UGANDA Travel Tips

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Uganda Travel Guide

Looking for Uganda travel tips? In this article, I will share with you our best tips to travel this beautiful country. Referred to by Winston Churchill as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is a country filled with unrivaled natural beauty with a tapestry of landscapes, awe inspiring wildlife experiences and adrenaline pumping adventures.

Uganda can be visited all year round with its two rainy seasons run from March to May and September to December.

Uganda has something for everyone and below is a guide that will give you everything you need to have the best trip.

Giraffe in Nile River Uganda

Uganda Visas

Most citizens are required to apply for a visa online and in advance of your trip and no visas will be issued at point of entry.

A single entry visa will give you the right to enter Uganda once for up to 90 days and is valid for 3 months. Please note that a yellow fever vaccine certificate is also required to enter Uganda and this will need to be shown to immigration before entering the country.

A Uganda tourist visa costs $50 USD and must be paid online when applying.

For tourist visits, these are the basic requirements which they ask:

  1. Passport copy (bio-data page) with at least 6 months validity
  2. Tour plan
  3. Travel itinerary / booking
  4. Recent Passport-size Photograph
  5. Vaccination Certificate (Yellow Fever)
  6. Hotel booking or reservation (if any other accommodation, provide an address)

Uganda Quick Information

Currency: Uganda Shillings.

Electric Socket: Plug type G is used in Uganda (same as the standard plugs used in United Kingdom). Uganda operates on a 240V supply voltage. To avoid the hassle of having to buy new adaptors for everywhere you go, we recommend picking up a universal travel adaptor before you leave.

Language: The official languages of Uganda are English and Swahili. However Uganda is home to a number of languages.

Luganda is widely spoken across Central and South Eastern regions and other languages include Ateso, Lango, Acholi, Runyoro, Runyankole, Rukiga, Luo, and Lusoga, among others.

Is Uganda Safe?

Uganda is one of Africa’s most stable nations and has been for a generation with thousands of international tourists visiting the remarkable country each year.

Like all places around the world, crime does occur but it is rarely targeted at visitors. You will need to follow standard safety procedures when visiting Uganda, for example – keeping personal items within sight at all times, using official taxis/transportation, being mindful of using smartphones/expensive technology in public and not showing large amounts of money.

For more safety tips and information on traveling Uganda, check out this article.

It is also advisable to drink bottled water out in Uganda as the tap water might not agree with Western stomachs, but tap water is safe for washing your face, brushing your teeth etc.

As always though, we recommend that you get travel insurance for your trip. We recommend World Nomads and Safety Wing for comprehensive / affordable travel plans. Travel insurance protects you for unforseen circumstances and will save you a ton of money if anything happens.

Click the buttons below to get a free quote for coverage during your trip.

Festivals and Celebrations in Uganda

Like the Ugandan landscapes, the festivals are also vast and varied with festivals that celebrate culture, food, music along with many others. With the wide selection there is likely to be an event for you to attend during your visit. Below are a few of the most popular festivals in Uganda.

Kampala City Festival: Taking place the first Sunday of October the Kampala City Festival is a celebration of unity and culture which focuses on one of the city’s oldest culture ideas – togetherness. Hundreds of Uganda’s musicians perform throughout the day and the festival also features street parades, a national dress competition, food stalls and live music.

Nyege Nyege Festival: One of the biggest festivals in Africa which showcases new artists and productions and attracts thousands of people from across the globe. The event takes place in September and is definitely one not to miss!

Nile River Festival: The largest and longest running whitewater festival in Africa that is set over 4 days. Visitors can watch the professionals compete and take part in some organized activities. The festival takes place each January.

Festival of the Ugandan Martyrs: Almost a million people attend this festival that is held on 3 June each year, which is considered to be one of the largest religious gatherings in the world. The day commemorates the 45 martyrs, who were killed on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, then King of Buganda between 1885 – 1887.

Rolex Festival: As Ugandans like to say, “Where I come from, a Rolex doesn’t tell time”

If you’re a food lover, it’s not a bad idea to visit Uganda in August which is when they celebrate the Rolex Festival. This food festival has taken place every August since 2016 to celebrate one of the most loved and eaten foods in Uganda.

Developed from “rolled eggs” (hence the name Rolex), rolex is simply a rolled chapati with eggs and your choice of filling. The food is so popular that locals tend to have their favorite Rolex vendors. This festival is a great event full of music, culture, and ofcourse, food.

