Travel Guide to Uganda

Small enough to get around easily and diverse enough to never get bored, a Affordable Uganda Safaris Ltd can blend adventure activities as varied as gorilla trekking, bungi jumping, big game viewing and hiking. Its dripping rainforests are home to an astonishing range of primates, butterflies and birds while elephants, lions and buffalo roam the savannahs. The local Ugandans are friendly, English widely spoken and the country combines well with neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania which means an Overlander can experience all that East Africa has to offer.

Affordable Uganda Safaris Limited Travel Guide

  • Uganda, home to lakes, glaciers, deserts, mountain ranges, tropical forests and savannahs was christened 'The Pearl of Africa' by Winston Churchill due to its astounding natural beauty.
  • At 236 580 sq km Uganda is marginally bigger than Great Britain but almost 25% of the country is covered by freshwater in the form of lakes and rivers.
  • The source of the Nile is found at Jinja, on the Ugandan shores of Lake Victoria.
  • Besides a good range of classic African plains game species, Uganda has one of Africa's greatest diversity of primates and is home to over 1 000 species of bird making it a naturalist's delight.
  • Uganda straddles the Equator but its raised topography, essentially a plateau between the 2 arms of the Rift Valley, makes for a cooler climate than you might think.
  • Uganda's green and fertile appearance is no coincidence: it's a wet country and you can expect rain at virtually any time of year in the popular western region.
  • Gorilla trekking is best during the drier months of January to February and June to September.
  • 33 local languages are spoken in Uganda by around 50 ethnic groups but English is widespread.
  • The capital city is Kampala though nearby Entebbe is the town with Uganda's international airport.

Geography: Uganda is located within two arms of the Great Rift Valley and its southern border surrounds the northern shores of Lake Victoria. Its altitude, not counting Rwenzori range and Mt Elgon, is between 900 and 1500 meters with an average height of 1000meter above sea level.

Time zone: +3 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

ClimateUganda is the "pearl of Africa" that is gifted by nature a steady average pleasant temperature all year long thanks to its geographical position on the equator, near Lake Victoria and its average height. In most of Uganda temperature ranges between 20 and 27 degrees in the daytime and between 15 and 18 in the night. The rain season is heavy between March and May, less between the first half of October and first half of December.

Political structure: Uganda is an independent democratic Republic member of the Commonwealth. The president is the head of state, head of the parliament and the chief of the military forces. After the last mulity parties elections held on February 2006, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the N.R.M. (National Resistance Movement) has been re-elected. In 2010 Uganda will join the East African Community together with Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Economy: Uganda has a fully liberalized economy with an annual growth of 5-6%. Around 90% of the population gets its subsistence from agriculture. Tourism is increasing rapidly and every year it becomes a more important part of the national economy.

Religion: Most of Ugandans are Christians (80%) equally divided between protestants of the church of Uganda and Catholics. 16% of the population is Islamic, a religion introduced in Uganda during slave traders made businesses with the Baganda. There isn't any friction between Christians and Muslims in the modern Uganda. However in rural areas these "imported" religions didn't replace local beliefs so in most of Uganda people follow at the same time animist and "imported" religions.

Population: According to the last census Ugandans are 35.5 millions with a growth rate of 4%. Only the 13% lives in the urban areas. Kampala, the capital city has around 1.2 millions. In Uganda there are more than 40 different tribes.

Language: Official languages are English, spoken by the majority of people and Kiswahili. Moreover there are more than 40 different local languages. Luganda is the most common.

Roads: Usually the main routes and roads inside urban areas are in good conditions and are well maintained. In the national parks and in rural areas, roads become unsurfaced with red soil but always in fair conditions.

Security: After the "dark age" of the dictatorships of Obote and Idi Amin, Uganda is steadily regaining its past glory when it was named "the pearl of Africa". With the ascent to power of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (1986), Uganda is having a long period of political stability and an undoubtedly increasing economic growth. One of the main aims of government is to ensure the internal security of the country, especially in the tourist areas like the national parks. Very safe and peaceful are the main cities and the capital: Kampala.

Practical informations

Where to stay: Uganda offers a wide range of accommodations: from luxury hotels in the capital and exclusive safari lodges in the national parks to shoestring campsites for people who want to live real adventure in the wild.

Shopping: Very interesting are all the handcraft tools used in the day to day activities made from banana fibre or other plants like mats, baskets et cetera. It is very easy to find handcraft objects from Uganda and neighbouring countries. Recently a boom for shopping malls has marshroomed across the Kampala capital skyline.

Documents and Visas: To visit Uganda it is necessary to have a valid passport with at least 6 months before expiring date and 2 blank pages. Visas are generally available at Entebbe Airport, usually paying 50$ for a single entry visa, or at the Ugandan Embassy in your home country. It is required to have an international certificate for yellow fever.

Currency, banks, credit cards: The local currency is the Uganda shilling (UGX). 1 dollar (USD) is around 2450 UGX and 1 EURO is around 3500 UGX. Euro and dollars in cash or traveller's cheque can be easily changed in the numerous local forex bureaux or in one of the international banks in Uganda like Barclays, Standard Chartered, Stanbic, Cairo Bank, Citybank etc. Take note that traveller's cheque's attracts a lower rate. With VISA credit card it is possible to draw cash at the ATM.

What to wear: It's advisable to bring a small and light luggage. Throughout the country, light clothes and one light jacket to use in coldest nights is more than enough. Travellers interested in mountain trekking and hiking are required to bring appropriate clothes. Don't forget to bring sun creams to protect you from the sun and an insect repellent.

Water and food: Ugandan cuisine is pleasant even if not very varied. Usually in lodges and international hotels it is possible to choose between meat (beef, goat or sheep), lake fishes, chicken, rice, vegetables cuisine for VEGETERIANS IS AVAILABLE. Of course it is very easy to find tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, passion fruit, papaya, watermelon, oranges et cetera. Mineral water and soft drinks, called soda are easy to find anywhere in the country. Local beers (Bell, Nile Special and others) are common even if not always chilled.

Phone and Internet: Mobile phones are very common in Uganda and the network covers quite all Uganda. At the present time there are 5 communication networks: MTN, the most widespread, Airtel, Orange, Warid and Uganda Telecom. It is possible to call or send SMS from Uganda to other countries using sim cards of these companies easy to find everywhere even at the international airport. Internet points are very common in the capital, not so much in the rest of the country. However, Affordable Uganda Safaris will always provide a phone throughout the duration of the safari.

Travel guides and cartography: publish a travel guide on East Africa with a section on Uganda. The Bradt has a whole guide dedicated to Uganda and it remains the best one up to now. Maps can be found in the bookshops in Kampala: Nelles maps (1:700.000), the very good one by International Travel Maps (1:800.000), less accurate is the McMillian Uganda Traveller's map (1:350.000) but it contains some maps national parks and Kampala.

Photography: Taking photographs is generally allowed except in some places considered to be sensitive security wise. It is forbidden to take pictures of military bases, bridges, airports. To obtain more information contact us.

Affordable Uganda Safaris Information Line

After more information about your Affordable Uganda Safari holiday? Call the Affordable Uganda Safaris Information Line (from within Uganda) Monday to Friday or drop us an email.

Telephone: (+256) 0752 643809 (within Uganda)

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