Frequently asked questions:
What's the weather like?
- Uganda enjoys a tropical climate, though the heat is tempered by the altitude, as much of the country is more than 1000m above sea level.
- Rainy seasons are from March to May, and September to November
- Dry seasons are from December to February and mid June to mid August
- Average temperatures range from about 16°C (61°F) in the southwestern highlands to 25°C (77°F) in the northwest; but in the northeast, temperatures exceed 30°C (86F).
What should I bring?
- High SPF sunscreen (Uganda is on the equator!).
- Insect repellent.
- Spare or rechargeable batteries (these are difficult to find once you are in the Parks).
- Waterproof bags to protect equipment.
- Electric plug adaptors for 240 volts AC 50 Hz. UK-style square-pin plugs are used.
- Some people find contact lenses uncomfortable in Uganda because of the dust – you may find it more comfortable to wear glasses while on the road.
- Antiseptic handwash.
- An International Driving License if you are thinking of hiring a vehicle.
- Good walking boots/shoes.
- Sandals or other light shoes.
- Waterproof jacket or rain poncho.
- Lighter clothing for Kampala and the savannah, with layers for the cooler evenings.
- Warm clothing for mountainous regions, including thermal layers and a fleece.
- Sun hat/cap.
- Professional climbing gear is required for summiting the Rwenzoris.
- Uganda is a conservative country, and visitors should dress respectfully. Avoid short skirts and short shorts.
Should I bring any specialist equipment?
- Binoculars: The better ones start at about $250: you get what you pay for! Waterproof binoculars are great in Uganda as they are also dustproof. For most travelers stick with 8 or 10 magnification and 32 objective. These will be lighter than the 42 objectives which are heavy to carry all day.
- Cameras: Choose something which you know you can handle – a heavy camera with many settings will be off-putting for some people to use. For good wildlife shots, get at least 8x optical zoom. Six to eight megapixels is fine unless you want poster-size photos. Bring a lens cloth to remove dust, several changes of batteries (even if you use rechargeables – not all sites have power points) and take several 1GB memory cards instead of one large one, to avoid losing all your photos if something goes wrong.
Do I Need a visa to enter Uganda?
- For most nationalities, including the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and Ireland, 90-day tourist visas can be purchased on arrival at Entebbe airport for $50, or at the Ugandan Embassy in your home country prior to departure.
- Your passport must be valid for at least six months following the date of entry.
- As visa regulations change frequently, please check with the Ugandan Embassy in your country before departure.
What is the currency?
- The Ugandan Shilling. This cannot be purchased outside the country.
How do I exchange cash?
- US dollars, UK pounds and Euros are accepted by UWA for gorilla/chimp tracking permits and park entry fees. Many larger hotels will also accept US dollars and Euros – though you should check in advance.
- Note: All US dollars must be printed post-2003, and should not be damaged in any way. Higher exchange rates are given on larger value notes
- Banks and Forex bureaus will exchange cash, alternatively you can use ATM machines – common in the major towns. They should accept Visa Debit and Credit cards.
Can I use credit or debit cards?
- Visa is more widely accepted in city hotels and stores, followed by Mastercard. Other credit cards are unlikely to work.
- Do not count on being able to use cards outside of Kampala.
- Alert your bank before using your card abroad to avoid it being blocked.
Can I bargain when shopping?
- Prices are fixed in shops, but food and craft markets will be more flexible. You stand a better chance of getting a reduced price if you purchase several items from the same seller.
- Prices are generally very low – so do consider if what you are asking for is fair.
- Agree on charges for minibuses (matatus) or motorbike taxis (boda-bodas) with your driver beforehand.
Which vaccinations do I need?
- A yellow fever vaccine is essential – bring your certificate with you
- Hepatitis A and B, meningitis, polio, tetanus and typhoid vaccinations are also recommended
- A rabies vaccination is recommended for anyone who expects to be in close contact with animals, or in a very remote area
- Be aware that some of these require a course of injections, and others take several days to take effect, so you should visit your doctor or travel clinic as soon as possible before you travel.
Should I bring any other medications?
- Anti-malarial tablets are recommended throughout Uganda - visit your local travel clinic to determine which type is best for you. Note: Chloroquine does NOT protect against malaria in Uganda.
- Bring all prescription medications with you – they may not be readily available in Uganda.
- Be sure to purchase travel insurance before you begin your trip, including medical evacuation in case of an emergency.
What other health risks are there?
- Even if you are taking anti-malarials, you should still wear insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts, long trousers and closed shoes. This will also help protect you from other diseases carried by mosquitoes and other insects such as tsetse flies.
- All accommodation in high-risk areas will have mosquito nets – be sure to use them.
- Avoid swimming in Uganda's lakes – they carry a high risk of bilharzia
- Tap water is not suitable for drinking, though bottled water is readily available throughout the country.
- Mountain climbers should familiarize themselves with the symptoms and treatment of altitude sickness. Above 2500m, altitude sickness can affect anyone, irrespective of age, fitness or previous experience. The risk is reduced by slow ascents to enable acclimatization, while the most effective treatment is immediate withdrawal to a lower altitude.
How safe is Uganda for tourists?
- Uganda is generally considered to be a safe, stable country with low crime rates.
- The South Sudan border region and Karamoja in the north should be avoided, with the exception of Kidepo Valley National Park.
- Use common sense in cities as you would elsewhere – do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables, and keep money and credit cards in an inside pocket.
- For the most up-to-date information on Uganda, visit the FCO website.
Do I need a plug adaptor?
- Uganda uses a 240 volts AC 50 Hz square-pin plug, the same as the UK and Ireland.
Is there electricity in the whole country?
- Few areas outside the towns and cities have electricity.
- Lodges in rural areas will usually have solar panels or generators. This may mean that there is only power at certain times of day, or that plug sockets are limited.
- Throughout the country, there are regular "load shedding" blackouts to keep up with the demand for electricity. These may occur several times a day, and vary in duration – it is recommended to bring a flashlight. Load shedding will not affect the lodges with solar panels or generators.
What language is spoken in Uganda?
- English is widely spoken, especially in Kampala and by those working in tourism.
- Of over 50 local languages, Luganda is most common. Swahili is also spoken by many people as a second language.
How can I make phone calls in Uganda?
- If your cell phone is compatible, you may be able to purchase an inexpensive SIM card, widely available throughout the country.
- The international dialling code for Uganda is +256
Where can I use the Internet?
- Internet cafes are common in Kampala and all major towns, though the connection is likely to be very slow.
- Some hotels and restaurants also offer wifi.