‘The Pearl of Africa’.” Winston Churchill (My African Journey – 1908)
Best time to visit
The climate is good in Uganda all year round – hot and wet, and daytime temperatures are generally between 22-27 C. It cools down at night; enough for a jersey but woolens are not necessary. The rains come twice a year, in October/November (short rains) and Mid-march to the end of May. The rainy season is no reason to postpone your travel, however, as generally, it rains for an hour or two and the rest of the day is clear and sunny.
Preparing for your trip to Uganda
Coming to Africa, in Uganda, takes a bit of preparation, and a bit of planning and it is best to use the services of a tour company such as ENSI Safaris that will assist you to make your time in Uganda a pleasure. Read up about Uganda, both our ENSI website has lots of helpful information about Uganda which will be most helpful. However, read out local newspapers, and join us on Facebook for daily updates about the Pearl of Africa. Traveling to Africa is unlike any other trip you have ever taken, it is best to be prepared. Read books, read local newspapers, and watch a few National Geographic Films, you might want to watch Gorillas in the Mist, or Out of Africa to get you ready for your Safari in Africa.
Packing for your trip to Uganda
Practical Advice for Packing for Uganda- and the most practical is that you do not pack the kitchen sink – keep it down to the essentials starting with the reason you are coming to Uganda for. That can determine even the type of suitcase that you will need and use. If you are coming for a Safari – you will need to pack differently than if you are coming as a volunteer or business visitor – however every visitor while visiting Uganda should make plans to spend a few days in the African Wild even on a mini-safari. How much you can pack is determined by which region of the world you are flying from since different regions have different allowances for suitcases. Packing wisely is the key and if you are coming for a Safari or as a volunteer pack with purpose and pack some things such as deflated footballs, books, dolls, no sweets please, stethoscopes, blood pressure kits, and more pack wisely.
When packing for your trip to Uganda
Africa is different from any part of the world, quite different from anywhere else in the world and it takes practical common sense in order to get the most out of your time in Uganda Nothing is predictable but the wonders of Africa. Often the African ways may frustrate a Westerner. Things like lack of customer service – something improving, the indifference of wait-staff, and hotel management at times can drive a visitor crazy. Just before you lose your patience or sense of human – take a deep breath and realize that in many ways we may do things differently, but we’ll have similar dreams for tomorrow
Rely on your practical Common Sense along with a dash of adventure and awe along with a sprinkle of patience and a Sense of Humor.
Flying to Uganda
Entebbe Uganda – The Gateway to Uganda for visitors from abroad; Getting here has become easier, and more and more airlines have added Entebbe international Airport to their African Destinations. Each year more and more visitors are arriving in Uganda – They come for many reasons, volunteers, business, and leisure travelers with a Safari on their mind wanting to see our Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Wildlife, Birds, White Water adventure, and Scenic Wonders.
Not only can you fly to Uganda
You can fly between parks within Uganda. Flying in Africa tends to run higher than in places like Europe and North America especially flying between countries and connecting with Tanzania – Kenya – Rwanda and other places in Africa. Flying to Uganda has not only become easier with more airlines coming here – but it has also become lower in price due to increased competition which you benefit from.
Getting a Good Cup of Coffee while visiting Uganda:
Here is some simple and practical about important to coffee lovers for advice visiting Uganda. Call it a survival guide for those coffee lovers needing that just right cup of morning joy. Great coffee may be easily gotten in your country, but in Africa, in Uganda where coffee was born and is grown, it is not always the easiest. Some simple practical advice for coffee lovers that you may be glad you read before coming to the Pearl of Africa.
Uganda Tourist Visa
All visitors to Uganda will need an entry visa. Visas can be applied for and obtained at the Uganda High Commissions or online at the Immigration website, Ministry of Internal Affair of Uganda. Immigration website: https://visas.immigration.go.ug And if you are covering Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya in one holiday you get an East African Tourist Visa
Money Advice and Tips for Uganda Travelers
Here you will find the most Advice and Tips regarding using money in Uganda including money safety and security tips for Uganda. Uganda is a cash-based society where the US dollar reigns as the currency of choice, where the use of credit cards is limited because Traveler Cheques are not accepted everywhere and it is a cumbersome process to get them exchanged into Cash. Credit Cards can be used but normally there is a 5% fee when you use a credit card. ATM machines are found in major towns, have a Visa ATM Card – Master Card can be used at limited banks, forget American Express Cards with ATM machines. In Uganda it is about Cash and here is the information you need in order to the make right money choices. Credit Card information for Uganda.
