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*Entebbe Airport is the hub for Ugandan air travel. Many flights to cities in Africa take place from here. Direct flights to and from [[Johannesburg]] run three days a week on South African Airways.  
*Entebbe Airport is the hub for Ugandan air travel. Many flights to cities in Africa take place from here. Direct flights to and from [[Johannesburg]] run three days a week on South African Airways.  
*Direct flights to and from [[London]] run every other day on British Airways.   
*Direct flights to and from [[London]] run every other day on British Airways.   
*Turkish Airlines has direct flights to and from its [[Istanbul]] hub.
*Emirates offers flights from Entebbe to Dubai via Nairobi and Addis Ababa on Airbus A340S  
*Emirates offers flights from Entebbe to Dubai via Nairobi and Addis Ababa on Airbus A340S  
with onward connections to Europe, N. America, and Asia from Dubai.   
with onward connections to Europe, N. America, and Asia from Dubai.   
*Ethiopian Airlines offers service to Addis on Boeing 737s.   
*Ethiopian Airlines offers service to Addis on Boeing 737s.   
*Kenya Airways and KLM fly daily from Entebbe to [[Amsterdam]] either via [[Nairobi]] or direct.
*Kenya Airways and KLM fly daily from Entebbe to [[Amsterdam]] either via [[Nairobi]] or direct.
*Brussels Airlines [] flies non-stop from Entebbe to [[Brussels]], where you can take a connecting flight to the rest of Europe or to India, China or the USA
*Brussels Airlines [] flies non-stop from Entebbe to [[Brussels]], where you can take a connecting flight to the rest of Europe or to India, China or the USA

Revision as of 00:15, 27 June 2010

Quick Facts
Capital Kampala
Government Republic
Currency Ugandan shilling (UGX)
Area total: 236,040 km2
water: 36,330 km2
land: 199,710 km2
Population 24,699,073 (July 2002 est.)
Language English (official national language), Swahili (official), Ganda or Luganda (most widely used of the Niger-Congo languages), other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Arabic
Religion Roman Catholic 33%, Protestant 33%, Muslim 16%, indigenous beliefs 18%
Electricity 240V 50HZ (UK plug type)
Country code 256
Internet TLD .ug
Time Zone UTC +3

Uganda [1] is a country in East Africa. It is bordered on the east by Kenya, the north by Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on 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.


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 is muzungu (plural bazungu), and Caucasian visitors should get used to hearing it shouted out by children in every corner of the country. It is not a derogatory term per se, so smile and wave in reply. (Do not give out sweets or — worse - money because begging by children is growing in the touristy parts of Uganda near the gorillas.)

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 for the gorilla Safari, but other major draws are the chimpanzees, birding, trekking the Rwenzoris, and visiting the source of the Nile River.


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.

Britain granted independence to Uganda in 1962, and the first elections were held on March 1, 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 favor of a loose federation and a strong role for tribally-based local kingdoms. Political maneuvering 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 January 25, 1971, Obote's government was ousted in a military coup led by armed forces commander 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 of liberation against Amin's troops and the Libyan soldiers sent to help him. On April 11, 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.


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 120 km from the 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.

Map of Uganda with regions colour-coded
Central Uganda
the Capital City and the shoreline of vast Lake Victoria
Eastern Uganda
superb trekking close on the border with Kenya and more wildilfe
Northern Uganda
this beautiful area teems with wildlife.
Western Uganda
Gorilla trekking on the borders with Rwanda and DR Congo


  • Kampala — a bustling African capital.
  • Arua — the NW corner of the country, reached by daily flights from Entebbe Airport
  • Entebbe — is built on the shores of Lake Victoria and is the location of the airport, about 1 hour south from Kampala.
  • Jinja — the world-famous source of the Nile, and in Uganda more famously the source of Nile Beer.
  • Fort Portal — generally considered Uganda's most attractive settlement with extensive tea plantations, some fine old buildings and a superb Rwenzori backdrop.
  • Mbarara — south western town on en route to several National Parks.
  • Kabale — is a small city in the far south of the country and the stopover to go to Lake Bunyonyi.
  • Kisoro — a stopover to visit the Mgahinga National Park, gorillas and all.
  • Pakwach — on the west bank of the Albert Nile on the road to Arua and the end of the former British rail line from Mombasa.

