Charter Airline Baggage Limitations
Please note that a luggage restriction of 20kgs (44lbs) packed in soft-sided duffel bags is applicable to all scheduled charter flights in South Africa, Botswana Zambia and Zimbabwe. This weight limitation includes your hand luggage.
In Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia the luggage limit is 15Kgs (33lbs) packed in soft sided duffel bags. This weight limit includes your hand luggage.
Note that seat rate charter flights operate a shuttle service and guests may be collected at other camps before proceeding to your destination.
South Africa and Botswana Visa Note
USA, Canadian and EU passport holders do not need a visa for entry to South Africa or Botswana. However, you are required to have at least two consecutive empty visa pages in your passport, per country, to be allowed entry. Please ensure that your passports are valid for at least 6 months after your date of entry. If you are on a different passport, please let me know and I will check the requirements for your trip.
Zambia Visa Note
An entry visa is required for Zambia for most passport holders. The entry fee is US$50 per person (subject to change). This can be purchased at Livingstone Airport on arrival. If you plan to visit both sides of the Falls you can purchase a Kaza Visa for US$50 per person. Please note that you will need to have cash available to purchase your visa as they do not accept credit cards. (Most African countries only accepts USD bills that are in excellent condition and dated 2006 or later).
Zimbabwe Visa Note
Most passport holders can purchase their visa for Zimbabwe on arrival for US$30. If you plan to visit both sides of the Falls you can purchase a Kaza Visa for US$50 per person. Please note that you will need to have cash available to purchase your visa as they do not accept credit cards. (Most African countries only accepts USD bills that are in excellent condition and dated 2006 or later).
Kenya Visa Note
Please note that you will need to purchase a visa for Kenya. The cost is currently US$50pp. It is best to apply for your visa online on http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html
Should you decide to purchase your visa on arrival, you need to have cash available as they do not accept credit cards. (Please note that East African countries only accepts USD bills that are in excellent condition and dated 2006 or later).
Tanzania Visa Note
US passport holders can purchase their visa for Tanzania at the port of entry for US$100 per person. Please can you have cash available to purchase your visa as they do not accept credit cards. (Please note that East African countries only accepts USD bills that are in excellent condition and dated 2006 or later).
Uganda Visa Note
Uganda Immigration have implemented the use of Electronic Visas. All visitors who require an entry visa must apply through the online application system prior to arrival: https://visas.immigration.go.ug.
Please make sure to bring your bar-coded visa letter with you when you travel. The cost is US$50 per person.
Rwanda Visa Note
Visas, if necessary, are issued when passengers arrive at Kigali International Airport. The cost is US$50 upon arrival.
The passport of the traveler must be valid at least 6 months after the date of arrival in Rwanda.
Please note that you need a Yellow Fever inoculation certificate for travel to Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. You must travel with the original certificate as you may be asked for proof.
We recommend that you take malaria prophylactics as you will be travelling to a malaria risk area. You will need to liaise with your GP or travel clinic regarding the medication most suited to your needs. Unfortunately we're not able to recommend which one to take as it is dependent on other medication you're currently taking / any medical conditions etc.
Uganda, or the ‘Pearl of Africa’, as it was famously dubbed by Winston Churchill, is characterised by relatively dry and flat savanna in the north, with verdant mountains in the West, and vast dense and remarkably lush forests in the central region. The nation is home to an astonishingly diverse range of African wildlife including the highly endangered mountain gorilla which can be found in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. A popular spot for wildlife watching is Queen Elizabeth National Park, which hosts four of the Big Five, a flock of flamboyant flamingos and the rare tree-climbing lions of Ishasha. Outdoor enthusiasts can get their adrenaline fix with plenty of whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, quad biking and horse riding facilities on offer. Add to this some friendly locals, a burgeoning cultural scene, and a capital city full of lively bars, clubs and restaurants, and it is easy to see why Uganda has gained itself a reputation as 'Africa's friendliest country'.
Most nationalities require a visa to enter Uganda and Rwanda. The newly established EAC Visa allows entry into Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya for one fee of USD100.