Transportation in Uganda

There are a number of ways to travel around Uganda which will fit in with most budgets and timeframe. Traveling by road is the cheapest and most accessible form of travel and you can arrive at all major locations via public transport.

You can use buses, taxis or even hire a car. Buses are naturally the cheapest option!

If you are short on time, you can travel to many of the national parks by domestic flights. Eagle Air operates regular flights between Kampala and the national parks.

There is an option to travel short distances by motorcycle taxis, known as Boda Bodas. There are safety concerns with using Boda Bodas and some travel insurance policies won’t cover you to use them so check before!

If you prefer to have a hassle free trip, you can also join tours or arrange travel with travel operators who will help you reach your destinations. This is by far the easiest way to travel from one place to another. Further on in this article, I will share a few recommended travel partners.

Uganda Trip Planning

Uganda Rough Budget

Uganda is one of the cheaper countries in Africa so it is a very affordable. As with any destination, your daily budget will depend on your preferences. You can go as cheap or as luxurious as you want!

The biggest expenses will be accommodation and tours with food and transport being the lowest expense. A hotel can cost can cost between $30 – $70 with hostels being cheaper.

accommodation budget

Accommodation

Low budget: $5 – $15
Mid-range: $20 – $75
Splurge: $80+

food budget icon

Food (For One)

Street food: $1-$4
Restaurant meals: $5 – $15

transport budget icon

Transport

Matatus: $0.08 – $0.13
Taxi: (depending on distance)- $3.90
Intercity transportation: $79


Best Things to Do in Uganda

Uganda has something to offer everyone, whether it’s trekking through the lush rainforests to cast your eyes on the Mountain gorillas, exploring the bustling city of Kampala, exploring the natural beauty of national parks or partaking in water activities on the river Nile. Y

our Uganda itinerary will be filled with breathtaking and awe inspiring activities. Below is a couple of examples of what you can do in Uganda:

Book a Ugandan Safari

Naturally, one of the best things to do in Uganda is to go on a Safari to see its incredible wildlife. From Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (more in this below) to Wildlife Safaris in Murchison Falls National Park, you will be spoilt for choice!

Naturally, choosing a safari largely depends on what kinds of game you would like to see. Click here to see our detailed guide on the best wildlife safaris in Uganda to help you decide where to go.

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla Trekking Uganda will be a once in a lifetime experience for many as you come to face-to-face with a few of the remaining 1000 Mountain Gorillas in the wild.

The Mountain Gorillas can be found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Uganda.

There are some brilliant tour led activities which will include your trek permits, accommodation and food or you can do this independently by renting a car, booking permits and accommodation yourself to save your budget.

Hiking in Uganda

There is a wide selection of terrains to choose from in Uganda if you enjoy hiking that will allow you to submerge yourself, embrace the surroundings, wildlife and some Ugandan communities so why not add a trek to your Uganda itinerary.

If you have the time, you can hike the tallest peak in Uganda – The Rwenzori Mountains, which takes between 8 and 10 days to complete with a ranger guide. The mountain is covered in glistening snow throughout the year so it will make for a beautiful and alternative surrounding for your visit.

If you’re interested in hiking but don’t have much experience, Mountain Elgon would be a suitable trek for you. It is the largest extinct volcano in East Africa but it isn’t very steep.

Mount Morungole is also an exciting alternative with its dramatic rocky landscape and is the only way to visit the Ik community. It’s another less strenuous climb in East Africa and although you cannot reach the summit of Morungole as it’s a place of spiritual significance in the Ik community, there is an alternative peak that allows you to take in the stunning views of Kidepo Valley National Park.

Visit a National Park

With 10 National Parks across Uganda, you will have plenty of natural beauty to discover. The average cost of entry is $40 for the park. There are additional activities within the parks such as Wildlife Safaris which is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Uganda.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most visited park with one of the highest biodiversity rates in Africa. It is here you will also see the famous tree climbing lions.

Murchison Falls, the largest of Uganda’s largest National Park that is found in the North of the country and contains large herds of elephant, giraffe, lions and buffalo. Here’s a list of the best tourist attractions in Uganda to help you plan your trip!

Murchison Falls National Park

White Water Activities

Uganda is home to the longest river in the world, which also provides some of the best white water rafting experiences in the world. Uganda is on the equator so you can partake in water activities all year round with warm water and sunshine.

