Uganda travel tips and advice – In our opinion, Uganda is generally safe to visit. People are friendly and happy to welcome visitors to their country. Several governments have advised against travelling to some remote areas, but tour operators will only take you to areas that are considered safe. Many tourists visit Uganda every year, and the vast majority of visits are trouble-free. Below are tips on staying safe in Uganda.
Vaccinations for Uganda
Uganda travel tips and advice – You should to get medical advice from your personal doctor before travelling to Uganda and ensure that you receive all the appropriate vaccinations and make sure that you are in good health. Vaccinations such as Polio, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A & B and Tetanus are strongly recommended. Rabies and Meningitis are also recommended.
Following an outbreak of yellow fever in April 2016, the Ugandan Ministry of Health now requires all travelers provide proof of yellow fever vaccination before travelling to Uganda.
Anti-Malaria tablets for Uganda
Malaria is at a high risk in Uganda so it is very important to check with your doctor before you travel to Uganda, to see whether malarial medication is required for the areas you are visiting. It is good to avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeved, light clothes and carry a mosquito repellent that contains at least 50% DEET.
Visa & Passport Requirements
All visitors to Uganda 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 $50 and extensions are available at the immigration office in Kampala.
Tap water in Uganda
All tap water in Uganda is treated by the Uganda National Water. However it is not advisable to drink it as it contaminated and it must be avoided at all costs unless it has been purified or boiled before consuming. Bottled mineral water is widely available and cheap so be sure to stock up on this and as Great Adventure Safaris we provide enough drinking water in our safari vehicles at all times.
Local food in Uganda
Ugandan local food tends to be consisting of a meat-based stew or sauce dishes accompanied by posho a thick doughy made from maize flour, or mashed green bananas/matoke. Aside from meat and vegetables, beans and ground nuts are also added to stews for texture and cassava, yams and sweet potato, rice all make regular appearances on the dinner table. Many rivers, Ugandans also eat a lot of fish, particularly tiger fish and tilapia. Uganda is largely considered Africa’s fruit bowl with a variety of fruits available, including the popular Jackfruit.
For something a little different, why not try a handful of deep fried grasshoppers? If you can’t stomach these insects then there are plenty of Indian influenced dishes that are served with chapattis. For dessert, many locals eat mandazi, deep fried dough covered in cinnamon or sugar. To go with your meal, grab yourself a glass of local brew, a fermented beer made with millet or banana.
Tipping in Uganda
There is no minimum wage in Uganda, this means that many workers in the service industry earn very little and have to make it stretch a long way. Safari driver guides always expect to be tipped the equivalent of USD $10-15 per person per day and a few dollars should be put in a communal tip jar for the cook and porters. If you eat in a restaurant then 10% on top of the bill is a suitable amount to leave. When it comes to taxis, rounding up the fare is a nice way to show your appreciation. Please note that tipping is not a must as it is taken to be a token of appreciation.
Souvenirs shops in Uganda
Traditional African handicrafts can be found throughout Uganda at very reasonable prices that make souvenirs shopping great. Buying carved wooden masks and sculptures made by local artists is a good way to support the community and make sure you go home with something unique and authentic. There are plenty of other items on offer that will jazz up your home such as bowls, batik paintings and woven baskets.
Bright fabrics with stunning African patterns can be easily purchased and either taken home as they are or turned into clothes by one of the local tailors. Once again, you will be providing valuable income for locals by getting your own custom-made clothes and you can be sure no-one will walk around wearing the same thing as you back home.
Bargaining in Uganda
In proper shops in Uganda’s big cities, such as Kampala, most items will have fixed prices and will not be up for negotiation. Stalls, markets and family-owned stores, however, tend not to have any price labels and it is here that you will be able to engage in a bit of bargaining. The most important thing to remember while haggling is to make sure both buyer and seller are happy at the end of the transaction. It is also good form to remain in good humor and not to treat the situation as hostile.
Safe for solo female travelers in Uganda
Foreign women, and particularly white women, attract a lot of attention in Uganda so be prepared for people to want to talk to you, touch your skin and invite you to their house. For the vast majority of the time, this attention stems from pure curiosity and is not meant in a threatening or harmful way. Occasionally men might pester you but giving the cold shoulder or a firm ‘no’ will usually do the trick and get them to leave you alone.
In Africa it is very uncommon for women to walk around alone so in some cases it might better simply to say your boyfriend or husband is meeting you somewhere. A photo of a man in your purse and a fake wedding ring are useful for adding credibility to your story. It is also advisable to avoid being out alone at night as muggings are not unheard of.
Duty free allowance for Uganda
Travellers over the age of 18 are permitted to bring the following into the country for duty free:
250g of tobacco products
1L of spirits or 2L of wine
500ml of perfume and eau de toilette, of which up to 250ml may be perfume
Goods up to the value of US$500 (for returning residents)
The following are banned from being imported into Uganda: narcotics, pornography, counterfeit items, cultural artifacts and explosives are not permitted. Some medication may also be restricted – check before you travel.
You must obtain a permit to import hunting weapons, live animals, fruit, flowers, cuttings or seeds and for those who want to import a drone need an extra time of about 4 months as many government offices are required for that permission.
The official currency in Uganda is the Ugandan Shillings. Euros, British Pounds, US Dollars, South African Rand and other major currencies can be exchanged locally or in advance of departure. Additionally, exchange facilities are available at various bureaus de change and banks in major towns and have ATMs. It’s advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can sometimes be hard to get change from large notes and smaller notes are handy for smaller purchases and gratuities. Traveller’s Cheques are not recommended as they’re often difficult to exchange and incur high fees. It is also advisable to carry the newest notes possible as banks in Uganda don’t accept old notes and those with writings on them.
Costs of things in Uganda
When planning to book a Gorilla tracking safaris during your time in Uganda, be aware that a permit can cost USD700per person per trek. As for other expenses, a mid-range hotel room will usually cost between USD150per person sharing per night while dorms are around USD35per person per trek. Street food is incredibly cheap, costing less than one dollar in some cases, and sit-down meals can be found for between USD10-15 for a feast of African or Indian food.
When it comes to going out, a pint of beer won’t cost more than USD2 in a bar and will be even cheaper in a supermarket.
Ugandan plugs and voltage
Standard voltage is 230 – 240 volts. Primary sockets generally require the three square-pin variety, similar to the United Kingdom sockets. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter and plug adaptor in order to use U.S. appliances.
WiFi is widely available in Uganda
You will be sure to find a WiFi connection in the majority of hotels, restaurants and cafes in Kampala but more rural areas are much less connected. Be aware that frequent power outages can disrupt connectivity and surges may damage electronics. Contact Great Adventure Safaris if you need more detailed information about Uganda travel tips and advice.