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Uganda Travel Guide

Location and Size
Uganda covers and area of 242,000 sq kms (approximately the size of the UK) and 20% of its surface is covered by water, part of the Great Lakes. It is located in East African and lies astride the equator. It is bordered by Kenya to the east, DR Congo to the west, Sudan to the north, and Tanzania and Rwanda to the south. The country is said to have a total population of approximately 30 million people.

Ugandans are astonishingly hospitable people. The 52 nationalities (tribes) fall in the broad ethnic classifications of Bantu, Nilotics, Nilo-Hermites and Hermites. Each nationality has complex customs and traditions many of which are displayed in colorful dances and dressing.

English is the official language.

Main towns
Kampala (capital city), Entebbe, Jinja, Mbarara, Mbale, Soroti, Gulu, Arua Hoima, Kabale, and Fort Portal. Major towns at the boarder: Busia, Malaba (eastern), Katuna, Cyanika, Merama hills (West)

The Government is republic, with direct presidential elections. The country moved to a multi-party system in February 2006.
Independence date: October 9, 1962 (from Britain)

Getting into the country
A single entry visa fee of $50 is payable at entry points. Citizens of some countries (mostly Commonwealth countries and those with reciprocal agreements with Uganda) are however exempted. Nationals of the countries listed below are exempted from visa requirements for travel to Uganda. They do, however, need to have a current passport issued by their respective countries.

Members of COMESA: Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi Mauritius, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Others exempted are: Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malta, Sierra Leone, Singapore Solomon Islands St Vincent & the Grenadines, Tonga, Vanuatu, Italy (Only diplomatic passport holders) and Cyprus.

A number of international airlines fly directly into Entebbe. They include British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, Air Tanzania, KLM Royal Dutch Airline, among others. There are also easy connecting flights from Nairobi, Kenya.
Inter-state buses, which operate between Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Arusha, Tabora, Mwanza, Dar es Salaam include; Kampala Coaches, Akamba, Jaguar, Modern Coaches, Buscar, Regional, among others.

The Uganda shilling is the legal tender in Uganda. It is based on the decimal system. Thus the shilling is divided into denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 for coins while paper notes are in the denominations of 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000. The 1, 5, 10 and 20 coins are however largely obsolete. There are no restrictions on money transfers in and out of Uganda.

In terms of telecommunication, the country is well served with a wide and reliable fixed lines and mobile phone network run by five companies, namely MTN, Uganda Telecom, Zain, Warid Telecom and Orange. Internet facilities are widely available all over the country. Upcountry towns have limited Internet points, though. Nearly all hotels in the country have Internet points.

Uganda enjoys one of the best climates in the world. It is sunny and green all year round with two distinct rainy seasons stretching from March to May and September to November. However, rain can occur anytime. The temperatures average 27 degrees Celsius. The highest being 31 degrees Celsius in the Karamoja and Kasese regions and lowest being 15 degree Celsius in Kabale. Kampala temperatures range between 21 – 28 degrees Celsius. Because Uganda is usually warm, you are advised to dress light. During most months, there is no need for warm clothing even at night. In areas around Lake Victoria, humidity is high so light cotton fabrics are advisable.

Travel within Uganda is either by public commuter mini-buses, special hire taxi (cabs) or self-drive cabs. In and around the towns, the most convenient means of travel is by boda-boda cycles (motorcycle taxis). These easily get around Kampala’s notorious traffic snarls-ups. They are however quite dangerous as two in every three accidents in the city involve a boda-boda cycle.

Driving is on the left, as in most former British colonies. There are regular internal flights to distant areas like West Nile (North western Uganda) by airlines such as Eagle Air and United Airlines. Chartered flights are also available to all the major national parks, especially by the Kampala Aero Club and Eagle Air.

Like in many countries, petty thuggery is occasionally reported in urban centers, especially in Kampala. One should therefore not clearly display their valuables such as expensive money, jewellery, electronics, etc as pick-pockets could easily snatch them and disappear in the crowd.
Do not go to certain downtown streets at night in Kampala and major towns, as they are generally not safe. Mention to your hotel concierge where you would like to go and he/she will advise you if it is safe. In case of any trouble, call the police immediately. The Police emergency number is 999 for landlines and 112 for mobile phones.

Where to go
Uganda dabbed the "Pearl of Africa"- is steadily claiming its lawful position as one of Africa's most outstanding destinations. Nature here is uncooked, flourishing, plentiful and swarming with birds and primates. The Queen Elizabeth National Park is shadowed by the splendid Rwenzori Mountain range, home to open savannahs, crater lakes, Papyrus swamps, and rain forests. Queen Elizabeth National Park has one of the highest biodiversity ratings, and is habitat to over 600 bird species and over 100 mammals, including the Uganda kob and the Giant Forest Hog.

The Rwenzori Mountains also branded as “the Mountains of the Moon” themselves have peculiar landscapes for those that venture up its slopes, from bamboo forests to moorlands sprinkled with giant lobelias. Bwindi Impenetrable forest in the south- west of the country provides secure sanctuary to the endangered Mountain gorillas, as well as to about 90 mammals. 13 species of primate and 335 bird species can be found in the Kibale Forest National Park. Murchison Falls is Uganda's largest reserve, 3893 square kilometers of savannah, and is dissected by the longest river in the world, “River Nile”. The Ssese islands, Lake Victoria and the Source of the Nile are additional attractions.
Kampala is Uganda’s capital city. Cultures include European, Batembuzi and Baganda, as well as some Asian. English is the official language used in Uganda; other languages include Kiswahili, Luganda, Runyoro, Lusoga, among others. The Ugandan Shilling is the local currency of Uganda, and the country is three hours ahead of GMT.

The greater part of the country has a tropical climate which varies according to altitude. During the year the hottest months are from December to February when the temperature reaches 29 degrees Celsius. The rainy seasons are from April to May and October to November, with the wettest month being April.

Temperatures in some parts of the country can be quite cool due to the country’s high altitude, regardless of its position on the equator. The mountain areas happen to be much cooler and the top of Mount Rwenzori is frequently covered with snow. Other parts of the country are much warmer. There is heavy rain between March and May and between October and November.

The best times to visit are December-March and June-September. It can be somewhat rainy then, but not as rainy as in the rainy season, March-May. December-February and June-July are the driest times, when things can even be a bit dusty. Although the country lies astride the equator, most of Uganda is on a plateau 3,600-6,000 ft/900-1,830 m above sea level.

Precautions: Compulsory Vaccine: Yellow Fever Recommended vaccines: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid. Beware of risk of Bilharzia in lakes and still waters.

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