Know More About The Pearl!
Is everything from your desktop to the top of your desk consumed with breathtaking pictures of distant locations and landscapes that arouse wanderlust in you? Well, Uganda is one such place that dreams and wallpapers can be made up of. This amazing and little country nestles between Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, the democratic republic of Congo and the Sudan. Uganda is home to Lake Victoria which is the second largest fresh-water lake in the world, and to the Rwenzori mountains which is snow-caped all year long despite being in the tropical region, the Nile which is again, the longest river on the planet flowing through countries like Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt. With a horde of superlatives in one place and under one name, your best experience awaits you here.
Track down the largest population of mountain Gorillas. Gape at the mind-boggling abundance of apes. Take a stroll on the enchanting promenade by the Lake Victoria dense Forests, explore the banks of the River Nile to allure you with its densely forested swamps, fall head over heels in love with the Murchison falls, and drench yourself in an unmatched adrenaline surge as you plunge into the Nile on your raft. Uganda, having been called the Pearl of Africa, is surely a site that can enchant and excite you. Mark your map on this little mysterious country and it is sure to leave its mark on you.
Getting to Uganda
Wondering how to get to the wonder of Uganda? Entebbe International Airport is the prime airport of the country. Other domestic airstrips that facilitate scheduled passenger service on commercial flights are the Arua airstrip, the Gulu airstrip, the Moyo airstrip, and more in Kisoro and Murchison. All these chartered flights are available and one is advised to book in time to avoid inconviniences.
Visa and Vaccinations
Citizens of most countries require a Visa to enter Uganda. This can be easily obtained on arrival at the country’s international airport (Entebbe International Airport). It is essential that you have a clean and recent US dollar bills to pay for the Visa. Bills that are damaged with tears and holes, or bills dated prior to 2006, may be rejected by customs. Have all your travel documents and confirmations at hand, this will keep the process smooth and quick.
You have the option to choose a “Single Entry Visa” which costs about 50 USD and is valid for a period of 90 days. If you have plans of visiting Kenya and Rwanda, you can opt for the “East African Tourist Visa”. This will cost about 100 USD and give you multiple entry access to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for a period of 90 days.
All travellers visiting The Republic of Uganda must have a valid Yellow Fever Immunization card before their arrival. In case you have skipped getting this immunization, you will have to take it at the airport.
Currency and Money
The official local currency in The Republic of Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling. However, US dollars are accepted almost everywhere and are even the preferred currency for transactions. Just as in the case of obtaining your visa, currency bills that are dated post 2006 in an undamaged condition are recommended.
Visa and Mastercard facilities are in their infancy and will only be available at high-end stores and hotels. Expect for the commission to be added to your bill. You can also use Visa and Mastercard in many ATMs. However, Ugandan ATMs only dispense Ugandan shillings and $300 equals a wad that barely fits in your pocket. It’s also possible to purchase US dollars with a credit card, but expect a fee of 4 to 5%.
Why visit Uganda?
With misty mountain ranges, green volcanoes, dense river banks, open Savannah grasslands, winding rivers, thunderous and disarming waterfalls, pristine lakes, chilling glaciers, promenades, parks and impenetrable rainforests woven into its design, Uganda is truly a lot in a little. When compared with the rest of the African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda paints the magnificence of the continent with a unique shade of its own. The country is more of a quiet and calm destination that puts your pieces at peace. Being a happy go lucky location detached from boisterous crowds and masses gives it an edge over the rest, for passionate, soul searching expeditions. Like the country itself, the people of Uganda are warm and more receptive in comparison; we are Happy people. Also, Uganda is slightly easier on your purse strings when mapped against other travel destinations in Africa.
While it offers game drives and promises of big five sightings, it also lets you chase the wild trail, track chimps and gorillas in pristine valleys, soak in the dense rainforests bathed in the hues of a splendid tropical sun and remain mystified by the mist.
Locations like the Lake Bunyonyi and the Murchison falls have rendered many travel connoisseurs speechless. This little country seems to hold a soul stirring surprise around every corner. Set out for Uganda and let the soaring mountains heal everything sore. Unwind by a still lake that instills a sense of completeness in you and watch all your inhibitions melt away as you lose yourself to the soothing beauty of this endearing land.
What to pack for a safari in Uganda
Packing the right gear for your Uganda gorilla trek or safari can make all the difference between the perfect holiday and a trip full of discomfort and disappointment. Make sure to get your packing list ready in advance so you can enjoy the country’s incredible wildlife without forgetting anything critical.
