Lake, Uganda

Things to know before you visit Uganda

The information provided will help you get ready for an adventurous, enjoyable and memorable Ugandan safari experience.

Uganda, a landlocked East African country, is evergreen lying across the equator. It is bordered by Tanzania in the south, Sudan in the north, Kenya in the east, DRC in the west and Rwanda in the southwest.

At an altitude of 1,000m in most parts of the country, the country is generally flat with remarkable geographical diversity. 25% of the area is covered with lakes, rivers and swamps, having Lake Victoria, the source of the River Nile, Lake Kyoga, Lake Edward, Lake George, Lake Albert and many crater lakes. The country houses the Rwenzori mountains, Mount Elgon, Virunga mountains and volcanoes.

Why choose Uganda

Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, known for its splendor, natural wonders, and amazing people. Uganda is home to the world’s remaining 400 mountain gorillas, the world’s longest river, the Nile, spectacular view of Murchison falls, vast and diverse natural wildlife reserves and parks (10 parks), snowcapped Rwenzori mountains, Virunga volcanoes and incredible wildlife; over 1040 bird species and 330 mammals species.

The country has a diverse cultural heritage with more than 50 local tribes, each with their own rich culture and traditions. You will be fascinated by Uganda’s scenic wonders- fantastic landscape, savannahs, lakes and rivers, montane forests, marshes and grasslands.

Nkuringo, Uganda

Important Information before you visit

The Currency of Uganda

Though most hotels, lodges, tour companies and tourism tariffs are quoted in US Dollars and accept credit card payments, you may need the local Uganda Shillings UGX currency to purchase souvenirs and other items. You can exchange this at banks and can also get cash advances from ATMs. The best exchange rates are in Kampala or Entebbe. However, the smaller notes below $20 always get a lower exchange rate. Other currencies accepted are Euro and Pound Sterling. Currency notes below 2003 series are not accepted. Avoid exchanging money at the border, you may encounter conmen and thieves.

Health and Vaccination

Traveling to Uganda for a safari is safe though defensive measures against various infectious diseases might need immediate and advance planning for the various immunizations. It’s also good to consider vaccination against yellow fever, hepatitis, typhoid as well as tetanus, measles and polio. Typhoid, hepatitis-A, cholera are transmitted through contaminated food and water. Hepatitis-B is transmitted through contaminated body fluids. Meningitis and influenza are transmitted usually through airborne droplets. Rabies is transmitted through infected animals. Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever are transmitted by mosquitos through contact.

Visitors are encouraged to take all health safety measures when travelling:

  • Do not drink or eat food items from stands or unhygienic places, to avoid cholera.
  • Use mosquito repellant and take antimalarial such as Malaria prophylaxis, Larium, Doxycycline or Malarone.
  • Dress in trousers and long-sleeved shirts to shield you from mosquito bites.
  • Avoid black and blue clothes when in areas that are tsetse fly prone. These colours attract them to bite you.
  • Use sunscreen in the hot sun.
  • Always safeguard against the hot direct sun and get a lot of fluids.
  • Carry prescription medication that you may need among others

The Passport and Visa requirement

You will need an entry visa to travel to Uganda which has increasingly become a preferred tourist destination. The visa process is simple and visitors can apply for this online. Uganda visas can be obtained from all Uganda Embassies and missions abroad and on arrival at Entebbe airport or border entry. You will be required to fill in a form with your passport dates and details.

  • You must have a valid passport of nationality or origin issued by your Government.
  • Your passport must also be valid for at least 6 months after the date of your return. Yellow fever vaccination inoculation certificate is mandatory and is required on the application for a visa.
  • Citizens of the following countries can apply and obtain visas online; USA, UK, South Africa, Russia, Japan, Italy, India, Germany, France, Denmark, China, Canada, and Belgium. Download the application from the embassy website of your country of origin and attach 2 passport photos.
  • Citizens from the following countries do not need a visa;
    African countries namely, Zambia, Tanzania, Swaziland, Seychelles, Rwanda, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malawi, Kenya, Eritrea, Comoros, Burundi and Angola.
    Others include st. Vincent and the Grenadines Islands, Barbados, Bahamas, Antigua, Gambia, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malta, Singapore, Solomon Islands and Cyprus
  • You may be asked to show your return flight ticket.

Visa fees

  • A single entry visa valid for 3 months is $50- for holiday, travelling or business
  • East Africa Tourist visa valid for 3 months is $100- multiple entries for Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
  • Multiple entry visa valid for 6 months is $100- usually for a business purpose.

Virunga Mountains, Uganda

What is the Weather and Climate like in Uganda?

