Visiting Uganda (a visit to Uganda) is one of the most amazing things that you can enjoy as it is off a beaten path adventure. Visit Uganda (travel to Uganda) and enjoy a lifetime experience as it’s not like any standard trip in Europe or the United States.
From the disturbing political instability and the looming shadow of Idi Amin, Uganda has stood out to be one of East Africa’s leading tourist nations as its tourism sector is now flourishing as it is now a popular tourist destination.
Winston Churchill named this great nation the Pearl of Africa because of its stunning scenery, amazing landscapes, and natural beauty. This is because Uganda has worked tirelessly to secure a more secure and safe future towards the conservation of its natural treasures.
The flora and fauna of this nation are rarely witnessed in other nations and you can only explore it when you travel to Uganda. Most people who travel to Uganda want to see the endangered Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park but I assure you that’s only a percentage of Uganda’s tourism.
After trekking, visit the second deepest lake –Lake Bunyonyi a mountain retreat known for its amazing vistas and freshwater crayfish.
A wildlife safari is excellent in Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to the four of the Big Five with rare sightings of the tree climbing Lions in the Ishasha sector. This is only the beginning as natural wonders await you in northern Uganda, home to the magnificent Murchison Falls in Murchison Park.
Explore the outstanding scenery including desert crags, ossified anthills, culture, and wildlife of Kidepo National Park. In western Uganda is Kibale National Park, the primate capital of Africa great for Chimp tracking.
On the western side towards the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo are the Rwenzori Mountains surrounded by the pygmy people on the foothills. Uganda is all about adventure, and this means visiting Jinja the adventure capital of East Africa and home to the source of the Nile and favorite for rafters.
Less is described about traveling to Uganda, but wherever you go, the passion of visiting Uganda and its beauty will be still whispering in your ears!!
Uganda Travel Advice | What Should I Know Before Traveling To Uganda?
A few people know about Uganda, However, for those interested in visiting Uganda, there are things they should know before coming. This travel advice will guide you in your longing for this beautiful country.
Before you travel, ensure to check the entry requirements section for Uganda’s current entry restrictions and requirements. You should monitor the travel advice and updates and stay in contact with your tour operator.
Purchase travel insurance and find out if it offers sufficient coverage. For guidance on foreign travel insurance, always check with your insurance providers.
When in Uganda, be attentive, avoid large crowds and public demonstrations, and follow local media for updates.
For disease outbreaks, always check with the World Health Organization or the infectious disease control program of Uganda and take their travel advice.
Entry, Exit, and Uganda Visa Requirements For Those Planning on Visiting Uganda
If you are to travel to Uganda, ensure that you have all the requirements from the Ugandan Government immigration website so that you can pass the entry restrictions.
For All Travellers Intending to Visit Uganda
Visas are no longer issued on arrival as you need to apply for the visa online before you depart for your trip.
Travelers are no longer required to present their vaccination Covid-19 status or a negative PCR test on arrival. However, passengers may be subject to temperature checks and will be screened for infectious diseases by Port Health authorities.
Only passengers with valid tickets and airport officials will be allowed in the terminal building.
Exemptions; there is no one exempt from Uganda’s entry requirements.
Passport validity; the passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry in Uganda.
Visas; apply online for the e-visa on time or visit the Ugandan consulate in your home country. You can also apply for the East African tourist visa which is valid for 90 days and allows you entry to Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda.
Yellow fever certificate requirements; on your arrival to Uganda, you need to present to the officials the Yellow fever vaccination certificate.
UK Emergency Travel Documents; these are accepted for entry let it be airside transit and exit from Uganda. However, they must be valid for six months for entry into Uganda. On departure with ETD, they should include a police report for lost/stolen passports.
Safety and Security When You Visit Uganda
Be aware that there are a few cases of crime in Uganda like armed robbery, home invasion, and sexual assault, especially in larger cities like Kampala and Entebbe. Be vigilant for your own safety.
Kidnappings of foreign nationals are rare though there was a case when a US citizen was kidnapped in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the southwest region of Uganda near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo but later was released unharmed.