Safari Tips and Advice
Safari Tips that are practical and that will avoid potential grief and frustration. We do not just sell safaris we inform you as to what is the best while on Safari with us in Uganda. Know before you go is best here, packing the right things without over-packing. Knowing what to wear for various activities and choosing where to stay while on Safari and of course what to eat. There are tips and advice for almost anyone, even Vegans and Vegetarians. After all, we do not want you to go hungry. Be informed before you go.
Picking the right Uganda Top Hotels and Lodges for your Safari
Just because President Clinton stayed there, does not mean it is a good hotel. I recently reviewed comments on the Internet and found one hotel where President Clinton stayed on a visit and found that the majority of comments were extremely negative. No mosquito nets, no hot water, and more. Book your hotel through ENSI safaris in Uganda which understand the Ugandan market and also knows your expectations and your stay will be pleasant at an affordable price. The choices range from Shoestring to Luxury Accommodations, from hotels that look like they came from the old Soviet Bloc to lovely Tented Camps.
Eating out in Uganda’s – Restaurants
Most likely you will not be cooking on your own unless you are like me and live here. If you are going to cook for yourself, I can tell you where you will find a butchery and bakery that is reasonable and cuts meats in western ways. As far as eating out, there are some basic precautions that one must use in order to stay healthy. Avoid food that is brought to you and is not hot, avoids buffets where candles are used for sauces, this is especially the case with some sauces that will attract all kinds of micro-organisms, avoid fruit salads, green salads, ice cubes, juices where water has been added unless it has been bottled or boiled water. Spicy food does not mean you will not get sick. Avoid Street Vendors.
Food and Drink at Safari Lodge Restaurants
Most foods served at lodges are safe to eat in Uganda. We do recommend that even at nice lodges you may want to avoid fresh salad and other uncooked dishes.
Food at the camps and lodges can be ordered and served at the time of your choice.
If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, please inform us as soon as possible.
We will normally have set two or three-course meals with plenty of pure water, with instant coffee and tea usually available. Some lodges have other soft drinks and alcoholic beverages available at the bar, but these are not included in the tour fee. If drinks are not included in a particular meal, Ensi will pay for one non-alcoholic beverage and one tea or coffee. Alcoholic beverages or additional drinks are not included.
Consider bringing supplemental food and snacks such as nuts, beef jerky, or dried fruit. Basic snacks like candy bars, biscuits, and chips can also be purchased at shops in Uganda. Coffee fanatics may want to bring some coffee of their own.
Bottled/purified water will always be provided for you. If you run out, please inform the tour leader. Do not drink tap water. (come with a water bottle for refilling every time you empty it)
Ensi Safaris is making an effort to reduce the use of plastic water bottles – try to work with them.
Use your own water bottles that can be refilled with more water whenever you empty them. This is an initiative that you should adopt wherever possible as this will have a significant and positive environmental impact. By doing away with the factory-filled (sealed) plastic water bottles you will not only save fuel in transporting these bottles to remote regions (by their thousands) but also solve the problem of the enormous pollution to roadsides and towns that these plastic bottles foster.
Getting a Good Cup of Coffee while visiting Uganda
Here is some simple and practical important coffee lovers’ advice for visiting Uganda. Call it a survival guide for those coffee lovers needing that just right cup of morning joy. Great coffee may be easily gotten in your country, but in Africa, in Uganda where coffee was born and is grown, it is not always the easiest. Some simple practical advice for coffee lovers that you may be glad you read before coming to the Pearl of Africa.
Can a Vegetarian find what to do while visiting Uganda?
Can a Vegan or Vegetarian survive visiting Uganda? This question is frequently asked. Ugandans are not Vegetarians by choice, but by the limit of their financial resources that make buying meat, fish, and poultry expensive and it is vegetables and fruit that they turn to. Uganda – has lots of fruit to choose from – vegetables such as Broccoli, Cauliflower that was not readily available, great dark green Salad greens are now available here and there and loges are growing their own. We have had many vegetarians on vegans on Safari with us in Uganda and they all had a delightful time we were able to able to create an itinerary for them that included Hotels and lodges where their dietary needs were met most satisfactory manner.
A driver will pick you up from the airport and transfer you to the hotel. Please send us your flight details, as soon as you know them.
If you experience flight problems on the way to Uganda that will significantly delay your arrival, please inform Ensi Safaris at; email@example.com or Hamlet at; firstname.lastname@example.org. Call: +256788715303 / 778277549
We ask that there be no smoking in dining areas, vehicles, and any enclosed places where the group gathers.
WHAT’S INCLUDED / EXCLUDED?