Other destinations

Gorilla mother and child
  • Ajai Game Reserve is in northern Uganda and boasts a new deluxe safari camp now under construction just out side its border. A small reserve at 16,600 hectares, located on the east bank of the Albert Nile.
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the primary gorilla tracking location. There are troops reached from Buhoma (north) and a new troupe reached from the south at Nkuringo.
  • Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is at the confluence of Rwanda and the DRC. One gorilla troop can be tracked from here, but its range sometimes takes it into one of the other two countries, so may not be accessible. The Virunga Mountains are the dramatic spine of the park, recently active volcanic peaks. Much other remarkable wildlife is in this often overlooked park.
  • Kidepo Valley National Park located in the extreme NE corner of Uganda on the 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 offers a very nice boat trip getting surrounded by crocodiles and hippos. The nearby waterfall is dramatic and beautiful, as the entire Nile river plunges down 45 m (150 ft) and through a 7 m (23 ft) wide crevice. It is possible to do safaris - Murchison is full of a variety of wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, hartbeast, buffalo, and a few lions and leopards. For now it is still a little bit difficult to get as independent traveller. Take an early bus to Masindi and then try to arrange for transport to bring you to the park. With some luck you could get a free ride with the rangers.
Fishers at Port Belle on Lake Victoria
  • 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 120 km (75 mi) long and 48 km (30 mi) wide with its highest peak at Mt. Stanley (5109 m/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 a 1.28 square kilometres (0.5 sq mi). In the Rwenzori Mountains near Fort Portal you find Mitandi. The place represents an 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.

Get in

By plane

  • Entebbe Airport is the hub for Ugandan air travel. Many flights to cities in Africa take place from here. Direct flights to and from Johannesburg run three days a week on South African Airways.
  • Direct flights to and from London run every other day on British Airways.
  • Turkish Airlines has direct flights to and from its Istanbul hub.
  • Emirates offers flights from Entebbe to Dubai via Nairobi and Addis Ababa on Airbus A340S

with onward connections to Europe, N. America, and Asia from Dubai.

  • Ethiopian Airlines offers service to Addis on Boeing 737s.
  • Kenya Airways and KLM fly daily from Entebbe to Amsterdam either via Nairobi or direct.
  • Brussels Airlines [2] flies non-stop from Entebbe to Brussels, where you can take a connecting flight to the rest of Europe or to India, China or the USA
  • Lufthansa [3] flies non-stop from Frankfurt (FRA) to Entebbe

By train

There is currently no passenger train service to or in Uganda.

By car

By bus

Several bus companies offer direct lines between Kampala to Nairobi, Kigali and Dar es Salaam. A night bus from Kampala could start at 4PM to arrive at 6AM in Nairobi, costing 23000 USh.

Alternatively do the trip in stages. Take a matatu or bus up to the border and walk to the other side.

By boat

By Land

Going South from Sudan the border is not all that stable, but after the peace agreement between the South and North of Sudan, the border is open, and anyone can cross freely.

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 Boda-Bodas, 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. Note that if you advise the driver that you want him to drive slower and safer, he may actually listen to you.

Great Rift Valley

By bus

Uganda has decent bus system. There are two classes of buses. The "taxis" (also called "matatus") are actually minibuses or commuter vans called 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. 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 8000 Uganda shillings.

Note that both buses and "taxis" do not run on fixed schedules; rather, they leave their terminus 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 matatus. 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 are crowded, cheap, frequent, and make lots of stops. These typically drive every quickly and are frequently involved in traffic accidents.

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. They're not marked with destinations, 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 taxi park, which is huge!), just ask a nearby driver or conductor, and they'll probably be able to point you in the right direction.

