Travel Advice

Time

Uganda is 3 hours ahead of GMT and 2 hours ahead of BST.

Weather

Uganda’s climate is one of its great attractions. Due to its location on the Equator and its elevation, mainly over 1000m above sea level, Uganda enjoys warm tropical weather all year round with average temperatures ranging around 24-28°c. During the year, the hottest months are from December to February while the rainy seasons are from April to May and October to November. Even during the two rainy seasons, the sun is out most of the time! The mountain and highland areas have colder temperatures while the peaks of the Rwenzoris are snow covered all year round.

Please ensure you have suitable clothing for a range of conditions including a sweater for cool evenings. You are also advised to take a light rain jacket.

For more detailed information see the following websites:

Money

The Ugandan currency is the Shilling (UGX) (see XE or OANDA online currency converters for the current exchange rate). You can change British pounds (GBP), Euros (EUR) and US dollars (USD) easily in Kampala, but traveller’s cheques are harder to cash and attract poor exchange rates. Exchange rates at the airport are generally unfavourable.

Credit cards are not widely accepted in Uganda, although some big hotels, restaurants and banks in Kampala will accept them.

You may be able to withdraw Uganda Shillings from an ATM using your UK debit card depending on who you bank with. There are numerous Barclays ATMs around Kampala as well as other international banks such as Standard Chartered. Check inside the bank for details of the fee/commission. You can only withdraw cash on credit cards inside main branches of banks in Kampala.

Forex bureaux are widely available in Kampala although rates vary tremendously. It is best not to carry large sums of cash around with you or let others see how much you are changing.

Your itinerary will not always allow time to visit a forex bureau and money changing facilities may not be available up-country so please ensure that you have changed enough money before you leave Kampala.

Electricity

Uganda generally follows the standard British system of 250v with 3 x ‘square pin’ plugs. However, increasingly, a variety of sockets is being installed so you might find an adapter/travel plug useful. The electricity supply in Uganda can be erratic and in some places power is not available at all, so please do not rely on being able to do things like re-charge your phone or use a hairdryer. Remember to re-charge when you do have power.

Mobile phones

Your mobile phone may need unlocking in order to work with a Ugandan sim card (available for about £1-2). This can be done quickly and cheaply in Kampala with costs ranging from around £5 – £15 depending on your model. The major Ugandan mobile networks are MTN, Airtel, Warid, UTL and Orange.

Food

A typical Ugandan meal consists of one or two staples such as matooke (green bananas), potatoes or rice accompanied by a ‘sauce’ such as meat or fish stew. Vegetarianism is not common but restaurants will normally offer a sauce of groundnuts, beans or peas. ‘Snacks’ such as sausage and chips are also common. Fresh fruit and vegetables are widely available and, in large towns, there is a good selection of foodstuffs including international items.

Ensure you only drink bottled or properly boiled water. If in doubt, do not drink it. Mineral water is cheap and widely available, even up-country. Be wary of ice cubes or food such as salad, which may have been washed in water. Drinking water will be provided on long journeys. You may wish to bring a water bottle with you which can be topped up with boiled water or soda (e.g. Coke, Sprite etc). Shopkeepers may not let you leave their shop with a soda bottle.

Nut allergies could be triggered by Gnuts (peanuts) which are common in Uganda. They are likely to be found in many kitchens and traces could be found in your meal even if you do not order them.

Snacks can be bought by the roadside in Uganda and are popular. If you wish to try some, choose the very hot ones such as roasted meats, cassava or bananas and, where possible, look at the cleanliness of the stall preparing them.

You may wish to bring a few dry snacks, such as energy/cereal bars, with you.

Please notify us of any special dietary requirements. We arrange vegetarian options in all the hotel restaurants we use.

Ugandan laws & customs

Smoking is illegal in public places and on public transport. If you must smoke, please move away from the entrance to buildings, do not smoke whilst with children and dispose of your cigarette ends responsibly, especially in National Parks.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and not generally accepted. We therefore recommend that public displays of affection between same sex couples should be avoided.

Please ask for permission before taking photos. Do not take photos of sensitive places such as banks, Police stations and military sites.

