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.
Gorilla Tracking Tips
Money Saving Tips in Uganda
Official Currency, Banks and Exchanges in Uganda
Submitted by M19600Currency: The official currency for Uganda is the Uganda Shilling. Ugandan shilling notes of shs 500 and smaller are no longer legal tender and have been replaced with coins.
As of October 2005, the exchange rate between the shilling to the major currencies:
- US$1.00 = Ushs2,000
- EURO1.00 = Ushs2,100
- UK£1.00 = Ushs3,300
Banks and Changing Money: There is a wide array of banks and forex bureau’s to choose from, with several international banks represented (Barclays, Standard Chartered, Stanbic). The ... view more US dollar and the pound sterling are the strongest currencies used in Uganda and are the easiest to exchange. US dollar notes dated prior to 1997 are turned away, we recommend if you are using US$ to bring notes issued not earlier than 2000. Also, notes smaller than US$50 attract a far lower exchange rate.
We suggest you bring cash and/or credit cards with you as opposed to traveller’s cheques, as the exchange rate (on traveller’s cheques) is much lower. You can change money on your way in at the airport, because it is convenient, however, be aware that the airport is currently not as competitive as TAB or other forex bureaus in Kampala. We suggest you change up as much as you will need to get you through the first day or so (recommend US$50-100 only). TransAfrica Bank, down from the Entebbe Police Station, offer a better rate than that offered at the airport, however, exchange rates will always be more favorable in Kampala.
Credit Cards: Credit cards are not widely accepted and where they can be used, mainly with the larger hotels and companies, hefty surcharges are common. Barclays Bank (open Mon-Fri, 9.00 am – 3.00 pm), however, offers cash advances against credit cards with a small surcharge.
ATM’s: At the time of writing, Standard Chartered Bank is the only bank who currently offer automated cash machines for (their own) cards, locally and internationally. These ATM’s can be found at the airport and also in Kampala. They only accept Visa.
Telephone, Internet and Electricity in Uganda
Submitted by M19600Telephone: The IDD code for Uganda is +256. MTN Uganda, Uganda Telecom (Mango), Zain, Warid Telecom and Orange operate cellular Networks on the 078, 077, 071, 075. 079 and 0702 prefixes respectively.
Internet: Internet access is available in in some form or another in just about all of Uganda's major centres of population. Even the smallest of Internet cafes are able to boast a wireless connection or similar. Speeds are acceptable although costs can be as much as Ushs 200/minute in some outlying areas. ... view more Kampala is at saturation point in the number of cafes open to the public which has driven surfing rates down to as little as Ushs 20/minute.
Electricity: 230/245 volts. British-style plugs with three pins are used.
Weather, Language, Tipping and Food in Uganda
Submitted by M19600Weather: Uganda is sunny most of the year, with temperatures rarely rising above 29oC. The heavy rainy season is March-May, light rainy season November-December, though there will always be a few hours of sunshine. June is usually dry, but showers can still be expected.
Language: The official language in Uganda is English. Luganda and Swahili are also widely spoken.
Food and drink: Uganda with its agricultural resources, combined with the conducive climate, produces a wide range of food products. Bananas, ... view more millet, maize, sorghum, rice, wheat, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes and cassava grow in abundance. Fruits and other vegetables are also plentiful - watermelon, passion fruits, pineapples, mangoes, tomatoes, aubergine, green peppers. You will probably eat better here than you do at home!
Tea and coffee is readily available almost everywhere and the latest craze is coffee houses or cafes. Soda (coke, fanta, sprite, bitter lemon, etc) are sold by the (glass) bottle, which are returnable and recycled. Local beer (lagers only) is as good as any international beer and there are many to choose from – Bell, Club, ESB, Pilsner, Nile Special, Eagle, Castle, Guinness (all brewed in Uganda).
Tipping: You won't be expected to tip in Uganda. Bargaining is the norm when buying things from a market, street stall or craft shop.
Business Hours & Public Holidays in Uganda
Submitted by M19600Business hours:
- Government offices are open from 08h00 to 16h30, Monday to Friday, closing for lunch from 13h00 to 14h00.
- Bank hours vary from bank to bank but most are open from 08h30 - 14h30 Monday to Friday. Only some are open on Saturdays.
- Shops are generally open from 08h00 to 17h00, Monday to Friday and 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays.
Public Holidays (Both Muslim and Christian holidays are celebrated):
- New Years Day: 1st Jan
- Good Friday: variable
- Easter Monday: variable
- NRM Anniversary ... view more Day: 26th Jan
- International Women's Day: 8th Mar
- Labor Day: 1st May
- Uganda Martyr's Day: 3rd Jun
- National Hero's Day: 9th Jun
- Independence Day: 9th Oct
- Christmas Day: 25th Dec
- Boxing Day: 26th Dec
- Idd-el-Fitr: variable
- Iddi Adhuha: variable.
Health Issues in Uganda
Submitted by M19600An International Inoculation Certificate against Yellow Fever is required when arriving from an endemic Yellow Fever area. It is highly recommended that you be innioculated against Yellow Fever as Uganda has a tropical climate and is considered a Yello Fever risk area.
Malaria risk is high and chloroquine resistance is a problem in Uganda. A prophylactic medication such as Mefloquine (Larium) or Doxycycline is recommended. Travellers should also carry malaria treatment such as Fansidar or Artenam (also available ... view more in the drug shops in Uganda). Again, please consult and discuss with your physician which treatment is most suitable for you.
Bilharzia is a snail born disease, found around inhabited lakeshores. Lake Victoria does host bilharzia. The options are either to avoid going in the lake, or get tested for bilharzia once every 6 months and take the treatment (Praziquantel).
