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Uganda

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Speke Hotel
Speke Hotel - dream vacation

Plot 7-9 Nile Avenue, Kampala

Forest Cottages
Forest Cottages - dream vacation

Plot 17/ 18, Naguru Hill, Old Kira Road, Kampala

Humura Resorts
Humura Resorts - dream vacation

Plot 3 Kitante Close, Kololo, Kampala

Uganda is a country in East Africa. It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the southwest by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. Famously called the Pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill, it is home to one of the most diverse and concentrated ranges of African fauna including the highly endangered mountain gorilla and the endangered common chimpanzee.

Regions

Cities and towns

  • Kampala — a bustling African capital. It is the only 'city' in Uganda
  • Arua — located in the NW corner of the country, reached by daily flights from Entebbe Airport or by bus from Kampala
  • Entebbe — a collection of some upmarket residential streets and a slew of government offices on the shores of Lake Victoria, dominated by State House, the official residence of the Ugandan President. The location of Uganda's only international airport, about one hour south of Kampala by road
  • Jinja — located on Lake Victoria at the source of the Nile and home to Nile Beer
  • Fort Portal — a clean and well-organised highland town surrounded by extensive tea plantations, a number of fine colonial buildings and a superb Rwenzori backdrop
  • Gulu — Gulu is the de facto capital of the north
  • Mbarara — a southwestern town en route to several national parks
  • Kabale — a small town in the far south of the country near Lake Bunyonyi
  • Kisoro — located in the extreme southwest corner of Uganda next to the borders with Rwanda and DR Congo. It is the closest large town to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Other destinations

  • Ajai Game Reserve - fairly small reserve on the east bank of the Albert Nile
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park - with half of the world's population of mountain gorillas, this is the main place to see them
  • Mgahinga Gorilla National Park - a bit off the beaten track, this park is home to the beautiful Virunga Mountains as well as to its own gorilla troop and a range of other wildlife
  • Kidepo Valley National Park - located in the extreme NE corner of Uganda on the South Sudan border. Incredible wildlife here that comes right up to the Apoka Lodge. Elephant, zebra, nile buffalo, kob often visit the lodge.
  • Murchison Falls National Park - along the river Nile, this excellent park offers great wildlife and bird watching and is home to the striking and powerful Murchison Falls.
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park has several parts to it, but the main section between Lake Edward and Lake George is a more concentrated version of East African parks as far as animals are concerned, although with less splendid vistas unless the mist-shrouded Ruwenzori Mountains are visible. The Ugandan Kob is an endemic antelope (and is on the coat of arms along with the crested crane, including on currency). Worth considering is a drive among volcanic crater lakes on the south edge of the Ruwenzori Range. Kazinga Channel has the greatest concentration of Hippos in Africa in this park and the park is home to the famous tree climbing lions.
  • Kibale Forest National Park near the town of Fort Portal is famed for chimpanzee tracking and is highly recommended. Twitchers will know that some of the best birding in central Africa is here too. The Kasese Crater Lakes are in the area.
  • Rwenzori National Park is a mountain range in south-west Uganda bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is 120km (75 mi) long and 48km (30 mi) wide with its highest peak at Mt Stanley (5109m/16,761 ft). The range was first described in the 2nd century by ancient Greek astronomer Ptolemy as the "Mountains of the moon", and first ascended in 1896 by Italian explorers. By the end of 2006, its ice cap has retreated from 6.4 square kilometres (2.5 sq mi) a century ago, to less than 1.28km² (0.5 sq mi). In the Rwenzori Mountains near Fort Portal you find Mitandi. The place represents a unique opportunity to explore the mountains and get to know the culture of the local Bakonzo mountain people.
  • Ssese Islands is a beautiful stretch of islands on Victoria Lake with isolated beaches and a bit of jungle. Jungle walks you could easily manage on your own, spending half a day. Beware that there is bilharzia in Victoria Lake, so if you swim, go check up with the doctor afterwards. However, you can expect to spend around 8 hours getting to the Ssese islands. As an alternative, Busi island can be reached in around 45 minutes from Entebbe. there is a camp site, with a small number of beds in a dorm and some bandas which are presently under construction.
  • Lake Bunyonyi is probably one of the deepest lakes in Africa. Its twenty nine islands offer a variety of accommodation including backpackers and swimming is popular due to the small numbers of bilharzia parasites and absence of hippos and crocodiles. The lake is 25km (15.5 mi) long and 7km (4.3 mi) wide and lies at an altitude of 1,950m (6,437 ft).
  • See also: African National Parks

Understand

During Uganda's era of British colonialism, settlement by Europeans was not allowed, and today there are few Caucasians in Uganda. The term for whites (or other foreigners) is muzungu (plural wazungu), and visitors should get used to hearing it shouted out by children in every corner of the country. It is not a derogatory term as such (it means something on the lines of "one who is searching"), so smile and wave in reply - if you can, do this over and over again. Otherwise, ignore.

Uganda is accessible and affordable, but not up to the high tourism standards of more mature destinations such as Kenya or Tanzania, much less South Africa. This gives it more edge, more authenticity and less predictability. This does not mean danger (but see Stay Safe section below), rather greater opportunities for delight—and frustration. This is real Africa, the dirty urban bustle of Kampala bursting at the seams then giving way to lush subsistence farming and small villages. Roads are rough, people are friendly, everything seems to have a smell all its own, and not everything moves according to schedule or to plan.

Most travellers come to track the critically endangered mountain gorilla, but other major draws are other primates such as chimpanzees, birding, visiting Murchison Falls, trekking the Rwenzoris and white water rafting near the source of the River Nile.

History

The people of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago. Bantu-speaking populations, who were probably from central and western Africa, migrated to the southern parts of the country. The Empire of Kitara in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries represents the earliest forms of formal organization, followed by the kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara, and in later centuries, Buganda and Ankole.

Arab traders moved inland from the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa in the 1830s. They were followed in the 1860s by British explorers searching for the source of the Nile. Protestant missionaries entered the country in 1877, followed by Catholic missionaries in 1879. The United Kingdom placed the area under the charter of the British East Africa Company in 1888, and ruled it as a protectorate from 1894. As several other territories and chiefdoms were integrated, the final protectorate called Uganda took shape in 1914. From 1900 to 1920, a sleeping sickness epidemic killed more than 250,000 people.