Disability/special needs

Visitors with physical disabilities may find parts of Uganda hard to navigate. Some buildings are not easily accessible and pavements can be rough and full of potholes. However, with a flexible approach we are confident that disabled guests can enjoy Uganda like anyone else. Please inform us of any special needs you may have and we will do everything we can to help.

Dress

Please dress smartly on all university field visits (a suit and tie is not necessary but shorts and flip-flops are unacceptable). Your knickers should not be visible under, for example, low cut jeans. Dressing too casually for the occasion is seen as disrespectful in Uganda. This applies as much when visiting a community project as, say, a government ministry. People will be pleased if you make the effort and show respect for them.

Green and brown or darker shades of clothing are better for activities like chimp tracking and forest walks. If your programme includes village or forest walks, farm visits, chimp tracking or similar, you should bring walking boots, trainers or other suitable footwear for walking on uneven, wet or dusty roads and footpaths. Please note that, for your own safety, National Parks do not allow you to leave your vehicle during a game drive so you will not need walking boots then. We respectfully suggest that flip-flops are best kept for wearing around the hotel or pool. We have had a number of visitors who have cut their feet on poor pavements or in rough grass and fields.

If you are staying in a hotel with a swimming pool, you may wish to take swimwear. Swimming in most lakes in Uganda is not advisable because of the risk of Bilharzia.

You are advised not to travel with items of high sentimental or monetary value such as jewellery, laptop computers and memory sticks holding valuable data. It is wise to back up any data before travelling.

Please do not pack too much luggage especially if you flying within Uganda or staying in more than one hotel during your visit. Laundry facilities are widely available in hotels throughout Uganda. It is not customary to include your underwear with your laundry requests or to hang it out to dry in public.

Foreign missions

If you plan to visit neighbouring countries you will need visas. Links to foreign missions in Kampala (e.g. Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania) can be found at:

Check that information on these web sites is up-to-date.

Time

Uganda is 3 hours ahead of GMT and 2 hours ahead of BST.

Weather

Uganda’s climate is one of its great attractions. Due to its location on the Equator and its elevation, mainly over 1000m above sea level, Uganda enjoys warm tropical weather all year round with average temperatures ranging around 24-28°c. During the year, the hottest months are from December to February while the rainy seasons are from April to May and October to November. Even during the two rainy seasons, the sun is out most of the time! The mountain and highland areas have colder temperatures while the peaks of the Rwenzoris are snow covered all year round.

Please ensure you have suitable clothing for a range of conditions including a sweater for cool evenings. You are also advised to take a light rain jacket.

For more detailed information see the following websites:

Money

The Ugandan currency is the Shilling (UGX) (see XE or OANDA online currency converters for the current exchange rate). You can change British pounds (GBP), Euros (EUR) and US dollars (USD) easily in Kampala, but traveller’s cheques are harder to cash and attract poor exchange rates. Exchange rates at the airport are generally unfavourable.

Credit cards are not widely accepted in Uganda, although some big hotels, restaurants and banks in Kampala will accept them.

You may be able to withdraw Uganda Shillings from an ATM using your UK debit card depending on who you bank with. There are numerous Barclays ATMs around Kampala as well as other international banks such as Standard Chartered. Check inside the bank for details of the fee/commission. You can only withdraw cash on credit cards inside main branches of banks in Kampala.

Forex bureaux are widely available in Kampala although rates vary tremendously. It is best not to carry large sums of cash around with you or let others see how much you are changing.

Your itinerary will not always allow time to visit a forex bureau and money changing facilities may not be available up-country so please ensure that you have changed enough money before you leave Kampala.

Electricity

Uganda generally follows the standard British system of 250v with 3 x ‘square pin’ plugs. However, increasingly, a variety of sockets is being installed so you might find an adapter/travel plug useful. The electricity supply in Uganda can be erratic and in some places power is not available at all, so please do not rely on being able to do things like re-charge your phone or use a hairdryer. Remember to re-charge when you do have power.

Mobile phones

Your mobile phone may need unlocking in order to work with a Ugandan sim card (available for about £1-2). This can be done quickly and cheaply in Kampala with costs ranging from around £5 – £15 depending on your model. The major Ugandan mobile networks are MTN, Airtel, Warid, UTL and Orange.