Please consult THIS LIST to determine whether you need a visa before you enter.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months or 12 months in the case of UK nationals. In all instances, ALL visitors must ensure there are THREE successive blank pages in their passport per country to be visited.
Visitors traveling through South Africa, to and from Uganda, should be advised that their passports must contain at least TWO blank consecutive (unstamped) visa pages each time entry to South Africa is requested; these pages are IN ADDITION to the endorsement/amendment pages at the back of the passport.
You need to obtain your visa in advance by applying online HERE. The application process takes up to three days (longer in some cases); to avoid any possible delays with your e-visa, you are advised to apply promptly.
NOTE: Contrary to opposing reports, the Ugandan Immigration Authorities, have, with immediate effect, instituted an ONLINE visa application system.
NO visas will be granted at ports of entry upon arrival; failure to obtain an e-visa in advance may result in travellers being DENIED boarding of flights at points of departure en route to Uganda.
East Africa Tourist Visa (EAC Visa)
Travellers also visiting Kenya and Rwanda, may wish to consider purchasing an East Africa Tourist Visa (common cross-border joint visa), which allows entry into all three countries on a single visa.
For further information on the East African Tourist Visa, please see HERE
NOTE: Tanzania is NOT part of this joint visa initiative and persons travelling to both Uganda and Tanzania will have to purchase two separate visas.
Banking and Currency
CURRENCY - CREDIT CARDS & ATM's
The currency of Uganda is the Uganda Shilling (UGX).
As in most African countries, Visa and MasterCard are usually accepted. American Express and Diners Club are frequently NOT accepted at all. Be sure to ask your bank about a Visa or MasterCard with no foreign transaction fees! Debit cards are not acknowledged.
Whilst we advocate drawing some local currency, ATM’s are far and few between, and in addition may be affected by power cuts. ATM’s are available at Entebbe airport as well as in Entebbe itself, but not all accept foreign cards. it is advisable to travel with US$, in a mixture of denominations, on your person.
NOTE: US$ dated 2006 or earlier are NOT accepted in Uganda
Although not compulsory, if you are happy with the level of service provided, it is customary to show appreciation by tipping guides, drivers, and support staff, and it is appropriate to do so, at your discretion, in US$ or Ugandan Shilling (UGX).
Amounts vary depending on the size of your group and the level of assistance required. Your porter (if you choose to take one), should ordinarily receive the highest tip, with a second tip distributed between your guide, trackers and security personnel.
A recommended tip is US$25 - US$30 per day of tracking per traveller. This may be given to the guide in view of the trackers once out of the park such that he can distribute amongst the trackers and himself.
General Guidelines for Tipping
· Porters at parks - $20-25 per person per day
· Head Ranger/Guide (when gorilla tracking) - ±$10 per person per day
· Trackers - ±$10 per person per day
· Security personnel - ±$10 per person per day
The tip for the team of three above should add up to roughly US$25 - US$30 per day of tracking, per traveller
· Driver-Guides - $5 - $10 per person per day
· Park Staff/Forest Walks - $5 per person per walk
· Butler - $15 per couple per day
· Lodge/camp Staff - $8 - $10 per couple for 1 – 3 days stay
· Hotel/lodge porters - $1 - $2 per person per stay
· Restaurants - 5 - 10% of the bill
Whilst it is not encouraged to carry enormous quantities of cash, be aware that facilities for exchanging or drawing cash are restricted to the bigger towns and to Kampala/Entebbe.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
Fly Uganda (www.flyuganda.com), Eagle Air (www.flyeagleairuganda.com) and Aerolink (www.aerolinkuganda.com) offer scheduled and charter internal flights.
Domestic bus travel is cheap, but departures aren’t always on schedule. There are two classes of bus travel – matatu (minibus) or kigati (van) which travel fixed routes, and larger coaches or buses.
Self-drive and hiring a private car with a driver are other options. International hire companies are based near Entebbe International Airport and in the centre of Kampala. A four-wheel drive is recommended for rural areas. The speed limit is 80kph (50mph) or 100kph (62mph) on highways. Most car hire companies include breakdown cover. The Automobile Association of Uganda (www.aau.co.ug) can provide information and assistance.mAn International Driving Permit and adequate third-party insurance is required. UK driving licences are accepted. Drivers must carry their vehicle log books and must pay for a temporary road licence.
