US dollars, Euros, GB Pounds and other hard currencies can be exchanged at competitive rates in forex bureaus in Kampala. ATMs for both Mastercard and Visa are available in Kampala and some large towns. However, the use of credit cards is limited to Kampala and exchange rates outside Kampala are usually poor. It is therefore best to carry local currency (the Ugandan shilling) when traveling.
Please ensure that that the denominations of all American dollars are either $100 or $50 and issued no earlier than year 2000 as smaller denominations and notes issued prior to year 2000 are subject to considerably lower exchange rates.
Uganda is the ideal year round destination. Temperatures range 25-30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The main dry season is December to February with two rainy seasons: mid-March to end of May and August to early October. However, the rainy season is no reason to postpone travel however, as generally it rains for 15-30 minutes before the sun returns and the rest of the day is sunny and clear.
Visas are necessary for most foreign nationals visiting Uganda. They can be obtained prior to travel or on arrival at the airport or borders for a fee of US$50.00 per person. Please ensure on arrival you have $50 or $100 note issued no earlier than year 2000 as older notes or smaller denominations may not be accepted.
Yellow Fever vaccinations are mandatory to enter Uganda and should be obtained before you travel. Malaria is endemic throughout Uganda, but is easily avoided by always sleeping under a mosquito net and covering bare skin during dusk and dawn hours. An additional option is to use malaria prophylaxis in consultation with your doctor. Most prescription drugs can be bought affordably and with ease over the counter in Kampala. Personal health insurance is advised.
English is the official language in Uganda and is widely spoken across the country and literacy is reportedly close to 60 percent. There are over 50 different tribal languages with a multitude of dialects tribal across Uganda. Swahili is also widely spoken and understood across the country.
Currently there is one international airport at Entebbe, approximately 37km from the capital Kampala. A number of international airlines fly directly to Entebbe, among them KLM, British Airways, Emirates, Kenya Airways, South Africa Airways, Ethiopian Airways, Qatar Airways, Egypt Air, and Turkish Airways. Most major towns have an airstrip as do most National Parks and Game Reserves. Airport tax is included in your flight fare.
As day time temperatures are generally warm to hot (25-30°C), bring light clothing and a light waterproof jacket if travelling during the rainy seasons. Evenings are cooler (18-20°C), especially at higher altitudes, so also carry a light sweaters or a fleece. Those who intend to hike on the mountains can expect alpine temperatures and should pack accordingly. Solid walking shoes and sturdy clothing are ideal for forest walks.
A hat and sun screen may also be appropriate, especially for people with fair skin. Sun screen is difficult to find and expensive to buy in Uganda. Women in rural towns may feel more comfortable wearing clothing that covers their knees and shoulders, but not mandatory. Please also note that laundry facilities are readily available throughout your safari.
Tipping is not yet a widespread practice in Uganda, but tokens of appreciation are always appreciated.
A rough guide is outlined as follows:
- Restaurants: 5% is a good rule of thumb.
- Driver/guides: 5-10 per day.
- Camps and lodges $2-3 per client per night.
- Gorilla trekking guides and trackers $10 per trek.
- Baggage porters at hotels/lodges: $2
- Kibale forest guides: $3 per client per walk