Uganda won independence from Britain in 1962, and the first elections were held on 1 March 1961. Benedicto Kiwanuka of the Democratic Party became the first Chief Minister. Uganda became a republic the following year, maintaining its Commonwealth membership. In succeeding years, supporters of a centralized state vied with those in favour of a loose federation and a strong role for tribally-based local kingdoms. Political manoeuvring climaxed in February 1966, when Prime Minister Milton Obote suspended the constitution and assumed all government powers, removing the positions of president and vice president. In September 1967, a new constitution proclaimed Uganda a republic, gave the president even greater powers, and abolished the traditional kingdoms.

On 25 January 1971, Obote's government was ousted in a military coup led by the commander of the armed forces, Idi Amin Dada. Amin declared himself 'president,' dissolved the parliament, and amended the constitution to give himself absolute power. Idi Amin's eight-year rule produced economic decline, social disintegration, and massive human rights violations. The Acholi and Langi ethnic groups were particular objects of Amin's political persecution because they had supported Obote and made up a large part of the army. In 1978, the International Commission of Jurists estimated that more than 100,000 Ugandans had been murdered during Amin's reign of terror; some authorities place the figure as high as 300,000.

In October 1978, Tanzanian armed forces repulsed an incursion of Amin's troops into Tanzanian territory. The Tanzanian army, backed by Ugandan exiles waged a war against Amin's troops and the Libyan soldiers sent to help him. On 11 April 1979, Kampala was captured, and Amin fled with his remaining forces. This led to the return of Obote, who was deposed once more in 1985 by General Tito Okello. Okello ruled for six months until he was deposed after the so-called "bush war" by the National Resistance Army (NRA) operating under the leadership of the current president, Yoweri Museveni, and various rebel groups, including the Federal Democratic Movement of Andrew Kayiira, and another belonging to John Nkwanga.

Museveni has been in power since 1986. In the mid to late 1990s, he was lauded by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders.

In Uganda gay sex is punishable by life in prison and also makes it a criminal offence not to report an offender.

Climate

Although generally equatorial, the climate is not uniform as the altitude modifies the climate. Southern Uganda is wetter with rain generally spread throughout the year. At Entebbe on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, most rain falls from March to June and the November/December period. Further to the north a dry season gradually emerges; at Gulu about 120km from the South Sudanese border, November to February is much drier than the rest of the year.

The northeastern region has the driest climate and is prone to droughts in some years. Rwenzori in the southwest on the border with DR Congo receives heavy rain all year round. The south of the country is heavily influenced by one of the world's biggest lakes, Lake Victoria, which contains many islands. It prevents temperatures from varying significantly and increases cloudiness and rainfall.

People

Uganda is home to many different ethnic groups including the Baganda, the largest ethnic group.

Get in

Ugandan visas are now issued online at visas.immigration.go.ug or at embassies and High Commissions. The Uganda Visa Policy uses the principle of reciprocity, that is all countries that require visas for Ugandans are visa prone in Uganda.

Visa Fees: from the July 2016. Single Entry good for 90 days USD50. Inland Transit USD50. East Africa Multiple entry tourist visa good for 90 days USD100.

Since multiple entry visas are both expensive and must be obtained from Uganda's diplomatic missions abroad, bona fide tourists may want to consider the East Africa Tourist Visa announced in Jan 2014 and first issued in Mar 2014 that allows travel between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with multiple entries in a 90 day period for USD100 and without "restrictions on country of origin". You can buy this visa online (or when you get to Kenya or Rwanda if that is your first port). However, since some finicky airlines may refuse to board you without the assurance of a visa, Rwanda has made the smart move of setting up an webpage on-line website to issue these, which means that some tourists may want to first land at Rwanda's capital airport of Kigali rather than Entebbe or Nairobi since this visa must be issued by the country that you first plan to visit (similar principle to Schengen visas in the EU).

Countries exempted from visas : Angola, Antigua, Bahamas, Botswana, Barbados, Belize, Comoros, Cyprus, Eritrea, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe .

Visa extension

You can get a free one-month visa extension at immigration offices in KampalaFort PortalJinja and Mbarara. However, you can not get a visa extension on a 90-day East African tourist visa, but only on a 90-day single entry Uganda visa.

By plane

Entebbe Airport is the hub for Ugandan air travel. Many flights to cities in Africa take place from here.

  • South African Airways has daily flights direct to and from Johannesburg.
  • Turkish Airlines has daily flights to Entebbe from its Istanbul hub with onward connections to Europe and asia.
  • Emirates offers daily flights from Entebbe to Dubai on Boeing 777-200LR with onward connections to Europe, North America, and Asia.
  • Ethiopian Airlines offers a daily service to Addis Ababa on Boeing 737s. with onward connections to many African countries. Europe and Asia.
  • Qatar airways flies daily to Doha with onward connections to Europe and Asia.
  • KLM fly daily from Entebbe to Amsterdam either via Nairobi or direct.
  • Kenya Airways flies to Nairobi four times a day.
  • Brussels Airlines flies three times a week from Entebbe to Brussels
  • Egypt Air flies daily to Cairo with onward connections to Europe.
  • Etihad Airways has Flights to Abu Dhabi with onward connections to Europe and Asia.
  • Fast Jet a low cost airline. Flights to Dar es Salaam with connections to many African countries.
  • Fly Dubai a low cost airline. Flights to Dubai. with onward connections to many Asia countries.
  • RwandAir flies to Kigali, Nairobi, Juba.
  • South Supreme airlines Flies to Juba and Khartoum.
  • Fly-Sax airlines flies to Nairobi.

By train

There is only one railway: Uganda Railways also known as "The Lunatic Express".

By car

In theory, travellers with their own vehicles should be able to enter Uganda at any of the border crossings which lie on a main road, such as the roads from Kenya through Busia and Malaba. A carnet du passage is required for private vehicles, including motorcycles, while single entry tourist visa should be easily obtained for (USD100).

By international bus

Uganda is well served by a number of reputable international bus companies. Several bus companies offer direct routes from Nairobi, Mombasa, Kigali, Bujumbura, Goma, Bukavu Juba, Kisumu, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Lusaka, Harare to Kampala. All of these buses will, in theory, allow travellers to alight at main towns along the route, e.g. in Jinja if coming from the Kenyan border to Kampala. A typical journey between Kampala and Nairobi lasts approximately 12 hours, including the border crossing. the bus ride from Kampala to Kisumu takes 7 hours and cost Ugx 43,000 on Easy Coach.