The equator runs through Uganda giving it a conducive temperate climate that is very warm throughout the year. At a geographical altitude of 1,000m, it offers Uganda a characteristic evergreen feature. The average annual temperature around 25 to 30 degrees. Nights can get chilly with temperatures reaching around 15 to 20 degrees.

There is a rainy season from March to May and from October to November. In November and December, there is light rain. The hottest months being January, February and December. The annual rainfall is between 1,000mm to 2,000mm throughout the country apart from the northern region that receives low rainfall.

Learn more about Uganda’s climate, here.

When is the best time to visit?

The warm and tropical climate makes Uganda an ideal destination that can be visited any time of the year! The rainy season March to May and October and November makes some roads impassable however, this should not stop you from traveling and enjoying a safari. During the rainy season average temperatures are 21.5°C and when they drop, it’s usually to a minimum of 12°C.

June, July and August, December, January and Feb are the best months for game viewing in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks. Prices and cost of safari are usually higher in the peak season. Park fees during May and April are usually discounted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and many tour operators, give a discount of $150 less for a Uganda safari gorilla permit.

Is it safe to travel in Uganda?

In our opinion, and in our experience – yes! Uganda is a safe safari destination. Through an organized safari by Nkuringo Safaris, you can enjoy a safe, stable and secure holiday with all your family. Don’t just take our word for it, view our reviews on Trip Advisor.

You will certainly have a sense of comfort and security when you are met at the airport on arrival and being in the care of Nkuringo Safaris guide or driver throughout your visit.

Uganda Safari Destinations

  1. Murchison Falls Safari

This is the largest conservation area in Uganda covering an area of over 3,840 sq km. You will find the Murchison falls, where the Victoria Nile powerfully hurls its way through a narrow crevice as it thrusts over 40m with a thunderous roar. At the Murchison Falls locally called the Karuma Falls you can find diverse vegetation from riparian forests to Savannah. Abundant wildlife roams Murchison Falls National Park.

Murchison Falls, Uganda

  1. Queen Elizabeth National Park

This parks gives an unforgettable scenic experience covering an area of 1.978 sq km. The park is located in western Uganda, with Lake George and Lake Edward connected by the Kazinga channel. The park has a massive variety of habitats including the savanna grassland, beautiful crater lakes, swamps and tropical rainforest. There are abundant wildlife, primates, birdlife and butterflies. This park is an ideal place for game watching especially at Mweya and Kasenyi, bird watching on the Kazinga channel and Maramagambo forest is amazing, and you can track chimpanzees in the Kyambura Gorge and spot tree climbing lions in Ishasha.

  1. Bwindi Impenetrable forest

This national park is situated in southwestern Uganda, found in a hilly countryside together with the low land forest. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site mainly for its biological significance is a treasure harboring half of the only surviving population of endangered mountain gorillas in the world.

  1. Lake Mburo National Park

This park is located in the western region in Kiruhura District covering 370km², making it the smallest park in Uganda, yet it has 5 lakes within! It’s conveniently located close to the western highway between the towns of Masaka and Mbarara taking you about 4 hours to get there from Kampala, making it the closest national park to Kampala. The park showcases a varied mosaic of habitats and landscapes from open wooded savannah forest and acacia woodlands, rocky outcrops, grasslands, sweeping valleys, craggy hills, bush thickets, and extensive wetlands.

The park’s highlights include rich birdlife, plentiful wildlife, interesting activities like cycling and quad biking, horse riding, nature walks, and sports fishing. This is the only park you will find zebras.

  1. Kidepo Valley National Park

This national park covers an area of about 1436 sq km and it’s situated in the Karamoja region in northwest Uganda with great savanna landscapes and rising mountains in its background. The park is divided by the rivers of Kidepo and Narus. The park harbors over 86 mammal species that include leopards, lions, cheetah, giraffes, the bat-eared fox and over 500 bird species.

uganda

  1. Kibale Forest National Park

This evergreen rain forest park is located near the Fort Portal in the Western part of Uganda, east of the Rwenzori Mountains covering 766 sq km. At an altitude ranging between 110m and 1600m, the park harbors a variety of wildlife, colourful birds, butterflies and variety of primates especially chimpanzees.

  1. Semuliki National Park

The park is located at the base of the mountains of the moon just at the border of DRC covering an area of 220 sq km of the valley floor. The fairly flat park contains the tropical lowland forest, hot spring area, variety of wildlife and birds.

  1. Mt Elgon National Park

The park is situated on the Uganda-Kenya boarder with its highest peak, Wagagai sits at 4,321m. Its main attraction is the beautiful caves along its slopes with beautiful flora.

