Uganda is an East African country sandwiched by its neighbours; South Sudan in the North, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west, Tanzania and Rwanda in the south and Kenya in the East. The lush mountainous country – covering 236,000 sq. km – is named after Buganda, its largest ethnic population.

The Capital City, Kampala, is built around seven hills not far from the shores of Lake Victoria, which forms part of the frontier with Kenya and Tanzania.

Landlocked as it may be, Uganda is hardly boring. It is endowed with a myriad of national parks, notable lakes, rivers and mountains that would put Vincent van Gogh's masterpieces to shame. With an excellent variety of wildlife, the tallest mountain ranges of Ruwenzori and to add to this, Lake Victoria – the largest lake in Africa and the source of the longest river in the world, River Nile, it is no wonder that Winston Churchill named it the ‘the Pearl of Africa'.


The official languages are English and Kiswahili; although Kiswahili and Luganda are widely spoken.

Uganda generally enjoys an equatorial climate tempered with breezes and showers. But its mountainous regions are crackling cold.

While the country has adequate rainfall throughout the year, the north region is quite dry with just one rainy season that falls between April and October.

The southside, around the Lake Victoria region, receives the bulk of the rainfall enjoying two rainy seasons between April to May and again from October to November.


 While travelling in East Africa, it is advisable to exercise the same caution and awareness normally accorded in any large city.

  • Never walk in solitude in apparently deserted areas, especially within cities.
  • It is preferable (and usually more enjoyable) to walk with a companion or in a group.
  • Beware that pickpockets create a distraction. Hold on to valuables (or money belt) if in such a situation
  • Beware, con artists target travellers. Walk away if an encounter with a local becomes convoluted and involves money or valuables
  • Never carry more than a day's supply of cash.
  • Do not carry travel documents and cash in plain sight.
  • Keep copies of travel documents, flight tickets andpassport separately from the originals.
  • Lock all valuables in the hotel safe. In case one is not provided, enquire at the hotel reception.
  • Get adequate travel insurance coverage before travelling.

Passports must be valid 6 months after the anticipated travel date. Leave a blank page for each country to be visited. It is advisable to obtain visas in advance, from Embassies and High Commissions or online visa/ VISAS can also be obtained on arrival at all entry points.


The regulations vary depending on nationality and country of origin, and requirements may change. For more information contact the appropriate Kenyan diplomatic/consular authority or the government portal:


The currency unit is the Ugandan shilling (Ush.)

For current exchange rates, please refer to the Internet or a newspaper.

The importation of both local and foreign currency is unrestricted, but the amounts must be declared upon arrival. The exportation of both local and foreign currency is also unrestricted, but amounts must be declared upon arrival. The most popular global foreign currencies can be traded at any of the Forex Bureaus (Bureau De Change) establishments in the main towns. Their rates are usually higher than bank rates.

How to carry your money

Cash is more readily exchanged and accepted and commands a better exchange rate in East Africa.

Try for a diversity of denominations.

Credit Cards

Major credit cards (and debit cards with Visa or Master Card logos) are a superb emergency back-up. Every traveller is encouraged to carry one, even when there are no intentions of using it – it comes in handy during an emergency, for instance, if you are called upon to fly home or alter your general travel arrangements.

Credit cards are accepted in most establishments in Uganda. So, if you develop an unplanned infatuation with a high net-value art object, it is easy to buy it without the need for excessive cash. Keep all receipts in case you need to query the exchange rate, and as proof of purchase.

How much money to take

You should NOT count on being able to withdraw cash with a credit card, a debit card or an ATM card. Whilst this service is becoming increasingly available, it might not be functional/available in some areas. Plan to carry enough money to cover the expected expenses, plus a small reserve. Credit cards should be a financial emergency kit.

By far, the biggest variable in the travel budget is souvenirs. Further expenses would be bits on laundry and drinks.

As Uganda enjoys a healthy, invigorating climate, visitors need not feel a concern for their general health during their stay. However, malaria is endemic in certain areas and anti-malarial medication should be taken according to prescription recommendations. Bilharzia and AIDS are known to be common in the country. Recurring Ebola outbreaks have necessitated screening at the border. Visitors requiring special medication should pack sufficient supplies in their hand luggage. Chemist shops are well stocked, but the medication may not be always readily available.

During the safari, all your meals will be taken in the hotels, lodges & Camps.

Generally, in Kampala, only breakfast is included with lunch and dinner billed separately.

The food is of an excellent quality

The meal timings are usually as follows:

  • Full breakfast is served from 07:00 hrs to 09:30 Hrs
  • Buffet lunch is served from about 12:30 Hrs
  • Tea and coffee are served from 16:00 hrs to 17:00 Hrs
  • Dinner is served from 19:30hrs to 21:30 Hrs

Most of the hotels have both local and imported alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments available (beers, wines, liquors, liqueurs, and fruit juices).

Drinks are not included (unless otherwise stated).

Special dietary requirements should be communicated well in advance or at the hotel’s reception upon arrival.

Mobile Infrastructure: The mobile network coverage in Uganda is extensive, almost all the ‘usual’ safari circuit areas including National Parks and remote towns are covered.

Wi-Fi Infrastructure: Most, if not all, major hotels have wireless internet connectivity.

Throughout the year, the Standard Time in Uganda is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+3), two hours ahead of Central European Winter Time, and eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time in the U.S.

Tipping is optional.