Whist some major roads are paved, the majority of minor and side roads are unpaved and can be bumpy and pot-holed, so drive with caution, especially in the rainy season.The roads are of variable quality and radiate from Kampala, although the network is sparse in the north. Whist some major roads are paved, the majority of minor and side roads are unpaved and can be bumpy and pot-holed, so drive with caution, especially in the rainy season. Note that there are still some army and police checkpoints on roads. Always keep vehicle doors locked and valuables out of sight.
Private taxis are identifiable by their black and white stripes. Boda-bodas (motorbike taxis) are often a cheaper option and, whilst fun, are not for the faint-hearted. Don’t be afraid to ask your driver to slow down if necessary as accidents are common.
Cycling in Uganda requires nerves of steel; many roads are dusty or under construction and motor vehicles rarely allow cyclists room. Always wear a helmet and use rear-view mirrors. Avoid cycling at night.
Uganda’s coach and bus services connect all major towns. The Post Office’s Post Bus Service (www.ugapost.co.ug) offers relatively comfortable buses and is more safety-aware than some other bus companies.
Most major routes are also covered by smaller white mini-buses. These are faster than coaches, but drivers wait until they are full before leaving and departure times are not fixed.
A passenger ferry links Nakiwogo Dock, south of Entebbe to Lutoboka on Buggala in the Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria. There is also a free vehicle ferry which runs from Bukakata, 40km (25 miles) east of Masaka, to Buggala. Lake taxis also link some of the other islands.
Passenger boats can be overloaded in Uganda and there have been several accidents, usually during the rainy season which can bring storms and high winds. Always makes sure boats have life jackets before you set off.
Health and Medical Information
VACCINATIONS & GENERAL HEALTH INFORMATION for UGANDA
Since malaria is endemic in many areas of East Africa, including Uganda, it is strongly recommended you obtain anti-malaria medication before entering the country. Consult your medical doctor or health authority prior to departure. The most commonly prescribed anti-malarial tablet is Malarone.
Pack your own basic medications for headaches, hay fever and any other minor afflictions and travel-related maladies you think you may experience. Pack sufficient supplies of chronic (prescription) medication for the duration of your trip.
Drink bottled or boiled water only! All safari camps and lodges supply clean (bottled or filtered) water for their guests. Do however always check with the camp/lodge staff if it safe to brush your teeth with the tap water.
Medical services and facilities are limited to the larger towns and cities. As a precautionary measure, diphtheria, tetanus, cholera, polio, typhoid and hepatitis vaccinations, although not compulsory, are recommended.
ALL travellers to Uganda DO require a yellow fever vaccination. The yellow fever inoculation is valid for ten years, and must be administered no later than ten days prior to departure. If you have any history of liver disorders please consult your doctor. NOTE: You are required to travel with your Yellow Fever card.
Gorilla and Chimpanzee Tracking Health Requirements
Mountain gorillas and chimpanzees are HIGHLY susceptible to human disease, including colds and flu. If you are participating in a gorilla/chimp trek you need to be free of ANY visibly contagious diseases, and this is checked at the start of the trek by the Park Authorities. NOTE: If Park Authorities are in any doubt as to your condition, they reserve the right to prevent you from continuing on the trek.
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
All water should be regarded as being a potential health risk. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should be boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Avoid dairy products which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit should be peeled.
Ugandan cuisine draws on English, Arab and Asian – especially Indian – influences and uses home-grown local produce including plantains, sweet potatoes, corn, beans and cassava. It’s easy to eat cheaply almost anywhere in the country. International restaurants can be found in larger towns, with Indian, Chinese and Italian being the most popular.
Traditional foods include ugali (solidified maize meal porridge) served with a stew of groundnuts (peanuts), beans, chicken or meat such as beef, goat or mutton. Game can be found on menus in some restaurants and at safari lodges. Fish including the tiger fish, mukini, mputa and tilapia are popular.
Vegetarians may struggle outside of major towns, but Uganda’s Indian and Chinese restaurants generally offer a selection of vegetarian dishes. Traditional desserts include mandazi, a doughnut often served with cinnamon or sugar.
