Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Uganda is found on the African continent, in the East-Central Africa region. It is a landlocked country without access to the sea.
Geographical size and population
Uganda has a total surface area of 241,551 square kilometres, and a population of over 40 million people.
Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. An estimated 1,680,800 people live in the city proper. Kampala has been ranked the best city to live in East Africa, ahead of Kenya’s Nairobi and Rwanda’s Kigali, by Mercer; a global development consulting agency based in New York City. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
English and Swahili are the official languages spoken in Uganda. Luganda, a language originating from the Ganda tribe (the largest tribe) is the ‘official’ vernacular.
Uganda is a dominantly Christian country, with Islam being the next most widely spread religion after Christianity. Uganda is a religiously tolerant country. Everyone, including foreigners, is allowed to express their religious beliefs without fear of suppression. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Uganda weather and best time to visit
Uganda has a warm tropical climate. Temperatures range between 25 °C – 29 °C. Mountainous areas are much cooler though, with temperatures dropping to as low as 13 °C, especially in the early mornings and late evenings.
Uganda has no winters! The country has two major seasons; the dry season and wet season.
The dry season comes along in the months of December – February, and June – August. Uganda is hot at this time of the year, with occasional rains falling especially in forests and mountainous areas. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
The wet season occurs in the months of March through May and late September to November. Uganda receives annual rainfalls ranging between 1000 mm -1500 mm. Even in the wet season, the sun still shines. Clear blue clouds can be usually seen in the sky after heavy downpours.
Uganda is an all-year-round tourist destination. The best time to visit Uganda has more to do with what you want to do and less on the weather conditions. National parks, game reserves, and other tourist destinations are open throughout the year.
It’s only in the wet seasons when heavy rains fall that some roads become impassable and a few lodges close down.
Prior booking is one way to make great Uganda safaris and tours. There is, for instance, a high demand for gorilla permits and safari lodges in national parks. Advance bookings is a way tourists are sure not to miss out on the best lodges and other facilities for their Uganda safari tours. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Taking recommended Uganda vaccination shots is the way to start preparing for Uganda adventure tours. A yellow fever vaccination is mandatory. MMR, Hepatitis A and B, Polio, Cholera, Tetanus, Chickenpox, Rabies, and Meningitis, are among the vaccines to consider when planning for an Uganda tour.
Travel/safari itineraries are a great aid when planning for Uganda safaris and tours. A clear itinerary is an indispensable tool for adventure junkies. Once safari activities are highlighted, it is easy to determine expenses and length of the safari in terms of days.
Using a tour operator
Planning for Uganda tours is more seamless when a tour operator is employed. A trusted tour operator like ‘Yaneta safaris tours and travel’ helps with timely bookings, transportation, and creating safari itineraries from an informed perspective. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
What to pack for a Uganda safaris
A Uganda tours and safari is taking a trip to the wild. Tourists should consider packing for a Uganda safari holidays the following:
A medicine kit; including all personal prescriptions and essential drugs like antimalarial and painkillers. The spread of malaria is prevalent in Uganda.
The appropriate attire; this includes both light and warm clothes for the sunny days and chilly nights, respectively. Long-sleeved shirts and ankle-length trousers are best for keeping off mosquito and bug bites that are very common during Uganda adventure tours.
Hiking boots and rain gear. The boots are for gorilla treks and other hikes through Uganda’s dense jungles. Even in the dry spells, it still rains in Uganda especially in the mountains and dense forests. For this reason, rain gear should come in handy.
Sunblock cream, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat. Tourists should consider packing these for their Uganda safaris and tours, especially when travelling during the dry seasons. One definitely needs protection from the harsh rays emitted by the scorching-hot sun at this time of the year.
Personal toiletries and sanitary kits; all the essentials you need for your personal hygiene. Most Ugandan lodges only offer what is basic. Having antiseptic wipes should come be a priority because most Uganda tours and safaris itineraries include lots of dirt-accumulating adventures.
Best Uganda safari activities
Uganda tours are more fun and sating with these activities:
Kampala city tour
Uganda’s Capital is alive! Kampala is one city whose heartbeat and pulse is too potent to miss.
There is so much to see and do in Kampala; visiting the historical, religious, and cultural monuments, experimenting with local and exotic dishes (Kampala is Uganda’s food hub), visiting shopping malls, food and crafts markets, and experiencing Uganda’s vibrant nightlife. Kampala never sleeps!