Included: Accommodation, Meals from the start of the trip up to the end of the trip, bottled drinking water in our vehicles while on the road throughout the trip, ground transport in 4WD land-cruiser vehicles, fuel for the trip vehicles, Boat trips, Park ranger, Gorilla permits, guiding, chimp permits, nature walks, Ensi safaris tour leader, night game drives, birding, park entrance to all national parks and wildlife reserves, forest reserves, wetlands reserves, an excel checklist to keep track of your daily bird and mammal sightings.
Not included: International and domestic flights, Tips and local guides, Visa fees (payable as you apply for your online visa), Snacks, additional drinks apart from those included, Alcoholic beverages, Travel insurance, and Excursions that are not included in the tour itinerary, Extras in hotels such as laundry service, minibar, room service, telephone calls, and personal items, Medical fees, PCR tests, and an extra day before departure. Other items or services not specifically mentioned as being included.
CASH, CREDIT & DEBIT CARDS
- Some major business centers in Uganda accept credit and debit cards should you wish to get or buy something, but most of the time cash is a preferred method of payment for anything you need to buy.
- Most establishments accept international credit cards. It makes sense to carry more than one brand of credit card as not all types are accepted by all outlets and some hotels and lodges
- It is recommended that you prepare part of the money you plan to spend in cash. The most common foreign currencies are the US dollar, the euro, the British pound, and the currencies of neighboring countries. It can be difficult to exchange other currencies. With the US
- Dollar, the exchange rate for small bills such as 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 is low, so we recommend carrying $50 and $100 bills.
- In Uganda, the accepted US bills should be dated from the year 2010 and more recent.
- Traveler’s cheques (checks) are not widely accepted in Uganda.
- The United States Dollar (USD) remains the most widely accepted, followed by the Euro and the British Sterling.
- Note that; Most banks and credit card companies in the US advocate that you advise them before you travel overseas. This is so that their credit card monitoring systems do not suspend your card when they detect any unusual purchases.
In Uganda, ATM machines supply only local currency and you may need an international PIN code. Be sure to check with your bank/credit card facility at home about how this should work. Not all ATMs in Uganda will accept every credit card type. VISACard has the best coverage in Uganda. Use an ATM at a bank, so if your card is retained for any reason, you can go in and get it back. Don’t rely on ATMs as your main source of cash while on safari!
Tipping in Uganda
Uganda is not a tipping culture country – however, your tip will be gladly accepted by a waiter, waitress, driver guide, lodge, or hotel staff during your time in Uganda. What might surprise you is how much of an impact your tip left behind will have. It is also most appropriate to tip your drivers and guides while on Safari and those leading you on gorilla tracking or chimpanzee tracking and wildlife Game Drives. Tipping may not be common in Uganda but as an ambassador of your country is a good thing to practice. The tip does not have to be large – keep in mind the low salaries that a waiter or waitress receives here in Uganda.
Our tour leader is a professional, and tips are always appreciated. We recommend a tip of $10-15 per person per day
Safety and Security Advice and Tips for Uganda
Be sensible and practical. Would you do this back in your own country? Uganda, for the most part, is safe and enjoyable. Safety and Security are one of the things on the minds of travelers as they approach journeying to Uganda. Uganda is one of the safest countries in Africa and Kampala is one of its safest Capitals; however, it will be prudent to be wise especially when it comes to money handling.
Health-Staying Well in Uganda
When it comes to health – most travelers do not become ill while in Uganda besides maybe some intestinal discomfort, none of our clients have ever come down with malaria for example. There are precautions to take before you arrive here and some things to do after you get here. Most visitors to Uganda will get some immunizations prior to coming here and purchasing a malaria regimen. If you are coming from another country where there is yellow fever present you will need a yellow fever immunization.
The Staying well in Uganda page has health tips and advice that you will find practical and make your trip to Uganda more enjoyable.
Mobile Cell Phones in Uganda
You can bring an unlocked International Quad cell Phone with you and purchase a Ugandan Sim Card from MTN, UTL, AfriCell, or Airtel. International phone calls are at 20 cents a minute to places such as Europe, Asia, and North America, at times there are country promotions such as the US or UK, other times India and Pakistan. You can even buy a local phone with a sim card for about 8 USD and give it as a gift when you leave Uganda. Phones can also be used to send or received money both in Uganda and Internationally – the latter uses Western Union which does have a price – in order to use the phone for sending or receiving money – an account is easily set up with your phone provider.