Food

A typical Ugandan meal consists of one or two staples such as matooke (green bananas), potatoes or rice accompanied by a ‘sauce’ such as meat or fish stew. Vegetarianism is not common but restaurants will normally offer a sauce of groundnuts, beans or peas. ‘Snacks’ such as sausage and chips are also common. Fresh fruit and vegetables are widely available and, in large towns, there is a good selection of foodstuffs including international items.

Ensure you only drink bottled or properly boiled water. If in doubt, do not drink it. Mineral water is cheap and widely available, even up-country. Be wary of ice cubes or food such as salad, which may have been washed in water. Drinking water will be provided on long journeys. You may wish to bring a water bottle with you which can be topped up with boiled water or soda (e.g. Coke, Sprite etc). Shopkeepers may not let you leave their shop with a soda bottle.

Nut allergies could be triggered by Gnuts (peanuts) which are common in Uganda. They are likely to be found in many kitchens and traces could be found in your meal even if you do not order them.

Snacks can be bought by the roadside in Uganda and are popular. If you wish to try some, choose the very hot ones such as roasted meats, cassava or bananas and, where possible, look at the cleanliness of the stall preparing them.

You may wish to bring a few dry snacks, such as energy/cereal bars, with you.

Please notify us of any special dietary requirements. We arrange vegetarian options in all the hotel restaurants we use.

Ugandan laws & customs

Smoking is illegal in public places and on public transport. If you must smoke, please move away from the entrance to buildings, do not smoke whilst with children and dispose of your cigarette ends responsibly, especially in National Parks.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and not generally accepted. We therefore recommend that public displays of affection between same sex couples should be avoided.

Please ask for permission before taking photos. Do not take photos of sensitive places such as banks, Police stations and military sites.

Disability/special needs

Visitors with physical disabilities may find parts of Uganda hard to navigate. Some buildings are not easily accessible and pavements can be rough and full of potholes. However, with a flexible approach we are confident that disabled guests can enjoy Uganda like anyone else. Please inform us of any special needs you may have and we will do everything we can to help.

Dress

Please dress smartly on all university field visits (a suit and tie is not necessary but shorts and flip-flops are unacceptable). Your knickers should not be visible under, for example, low cut jeans. Dressing too casually for the occasion is seen as disrespectful in Uganda. This applies as much when visiting a community project as, say, a government ministry. People will be pleased if you make the effort and show respect for them.

Green and brown or darker shades of clothing are better for activities like chimp tracking and forest walks. If your programme includes village or forest walks, farm visits, chimp tracking or similar, you should bring walking boots, trainers or other suitable footwear for walking on uneven, wet or dusty roads and footpaths. Please note that, for your own safety, National Parks do not allow you to leave your vehicle during a game drive so you will not need walking boots then. We respectfully suggest that flip-flops are best kept for wearing around the hotel or pool. We have had a number of visitors who have cut their feet on poor pavements or in rough grass and fields.

If you are staying in a hotel with a swimming pool, you may wish to take swimwear. Swimming in most lakes in Uganda is not advisable because of the risk of Bilharzia.

You are advised not to travel with items of high sentimental or monetary value such as jewellery, laptop computers and memory sticks holding valuable data. It is wise to back up any data before travelling.

Please do not pack too much luggage especially if you flying within Uganda or staying in more than one hotel during your visit. Laundry facilities are widely available in hotels throughout Uganda. It is not customary to include your underwear with your laundry requests or to hang it out to dry in public.

Foreign missions

If you plan to visit neighbouring countries you will need visas. Links to foreign missions in Kampala (e.g. Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania) can be found at:

Check that information on these web sites is up-to-date.

Flights

The following airlines fly directly from Europe into Entebbe International Airport, Uganda:

Insurance

We require all of our guests to have valid travel insurance in place. We recommend you are covered for cancellation, loss or damage to personal possessions, international medical evacuation and any specialist activities such as white water rafting.

Health and travel documentation

Health advice for travellers can be obtained from your local travel clinic or from websites such as MASTA or the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

We recommend that you seek travel health advice 6-8 weeks before travelling so you have plenty of time for a programme of vaccinations and can start taking anti-malarials before departure if necessary. You will also need a Yellow Fever certificate to enter Uganda and you should carry this with your passport in your hand luggage. All the hotels we use provide mosquito nets. Venture Uganda provides basic medical kits for all tours.

