Uganda is referred to as the Pearl of Africa as it was named by Sir Winston Churchill, and this was due to very many incredible attractions the country hosts some of which are rarely seen elsewhere in the world. Uganda like its counterpart Rwanda is a land locked country, it has no seaport.
It’s an African country which lies across the equator in eastern Africa between longitudes 291/2 east and 350 east and between 41/2 south. It occupies an area of about 236,580sq.km and over 16% is covered by water. Uganda is an independent state and it got its independence from the United Kingdom on 9th October 1962. Uganda crosses borders with Kenya to the East, Democratic Republic of Congo to the West, Tanzania and Rwanda to the South and south Sudan to the North.
Uganda is a opulent fertile country with remarkable scenery with plentiful wildlife, thereby justifying its description ‘’the Pearl of Africa. Its wildlife species is unmatched; the country offers more than what you can expect. It houses 10 national parks and many game reserves each housing unique attractions many are just waiting for you to explore. The mythical snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, Dense tropical forest, rolling savannah, fresh water lakes and breathtaking waters on the Rive Nile among many others are some of the remarkably attractions you must not love to miss to see once you are on a safari to Uganda.
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda and it’s just about 47kilometes from the Entebbe international airport the entry point to Uganda. It’s also known as a center to very many tractions and it’s a must stopover to any tourist before continuing to his/her destination.
Uganda safari destinations/ national parks include Queen Elizabeth national park a home to a wide variety of animal species its known as one of the most visited Uganda parks and its located in the western part of Uganda just about 6-7 hours’ drive from capital city Kampala.
Murchison falls national park Uganda’s biggest park located in the north eastern part of Uganda about 6-7 hours from Kampala.
Kibale forest national park is known as a home to over 13 species of primates including Chimps the closest relative to human, the park is located in the south western part of Uganda and it’s just a drive of about 5-6 hours from the capital city Kampala.
Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga national parks both parks are known for housing the endangered mountain gorillas and gorilla tracking is the most done adventurous safari activity in Uganda attracting a huge number of travelers to the country, both Parks are located in the south western part of Uganda about 8-9 hours’ drive from the capital city Kampala. Very many tourists who visit Uganda come specifically to meet these giants in their natural habitat.
Other Uganda parks include Lake Mburo national park, the most closest park to the capital city Kampala, it’s just a bout 3-4 hours’ drive and it house very many species of wildlife some of which can’t be seen elsewhere in other parks.
Semulik valley national park known for its birdlife and primate species, it’s as well as known for its hot springs.
Kidepo national park is located in the far northern part of Uganda about 12 hours’ drive from the Kampala capital city, visiting this park is very important to plan for a 2 days transfer from Kampala, however a a charter flight can also be used from Kajansi in Entebbe to the Park. The park houses very many species of wildlife some of which are just waiting for you to explore, it’s known as the less visited park in Uganda due to its remoteness. For hiking Mt. Rwenzori and Elgon offers the best hiking opportunities.
Mountain Rwenzori is known as the third tallest mountain in Africa after Mt.kirimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, sometimes Mt. Rwenazori is known as the snow-capped mountain its located in the south western part of Uganda.
Mountain Elgon is located in the eastern part of Uganda and its much known for better sighting of the Sipi falls one of its kind in Africa. Uganda has a lot to offer just add Uganda on you must list countries to visit this year your safari won’t be a regret.
Guide for your Packing List for your Safari
General Packing List to East African tour
In order to enjoy your tour perfectly, there are certain things you must pack before leaving your motherland and they are considered essential. To mention some include;
How to get to Uganda?
Uganda has one international airport known as Entebbe International Airport, all international flights land direct to Entebbe airport and there is no airport tax levied on passengers upon embarking at the airport. At the airport, there are very many departure taxes and travelers must pay a departure flight tax of $40 in most cases this fee is included on the airline ticket.
From the airport to down towns in Kampala taxis charges $50 for the 40km from the airport to Kampala Uganda’s capital and its largest city , it’s about an hour’s drive from Entebbe airport to the capital city Kampala. The best way to get around the city is by a metered taxi or on motorcycle taxis called boda bodas. Many car rental companies are available; you can book a car on a self-drive or with a driver to take you around the city.
There several international flights that land direct to Entebbe international airport these include British Airways(BA), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL), Qatar Airways (QR), Brussels Airlines, Delta airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Turkish Airlines (TK), Fly Dubai (FZ) Egypt air(MS) Kenya Airways (KQ) Rwandair (WB), South African Airways (SAA).