Internet Access in Uganda
You can access one of the many Internet cafes that you will find in Kampala and larger Ugandan cities: Many hotels and guest houses will have internet access. WiFi is becoming more common and there are hotspots in Kampala. Some restaurants such as coffee shops will offer WiFi for their customers. More and more Ugandans are accessing the Internet with smartphones and you can purchase data time for your smartphone or tablet. You can use your laptop and purchase a 3 or 4G USD dongle and if you are with a group you can even purchase a low-cost router that can facilitate up to 5 devices. Speeds can be up to 4G depending on the Network provider – MTN and Airtel are the two best providers.
Electrical Current and Plugs
240 volts is the voltage in Uganda and you will need a UK plug. You can buy a converter plug that will make your appliance fit locally. A Power supply is iffy in Uganda – therefore it is best to stay in a hotel that has a generator system in place. Uganda can have extended power outages that last up to 12 hours. It is also good if you are using a laptop that you have a surge protector of one kind or another. In Uganda, you can easily buy electrical strips with outlets that will work with your devices. If you are staying they might even have a power strip that will work your plugin. One thing to keep in mind – you might want to bring a book light since nightstand lamps are often non-existent in Ugandan budget and moderately priced hotels.
Uganda Travel Adaptors and Electricity
You will need to consider what to pack, to ensure you can use your personal electrical appliances safely whilst abroad. For Uganda, the associated plug type is G, which is the plug that has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. Uganda operates on a 240V supply voltage and 50Hz.
Electricity in Uganda is all 220 – 240V/50Hz AC, as is much of Europe, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, virtually all the Asian countries, and India. Guests from the United States should bring an adapter for the proper plug configuration and a converter.
The type of plug you can buy for use in Uganda is G (UK plug): Three-prong rectangular.
Weather and Climate in Uganda
East Africa; Uganda’s year around Holiday Weather – Is just another plus to visiting Uganda. The Weather and Climate in Uganda Best Times of the Year to track Mountain Gorillas would be the dry seasons Uganda has the gift of Holiday weather year around. There are two reasons, one is its location on the equator and the other reason is Uganda’s elevation. We have two rainy seasons, but even during them most would consider it Holiday Weather all – year long.
One of the nice things about Uganda is that the sun will come out even during the rainy seasons of the year. For the most part, we do not have dryers or even washing machines – normally all laundry is done by hand and dry within hours when hanging on the line. North of Masindi it is 5 degrees hotter than in Kampala, however, in the Southwest of Uganda such as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest it can get quite cool at night and lodges give their guests hot water bottles for a comfortable sleep.
ALTITUDE AND NATURE OF WALKS
Length of walks
In Bwindi gorilla tracking range from 30 minutes to 8 hours in duration.
Nature walks/bird watching in Bwindi, Mgahinga, and Semliki forests last between 1 and 10 hours or more depending on what we are looking for and also weather conditions, but also lunch breaks and when there is little bird activity in the hot hours of the day.
In Budongo forest, walks will range from 3 to 8 hours but maybe more depending on our targets and of course with a lunch break.
Kibale Forest and Bigodi nature walks may range from 3 to 5 hours with lunch breaks.
In Lake Mburo National Park nature walks range from 2 to 3 hours.
In Murchison Falls National Park walks range from 1 hour to 2 hours at the top of the falls.
Other locations will be birding drives with multiple stops as you hop off our vehicles and take short walks of around 20-30 minutes in search of hidden and escaped species prior to observation.
The difficulty of trails: easy, moderate, difficult.
- Mgahinga Volcanic National park (is difficult) but has good trails in the bamboo.
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Ruhija sector has both (moderate and difficult) difficult especially hiking to the Mubwindi swamp area for the rare African Green Broadbill, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, and other rare endemic species basically this trail is so rich in diversity, especially endemics. The moderate birding in this sector is along the nature road in the park.
- Semliki forest has the easiest nature walks being that the site is very flat compared to the rest of the sites.
- A walking pole is recommended for those who may need it on this tour.
Some days we will have very early starts in order to reach sites at a good time for bird activity. It is best to start early to maximize time in the field during the morning hours. In addition to the day’s birding, there may be some excursions for night birds, although in general, these are optional and not everyone is expected to take these.
What to wear in Kampala?
Entebbe: Ugandans in Kampala dress in style There is what you wear in town and what you wear on safari as Ugandans say “You are looking Smart” When you come to visit Uganda one of the things that will amaze you is to see how well Ugandans dress in towns such as Kampala. Short skirts such as mini-skirts – are not recommended -the style of dress for most of Africa is smart but conservative and that applies to women and men. Shorts – in Uganda the only people you will find in shorts are school boys – though if you are a visitor – no such thing would ever be said. It is good to have one more outfit with you for functions that you might attend such as church – a special dinner, etc.