Visiting the national parks and game reserves
Uganda has 10 national parks and over 15 game reserves. Among other wildlife, several of Uganda’s parks like Queen Elizabeth are a habitat to some or all of Africa’s big five; the African elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, and cape buffalo. Visiting the parks and reserves gives tourists a true Uganda adventure tour experience!
Mountain gorilla trekking
Uganda is one of the few destinations in the world where mountain gorillas can be encountered in their natural habitat.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park situated in southwestern Uganda is a habitat to over 400 individuals. The rest of Uganda’s mountain gorilla population is found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Gorilla trekking is done in the parks all-year-round.
Uganda is a habitat to over 1065 bird species. Bird watching is a major Uganda safari tours activity. Uganda receives migratory birds in the month of November which do not depart until late April. Uganda birding safaris are the epic experience for avid birders.
Daytime and nocturnal game-drives are among the prime Uganda adventure tours activities. Almost all national parks arrange these drives for tourists to see Uganda’s wildlife.
Visiting Jinja town (Uganda’s adventure hub).
Jinja town is a ‘must-visit’ Uganda tours destination for adrenaline junkies. Jinja is Uganda’s hub for fun and adventure; bungee jumping, ziplining, whitewater rafting, sport fishing, canoeing, horse riding, mountain biking, quad biking, and cruising to the source of the Nile.
Best places to stay
There is a wealth of safari lodges and hotels where tourists can stay when on their Uganda safaris and tours.
All kinds of lodging facilities have been set up over the years to match the high demand created by the great number of tourists who flock the country all-year-round.
Tourists can choose from several high-end/luxury, to midrange, and budget accommodation facilities, spread throughout the country. There are several safari lodges found within the parks and their vicinities.
The best place to stay depends on one’s preference and taste, and the much they are willing to spend on their Uganda safari holidays.
What to eat while in Uganda
There is no ‘special’ food you will have to eat when in Uganda! Nevertheless, it is in Uganda that every tourist finds something that suits and appeals to their taste buds.
Uganda has wide variety of foods. There are several hotels, restaurants, and eateries spread throughout the country, known for preparing outstanding local, exotic and intercontinental cuisine and dishes. Rolex and Luwombo are among the local delicacies every tourist must try when on a Uganda safari holiday.
Tourists must avoid consuming contaminated food and water as these can bring on cholera and typhoid.
Uganda’s tap water is not safe for drinking. Sealed bottled water is safest to drink when on Uganda tours and safaris.
Travelling with children
Uganda is one safari destination you can travel to with your entire family. There are several Uganda adventure tours to suit an entire family including the children. Tourists can have their Uganda tours and safaris tailor-made to suit their children. You can deliberately choose to include child-friendly activities on your safari itinerary.
Also, Uganda safari lodges offer a varied range of accommodation including family rooms and camping facilities favorable for an entire family traveling on a budget.
All visitors to Uganda, with the exception of those from visa-exempt countries are expected to obtain a Uganda visa.
While planning for their Uganda safaris and tours, tourists can access Uganda visas via the official online portal https://visas.immigration.go.ug/. Or, they can acquire it on arrival in Uganda.
A single entry visa valid for 3 months costs $50 while a multiple entry goes for $100 when valid for 6-12 months, $150 when valid for 12-24 months, and $200 when valid for 24-36 months.
Uganda has a staunch religious and cultural background. This fact serves to denote strong moral values.
While on Uganda tours, tourists are better off not getting entangled in morally compromising situations.
Members of the LGBT should for instance, keep their identity a secret since homosexuality is considered illegal in Uganda.
Besides same-sex relationships being a criminal offence punishable by law, most locals find any ‘inappropriate’ sexual behaviour repulsive.
Without getting on the wrong side of the law, visitors to Uganda, regardless of their country of origin can expect to have a great time while on their Uganda safari tours.
Uganda is a multilingual nation. There are over 40 tribes in Uganda with each having its own unique language. English and Swahili are the official languages in Uganda. English is most used by the elite population and is the medium of communication in all formal corporations and institutions.
Swahili is not as widely used and is yet to be adopted by the local population. The language is especially used in the army, police and military forces as a medium of instruction.
The ‘official’ vernacular is Luganda, a language spoken by the Ganda people (Uganda’s biggest and most dominant tribe). Language is barely an impediment for tourists coming from English speaking countries. Uganda safaris and tours are however more fun when foreign tourists are ‘equipped’ with some Luganda or any other vernacular.
Is Uganda safe to travel?
