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Uganda travel tips on money saving, personal safety, sightseeing, and enjoying your trip to the fullest from InfoHub suppliers and community members.
Insurance advice to East Africa
Submitted by M20443
We strongly advise that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before traveling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Please note ... view more the following:

1. We ask all our clients to have adequate personal travel insurance to cover them in an event of accident, sickness, and other unforeseen circumstances that could affect the clients in due course of their travel with us.

2. Evacuation insurance: We provide, on a complementary basis, evacuation insurance for clients in an emergency within Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and Burundi only.

3. Bonding Insurance: International Clients who do a safari with Pinnacle Africa Safaris in Africa but are booked through Tour Operators or Travel Agents should check about the relevant bonding arrangements by that company for their travel. International Clients who book a safari directly with our UK agents should be fully protected by Bond Plus Insurance, as required by the European Union Directive on Package holidays.

4. Rwenzori Mountain Climbing Insurance: We provide, on a complementary basis, some cover for climbers to the Rwenzori mountains.

Accommodation
Submitted by M20443
Accommodation

Uganda and Rwanda have a wide range of standards when it comes to places to stay - from five star hotels and first class luxury lodges, to rustic bush camps, guesthouses and campsites. In some cases the ... view more lodges and hotels are not as luxurious as in some European countries. In towns, accommodation ranges from 3-5 star hotels and guesthouses. Upcountry it is of varying standard, often with no running water and electricity. Travelers must pay in US Dollars except for the smaller guesthouses where the local Ugandan Shilling and Rwandan Franc or Burundian Francs must be payable. Not all of the small town hotels are equipped to take travelers checks or credit cards so it is best you travel with some cash. Some extras will be added onto your bill, especially in Kampala, Kigali, Bujumbura, Jinja, Entebbe and in parks – 2-10% service charge and 18% VAT (2006). For those who buy a full safari from us, most of these are covered in the safari cost.
Weather and climate
Submitted by M20443
Climate

The larger part of our countries of operation have a tropical climate which varies according to altitude. During the year the hottest months are from December to February when the temperature reaches 29 ... view more degrees Celsius. The rainy seasons are from April to May and October to November, with the wettest month being April, but it can rain at any time of the day, especially in forest ecosystems.

Despite their location to the equator temperatures in some parts of the Uganda and Rwanda can be quite cool owing to the countries’ high altitude. The mountain areas become much cooler and the top of Mount Elgon and the Rwenzoris are often covered with snow. Other parts of Uganda are much warmer, but Rwanda experiences more cold because of its higher altitude. There is heavy rain between March and May and between October and November. The best times are December-March and June-September. It can be somewhat rainy then, but not as rainy as in the rainy season, March-June. December-February and June-July are the driest times, when things can even be dusty.

Money in Uganda
Submitted by M20443
Money

Clients are advised not to carry too much money around. Our safaris are all-inclusive and except for a need to tip, buy souvenirs and a few meals in towns, there may be nothing else in relation to your safari ... view more that you need to buy. It is best to budget for around US$30-50 a day as a reasonable minimum. Kampala/Kigali/Bujumbura are well serviced with banks. International Banks especially in Kampala include Stanbic, Allied Bank, Barclays, Standard Chartered, and Tropical Africa Bank. The unit of currency in Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling (Ush). There are coins in the following denominations: 50, 100, 200, 500; and notes in the following denominations: 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000 in circulation concurrently with British Pounds Sterling, US Dollars, German Marks, Swiss Franks, French Francs, Euro, Japanese Yen, SA Rand notes. Kigali is well serviced with a few international banks, such as Stanbic, and a few modern local ones such as the Bank of Rwanda and the Bank de Kigali. The unit of currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (RWF). Coins in this currency are in the following denominations: 10, 20, 50, 100; and notes in some of the following denominations: 500, 1000, 5000, 10000 in circulation concurrently with British Pounds Sterling, US Dollars, German Marks (rare), Swiss Franks (rare), French Francs, Euro, Japanese Yen (rare), SA Rand notes.
Credit cards in Uganda
Submitted by M20443
There are no restrictions on importation or exportation of currency into or out of Uganda, Congo and Burundi and Rwanda although any monies over US$5000 may be declared to customs officials. Licensed Forex Bureaus can be ... view more found in all major urban areas and are abundant in Kampala. Money can be exchanged from some international hotels and banks in cities. Some licensed individuals also exchange cash in Kigali and at borders. It is best to consult your guide for advice on the licensed and trustworthy money exchange agents. Individual Agents and forex bureaus will gladly exchange. It is safest to carry US Dollars. When changing travelers cheques a valid passport may be required, and the exchange rate for these could be less than that for real money notes. Some agencies may ask for your Sales Advice Slip. It is also important to note that small denomination bills of US$1, 5, 10, and 20 are changed at a substantially reduced rate, as are torn and soiled notes. This can be as much as a 5% difference or more.