Uganda has various airstrips which allow charter flight, so you can reach various destinations in Uganda using chartered flights within a shortest period of time you can use the Asante Aviation, Eagle Air, and Aero Link Uganda.
You can still enter the country by road from border countries, from Kenya one can pass via the Busia boarder, while from Rwanda they mainly use the Gatuna border very many buses or public means are used to connect these neighboring countries to Kampala, from Nairobi in Kenya, Juba in south Sudan, Dar es salaam in Tanzania, Kigali in Rwanda, Bujumbura in Burundi and Goma in the Congo. If you are in one of these countries and you want to enter Uganda you can use road transport.
Entry/ Exit Requirements
No one is allowed to enter Uganda without a valid passport with an expiry date ranging from 6 months and beyond and a return ticket. Visas are very vital for most visitors to be allowed to enter the country. The Ugandan visas are issued at the Uganda High Commissions and Embassies abroad and also at all Entry/Exist points.
Some people from the following nations can enter Uganda without visas including Swaziland, Eritrea, Angola, Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Lesotho, Belize, Jamaica, Malta, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Madagascar, Seychelles and Burundi.
If you plan to obtain visa to Uganda at Entebbe Airport, you should confirm in advance that your airline allows you to board without visa. Single entry visa for Uganda is at $50 and valid for 3 months and $100 for multiple entries this one valid for 6 months from the date of arrival. In order to avoid interruption and fines, travelers are advised to pay special attentions to the validity of their visas.
Getting Around Uganda
Many ways can be used to travel around Uganda, due to many improved transport and communication network. One can easily travel within the country either using public or private transport; however the means used depends on one’s time constraints and budget.
Travelling around Uganda is a true adventure you can travel by road and it’s known as the most accessible and probably the cheapest means around Uganda.
Some car hire companies are available to hire you the car either on self-drive or with a driver to reach your destination. Buses, taxis, VIP vans and several touring trucks are available to take you around. Motorcycles/Boda bodas as they are locally known can also be used to travel for short distance around the towns in Uganda.
Self- drive options is available and many tour operators hiring cars can offer you this service, if you need to hire a car on a self-drive to drive yourself around, you can contact us in time and we reserve you a car with a local driver who will also give you an interpretive commentary while you enjoy the scenic view.
Uganda has a lovely warm tropical client which makes the country visited any time of the year.
Uganda’s mean temperatures are between 21o c all year round. Uganda has two seasons, the dry season and the wet seasons. The rainy season starts from March –May and October to November. The rainy season slower travel and trekking becomes more difficult, the roads become impassable and mountainous areas tend to become much older than the plains and it receives more rains.
The dry season is from June to October, December up to February, many travelers prefer travelling in dry seasons, the roads are passable even in the remote areas, gorilla and chimp tracking are most done during these months, The dry season is also good for wild game viewing, thirsty draw most of the games to the drinking point hence offering nice views and photography. There is no bad time to visit Uganda, it depends on your interest, what to do and budget. lodges and other facilities are open all year round.
Uganda is made up of various ranges of ethnic groups and it has a very strong and rich culture tradition, over 50 different languages belonging to five different linguistic groups are spoken in Uganda and some of these languages bear some similarities while others are totally different and exclusive in their way of life.
The Kyoga forms the northern boundary for the Bantu speaking people who dominate the east, central and southern Africa. They include the Baganda who largely dominates the central part of Uganda, mainly known for their strong kingship in Uganda and Baganda constitutes the largest number of people in Uganda.
Other Bantu speaking people include Batoro speaks Lutoro ,the Banyakole who speaks Lunyankole, the Bakiga speaks Lukiga, they mainly live in the western region of Uganda while the Basoga speaks Lusoga this Bantu speaking group manly found in the eastern side of Uganda. Gishu are part of the Bantu and live mainly on the slops of Mt Elgon.
They speak Lumasaba closely related to the Luhya of Kenya. In the north and east live the Lango and the Acholi who mainly speak Nilotic languages and the Iteso and Karamojong. The Batwa Pygmies live isolated in the rainforests of western Uganda.
it’s you to decide where you will spend your overnights from; there are very many accommodations of all standards ranging from budget to luxury hostels. Kampala Uganda’s capital has the highest class hotel and modern conferencing facilities to choose from. in various safari destinations or national parks, you can be accommodated in up market game lodges, bush camps, beach resort, cabins and campsites for more information you can contact us and book for you an accommodation of your choice depending on your destination, interest and budget.