Taxis, called special hire taxis, are available in most every decent sized town. Fares are negotiable over long distances.

By car

The roads in Uganda are comparable to many in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the main roads are metalled though the condition of them can deteriorate in patches. And some become extremely pot holed. Many of the minor roads and side roads are made of hard packed earth (murum) and when graded are quite quick and reasonable. However 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 60km/hr as a typical rate of travel (speed will vary, though!). 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.

Expect to pay a lot to hire a vehicle. 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 travellers. This will cost upwards of USD100.00 per day (not including fuel) with the cheapest vehicles typically having no windows, a canvas roof, an assembly date in the 1970's and so on. You get what you pay for. 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, go to one of the major agencies.


English is widely spoken as the lingua franca, though to varying degrees of fluency. British English is the dialect of 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. Though 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 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 (karl-eh) = ok

Nyabo = madam; ssebo = sir

Muzungu = European, but used more commonly to refer to all foreign and, especially, white people

The Swahili 'Hujambo' meaning hello is used everywhere and you will hear lots of ecstatic children waving, jumping, hopping and singing Jambo mzungu as you roll past.


Uganda has a variety of landscapes which most tourists find interesting. The North is relatively flat and dry savanna while the East is mountainous and lush and the center of Uganda hosts larges forests.

The national parks are beautiful and, on the whole, uncrowded. See the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) website [4] or for details of gorilla tracking, safaris, chimpanzee tracking and more. Prices in several parks seem to be set at 20 (1 day), 35 (2 days). An ISIC student card cuts you a 25% off the entrance fees these days.


  • Go on gorilla tracking. You'll need to buy a permit which must be booked long time ahead due to limited availability (only few tourists are taken near the gorillas a day, in order not to disturb them). With a permit in hand, you are allowed 1 hour on very close hand of a group of the highly endangered mountain gorilla in their natural habitat. Uganda Wildlife Authority handles the sale of permits which cost 500 US dollars each [5]. Prices are rising constantly, and you should really consider if you want them to get away with these rip-off prices, because as long as there are people who pay them, they will continue to rise them.
  • Rafting on the Nile. Uganda is a world class rafting destination and several companies arrange trips down the Nile - from half a day to 3-day trips, from peaceful family trips to very adventurous grade 5 rafting. 75 US$ will buy you a rafting adventure with transport from Kampala and food and drink included.
  • 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.
  • Go on a Safari.
  • 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. If you don't feel like having a guide, tell them that you'd like to do it yourself and eventually they will leave you alone. 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 if you are smart, you will bring your own food because their food comes even slower than any local restaurant and is absolutely terrible.


Kampala host Makerere University which is a world class African institution.


The national currency is the Ugandan shilling, code UGX, sometimes written as UgSh. There are 50000, 20000, 10000, 5000 and 1000 shilling notes and 200, 100, 50 and 10 shilling coins (although the 10 shilling coin is no longer issued).

Other currencies that might be accepted for transactions are the US dollar (USD), notes must have been issued since 2000, or possibly the Euro (EUR) or British pound (GBP). Older US notes might not be accepted even in banks but newer US notes can be spent directly at fair exchange rates, although you will receive shillings in change.

With Visa debit/atm cards you can withdraw money in at least one ATM in Kampala's City Garden mall. With MasterCard debit/atm cards, you can withdraw money from any Stanbic bank, which are in many points around Kampala, from the large Western shopping mall Garden City to campus hangout Wandegaya to Ntinda and Gayaza Road. Stanbic banks are seen throughout Uganda, from Mbarare to Gulu. Information can be obtained from the bank branches. As for your American Express card: leave it at home - you can't use it except at Major Hotels and Airlines. American Express members also have other benefits that may come in handy such as emergency cash.

