Uganda Travel Info
Important information on the country and traveling in Uganda
Name Republic of Uganda.
Time Zone GMT + 3.
Capital City Kampala.
Independence gained on 9 October 1962 (from Great Britain).
National Language Luganda, Swahili and at least 32 other languages are also widely spoken.
Official Language English (official national language).
Land Area 236,040 square Kms.
Drives on the Left.
Calling Code 256.
• Uganda shares borders with Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania.
Population & People
• An estimate of 31 million in January 2008.
Vegetation & Special Natural Features
• Uganda is mostly a plateau, a compact country occupying an area of 236,580 square kilometers. It lies astride the Equator .
• Uganda is landlocked but it is a fertile, well-watered country with many lakes and rivers; including the largest lake and river in Africa; Lake Victoria and The Nile.
• Uganda has tropical climate with copious rainfall. The country is known for its fine sunny days and showery spells which rarely requires warm clothing, except on some chilly nights in the mountainous areas in western and eastern Uganda.
• Ugandan shilling (UGX) & cents.
• There is no limit to the amount of currency or traveler’s cheques that you may bring into the country. Traveler’s cheques can be difficult to change; please always carry your passports when you would like to change them though.
• A VISA card is also advised as ATM’s are widely distributed (MasterCard’s are slightly more difficult to use).
• Most of the hotels, lodges and shops in Uganda will take the major credit cards.
• Reverting your Ugandan shillings into hard currency is easily done at the airport, hotels and banks. It is recommended that visitors DO NOT change money on the black market as they are more likely to receive a lower rate of exchange or fake notes.
Passport / Visa
• A valid passport is required.
• Visitors require a visa to enter Uganda, which they can obtain at the Ugandan embassy in their own country, or at the airport on arrival.
• There is no national welfare scheme and visitors to Uganda are responsible for their own medical expenses.
• Uganda is considered a generally healthy place to travel. The SAFARI Company’s clients automatically become members of the Flying Doctors Rescue Service for emergency evacuation. However, you should carry your own complete holiday/medical insurance.
• Malaria protection is imperative. We recommend Malarone as a prophylactic.
• Voltage is 220-240 A.C
• Please bring sufficient batteries for photographic equipment, many lodges have limited power supply, but all are capable of re-charging your electrical goods for you.
• Please also bring adapter plugs (square pin, English standard).
• Most lodges do have a mobile phone signal (Zain, MTN, Warid) in the lodge or nearby (under a tree or on a hill) which sometimes can be weak, so please do not always rely on it.
• MTN generally has the widest coverage.
• Most lodges and hotels also have internet access in case of emergencies.
• Please respect the local people with regards to photography and only use cameras if they have permission by “the models” to do so.
• Never try to “steal” a photo against the will of the person concerned. Let your guide help negotiate terms before you start shooting!
Food & Water
• Please do not drink tap water; we recommend you drink bottled water; this is available in all lodges and camps.
• Please advise us of any allergies, likes or dislikes before you embark on your holiday.
• Please ensure that baggage is packed in soft bags and should weigh no more than 15 kg per person.
• It is possible to store luggage not required during the safari with us at The SAFARI Company or at your hotel if you are returning there after your trip. Please see our recommended packing list.
Uganda offers a treasure of experiences, ecosystems, wildlife and cultures. The SAFARI Company encourages our guests to support our guides by learning and honoring their policies which helps preserve our precious environment. In order to promote responsible tourism, we ask that you join us in observing the following tips.
Whilst on a game drive
• Please do not interfere with animal behavior.
• No more than 5 vehicles around an animal at one time (please accept the decision of your guide to leave an animal if he feels it is becoming overcrowded).
• Please do not get too close to the animals, this may distress them.
• Please do not get out of the vehicle without consulting your guide.
• Please try to be as quiet as possible when viewing wildlife close up. Your guide will turn off the vehicle’s engine whenever possible.
• Please minimize off road driving.
• No speeding! Limit in parks is 40 km per hour.
Protect the Environment
• Please do not litter, even cigarette butts.
• Please do not collect bones, feathers, stones or plants etc. they are all mini eco-systems.
• Please do not buy bones, stones, feather displays or plants etc.
• Please do not take photographs of the local people without asking their permission first.
• Please do not encourage trade or give personal items away to the local people (if we support begging we promote begging).
• If you have brought gifts to give to the local people, please give them to your guide for proper distribution.
• Beware of anyone asking you for gifts or money and do not feel obliged to donate anything.
• Please report back to us if you are harassed.
Television & Music
• Most places do not have either and some safari vehicles do not have radios.
• The sounds of the ‘bush’ are so special, unique and memorable, we advise against either, but if you are a ‘music addict’, we suggest you bring your IPod and sufficient power supply.
• The first thing most visitors notice is that Ugandan’s as a whole are extremely friendly, helpful people. Much of Uganda’s population is extremely poor though so take good care of your valuables, especially money and travelers cheques. Please do not leave money in your room or unattended in a safari vehicle.
• If you are walking around towns, please do not wear flashy jewelry, and hold on tight to your bags.
• We cannot accept responsibility for theft and all hotels and lodges have a security box for valuables and lock-up rooms for excess luggage storage.
Guide to Tipping
• Although tipping is a safari tradition, it is never compulsory and should only be done if you feel you have received good service.
• The staff very much appreciates receiving gratuity from you, our guests, because it is one way of assuring them they are doing a good job.
• Most lodges have a staff tip box located at reception, or in a central location. We recommend $5 per client per day in the tip box. These tips will be divided among all lodge staff.
• If you are particularly satisfied with assistance received from someone in particular, a personal tip is also acceptable.
• In most lodges the driver/guide is tipped individually.