Uganda is ranked among the safest destination in Africa, most parts of Uganda can be visited safely,, but however much its ranked the safest, we urge you to take the some precautions, be cautious for your property and life from the time you arrive at Entebbe international airport, towns.
Avoid walking alone especially at night, don’t leave your belongings an attended to and out of sight, keep your vehicle locked if you are leaving. When in the parks, don’t carry your important and portable items in the backpacks they are unsafe.
For more information seek assistance from your travel agency or tour guide in the course of your safari. In case of anything or emergencies you are advised to report or contact any nearest Uganda police station or you can call 999 you will be helped immediately.
Credit cards are not majorly used in remote areas; they are mostly used and accepted at major hotels, shopping malls, art galleries and craft markets, and good restaurants as well as souvenir shops, a fee of 5% will charged from you and its automatically added on you bill.
Traveler’s cheques will only be accepted at forex bureaus, you will be requested to present your passport and a proof of purchase. In most places while on safari, cash is highly used for currency conversion. Always larger US bills earn a better rate of exchange from 50$ and 100$ bills.
You are required to carry your vaccination certificate against yellow fever and also cholera vaccination certificate is required. You are also required to vaccinate against polio, typhoid, hepatitis, diphtheria, and other recommendation include yellow fever and anti-malarial medication and safety measures for short trips.
There are some of the activities which require one to be physically fit in order to be allowed to participate, activities like mountaineering, and hiking, gorilla and chimp tracking, white-water rafting and bungee jumping, canoeing and Kayaking. All these activities may pose additional risks someone should undertake them with a lot of caution.
More adventurous activities such as mountaineering and hiking, gorilla trekking and chimp tracking, white-water rafting, canoeing and kayaking may pose additional risks and should be undertaken with care and caution. Clients must be fit and healthy.
You are advised to talk to your travel agent in your home country about the travel insurance needed prior to your travel dates.
Medical Services in Uganda
There are many public, private and clinics in Uganda which provide 24-hours emergency and ambulance services in most parts of the country, your travel agent will advise you the best one to be recommended to you. however you are recommended to come with
First Aid Kit including;
Pain killers e.g. aspirin or panadol (prescribed by your physician)
Insect repellent and misquote repellents.
Crème for itches and rashes (i.e. Benadryl itch relief stick)
Cold and allergy medicine
Bandage, gauze, and tapes
Diarrhea and medicine
Prescription antibiotics effective fight against a range of bacteria
You are advised to carry clothes which are considered vital according to things to do while on tour. However you should consider shorts, skirts, sandals and T-shirts, don’t forget warm clothing and light sweaters. Warm clothing is highly necessary in mountain regions.
if you are coming for gorilla and chimp tracking don’t forget to pack
For evening entertainment smart casual clothing is very necessary, suits and ties are worm for business and social get-together.
Notes on Gorilla Trekking
Please take a note that gorilla trekking is a strenuous activity and one should be physically fit to enjoy this memorable experience. The minimum trekking age is 15 years. And anyone with signs of communicable diseases will NOT be allowed to see the gorillas. Once the gorillas are met, you are strictly allowed, a maximum of 1 hour with them. While possession of a gorilla permit is a guarantee of trekking and sighting the gorillas, the quality of the gorilla trekking cannot be guaranteed.
You are advised not to over speed unless overtaking and where it’s due, Uganda speed limits on the road are 80km/h on major roads always mark the sign posts on the roads to avoid getting lost and don’t hesitate to ask locals.
There many potholes on all high traffic and marram roads so be alert. Also be aware of the livestock in the road, and you must also very careful when driving in the national parks for more information you can seek help from game rangers.
Food & Water
Tap water is considered unsafe for drinking unless boiled, you are recommended to drink bottled water only and also soda, beer and alcoholic beverages, coffee and tea are generally considered safe. Don’t fear to drink fresh fruits and juices are prepared with boiled water.
Uganda has nice restaurants and hotels which prepare African dishes as well as Chinese, English, French, Indian, Korean, Turkish and any other. Hygiene at the hotel or restaurants is highly considered. Even Roadside hostels or restaurants and markets places sell decent and fairly priced food.