Uganda practical travel information

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In this chapter hereunder we will give you important practical information needed before going to Uganda. Click on 'more information' to read it.

 

 

Basic Information

Official Name:Republic of Uganda
Area: 236,000 sq km

Population: 35.7 million (July 2012 est.)

Capital: Kampala

Largest Cities, with Population (2012)
Kampala: 1,353,000
Gulu: 146,000
Lira: 119,000
Mbarara: 97,000

Religious Affiliations:
Catholic: 42%
Aglican 36%
Muslim: 12%
Other 10%

 
 

Climate

Uganda is located around the equator. Because of this, the climate is pleasant the whole year through! Traveling in Uganda is, for this reason, not limited by climate! The temperatures average between 22 and 32ºC. In the higher location areas the temperature drops quite a lot (mainly at night). This is in areas like Bwindi, Kisoro, Lake Bunyonyi, Mount Elgon, Sipi Falls and Rwenzori Mountains.

Due to climate changes it’s hard to predict when the rainy seasons will be. However; the heavy rainy season is normally in March – May, light rainy season is November – December, though there will always be plenty hours of sunshine.

Visa Uganda

A visum for Uganda is $100 per person.

The government of Uganda has introduced an online visa application system. This system came into effect on the 1st of July 2016.

The application for the visa can be done at the following link: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/

If the application is accepted, a letter of approval will be send by E-mail. This letter of approval has to be showed – together with a valid passport / travel document - at the port of entry.

Please contact Matoke Tours in case you need assistance with how to do the online application for the visa.

If you have booked your tour with Matoke Tours, of course Matoke Tours will provide your invitation letter / confirmation of booking to hand in with your online visa application. Please ask your contact person at Matoke Tours for this invitation letter. 

You can as well buy a East Africa Visa, which allows you to enter Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. This is as well US $100. You have to apply for this visa in advance.

You are responsible for organizing your own visa. If - for any reason - you are not allowed into the country, Matoke Tours does not take any responsibility in this. 

 
 

Cash

The Ugandan currency is the Ugandan Shilling.

In Uganda they do NOT accept US dollars given out before 2006.

When you exchange money, use big notes (50 or 100 US dollar). The exchange rate of smaller notes is much lower.

Make sure notes are not cut, or damaged in any way. They will not be accepted.

We advise that you budget your cash needs per person:

US$20 per day on full-board tour packages to cover drinks and other personal expenses.

US$40 per day on bed & breakfast tour packages to cover meals, drinks and personal expenses not included.

Exchange rate

You can change dollars, pounds and Euros everywhere in Uganda, but the best exchange rates are found in Kampala. It’s good to have some US dollars with you at all times.

Exchange Rate: (This was the exchange rate in July 2016).

Euro - Dollar 1.10
Euro - Ugandan Shilling 3.700
US Dollar - Euro 0.91
US Dollar - Ugandan Shilling 3.350
Pound Sterling - Dollar 1.30
Pound Sterling - Ugandan Shilling 4.400

 

Check the current exchange rates: XE.com

 
 

ATM & Credit Cards

ATM: In all cities ad big towns you find ATM machines from Stanbic Bank and/ or Barclays. They accept most international bank cards and Visa. Do realize that the amount you can take aout per day is limited to about $100,-. Realize as well that ATM's can be empy or not working due to powercuts. Make sure you always have enough cash with you as a back up!

Credit Card: Credit cards are not yet used much in Uganda. Only in Kampala and at mayor hotels and upmarket lodges this can be used.

Traveler Cheques: Traver cheques are only accepted in a few banks in Kampala and they will give you a terrible rate for it.

Tipping

Clients are advised to give a fair, reasonable tip to the local guides, cleaners, drivers, hotel staff, etc. We advise you to only give tips when you are truly happy with the service provided.

Tipping suggestions:

Your driver/guide: 3 – 5 dollars per person/per day
Porters: 5 dollars per half day (3 – 4 hours)
Hotel porters: 1 dollar per bag.
Rangers/ local guides: 15 dollars per activity (in total)
Restaurants:  5 – 10%
Hotel staff 1 – 2 dollars per person/per night
 
 

Plugs and voltage Uganda

British-style plugs with three pins: 240 V,50 Hz. For more info check: 

See photo on the side

 

 

Charging camera and phone

You can charge your cameras, phones and other electric items in most hotels/ lodges. Not every hotel/lodge offers charging facilities in the rooms. If that is the case they will offer charging options in the lobby or restaurant.

Some lodges Hotels run on either solar power or generator. Those lodges often don't have power all day, but only at specific hours in the morning and evening (when it's dark).

If you bring a couple of chargeable items you might consider bringing an extension with extra outlets, since the amount of outlets is often limited. We advise to bring extra batteries for your camera, since some hotels don’t have power and power cuts might occur.

Luggage

We request you to bring a bag or suitcase from soft material. Hard cover suitcases are difficult to place in the car and are likely to break on the bumpy roads in Uganda. When traveling in a group or private tour with 4 persons or more we request you to limit the weight of your bag/ suitcase to 15 kg.