  • Simba Coaches goes all the way from Kampala to Harare Zimbabwe via Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Lusaka Zambia.
  • Easy Coach has three buses a day going from Kampala to Nairobi via Kisumu 06.30am and 14.00pm and 18.00pm UGX 43,000/65,000.
  • Trinity Transporters has buses from Kampala to Kigali for Ugx 40,000. Goma DRC for $14. Bukavu DRC for $17.
  • Jaguar Executive coaches has two buses a day from Kampala to Kigali for UGX 40,000.
  • Mash Poa bus company has buses to and from Nairobi three times a day. fares from Ugx 65.000 and a bus to Kigali Ugx 40,000
  • Modern Coast Express have three buses a day to and from Nairobi via Kisumu ugx 50,000/65.000. and Kigali ugx 40.000.
  • Dreamline Express Ltd have a bus at 5.30am from Kampala to Nairobi ugx 65.000

By boat

There are ferries going to Ssese Islands in lake Victoria. Uganda has some brilliant island resorts.

Get around

By boda-boda

In Kampala and some other towns, the boda-boda is a good way to get from place to place. These are small mopeds, motorcycles, bicycles or scooters with cushions on the back and are cheap transport as used by locals. If using a boda-boda, be extremely careful as they are frequently involved in accidents; however, in spite of this, they are a fun and fast way to get around. If you advise the driver that you want him to drive slower and safer, he may actually listen to you.

Make sure you agree on the price before you get on the bike. They will try and charge more claiming it was further than thought.Some may get aggressive, say you will call the police and they will calm down. Always be polite and non aggressive.

Make sure you tell them to drive slowly. Many foreigners and locals are injured and killed on Boda Bodas in Uganda.

By bus

Uganda has a decent bus system. There are two classes of buses. The "taxis" (also called "matatus") are actually minibuses or commuter vans, which run fixed routes (see below).

There are also real buses which run less frequently, usually leaving Kampala early in the morning. There are many companies which almost all leave from the same general area. For example, Postbus has safe, comfortable and reliable buses going to most towns in Uganda. They depart Kampala General post office from 7am/8am. The buses fill up, so if you get on mid-trip, you'll be spending some time standing or sitting in the aisle before somebody gets off and you can get a seat.

Both buses and taxis run along most roads between cities, paved (sealed) or dirt.

Domestic bus travel is reasonable and cheap between major centres, and is a good choice for backpackers with time, but may not run reliably on schedule. A trip from Kampala to Masindi takes about 4 hours and costs approximately 12,000 Uganda shillings.

Buses and "taxis" do not run on fixed schedules; rather, they leave their terminal stop when they are completely full. On heavily-travelled routes, they fill up within minutes and this is not a problem, but on less-travelled routes (or if getting on a large bus), be prepared to wait a while before departure.

By taxi

The best way to get around Kampala and the neighbouring towns is by using minibus-type taxis called "taxi". This is the most efficient and cost-effective method of transportation in urban areas, but try not to get ripped off by the conductors as they sometimes try to overcharge tourists. They usually take 14 passengers plus a conductor, though in smaller country towns overcrowding still occurs. Minibus taxis are relatively cheap, frequent (in Kampala), and may make lots of stops along the way.

They run along fixed routes, picking up and dropping off people anywhere along the route. If you want to get on, stand at the side of the road and wave your arm. To get off, say "stage" and the driver will pull over and let you off at the next boda boda waiting area. You can also just say "Driver, please pull over at X". They're not marked with destinations unless you are at the central taxi parks, so you'll have to listen to the destinations that the drivers are yelling out the window. If you're not sure where to catch a taxi going to your destination (especially at Kampala's two taxi parks, which are huge!), just ask a nearby driver or conductor, and they'll probably be able to point you in the right direction.

Private taxis - those which you can hire for yourself only, are called special hire taxis, and are available in most every decent sized town. Fares are negotiable over long distances as there are no meters.

By car

The roads in Uganda are comparable to many in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the main roads are tarmaced, although the condition of them can deteriorate in patches. Some become extremely pot holed. Many of the minor roads and side roads are made of hard packed earth (murram) and, when graded, are quite quick and reasonable. However, the conditions can vary from season to season and they will deteriorate in heavy rains and wash boarding frequently occurs. The best way to deal with the wash boarding is not to slow down, but to find a speed sympathetic to the road surface and effectively skip from ridge to ridge. Untarred roads, if wet, may be impassable in the mountainous regions of the south-west. Commercial drivers of buses and trucks compound the danger, as do pedestrians, livestock, cyclists, dogs and the odd police roadblock. Plan on 60 km/h as a typical rate of travel, although the speed will vary. The best advice is drive cautiously and stay totally alert.

When planning a journey, it is best not to ask how far it is but to ask how long it will take. Local drivers normally have a good idea of how long journeys will take.

As going around with public transport may not suit the safari-going tourist, as it is hard to reach the national parks, opting to hire a car can be a budget friendly alternative. A sensible choice is to hire a 4x4 with a driver given that you will need local language assistance and expertise should something happen on the roads. Most places have accommodation and meals for drivers as this is common among travelers. A cheap option is likely to leave you stranded somewhere remote and that can mean days of your itinerary lost. Unless you are comfortable paying cash in advance without a signed contract and no network to help you get out of a breakdown, the best recommendation is to go to one of the major agencies. Nevertheless, Uganda is a country which is suitable for self-drive, taking the above described conditions into consideration, as it is safe,

There are several companies in Kampala that offer car hire, with and without a driver.

Talk

English is widely spoken as the lingua franca, though to varying degrees of fluency. British English is used by the most educated, but Ugandan English often takes on a life of its own. Dozens of African languages are spoken in Uganda, the most common being Luganda, which is almost universally understood in Kampala. Swahili may come in handy in places, especially the North and East. Although many Ugandans do not speak Swahili at all, it is a common African trade language.

A few words or stock phrases in the various dialects are very easy to learn and most locals will be delighted to help you learn the highly ritualised greeting, and, in turn, every person that you greet in this way will be delighted to meet you.