Be aware of travel around these areas.
Uganda’s Border with The Democratic Republic of Congo
The border with the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo could lead to possible incursions into Western Uganda by armed rebel groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo began a joint military operation to fight against the armed groups of Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in North Kivu and the Ituri provinces near Virunga National Park.
Be sure that the border is open for travelers as sometimes they are closed because of the cross-border attacks from Allied Democratic Forces.
Uganda’s Border with South Sudan
The South Sudan-Uganda border is porous as there are cases of crime. Inter-communal tensions and clashes are common on the South Sudan border as there are armed groups. This is due to the arrival of refugees from South Sudan into Uganda.
Also, there is a strain and limited access to the region’s health, education, and security resources. This travel advice guide recommends you to avoid traveling to areas within 50km from the South Sudan-Uganda border. Apparently, there are no cross border attacks.
Be vigilant when traveling in the Karamoja Province as there are clashes among tribal groups. These tribal groups be clashing during cattle rustling and raids and they are dangerous as they carry guns.
Also, this region is near the border with South Sudan, be aware that medical care and auto repair services are lacking in remote areas of the Karamoja region.
Local Travels in Uganda National Parks
Uganda has many national parks including some near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, local authorities have improved security measures in these areas.
If you are visiting a national park, be sure of personal security and exercise caution and follow the precautions below;
- Only use trustable and professional guides or registered tour operators.
- Avoid safaris that take you into the Democratic Republic of Congo let it be Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park.
- Always be informed about the developments in the security situation of the area you wish to go to as they can change over time.
- Follow the park regulations and the rangers’ travel advice and instructions.
Terrorism in Uganda
Uganda is fighting many enemies and there is a possibility of these enemies tending to attack the country. But there is no fear as the Ugandan government has deployed security forces in Kampala, shopping centers, airports, government buildings like schools, markets, and the city center.
Do not be frightened as the security people may conduct increased security checks in public areas to try to prevent further attacks. Always monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities. Eastern Uganda is totally safe for travel.
Crime in Uganda
There is a petty crime throughout Uganda like pickpocketing, purse and jewelry snatching in the city center, and theft from hotel rooms and vehicles.
If attacked, don’t resist as it may result in violence. Just maintain a level of personal security and exercise caution awareness at all times.
Avoid traveling at night, keep bags attended to, and keep personal belongings safe with you always, don’t carry large sums of money, and if possible travel in groups. In case you witness a crime or having a security situation, report to it the nearest police station.
Be careful with the armed groups that rob pedestrians, especially in night hours as there can be further attacks. Always keep your vehicle doors closed and your personal belongings safely stored.
Exercise caution and avoid displaying jewelry when walking or in public transportation and if you are attacked or have a security situation, report to the nearest police station.
Demonstrations and Protests
Demonstrations may occur due after political parties fuel them during political events as they are peaceful though they can be violent at times. This leads to disruption of traffic and public transportation especially in the central business district.
Political events may happen near government buildings or offices.
There is a military presence in northwest Uganda due to cross-border threats from armed groups.
Make sure that you follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media for relevant information.
Spiked Food and Drinks in Uganda
Be wise and never leave food or drinks unattended to or in the care of strangers. You may be drugged which may result into cases of sexual assault or robbery.
Carry Your Identification Documents
Make sure that you carry a photocopy of your passport and keep the original secure in your hotel room. Facilities and infrastructure are many in Kampala, Jinja, and larger national parks.
Wildlife Viewing in Uganda
To avoid risks, then you should not go for wildlife viewing on foot or at close range.
You should only visit parks and reserves with a reputable tour operator, observe a safe distance when observing wildlife, only exist a vehicle in the park on the ranger’s watch, follow the park regulations, and always use registered tour operators and listen to local authorities.
For travel advice concerning security risks, park fees, and other conditions in game parks, you can contact Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Climate And Natural Disasters in Uganda
Be aware that Uganda experiences natural disasters and severe weather like earthquakes, flooding, and landslides, especially during the rainy seasons from March to May and from October to November.
