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Uganda Travel Tips

Uganda travel tips on money saving, personal safety, sightseeing, and enjoying your trip to the fullest from InfoHub suppliers and community members.

Age Requirement
Submitted by M19957
Age Requirements:
Guests of all ages are welcome to our safaris and tailor-made trips. The minimum age limit for both gorilla and chimpanzee tracking is 15 years.
Currency
Submitted by M19957
The Uganda Shilling is the local currency used in Uganda. US Dollars are widely accepted here, it is not unusually to see prices also quoted in US$ for national parks entrance fees, activities and accommodation. Exchange rates vary by the size of denomination with large bills of 50 and 100 attracting a normal rate whereas rates for smaller denominations are negotiable.US Dollar bills that are torn or pre 2001 are not accepted. It is advisable to carry Uganda Shillings in small denominations when traveling upcountry.
Credit Cards
Submitted by M19957
Credit Cards:
AMEX, Visa and MasterCard are accepted in large hotels but have little if any use outside of Entebbe and Kampala. Expect to pay a surcharge to use a credit card where possible.
Visa to Uganda
Submitted by M19957
A Visa is required to enter Uganda with very few exceptions. You can obtain a visa at the airport upon arrival, with a valid passport. The visa fee for a single entry tourist visa is US$50- per passport holder. For more information visit:
www.immigration.go.ug/visa.htm. Where the list of except countries and fees are to be found.
What to Bring for Gorilla Tracking
Submitted by M19957
- Stout shoes or walking boots.
- Gardening gloves for pulling on vines and nettles.
- A rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
Money Saving Tips on an African Safari
Submitted by M20007
- Look out for Tour Groups.
- Ask for Discounts.
- Pay upfront as you receive Discounts.
- Seek a budget Travel package.
- Try using public transport.
Attractions
Submitted by M18754
Wildlife in Uganda is mainly distributed in 10 national parks, wildlife reserves and other protected areas. Visitors mostly come to Uganda to watch gorillas which are found in southwestern Uganda in two of the only four parks in the world where the gentle giants live. One park is Mghahinga, where chances of seeing the mountain gorillas is a bit tricky but assured, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where you will surely see a gorilla family during its morning nap or late afternoon siesta after a good meal. Gorilla ... view more watching permits are bit expensive ($500) and there are queues to follow. If you want to track the gentle giants, you have to wait in order to be put on the manifest of those who have been permitted. You could be eliminated from the list on a slight suspicion of illness like flu because gorillas easily catch human diseases to which they have no immunity.

Uganda is also one of the best places in which to watch chimpanzees, man's closest cousins. These primates are seen easily in Kibale Forest National Park and in the Budongo tropical forest. There are also chimps in Chambura River Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Meanwhile an island sanctuary for chimpanzees has been set up in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Chimpanzees can also be seen at Uganda Wildlife education center and Ngamba Island which have devoted themselves to look after the endangered chimps

Uganda has a number of monkey families which include the yellow baboon, which has a dog-like head, the Patas, which dwell in the savannah, four races of the vervet monkey; the blue monkey is common in most forests and the red-tailed monkey. There is de Brazza's monkey, L'Hoest monkey in Kibale Forest National park, and Wolf's guenon, or Hamlyn's guenon. Grey-cheeked mangabeys are found in Kibale forest. You will enjoy sighting the black-and-white Colobus monkey which is hunted by poachers for its beautiful coat which musicians use as a waistband during the local dances.

Weather
Submitted by M18754
The country is known for its fine sunny and rainy weather which often does not require the wearing of warm clothing except on some chilly nights in the mountainous areas in western and eastern Uganda. Uganda is on the sunny side most of the year, especially in the central region. Rainfall comes in torrents when delayed, especially when the expected patterns are delayed for some months.

Distinctive wet and dry seasons are typical of most Ugandan areas. For example in the southern, half of Uganda there is rainfall ... view more from March to May and in September to November. The rest of the periods are dry. There is a well-distributed rainfall pattern around the Lake Victoria Crescent, with storms and unpredictable rains falling during seasons when there is no rain elsewhere in Uganda.

Areas such as Karamoja in the northeast are dry possibly because of the dry winds blowing in from Somalia. There is very little mean variation in the weather in Uganda except for the mountain areas. The copious rains and bright sunshine are most responsible for successful rain-fed agriculture where grains, fruits and vegetables grow in abundance. Uganda's weather is most likely a major factor contributing to the fine taste of its foods and quality of cash crops like vanilla, coffee arabica (the finest in the world) and tea although Uganda's horticultural export industry has just started blooming.

Transport
Submitted by M18754
Taxis are the easiest and lowest priced means in Kampala to move around especially in the city. It is better to ask for the price prior to the destination because if you are a foreigner, the conductor may want to cheat you. Then when the conductor asks you for a higher price you tell him what it should be, fellow passengers will readily side with you.

If you are going downtown this is quite easy and you will be dropped off in the taxi park, from where you can most often walk to your downtown destination. If you ... view more are going elsewhere you might have to make a transfer to another taxi, but that is simply done by asking the conductor of the taxi you are taking for direction to the taxi that will take you there.

