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Travel tips - Uganda

About the Country

Geography: Uganda is located within two branches of the Great Rift Valley and its southern border surrounds the northern shores of Lake Victoria. Its altitude, not counting Rwenzori range and Mt Elgon, is between 900 and 1500 meters with an average height of 1000 on the sea level.

Time zone: +3 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Climate: Uganda is gifted by a steady average pleasant temperature all year long thanks to its geographical position on the equator, near Lake Victoria and its average height. In most of Uganda temperature ranges between 20 and 27 degrees in the daytime and between 15 and 18 in the night. The rain season is heavy between March and May, less between the first half of October and first half of December.

Political structure: Uganda is an independent democratic Republic member of the Commonwealth. The president is the head of state, head of the parliament and the chief of the military forces. After the last multy parties elections held on February 2006, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the N.R.M. (National Resistance Movement) has been re-elected. In 2010 Uganda will join the East African Community together with Kenya and Tanzania.

Economy: Uganda has a fully liberalized economy with an annual growth of 5-6%. Around 90% of the population gets its subsistence from agriculture. Tourism is increasing rapidly and every year it becomes a more important part of the national economy.

Religion: Most of Ugandans are Christians (80%) equally divided between protestants of the church of Uganda and Catholics. 16% of the population is Islamic, a religion introduced in Uganda when the slave traders made businesses with the Baganda. There isn't any friction between Christians and Muslims in the modern Uganda. However in rural areas these "imported" religions didn't replace local beliefs so in most of Uganda people follow at the same time animist and "imported" religions.

Population: According to the last census Ugandans are 24.5 millions with a growth rate of 4%. Only the 13% lives in the urban areas. Kampala, the capital city has around 1.2 millions. In Uganda there are more than 40 different tribes.

Language: Official languages are English, spoken by the majority of people and Kiswahili. Moreover there are more than 40 different local languages. Luganda is the most common.

Roads: Usually the main routes and roads inside urban areas are in good conditions and are well maintained. In the national parks and in rural areas, roads become unsurfaced with red soil but always in fair conditions.

Security: After the "dark age" of the dictatorships of Obote and Idi Amin, Uganda is steadily regaining its past glory when it was named "the pearl of Africa". With the ascent to power of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (1986), Uganda is having a long period of political stability and an undoubtedly increasing economic growth. One of the main aims of government is to ensure the internal security of the country, especially in the tourist areas like the national parks. Very safe and peaceful are the main cities and the capital: Kampala.

Pratical informations

Where to stay: Uganda offers a wide choice of accommodations: from luxury hotels in the capital and exclusive lodges in national parks to shoestrings campsites for people who want to live a real adventure in the nature.

Shopping: Very interesting are all the handcraft tools used in the everyday activities made from banana tree or other plants like mats, baskets et cetera. It is very easy to find handcraft objects from Uganda and neighbouring countries.

How to reach Uganda: Europe is very well connected to Uganda. Many airline companies fligh to the Ugandan international airport of Entebbe: SN Brussels airlines, British Airways, KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Gulf Air, Egypt Air. The flight takes around 9 hours from central Europe. Entebbe airport is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria, 35 km far from Kampala. O sole mio Ltd. provides services from and to the airport.

Documents and Visas: To visit Uganda it is necessary to have a valid passport with at least 6 months before expiring date and 2 blank pages. Visas are generally available at Entebbe Airport, usually paying 50$ for a single entry visa, or at the Ugandan Embassy in your home country. It is required to have an international certificate for yellow fever.

Currency, banks, credit cards: The local currency is the Uganda shilling (UGX). 1 dollar (USD) is around 1650 UGX and 1 EURO is around 2150 UGX. Euro and dollars in cash or traveller's cheque can be easily changed in the numerous local forex bureaux or in one of the international banks in Uganda like Barclays, Standard Chartered, Stanbic, Cairo Bank, Citybank etc. Take note that traveller's cheque's attracts a lower rate. With VISA credit card it is possible to draw cash at the ATM.

What to wear: It's advisable to bring a small and light luggage. Throughout the country, light clothes and one light jacket to use in coldest nights is more than enough. Travellers interested in mountain trekking and hiking are required to bring appropriate clothes. Don't forget to bring some creams to protect you from the sun and an insect repellent.

Water and food: Ugandan cuisine is pleasant even if not very varied. Usually in lodges and international hotels it is possible to choose between meat (beef, goat or sheep), lake fishes, chicken, rice, vegetables. Of course it is very easy to find tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, passion fruit, papaya, watermelon, oranges et cetera. Mineral water and soft drinks, called soda are easy to find anywhere in the country. Local beers (Bell, Nile Special and others) are common even if not always chilled.

Phone and Internet: Mobile phones are very common in Uganda and the network covers quite all Uganda. At the present time there are 3 communication networks: MTN, the most widespread, Celtel and Uganda Telecom. It is possible to call or send SMS from Uganda to other countries using sim cards of these companies easy to find everywhere even at the international airport. Internet points are very common in the capital, not so much in the rest of the country.

Travel guides and cartography: Lonely Planet publish a travel guide on East Africa with a section on Uganda. The Bradt has a whole guide dedicated to Uganda and it remains the best one up to now. Maps can be found in the bookshops in Kampala: Nelles maps (1:700.000), the very good one by International Travel Maps (1:800.000), less accurate is the McMillian Uganda Traveller's map (1:350.000) but it contains some maps national parks and Kampala.

Photography: Taking photographs is generally allowed except in some places considered to be sensitive security wise. It is forbidden to take pictures of military bases, bridges, airports. To obtain more information contact us. We are two photo journalists with a long travelling experience.

Time zone
Political structure

Where to stay
How to reach UG
Documents - Visas
Currency, banks...
What to wear
Water and food
Phone and internet
Travel guides