 
 

Phone

There are several mobile providers in Uganda. You can purchase a SIM card for relatively low cost (3 US dollars). SIM cards and airtime for the the different companies are available all over Uganda. MTN has the best network. Make sure that your phone is SIM-Lock-Free. You have to bring your passport and a passport photo to sign up.

The country code for Uganda is +256.

Internet

Internet cafés are found all around the country and are now even to be found in remote areas. Realize that internet speed is often very slow.

Most upmarket lodges provide wifi, but not all of them. some mid-range lodges provide wifi as well.

If you bring your own laptop you can buy a 3 GB wireless internet stick from MTN. This Internet is relatively quick. The cost for this stick is about 50 US dollars per month (minimum 1 month). This stick can be bought in Entebbe, Jinja and Kampala and you need to bring your passport and a passport photo to sign up.

When you buy a MTN simcard (register with passport and passport photo) you can use the 3G or even 4G option to provide internet to your smartphone or tablet.

 
 

Safety and Risks

Uganda is in general a very safe country to travel in. Ugandans are considered among the friendliest among planet earth and are very welcoming. Kampala is known for one of the safest capital cities in Africa.

Do feel free to meet and talk to Ugandans, as they will be most honored.

Be however always careful to your belongings.

Be responsible and sensative during your tour and use taxi's (called 'special hire') when you are going out at night.

Traffic in Kampala can be rather hectic and sometimes even dangerous when using boda boda's (motor bike taxi's).

During Election time it can be dangerous around the city center of Kampala. It's easy to avoid going to the city center, and we strongly advise to do exactly that during election time.

Contact your embassy in Uganda for safety instructions.

Gay Travelers

There is an Anti-gay law in Uganda and being gay is absolutely NOT accepted in Ugandan culture. It is very safe to travel in Uganda being gay, but make sure you don’t openly speak about it and surely not show it.

 
 

Health

Contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.

Medical facilities in Uganda are limited, particularly outside Kampala. Medical help at the scene of an accident is likely to be limited. In the case of serious accident or illness, evacuation by air ambulance may be required. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Make sure your Yellow Fever vaccination is up to date before arriving in Uganda.

Emergency contacts

Matoke Tours Office

Below you can find emergency contacts to reach Matoke Tours. We request you to use the office phone for all regular questions.

Please respect the privacy of our staff and only use the emergency numbers when it's a real emergency.

Email: contact@matoketours.com
Office Phone: (+256) (0)392 202 907
Emergency Number 1: (+256) (0) 752 385 061 (Renate)
Emergency Number 2: (+256) (0) 793 850 647 (Anna)


Hospital/ medical advise:
The Surgery Kampala

42 Naggulu Drive, Naguru, Kampala

Reception: +256 (0) 31 225 6001/2/3
Accounts: +256 (0) 31 225 6004
Pharmacy: +256 (0) 31 225 6005
ER Reception: +256 (0) 31 225 6008
Ambulance: +256 (0) 752 756003
Medical examinations: +256 (0) 31 225 6007

http://thesurgeryuganda.org

Directions to the Surgery, Kampala:

Directions


Option 2:

International Hospital:
Namuwongo, Kampala: +256 31 2200400

 
 

Air Ambulance Scheme

Medical facilities in East Africa are limited. This is especially true for some of the remote places where your safari may take you. In case of a serious medical emergency, getting to the nearest full-service hospital may mean a long ground transfer over poor roads.

Fortunately, Matoke Tours has an agreement with AMREF to provide an inexpensive Tourist Air Evacuation Scheme. For registered clients, AMREF Flying Doctors will respond swiftly and without delay in the event of an incident and coordinate directly with work with the client’s overseas insurance company (though it is not necessary to have such insurance to qualify for the scheme). Click here for information about the insurance and how to sign up.

 

Books About Uganda


Abyssinian Chronicles. By Moses Isegawa. 
Like Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Moses Isegawa's Abyssinian Chronicles tells a riveting story of twentieth-century Africa that is passionate in vision and breathtaking in scope.

Oboke Girls. By Els De Temmerman. In October 1996, one hundred and thirty nine girls were abducted from St Mary's College, in northern Uganda. In this book journalist Els De Temmerman reconstructs the journey of two Aboke girls who managed to excape and one of the abductors, a fourteen year old boy who was part of Kony's elite troops. (Els De Temmermans is as well owner of Cassia Lodge in kampala).

The Queen of Katwe. By Tim Crothers. A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster. 

Nightmare Along the River Nile. By Suzanna E. Nelson. About the LRA. Find out in this compelling narrative about a young man and his loyal friends whose story will remain with you for a long time to come

The White Nile. By Alan Morehead. The White Nile remains a seminal work in tales of discovery and escapade, filled with incredible historical detail and compelling stories of heroism and drama

The Last King Of Scotland. By Giles Foden. In The Last King of Scotland Foden's Amin is as ridiculous as he is abhorrent: a grown man who must be burped like an infant, a self-proclaimed cannibalist who, at the end of his 8 years in power, would be responsible for 300,000 deaths.

Mountains of the Moon. By I.J. Kay. Told in multilayered, hallucinatory flashbacks, Mountains of the Moon traces a traumatic youth and explores the journey of a young woman trying to transform a broken life into something beautiful.

 

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

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