Horseback riding in Uganda

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Equestrian tours in Uganda

 Uganda Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide


Overview

A reputation for political instability and the looming shadow of Idi Amin have long - and unfairly - blighted Uganda's fledgling tourism sector. Now, though, things are looking up for the central African nation once described as "the pearl of Africa" by Winston Churchill.

And a brief look around is enough to show you why. From the second you step off the plane, the overwhelming impression of Uganda is one rich natural diversity, friendly locals and a burgeoning cultural scene that is currently producing some of the most exciting artists in Africa.

Culturally, much of the action happens in the capital, Kampala, an urban sprawl ringed by farmland and perched on the muddy banks of Lake Victoria. While most foreign travelers confine themselves to the city center or the diplomatic quarter, Kololo, it's worth venturing into the bustling bars and clubs of Kabalagala, where expats and locals meet for a slug of the local Nile beer and a friendly game of pool.

Away from the capital, Uganda's towns and cities have little in the way of diversions (although Jinja's location on the banks of the River Nile has made it a favorite with thrill-seeking rafters). Instead, head west towards the Congo border, where, along with the fascinating pygmy people of Fort Portal, Uganda's natural wonders reveal themselves.

A popular spot for wildlife watching is Queen Elizabeth national Park, which is home to four of the Big Five, a flock of flamboyant flamingos and the rare tree-climbing lions of Ishasha.

The star attraction, though, is the iconic mountain gorilla, which can be found further south in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. While you're down there, it's also worth taking a detour to Lake Bunyonyi, a mountain retreat famed for its stunning vistas and freshwater crayfish.

 

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Visa Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Return Ticket Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

 

Passports

Passport valid for at least six months from date of entry to Uganda required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

Passport Note

Entry may be refused to passengers not holding sufficient funds, return or onward tickets, and other necessary travel documents.

Visas

Required by all nationals referred to in the chart except (1) nationals of Cyprus and Malta, who do not require a visa. 

You can obtain visas either via the embassy/ high commission or using the e-Visa system.

Travelers who are also visiting Rwanda and Kenya may find it more useful to apply for an East African cross-border joint visa which allows entry into all three countries on a single visa.

Visa Note

Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the high commission/embassy to check visa requirements (see Contact Addresses).

Types of Visa and Cost

Single-entry visa: US$50; East African tourist e-Visa: US$100.

Multiple-entry visa: US$100 (6- 12 months), US$150 (12- 24 months), US$200 (24- 36 months). 

Single-entry visa in advance: £40. East African tourist e-Visa in advance: £70.

Transit visas are also available through the e-Visa scheme and cost US$100.

Validity

e-Visa/ Single-entry visa: three months from the date of issue; multiple-entry visa: up to 36 months.

East African tourist visa: three months.

Applications to:

Consulate (or consular section at high commission or embassy); see Contact Addresses. Transit visas are issued at the airport.

Working Days Required

Allow five working days for visa processing at the consulate/high commission.

 

Money

Currency

Uganda Shilling (UGX). Notes are in denominations of UGX50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000 and 1,000. Coins are in denominations of UGX500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. However, UGX1,000 notes are soon to be replaced by coins. Try not to accept very old or damaged notes where possible, as some places may refuse to take them.

The US dollar, euro, and pound sterling are all recognized currencies in Uganda, and both euros and dollars are now widely accepted for cash payments. Other international currencies may also be accepted in some places in the major cities, although visitors may struggle with other currencies in smaller towns.

Currency Exchange

Foreign currency may be exchanged at the Central Bank, commercial banks and foreign exchange bureaux. Be aware that dollar notes from before 2006 will not be accepted for change.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

American Express, Diners, MasterCard and Visa are accepted but not widely used. Some large hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and shops in urban areas accept credit cards. ATMs are available in the larger cities.

Traveller's Cheques

Traveller's cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling. It is advised that travellers bring sufficient US dollars in cash in case of emergencies. Higher denomination bills usually give a better exchange rate than smaller notes.

Currency Restrictions

Restrictions apply.

Banking Hours

Generally Mon-Fri 0830-1400, Sat 0900-1200. Forex bureaux are open until 1700 and able to do electronic transfers to and from overseas.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

April 2018

£1.00=

UGX 5,231.97

$1.00=

UGX 3,692.08

€1.00=

UGX 4,563.41

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Yes

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

Yes

Rabies

Sometimes

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Yes

Yellow Fever

Yes*

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.
* Yellow fever outbreaks occur occasionally, and an international health certificate showing proof of vaccination is advised, especially if you are travelling to another country from Uganda.

 

Food and Drink

All water should be regarded as being a potential health risk. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been 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 peeled.