Credit cards: Most hotels, restaurants, banks, travel agencies and the bigger shops will take credit cards in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Only a few hotels and banks in Bujumbura will accept credit cards. Most of the bigger banks and hotels will advance local currency against a credit card. The most commonly accepted credit cards are VISA, MASTER CARD, DINNER'S and AMERICAN EXPRESS.

Uganda Currency
Submitted by M16792
We suggest that you take cash in US$ in $100 or $50. Notes must be dated 2002 or newer and must be in good condition, not torn, etc., or banks will refuse them. Traveler’s cheques are not popular and will receive a ... view more very low rate of exchange. Additionally, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to change traveler’s cheques outside of the large cities.

All the East African countries require dollar notes to be 2002 or newer.

Please Note:
a) It is illegal to exchange money with anyone but a licensed money-changer.
b) It is an offence to disfigure Kenyan, Tanzanian or Ugandan currency.

Recommendations/Travel Tips
Submitted by M21114
Health - A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required. All visitors should take malaria prophylactic drugs. It is advisable to drink bottled rather than tap water.

Money - The unit of currency is the Uganda ... view more shilling. The US dollar is traditionally the hard currency of preference, but Euro and Pound Sterling are also widely accepted. Hard currency cash can be changed for local.

Language - Educated Ugandans are fluent in English, which is the official language.

When to visit - Uganda can be visited any time though mountain hikes, gorilla tracking and other forest walks are more challenging during the rainy season which is generally at peak in mid-September to November and March to May.

What to wear - Daytime temperatures are generally warm to hot, so bring lots of light clothing. Evenings are cooler, especially at high altitudes, so carry a couple of light sweaters too.Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses and waterproof jackets.

What to bring - A valid passport is mandatory, and a visa requirement should be checked before you travel. To make the most of the game reserve and national parks, carry binoculars and field guides.

Tipping - Tipping is not a common practice at local hotels and restaurants, but it will always be welcome and appreciated. It is normal to tip 5-10% at tourist oriented restaurants. Guides and drivers should always be tipped.

Food and drinks - Tourist oriented hotels and restaurants serve good western-style meals, while a wider range of cuisines are available in the capital and some larger towns. Local restaurants serve Ugandan dishes, typically ugali (stiff maize porridge) or matoke (cooked green banana) normally eaten with stew.

What to buy - There is a wide range of handicrafts are available a souvenirs, these include musical instruments such as the hide drums made in the vicinity of Mpigi as well as excellent local basketworks, paintings, batiks and pottery.

Health Insurance
Submitted by M21093
It is advisable that clients purchase the necessary health insurance for themselves. The company will not be held liable for sickness of a client as a direct or indirect consequence of traveling. Travel Insurance is a ... view more condition of booking that all clients must have, and demonstrate to the company prior to their departure, adequate insurance for the duration of the tour. Such insurance should fully cover death; personal injury; loss; accident; medical expenses; repatriation in the case of accident, illness or death; cancellation or curtailment of the tour by the company or client; and loss of, damage to, or theft of the clients’ personal property. Activities with a greater inherent risk, such as mountaineering, animal tracking, water rafting, swimming in lakes, should be covered.
Money Saving Tips in Uganda
Submitted by M21093
Clients are advised not to carry too much money around. Our safaris are all-inclusive and except for a need to tip, buy souveniers and a few meals in towns, there may be nothing else in relation to your safari that you ... view more need to buy. It is best to budget for around US$30-50 a day as a reasonable minimum. Kampala is well serviced with banks. International Banks include Stanbic, Allied Bank, Barclays, Standard Chartered, and Tropical Africa Bank. The unit of currency in Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling (UGX). There are coins in the following denominations: 50, 100, 200, 500; and notes in the following denominations: 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000 in circulation concurrently with British Pounds Sterling, US Dollars, Euro, Japanese Yen, SA Rand notes. There are no restrictions on importation or exportation of currency into or out of East Africa although any monies over US$5000 have to be declared to customs officials. Licensed Forex Bureaus can be found in all major urban areas and are abundant. It is best to consult your guide for advice on the licensed and trustworthy money exchange agents. Individual Agents and forex bureaus will gladly exchange. It is safest to carry US Dollars. When changing traveller’s cheque a valid passport may be required, and the exchange rate for these could be less than that for real money notes. Some agencies may ask for your Sales Advice Slip. It is also important to note that small denomination bills of US$1, 5, 10, and 20 are changed at a substantially reduced rate, as are torn and soiled notes. This can be as much as a 5% difference or more.