Boda Boda Motorcycles: They started out as bicycles and you can still find them, but have evolved into mostly Indian manufactured motorcycles. They are the fastest means from one point to another, but also the most dangerous. Boda-Boda cycles are more expensive but again faster compared to the taxis. Boda-Boda Motorcycles are found everywhere in Uganda even in the most desolate of places, there will be a boda-boda stage.

Special Hire Taxi: This is the most expensive means of transport around Kampala and other towns there is the Special Hire Taxi. It costs the most unless you are sharing the cost with someone else and then it can come down to the cost of a Boda-Boda. Depending on how many people are sharing. Again most hotels have someone whom they can refer you too but also remember that often they get a commission for referrals and you may not get the best price. Only yellow taxi in downtown Kampala has metered rates, everywhere else it is negotiate.

Hire a vehicle: We offer this service where the car can be hired out with and/ or without the driver for a day many days. it could be airport transfer or any other like moving within or outside Kampala.

Money and Costs in Uganda
Submitted by M18754
The Ugandan shilling (USh) is a relatively stable currency. Uganda's money (shs) is in different denominations from shs 50 to shs 50,000. it has coins (50; 100; 200; 500) and notes (1,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000 & 50,000).

Cash can be changed easily at major banks and foreign exchange (forex) bureaus. The forex bureaus offer slightly better exchange rates than the banks. At both banks and forex bureaus, small US dollar bills attract a much lower exchange rate than do US$50 and US$100 notes, and the rate ... view more for travellers cheques is about 2% lower than they are for cash. Exchange rates in Kampala are up to 15% better than is the case elsewhere in the country, so stock up on shillings in the capital.

Most Banks have a network of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) located in most of the major towns in Uganda like Kmapala, Mbarara, Jinja, Entebbe, Kabale, etc.

For credit-card cash advances, the only realistic option is Barclays Bank in Kampala, which offers advances in US dollars or Uganda shillings. Some hotels and big expenses such as white-water rafting can go on the card.

Bargaining is necessary in informal transactions such as those at markets and roadside stalls, but not in shops that display fixed prices.

Safety: Gorilla Trek Rules
Submitted by M18754
To protect the gorillas and visitors, the following rules must be adhered to:
- No one with a communicable disease, such as flu or diarrhoea, is allowed to visit the gorillas.
- Do not surround the gorillas but remain in a tight group.
- Leave a distance of at least 5m between you and the gorilla. If they approach you, move back slowly.
- Flash photography is strictly forbidden.
- Do not eat or smoke within 200m of the gorilla.
- If you need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the gorillas and cover your nose ... view more and mouth.
- Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park.
- When with the gorillas, avoid making loud noises or sudden movement.
- Contact time with the gorilla is strictly limited one hour.
- No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas.
- All litter must be removed from the park for disposal.

Food Suggestions for Mt. Rwenzori Climbers
Submitted by M18754
Suggested Main Foods:
- Dry soups
- Different types of pasta (not spaghetti) - rice is only useful at low altitudes
- Meat
- Dried fish
- Sardine tins
- Dried fruit
- Salt, pepper, spices, cabbage, tomatoes, onions for seasoning - ground nuts/raisins/fresh fruit
- Popcorn
- Chocolate/sweets
- Biscuits: sweet and savoury
- Porters foods
- Pots and pans.

This list is not comprehensive, but acts as a guide for the main suggested foods. For any changes in the list or for a comprehensive advice on foods ... view more generally, medicines to climb the Rwenzoris, itinerary and the climbing equipment you must have, contact us for details. In the case of medicine trackers are advised to travel with their own medication that suits them, but it is generally expected that trackers use the foods offered by us on the mountain.

Clients who wish to travel with their own food for health reasons or otherwise may do so as they wish, as there are no limits by us on this, but they could be required to pay the extras for porters to carry it if it exceeds the maximum weight allowed.

Health: Malaria
Submitted by M18754
Malaria is endemic in many areas of Africa, so travelers visiting this destinations should seek travel health advice and protect themselves against malaria. Your accommodation may well provide good mosquito protection, if not you must consider taking good medicine before you travel. Sensible clothing to protect the skin from bites and careful use of mosquito repellents are also important. If your adviser recommends anti-malaria tablets make sure you take them correctly.

Malaria is contracted by being bitten by ... view more an infected mosquito, so bite avoidance and the use of antimalarials should always be followed as recommended. Always consult your health care professional before traveling to a malaria area for advice on prevention.
Health: Food and Water
Submitted by M18754
Contaminated food and water can be a major cause of illness and care is especially important when eating out away from designated restaurants or hotels, such as on the road. Always drink bottled water. Wash your hands before and after taking a meal and after you visit the toilet. Unaccustomed spices or oil in food as well as alcohol can also lead to stomach upsets. You should consider taking an antidiarrhoeal preparation.
Culture Surprise in Uganda
Submitted by M18754
Issues may include adjusting to a different climate and language, unfamiliar social problems, coming to terms with poverty, begging and movement restrictions for safety or political reasons. Things move a little bit slow on the African continent than anywhere else in the world. It is usually helpful to be patient rather than critical when difficulties arise.
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