Never Miss in Uganda (II)
Submitted by M19600Places to visit in Uganda:
Fort Portal – the town you drive through before getting to Kibale. Lots of lovely places to stay and wonderful views of the Rwenzori Mountain range (or “Mountains of the Moon” as they are also known).
Rwenzori Mountains National Park – Located on Mt Rwenzori, the second highest mountain in Africa. Recently re-opened to visitors, for those of you brave enough to climb the mountains, we hear that it is an amazing experience.
Queen Elizabeth National Park – one of ... view more Uganda’s oldest national parks, home to a large array of wildlife (elephants, lions, hyaenas, hippos, etc.), with the famous “Kazinga Channel” trip, where you will see the largest number of hippos and birdlife in Uganda.
Murchison Falls National Park – with the stunning falls and views, another great place to visit.
Budongo Forest Reserve – we work in collaboration with the Budongo Forest Project (BFP) who are researching and habituating chimpanzees. The birdlife is rich and the forest is magical.
Mount Elgon National Park – for the adventurous climber, Mt Elgon is an extinct volcano and the 4th highest mountain in Africa and the 2nd highest peak in Uganda (4321m). The park has magnificent waterfalls, caves, gorges and hot springs. Excellent for hiking with incredible views of Karamoja andenya.
Sipi Falls (not far from Mount Elgon) – stunning falls with amazing views of the Karamoja plains. The Crows Nest offers tented camping or log cabin accommodation, with great food (salsa and guacamole!) and the best views of the falls from their camp.
Kidepo Valley National Park – not so accessible without a vehicle, and extremely remote in the very north of the Uganda, bordering Sudan, has a wonderful array of unhabituated wildlife, set in the picturesque Karamoja plains.
Never Miss in Uganda (I)
Submitted by M19600Places to visit in Uganda:
Jinja – the Source of the Nile, a short drive from Kampala, lots of places to stay, and for those of you brave enough, white water rafting.
Ssese Islands (just in case you haven’t had enough of living on an island!) – Camping, site seeing and relaxing.
Lake Mburo National Park – this park covers 256 sq kms and is the only National Park to contain an entire lake. It has the largest number of impala and is only one of two parks that has zebra. (It is also the closest ... view more national park to Kampala.)
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – situated near the beautiful Kisoro Town, overlooking Lakes Butunda and Bunyonyi. Mgahinga is one of two places in Uganda for gorilla viewing, however, this particular group move between DRC and Uganda so are not always viewable from this side. If they are around, gorilla permits are cheaper than Bwindi (the other site) a much less strenuous walk and quite often only a short walk away.
Lake Bunyonyi – for camping, relaxing, canoe rides on the lake and a good place to stay either on the way, or on the way back, to/from the gorillas.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – 10 hours drive from Kampala, is famous for gorilla trekking. As it’s name suggests “impenetrable”, a little harder trekking and gorilla permits are more expensive but well worth the visit. Permits available only through the UWA office.
Kibale Forest National Park – home to the largest community of wild chimpanzees, Kanyanchu Tourist Centre is the flagship site for wild chimpanzee trekking. Kibale Forest has over 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee. A must!
Tips for Travellers to Tanzania
Submitted by M18789Immunization and Health:
Visitors from countries infected with Cholera and Yellow fever must produce international certificates of vaccination; this is particularly relevant for those traveling from neighboring African countries.
The UK Department of Health recommends vaccinations against Hepatitis A, polio and typhoid. It is essential for visitors to take a course of anti-malaria tablets commencing two weeks before travel.
Modern medical services are available in Dar es Salaam and other major Centres. ... view more There are only a limited number of chemists in the country, so visitors are advised to bring their own medicines with them.
What to Take:
- Don’t forget the camera, camcorder and binoculars and take a torch for finding your way around your camp at night.
- Stock up with replacement batteries for all these goods.
- Take sunglasses, hat, sun lotion, lip balm and some insect repellent.
- It is better not to get stung even if you are taking ant- malaria tablets.
- It’s best to take any medicines required for the duration of the visit.
- A spare pair of glasses or contact lenses is also a good idea.
- Take plenty of films; it is difficult to obtain outside the main centers.
- Traveler's cheques can be exchanged in cities and towns. Banking facilities in remote areas are restricted, so take plenty of cash.
Some safari/air charters limit baggage to a 10 - 15 kilo maximum.
English is widely spoken but a few words of Swahili are appreciated.
- The unit of currency is the Tanzanian Shilling, which is divided into 100 cents. Visitors can take in any amount of foreign currency.
- Credit cards are not widely accepted and carry poor exchange rates.
Distances in Tanzania are vast, and travel by road can be tiring, It is wise to spend more time in few parks. You will see more and won’t return home exhausted. Keep your distance from animals and be quiet to avoid distressing them.
Dress Code in Uganda
Due to the warm weather in Uganda, normally light clothes are ideal. But as well light jackets are advisable during some slight fall in the temperatures.
Long sleeved shirts and trousers are a necessity if you are going to engage in nature tours for example gorilla tracking, nature walks, chimpanzee tracking, forest walks and birding.
Money and banks
Submitted by M14145Uganda's banking system is backward. Credit cards can only be used in a few banks, almost all in Kampala. Travelers cheques are a ripoff and can be used in very few places. Euro's and dollars can easily be changed at reasonable rates in all towns. So my advise is to come with cash. In case you want to limit the amount you carry, you can receive more cash in many places by Moneygram or Western Union within 15 minutes from anywhere in the world at reasonable rates.
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