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Uganda

Uganda Safari information Straddling the Equator, Uganda covers an area of 241,139 square kms between the eastern and western ridges of the Great Rift Valley, of which about 25% is fertile arable land. It is bordered in the north by Sudan, the east by Kenya, the south by Tanzania and Rwanda and the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda averages 1050 meters above sea level with several high points standing out from the plateau near the borders. The greatest of these is the Margherita Peak (5109 meters) of the Rwenzori Mountain range on the eastern border. Volcanic mountains continuous with the Virunga Mountain range of Rwanda form the southern border and those rising to the Imgatong Mountains of Sudan form the border in the north. Mount Elgon (4342 Meters) rears up out of the plateau on the eastern border of Kenya. The land varies from semi desert in the northeast to the lush and fertile shores of the lake. The Ruwenzori Mountains in the west and the beautiful, mountainous southwest. Lake Victoria and the Victoria Nile, which flows through much of the country, together create one of the best-watered areas of Africa. Uganda’s population is 16 million and increasing at 2.8% per year.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

All visitors require a valid passport, return air tickets, travel and medical insurance. Citizens of certain countries, including the UK and the USA, require visas. Visas can be obtained on arrival (single entry only) at Entebbe airport and other land borders for the sum of US $50. All notes must be in good condition and from the year 2000 or later. $1 bills are not accepted, so payment should be with two $20 bills and a $10 bill.

Note: Please check with your nearest Uganda Consulate for up to date information for other than US citizens. A vaccination certificate for yellow fever is required on entry and malaria is present in Uganda so please consult your personal physician or travel clinic for advise on prophylactics.

CURRENCY

The local currency unit is the Uganda Shilling, which equals 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of USh 10,000, 5000, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of USh 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 cents. Money may be changed at authorized dealers, commercial banks or bureaux de change at the international airports, major towns and at some safari lodges. Banking hours are 9:00am-2:00pm Monday to Friday. Visa and American Express are the most widely recognized credit cards, while Access/MasterCard and Diner’s Club both have limited acceptance. Credit cards can only be used in Kampala, at Lake Victoria Hotel, Entebbe and Mweya Safari Lodge whilst travelers’ checks can be changed at Entebbe Airport on arrival. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other facilities, which may be available. For the most part only cash can be changed once on safari (larger bills attract a better rate of exchange and cash attracts a much better rate than travelers’ checks), US dollar cash must be dated 2000 or later and must be in good condition. Uganda Shillings can be changed back to U.S. Dollars at the airport on departure. Visitors are strongly advised against changing money on the black market.

CLIMATE

Uganda enjoys ideal equatorial weather conditions, ranging from the warmth of the lowland areas and lakeshores to the coolness of the highlands. The altitude on a Uganda safari varies from 1,000 metres to 2,400 metres above sea level. The days are a pleasant 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and nights are a moderate 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit with January being the warmest month. At higher altitudes it can be cooler, especially at Bwindi. The long rainy season is between March and May and the short rains are from October to November, but it can rain at any time of the year. The rainy season can sometimes make travel difficult but the views are clearer. It can be cool in the evenings, especially in the hilly and mountainous areas. Despite the high temperatures and rainfall, due to altitude, the humidity is low, making for one of the most pleasant and comfortable climates in the world.

RECOMMENDED TIPPING

Driver/guides $5 per client per day
Camps and lodges $2 to 3 per client per night
Gorilla trekking guides and trackers $10 per client per trek
Baggage porters at hotels/lodges $2 per client per stay
Kibale forest guides $3 per client per walk
We suggest you tip in Uganda Shillings. The current exchange rate is 1,900 Uganda shillings per $1.

WHAT TO WEAR / BRING

Dress codes are informal. Daytime temperatures are generally warm, so bring lots of light clothing, supplemented by light sweaters for the cool evenings and heavier clothing for the higher altitudes especially Bwindi. When tracking gorillas layering your clothing is the best idea and we suggest: long sleeved shirts, cotton or goretex trousers, strong walking shoes with ankle support, socks that you can tuck your trousers into, light gloves to protect your hands from thorns and nettles, a hat and sunglasses to provide protection against the sun and a waterproof jacket in neutral colors may come in handy in the moist mountains. Travel light and remember that soft-sided luggage is required. One medium sized duffel bag and one small daypack (carry-on) per person should be adequate. Laundry services are available at most accommodations. You should also pack some zip lock bags for spare clothing, cameras and film. Please note that you are not allowed to use a flash when photographing Gorillas. It is a good idea to take along several different speeds of film (64 to 1000) as gorillas can be found in open sun or in the dark underbrush of the forest.

WATER

Water supplies are safe in urban areas and established resorts, but not reliable outside of the main cities and safari camps/lodges. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should first be boiled or otherwise sterilized – or we suggest bottled water be consumed.

ELECTRICITY

The electricity supply is 240V AC, 50 Hz and plugs are square 3-pin so ensure you pack an adapter if you need one.

COMMUNICATIONS

Reliable services for telephone and postage exist in the main towns throughout the country. A direct international dialing service is available from the major cities, hotels and lodges. From some upcountry areas it is more difficult. For international telephone calls, the country code is 256. There are many public call boxes in post offices and main towns. The mobile telephone network is rapidly expanding and safari camps are linked by two-way radio to Kampala.

TIME ZONE

Greenwich Mean Time + 3 hours throughout the year.

LANGUAGE

English is the official language but Swahili and a variety of local languages, such as Luganda are also spoken. The English-speaking visitor to Uganda will have no problem while traveling throughout the country to cities and tourist areas.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

1 January
New Years Day
26 January Liberation Day
8 March
Womens’ Day
1 May
Labour Day
3 June Martyr’s Day
9 June Heroes Day
9 October Independence Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day

The dates of Good Friday, Easter Monday, Idd-Al-Dha and Idd-El-Fitr vary each year.