, Tanzania and Rwanda in the South. With diverse wildlife and stunning sceneries, Uganda is worth visiting but unfortunately many travelers are left out with stress due to inadequate information.
Below are some of the travel tips for travelers to Uganda.
Preparing to Visit Uganda
Traveling to Uganda requires a bit of preparation, planning and it is perfect to use tour agents or tour companies and public transportation that are readily available to help you have a memorable safari. There are several comfortable buses, taxis, VIP vans and many tour vans or alternatively use motorcycles for short distances. You can also choose to do a self drive especially for frequent visitors. Visiting Uganda is incomparably the loveliest experience in life especially if you have taken time to watch some of the national geographical films that gets you a chance to know the unique and abundant wildlife to be enjoyed while in your safari.
What to pack on your Trip
In many times, we get confused like travel needs us to get ourselves along with kitchen items and yet it is not a case for Uganda. You need to pack appropriately specifically putting the essential things first, consider why you are visiting Uganda and begin from there and at the end this will determine the kind of suit case that you use. For those traveling for a safari you should pack differently from those coming for volunteer or business reasons. There is need for you pack wisely especially if you are interested in a safari or volunteer, among other things that you should pack include the deflated footballs, books, dolls but exclude sweets.
Flying into Uganda
Entebbe International Airport is a gateway to Uganda’s travelers from international countries. There are many airlines that are operating within the airport across Africa. Every year many visitors come for different reason including volunteer work, business and leisure safaris among others. Most importantly, many of them travel purposely to view the mountain gorillas, birds, chimpanzees, golden monkeys, white water rafting experiences at the source of the Nile, scenic views and several magnificent wildlife species. While at the airport, there are also airport taxis to take you up to the capital city Kampala which about 40 kilometers and you pay around $50 and in most cases tourists are picked by their respective tour drivers. You can as well, fly to national parks in Uganda.
For international flights, you can use British Airways (BA), Brussels Airlines (SN), Delta Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines (ET), Emirates (EK), Egypt Air (MS), Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch airlines, Qatar airways, RwandAir (WB), South African Airways, Turkish Airlines, fly Dubai, fly sax and Fastiet (FN). For charter flights, there is Asante Aviation, Eagle air and Aero link Uganda.
Entry and Exit Requirements
You should have a valid passport to allow you enter into Uganda and the expiry date should extend about 6 months and more. Visas are also vital except for countries within the East African Community. They can be obtained at any Uganda Embassy or High Commissions around you. You can also purchase them on your arrival at Entebbe International Airport or at the border stations. Make sure you get or confirm in advance that the airlines will allow you to board without necessarily using the visa. You can also obtain Uganda Tourist Visa that covers Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
Concerning Uganda’s money
Uganda is a cash based country and the US dollar is also mainly used as currency of choice but credit cards are limitedly used while the cheques are also not all that recommended as its hard to exchange them into cash. The credit cards can also be utilized and in most cases there is a 5% when a traveler uses a credit card. There are also ATM machines around many towns while visa ATM cards, Master Cards can also be used in some of the banks.
Uganda has a wide range of accommodation facilities right from back packer hostels to high end hotels. If you are in Kampala, there are also luxury hotels and modern conferencing facilities for you spend a night. There are chain hotels, up market game lodges, B and B, bush camps, beach resorts, cabins, chalets and campsites as well distributed in main towns and remote national parks in Uganda.
There are many restaurants that you can get into and have meals and definitely no need for you to cook. However, take note of the precautions and advise that will be offered to you concerning eating out while in Uganda. Avoid eating cold food, buffets, fruit salads, green salads, ice cubes and juices where water has been added a part from bottled or boiled water. You should also take care of eating from vendors.
For coffee lovers, Uganda being a back born of coffee there is no need to worry about having a cup or two but most importantly you should take time to read prior taking a safari. There are decent hotels and restaurants that serve diverse cuisines like African Continental, Chinese, English, French, Italian, Korean, Indian, Lebanese, Turkish and others.
For vegetarians, they can also find lots of fruits and other vegetables that will make their stay memorable.
Ugandans have no tipping culture but you can do so and proudly we shall appreciate your effort as you support the staff members like waiters, waitresses, driver guide, lodge or any hotel staff or the tour guides during your chimpanzee and gorilla safaris or wildlife safari. By so doing, you would have a positive impact on lives of many although you won’t realize it by yourself.
Safety and security
Safety starts with clients themselves and you should be sensible and practical. Uganda is safe and secure and many travelers enjoy their stay in the country till they return and even hope to make return journeys. Ensure you don’t carry valuable items at night or dark hours especially in dark areas around Kampala.
In terms of health in Uganda, there are no cases that have been recorded about illness for most travelers. Visitors are provided with precautions for them to follow on their arrival and things to do after getting into the country. You can get immunization before traveling or purchase some malaria regiment. For those from countries where a case of yellow fever is registered, you will be required to take a yellow fever immunization. For adventurous activities like mountain climbing, hiking, gorilla trekking, white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking that tend to pose some risks, you need to take care and caution and in most cases you must be physically fit and healthier.
You can access also receive medication from private hospitals and clinics that operate twenty four hours. Where possible, you are advised to insure yourself with most of travel agencies in the United States.
You need unlocked international quad cell phone and you can buy the Ugandan sim card from MTN, UTL, Africell or Airtel. International phone calls cost 20 cents per minute to area like Europe, Asia and North America but in most cases some countries you can chance promotions especially for US or UK or India and Pakistan. A local sim card can be purchased at $8. You can as well send or receive money both in Uganda and internationally especially using Western Union.
In most of the restaurants that you will be go for your meals and coffee or hotels that you will be residing, you will be provided with Wi-Fi. You ought to have a smart phone or a laptop and then buy a 3 or 4 G USD dongle and if you are in a group the cost reduces and you also chance to get around 5 devices.
Electrical Current and Plugs
Uganda’s voltage is 240 volts and travelers require a UK plug. You will purchase your converter plug which will fit into your appliances. Note that power in Uganda is on and off and staying in a hotel is important since most of them have stand by generators.
For information on accommodation, travel and places to visit, you can reach to Uganda Tourist Board (UTB), 4 Wind or Crescents, Kololo-Kampala or check www.visituganda.com. Alternatively, you can check on updates from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
What to Wear
For gorilla tracking, you need long sleeved shirts or T-shirts, rain jackets, hats, walking shoes (water proof). You need lighter clothing for Kampala and savannah areas, professional climbing gear for Rwenzori hikes and others. Never forget to bring binoculars for bird watching and then a good camera for photo taking.
The Weather and Climate
Uganda can be visited through out the year. For gorilla tracking it is advisable to travel during the dry season but even wet season visitors can still track the gorillas. There are two wet seasons that are experienced in Uganda; March to April and from October to November.
In conclusion, travel tips are vital as they guide many travelers who wish to achieve their long dreams in Uganda. There is no need to miss experiences of a life time as Uganda’s biodiversity and adventure activities a wait for you!