Flooding can cause landslides and leaves people homeless and blocks roads.
However, you can protect yourself from natural disasters when you keep your passport in a safe waterproof location, follow local media, and follow travel advice from local authorities.
Avoid swimming in lakes and rivers as they may be infested with Crocodiles and Hippos which are extremely dangerous.
The roads of Uganda mostly lack traffic signs, there are reckless driving habits, wandering animals, pedestrians, and poor road conditions. Be aware that there are cases of accidents on the roads
Avoid highway travel especially during night time as there is poor visibility. Also, avoid driving after dark outside the major cities.
If accessing Uganda by road, check in with the border police station regarding the security situation of your next destination and follow travel advice from local authorities.
Health Care in Uganda
Foreign nationals should know that there are limited medical facilities in the country especially beyond the cities in rural areas and the health care may not be to the standards of Europe or the US.
If you get a deadly illness or are injured, you are then evacuated to Nairobi, Kenya, or other countries with better medical facilities and good health care.
You should know that medical evacuation is costly and that’s why we recommend supplemental travel insurance to cover medical evacuation insurance for proper health care.
Ambulance services are not widely available and emergency responders are below European and US standards.
If possible carry your own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. But you should carry it with original packaging or a doctor’s prescription so that they are not taken to be illegal drugs.
Routine Vaccines for Your Visit to Uganda
When planning to travel to Uganda be up to date on all vaccinations. These routine vaccinations should also be up to date regardless of your destination. Some of the diseases that require vaccination are measles-mumps-rubella, Influenza, Malaria, etc.
Pre-Travel Vaccines and Medications
Always talk to a travel health professional about the medications or vaccines that are right for you based on the destination that you are going to. Port Health authorities may check for these vaccinations.
They include Yellow Fever, Hepatitis B, Rabies, etc.
Other Health Risks During Your Uganda Visit
Foreign nationals should be vigilant of the health risks that they can get when visiting Uganda. These risks can however be avoided through precautions like;
Safe Food and Water Precautions
Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, or viruses, and swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
Always boil water, cook food, or peel it before eating. Avoid putting water in your mouth when swimming or bathing. Insect diseases include Chikungunya, Rift Valley Fever, Zika virus, etc.
Insect Bite Prevention
Most diseases are spread by bites of infected insects like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, or flies. When traveling to Uganda, carry an insect repellent to avoid mosquito bites, wear light loose clothes, and always sleep under a mosquito net.
Ebola Virus Disease
Uganda was affected by the Ebola virus disease the Ugandan government and World Health Organization declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak.
It was fought and now the country is free though you should avoid contact with a person with the symptoms or utilize the additional health screening measures.
However, you should monitor guidance provided by the Ugandan government and monitor local media to ensure that you get the latest information.
You can get further information and updates on the Ebola virus disease on the World Health Organization website or the infectious disease control program of Uganda.
This is a risk and you need to take precautions if you engage in activities that can expose you to the virus like having unprotected sex with an infected person or avoid contact with the body fluids of one who is a victim.
This remains a risk in Uganda and if you are infected, then seek medical treatment. Avoid contact with the sick as the medical facilities or health care may be not of good standards and follow the
Medical Services and Facilities
You should keep in mind that the health care, medical services, or medical facilities are limited in the rural areas and when visiting Uganda, get a health insurance plan that can cover all your medical treatment and health care.
You should come to Uganda with a medical evacuation insurance/ health insurance plan that can provide you with medical evacuation to Kenya or other countries with better health care.
Every traveler is subject to the legal status of local laws and penalties. If planning to travel to Uganda, research all about the local laws.
If caught using or trafficking illegal drugs, there are heavy penalties and if convicted, you may face a long jail sentence. If they are prescription drugs or medical treatments, then you should keep them in their original packaging and have a doctor’s prescription.
Photography of security forces, government buildings, diplomatic sites, and Entebbe International Airport is prohibited. Always get permission if you want to photograph someone.
Camouflage clothing or military wear is prohibited from civilians as it may result in a jail sentence as it is against local laws.