  • oli otya (olio-tia) = how are you
  • bulungi/gyendi (bulunji/jiendi) = I am fine
  • kale (kal-eh) = ok
  • nyabo = madam; ssebo = sir
  • muzungu = European, but used more commonly to refer to all foreign and, especially, all white people
  • hujambo = hello, used everywhere

You will hear lots of ecstatic children waving, jumping, hopping and singing "jambo mzungu" as you roll past.

See

Uganda does not lack for accessible travel highlights. Dubbed by Winston Churchill as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is celebrated for its beautiful nature and its hospitable people. Still one the poorest countries in the world, and still recovering from some very dark years, Uganda is nowadays an accessible country to visit and experience sub-Saharan Africa in its full capacity. Tourism is growing, yet still authentic, and Uganda does not lack in tourist facilities. Though, it is not the place to go for great architecture or an abundance of urban sights, instead, its riches lie in its amazing variety of wildlife, landscapes and culture. With half of the remaining mountain gorillas and all of the Big Five living in the countries stunning national parks, wildlife watching is by far the main attraction.

With wide, dry savannah in the north, thick rainforest in the centre and lush, snow-peaked mountain landscapes in the east, natural beauty comes in many ways here. Unesco listed Rwenzori Mountains National Park is home to the tallest mountain range of the continent, covered in thick jungle on the lower slopes and frozen moorlands on higher ones. Several of its highest peaks are covered year round in snow and glaciers. The highest mountain is Mt. Stanley, third highest in Africa. Head to the gorgeous Lake Bunyonyi and rise early to see the morning fog draw out. Watch fishermen at work from the shores of the Victoria Lake, the largest lake in Africa; the white beaches of Kalangala make for an excellent spot. Also on Lake Victoria are the Ssese Islands, great for some beach time.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a unique safari spot in the world. The Bwindi population of 340 wild mountain gorillas, half of the total remaining number of this critically endangered primate, is a major draw. The park is home to a total of 10 primate species and some 110 other mammal species (including African elephants), over 350 bird species and some 200 butterflies, and 220 tree species, the dense forests here are one of the most divers eco-systems in Africa. The most accessible and therefore also most popular safari spot is Queen Elizabeth National Park, with dozens of large animals commonly seen. Of particular interest is the population of tree climbing lions living here, lion behaviour seen only here and in Tanzania. Your best chance of seeing the wide variety of wildlife in this area comes with an early morning visit to the plains around the Kazinga channel, which attracts animals of all kinds year round.

Uganda's diversity of bird life is spectacular. While good birding options can be found in most of the national parks, Kibale Forest National Park is an especially good pick and also famous for its chimpanzee tracking. Impressive waterfalls can be found in Murchison Falls National Park

Uganda's urban life has a limited number of attractions to offer, but the twin cities of Kampala and Entebbe do make for an interesting stop. Just some 35 km apart, these two towns are remarkably different in character. The only true city in Uganda, Kampala is safer and less chaotic than most of its African counterparts, and the Kasubi Tombs (while damaged) and National Museum are worthwhile sights. Much smaller and prettier is the former capital, Entebbe. Its lovely location on the shores of Lake Victoria and the lush National Botanical Gardens make this a pleasant place to stay if you're flying in or out.

Do

  • Go gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. You'll need to buy a permit which must be booked a long time ahead due to limited availability (only a few tourists are taken near the gorillas a day, in order not to disturb them). With a permit in hand, you are allowed one hour at very close hand to a group of the highly endangered mountain gorilla in their natural habitat. Uganda Wildlife Authority handles the sale of permits which cost US$500 each or you can book via a tour operator who will organise the permits and other aspects of your gorilla safari for you. The UWA tariff was due for renewal on 1st July 2013 and prices may well rise for permits (and other activities) after this date. Tracking takes place from four different start points, to up to 11 different habituated gorilla families, so it's important to check the permit availability against your transport and accommodation plans.
  • Rafting on the Nile. Uganda is a world class rafting destination and several companies arrange trips down the Nile - from half a day to 2-day trips, from peaceful family trips to very adventurous grade 5 rafting. A rafting adventure with transport from Kampala, including food & drink, will cost about US$125.
  • Quad biking. Near the Spring of the Nile you can rent quad bikes (a 4-wheeled motorbike - also known as All Terrain Bike) for a speedy (and dusty) sightseeing trip with a local guide.
  • Do horse riding safari around the Nile and local villages.
  • Go on a Safari. For reputable tour operators to suit a variety of budgets, check out the Association of Uganda Tour Operators.
  • Go to Sipi, about 1 hour from Mbale. It's a beautiful little town on top of a hill, sporting fantastic views on and hikes to waterfalls. It is worth paying for a local guide - many members of the local community support their family this way and it is worth the fee just to stop everyone tailing you, trying to offer their own guiding services, if you set off without one. Great place to stay over night in Sipi is the Crow's nest with amazing views onto the waterfalls. Crows nest is alright but do not expect hotel quality service, and because of their slow service and bad food bringing our own food is recommended.

Learn

  • Kampala hosts Makerere University which is a world class institution.

Buy

Money

The national currency is the Ugandan shilling, sometimes written as "Ush" or "Shs" (ISO code: UGX). You'll also see this notation: 5,000/-. There are Ush50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5000, 2000 and 1000 bank notes and 500, 200, 100, and 50 shilling coins (10, 5, and 1 shilling coins exist but are rarely used). Do not accept banknotes from the 1987 series of notes: they are not valid, and you cannot exchanges them at banks.

Some bigger hotels and restaurants accept US dollars as payment, and safaris and rafting activities (e.g. Red Chillis in Kampala) are often priced in USD. These activities can be paid in UGX, but a poor exchange rate is often offered. Also, there is often an extra fee (typically around 5%) on the use of credit cards. This means that it can be useful to bring USD to cover these activities. The obvious trade-off is that one must carry a large amount of USD around.

ATMs accept debit and credit cards throughout the country. Master card and Visa card branded cards are accepted by most ATMs. Stanbic Bank, Ecobank, Equity bank, Kenya commercial bank, GT Bank and I&M Bank ATMs are the best ones to use. Different ATMs allow for different maximum withdrawals of Ush400,000-2,000,000, though the usual amount is Ush1000,000. Many ATMs are located at Entebbe Airport; given that it is impossible to buy Ugandan shillings outside of Uganda and in countries bordering Uganda, withdrawing shillings from the airport ATMs is the easiest option. only Standard Chartered bank ATMs in Kampala take Master cards and Union pay cards. the three Standard Chartered ATMs outside of Kampala only take visa card.