Banana Boat, an overpriced but pleasant gift shop in Kampala, takes several credit cards, and can be found in Lugogo shopping area and Garden City. They sell traditional dolls, postcards, books, leather sandals, jewellery, and many other items. Gifts can always be found much cheaper if you can bargain at other craft shops, but they don't take credit cards. Also check out Uganda Crafts, on Bombo Road, a fair trade craft shop with reasonable prices and a great basket selection.

You might be able to use U.S. dollars, but I would recommend exchanging your money for shillings (it's about 1700 shillings to the U.S. dollar, and about 3400 shillings to the British pound- a bottle of water is about 500 shillings, a candy bar is 500 shillings, a meal can range from 2000 shillings to 15000 shillings).

Cashing travellers checks can be difficult. Exchanging notes is possible in the larger towns if you need Ugandan Shillings. Note that there are better rates for exchanging larger notes (US$50 or more), so do it in big chunks if you need to. Try to have all your cash needs arranged before leaving Kampala if you can ('red-fox' forex on Kampala Road is thought to offer the best rates in the country).


Food and goods are cheap. On a shoestring you can get by on less than 10 euro 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 currently (2010-May-04) this costs US $50 (single-entry 3 month). Bills must be newer than 2003! You used to have to pay when you left the country (air-tax), but this has been removed.

Tipping is not part of Ugandan culture and not expected, but it would definitely get you amazing service.


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 potatos in the west. Cassava, posho (made from ground maize), sweet potatos 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 1,000 USh, and goes up to 5,000 at a local buffet, or even 10,000 at a posh hotel. A slice of pineapple from a street vendor can cost as little as 300 shillings.

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. But head downtown on Main Street to the Source Cafe for a great variety of food (and you can surf the web while you eat).


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. Their coffee is also sold at the airport, Banana Boat stores, and many hotels. The coffee is marketed under the name Kiira Kawa (River Coffee). 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.


Forest in the Ruwenzori mountains

There are many hotels in Uganda. If you go on the higher end you will pay high prices, over $100 per night. Standard traveller hotels will have simple rooms with shared bathrooms for around 3,000 to 10,000 shillings. Many places will rent you a tent, or place to pitch a tent for the budget traveller. The Backpackers chain has hostel like accommidations at a variety of locations in Uganda including Kampala and Jinja. A night stay will run you 7 to 9 dollars US a day. These are most frequently used by Truck tours which are popular with the less independent traveller there also Bed & Breakfast establishments to make you have a homely feel away from home at the lowest rates.

National Parks

The accommodations provided in the national parks by UWA are generally of a good standard and are quite inexpensive compared to alternatives. They vary in amenities and price, and the cheapest can be as little as USD5.00 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, in 2009, the single party state is relatively stable after 25 years of stereotypically 'strong man' rule by Yoweri Museveni. Kampala has changed into a major center of East African trade.

Travel north to Murchison Falls National Park and Ajai Game Reserve is perfectly safe. Note that 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. However, any Caucasians 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. What little begging exists is some of the most polite and inoffensive to be found in African cities. 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 DRC there was one incident in the late 1990's 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.

Travelers should still avoid the North Eastern areas as Karimijong attacks have occurred that involved tourists.

Stay healthy

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

Take precautions against malaria! 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.

Diarrhea disease and intestinal worms are also a concern and travelers 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, travelers should secure ciprofloxacin before they exit their home country because it can be used as a cure.

Ebola outbreaks and Marburg have occurred the region and travelers should be careful of caves and animal bites.

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


Uganda has a fairly conservative Christian/Muslim based society. It is not considered acceptable for women to wear skimpy clothing or to have overt displays of 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 an Ugandan!

You will not be taken seriously if you wear shorts outside the obvious tourist destinations and no adult Ugandan would ever wear shorts. 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.

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


Mobile phone network coverage is available in most parts of the country (over 70%), but geography can make trouble in the mountainous regions. SIM cards are cheaply available everywhere in 'starter packs'.

Internet cafes can be readily found in Kampala and Jinja. In all towns with more than about 20,000 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 one who is used to a high speed internet connection.

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