Dual citizenship or double legal status is illegal in Uganda as it may also be subject to different entry requirements or exit.
Keep in mind that consensual same-sex sexual relations are not openly encouraged in Uganda. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is could be of concern. LGBTI travelers should be careful when traveling to Uganda and they should follow local media for updates.
When driving in Uganda you should always keep left and you should be having an International Driving Permit. If you are below 18 years, then the local traffic laws do not allow you to drive.
Also, in cases of accidents, local traffic laws require drivers to stop and exchange information and assistance.
The currency used in this country is the Uganda shilling (UGX). Other foreign currency is also accepted in Uganda.
Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities, hotels, and airlines. Travelers cannot exchange US currency printed before 2007. ATMs and forex bureaus are available in the main cities and do not carry large sums of money.
About Uganda Travel
When you travel to Uganda, you need to mind the various ways of travel in the country from road safety to many other ways.
Uganda decides who can enter or leave through its borders. Read more about the entry requirements for the vaccinations and the required tests. Always check with the nearest embassy, consulate, or immigration department of Uganda.
Visas and Border Measures
Everyone needs a visa to travel to Uganda. You can also apply for the East African tourist visa which is valid for 90 days and allows you entry to Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda.
Or you can apply for a visa from the Uganda government using the online visa application.
When you are entering Uganda, you are required to present all the necessary entry requirements and vaccinations.
On arrival at the Entebbe International Airport, you are subject to temperature checks and screened for infectious diseases by the Port Health authorities.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Upon arrival, you need to present a valid Yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter Uganda and additional health screening measures may be processed from you.
Every traveler requires a passport and if you are visiting Uganda, it should at least be valid for 6 months. Always check the expiry date of your passport before you travel.
For up-to-date information concerning outbreaks, follow travel advice issued by the government of Uganda and follow local media. Covid-19 restrictions are still in place like putting on a mask in public places or when entering government buildings.
Monitor the local media for the latest developments and follow the travel advice from local officials.
There are accidents and there is a high risk at night. They are due to poor road and vehicle conditions, bad driving habits, high speeds, and poor lighting.
The Ugandan government can close tourist areas if there’s a risk of a rebel attack. If you are planning to drive in Uganda, check the local traffic rules, check security risks, and road closures before you travel outside major centres.
Check if your travel insurer policy covers you when using a motorbike or quad bike and always wear a helmet.
Taxis in Uganda
You should always use registered taxis and it’s best to arrange travel from your hotel. Avoid using unofficial taxis as you can be robbed.
There are long-distance buses but be alert as these buses cause accidents or sometimes can be robbed.
There are also minibuses (matatu) and boda bodas though they can be dangerous, for a motorcycle ride, always wear a helmet.
For boat travel, always use a trusted operator as there have been a few passenger ferry accidents recorded because of overcrowding. Also, wear a life jacket at all times.
Use favorable airlines that come to Uganda with friendly fares. Always check Uganda’s air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
There are local contacts that you can have in case of any emergencies.
For emergencies, depending on what you need, always first contact your;
- family and friends
- travel agent
- insurance provider
Fire and Rescue Services
Call 999 or go to the hospital for medical treatment and health care
Call 999 and always get a police report when you report a crime.
Tourism in Uganda
Contact your tour operator for complaints about tourist services or products.
Always read about where you can find your consular in case you need help.
FAQs and Topics
Is Uganda Tourist Friendly?
Yes, Uganda is tourist friendly. However, there are a few crimes just like any other country like pickpocketing and avoid borders around western Uganda to the Democratic Republic of Congo as you can fall victim to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
The people of Uganda are friendly and all the parks are safe as you are accompanied by armed groups of rangers. There are no disease outbreaks in Uganda meaning that the country is touristy friendly.
Do US Citizens Need Visa For Uganda?
Yes, US citizens traveling to Uganda need visas and they can apply for e-visas before arrival. Or US citizens can obtain visas upon arrival at the Entebbe Airport.
What Is the Best Month to Visit Uganda?