Other Risks

HIV/AIDS is widespread. Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes advised. After road accidents, malaria is the most serious health concern for travelers visiting Uganda. Seek up-to-date advice regarding malarial areas and the appropriate antimalarial medication prior to your trip, usually doxycycline, Malarone or mefloquine. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to malaria and are advised against travel to regions where malaria is present. Take a good insect repellant and try to avoid bites between dusk and dawn by always covering up.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK also reports regular outbreaks of a wide range of serious diseases in Uganda, including cholera, Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), Marburg hemorrhagic fever (MHF) meningococcal disease (meningitis A and W) and hepatitis E.

Health Care

Visitors should bring personal supplies of medicines that are likely to be needed, but enquire first at the embassy or high commission whether such supplies may be freely imported. Comprehensive health insurance is essential and should include cover for emergency air repatriation in case of serious accident or illness. The Ugandan health service has still not recovered from the mass departure of foreign personnel in 1972 and there are medical facilities of a reasonable standard only in large towns and cities.

 

Getting There

Getting There by Air

Airlines serving Uganda include Egyptair (www.egyptair.com) , Emirates (website: www.emirates.com), Ethiopian Airlines (www.ethiopianairlines.com), Turkish Airlines (www.turkishairlines.com),  and Kenya Airways (website: www.kenya-airways.com). There are no direct flights from London or New York.

Flights to Uganda are cheapest during the rainy seasons from March to May and October to November. The best wildlife viewing months are June to September and December to February, when flights are likely to be more expensive.

Approximate Flight Times

From London- 10 hours (including stopover), from New York is 19 hours 30 minutes (including stopover).

Main Airports

Entebbe (EBB) is 40km (22 miles) southwest of Kampala (journey time – 30 minutes). To/from the airport: There are bus services to Kampala. Most hotels in Kampala and Entebbe will arrange airport transfers. Taxis are also available. Facilities: Duty-free shops, restaurants, banks/bureaux de change, car hire and hotel reservations.

Departure Tax

US$40, usually included in the air fare.

Getting There by Water

Following suspension of the ferry service, passenger boats no longer run in between Uganda's main ferry port on Lake Victoria, Port Bell, and Mwanza in Tanzania. However, cargo boats sometimes take passengers, so it may pay to ask around.

Ferry operators: The EarthWise project (www.earthwiseventures.com) aims to revitalize the ferry transportation in the region and services the lake's major ports.

Getting There by Rail

There are currently no international passenger train services running in or out of Uganda, although the railway is still used in places for carrying freight.

Getting There by Road

Uganda shares land borders with Tanzania, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and South Sudan. Several international reputable bus companies link Kampala to other major cities in the region.

If driving from Europe, drivers should check Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updates regarding traveling through countries in the region. Yellow Fever certificates are required at the order if entering Uganda from a country where yellow fever is present.

Driving in Uganda is challenging due to the poor condition of the roads in places (especially in the rainy season), the somewhat erratic driving of others on the road, and the potential collisions with livestock. Before setting off, ensure your vehicle is in good working condition and had a sound spare wheel (preferably two), as the country's corrugated and dirt roads are sure to take their toll. A 4-wheel drive is advisable if you intend to go off the beaten tracks, along with a jerry can with spare petrol, oil, water, and a fire extinguisher, a wheel spanner jack, and a first-aid kit.

 

Climate

Uganda has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 21-25 Celsius (70- 77F), apart from the mountainous areas, which are much cooler; the top of Mount Elgon is often covered with snow. The hottest months are December to February. Evenings can feel chilly after the heat of the day with the temperatures around 12-16 Celsius (54- 61F).

Most regions of Uganda, apart from the dry area in the north, have an annual rainfall of between 1,000mm and 2,000mm. There is heavy rain between march and May and between October and November, when road travel can become difficult in parts of the country, The best time for trekking is during the dry seasons, between January and February and June to September. Wildlife viewing is best at the end of the dry seasons, when game is more concentrated around water sources.

Required Clothing

Lightweight clothes with a warm cover-up for the evening are advised. Take a pair of good walking shoes r boots for forest trekking, and long-sleeved tops to protect against mosquitos. If you are planning to go to mountainous areas, be sure to take warm clothing, as temperatures drop substantially. White clothes won't stay white for long with Uganda's red dust roads, so go for darker colors. Travelers can also pick up bargains at second-hands clothes markets in Kampala, Jinja, and For Portal, which sell trousers, boots, and fleeces.

Contacts

 

British High Commission in Uganda

4 Windsor Loop, P.O. Box 7070, Kampala
Tel: 312-312-000.
Website: www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-high-commission-kampala
Opening times: Mon- Thu 0830-1300 and 1400-1700, Fri 0830-1300

High Commission for the Republic of Uganda in the UK

Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DX, UK
Tel: (020) 7839 8925.
Website: www.ugandahighcommission.co.uk
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0930-1600, 0930-1300 (visa section).

Embassy of the Republic of Uganda in the USA

5911 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20011, USA
Tel: (202) 726 7100.
Website: www.ugandaembassy.com
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1700; 0930-1500 (visa section).

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