What to know before going to Uganda?
It is not enough to know Uganda is found on the African continent and that it is a great tourist and safari destination. Here are a few quick facts tourists need to know before going to Uganda:
Uganda is considered a safe tourist destination. The country is one of those few places tourists visit and are at liberty to move about without any fatal threats to their safety.
It is however advisable for tourists to cautiously look out for themselves. Cases of thefts, robbery, sexual harassment, and all sorts of petty crime are a common occurrence, as it is in other developing countries.
It is not advisable for women, especially foreigners to walk alone in the night. Cases of rape and mugging are common especially in the inner cities.
You need a valid passport and visa
All visitors not coming from visa-exempt countries are required to obtain a visa on arrival to Uganda or from one of the Ugandan diplomatic missions.
Also, all visitors to Uganda are required to have a passport valid for 6 months.
Uganda started issuing electronic visas on 1st July 2016. Travelers who have been issued an e-visa must travel with a printed e-visa confirmation. The price of a Uganda visa is $50 and $100 for the East African Tourist Visa.
Travelers are required to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate before entry to Uganda. Before going to Uganda, tourists must know that receiving a yellow fever shot is mandatory.
Hepatitis A & B, polio, Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR), Meningitis (Meningococcal disease), Tetanus, Diphtheria & Pertussis (TDAP), Pneumonia, Rabies, cholera, and typhoid, are some of the other recommended vaccines.
Travelers are cautioned to have a prescribed dosage of antimalarial drugs because malaria is prevalent in Uganda.
Uganda currency and forex rates
The Ugandan Shilling (UGX) is Uganda’s official currency. The most popular Uganda shilling exchange rate is the USD to UGX rate. $1 is equivalent to about 3,700 UGX. The amount drops or rises on a daily depending on the varying exchange rates. For travelers, a digital currency converter is a dependable tool.
Forex bureaus offer better exchange rates as compared to other places like, the airport and shopping malls where exchange can be made.
Cash rules in Uganda. The use of credit and debit cards is yet to be adopted on a larger scale. A few places like upscale shopping malls, supermarkets, hotels, and national parks accept cards.
Uganda time zone
Uganda observes Eastern Africa time all year round. There are no Daylight Saving Time clock changes. Uganda is 3 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+3).
Tourists need to know that Uganda has no winters. The country has a warm tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 25-29°C. Uganda has its wet seasons and dry spells. Heavy rains normally fall in the months of September to November and March to May. It is usually hot in the months of December to February and June to August.
In spite of being a country of great cultural and tribal diversity, the people of Uganda exude the strong bond of unity.
As regards the treatment of foreigners and tourists, the people of Uganda are very friendly, hospitable , and welcoming. You’re sure to feel at home from the very minute you arrive at the airport.
Though multilingual, English and Swahili are the official languages spoken in Uganda. English is more widespread however, it is used as the medium of instruction in schools and communication in corporate environments. Swahili is spoken by a smaller percentage and is yet to be learnt by the majority.
Luganda is on the other hand the most prevalent local language. It is spoken by most natives including those not belonging to the Ganda tribe. Uganda has over 40 tribal groups with each having a distinct language. Luganda though belonging to the Ganda tribe, is the most wide-spread local language.
Tourists are advised to learn a word or two in Luganda. Many locals are illiterate and cannot communicate in English or Swahili.
Uganda is one place you can be sure to find a meal that suits your tastebuds. Spread throughout the Capital are several eateries known for their outstanding local, exotic, and intercontinental cuisine and culinary. When we talk about local dishes, Rolex and Luwombo are a tourist delicacy.
Internet and wi-fi
Uganda has a dependable internet connection. There is a 4G signal in the Capital and most tourist destinations. Most high-end hotels and lodges offer a good WiFi connection. In places where you have no access to WiFi, you can turn to any of the various internet cafes spread across the city.
Purchasing a simcard is the most convenient option. A simcard costs less than $2. With this you get to purchase any internet bundle of your choice. The country’s various internet service providers offer 4G network connection. Airtel and MTN are the most dependable mobile networks.
In the year 2018, Uganda introduced a social media tax known as OTT. Since then, it is not possible for one to access social media platforms like; Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Instagram, without paying the tax. Using various VPNs however, is the way most locals dodge the tax.