The best months to travel to Uganda are from December to February and from June to August. These months are good for trekking Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park.
Is It Safe to Go to Uganda Now?
Yes, it is safe to go to Uganda. There are no further attacks on the country by armed terrorists. Expect no cross border attacks, foreign nationals are assured of their safety.
Public transportation is good, Uganda’s national parks are safe and you can enjoy Uganda safaris with no limitations. Travel to eastern Uganda is largely trouble-free.
However, always keep your hotel rooms locked if there are valuables and avoid crowds.
Can US Citizens Travel to Uganda?
Yes, US citizens can travel to Uganda as long as they have a valid visa. They can obtain an electronic visa online.
Do I Need Vaccinations to Travel to Uganda?
Yes, there are compulsory vaccinations needed before you travel to Uganda. Yellow Fever vaccination is mandatory as you need to present the certificate at the borders and upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport.
Additional health screening measures can be done to ensure that you don’t have any illness.
Other vaccinations are Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, Meningococcal Meningitis, cholera, etc.
Eastern African Community Single Tourists Visa
You can always apply for the East African community tourist visa. This kind of visa works in Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda and you can enjoy multiple entries within 90 days. This visa costs $100.
Road conditions in Uganda
The Road network of Uganda has improved over the past few years though some roads in remote areas are still in very bad condition. Sometimes it is challenging to travel around Uganda depending on the weather conditions.
If you are going in parks, ensure that you have 4WD vehicles as the roads can be muddy and slippery during rains. Always contact UWA for get up to date travel advice about road conditions and identify the best routes.
Why visit Uganda?
Uganda is a unique country good for safaris and it has many safari attractions and activities which have made it a popular tourist destination.
Below is why you should be visiting Uganda;
- Uganda is a wildlife gem when it comes to wildlife safaris as it has the Big Five animals (Rhinos, Lions, Elephants, Leopards, and Buffaloes).
- It has half of the world’s surviving Mountain Gorillas with about 459 individuals.
- Uganda is good for birding safaris as it has over 1063 bird species including the rare Shoebill.
- Uganda is home to the source of the Nile the longest river in Africa.
- It has 10 national parks and 12 game reserves all having unique attractions and activities.
- Uganda has the biggest freshwater lake in the world –Lake Victoria.
- It has the highest number of Nile Crocodiles and Rothschild Giraffes in Murchison Falls Park.
- The stunning scenery of Uganda is amazing and unspoken for.
- Uganda is a crowd-free destination
- It is safe and provides enough security to tourists and citizens.
Travel Uganda on a Budget
This travel advice guides you on how to explore Uganda on a budget and enjoy the best experiences.
If you are traveling on a budget, use public transportation like buses and minibusses as they are cheap compared to private means of transport. Also, use cheap accommodation in the game parks like camps as this way you can save money.
Buy a Local Sim Card for Uganda
Upon arrival in Uganda, purchase a local sim card to stay connected. There is MTN Uganda and Airtel from which you can choose from. These prepaid sim cards are cheap and you can buy data bundles with them.
When and Where to Buy Chimpanzee and Gorilla Trekking Permits?
It is ideal to secure Chimpanzee and Gorilla trekking permits before arrival. These permits are only issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). You can use a Uganda Tour Operator to book the permits.
Ensure that the tour operator you are using is a member of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators. Mountain Gorilla permits cost $700, and Chimpanzee permits cost $200 for foreign nationals.
How much are National Park fees in Uganda in 2023?
UWA has set fixed park fees for those visiting the parks of Uganda. However, Entrance park fees differ per national park those most of them are around $40 for tourists.
Lesser known parks charge lower park fees same as reserves and these rates are for foreign nationals. You should know that national park fees are paid daily which means that you need to utilize the park fees.
Visit the UWA website for the latest national park fees, you should also know that vehicles pay for national park fees.
The park fees for vehicles are also paid daily.
Is There Malaria in Uganda?
Yes, there is Malaria throughout Uganda. You are encouraged to carry malaria medication and insect repellent. If you are going to northern Uganda like Murchison Falls National Park, take malaria pills.
