Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Uganda
At A Glance
Uganda is often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours like Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. However, this small country has much to offer.
Arguably the biggest draw is the chance to view mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Although gorillas are not the only primate attractions in Uganda. Kibale National Park is home to a wide variety of primates, including chimpanzees, red colobus, black-and-white colobus, blue monkeys and many more.
Add to this big game viewing in several national parks, but especially the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The mighty Muchison’s Falls, where the White Nile cascades in a ranging torrent. The incredible birding opportunities, with over 1,000 species recorded.
Uganda may fly under the radar, but you will not regret choosing “the pearl of Africa” as a destination for your next adventure.
* Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
* Queen Elizabeth National Park
* Kibale National Park
* Lake Mburo National Park
* Birding – especially Lake Victoria
* Lake Victoria
* Visit the Murchison Falls
* Explore bustling Kampala
* White water rafting on the Nile
* Day hikes to crater lakes and local villages
* Seeking the source of the Nile
* Lake fishing
* Cultural interactions
Phone & Internet
There are several mobile phone operators in Uganda. However, we would recommend, if you want a local sim card, is to opt for MTN or Airtel. They have the two largest networks.
We use MTN, as they serve the largest number of people in Uganda. 4G/LTE is very limited at this stage in Uganda, but 3G coverage is not bad in towns, along main routes and in some park areas.
You can buy sim cards on arrival at Entebbe Airport, as well as in most large towns. You will need your passport handy for registering your sim.
Data costs are reasonable, starting at around £6.50/$8.50 for 1gig of data, getting proportionally cheaper the more you buy.
Most decent lodges and hotels now offer some degree of wifi connectivity for guests.
There are no required vaccines for visiting Uganda (except Yellow Fever – see below) – however, some medical sources recommend that travellers inoculations against Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid. As always, it is best to consult your doctor.
Uganda, according to the World Health Organisation, is a country where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission. As such when visiting Uganda you must have a valid yellow fever certificate (this will be asked for in whichever country is your destination after Uganda and often on entering Uganda). For more details please click here. Please note that if you are coming from a yellow fever risk country that you need to carry your yellow fever certificate with you!
Year round we recommend you take anti-malaria medications, for all areas of Uganda. Please consult your doctor.
Although generally considered one of the safer countries in Africa you still need to take common sense precautions.
Do not carry large sums of money with you, or conspicuous amounts of jewellery/camera equipment etc. Avoid walking at night if possible, especially in larger towns and cities.
While on tour in the safari areas, there is little threat of anything more than petty theft. Always keep valuables locked in your hotel safe.
There are sporadic outbursts of violence (usually inter-clan) in certain areas of the country. These tend to be in the far reaches, and often close to borders of the DRC and South Sudan. They seldom have any impact on tourists.
We do not recommend travelling on your own in Uganda. Only travel with a reputable company, who knows the lay of the land.
As with all other destinations, be aware of your surroundings, and if a situation doesn’t feel right move on.
The Ugandan Shilling (Ush) is the official currency of Uganda. The Ugandan Shilling comes in notes of Ush1,000, Ush2,000, Ush5,000, Ush10,000, Ush20,000 and Ush50,000. Coins are issued in Ush50, Ush100, Ush200, Ush500 and Ush1,000.
US$ will be the currency quoted by many lodges, excursions companies, for gorilla and other wildlife permits etc. We recommend that you travel with US$ cash, in new (absolutely no older than 2003 and in good condition with no writing or tears).
Generally if you are travelling with us, all aspects of your tour are pre-paid, so you will only need money for local expenses like curios, drinks, and tips for guides or rangers. For the most part you will be able to do all of these with US$. However, if there is an option to pay by Shillings and you choose to pay by US$ you will certainly lose on the exchange rate doing this.
For smaller purchases we recommend changing some money into Ugandan Shillings. The best place to do this is either Banks or larger Bureau de Change. The best exchange rate is likely to be with a VISA debit card through one of the more established ATMs.
Many of the lodges and hotels (and some high end shops and restaurants) will accept payment by credit or debit card, however, many levy a fee from 5% up! VISA is the most widely accepted, Mastercard less so, and do not bother with American Express or Diners.
ATM/cash point machines are available in most towns, and main airports. We recommend listening to your guide’s advice on which ones to use.
Passport & Visas
All visitors to Uganda require a valid passport, valid for at least six months from date of entry.
Citizens of nearly all countries (with a few African and Caribbean countries) need a visa to visit Uganda. There are 3 ways to do this. Through your local Ugandan consulate (most time consuming and expensive). Through the e-visa service – apply here. The e-visa rollout is fairly recent and there have been a few hiccups along the way. Make sure that you get an e-mail response with a bar-code that you print out and carry with your passport. There does not appear to be a specific time, within which the visa is granted. Some get responses within hours and others days or longer. The third option is visa on arrival. This is still considered the easiest overall.
Single entry tourist visas cost US$50.00 (easiest to pay in cash with new US$ notes), or US$100.00 for an East African visa which will allow you free movement between Kenya/Uganda/Rwanda on one visa. You would apply for this visa at whichever country is your first point of entry.
PLEASE before travel check the latest situation with a travel professional or your local consulate. Visa issues in Uganda can change quickly, we cannot always update our information in time.
Travelling with children
There are no special conditions for travelling to Uganda as there are with South Africa and Botswana.
We do not recommend self-drive tours to Uganda.
Poor road conditions and poor driving standard through much of the country prevail. There is a high fatality level on Ugandan roads.
In Uganda the standard voltage is 240 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Uganda, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V – 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries), you may need a voltage converter in Uganda. Many small electronic devices now have dual voltage converters as standard.
The standard plug in Uganda is a three square pinned plug as show above – often referred to as a type G (as used in the UK). We suggest travelling with an adaptor – although most hotels and lodges will be able to assist (a deposit may be required).
Straddling the equator, Uganda does not have a distinct winter/summer weather system.
It is more correct to speak of wet and dry seasons in Uganda, following a generally similar pattern to that of neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania.
The most popular time to visit is June to October. This is the main dry season. There is little rainfall over the entire country. Temperatures during the day are pleasantly warm, with mostly clear skies and cooler night time temperatures.
NOTE that the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, given its altitude and the fact that it is a rain forest, can be wet ant any time of year.
October and November (sometimes September) usually is the start of what are called the “short rains” – this is more true in the south, where heavier rains can be expected than the north.
December to February is the short dry season (although you can still expect rain in the south), and generally the hottest time of year. Temperatures usually peak in January and February.
March to May is the “long rains” with very heavy downpours expected. This time of year can be difficult to get around, and is the least popular time to visit.
June to September is the long dry season, when most of the country is dry, and temperatures at their most pleasant (evenings can be cool!). Gorilla trekking and game viewing are arguably at their best during this time.