Travel Tips to Uganda


Land/Topography
Uganda is a compact country with an area of 236,580 square kilometers – roughly the size of Great Britain. It is located on the equator, within the eastern plateau region of the African continent and between the eastern region of the African continent and between the eastern and western ridges of the Great Rift Valley. Near the borders several mountain masses stand out strikingly from the plateau.

Climate:
Uganda is located around the equator. Because of this, the climate is pleasant the whole year through! Traveling to and in Uganda is for this reason not limited by climate! The temperatures average between 22 and 28ºC. In the higher location areas the temperature drops quite a lot (mainly at night). This is in areas like Bwindi, Kisoro, Lake Bunyonyi, Mount Elgon, Sipi Falls and Rwenzori Mountains.

Uganda is a green country. The reason for this is because there is enough water and enough sunshine throughout the year! However, due to climate changes it’s hard to predict when the rainy season will be. However; the heavy rainy season is in March – May, light rainy season is November – December, though there will always be plenty hours of sunshine. The rains can make some roads rough and tough and your journey times may extend.

Economy.
Uganda is blessed with fertile soils that support a wide variety of food and cash crops, both annual and perennial. Agriculture is the dominant sector of Uganda’s economy. The major traditional export crops being coffee, cotton, tea, horticulture, Tobacco and sugarcane, while groundnuts, Maize, beans, sorghum, and millet have emerged in recent years as cash crops for the peasant farmers.

Language.
English is the official language and is also the medium of instruction in Uganda’s education system, from primary school up to University level. Swahili is also widely spoken. Luganda, Swahili, and other Bantu and Nilo-Saharan languages Lake Kyoga forms northern boundary for the Bantu-speaking people, who dominate much of east and central and southern Africa and, in Uganda, include the Baganda, and several other tribes like Basoga, and Bagishu.

In the north live the Langi (near lake Kyoga) and the Acholi (towards the Sudanese border), who speak Nilotic languages. To the east are the Iteso and Karamojong, who are related to the Maasai who also speak Nilotic languages. Pygmies live in the forest of the west mainly in Bwindi, Mgahinga and Semliki.

Electric supply.
All installations are of British standard and appliances should be fitted with the square, three-pin plugs of British specifications. The voltage is 240volts, 50Hz for domestic use. The voltage fluctuates continually; however, proper surge protectors are advisable for any equipment.

Time.
Uganda is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Time remains constant throughout the year.

People.
The people are warm, friendly, and full of humor. They are anxious to make friends with visitors and are continually asking guests whether they are comfortable and enjoying themselves. A large number of people speak English. However, you need to be careful.

Excursions.
Uganda continues to develop an excellent tourist infrastructure, with first-rate roads and communication facilities. Uganda’s national parks, forest and recreational parks are indeed some of the spectacular show pieces Africa has to offer. They do have regulations regarding off-the –road driving, game watching among others which are clearly stated at the entrance gates of national parks or on leaflets supplied by the tourist offices.

Mountaineering safaris to the Rwenzori Mountains in the western Rift Valley are now becoming a favorite Ugandan expedition. Similar safaris can also be organized to climb in the East, sharing the border with Kenya the Mount Elgon an extinct volcano with the largest surface area in the world (50 km by 80km) and a caldera which covers over 40km at the top of the mountain. The highest peak is Wagagai.

White water rafting on the Nile River. Explore and experience an undiscovered part of the Nile with its beautiful spectacular surrounding. You may have a threesome here by adding onto your experience the thrill of a Wild Nile jet boating on the Nile river with the Nile high bungy jumping and better still a 2 - 3 hours experience of a horseback riding along the Nile river and through the local villages for a chance to interact with them. Ngamba island Chimpanzee sanctuary. Don’t miss a short excursion to Ngamba island to visit these orphaned and rescued primates as they interact with each and participated in feeding them. Mountain gorilla trekking.

Banking and finance.
There is a wide range of banks in Uganda, particularly in Kampala and other major towns across the Country. The banking hours are generally from 0830 to 1700hrs on weekdays, and Saturdays from 0900 to 1400hrs. Forex bureau keep longer hours – 0830 to 1800 on weekdays and 0900 to 1700hrs on Saturdays though others go beyond 2000hrs but at slightly lower rates. ATM machines of various banks are widely available in major towns. Banks and some Forex bureau are closed during public holidays.

Finances:
The Ugandan currency is the Ugandan Shilling

Cash:
To make sure you are not spending more than necessary, we recommend you pay all small items(food, drinks, snacks, souvenirs, laundry among others) in Uganda shillings. You can change dollars, pounds and Euros in banks and Forex bureau , but the best exchange rates are found in Kampala. It’s good to have some US dollars with you at all times. You can pay hotels, activities, park fees with US dollars and you can always exchange them if an ATM is empty or out of order.

