Uganda Travel Advice
There’s nothing like up-to-date, relevant Uganda travel information direct from the experts – get Deks Safaris’ essential Uganda travel advice before you go for Uganda safaris both wildlife adventure and gorilla trekking experiences.
Money & Spending
Uganda’s unit of currency is the Uganda Shilling (Ugx) and you’d be advised to get some on arrival at Entebbe International Airport as it is far easier to buy drinks, fruits, and meals in the local currency when traveling between Uganda safaris tour destinations.
US Dollars are widely accepted throughout the country though note that cash is best: traveler’s cheques and credit cards can be used at most Uganda safaris tour lodges in National parks and Kampala but attract hefty transaction fees.
Tipping of around 10 – 15% is customary in Uganda for good service. Tips are usually given in Uganda Shillings or US Dollars. If you are doing a gorilla trekking tour, tipping is of your choice – your porter at the gorilla trekking activity (if you choose to take one) should usually receive the highest tip, with a second tip distributed between your guides, trackers, and security personnel provided you want to tip them.
For in-depth tipping guidelines, inquire with one of our Uganda Safari Experts – they’d be happy to share their knowledge with you.
What to Pack
During the day, given that Uganda lies in the tropics, temperatures are generally warm so pack plenty of lightweight clothing. If you are going gorilla trekking activity in the rainforests, pack long trousers and long-sleeved tops, long socks to wear over your trousers as protection against ants, and a pair of light gloves to protect against nettles, a hat, and a raincoat.
A pair of steady, comfortable hiking shoes is most important – try to break these in before your Uganda safaris trip rather than wearing their brand new as you’re likely to get blisters.
The mountains in these rainforests tend to be cold and damp so pack according to the altitude – a change of clothes and a warm fleece in your day pack, along with sunscreen and insect repellent are advised.
Visa & Passport Requirements
All visitors who come to Uganda for safaris require a visa and every visitor’s passport must be valid for at least six months from their departure date. Visas for Uganda can be obtained at all major borders as well as at the international airport at Entebbe. Single and double-entry visas are valid for up to three months at a cost of around US $30 and extensions are available at the immigration office in Kampala.
History & Economy
Settled for about 50,000 years, Uganda’s indigenous people included the pygmoid Batwa, a hunter-gatherer society displaced by the arrival of Central African cattle herders and farmers. The development of political dynasties resulted in a sophisticated pre-colonial history and by the time Arab and European explorers, traders and slavers reached the region, the Buganda Kingdom was well established. Colonized by Britain, independence came in 1962 but it was only in the mid-1980s, after the catastrophic regimes of Milton Obote and Idi Amin, that Uganda experienced social stability and economic growth.
Fertile soils and regular rainfall mean an economy built around agriculture. Cash crops such as coffee, tea, cotton, and tobacco dominate the export market but most agriculture in Uganda is subsistence farming, occupying some 75% of the workforce. Significant mineral, gas, and oil deposits are set to be exploited in the future while tourism has proved to be an ever-growing sector of the economy.
People & Culture
Uganda’s 56 million people are concentrated in the country’s better watered south and west with the Kampala-based Baganda the largest of the country’s many ethnic groups. Some 40 regional languages exist but Swahili and English are Uganda’s official languages. Religious belief is overwhelmingly Christian-based though Islam is strong in Uganda’s Asian communities. It should be noted that Ugandans hold their ancestry in high regard.
Uganda is a conservative country and visitors would do well to adhere to local rules of behavior. That said, visitors often remark on the friendliness and politeness of the locals: greetings are an elaborate affair and may include inquiries as to the health of your family – perfunctory greetings and a demand for immediate action are somewhat frowned upon!