Barclays Bank has a high fee at all its ATMs for Overseas bank cards. but Stanbic bank and Equity bank has no fee at all at its ATMs for Overseas banks cards

ATMs may close due to lack of money or system problems. You can now use Visa cards and Mastercards to get money from ATMs all over Uganda.

In Kampala, watch out for pickpockets who follow tourists from one bank's ATM to another when cards are not accepted.

Credit cards are accepted at businesses, usually the larger hotels, airlines, supermarkets and shops in big Shopping malls.

As for your American Express, Union Pay, JCB, Diners Club, Maestro, Discover cards they can be used to get cash at any Equity bank ATMs. of which there are many all over Uganda.

Cashing travellers cheques can be very difficult, so don't bother bringing them into Uganda.

Costs

Food and goods are cheap. On a shoestring you can get by on Ush75,000 a day, excluding park visits and other expensive activities.

Make sure you bargain for everything you buy around town except in the bigger stores and malls. Never pay face value when buying from the local vendors around town. Hotels can be costly, so if you are a student it would be a good idea to look for a hostel in Kampala.

Most people have to buy a visa when they arrive at the airport; in July 2016 this cost US$50 (single-entry 3 month). Bills must be newer than 2003! Most people get the 90 day East African visa US$100 which is good for Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda.

Tipping is not part of Ugandan culture and not expected, but that doesn't mean it will not be appreciated.

Eat

Food from Uganda is a sensation.

You can sample the luwombo, which is meat or groundnut sauce steamed in banana leaves. It has a tantalising aroma, and is always served with "food", which in Ugandan parlance indicates any carbohydrate. The staple "food" varies from region to region, with the plantain matooke in the south, millet in the north, and potatoes in the west. Cassava, posho (made from ground maize), sweet potatoes and rice are other common "foods". The whole fried fish is succulent, though mostly available at the beach, and usually served with chips/French fries. Other common options around Kampala include the traditional matooke, binyebwa (groundnut sauce), chapati, and meat stew. For the less adventurous, toasted sandwiches or omelets can be found in many places.

If this does not appeal, it is best (and far more interesting) to stop at roadside stands or markets to purchase fresh produce—fruits and vegetables abound and are very affordable, to say nothing of the roasted chicken or goat on a stick. There are also a number of fast-food places, such as Nando’s, Steers, Domino’s Pizza, and Hungry Lion, all in the city centre.

A basic local dish starts at around Ush1,500, and goes up to Ush5,600.A slice of pineapple from a street vendor can cost as little as Ush300.

See the Fang Fang Hotel below for good Chinese food in Kampala. Other Chinese restaurants with good food include Fang Fang Restaurant (different and more expensive from the hotel), and Golden China restaurant, all located in the city centre, and Nanjing Hotel in Kololo Hill.

In Entebbe, try the Boma Guesthouse on Gowers Rd. (see below under Sleep). Local food in Entebbe can be found at the Golf Course Restaurant and at the Airport Motel among other places.

In Jinja, the Ling Ling offers some great Chinese food. On Main Street the Source Café has a great variety of food, and you can surf the web while you eat.

Drink

Coffee is one of the best products from Uganda, but the British hooked the locals on tea, so finding a decent cup of native joe is nearly impossible, especially outside of Kampala. In Kampala, try the coffee house 1000 Cups on Buganda Road. The Source Cafe in Jinja sells Ugandan coffee at the airport, Banana Boat stores, and many hotels. The coffee is marketed under the name Kiira Kawa (River Coffee). Good African Coffee and Cafe Pap are good restaurants for food or coffee in the Kampala area. In Jinja, stop by the Source Cafe for an incredible cappuccino—they had the sweetest espresso machine! or when you are in the west at Hotel Mountains of the Moon in Fort Portal

Chai tea is available widely, and is best in the rural areas near the tea plantations. You will see signs posted on shops and kiosks where it can be purchased.

Lower-end South African wine can be had in some restaurants, but stick with the beer. Any of the four major brands are acceptable, though the Pilsner brand is the only one made without added corn sugar for those who care about such things.

Be advised to drink Bottled water, usually called mineral water in local restaurants. Water flowing from taps is not treated.

Sleep

There are many hotels in Uganda. If you go on the higher end you will pay high prices, over US$100 per night. Standard traveller Guest houses, Lodges and Inns will have simple rooms with shared bathrooms for Ush15,000-30,000.

for the real budget traveler There are various Backpackers hostels in KampalaEntebbeJinjaMasakaFort PortalKabale. to choose from and to base yourself at, including Kampala Backpackers, Entebbe backpackers, Masaka backpackers, Yes hostel Fort portal, Jinja backpackers, Kabale backpackers. Some are better than others, and may suit different preferences, so it's best to explore the reviews on Trip Advisor to assess what would be best for you. A stay in one of these will cost Ush9,000-18,000 a night, depending on whether you camp or stay in a dorm. They also offer private rooms or safari tents, and some have self-catering cottages which are great for long stay/groups. These are most frequently used by Truck tours which are popular with the less independent traveler.

There are also Bed & Breakfast establishments to make you have a homely feel at the lowest rates.

National Parks

The accommodations provided in the national parks by UWA are generally basic but inexpensive compared to alternatives. They vary in amenities and price, and the cheapest can be as little as US$5 or less per person per night.

Few moderately priced options are available, and the high end, while expensive, are substandard compared to the high end options of Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and other mature tourist destinations in Africa. Unfortunately, few alternatives are available. There are some notable exceptions, but best to go either highest end or stay in the UWA budget accommodations and spend more on a better vehicle!

Stay safe

Uganda has been home to some of the more gruesome atrocities in modern African history since its independence in 1962, particularly under the heinous dictator Idi Amin, but in the years since 1987 things have consistently improved. Today the state is relatively stable after 25 years of stereotypically 'strong man' rule by Yoweri Museveni. Kampala has changed into a major centre of East African trade.

Travel north to Murchison Falls National Park and Ajai Game Reserve is perfectly safe. Overlanders from Tanzania and Kenya regularly make the trip routing through Jinja.

