Traveling to Africa is gradually becoming everyone’s ultimate goal although Africa’s travel information is still scanty which is a hiddenness to many of the would be adventurous travel lovers. So today we are starting a series of articles called “the Africa safari travel guides” to address this issue categorized according to country.
In this article am going to be sharing with you the best travel tips to Uganda so as to have a smooth Uganda Safari. Located in the Eastern part of Africa, Uganda is called the pearl of Africa because of its magnificent landscape and climate endured with a variety of wildlife, water bodies and hospitable people that will make your dream Africa safari come true.
Am sure you have a number of questions about Uganda that you will want us to answer and below are some of the most common travel tip questions that people ask about you Uganda.
Safety – Is Uganda safe for tourism?
This is a very broad question that includes other small questions like;
Is Uganda safe for single female travelers? Is Uganda safe for children? Is Uganda safe for American travelers and anyone else?
The answer to all the above question is YES, Uganda is safe for everyone. In fact Uganda is one of the safest countries in Africa since it has very hospitable people and their capital city is one of the best destinations for travelers especially those that enjoy partying. However we advise you to be practically sensible and wise as you move around since different places require particular safely cautions like in any other country around the world. And there are a few isolated opportunistic petty crimes so don’t carry large amounts of money or valuables and also keep money and credit cards in inside pockets. We strongly advise you to move around with a Ugandan guide especially if you are not well vast with the place you are in. for more particular safety tips, we advise you to check your country’s diplomatic mission website in Uganda.
We always receive this question from most would be adventurous tourists who wish to visit Uganda and the answer is simple, Uganda is best to visit all throughout the year because Uganda has a good climate all year round with both dry and wet seasons with temperatures ranging from 220 c and 270c during day and a little low at night so we advise you to carry light clothes and a few jackets in case of rain. However the western part of the Uganda especially Kabale and Kisoro Districts are somehow colder.
However, apart from climate the another factor for answering the best time to visit Uganda question is always the activities one wants to do during their Uganda safari for example; those who want to do game viewing are advised to visit during the drying season since game drives are best done during the dry season whereas those who enjoy primates and birds are advised to visit during the wet season.
Most travel enthusiasts always ask about the travel health requirements and tips when planning for any travel especially to unfamiliar locations like Africa. In this health section we are going to answer the mst popular questions asked by most Africa safari.
Vaccination- what are the mandatory vaccinations do I need to travel to Uganda?
Yellow fever vaccination should be taken prior to travel and bring your certificate with you in order to avoid inconveniences. A rabies vaccination is recommended for anyone who expects to be in close contact with animals especially those that prefer habituation activities. Hepatitis A and B, meningitis, polio, tetanus and typhoid vaccinations are also recommended
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.
Healthcare and emergency- are there good health care services and healthcare emergency services?
Be sure to purchase travel insurance before you begin your trip, including medical evacuation in case of an emergency. There are so many specialized hospitals around Uganda to take care of any emergency for example Nakasero hospital, Paragon hospital, Agakhan hospital, health link hospital and Kampala international hospital.
Other health tips- What other health advice do you have for travelers?
You are also advised to take antimalarial drugs prior to your visit so visit your local travel clinic to determine which type is best for you but note that Chloroquine does not protect against malaria in Uganda or they can be bought affordably and with ease over the counter in Kampala at any drug shop to prevent malaria. However 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.
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.
Transport and Communication.
This section has many questions that are frequently asked especially about transport and we are going to give you our honest answers below;
Tourist Visas to Uganda – Do I need a visa before travelling to Uganda?
Not necessarily, you can get a Single entry visa without difficulty on arrival at Entebbe airport or at land borders into Uganda. However, we recommend travelers to obtain their visas before travel and they can be obtained at Ugandan missions overseas. A valid passport is mandatory.
English is the national language and is widely spoken however, Luganda, Swahili and many other local languages are spoken. All the people you will interact with in hotels, lodges, airport and your driver guides are fluent in English while some are multi-lingua; speaking fluent Spanish, French, German, Italian among other languages.
The country’s main air transport hub is Entebbe International Airport with a national airline called Uganda airlines that currently operates in the region. However there are a number of international Airlines operate direct flights to Entebbe. There are also scheduled and charter flights to most areas of the country and East Africa as a region that are done my Domestic and regional operators
When in Uganda, we advise the use of 4WD vehicles due to the varying terrain and the un tarmacked roads. Many Uganda safari companies have comfortable 4WD vehicles redesigned for safari and featuring a large open roof.
Dress code and equipment to carry for the safari in Uganda
Equipment to carry – what equipment should I carry when coming for a Uganda safari?
This depends on your interests for photography, birding and wildlife enthusiasts we recommend the following: camera that has at least 8x optical zoom with at least six to eight megapixels. Bring a lens cloth to remove dust, several changes of batteries (even if you use rechargeable – not all sites have power points) and take several 1GB memory cards and binoculars that is Waterproof and with relatively high magnification but light for you to carry around all day.
Dress code – What to wear in Uganda on Safari
Different occasions attract varying styles of dressing for example there is what you wear in town and what you wear on safari. While in town, you are free to wear light clothes but there short be decent enough to cover your private part since Uganda’s traditions don’t allow indecent dressing.
During safaris, we do recommend having Light clothing, hats, and sturdy shoes. A sun cream and an insect repellent will be of great help and for those interested in Gorilla Tracking you will be required to have long pants (Jeans) and long-sleeved shirts and blouses, rain gear- water proof jacket or rain coat that will protect your cameras from rain. In Bwindi Forest it rains almost daily and therefore sturdy shoes are recommended for the steep terrain.
Ugandan Shilling is our national currency. However, other currencies like the US dollars, Euro, British Pound or Travelers’ Cheques are acceptable in some places especially hotels and other tourist facilities. Forex Services are available all-around Kampala in Forex Bureaus and Banks. Bank and ATM services are provided widely in the Capital and Upcountry. Credit cards are accepted in major hotels, international banks and some restaurants but not widely. You are advised to carry local currency upcountry as you may not get forex services.
Foods – what foods are served in Uganda?
Uganda is gifted with so many food varieties these range from the local dishes to the foreign dishes that are served in most of Uganda’s restaurants. Here at Africa safari magazine, we do encourage you to taste some of the local dishes during your safari stay in Uganda. Local dishes vary according to region and tribe, each tribe in Uganda has its own local dish like Baganda enjoy Luwombo and Matooke in the central while Banyankole enjoy Kalo and same goes for most western tribes and northern tribes.
Is it Safe to eat while traveling in Uganda?
Uganda has a number of en-route standard restaurant where you can get something to eat. However there are also so many roadside stalls that sell other fresh delicacies to eat like the famous rolex. However we only encourage visitors to only eat food from standard restaurants recommended by professional tour guides because some eateries’ quality of food preparation and hygiene is below the basic standard of the western world.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Uganda?
No! Tap water is generally unsafe for drinking in Uganda, so we do recommend only taking boiled water from a trusted restaurant or bottled mineral water. The advantage with Uganda is that bottled water is readily available at a very cheap price. However don’t worry about drinking water since your tour company will have that sorted before any safari starts.
Is it standard to tip in Uganda?
Uganda does not have a tipping culture however you are so much welcome to tip since it shows a good gesture of appreciating someone’s good services. Tips are mainly given to a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, driver-guide and lodge or hotel staff during your time in Uganda. We do not have a standard tip amount in Uganda so any amount is always welcome and it might surprise how much an impact it will have on that person.