General Advice

General Advice for traveling to Uganda

Time

For the UK, Uganda is 3 hours ahead of GMT and 2 hours ahead of BST.

For the US, Uganda is 8 hours ahead of Washington D.C.

 

Weather in Uganda

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. Low denomination notes attract worse exchange rates. Exchange rates at the airport are generally unfavourable.

 

Credit cards are increasingly accepted in Uganda but are most commonly accepted in big/international hotels, restaurants, shops and supermarkets.

 

You may be able to withdraw Uganda Shillings from an ATM using your UK debit/credit 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. Forex bureaux are widely available in Kampala although rates vary tremendously.

 

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 consider bringing spare batteries.

 

Many lodges in remote locations use solar power. This will not be strong enough to use e.g. hair dryers but you will be able to charge phones and standard camera batteries. Charging points are likely to be in common areas not in your room.

 

Remember to re-charge when you do have power.

 

Mobile phones

Basic mobile phones and SIM cards are readily available to buy in Kampala.

 

Food and drink in Uganda

A typical Ugandan meal consists of one or two staple ‘foods’ such as matooke (mashed 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 in your vehicle and you can buy more in your hotel. 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.).

 

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 can 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 smoke, you must keep at least 50 metres away from public places such as entrances to buildings. Do not smoke whilst with children and dispose of your cigarette ends responsibly, especially in national parks.

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Uganda and not generally accepted by the public. We therefore recommend that public displays of affection between same sex couples and attempts to promote homosexuality should be avoided. However, it is extremely unlikely that gay people going about their daily business will be abused or attacked.

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

We have happily and successfully hosted guests with various disabilities in Uganda. Although parts of the country can be hard to navigate – inaccessible buildings,  rough or missing footpaths – 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.

 

How to dress in Uganda

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. That said everyone understands that you will not wear your best clothes in the field where you are likely to get dusty or muddy.

 

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, slippery 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. If you are staying in a hotel with a swimming pool, you may wish to bring 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.

Why not read our guide to packing packing?