Also, you can avoid mosquito bites when you put on long-sleeved shirts and trousers before sunrise or after sunset.
Best Time to Travel to Uganda?
Tourists can Visit Uganda all year round though the best time for safaris is the dry season which is the peak season as sightings of wildlife is easy and good. The dry season is from June to August and from December to February.
Rains are expected in March, April, May, October, and November and these months are challenging during Uganda tours as the roads become unnavigable.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Pak is good all year and know that places like Lake Bunyonyi, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Bwindi Forest are so cold in the night because of their high altitude.
Can You Drink the Tap Water in Uganda?
No, do not drink tap water in Uganda as it can cause sickness as the tap water is not good for drinking. Always drink bottled water and you can get it in all shops let it be shopping centres.
Move with a reusable filter water bottle to drink safe water. Buy bottled drinking water and this way you support the local businesses.
You can get the best value for money when you exchange US dollars for Uganda shillings at the Forex office in one of the major cities. You can as well exchange money at Entebbe Airport though the rates may be low.
Once you exchange cash, you may become a millionaire but do not move with a lot of cash.
What Is the Currency in Uganda?
The local currency used is the Ugandan shilling. Other foreign currency can be used and credit cards can also be used in major cities, hotels, shopping centers, and in Uganda’s national parks.
You can also tip a small amount of money to the locals. Buy local items to support local people in Uganda.
How Is the Wi-Fi In Uganda?
The Wi-Fi in Uganda is not that good, and most lodges offer free Wi-Fi in their main areas. It is better to buy a Uganda prepaid sim card for a better internet connection.
What Is the Food Like in Uganda?
Most of the food in Uganda is organic and you need to try out the local cuisines of matoke (cooked bananas), cassava, potatoes, beans, grounded peanuts, tomatoes, and stewed meat.
There are western style dishes as well perfectly prepared especially the 3-course meal. There are steaks, pasta, fish, and pastry, and also Indian food is available.
Do You Tip in Uganda?
Yes, tipping is ok and normal in Uganda. Most guides expect a tip after the Uganda safari. When in restaurants or hotels, give a tip for a service provided and it will bring happy smiles.
Visit Kampala If You Dare!
Kampala is an adventurous city that does not sleep. It is a central business district with fantastic experiences with many impressions on every street. You can enjoy walking tours here as this city has many sights.
You can visit the Gaddafi Mosque, the different local markets, the national museum, etc.
How Much Do Excursions Cost in Uganda?
This depends on the activities you wish to engage in and the number of people. You should expect to spend from around $80.
Gas Stations in Uganda
Gas stations in Uganda are available in the major cities and towns but may be scarce in remote areas. If you are visiting Kidepo, make sure that you have enough fuel and some for reserve as there are no gas stations in or near Kidepo National Park.
Languages in Uganda
Uganda has more than 40 languages with each tribe speaking their own language. Luganda is the widely spoken language in the central region.
Things to Do and Places to Visit in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the top highlights in Uganda, Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest in western Uganda is also good to enjoy and wildlife safaris are epic in Kidepo Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth Park ideal for spotting tree climbing Lions, and Lake Mburo Park.
You can visit Sipi Falls, enjoy water rafting on the source of the Nile in Jinja, visit Lake Bunyonyi, and explore the numerous islands.
There is Rwenzori Mountains Park and Mountain Elgon in eastern Uganda ideal for mountain climbing and hiking.
What To Wear While in Uganda?
When you are traveling to Uganda, you must wear appropriate, and this is what you can put on.
- Light long-sleeved trousers and shirts
- Light shoes
- Caps or hats
Quick Packing List for Uganda
Below are some of the items to pack when traveling to Uganda.
- A camera with extra batteries
- A day backpack.
- Insect Repellents
- Personal first aid kit
- Personal medical prescription
- Poncho or rain jacket
- UK electricity plug adapter.
- International driver’s license
In conclusion, this visiting Uganda article offers the best travel advice for those planning to explore Uganda. It guides you with all the necessary travel in Uganda so that you do not get stressed or inconvenienced.