Yes, Uganda is safe to travel! Uganda is one of the ‘not so many’ countries that are safe and hospitable to foreigners. Acts of terrorism and abuse against foreign nationals are barely heard of in Uganda. Also, there are over 41 embassies and high commissions of other countries in Kampala (capital city). Foreigners can always turn to their embassies for assistance in the instance where they encounter a challenge the local police can’t address.
Like any other developing country, Uganda has had its throes of civil unrest, pandemics, and natural disasters.
There is also a prevalent crime rate in the city; cases of petty theft, pickpockets, robberies, and credit card scheming are common especially in the city proper, inner cities, and suburbs. However, Uganda’s safety issues that are yet to be addressed are in no way an impediment to deter tourists from embarking on Uganda safari tours.
What are the health requirements for tourists traveling to Uganda?
Tourists traveling to Uganda from any country are especially required to receive the necessary vaccination. Vaccination should be seen as a precautionary measure taken to ensure immunity against infections, diseases, and contagious outbreaks which one would otherwise be prone to while on Uganda safari holidays.
Mandatory and recommended vaccines include:
Yellow fever: this is mandatory because Uganda lies in the yellow fever belt. Tourists are required to present their vaccination certificate before entering Uganda. Polio, Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Cholera, Meningitis, Rabies, TDAP, Chickenpox, Pneumonia, and Measles-Mumps-Rubella, are some of the recommended vaccines to take when intending to embark on Uganda safari holidays.
Where are mountain gorillas found in Uganda?
Uganda’s mountain gorillas are found in two national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Both parks are found in the southwestern region of Uganda. Uganda stands out as a habitat to more than half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. There are only about 1063 mountain gorillas in the entire world, and Uganda currently has over 550 individuals. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Bwindi has 50 confirmed gorilla families, 19 of which are habituated and available for trekkings. Mgahinga has about 100 individuals including 1 habituated family. Uganda adventure tours are incomplete without gorilla trekkings excursions.
What is the best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda happens all-year-round. The Uganda Wildlife Authority issues trekking permits to tourists throughout the year. Although it can be done any time of the year, the best time to go gorilla trekking in Uganda is during the dry seasons. At this time of the year the ground under-foot is dry, making treks less exerting and the trails easier to conquer. The dry seasons occur in the months of December – February and June – August.
Gorilla trekking is still possible in the wet seasons and somewhat a better option for tourists working on a tight budget.
During the wet seasons, the number of tourists embarking on Uganda safaris and tours tends to drop, resulting in discounts on several Uganda tours in the various parks as a move to boost business.
In spite of the discounts, however, gorilla trekking in the wet seasons may not be the best choice because in cases of heavy rains, several routes and trails within the parks and forests become impassable, and a number of lodges close down.
What is the Cost of a Uganda Gorilla Permit?
All visitors wishing to include gorilla trekking on their Uganda tours itinerary are required to book a gorilla permit.
A Uganda gorilla permit costs $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents, and UGX 250,000 for all East African nationals.
With effect from July 2020 however, the cost of a gorilla permit for foreign non-residents and residents is set to increase by $100 dollars. This means, the foreign non-resident gorilla permit will cost $700 and $600 for foreign residents. The permit for East African nationals will remain at UGX250,000.
Even after the cost increments are effected, the cost of a Uganda gorilla permit will still be fair as compared to that of Rwanda. A gorilla permit in Rwanda goes for $1500.
What is Uganda’s power voltage and what sort of plugs do they use in Uganda?
Uganda’s standard voltage is 240V and the frequency is 50HZ. Travellers from the US, Canada and several South American countries need to pack a voltage converter when venturing out on Uganda safari tours.
Most of the electronic sockets in Uganda are the three-rectangular-prong style of the UK as contrasted with the two-flat-prong style of the United States and Canada. Travellers embarking on Uganda tours and safaris are better off moving with a universal adapter.
What attire should I pack for my Uganda safari?
Uganda is a warm country. It experiences a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 25 °C – 29 °C. Uganda experiences two main seasons; the dry season and wet season.
Whether your planned Uganda adventure safari or Uganda tour falls in the dry season or wet season, consider packing:
Light clothes: convenient for the sunny days, hot afternoons and usually warm nights. Long-sleeved shirts and ankle-length trousers; keeping most of your body covered will help in minimizing mosquito and bug bites during your Uganda safari tours.