Use the following tipping guidelines, if need be:

  • Many travellers budget between 2% and 3% of their trip cost for all tips
  • If travelling in a group, every group member does not have to give the same amount.
  • At the end of the safari, a volunteer group member can 'pass the hat' and present a collective tip to the drivers/guides.
  • Many travellers give between $5 to $ 10 per safari day. Drivers can also be tipped individually.
  • The preferable tipping currencies are US$ Dollar/Euro/Pound Sterling.
  • A tip of 1 to 2 units is appropriate for airport and hotel porters as well as housekeeping staff.
  • It is not necessary to tip in any establishment if they charge a service fee, usually 10%.
  • Otherwise, a tip of between 5 and 10 % of the total bill is considered usual and customary.

Uganda's electricity supply is at 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz, using a three-pin plug and socket. Carry plug adapters, if need be. Some places are serviced by generators, hence, ration electricity (and the lights may be dim). It is important to charge all devices while there is supply. Travellers dependent on an overnight electrical supply (as in the case of those with sleep apnea) should communicate well in advance.

In general, avoid drinking tap water.

Bottled mineral water is available for purchase throughout.

Purified mineral water is available in the rooms while on safari.

SawaSawa Africa provides a litre of bottled water on a complimentary basis per safari day.

It is recommended to take up a travel insurance cover for compensation in case of loss of items, flight delays, trip cancellations or even medical emergency. Ensure you understand the nitty-gritty of the cover.

While donations may seem charitable, they can be disruptive and intrusive especially when a portion of people get them while the others are left empty-handed. Other times, it could place the traveller in danger of being hustled by a mob. As such, avoid distribution of money, pens, candy, and left-over food to children or adults encountered on the way.

If beggars approach, make eye contact, smile politely and keep moving. Offering anything to one beggar will open the harassment floodgates to the whole group.

During community visits, it is advisable to contribute towards community development as opposed to benefitting a few individuals. For example, instead of giving stationery to a few students, bring a large package of pens or pencils and hand it to the school head or administr ator for distribution.

Every traveller should be mindful of the effects of their actions.

The intention may be good, but the effect may be negative. For example, sweets/candy may cause tooth decay yet remote villages have few, not to mention expensive, dentists. Also, giving out sweets and other gifts encourages children to run to every foreigner in the neighbourhood, leaving their school or house chores undone. It may also project a bad impression of their parents who may not afford the same gifts.

  • Note that international airlines allow a luggage allowance of 20 – 30 Kgs while domestic carriers allow 15 Kgs.
  • On Check-out / departure day, place all luggage at the door while heading for breakfast to cue the porters to take it to the reception, to await check-out.

There are a few Dos to keep in mind while travelling. Upon arrival at the hotel, register at the reception to get the room key. Check-in is generally from 11.00 am while check out is at 10.00 am latest. Check out for day-use rooms is at 6.00 pm. Upon checkout, return the key to the reception while settling the bill (if possible, settle all bills the night before to avoid the long queues in the morning). Once cleared, request for a luggage ticket, which is required to leave the hotel.

  • Most businesses operate from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm then from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Monday through Friday.
  • On Saturdays, they operate from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Most businesses do not operate on Sundays and Ugandan public/national holidays.
  • Supermarkets open all day, including over lunch hour, until 8:00 p.m on weekdays., and until 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Memories fade, but relics will always stand the sands of time. In many hotels, lodges and camps throughout the country, well-stocked gift shops offer a wide array of traditional artefacts, jewellery, all-purpose fabric wraps and some beautiful stone and wood carvings all inspired by the diverse range of cultures within Uganda’s borders.

These are some of the other shopping places to explore:

  • Kampala Fair: Selling gorgeous women's kitenge dresses in traditional patterns, separates, children's clothing and some batik pillows, this fair-trade boutique is a solid choice for keepsake clothing,
  • Kilombera Workshop: Many of the colourful cotton textiles (placemats, table runners, bedspreads) for sale around Jinja are made on hand-operated looms at this Nile-side workshop.
  • A Bernadette: Young NYC fashionistas have partnered with local women to create well-made recycled bags and accessories in fun, bold designs. Items are fair-trade certified and available for online purchase.
  • Banana Boat: A sophisticated craft shop selling smart local items such as excellent batiks, and handmade stuff from all over Africa, including Congolese carvings.
  • Owino Market: Sprawling around Nakivubo Stadium, Owino has everything from traditional medicines to televisions. It's most famous for its secondhand clothing, but on-demand tailored clothes are available.
  • Exposure Africa: The largest of Kampala's craft 'villages', stocking woodcarvings, drums, sandals, batiks, basketry, beaded jewellery and 'muzungu' T-shirts.
  • Shopping Malls: Kampala is dotted with shopping malls of all sizes. The major ones are Victoria, Garden City, Acacia and Oasis full of shops selling beautiful Ugandan memorabilia.

Uganda is a masterpiece at the click of a button. From the panoramic scenery, varied wildlife and birds to the culture-centric people and the vibrant ceremonies; rich colour and good lighting conditions abound.

Note that it is considered rude to take pictures of people without asking for their permission.

Please note that it is prohibited to take photos of:

  • The President and/ or his entourage
  • The police or uniformed personnel
  • Military installations, ministers, official and military buildings, airports, and border posts
  • Official or diplomatic sites, including Owen Falls Dam at the source of the Nile near Jinja.


  • It is recommended to bring a power bank with sufficient storage and memory cards as they may not always be readily available on the ground.
  • Keep cameras in a dust-resistant padded case, away from direct sun.
  • A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari.
  • An ultra-violet filter and a lens cap are strongly recommended.