WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN PLANNING A TRIP TO UGANDA
These tips comprise what you need to know when planning your trip to Uganda. They are guidelines for you to make informed decisions. Please read and take keen note of the info provided. You are welcome to contact us at Ape Treks anytime for more info and or clarification.
A number of good hotels, fitting every budget, are available in Kampala. Elsewhere across the country and in the National Parks, hotels and inns are generally available, but the quality of service and the quantity of rooms will vary greatly. Ape Treks takes care to book the best accommodation available for your safaris, unless you request otherwise. All of our prepared itineraries start from Kampala. If you require pre or post-safari hotel bookings in Kampala, contact us and we will be happy to make these arrangements for you. In most cases, reservations should be made in advance.
Several airlines service Uganda regularly, including Qatar Airlines, Uganda Airlines, Egypt Air, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Kenya Airways, Precisionair, Rwandair, KLM and Brussels Airlines. There are also several reputable domestic charter companies to choose from, including Eagle Air, Kampala Executive Services, Air Serve and Aerolink.
Ape Treks, as a ticketing agent, can help with your entire airline booking requirements. We are often able to get prices as good as or better than those available from the internet or your travel agent. In addition, by booking through us, you are directly benefiting the Ugandan economy.
Most guests to Uganda arrive by air, landing at Entebbe International airport, which is located approximately 45 minutes drive from the capital city of Kampala. Ape Treks Limited will be happy to arrange transfers to and from the airport for you or your group.
Several brands of local and international beer are available. Most spirits and wines are imported and are readily available at slightly elevated prices. The legal drinking age is 18, though this is not well-enforced.
Temperatures vary little throughout the country and average about 26°C during the day and about 16°C at night, throughout the year. The rainy seasons are, in general from March to May and again from October to November. During the rainy season, the average rainfall is 175mm per month. Humidity is generally low outside of the wet seasons.
Light summer clothing, supplemented by a sweater or jacket, should be sufficient at any time of the year. Cotton slacks and flat-heeled comfortable walking shoes are recommended on safari. Don't forget to bring a hat for sun protection and a swimsuit. Umbrellas and windbreakers are recommended in the wet seasons. Request additional details at the time of booking.
Drinking the tap water is not recommended. Most hotels and restaurants provide previously boiled drinking water and bottled mineral water is readily available throughout the country.
Fresh tropical fruits and vegetables abound throughout the country. A wide range of dishes, both traditional and international, are served in the hotels and restaurants.If you have any dietary restrictions, please advise us in advance.
Please note that mountain gorilla trekking is a strenuous activity that requires a certain level of physical fitness to be enjoyed. The minimum trekking age is fifteen years. Anyone with signs of a communicable disease will not be allowed to trek. While possession of a gorilla permit is a guarantee of trekking and sighting the gorillas, the quality of the gorilla trekking can not be guaranteed. Maximum time allowed with the gorillas will not exceed one hour.
We strongly recommend that clients bring certain items along with them from Kampala, including a rain poncho, knapsack, long-sleeved shirt and trousers, sturdy hiking boots, leather gardening-type gloves, sunscreen, insect repellent and any necessary medications. Cameras and video cameras are allowed (use of a flash is not) - memory and batteries should be carried from Kampala. We recommend the use of a high altitude filter and high speed film for the optimum photography.
Certificates may be required for vaccinations against yellow fever. Check current medical advice on typhoid, cholera and hepatitis. But these diseases are NOT common, so do not feel obliged to spend hundreds of dollars on injections. Malaria risk is general, and a prophylaxis should be taken. It is advisable to start anti-malarial medications 10 – 14 days prior to arrival and continue with the same for 14 days after leaving East Africa (please consult your physician).
English is the official language of Uganda. Kiswahili and Luganda are also commonly spoken. In addition, there are over 40 local languages spoken throughout the country.
On most flights, airlines allow 20-40kg of luggage, or two pieces. We prefer that clients use soft luggage since space for luggage is limited in safari vehicles.We can easily arrange for the storage of those items that you will not be using while on safari.
Currency: The Ugandan shilling (USh) is a relatively stable currency. It is issued in denominations of 1000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 USh notes. Coins are available in smaller denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 UGX. There are no legal restrictions of foreign exchange transactions and the shilling is fully convertible (i.e., you can buy Ugandan shillings with US dollars or US dollars with Ugandan shillings). Smaller US bills attract a much lower exchange rate than larger bills (e.g., $50 and $100 notes). It is recommended that you carry only US dollar notes issued after 2000.
Several international banks operate in Uganda including Barclays, Standard Chartered, Stanbic, and Citi Bank. Many local banks and forex bureaus also operate across the country. In general, banking hours are from 8.30am to 4.00pm, Monday to Friday. A few banking institutions are open longer hours and on Saturdays.
Travellers cheques can be exchanged at most banks in Uganda (though you may run into difficulties exchanging TC's in smaller towns). However, they may not necessarily be exchanged at the foreign exchange bureaus. Exchange rates on travellers cheques are generally slightly lower than those for cash.
AMEX, VISA and MASTERCARD are only accepted at a few choice establishments in Kampala and some up-country lodges. Credit card cash advances are only available at Barclays Bank in Kampala. Most ATM bank cards are not accepted in Ugandan's automatic teller machines.
Though certain brands and speeds of film are available in many of the lodges, it is advisable to bring film and batteries with you (or to purchase them in Kampala). High-speed film is recommended for photographing gorillas and chimps and high altitude filters are best for climbers. Check with your photo shop for more information. There is no charge for the use of personal cameras and video recorders but there may be a charge for commercial cameras in some places (e.g., national parks). Clients are responsible for any such fee. A pair of binoculars will greatly enhance your safari experience and it is recommended that you bring a pair along with you.
As in any other major city, the usual precautions should be taken in Kampala to ensure one's safety and protection of one's personal belongings. We recommend that you do not walk alone late at night. Taxis are readily available and not expensive. Unless safely deposit boxes are available in your hotel or lodge, carry travel documents, travellers cheques, cash and other valuables with you at all times. We can arrange the safe keeping of your passport and ticket in our offices upon request. Sports
In addition to the activities outlined on this web-site (e.g., white water rafting, hiking, climbing, quad biking, golfing, etc.), a number of sport facilities may be accessed in Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja city centers, including a good gym, squash, tennis, and swimming.
Ugandan's main roads are generally in good condition. Four-wheel drive vehicles may be required for up-country use, especially in the national parks during the rainy seasons. We maintain a fleet of saloon cars, mini-buses and four-wheel drive vehicles, available on chauffeur-driven basis (self-drive vehicles, other than saloon cars, are generally difficult to obtain).
Most non-African passport holders require a visa to enter Uganda. Visas are generally available at all entry points, including Entebbe airport. The cost is US$50 for a three-month single entry tourist visa. The visa will be discounted for students (with the proper ID) to US$30.