Important Notes:
In Uganda they do NOT accept US dollars given out before 2000 When you exchange money, use big notes (50 or 100 US dollar). The exchange rate of smaller notes is much lower. Make sure notes are not cut, or damaged in any way. They will not be accepted. Euros and pounds have a good exchange rate. Don’t change Euros or pounds to dollars and then change dollars to Uganda Shillings later. You will lose a lot. We recommend you bring dollars for safety and direct payments only. The exchange rate largely depends on the demand and supply at the time and how the local currency has fared against major international currencies.

Travelers Cheques:
Travelers Cheques are not common/widely accepted and only excepted in a few banks in Kampala where you get a very bad exchange rate for them. We therefore do not advise you to bring travelers cheques.

Credit Cards:
Credit cards are accepted in some big hotels and still generally not very common in Uganda. Charges are normally around 10%. We therefore advice that you don’t use credit cards as your primary method of payment.

Communication.
Telephone, Telex, fax and airmail services connect Kampala and other major towns to all parts of the world. Services are available at the general post office and its many branches across the country, as well as in the main hotels. International direct dialing is available and now there are a number of mobile telephone service providers. You can purchase a SIM card for as low as $2. SIM cards and airtime for various mobile telephone companies are available all over Uganda. Make sure your phone is SIM-Lock-Free.

The country code for Uganda is +256.
Internet; There are a number of internet cafes across the country and also free internet access in major hotels. If you bring your own laptop you can buy a 3 GB wireless internet stick from our major internet and telephone service providers saling points or centers. The cost for this stick is about 80 US dollars with 1 month free subscription.
Health
A yellow fever vaccination certificate proving that you have received a yellow fever vaccination is obligatory. Furthermore all required inoculations must be recorded by your health practitioner on a valid vaccination certificate. You must carry this documents with you while travelling to Uganda.

We advice and recommend that all visitors should take anti malarial drugs. We also advise that you bring a mosquito repellant and a mosquito net with you especially those doing camping as most lodges and hotels do have mosquito nets, but not all please.
Uganda's tap water is not suitable for drinking so please only drink safe bottled and ceiled water. Always consult your doctor or physician for up to date requirements and personal recommendations.
AMREF Flying Doctors
We advise you to apply for a Flying Doctors membership. The membership provides a quick and reliable air evacuation and edical care if needed. The membership can be arranged for 2 weeks, 2 months or more; for a radius of1000 kilometers. Please check out the AMREF Flying Doctors website for more information and to become a member: www.amref.org/flying-doctors/buy-flying-doctors-membership
HIV/AIDS:
In Uganda like most African countries – HIV/AIDS is well spread. Make sure you are careful with contact
with blood and always use condoms if at all you must have sexual intercourse.
Gay / Lesbian Travelers:
There is an Anti-gay law in Uganda and being gay or Lesbian is absolutely NOT accepted in Ugandan culture. It is safe to travel in Uganda as a gay or Lesbian but make sure you DO NOT openly/publically speak about it and surely not show it.
Public Holidays
2010.
1   January                            New Year’s day
26 January                            N.R.M Liberation Day  
8 March                                International Women’s day
2 April                                   Good Friday
5 April                                  Easter Monday
1 May                                   Labor Day
3 June                                  Martyr’s Day
9 June                                  National Heroes’ Day
11 September                    Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
9 October                           Independence Day
17 November                    Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
25 December                     Christmas Day
26 December                      Boxing Day
Note: The two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and the dates given above are approximate.
Customs
Besides personal effects, a visitor may import duty-free spirits (including liquors) or wine up to one liter, perfume and toilet water up to half a liter and 270 grammes of tobacco or 200 cigarettes. Other imported items, not exceeding US $100 may be brought in duty free and without an import license, provided they are not prohibited or restricted goods, are for personal use, and are not for resale.
Note: A special permit is required to export game trophies.

Visa and immigration requirements.
Visa application may be obtained at Uganda diplomatic missions. Two pass port photographs are required for visas, which are usually issued within 24 hours. Visas are also available at the country’s entry point. Check with the Uganda diplomatic mission in your country if visa is required as some countries are exempted.

Taxi services.
Taxis are immediately available at Entebbe International Airport. They can also be found outside most hotels in Kampala and at most of the country’s major centers. All don’t have meters so make sure the fare is negotiated in advance. Please ask your hotel to order a taxi on your behalf from a reliable service or better still contact us.

Entebbe International Airport.
The main point of entry to Uganda by air is Entebbe International Airport. It is about a 40 minute drive south of the capital –Kampala .Although modest , the modern airport does provide automated passenger facilities, telephoned, duty free shops, gift shops and a restaurant and bar.

Security.
The same rules apply for Kampala as for almost any city anywhere. Be careful and take the usual precautions to safeguard yourself and your belongings. Do not leave valuables in your car. Walking alone late at night in all major centers is not very safe.
For more information or clarifications, kindly contact African Crane Safaris and we will be at your service.

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