Dress casually and pack lightly. Bring clothing for cooler mornings at higher altitudes. Some areas will be quite hot and humid so warm weather clothing is a must. In general lightweight, fast-drying clothing is preferable. At the minimum pack a raincoat or poncho. A small umbrella is also recommended.
Recommended Clothing List
- Several long-sleeved lightweight “travel-style” shirts.
- T-shirts, Lightweight “travel-style” trousers for most situations. Shorts may be nice for relaxing around the lodge, but generally should be avoided in the field due to sharp vegetation and annoying insects.
- Lightweight rain jacket and umbrella, Sun hat with a wide brim.
- Sturdy hiking boots/shoes, Rubber boots. These are essential for a couple of muddy sites.
- A pair of sandals or light shoes to change into in the evenings.
- Plenty of long cotton socks, and of course, undergarments.
- A fleece or sweater for moderately cool mornings and evenings at higher altitudes.
Other Essential Items
- A pair of Binoculars, A still photo camera, Video camera, Insect Repellent
- Sunscreen (SPF 30 and above are recommended) and lip balm with sunscreen.
- Field guide, but also download the eBird Merlin pack for Uganda!!
- Small knapsack or waist pack, Small flashlight/headlamp, as well as spare batteries for both, Moist wipes/hand sanitizer.
- Personal first aid kit with band-aids, aspirin, motion sickness pills, blister pads, anti-itch cream, etc.
- Over-the-counter remedies and prescription medications in their original containers packed in your carry-on bag. Take along a copy of the prescription in your suitcase.
- An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses if you are dependent on them.
- Reading and writing materials, Photocopy of your passport.
- Anti-malarial prophylaxis
- Spare a pair of binoculars and/or DSLR.
- Shock-resistant walking stick. Some trails are steep and slippery, and this can help prevent falls.
Getting around Uganda
Getting around in Uganda for Visitors. The various options that visitors to Uganda have as means of transportation. There are mini-bus taxis that serve cities and the countryside. You have Boda-Boda, Motorcycle Taxis by the thousands that offer quick, efficient transport, however with some dangers involved. There are long-distance buses in the country and beyond to Kigali, Rwanda, Nairobi, and even into Tanzania. The best way is to be driven around Uganda on a safari – that is the most comfortable and safest way to see Uganda.
You are encouraged to leave your jewelry at home. Such valuables as you will need – cash, passports, watches, etc., should not be left in the lodge rooms during the day while you are in the field, except for the lodges/hotels that provide in-room safes.
Some of the hotels and lodges offer laundry service, which is generally reasonably priced. It’s still advised to check the price before handing in a huge load! Also be aware that many of the lodges and camps do not have driers, and line dry the laundry, which can take more than 24 hours when conditions are cold and wet.
Some of the lodges where we stay have Wi-Fi, though it may be slow or maybe cut entirely. Cell phones with international plans often work well, but it is best to check with your service provider to see if access in Uganda is possible.
Another option for those who want to make calls or access 3G/4G from Uganda is the purchase of a local SIM card and minutes, which are quite cheap, and access to the extensive local networks. If you want to buy a SIM card, your only chance will be at international arrivals in major airports. Keep in mind that many phones are locked to not accept alternate SIM cards.
CHARITY ON A SAFARI
Many visitors to Uganda feel a strong urge to help the less fortunate whom they encounter on a safari, or when visiting a local village, a hospital, a local NGO, or a school. It is best to seek an appropriate opportunity while you are traveling, rather than carry along gifts from home. Ask your tour operator about this and visit the school, clinic, or project if you can. A donation to something you have seen on the ground will bring you more satisfaction (and directly help the neediest). Contribute in a way that helps a person (or community) help themselves, and enhance their way of life.
Resist the temptation to offer ‘handouts’ to kids on the side of the road. This only encourages dependency on such generosity and teaches these children that begging brings reward. There is no dignity in begging.
Top Tips for Women Travelers to Uganda
Here are the Top Tips for Women Travelers to Africa – to Uganda. Tips that will keep you safe and secure while in Uganda on a Holiday. The safest way for a woman traveler is to be on a Safari with a company such as ourselves where our Driver-Guides act as almost our guardian angels to ensure your well-being on Safari. There are many things you might want to know or need to know about Traveling in Africa, it is Pearl as a woman, our site will have most of the information and the tips for women travelers will give you all that you need to make your African Holiday in Uganda safe and secure.