  1. Rwenzori Mountains

This UNESCO world heritage site is located on the border between Uganda and DRC. Its highest peak Margherita stands at a height of 5109m. It stretches to about 110km in length. This snow-capped mountain range includes an astonishing range of landscapes, from the bizarre afro-alpine moorland to the thick tropical rainforest on the lower slopes and lastly the glaciers at the highest reaches.

gorilla uganda

  1. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

This park is in the south of Uganda, at Kisoro district covering an area of 33.7km2, making it Uganda’s smallest National Park. At an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, habitat for the endangered golden monkey, wildlife. There is rich culture showcased by the indigenous Batwa pygmies.

The Mgahinga’s most striking features are its three conical Virunga Volcanoes; Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo. The other 5 of the eight chains are dotted at the borders of Rwanda and DRC. There are a lot of bird species with perfect viewing points along the farm trail, the Gorge trail and the Bamboo trail.

The steep mountain slopes contain caves formed by lava tubes, one of them being the famous Garama Cave.

How much is a Uganda safari?

The cost of safari will differ and depends on the itinerary you choose, the time you travel, the number of travelers in your group. You will receive a tailor made itinerary from Nkuringo Safaris to fit your interests and budget. Nkuringo Safaris will give you a detailed itinerary with suggestions of budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation. The cost will also vary if you choose to get a chartered flight when in Uganda. There are several discounts offered in the low season. Travelling in a group also reduces the price.

What should you pack for a safari?

Nkuringo Safari has a detailed list of items to pack for your safari upon confirming your booking. However, these are some essentials you should bring; sunscreen, poncho or raincoat, warm clothing, insect repellant, money belt, long range camera, hiking shoes and many more.

When packing, you must consider the size and weight of your luggage. If your itinerary involves flights in a charter plane, you’ll need to pack extra light to comply with baggage restrictions limited to baggage weight of 10 to 20kgs. Some lodges provide laundry services. You can, however, coordinate with your tour company to keep your excess luggage or have it delivered to your lodge.

Batwa People

Ugandan culture

The official language of Uganda is English. You will interact with many Ugandans from different regions, each rich with diverse culture. Most travelers find Ugandans pleasant, warm, welcoming and friendly.

You will enjoy the different cultures, traditions, artefacts, ceremonies and customs. At the East, you will find Bagisu in Mbale, Japadhola in Tororo, Basoga in Jinja, Basamia in Busia. In the central, you will find the Baganda in Kampala, Mpigi, Masaka. In the west; Banyankole in Mbarara, Batoro in Fort Portal, Bakonju in Kasese. In the south; Bakiga, Batwa pygmies. In the North; Nilotic Acholi and Langi. In northeastern; the pastoralists Karamojong.

You can join in the song and dance of Runyege among the Banyoro, the Dingi dingi in the Acholi and the Ntogoro among the Batooro and many more. You will be entertained with different traditional ceremonies and dance. Note: photographs can only be taken with permission.

Where To Stay during a Ugandan Safari?

There is a variety of accommodation options to choose from when on a safari. Nkuringo Safaris will give you the various options in your itinerary ranging from budget to high-end facilities, all to suit your needs. You may reside in the city at 5-star hotels or may choose boutique hotels spread around the hills of Kampala. In the African wild safari, you may choose to reside in lodges, or tented camps set in traditional style or the beautiful bandas. In Bwindi, you will find Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge set just next to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

nkuringo mountain lodge

Getting to Uganda

There are many carriers to Uganda, Entebbe International Airport (EBB) all connecting through Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBI). These carriers include; Kenya Airways, British Airways, KLM, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airways, Emirates, Kenya Airways, Rwanda air, Etihad Air, and Turkish Airline, plus many more.

It’s important to find out whether a tour operator like Nkuringo Safaris belongs to a certain professional association such as Association of Uganda Tour Operators, Tourism Uganda, Africa Tour Operators and many others.

Is Uganda different from any other tourist destination? Yes! Uganda is not a crowded destination, here in Uganda we have impressive scenic features from; the rare mountain gorillas, grand chimpanzees, powerful Murchison Falls, Mt. Rwenzori (the Mountains of the Moon), the Virunga Volcanoes, white sandy beaches in Ssese Island, beautiful lakes (Lake Victoria, Lake Bunyonyi), variety of birdlife, abundant wildlife including the big 5, rich historical culture and but not the least hospitable people. Uganda is undoubtedly the “Gem of Africa”.

Now you’re ready to visit Uganda… If you want to know more about Uganda you can contact us at info@nkuringowalkingsafaris.com or fill in the form, here. We hope to welcome you to Uganda soon 😊.

 

 

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