Warm clothing and rain gear; you don’t have to carry your winter jacket and thick gloves but you can consider packing a sweater, a pair of light gloves and socks for your Uganda safari tours. Even in the dry seasons, the early mornings are quite cold and it gets chilly in the evenings. In the mountainous areas, temperatures usually drop to 17°C – 13°C. Rain gear comes in handy because Uganda experiences a good amount of rainfall every year. Occasional downpours are experienced amidst the dry spells. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Hiking boots; these are a necessity when considering gorilla trekking and any other hiking excursion on your Uganda safari tours. Typical Uganda tours and safaris involve venturing out in untamed wildernesses, encountering rugged terrain, trekking the jungles, and engaging in several dirt-accumulating adventures that are best conquered in a pair of hiking boots.
A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses; tourists undertaking Uganda safaris and tours should consider packing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses or buy them from any of the local crafts markets in Uganda.
Are there charter flights to Uganda’s safari destinations?
Road drives are the usual means of transport on Uganda tours and safaris. Most tour operators use 4×4 wheel drive vehicles to conquer the long and somewhat exerting distances between Kampala (capital city) and the various safari destinations. A road drive from Kampala to Bwindi National Park, for instance, lasts between 8-10 hours.
For tourists intending to spend less time traveling to their Uganda safari tours destinations, there is the option of flying. Charter flights to most of Uganda’s tourist destinations can be arranged. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Tourists travelling to the following destinations on their Uganda tours and safaris can opt for charter flights instead of the long road drives: Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Toro Semuliki Game Reserve, Mount Elgon National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park.
Do I need travel insurance for a Uganda safari?
Yes, you need travel insurance for all your Uganda tours and safaris. Considering a comprehensive insurance policy over basic insurance is prudent. While getting a cover for emergency medical expenses is wise, securing a policy that also includes cover for; loss of valuables, sustained injuries, public liabilities, and trip cancellation, is a wiser decision for Uganda safari holidays.
Uganda safaris and tours are like taking a trip to the untamed wild. Though tour operators and authorities at the various parks and safari destinations do their best to keep clients safe, anything can happen amidst the adventures. Tourists could sustain injuries while; hiking the mountains, trekking gorillas and chimpanzees, cruising on the lakes and rivers, and while on the road switching between destinations. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
A comprehensive travel insurance cover comes in handy.
What do I need to know before booking a Uganda safari?
Tourists intending to book Uganda tours and safaris need to take caution and beware of frauds. Due to high poverty and youth unemployment rates, cases of frauds are prevalent in the country.
Tourists should endeavor to make their Uganda tours and safaris bookings with trustworthy tour operators. You may lose lump some amounts of money to phony tour operators if you aren’t careful.
What does it take for tourists to visit Uganda national parks and reserves?
Uganda national parks and reserves are accessible to tourists all-year-round. All it takes for tourists on Uganda safari holidays to access the parks and reserves is payment of entrance fees. Here is an insight into the charges:
This category includes the largest and most frequented national parks: Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Kibale National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Uganda adventure tours to category A parks requires payment of an entrance fee of $40 for adult foreign non-residents, $30 for adult foreign residents, and UGX 20,000 for adult East African nationals.
Children pay $20 for foreign non-residents, $10 for foreign residents, and UGX 5000 for East African nationals.
All school-going pupils and students pay UGX 3000. Tertiary institutions and universities pay UGX 5000. And Uganda Wildlife Clubs pay UGX 2000.
This category includes smaller and less frequented national parks and reserves; Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Semuliki National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Toro Semuliki Game Reserve, Pian Upe Game Reserve, and Katonga Wildlife Reserve.
Uganda safari tours to these parks and reserves cost an entrance fee of $35 for adult foreign non-residents, $25 for foreign residents, and UGX 15000 for adult East African nationals.
Children pay $5 for both foreign non-residents and foreign residents, and UGX 2500 for East African nationals. All school-going pupils and students pay UGX 2500.
All the other game reserves including; Ajai, Bugungu, Bokora, East Madi, Kabwoya, Kigezi, Karuma, Kyambura, and Matheniko belong to this category.
Uganda adventure tours to these reserves takes an entrance fee of $10 for foreign non-residents, $5 for foreign residents, and UGX 2500 for all East African nationals.
Where do I sleep when on a Uganda safari?
