Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa whose diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and immense Lake Victoria. Its abundant wildlife includes chimpanzees as well as rare birds. Remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest is known for its 43m-tall waterfall and wildlife such as hippos.
Capital: Kampala and largest city
Official languages: English (“the official language”), Swahili (“the second official language”)
Population: Estimate 37,873,253
Currency: Ugandan shilling (UGX)
Time zone: EAT (UTC+3)
Drives on the: left
Calling code: +256
Uganda, East Africa
Uganda first welcomed man way back in Stone Age times when primitive man- kind first walked the earth in Africa. In the heart of the African continent, Uganda truly can be said to embody the spirit of Africa.
Today Uganda welcomes visitors from all over the world who stirred by their imagination come to explore the enchanting country with its shimmering lakes and lofty mountains, our mysterious forests and game parks teeming with birds and increasing concentrations of all kinds of wildlife. The traditional attractions of our country have been boosted up-to-the-minute hotels and comfortable lodges, a wide range of tempting restaurants and all the modern facilities that a tourist now expects.
Getting to Uganda is so easy. Entebbe International Airport just 32 kilometers (20 Miles) from our Capital City Kampala is served by International carriers from Europe as well as service flights from Nairobi, Kigali, Cape Town and the African big cities providing connections with Africa’s biggest gateway.
Uganda is ideal for a voyage of discovery into the most enthralling Continents in the world. CNN, National Geographic Travel, Jovago and Lonely Planet and other online travel giants have all over the decade listed Uganda as among the top 20 destinations in the world. Our country presents a captivating combination of the wonders of nature, traditional customs and modern attractions. But above all other attractions is the welcome that comes from the heart of the Ugandan people.
The people of Uganda are amongst the most hospitable in Africa. The Nation is a result of the Unification of Ancient Kingdoms as well as many Independent Chieftains.
Their heritage lives on in the hearts of the people and traditional customs language and practices are unmistakable in the life of Uganda today.
Although nearly 30 different languages are spoken, English is our official language and Swahili is widely spoken.
Nature & Climate
Uganda’s equatorial climate is tempered by cooling breezes from the mountains and the lush vegetation is the result of bountiful rainfall in two rainy seasons which fall around April and November.
Uganda is sunny most of the year, with temperatures rarely rising above 29 degrees Celcius / 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The heavy rainy season is March-May, light rainy season November-December, though there will always be a few hours of sunshine. June is usually dry, but showers can still be expected.
To most visitors the attraction of Africa is the chance to experience, at first hand, the sights and sounds often only glimpsed on the television screen. Great herds of game roaming free as nature intended. The brilliantly Colored birds of tropical forests , Lake and Mountains. Butterflies flitting from flower to flower as great swathes of bougainvillea vie with exotic orchids or the magical lotus flower to assail the senses. The very spot where John Speke stood when he became the first European to gaze on the source of the Nile. The rare privilege of gorilla trekking into the Jungles to watch families of gorillas in one of their last natural habitats.
Entering the Country
Non-residents of Uganda will be required to purchase a visa with a valid passport when they arrive in Uganda. 90 day Tourist Visas can be obtained at the airport upon arrival at a cost of $50 US Dollars. You must pay in cash US Dollars only and make sure that bills are issued post-2001. Tourists coming into Uganda and would like to visit other East African countries can also obtain an East African Tourist Visa. Both Visas can be obtained online prior to your travel. See details here.
Uganda also requires that all visitors are vaccinated against Yellow Fever before entry. While they may not always check, we strongly recommend that you bring proof of this vaccination with you when arriving in the country.
The official language in Uganda is English(UK). Luganda and Swahili are also widely spoken.
230/245 volts. British-style plugs with three pins are used.
Food and Drink
Uganda, with its agricultural resource, combined with the conducive climate, produces a wide range of food products. Bananas, millet, maize, sorghum, rice, wheat, sweet potatoes, irish potatoes and cassava grow in abundance. Fruits and other vegetables are also plentiful – watermelon, passion fruits, pineapples, mangoes, tomatoes, aubergine, green peppers. You will probably eat better here than you do at home! Tea and coffee is readily available almost everywhere with coffee houses and cafés conveniently located. Soda (coke, fanta, sprite, bitter lemon, etc) are sold by the (glass) bottle, which are returnable and recycled. Local beer (lagers only) are as good as any international beer and there are many to choose from including – Bell, Club, ESB, Pilsner, Nile Special, Eagle, Castle, Guinness. All are brewed in Uganda, but it is important to remember that these are considerably stronger than what you may be used to.
Banks and Changing Money
There is a wide array of banks and forex bureau’s to choose from, with several international banks represented (Barclays, Standard Chartered, Stanbic).
The US dollar and the pound sterling are the strongest currencies used in Uganda and are the easiest to exchange. Us dollar notes dated prior to 2001 are turned away and therefore recommend bringing US dollar notes issued no earlier than 2006. Also, notes smaller than US$50 attract a far lower exchange rate. We suggest you bring cash and/or credit cards with you as traveler check exchange rates are not as competitive.
For convenience you may change money at the airport upon arrival however, the airport exchange is not as competitive as forex bureaus in Kampala. We suggest you change only as much as you need to get you you through the first day or so (recommend US$50-100 only).
Credit Cards & ATMS
Despite what some guidebooks claim, credit cards are not widely accepted and where they can be used, mainly with the larger hotels and companies, hefty surcharges are common. Barclays Bank (open Mon-Fri, 9.00 am – 3.00 pm), however, offers cash advances against credit cards with a small surcharge. ATMs can be found at the airport and and widely in major cities and towns, but please note that they only accept Mastercard and Visa cards.
Malaria Risk and Prophylaxis: Malaria risk is high and chloroquine resistance is a problem in Uganda. A prophylactic medication such as Mefloquine (Larium) or Doxycycline is recommended. Travellers should also carry malaria treatment such as Fansidar or Artenam (also available in the drug shops in Uganda). Again, please consult and discuss prevention and treatment options with your physician prior to your visit to East Africa.
Food and Shopping
Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja and Mbarara offer an amazing variety of international cuisine, including Italian (Mambo Point), Chinese (Fang Fang), Thai (Krua Thai), Greek (Andy the Greeks), Indian (Masala Chat/Handii’s), Ugandan (Ekitobeero), Ethiopian (Fasika), European (Sam’s) and pizza (Dominoes/Speke Hotel), Turkish (Efendy’s – Hotel Africana), coffee/fresh juice (Ban Café), Café Pap and Rwenzori Coffee House (Lugogo Mall), bakery (Vasili and Sons) and fast food (Nandos/Steers/Garden City)… to name a few!
Crafts: There are craft shops throughout the city. A great place for textiles (sarongs, bedspreads, table cloths) is the Textile Centre at UGMA Showgrounds, near Metro Cash and Carry. Try the local crafts market behind the National Theatre for a variety of handmade items where you can bargain. UCOTA located on Gaba Road in Kansanga is a great place for handmade crafts, made by communities groups from all over the country. Banana Boat in Kisemente (near Just Kicking) offers exclusive crafts from Kenya and Uganda, they also have shops in Garden City and Lugogo Mall. A little pricey but definitely worth a look, especially for something a little more special. Cassava Republic, under Wagadugu’s, and their sister shop just around the corner, “Jungle Junk”, has wonderful hand painted cloth with wrought iron spears to hang them from, plus other local crafts. Finally right next door to the Afri Tours office you will find Exposure Africa, a craft village run by the Uganda Small Scale Industry Association (USSA).