As in any urban area, Kampala can be dodgy. One is well advised to remain in tourist areas, but sensibly garbed visitors not dangling the latest cameras, flashy jewellery or bulging bags are not likely to draw unwanted attention to themselves. Some jihadist groups have threatened the country due to its counter-jihad activities in Amisom (the UN force in Somalia).

However, any non-blacks walking in the street stand out and are likely to be stared at openly, which may cause discomfort to those unaccustomed to travelling in Africa. Asian individuals will be assumed to be Chinese, and often will be subjected to "ni hao" and/or imitations of Asian languages (e.g. "Ching chong"). While potentially offensive to Asian Americans (or Asians raised in similar cultures), it is not necessarily intended to be rude and is almost never a sign of anti-Asian hostility. What little begging exists is some of the most polite and inoffensive to be found in African cities, nowhere worse than in the West. Small children are sadly becoming a nuisance in some rural spots frequented by tourists doling out sweets and coins but nowhere near the swarming throng one can attract in many cities around the world.

In the gorilla tracking region of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there was one incident in the late 1990s in which bandits attacked a group of tourists and killed several people. Since then, there have been no incidents and all groups now go out with armed guards (which was not the case before). There is a visible security presence in the region, but this is a preventative measure rather than a response to anything specific.

Some jihadists have engaged in retaliatory activities in protest at the counter-jihad policies of Museveni.

LGBT travellers

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and attitudes towards LGBT people are extremely hostile. Though 2011's notorious "Anti-Homosexuality Bill", which proposed the death penalty for "repeat offenders", failed to pass, a revised version that imposes a life sentence was passed in 2013. There is a small underground gay scene in Kampala, but violence is commonplace and gay travellers are advised to be extremely cautious. Various studies have shown that one of the worst places in the world to be homosexual is Uganda. Hence, if you are gay and choose to visit Uganda, it is advisable to keep your sexual orientation a secret. A recently enacted law has made it illegal for one to know that someone is homosexual and not report it to the authorities.

Stay healthy

The HIV/AIDS infection rate is very high (even though lower than neighbouring countries). Do not have unprotected sex.

Ebola and Marburg haemorrhagic fevers have been endemic within certain regions of the country. The vectors of these viruses are unknown, but have been thought to be linked with bats. Therefore, travellers should avoid (or be extremely cautious when) entering any caves. If you are bitten by an animal, assume that the animal was infected by a disease and seek prompt medical attention.

Take precautions against malaria! Malarial mosquitoes are present throughout most lower lying areas of the country. It is worth seeking out a packet of Artenam while you are in Kampala if you are travelling up-country. Artenam is a reliable treatment and works on chloroquine-resistant malaria strains too.

Diarrhoea and intestinal worms are also a concern and travellers should be careful what they eat or drink. Carry hand sanitizer to use before meals. Be sure to wash fresh produce well before eating and avoid raw foods in restaurants. As a precaution, travellers should secure ciprofloxacin before they exit their home country because it can be used as a cure.

Remember, that many of the lakes have Schistosomiasis. Check with the locals and do not paddle on the lake shore if you're not sure.

Respect

Uganda has a fairly conservative Christian/Muslim-based society. It is generally not considered acceptable for women to wear skimpy clothing or to overtly display their sexuality. The only exception is in certain night life situations in Kampala. Most Ugandans go to church/mosque regularly and consider religion an important part of a moral society. Never criticize religion in presence of a Ugandan!

You will not be taken seriously if you wear shorts outside the obvious tourist destinations and most Ugandan adults would never wear shorts except if playing sport. Use a pair of light trousers to blend in better. Most women wear skirts in rural areas, but trousers are acceptable in cities and larger towns.

In central Kampala women can dress pretty much like in any western big city. Women dressing smartly in tight sleeveless tops, tight jeans, or dresses or skirts that do not cover the knees is a very common sight there. As a foreigner you do not need to avoid dressing up - although for safety reasons it is wise to avoid wearing expensive jewellery or similar accessories.

A handshake is the most common form of greeting. If your hands are wet or dirty you may offer your wrist instead of your hand.

Don't be surprised if you see two men holding hands. This is not a sign of homosexuality (which is forbidden by law and is indeed punishable), but rather of friendship.

Connect

Mobile phone network coverage is available in most parts of the country (over 80%), but geography can cause trouble in the mountainous regions. SIM cards are cheaply available everywhere in 'starter packs' but need to be registered before use.

Internet cafes can be readily found in Kampala and Jinja and In all towns with more than about 20,000 people you'll find internet cafes running off of either VSATs or mobile phones. The Internet connection bandwidth is very low and can be frustrating for those who are used to a high speed internet connection.

Mobile broadband (3G, HSDPA, HSPA, HSPA+ [21mbps]) is available in most places. Africell and Airtel has mobile broadband available in larger places. In the more rural areas, a slower (EDGE) connection might be available. If a mobile broadband connection is desirable on a computer, a good option could be to bring a phone that can set up a Wi-Fi network providing internet access, or one that allows USB tethering. USB broadband modems are also available. but might be more expensive but also need to be registered before use.

Other networks include MTN, UTL Uganda Telecom and Vodafone Uganda.

a example of price for mobile broadband on a phone through

  • Africell can get a (free sim card) for there mobile broadband. 1GB cost Ush34,500 good for one month, and 3GB cost Ush59,500 good for one month. Africell Unlimited Internet for one month is Ush299,000.

Uganda - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Ian Clarke

Once notorious for the tyranny of Idi Amin, immortalized in the film The Last King of Scotland, Uganda has, for the last twenty-six years or so, struggled to overcome its negative image. It has largely been successful. Rated the best country to visit in 2012, it was one named of the best tourist destinations of 2013 by National Geographic magazine. In addition to its game parks, home to the Big Five, Uganda has one of the largest numbers of recorded bird species of any country. It is also the home of the famed mountain gorillas, and the mighty Nile River provides some of the best whitewater rafting in the world. Add to this an almost perfect climate and spectacular sightseeing, including the source of the Nile, Murchison Falls, the “little Switzerland” of Kabale, the volcanic lakes, and the Rwenzori Mountains, and one can understand why Winston Churchill called Uganda “the Pearl of Africa.” But Uganda not only has wildlife and natural beauty to offer—the Ugandan people are what makes it different. Drawn from over fifty tribes, they make up a rich blend of traditions. You can sample this in dance and song performances by groups such as the Ndere Troup, or you can wander through the capital city, or any village, and get to know the local people, as English is widely spoken. You will find them sociable, warm, and hospitable. Kampala is famous as the social capital of East Africa, the city that never sleeps, where every kind of nightlife is on offer, and Ugandans have now been officially rated the happiest people in East Africa! All this is what makes Uganda special. Inevitably there are cultural pitfalls for the unwary traveler—differences in expectations, mores, and ways of behaving. This book provides key insights into Ugandan life and offers practical tips on how best to meet the Ugandan people on their own terms, vital information for tourists and businessmen alike.