Accommodation isn’t a thing to worry about when planning for Uganda safari holidays. There is a varied range of accommodation facilities for tourists to choose from; hotels, inns, apartments, lodges, and camps. It is in Uganda that a tourist will find a place to sleep in at any amount they are willing to offer. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Uganda accommodation is as expensive as you can afford; high-end, midrange, budget, and shoestring (cheaper than $10).
Most frequented tourist accommodation in Kampala and its vicinity include:
Upmarket or Luxury
Kampala Serena Hotel, Lake Victoria Serena Resort, Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort Hotel, Mestil Hotel and Residences, Golden Tulip Canaan Hotel, Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Speke Hotel, Le Petit Village Hotel, Arcadia Suites Hotel, Imperial Royale Hotel, and Ivory Castle Hotel.
Mid-range or Standard. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Emin Pasha Hotel, Kampala Suites, Cassia Lodge, Maries Royale Hotel, Bougainvillaea Hotel, Ivory Castle Boutique Hotel, Grand Imperial Hotel, Hillside Plaza Hotel, Metropole Hotel, Hotel International, Freedom City Hotel, Kololo Courts Hotel and Apartments, and Silver Springs Hotel.
Budget or Cheap
Acacia Villa, Red Chilli Hideaway, Hotel Acacia, Minister’s Village Hotel Ntinda, Platinum Royale Hotel, Mamerito Hotel, Acactus Hotel, Florida Hotel, Satellite Hotel Kisasi, Bushpig Backpackers, Hotel Millenium, Sunrise Hotel, and Emerald Hotel.
Can I go shopping on a Uganda safari?
Yes, it’s possible to go shopping on Uganda safaris and tours. You can even have shopping included on your safari itinerary.
Uganda has so many shopping malls, supermarkets, arcades, craft shops, and food markets where tourists can go shopping for toiletries, sanitary kits, clothes, food and even fresh fruits when on their Uganda safari holidays.
A Uganda tours is incomplete without visiting the local crafts markets for a souvenir purchase. Plus, Uganda goods and services are very affordable. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Do Uganda service providers accept tips?
Yes, Uganda service providers receive tips. Like in most parts of the world, tipping is not obligatory in Uganda but it is without doubt received with much gratitude. Uganda has no set minimum wage. Most employees especially the waiters and waitresses you will find in hotels and restaurants, the guides and porters in the national parks, are paid barely enough to live by.
Tips, no matter how seemingly small the amount may be, make much difference for those you give it to. The amount you tip sorely depends on you and how satisfied you are with the service you are offered. Although most expect to be tipped, the people who serve you will in no wise show disappointment or make you feel uncomfortable when not given any tips. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Is a Uganda art and culture tour possible?
A Uganda art and culture tour is not only possible but it is also fun and fulfilling. Uganda’s art and culture is diverse, so much so that it would take a lifetime for one to explore and exhaust it. A Tailor-made Uganda safari tour will offer you a sating glimpse into the country’s prized art and culture. Exploring the museums, galleries, and stone age art like the Nyero Rock paintings in Kapchwora is a way to begin a Uganda art and culture tour.
Uganda’s many tribal groups contribute to the country’s cultural diversity. Several tribes are monarchies with ruling monarchs, royal palaces, royal burial grounds, coronation sites, and museums. All these and more are explored by tourists on art and culture tours.
Which Uganda destinations can I visit for adventure?
Found in the Eastern region, Jinja is Uganda’s prime adventure destination. There are fun and adrenaline activities especially at River Nile and on Lake Victoria organised for tourists. Most preferred Jinja adventures include; bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, canoeing, boat cruising, sport fishing, jet boating, quad biking, mountain climbing, and horse riding. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
When on Uganda tours, Jinja is the place to go for adventure junkies.
The National Parks;
Uganda has 10 national parks spread throughout the country. Adventures like: Mountain gorilla trekking is enjoyed in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mountain climbing and hiking are the prime adventure in Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Mount Elgon National Park.Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Chimpanzee trekking and primate walks are organised in Kibale National Park and the neighbouring Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.
Game-viewing drives are a preferred adventure in Queen Elizabeth National Park where tourists are able to see tree-climbing lions and other wildlife. Uganda Safari Travel Tips
Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Lake Mburo National Park are also great game viewing Uganda tours destinations.
Birdwatching adventures are organised in all parks including Semuliki National Park and Lake Mburo National Park. Uganda’s bird list includes over 1065 species.
Typical Uganda adventure tours also include visiting the hot springs, rivers, lakes and crater lakes, ancient rock paintings, visiting monuments, cultural as well as historical sites. Uganda Safari Travel Tips