Uganda Travel Guide
Fondly called the Pearl of Africa or better known for it’s eccentric dicatator Idi Amin, depending which way you look at it, Uganda is a landlocked country boasting some of the rarest and most diverse wildlife in the continent. Its main attractions are its national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, which preserve various endangered animals such as the mountain gorilla and the common chimpanzee. Lake Victoria, which it shares with neighbors Tanzania and Kenya, is strewn with little islands offering beaches, resorts, and swimming and diving sites. Combined with a distinctive local cuisine and a fairly decent tourist infrastructure, these features easily make Uganda one of Africa’s most promising tourist destinations.
When to Go
Temperatures range from 21°C to 25°C throughout the year. Weather varies according to altitude; elevated areas, particularly the mountainous ones, are much cooler despite Uganda’s location on the equator. Heavy rainfall occurs from March to May and from October to November. Wear lightweight clothing and warm wraps for cool evenings, and light raincoats during the rainy season.
Getting There & Away
The main airport is located in Entebbe, 22 miles southwest of Kampala. Taxis and bus services are available to and from the capital. Boats travel from Tanzania over Lake Victoria, and overland travel is possible from all adjacent countries. There is no rail service in Uganda, and local land transport is mainly provided by minibus, which locals tend to refer to as “taxis.” Real buses are less frequent, usually leaving from Kampala. There are no fixed schedules; they leave the terminal as soon as the bus is full. Boda boda, which are small cushioned mopeds, are a fun way to get around, although many have been involved in road accidents.
Health & Safety
Malaria and HIV/AIDS are widespread, and there are health alerts for typhoid, polio, and cholera. Bilharzia, a type of worm infection, can be contracted from the lakes. There are decent medical services in Kampala, but facilities are in short supply in other towns. Kampala is fairly safe to walk in, although a few petty thefts have occured. Other urban areas are not as safe and have higher incidences of crime.
Civil unrest in the North is a chronic problem from the infamously named Lords Resistance Army, and best avoided.
Food & Hospitality
Ugandan cuisine is one of the best in Africa, which is by no means a flattering feat! Local foods include the luwombo (meat cooked in green leaves), binyebwa (a sauce made from ground nuts), chapattis, fried fish, and meat stew. Coffee is also a specialty, although lately it has been overtaken by the tea industry.
International-standard hotels can be found in Kampala and Entebbe, but hotels in smaller towns are generally of lower quality and may only accept cash payment. Game lodges are available in most national parks, and camping and caravanning are allowed in some areas.
Three days in Kampala
Two days in Jinja days
Three days touring the national parks
Two days on the Ssese Islands
Kampala: the capital mixes modern architecture with classical buildings amidst lush, tree-lined streets. Notable places include the Uganda Museum and the Kabaka Tombs on the Kasubi Hill.
Jinja: best known as the source of the Nile River, Jinja is a famous site for backpacking and whitewater rafting. There is also a lively Saturday open market.
Parks, wildlife reserves, and sanctuaries: there are several national parks and wildlife areas, many of which are uncrowded but require entrance fees. Popular activities include gorilla and chimpanzee tracking, boating, and hiking.
Ssese Islands: these small islands are scattered over Victoria Lake and feature lush jungles and isolated beaches. They are easily reached by boat, although the trip could take up to eight hours.
Mountain climbing: mount Elgon is a popular site for experienced mountaineers, while the Virungas and Rwenzoris allow easy to medium climbs.
White-water rafting: guided rafting is available on the White Nile rapids, where the water rises up to 10 times the volume of the Zambezi. You can also see wildlife on the way down, such as crocodiles, monkeys, and hippos.
Fishing: many of the inland waters make great fishing sites. The Murchison Falls National Park offers excellent opportunities for sport fishing.
Trekking: there are extensive nature trails along the lakes, river banks, and many of the nature parks. The Karamoja and the Sasa River Trail on Mount Elgon are some of the most scenic routes