If you take any personal medication you should ensure you have sufficient supplies with you for the duration of your visit, as these may not be available in country. A change of diet sometimes causes tummy upsets so you may wish to bring some Immodium with you. Insect spray, sun tan lotion, sunglasses and a hat are all recommended. You may also wish to take condoms as the quality of those available in Uganda may be variable and they may not have been stored correctly.

There can be a lot of dust in the atmosphere in Uganda, especially on murram roads but also in towns. This can affect equipment such as cameras and contact lenses. You may want to consider bringing additional packing/protection and spares.

While most things are available to buy in Kampala, do not assume that this is the case, and certainly not up-country. For example, the range of ladies’ sanitary wear can be very limited.

Passports

In order to travel, please ensure that your passport is valid for 6 months after the end of your proposed visit. It can take some time to obtain a new passport so please apply early. UK passport holders can visit the Identity and Passport Service website for details.

Visas

All persons intending to come to Uganda and are required to have a visa can now apply and obtain a visa online. Check here for the list. At the comfort of wherever you are, fill your visa application and submit them in the following link: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/.

The decision taken on the application shall be sent electronically through the email provided by the applicant. If approved, an approval letter will be sent as an attachment to the email provided. Print it out and present it together with a valid passport / travel document upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport. The Ugandan visa costs US dollars USD100 or its equivalent in Pounds (GBP), Euros (EUR) and payable at the port of entry.

Follow the link below for information about documents required in the online visa application:
https://visas.immigration.go.ug/#/help/visa

East Africa Tourist visa

It is now possible to buy a 90 day, multiple entry, East African Tourist Visa (for Uganda, Rwanda & Kenya). This costs USD100. Although this is available to buy online, the system is in its infancy and not always reliable and easier in some countries than others. Advice on buying in Rwanda is available from the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration.

Therefore we recommend, for now, that you buy this visa at the Embassy/High Commission of Uganda, Rwanda or Kenya in your home country.

International Student Identity card (ISIC)

An ISIC will entitle you to discounted rates for things like entry to the National Parks. Your University ID will not be accepted.

Yellow Fever Requirement

The government of Uganda requires a mandatory proof of Yellow fever vaccination (at least 10 days before arrival) from travellers 1 year of age and above from the following countries to reduce the risk of international spread;

AFRICA

Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leon, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo.

CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA.

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela

Those who do not meet this requirement must be vaccinated at the airport at the travellers own cost.

Your health and safety are of paramount importance during your tour with Venture Uganda. The nature of our tours means we often take you off the beaten track to areas that are remote or underdeveloped and we may include activities that contain an element of risk.

Our aim is therefore to assess potential risks, devise measures to control them and to have in place procedures to deal with any incident or emergency.

Our health and safety policies and procedures are designed and monitored in reference to various international standards, advice and codes of conduct such as:

  • British Standard 8848: Specification for the provision of visits, fieldwork, expeditions and adventurous activities, outside the United Kingdom
  • The UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
  • Uganda Wildlife Authority
  • The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992

We are also partners in the FCO ‘Know Before You Go’ scheme.

Risk assessments for academic clients

Risk assessments are conducted for all our academic programmes and are available prior to booking. These will also state the competencies needed to participate in that particular tour.

We will obtain all the necessary permits and permissions to undertake the activities included in your tour.

Staffing

All tours are accompanied by one of Venture Uganda’s trained and experienced staff or associates.

For study tours, the risk assessment will set out clear responsibilities and lines of communication between Venture Uganda staff, University staff and students.

Pre-departure information

There is a lot of information available on this website to help you prepare for your trip. For example, information on Ugandan laws and customs, services and maps. You will receive emergency contact details before you travel to leave with family and friends. We will also ask for your emergency contacts just in case.

Insurance

All clients must be covered by comprehensive travel insurance which should cover cancellation, loss or damage to luggage and personal items and international medical evacuation. Venture Uganda will require details of your insurance before departure.

Emergency support

Venture Uganda has a 24/7 duty officer in Kampala, Uganda.

For your peace of mind you may wish to know that Uganda has international-standard medical facilities in Kampala.

We recommend that all British travellers register their visit to Uganda using The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s LOCATE service. This is helpful should you need to use their services or in an emergency. Travellers of other nationalities should check what services are available to them through their own embassies.