Uganda (Bradt Travel Guide Uganda)

Philip Briggs

The Bradt Guide to Uganda, now more than 500 pages long, is the definitive travel handbook to this wonderful but oft-neglected destination, not only providing comprehensive background information to its varied national parks, towns and other cultural attractions, but also including detailed reviews of the ever-growing selection of world-class lodges and budget hotels that service them. Uganda boasts the most varied – and arguably the most exciting – safari circuit in Africa. The lush montane forests of Bwindi protect the world's largest remaining population of mountain gorillas, many of which have become habituated to tourists and can be tracked to within a few metres on foot. Elsewhere, Queen Elizabeth National Park, set below the snow-capped Mountains of the Moon, is renowned for its tree-climbing lions and abundant buffaloes. Elephants abound in Murchison Falls National Park, coursed through by a dramatic stretch of the White Nile dense with hippos, crocodiles and waterfowl, while Kibale Forest offers superb chimpanzee tracking as well as the opportunity to see ten other monkey species in their natural jungle habitat. For birders, an astonishing checklist of more than 1,000 species – in a country similar in size to Great Britain or the state of Oregon ¬– includes dozens of Western rainforest specials difficult to see elsewhere, as well as the iconic great blue turaco and shoebill.Philip Briggs is the world's foremost writer of guidebooks to Africa. He has been exploring the continent's highways, byways and backwaters for over 30 years.

Uganda Be Kidding Me

Chelsea Handler

Wherever Chelsea Handler travels, one thing is certain: she always ends up in the land of the ridiculous. Now, in this uproarious collection, she sneaks her sharp wit through airport security and delivers her most absurd and hilarious stories ever.On safari in Africa, it's anyone's guess as to what's more dangerous: the wildlife or Chelsea. But whether she's fumbling the seduction of a guide by not knowing where tigers live (Asia, duh) or wearing a bathrobe into the bush because her clothes stopped fitting seven margaritas ago, she's always game for the next misadventure.The situation gets down and dirty as she defiles a kayak in the Bahamas, and outright sweaty as she escapes from a German hospital on crutches. When things get truly scary, like finding herself stuck next to a passenger with bad breath, she knows she can rely on her family to make matters even worse. Thank goodness she has the devoted Chunk by her side-except for the time she loses him in Telluride.Complete with answers to the most frequently asked traveler's questions, hot travel trips, and travel etiquette, none of which should be believed, UGANDA BE KIDDING ME has Chelsea taking on the world, one laugh-out-loud incident at a time.

Uganda, 7th (Bradt Travel Guide)

Philip Briggs

Of all Africa's safari destinations, this is the most fertile. It is the best in Africa for seeing a variety of primate species with more than ten types of monkey. More than 1,000 bird species have been recorded here and you can encounter lions, elephants and buffaloes. Whether visitors want to climb the Mountains of the Moon, raft the headwaters of the Nile, or marvel at the tree-climbing lions of Ishasha, this edition of Philip Briggs' much-praised guide is the most comprehensive, with expanded coverage of gorilla tracking options and the best accommodation in every price bracket.

 

Uganda 1:550,000 Travel Map (International Travel Maps)

ITMB Canada

Detailed double sided road and travel map. Scale 1:550,000. Distinguishes roads ranging from primary paved roads to other roads or tracks. Legend includes railroads, trails, international airports, national airports, aerodromes, gasoline/petrol stations, post offices, hospitals/medical facilities, points of ineterest or vistas, ruins.archaeological sites, museums, campsites/huts, mines, resthouses/hostels, lodging, car ferries, forts, border crossings. Includes inset overview map of Kampala, information about Uganda and extensive place name index.

UGANDA Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Uganda

CIA

A brief yet detailed report on the country of Uganda with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.

Uganda Handbook (Footprint Handbooks)

Lizzie Williams

Land-locked in the heart of the African continent, Uganda has a fantastic climate, an ever-changing landscape and people who are honest, polite and genuinely pleased to help. Footprint’s Uganda Handbook will guide you from the peaks of the Mountains of the Moon, through the primeval Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and to the Source of the Nile at Jinja, taking in adrenalin-pumping thrills of tracking gorillas and rafting some of the best white water rides in the world.

 

·         Great coverage of gorilla trekking; bird- and butterfly-spotting; climbing the Rwenzoris;  game-trekking, whitewater rafting, and fishing, cruising and canoeing on the many lakes. 

·         Loaded with information and suggestions on how to get off the beaten track, from rock paintings at Kakora to exploring the volcanic landscapes near Tororo

·         Includes comprehensive information on everything from transport and practicalities to history, culture & landscape  

·         Plus all the usual accommodation, eating and drinking listings for every budget 

·         Full-color planning section to inspire travelers and help you find the best experiences

 

From the bustling city of Kampala to the heavily forested waterfalls of the tropical Ssese Islands, Footprint’s fully updated 3rd edition will help you navigate this fairytale destination.

The Impenetrable Forest: My Gorilla Years in Uganda, Revised Edition

Thor Hanson

A self-described eco-nerd Thor Hanson, scientist and writer, brought the nascent gorilla tourist program in Bwindi National Park, located within Africa's Impenetrable Forest, to life. With grace and good humor Hanson navigates the local customs, mores and bureaucracy governing everything from love to superstition to build infrastructure, hire and train staff, fend off millions of ants among many other creatures while studying and acclimating the mountain gorillas to humans in their midst.

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Districts Bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (see Advisory)

Ethnic tensions have led to clashes and attacks in the past, including in rural areas of the western district of Hoima. Heightened security measures may be put in place. You should follow any instructions from local authorities and monitor local media. 