Although always appreciated, tipping is not standard practice. It is normal to tip 5 to 10% at tourist-orientated restaurants.
Climate and Weather
THE WEATHER in UGANDA
Uganda is an equatorial country and as result the climate is considered tropical and does not vary much throughout the year. Temperatures vary considerably between locations depending on their altitude, but very little from month to month in the same place. Temperatures on the plains range from 21°C/70°F to 30°C/86°F, whereas in the mountainous areas they may be as low as 10°C/50°F.
Uganda experiences two rainy season, the long rains from about March to May, when the rain is heavy and constant and then the shorter rains from October to November.
June to mid-September is the long dry season, which is followed by a short dry season from December to February, but it may rain at any time of the year, particularly in equatorial rainforest areas such as Bwindi.
Lake Victoria influences the local weather patterns considerably and so the surrounding region is wetter than elsewhere.
Clothing and Dress Recommendations
WHAT to PACK for UGANDA
When tracking the gorillas or chimpanzee it is best to wear sturdy clothing to protect against scratches, nettles and mud. It is warm in the plains but often cold in the hilly and mountainous areas; it is best to wear layers of clothing as temperatures tend to change. A rain jacket, warm sweater and boots are also therefore essential. Ugandans appreciate modest dressing.
· A good wide-brimmed sun hat – for the intense African sun
· A bandana/buff - for the dusty, dry regions
· Lightweight walking boots – for going up and down steep hills (sometimes in mud), preferably ‘worn in’
· Comfortable tennis shoes or sandals – for around the camp/lodge
· Golf shirts or T-shirts
· Long-sleeved cotton shirts – to provide protection from sun, as well as from mosquitos in the evenings
· Shorts - note that short skirts are not practical and not recommended
· A sport bra - for bumpy drives
· A micro-fibre zippered jacket and light rain gear - for rainy season and rainy days
· Swimwear - whilst at all times respecting modesty of local custom
· Warm fleece, anorak, scarf, gloves and beanie - for morning and evenings, for the winter months, and for higher altitudes, where it is cool even in warmer months
· One better dress, or trousers and shirt – for going out to in Kampala/Entebbe
A Detailed List of the Most Practical Items to Pack
· Khaki, green, beige, neutral colours – NO army camouflage clothing
· Shirts with long sleeves
· Long sturdy/safari trousers
· Light-weight breathable rain jacket with a rain hat
· Fleece or light wool sweater
· Strong waterproof walking boots - comfortable and ‘worn in’
· Lightweight wool socks
· Moisture-wicking underwear
· Personal toiletries - consider Citronella soap which acts as an insect repellant
· Sufficient sanitary products
· Sun block, after-sun gel, moisturiser, lip balm
· Strong insect repellent - for mosquitos and tsetse flies
· Hat and sunglasses
· Torch – a headlamp works well
· Protective gloves – to grip vegetation, inexpensive garden gloves work well
· Binoculars and camera equipment (plus water/dustproof bag)
· Daypack - for carrying water, packed lunch, binoculars and camera equipment
NOTE: A walking stick is highly recommended, and may be hired from your guide, or borrowed from the lodge
There are internet cafés in most large towns. Access in smaller towns and rural areas is limited.
Electricity and Plug Standards
Camps and lodges in remote areas of Uganda generate their own electricity - either by solar power or by diesel generator. These power sources in turn charge banks of batteries called the inverter system, which provides 220Volt power for lighting and ceiling fans. Some lodges and camps only have power at certain times of the day. Solar power is weather dependent and therefore erratic. So be aware that continuous and uninterrupted charging of electronics is not always possible. In these instances alternative lighting is generally available e.g. storm lanterns, but continuous and uninterrupted charging of electronics will not be possible.
Hairdryers & Electric Shavers
It is often not possible to use hairdryers or electric shavers in remote camps/lodges, as they have low-wattage fuses which will trip the power. You will be able to charge your equipment in a designated area in the camp. Some camps provide adapters, but it is advised to travel with your own.
The most commonly found plug/socket type in Uganda is the ‘G’