Security

We carefully monitor the security situation in Uganda and surrounding countries, following advice from organisations such as the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UNHCR, British High Commission in Uganda, Uganda Wildlife Authority and using our own network of local contacts.

 

Stay safe overseas – know before you go

Whatever your reason for travelling abroad, you’re sure to want a trouble free trip.  Many of the things that often go wrong for travelers can be prevented or made less stressful by taking a few simple precautions. So it makes sense to spend a little time getting prepared before you travel – you could save yourself a lot of problems later on.

With this in mind, we are working with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to help British nationals stay safe abroad. The FCO website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips and up to date country information to help you plan your holiday.

Tips include:

  • Make sure you have valid travel insurance, even if you’re only planning a short trip.
  • Visit your GP at least 8 weeks before you travel to get any vaccinations you might need.
  • Read up on your destination, including local laws and customs.
  • Make photocopies of your passport, visas and insurance details and leave a copy with a relative or friend at home.

You can also find handy checklists to use before you set off and whilst you’re away. Plus it’s worth reading up on what the local British Consulate can do to help you if you run into problems abroad – and what they can’t do (read some of the funniest requests in the Consular Enquiries Press Release May 2013).

For all this and more information:

  • visit the FCO website
  • call the UK 24 hour FCO travel advice line on 0845 850 2829
  • visit the FCO Travel Facebook page (facebook.com/fcotravel
  • follow @FCOTravel on Twitter
  • watch the FCO You Tube channel

Advice for Uganda

FCO ‘Know Before You Go’ campaigns

Below are links to some recent ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign information

Mental Health and overseas travel – information and leaflet

Insurance

Gap year travel

LGBT travel

Reserach the laws and customs of your holiday destination

Take care of your passport” video and statistics on Emergency Travel Documents

Road safety tool

Moving abroad

 

 

Previous visitors have suggested that we provide some guidance on the sorts of gifts/donations that people could bring with them, or buy in Uganda, to give out. Please enquire if you would like further advice.

 

Cash, although not very glamorous, is often the most practical gift you can offer. We find visitors sometimes do not want to make a ‘show’ of presenting money but sometimes a public hand-over helps the intended beneficiaries to hold recipients to account.

If there is no obvious institution on your programme that you would like to support, you could contribute to institutions that Venture Uganda supports:

  • Entebbe hospital need funds to provide meals, medication and support with laundry and personal care for admitted patients who cannot be supported by their families
  • Kyambogo football team – a team of young men in Kampala – needs cash, kits, footballs, transport and expenses to continue playing in the amateur league.
  • Kasoroza primary school – we are supporting this government school in Rukungiri district to improve facilities at the school and to raise standards. In the past our donations have contributed towards scholastic materials for pupils and staff housing which helps to reduce staff absence.
  • We accept donations to our own project to establish RISE an institute for social enterprise in Uganda to help young people create businesses to support themselves and tackle social issues in their communities.

You may also wish to donate any leftover currency at the end of your visit for any of these causes.

Often universities bring branded gifts such as pen sets, USB memory sticks, document cases, business card holders and clothing (fleece jackets, neck ties, baseball caps).

Clothes can be a nice gift but avoid giving ladies shorts, camouflage/army fatigues and underwear. Jumpers and jackets are also welcome – it can be cold in Africa!

Footballs/netballs are hugely popular and should be given to team captains/local leaders/head teachers rather than individuals. Hardwearing balls are best.

 

Please do not give sweets or money to groups of children, especially selected ‘favourite’ children. This can lead to fights between the children and it encourages children to beg from foreigners.

To avoid disappointing people, please only give out your contacts if you are happy to correspond with people once you have returned home.

 

Often, gifts are not required. We encourage you to simply engage with Ugandans, especially fellow students; to debate with them, share your experiences and enjoy each other’s company.

To get the most out of your visit to Uganda you may wish do a little preparatory reading about the country and its wildlife, history, languages, culture and politics. If so, you may find the following websites helpful:

Maps

Foreign missions

If you plan to visit neighbouring countries you will need visas. Links to foreign missions in Kampala (e.g. Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania) can be found at:

Check that information on these web sites is up-to-date.

Books and maps

Guide books, general information & maps

Wildlife & field guides

Politics/history/development