Credit cards: Most hotels, restaurants, banks, travel agencies and the bigger shops will take credit cards in Uganda. Most of the bigger banks and hotels will advance local currency against a credit card. The most commonly accepted credit cards are VISA, MASTER CARD, DINNER'S and AMERICAN EXPRESS.

Safety and Security for our Tourists in Uganda
Submitted by M21093
Be quite alert when walking around carrying anything of value. As in all countries petty theft, including pickpockets is around in some places. Do not walk around at night unescorted before seeking advice. If possible, ... view more never leave your vehicle unattended and never change money on the streets. This is less of a problem in the rural areas. Carry minimum amounts of cash and keep it hidden or in a money belt, if possible. Secure your belongings such as passport or airline tickets and other valuables and documents; use safe deposit boxes where available. For the most part, however, Ugandans are very friendly and helpful. If in doubt seek local advice. For specific questions on current security conditions please contact us.
On a Safari with Tourists
Submitted by M21093
On safari:

Always remember that while some animals have become accustomed to the presence of people they are still wild animals. Keep your distance. It is illegal to feed any animal, make excessive noise to attract ... view more their attention, or to agitate and scare an animal, or deviate from designated roads for that closer photograph. Never get out of your vehicle except at designated points. Close all windows and zippers when you leave your room or tent and spray it with insect repellent.
Foods and Drinks-Uganda
Submitted by M21160
Fresh tropical fruits and vegetables are available throughout the country. Uganda has a wide range of dishes, both traditional and international served in the hotels and restaurants. If you have any dietary restrictions, ... view more please inform us about it and we will make life comfortable for you. Please be aware; sniffing food is considered to be rude in Ugandan culture. Feel free to try a taste of something. You may press a fruit to see if it is ripe rather than smelling it. Drinking the tap water is not recommended. Most hotels and restaurants provide previously boiled drinking water and bottled mineral water is readily available throughout the country.
Gorilla Tracking Tips - Uganda
Submitted by M21160
Mountain gorilla trekking is a strenuous activity that requires a certain level
of physical fitness to really enjoy it.
* The minimum trekking age is fifteen years (15 Years).
* Do not look directly into the eyes of ... view more the Gorillas.
* Anyone with signs of a communicable disease will not be allowed to trek. While possession of a gorilla permit is a guarantee of trekking and sighting the gorillas, the quality of the gorilla trekking can not be guaranteed.
* Maximum time allowed with the gorillas on (access) will not exceed one hour.
* We strongly recommend that clients bring certain items along with them from Kampala and among these including: Rain poncho, knapsack, long-sleeved shirt, trousers, sturdy hiking boots, leather gardening-type gloves, sunscreen, sun hut, insect repellent and any necessary medications
* Still photo and video cameras are allowed (the use of flash-light on cameras, is not advisable, this may alarm the animals). Films and batteries should be carried from Kampala
We recommend the use of a high altitude filter and high speed film for the optimum photography.

Clothes-Uganda
Submitted by M21160
Pack, lightweight washable clothes, a sweater or jacket is sufficient throughout the year, Shorts are acceptable for both men and women.
Cotton slacks and flat-heeled comfortable walking shoes are recommended on safari. ... view more Don’t forget a hat for sun protection, sunglasses and sunscreen, and a swimsuit.
Long sleeves and trousers in light-colored fabrics help discourage insect bites (Just in case). You can buy clothes in Kampala (the Capital City) if necessary. Umbrellas and windbreakers are recommended in the wet seasons.

Rules governing Gorilla Trekking
Submitted by M21093
No person is allowed to track more than three times in three consecutive days in one park. Permits are non-refundable except for medical reasons and a medical certificate has to be provided. To protect gorillas from ... view more disease and to avoid problems of arduous conditions in the forests young trackers below the age of 15 and those with illnesses are not allowed to track. Flash photography is not allowed and visitors are advised to use still cameras, at a distance of at least 5 metres away from the animals. Professional filming requires extra fees to be paid.

Tracking through the thick jungle, traversing canopies of thick undergrowth can be tough, arduous and wet – the tracking can last from as little as 45 minutes to as much as 9 hours. Trackers therefore need to be well equipped with food and water, strong water-proof clothing and must be fit and healthy. Strong, light clothes could be carried, as well as rain jackets, a torch, sunglasses, a sun hat, gloves to grip vegetation, socks. Use jungle boots, long-sleeved shirt. A walking stick may be needed. Porters can be hired to carry equipment for all trackers (fees range between $5-10 per porter per day). Part of the fees paid to the park authorities goes directly to help local communities around the Protected Area(s).

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