Uganda Travel Information
About Uganda, Africa
A reputation for political instability and the looming shadow of Idi Amin have long – and unfairly – blighted Uganda’s fledgling tourism sector. Now, though, things are looking up for the central African nation once described as “the pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill.And a brief look around is enough to show you why. From the second you step off the plane, the overwhelming impression of Uganda is one of rich natural diversity, friendly locals and a burgeoning cultural scene that is currently producing some of the most exciting artists in Africa.
Culturally, much of the action happens in the capital, Kampala, an urban sprawl ringed by farmland and perched on the muddy banks of Lake Victoria. While most foreign travelers confine themselves to the city center or the diplomatic quarter, Kololo, it’s worth venturing into the bustling bars and clubs of Kabalagala, where expats and locals meet for a slug of the local Nile beer and a friendly game of pool.
Away from the capital, Uganda’s towns and cities have little in the way of diversions (although Jinja’s location on the banks of the River Nile has made it a favorite with thrill-seeking rafters). Instead, head west towards the Congo border where, along with the fascinating pygmy people of Fort Portal, Uganda’s natural wonders reveal themselves.
A popular spot for wildlife watching is Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is home to four of the Big Five, a flock of flamboyant flamingos and the rare tree-climbing lions of Ishasha.
The star attraction, though, is the iconic mountain gorilla, which can be found further south in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. While you’re down there it’s also worth taking a detour to Lake Bunyonyi, a mountain retreat famed for its stunning vistas and freshwater crayfish.
More natural wonders await in northern Uganda, home to the magnificent Murchison Falls, and in the east, where visitors will find the outstanding desert crags and ossified anthills of Kidepo.
Regardless of where you go in Uganda, when it comes to leaving, it will be with a heavy heart.
Uganda weather, climate, and geography
Best Time To Visit
Uganda has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 21-25°C (70- 77°F), apart from in the mountainous areas, which are much cooler; the top of Mount Elgon is often covered with snow. The hottest months are December to February. Evenings can feel chilly after the heat of the day with temperatures around 12- 16ºC (54-61°F).
Most regions of Uganda, apart from the dry area in the north, have an annual rainfall of between 1,000mm and 2,000mm. There is heavy rain between March and May and between October and November when road travel can become difficult in parts of the country. The best time for trekking is during the dry seasons, between January and February and June to September. Wildlife viewing is best at the end of the dry seasons when the game is more concentrated around water sources.
Lightweight clothes with a warm cover-up for the evenings are advised. Take a pair of good walking shoes or boots for forest trekking, and long-sleeved tops to protect against mosquitoes. If you’re planning to go to mountainous areas, be sure to take warm clothing, as temperatures drop substantially. White clothes won’t stay white for long with Uganda’s red dust roads, so go for darker colors. Travelers can also pick up bargains at second-hand clothes markets in Kampala, Jinja and Fort Portal, which sell trousers, boots, and fleeces.
Uganda lies between the eastern and western sections of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The country shares borders with Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east, Lake Victoria to the southeast, Tanzania and Rwanda to the south and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the west. Whilst the landscape is generally quite flat, most of the country is over 1,000m (3,280ft) in altitude.
Mountainous regions include the Rwenzori Mountains that run along the border with the DRC, the Virunga Mountains on the border with Rwanda and the DRC, and Kigezi in the southwest of the country. An extinct volcano, Mount Elgon, straddles the border with Kenya.
The capital city, Kampala, lies on the shores of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa and second-largest freshwater inland body of water in the world. Jinja, located on the lake, is considered to be the start point of the River Nile, which traverses much of the country.
The varied scenery includes tropical forest, a semi-desert area in the northeast, the arid plains of the Karamoja, the lush, heavily populated Buganda, the rolling savannah of Acholi, Bunyoro, Tororo and Ankole, tea plantations and the fertile cotton area of Teso.
Uganda Passport And Visa Requirements
|Passport Required||Visa Required||Return Ticket Required|
To enter Uganda, a passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.
Entry may be refused to passengers not holding sufficient funds, return or onward tickets, and other necessary travel documents.
Visas are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above. You can obtain visas either on arrival at Entebbe airport or in advance.
Travellers who are also visiting Rwanda and Kenya may find it more useful to apply for an East Africa cross-border joint visa which allows entry into all three countries on a single visa.
Although transit passengers do require a visa, it is possible to obtain one on entry provided you are continuing to a third country by the same or first connecting flight within 24 hours, hold confirmed tickets and travel documents and do not leave the airport.
Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the high commission/embassy to check visa requirements for Uganda.
Types And Costs
Single-entry visa: £65 in advance or US$100 on entry (three months); multiple-entry visa: £100 (six months). You can apply for 12-, 24- and 36-month multiple-entry visas at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Kampala.
Single-entry visas on arrival for nationals of Cyprus, Ireland, and Malta are issued free of charge.
Transit visa: 24 hours; single-entry visa: three months from the date of issue; multiple-entry visa: six, 12, 24 or 36 months.
East African tourist visa: three months.
On arrival at the airport or at the Ugandan embassy or high commission abroad. You can apply in person or by post. Allow extra time if applying by post and always send your passport by registered mail.
Allow five working days for visa processing at the consulate/high commission.
Uganda Health Care & Vaccinations
|Vaccination identifier||Special precautions|
* Yellow fever outbreaks occur occasionally, and an international health certificate showing proof of vaccination is advised, especially if you are traveling to another country from Uganda.
Visitors should bring personal supplies of medicines that are likely to be needed but inquire first at the embassy or high commission whether such supplies may be freely imported. Comprehensive health insurance is essential and should include cover for emergency air repatriation in case of serious accident or illness. The Ugandan health service has still not recovered from the mass departure of foreign personnel in 1972 and there are medical facilities of a reasonable standard only in large towns and cities.
All water should be regarded as being a potential health risk. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilized. Milk is unpasteurized and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Avoid dairy products which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
HIV/AIDS is widespread. Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes advised. After road accidents, malaria is the most serious health concern for travelers visiting Uganda. Seek up-to-date advice regarding malarial areas and the appropriate antimalarial medication prior to your trip, usually doxycycline, Malarone or mefloquine. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to malaria and are advised against travel to regions where malaria is present. Take a good insect repellant and try to avoid bites between dusk and dawn by always covering up.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK also reports regular outbreaks of a wide range of serious diseases in Uganda, including cholera, Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), Marburg hemorrhagic fever (MHF) meningococcal disease (meningitis A and W) and hepatitis E.