Grab your best camera to capture the unforgettable experiences of your once-in-a-lifetime Uganda safari. We recommend a high-quality DSLR or bridge camera. Don’t forget extra batteries and any necessary plug adapters to keep your camera charged. Another thing to keep in mind is that most internal flights within Uganda have a luggage limit of 15 kilograms, or about 33 pounds. If you pack too much gear and go over this weight limit, you may encounter inconvenient delays or extra charges at the airport. Going on safari or gorilla trekking in Uganda will get you very close to the wildlife, so you may be able to leave your heaviest telephoto lenses at home. Uganda boasts more than 1,000 unique bird species, and you can easily rack up a count of several hundred during a single day in places like Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Forest National Park and Semuliki National park.
You should also give some serious thought to the clothes you’ll be bringing. You might be tempted to wear shorts in the heat of equatorial Africa, but long pants provide better protection against the rays of the sun and biting or stinging insects. Lightweight clothes that dry easily and don’t take up a lot of room in your luggage are the best choice. Don’t wear any camouflage clothing, as it’s reserved for military and police in Uganda. You should also avoid dark colors like blue and black, as they tend to attract tsetse flies in thick bush habitat. And if you’ll be joining a Uganda gorilla trekking tour, waterproof hiking boots and a light rain jacket will be especially useful[it surely rains just about anytime in Bwindi!]. Finally, don’t pack too many clothes. Chances are that your lodge or tented camp will have inexpensive laundry services available, so three or four bush-appropriate outfits will easily get you through a week on safari.
There are a few other essentials you’ll want to bring along. Pack a flashlight or headlamp for navigating the grounds of your safari camp at night. Bring an extra copy of your passport, along with duplicate photos, in case anything happens to the original. A travel-sized medical kit can also be added to your regular toiletry items, but don’t place either inside a plastic bag when you pack. Uganda’s president recently banned plastic bags in the country; it’s unclear whether this will affect tourists, but it’s better to avoid the potential hassle of having to dispose of them in the airport.
How safe is Uganda for travel?
Visitors to Uganda will be pleased to learn that this is one of the safest and most stable countries in Africa. Most travelers enjoy going on safari or gorilla trekking in Uganda with no incidents whatsoever. But there are a few simple precautions that you should take in order to ensure that your vacation goes as smoothly as possible.
Violent crime in Uganda is relatively rare, especially compared with some Western countries like the United States. This is due in part to Uganda’s strict gun control laws. Another factor is police presence; when you visit bigger Ugandan cities like Entebbe or Kampala, you’ll discover that banks, supermarkets, and many hotels have an armed security guard to keep an eye on things. Still, crime does occur. We don’t recommend exploring the cities at night, especially if you are unaccompanied by locals. Most tourists spend their time in Uganda gorilla trekking or going on safari, though, where the issue of crime is unlikely to present any problem.
Before heading off into the bush, make sure to exchange your money at the airport or hotel. Financial fraud schemes occasionally target tourists, and ATMs can be electronically compromised. Conducting your exchange at these safe locations will also ensure that you receive the correct exchange rate. Ugandan shillings are the official currency, although US dollars are considered an unofficial currency and are sometimes preferred when booking tourist activities in the country. Uganda is a cash-based society, and credit cards are not widely accepted. Whichever currency you’re carrying, avoid keeping an excessive amount in your wallet when you’re out and about. Consider wearing a money belt under your clothes or leaving valuables securely locked at your lodge in order to keep the bulk of your funds inaccessible to pickpockets and safe from being accidentally misplaced.
Many travelers wonder about the safety of being around potentially dangerous animals when booking their Uganda gorilla trekking tour or safari. But the reality is that most animals will not be interested in you. While you’re in a safari vehicle like a Land Cruiser, your guide will determine how closely to approach the wildlife and will be able to judge the safety of the situation. When you’re tracking gorillas on foot in reserves like the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, don’t attempt to interact with the animals—and follow your guide’s instructions at all times. While any animal can be unpredictable, your guides are expertly trained to read their behavior and respond accordingly.
If you do run into any trouble during your Uganda gorilla trek or safari, make sure to notify your tour operator. Consider buying a SIM card for your mobile phone in order to have convenient telephone and internet access almost anywhere in the country. These inexpensive cards can be purchased, registered, and installed at the Entebbe International Airport, where most visitors will first arrive. Having telephone service will allow you to contact your tour operator, as well as local emergency services, if you find yourself in need of assistance.