Most activities take place in Jinja where you will find plenty of companies that you can book your experience. The falls are graded from zero to five so there is something for everyone and every experience level from white water rafting, kayaking and jet boating.

Explore Kampala

Kampala, the capital of Uganda since the country’s independence in 1962 is a must visit to anyone visiting Uganda. The city is bursting with art galleries, historical sights, music venues and Parliament house where you can learn about Uganda’s rich history, and even sit in on Parliament on certain days!

If you’re interested in learning a bit about the culture and history, this 3 hour walking tour in Kampala is a great place to start. Additionally, if you want a deeper insight into their food (or just want to know where the best eats are in the city, this food tour will do all that and more.

Kampala Sunset

What to Eat in Uganda

Like the landscape in Uganda, the food is also varied and full of hidden gems. The food in Uganda is based on starchy staples with potatoes, plantains, bananas, beans and greens being a major part of the diet.

The culture has had some influences from Indian, Asian and Arabic cuisine. Here are some of the must try foods for your trip:

Luwombo

If you’re visiting Uganda, you have to try this Ugandan classic that has been a favorite among the population since the late 19th century. Luwombo is a stew classically made of beef, lamb or fish cooked with potatoes and vegetables and wrapped in a banana or plantain leaves.

It can be served alone as a meal but is usually eaten with rice, matoke, or ugali.

Rolex

As mentioned earlier, Rolex can be easily found at food stalls across Uganda and is very cheap to eat. It is one of the most popular dishes in the country and it usually consists of eggs cooked into an omelet with a chapati and filled with tomatoes, onions and cabbage.

There are a number of variations of fillings to choose from with stalls making both traditional fillings and more contemporary ones.

Matoke

Matoke is the national dish of Uganda and you can’t leave before trying it. The dish is made of plantain that is steamed, mashed and then fried, sometimes with tomatoes and onions. You will also find an Indian influenced matoke dish that consists of making curry from the plantain and adding spices to it.

Ugandan Egg Roll

An egg roll in Uganda is a hardboiled egg which is covered in mashed potatoes and fried until golden. Similar to a scotch egg that is popular in England.

Ugandan egg rolls can be eaten as part of any meal of the day!

Nsenene

An unusual delicacy for some, Nsenene is a popular dish of fried grasshoppers. You can usually find these in pubs and at roadside eateries during rainy season. The wings and legs are removed before fried.

Mandazi

And something for the sweet tooth – Mandazi. Made similar to a donut, mandazi is fried bread that is sweetened with coconut milk and cut into triangles or circles. Cinnamon or sugar can be added to the Mandazi depending on your preference. It can be eaten alone or it can be dipped in fruit dip, tea or juice.

mandazi ugandan dish

Tours Around Uganda

If you would like to book an organized group tour, or plan a custom safari, we highly recommend checking out Home to Africa and they are rated excellent on TripAdvisor so you know you’re in good hands!

Home to Africa will help you create a personalized and tailored tour if you would rather something more personal and private. Home to Africa offer a range of pre-planned safari packages, depending on how long you are planning to stay in Uganda.

They have the longer trips that will encompass a number of activities allowing you to hit multiple destinations at a time. For example, this 10-Day Wildlife Safaris takes you to the popular Murchison National Park as well as Gorilla Trekking.

Alternatively, if you only have a few days or a smaller budget, you can try one of their 3-day trips, giving you the opportunity to see the Big 5.

Whatever your needs are, Home to Africa can help build your perfect Uganda Itinerary to make the most of the wonders the country has to offer!

Recommended Partner

Home to Africa is a locally owned travel company that has been operating in Uganda for years. Check out the tours and trips that they offer in Uganda

Books to Read about Uganda

See below some recommended reading to enhance your trip to Uganda:

A History of Modern Uganda: A comprehensive history of Uganda, examining its political, economic and social development from its precolonial origins to the present day.

Uganda – Culture Smart! Books this guide provides information on local customs and traditions, the do’s, don’t and taboos and the impact of religion, history and politics.

We Are All Birds of Uganda: A story of a young lawyer who is called back home to Uganda by an unexpected tragedy and learns about a heritage he never knew.

The Teeth May Smile But the Heart Does Not Forget: An exploration of how Uganda have tried to forget their history of tyranny and war for the sake of peace.

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