Avoid traveling at night along the areas bordering the DRC because of possible cross-border banditry by groups operating in the DRC.

Eastern Route to Karamoja (see Advisory)

You should avoid non-essential travel to the Eastern overland route to Karamoja (near the border with South Sudan) from Kampala due to banditry and occasional clashes between ethnic communities.

Terrorism

Regional terror groups, including those associated with al Qaeda and al-Shabaab, continue to threaten Western interests and other potential targets in Uganda. The September 21, 2013 attack on an upscale Nairobi mall illustrates the threat of attacks on civilians in East Africa.  In recent years, attacks, some resulting in large numbers of casualties, have been carried out in areas popular among tourists and expatriates in Uganda. Although no major attack has occurred recently, further attacks of a similar nature cannot be ruled out.

On February 10, 2014, the U.S. Embassy in Kampala issued a security message providing the following information to their nationals: “The U.S. Embassy has received information regarding a specific terrorist threat to Kampala. The threat information indicates that a group of attackers is possibly in place and ready to strike targets inside Kampala in February or March. There are indications that the Ugandan National Museum is one of the potential targets. As potential targets can change, the Embassy cautions U.S. citizens to avoid this site and other crowded public places and/or events that are potential targets to terrorists.”

Crime

Banditry and car thefts occur throughout the country. Petty crime, including pickpocketing, purse and jewellery snatching, and theft from hotel rooms and vehicles, is common. Keep vehicle doors locked at all times, windows closed, and personal belongings, including handbags, safely stored. Items such as laptops and briefcases should not be left in unattended vehicles. Remain vigilant when using public transportation or walking along deserted streets, as pickpocketing and the theft of purses and bags often occur.

There has been an increase in reports of taxi/matatu (minibus) operators robbing their passengers and deserting them far from their destination. Avoid taxis/matatus that have only one or two passengers and ensure that your personal belongings (wallet/bags) are secure at all times when using public transportation.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur in many parts of the country. Avoid all gatherings and demonstrations, as they may turn violent without warning. Monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Road travel

Traffic drives on the left. A lack of traffic signs, local driving habits, wandering animals, pedestrians and poor road conditions pose risks. Pedestrians should exercise caution when crossing roads. There are many fatal road accidents in Uganda. Alcohol is often a contributing factor, particularly at night. Highway travel is dangerous, especially after dark, because of banditry and poor road conditions.

In the event of an accident, Ugandan law requires drivers to stop and exchange information and assistance. There is a possibility of mob anger if the accident has caused serious injury. In such cases, you are advised to remain in your vehicle and drive to the nearest police station to report the accident.

If travelling to Uganda by road, you should get information at border police stations regarding the security situation at the destinations you intend to visit.

Public transportation

Avoid intercity buses (especially overnight long-distance buses) and vans. Fatal accidents caused by reckless driving, excessive speed and poor vehicle maintenance have occurred in the past.

There has been no passenger rail service for many years.

Exercise caution when using other forms of public transportation such as matatus (minibuses) and boda-bodas (scooter taxis) and ensure that the vehicle is in good condition before departure. If you opt to travel by boda-boda, wear a helmet at all times.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Game parks and reserves

You are advised to contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority before visiting any parks or wildlife reserves. Visits to game parks and reserves should be undertaken only with a reputable tour company.

Fraud

Fraud involving credit cards, traveller’s cheques and wire transfers is common in Uganda. Exercise caution when using automated banking machines (ABMs) and protect your personal banking information. Business fraud also occurs frequently. The scams range from attempts to engage business people in fictitious money transfer schemes to fraudulent solicitations to supply goods in fulfillment of non-existent Ugandan government contracts. Any unsolicited business proposal, particularly land transactions, should be carefully scrutinized before any funds are committed, before any goods or services are provided, or before any travel is undertaken. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

General safety information

You should not show signs of affluence or venture out alone after dark in dimly lit backstreets. Travelling in groups is recommended.

Carry a photocopy of your passport, specifically the identification page and of the page containing your visa, and keep the original in a secure place.

Do not accept food or drink from strangers, even children, as it may be drugged. If attacked, do not resist, as offering resistance may result in violence.

Women should be particularly cautious when travelling alone in Uganda. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

Tourist facilities and infrastructure are adequate in Kampala but limited elsewhere in the country.

In the event of an emergency, call 999.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Meningitis

This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.

Polio

There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Cholera

There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.

Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

African trypanosomiasis

African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a tsetse fly. Tsetse fly bites are painful and if the disease is left untreated it is eventually fatal. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from bites especially in game parks and rural areas during the day. Avoid wearing bright or dark-coloured clothing as these colours attract tsetse flies. There is no vaccine available for this disease.

Onchoceriasis

Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly.  Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common during the daytime and close to running water. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

HIV

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are extremely limited outside Kampala. Serious illness or emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient's expense.

Health tip

Trekkers may experience acute mountain sickness (AMS) at high altitudes. AMS can be deadly. Carry travel and health insurance that includes provisions for helicopter rescue, medical evacuation, and treatment for accidental injury and medical emergencies.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Homosexual activity is illegal.

Photography of security forces, diplomatic sites, government installations, airports or Owen Falls Dam (at the source of the Nile near Jinja) is prohibited. Always ask permission before photographing individuals.

Wearing military-style or camouflage clothing is prohibited and may result in a jail sentence.

An International Driving Permit is required.

Money

The currency is the Uganda shilling (UGX). There are no restrictions on the import of foreign currencies. Credit cards are accepted only by major hotels, airlines and some car rental agencies. You will find foreign exchange bureaus at most border posts and in all major cities. Since the elimination of the black market and the introduction of foreign exchange (forex) bureaus, Uganda is one of the most expensive countries in East Africa. Most shops, banks and forex bureaus will not accept or exchange U.S. dollars printed before the year 2000 or will only exchange them at a less favourable rate. Bills printed in the year 2000 are also becoming unpopular.

Climate

The rainy seasons extend from March to May and from October to November. Weather related events such as floods and landslides do occur throughout the country during these months. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.

Natural disasters are possible due to regional volcanic activity. Uganda is located in a seismic zone. At the moment, Mount Elgon is stable.

You should pay careful attention to regional weather forecasts and to all warnings issued.