Gorilla in Impenetrable Forest - Uganda
Gorilla in Impenetrable Forest - Uganda

Impenetrable Forest

Gorilla sitting in the rainforest of Uganda
Photo by Max Christian

UGANDA

Africa

Uganda Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Kampala

Location:

East-Central Africa, west of Kenya, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Currency:

Ugandan shillings (UGX)

Area:

241,038 sq km

Population:

44,712,143 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

English (official language, taught in schools, used in courts of law and by most newspapers and some radio broadcasts), Ganda or Luganda (most widely used of the Niger-Congo languages and the language used most often in the capital), other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili (official), Arabic

Religion:

Protestant 45.1% (Anglican 32.0%, Pentecostal/Born Again/Evangelical 11.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.7%, Baptist .3%), Roman Catholic 39.3%, Muslim 13.7%, other 1.6%, none 0.2% (2014 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+3

Tel Code:

+256

Weather

Climate

Uganda has a tropical climate, with two distinct rainy seasons. The long rains occur from March to May, and the short rains from October to December. The rest of the year is relatively dry, with temperatures remaining warm throughout. The climate can vary greatly depending on the location, with some areas being very hot and dry, while others are cooler and more humid.

Best time to visit

Dry season (June-September)

The best time to visit Uganda is during the dry season, which runs from June to September. This is the time when the weather is the most stable and the wildlife is most active, making it the peak season for safari and wildlife viewing. This is also the best time for hiking, climbing and trekking in the mountain ranges.

Shoulder season (January-February and October-November)

The shoulder season, which runs from January to February and October-November, is also a good time to visit. The weather is still relatively dry and stable, and there are fewer tourists, which can make for a more authentic experience.

Rainy season (March-May and November-December)

The rainy season is not the best time to visit Uganda for safari, as the heavy rains can make travel difficult and disrupt safari plans. However, it is also less crowded and the prices tend to be lower. If you're planning to visit during the rainy season, it's best to focus on the gorillas and chimpanzees trekking as they are less affected by the heavy rainfalls.

Transportation

Bus

Buses are a popular and inexpensive way to get around Uganda. The bus system is extensive and covers most parts of the country, although it can be crowded and uncomfortable at times. Buses in Uganda are operated by both government-run and private companies and have different levels of comfort and safety standard.

Car rental

Car rental is a popular option for those who want more flexibility and independence when traveling around Uganda. There are many car rental companies in the country, with a wide range of vehicles available to rent. However, it's important to be aware of the local traffic laws and road conditions before renting a car. It is also important to note that some of the national parks and remote areas can only be accessed by 4x4 vehicles.

Fly

Flying is a convenient and relatively fast way to travel around Uganda, particularly for those who are short on time or want to get to remote areas. Uganda has a few domestic airlines that operate flights to most of the major tourist destinations, such as Entebbe, Kidepo and Kisoro. However, it can be quite expensive compared to other options and some of the smaller airports and airstrips have limited flights schedule.

Taxi and Boda-boda

Taxis and boda-boda are a popular and inexpensive way to get around in cities and towns. They are convenient for short distances, however, it's important to agree on a fare before setting off and be aware of the traffic conditions. Taxis and boda-boda are not always available in rural areas and remote destinations.

Boat

Boats are a popular way to explore Uganda's many waterways, such as the Nile River and its lake systems like Lake Victoria. Boats can be rented for fishing, sightseeing and cruising, and offer a unique way to experience the country's wildlife, culture and natural beauty. It is also a great way to access some of the national parks, such as Murchison falls National Park, that are located on the banks of the river or lakes.

Accommodation

Hotels

Uganda has a wide range of hotels, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses. Many of the larger hotels are located in tourist hotspots such as Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja, but there are also many smaller, more intimate hotels located in more remote areas of the country.

Guesthouses

Guesthouses are a popular accommodation option for budget-conscious travelers in Uganda. These small, family-run establishments offer basic amenities and a homely atmosphere at a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Guesthouses can be found in most towns and cities across Uganda, as well as in rural areas.

Campsites

Campsites are a popular option for budget-conscious travelers and adventure enthusiasts. There are many campsites in Uganda, which are particularly popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Some campsites offer basic facilities such as toilets and showers, while others offer more luxurious amenities such as private bathrooms and hot water. Many of the national parks in Uganda have designated campsites, which are a great way to experience the parks and their wildlife.

Luxury lodges and tented camps

Uganda is home to many luxury lodges and tented camps, which offer an upscale accommodation option. These properties are located in prime wildlife-viewing areas such as the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Murchison falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. They offer comfortable accommodations, delicious meals, and excellent wildlife-viewing opportunities.

Homestays

Homestays provide an immersive cultural experience, as travelers stay with a local family in their home. This type of accommodation is becoming increasingly popular in Uganda and can be found in many rural areas, as well as some towns and cities. Homestays offer a unique opportunity to experience Ugandan culture and hospitality firsthand.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Uganda Closed
Test
Required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Uganda, located in East Africa, is a country of stunning natural beauty and diverse cultures. From its lush rainforests to its towering mountains and sparkling lakes, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Uganda. Here are the top 10 things to do in Uganda that should not be missed:

      1. Visit the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

      The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the endangered mountain gorilla. Visitors can go on gorilla trekking tours and see these magnificent primates up close.

      2. Explore the Murchison Falls National Park

      The Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda's largest national park and home to diverse wildlife, including lions, elephants, crocodiles, and over 450 species of birds. Visitors can go on safari and see the animals in their natural habitat, as well as see the spectacular Murchison Falls.

      3. Visit the Ssese Islands

      The Ssese Islands are a group of 84 islands located in the northwest of Lake Victoria, known for their beautiful beaches, clear waters, and lush vegetation. Visitors can relax on the beach, go fishing, and see the diverse marine life.

      4. Take a Boat Trip on the Nile

      The Nile is the longest river in the world and a popular spot for boat trips. Visitors can see the Murchison Falls, the Bujagali Falls and the Nile-Lake Victoria Source.

      5. Visit the Kibale National Park

      The Kibale National Park is known for its diverse primate population, including chimpanzees, red colobus monkeys, and grey-cheeked mangabeys. Visitors can go on guided walks and see these fascinating primates in their natural habitat.

      6. Visit the Queen Elizabeth National Park

      The Queen Elizabeth National Park is known for its diverse wildlife, including lions, elephants, hyenas, and over 600 species of birds. Visitors can go on safari and see the animals in their natural habitat, as well as see the spectacular Kazinga Channel.

      7. Visit the Sipi Falls

      The Sipi Falls is a series of three waterfalls located in the eastern part of the country, known for their beautiful views and hiking trails. Visitors can take a hike to the top of the falls and see the stunning views.

      8. Visit the Rwenzori Mountains National Park

      The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to one of the tallest mountain ranges in Africa. Visitors can go hiking, see the beautiful glaciers, and learn about the unique alpine flora and fauna.

      9. Visit the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

      The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern part of the country, known for its gorillas and golden monkeys population. Visitors can go on guided walks and see these primates in their natural habitat.

      10. Experience the Festivals

      Uganda is known for its vibrant festivals, such as the Kampala City Festival, which is an annual event celebrating the city's culture and heritage, or the Nyege Nyege Festival, which is an annual four-day music and arts festival that showcases the rich culture and tradition of the country.

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