Uganda is a country located in the Eastern-Central part of Africa and is surrounded by South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
If you’re thinking of taking a trip there, there are a few things we think you should know.
Before you travel to Uganda, there are a few mandatory and suggested health requirements that you need to meet. Although Yellow Fever vaccination certification is a requirement for travelers aged 1 year or over, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, Varicella (chickenpox), Typhoid, Cholera, Diphtheria, Meningitis, Malaria and Rabies are recommended as a precaution. This is especially important because throughout your stay in Uganda, you cannot be completely sure of the cleanliness of the tap water as there have been some reports of a parasitic infection or bilharzia, even in the running water. To be on the safe side, it is strongly recommended to buy distilled and bottled water from the local supermarkets. And finally, Uganda has many places with high altitudes some with over 2400 meters, so you should be wary if you have Acute Mountain Sickness and other related illnesses.
So, you’ve finally decided to visit Uganda, well then you are in for a treat because communication shouldn’t be an issue as most of the population speak English, Swahili and some local languages such as Luganda.
Unless you are from one of the visa exempt countries
, you will have to apply for a visa before you travel to Uganda. You can either apply in person at the Ugandan High Commission for your respective country, or you can apply online for an e-visa. Upon arrival in Uganda, an immigration officer will give you a stamp in your passport to indicate how long you can stay. Your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months from the date of your arrival in Uganda. Whatever you do, don’t over stay on your trip as you may be fined or imprisoned. You can always apply for an extension of your visa at the immigration head office located in Kampala.
It’s worth noting that there is a $40 departure tax that you will need to pay when leaving Uganda, although this fee is usually included in the cost of your airline ticket.
If you prefer not to fly into Uganda, you can also get there through one of the neighbouring countries via road. If you have the East Africa Tourist Visa and Interstate Pass, there are a few options available to you.
If you are traveling from Kenya to downtown Kampala, Uganda, you can take the Mash Bus service which goes from Nairobi to Kampala and vice versa. It can cost you anywhere between $15 - $35.
If you want to get to Kampala, from Kigali, Rwanda then you can use the Bus Uganda Postal Service which will cost you around $10. An alternative is the Volcano Express Ltd. Bus Service which will cost you around $12 and comes at a frequency of every 4 hours.
If your starting point is Tanzania, then traveling by bus is a little bit tricky with a much longer travel time as you have to transit through Kenya. It costs more than $75 and is around 18 hrs. travel.
There are also bus services from Juba, South Sudan to Uganda and from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo to Kampala, Uganda which is around a 2 days and 17 hours’ drive.
While roaming the streets of Uganda, you don’t have to worry about money because you will find many ATM machines dotted around that accept international cards 24/7. As you would at home, you should be wary of local muggings, burglaries and drive-by snatches especially after dark in Kampala.
Nonetheless, the general public are very friendly and welcoming so don’t be alarmed if a random Ugandan flashes a smile at you while you walk past.
You may or may not want to avoid boda-bodas which presume to be minibus and motorbike taxis as they may not be optimal for your standards and some of them may even try to rob you. The safest and recommended transportation options are:
- The public bus services that you’ll find centrally located around Horizon Bus Terminal, next to Qualicell Buillding; Namayiba Bus Terminal on Rashid Khamis Road; The Kisenyi Bus Terminal near Owino Market and many other stations. You can find detailed information about these services by contacting the National Tourism bureau.
- Minibus taxis and regular car taxi services, one of which is ABM Taxi.
If you’d rather rent a car, speed limits for cars in Uganda is around 50km/h in most areas and goes up to 80km/h in suburban areas.
Places to stay
There are a lot of options for accommodation in Uganda.
If you’re on a budget, you can find a number of reasonably priced places on Airbnb. This link
should get you started.
If you’d rather upscale and holiday in style, there are a lot of hotels ranging from 1 star to 5 stars. This link
should get you started.
If you’re aiming to have a safari adventure, or see many breathtaking views of Uganda, you might want to consider Katara Lodge
which is situated on the Great Rift Valley.
Other places you might want to consider are Elizabeth Bush Lodge, The Cassia Lodge Hotel, Pineapple Bay Resort, Jinja Nile Resort, Nexus Resorts Hotel, Lake Mburo Lodge, and the eye-catching Kampala Serena Hotel.
Kampala Serena Hotel, Image source: Eagle Online
Places to eat
If you get hungry, which you most likely will from all that exploring, here are a few places to eat and drink in Kampala.
Located right next to the famous Jinja roundabout, you will find places serving different kinds of cuisine such as wood fire oven pizza, Coconut Shack, Chicken, Chinese and Japanese foods, Le Chateau (a Belgian eatery), and many others.
If you are looking for a local Ugandan food experience, then this is the place for you. You can enjoy the well-known matooke, kalo and the delicious groundnut paste.
Not much introduction is required here. Its the famous franchised pizza place with fair prices!
Garden City Mall, Food Court
This place can be dubbed as ‘the menu for restaurant needs’. There a number of restaurants located in this area of the mall. There is even a cinema where you can watch the latest movies before and after dining.
Cafe Pap and 1000 Cups of Coffee
If you are a coffee lover, then you definitely want to visit these two places. They provide various kinds of coffee with many other available sides. There is free Wi-Fi available, but expect a reasonably long waiting time as there may be many tourists there.
Other places you might want to consider are: - Kampala Casino Mamma Mia, Le Petit Bistro, Sam’s Restaurant, New York Kitchen, Haandi Restaurant, and Nando’s Restaurant.