General Info

UGANDA

Official Name : Republic of Uganda

Capital : Kampala

Population : 31million (2008 estimates)

Time : GMT/UTC +3

WEATHER

Although generally equatorial, the climate in Uganda is not uniform. Southern Uganda is weather with rain spread throughout the year. Rainy season is during the months of March to June and End of September, than October to November. The northern region has the driest climate and prone to droughts in some years. The temperature here is hotter and humid.

Because it is situated near the equator, Uganda’s climate, however, does not change much, making it an ‘all year round tourist destination. ‘ (22-25 degrees Celsius)

The rain may vary and it can rain any time of the year in the mountainous, for example the Rwenzori areas southwest of Uganda.

HEALTH

If arriving from an endemic yellow fever country, it is advisable to have yellow fever vaccination. A heath certificate will be required by immigration at Uganda’s entry points. Have anti-malaria drugs as a precaution. You are advised to drink only bottled water which is available in most of Uganda’s supermarkets and restaurants. Avoid drinking tap water or water from the springs to avoid waterborne diseases. Sodas, beer, and alcoholic beverages are generally considered safe in Uganda. Secure medical insurance and evacuation cover especially if planning to visit hard to reach areas.

CURRENCY

In Uganda, the unit of currency is the Uganda shilling. Euros, dollars and pound sterling are also widely accepted. Hard currency can be changed at most of the local banks in the country and at foreign exchange bureau’s. Torn dollar bills and notes issued before the year 2005 are not accepted. As well keep in mind that within Kampala it is very wise to have the local currency with you, even outside the country, for small purchases it is always better to have shilling on you.
Dollars are accepted more in lodges and hotels, but outside the tourist areas there is not always a lot of change and small dollar bills are not accepted much, as these are very hard for the local people to exchange. We strongly advise that you get Uganda Shillings exchanged at a good foreign exchange bureau, with negotiable exchange rates. Our driver / guide can of course assist you with this.
The exchange rate varies. Large denomination bills of $50 and $100 attract a higher exchange rate than the smaller notes.

Visitors can access cash from home via a wide network of ATMs available in Kampala and major towns. ATMs accept debit and credit cards throughout the country. VISA branded cards are accepted by all ATMs while MASTER CARD/MAESTRO/CIRRUS CARDS are ONLY accepted at Stanbic Banks and Standard Chartered Banks. Cards not accepted by ATMs may be accepted in major banks at a fee. Credit cards are accepted at very few businesses, usually the larger hotels and supermarkets. AMEX cannot be used except at major hotels and with some airlines.
Cashing travelers’ checks can be very difficult in Uganda.

Different ATMs allow for different maximum withdrawals of between UGX 400,000 and 2,000,000

WHAT TO BRING

Every visitor is required to have a valid passport and all visa requirements, as well as a health passport which can proof your vaccinations. Before coming to Uganda, we advise to visit your tropical doctor within your country of residence who can advise you on which vaccinations are restricted in this country and what to keep into account when it comes to health issues. This will be checked by immigration authorities at all entry points. For those intending to capture the beautiful wildlife and scenery, a pair of binoculars, a zoom lens should be handy. Printing and developing is available in Kampala. Toiletries are available in supermarkets and shopping arcades all over Kampala. For those carrying adapters and other appliances, note, electricity in Uganda is 240 volts. Roaming is possible because of the wide mobile telephone network coverage in the country. SIM cards are also available, however, it is now mandatory that that ever SIM card owned and purchased is registered. Registration is free of charge. Internet cafes are readily found in major towns, however, the bandwidth is sometimes very low and can be frustrating for one who is used to a high speed internet connection. As well in the National Parks area’s the internet might not always be working very well.

WHEN TO VISIT

Uganda can be visited at any time of the year. Most of the country enjoys a perfect tropical climate. Temperatures average about 26 C during the day and 16 C at night.

The hottest months are December to January. Activities like gorilla tracking through steep slopes with dense foliage, thick forests are more challenging during the rainy season. The rains peak September-November then March-May.

LANGUAGE

Uganda is home to many different ethnic groups, none of whom forms a majority of the population. Around forty different languages are regularly and currently in use in the country. English became the official language of Uganda after independence. Swahili, a widely used language throughout Eastern and Central East Africa was approved as the second official language. Though not approved by the Bantu-speaking populations of south and southwest of the country, it is widely used in the Northern region including the police and military forces. However, the local languages of each regions here in Uganda are used most. In Kampala the majority of the people speaks English and Luganda (the local language of the people coming from the Buganda region).

SECURITY

Uganda is now relatively stable and Kampala has changed into a major center of East African trade. As in any urban area, Kampala can be dodgy. Visitors are advised to remain in tourist areas. Dangling the latest cameras, flashy jewelry, or bulging bags is likely to draw unwanted attention. Visitors from Europe or Americaswalking the streets stand out and are likely to be stared at openly, which may cause discomfort to those traveling to Africa for the first time. A little begging exists from usually harmless small children in some rural spots frequented by tourists.

Drinking and driving is prohibited and purchase of alcohol under the age of eighteen is illegal.

It is illegal to take pictures of the Parliament Building of Uganda as well as the police and army barracks.

If there is any visible security presence in the country, it is more of a preventive measure rather than a response to anything specific.