Travel Guide Africa Uganda



Ssese sunset

Ssese sunset

© helelyn

Uganda is a landlocked country in central Africa that has endured a troubled past marked by human rights atrocities, political corruption and the current AIDS epidemic.

Still, there's much for travellers to enjoy in Uganda. Its lush, arable land is unusual in this part of the world, while Bwindi National Park is home to half the world's population of mountain gorillas. Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks are two more parks boasting a rich variety of flora and fauna. Meanwhile, adventurous travellers can go white water rafting down the Nile in Jinja.

Warning: Owing to poor border security, bandits, insurgents and terrorists conduct cross-border attacks on civilians near the borders to South Sudan and DRC in Northern and Western Uganda. Uganda is notorious for its extreme intolerance of the LGBT community and LGBT solidarity; same-sex sexual activity is punishable by life imprisonment or even death. If you are LGBT, you are strongly recommended not to visit Uganda.



Brief History

The inhabitants of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago. Bantu-speaking populations, who were probably from central and western Africa, migrated to the southern parts of the country.

Arab traders moved inland from the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa in the 1830s. They were followed in the 1860s by British explorers searching for the source of the Nile. Protestant missionaries entered the country in 1877, followed by Catholic missionaries in 1879. The United Kingdom placed the area under the charter of the British East Africa Company in 1888, and ruled it as a protectorate from 1894. As several other territories and chiefdoms were integrated, the final protectorate called Uganda took shape in 1914.

Idi Amin (1925–2003) seized power in 1971, ruling the country with the military for the next eight years. His regime was armed by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi who saw Amin as a promising fellow Muslim, until the Soviet Union became the primary partner. Amin's rule cost an estimated 300,000 Ugandans' lives. He forcibly removed the entrepreneurial Indian minority from Uganda. The Ugandan economy was devastated. Amin's reign was ended after the Uganda-Tanzania War in 1979 in which Tanzanian forces aided by Ugandan exiles invaded Uganda.

Museveni has been in power since 1986. In the mid to late 1990s, he was lauded by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders. His presidency has included involvement in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other conflicts in the Great Lakes region, as well as the civil war against the Lord's Resistance Army, which has been guilty of numerous crimes against humanity including child slavery and mass murder. Conflict in northern Uganda has killed thousands and displaced millions. In 2007, Uganda deployed soldiers to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.




Uganda is located in Eastern Africa, west of Kenya, south of South Sudan and east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It covers around 236,000 square kilometres, of which around 200,000 is land. The country is located on the East African plateau, lying mostly between latitudes 4°N and 2°S, and longitudes 29° and 35°E. It averages about 1,100 metres above sea level. Uganda lies almost completely within the Nile basin. Although landlocked, Uganda contains many large lakes; besides Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga, there are Lake Albert, Lake Edward and the smaller Lake George. However, much of the south is poorly drained, while the centre is dominated by Lake Kyoga, which is also surrounded by extensive marshy areas. Uganda lies almost completely within the Nile basin. The Victoria Nile drains from the lake into Lake Kyoga and thence into Lake Albert on the Congolese border. It then runs northwards into South Sudan. One small area on the eastern edge of Uganda is drained by the Turkwel River, part of the internal drainage basin of Lake Turkana. Lake Kyoga serves as a rough boundary between Bantu speakers in the south and Nilotic and Central Sudanic language speakers in the north.




Uganda's 80 districts are spread across 4 administrative regions.




  • Kampala is the capital and largest city in Uganda.
  • Entebbe, just south of Kampala, is where the international airport is located.
  • Arua - located in the NW corner of the country, reached by daily flights from Entebbe Airport or by bus from Kampala
  • Jinja is known as the source of the Nile river and capital of extreme sports and activities in the country.
  • Fort Portal - a clean and well-organised highland town surrounded by extensive tea plantations, a number of fine colonial buildings and a superb Rwenzori backdrop
  • Mbarara - a southwestern town en route to several national parks
  • Tororo
  • Gulu - the de facto capital of the north
  • Kabale - a small town in the far south of the country near Lake Bunyonyi
  • Kisoro is a town in Western Uganda and the headquarters of the Kisoro District. It harbours the renowned Bwindi Forest, under the peaks of the Mufumbiro Mountains which are part of the Virunga chain of volcanoes, home of the rare Mountain Gorilla.



Sights and Activities

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park



© berner256

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the prime spot in Uganda to go on a trekking to see the Mountain Gorillas. The park is located in the southwestern corner of the country and apart from gorillas offers a wide range of monkey, birds, butterflies and other wildlife to view up-close. A gorilla permit is expensive though, around US$600, and as this is the most favorite spot in Africa to go on a trekking, the permits sell out quickly, especially by tour groups who buy them well in advance. As an independent traveller, you might be more lucky in Rwanda to get a permit within several days, although prices over there are even higher at US$1,500. Another option is to opt for a permit in the low season months of April, May and November. Prices are 'just' US$350 during those months. The disadvantage of course is there is a lot more rain, though November is not as bad as April/May.

Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale National Park is located in the west of the country, not far from Fort Portal and is famous for its chimpanzee tracking and bird watching.
The park protects moist evergreen rain forest. It is 766 square kilometres in size and is located between 1,100 metres to 1,600 metres in elevation. Despite encompassing primarily moist evergreen forest, it contains a diverse array of landscapes. Kibale is one of the last remaining expanses to contain both lowland and montane forests. In eastern Africa, it sustains the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest. The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged forest reserve. The park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park. This adjoining of the parks creates a 180 kilometres wildlife corridor. It is an important eco-tourism and safari destination, popular for its population of habituated chimpanzees and twelve other species of primates. It is also the location of the Makerere University Biological Field Station.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park is located in the extreme northeastern corner of Uganda on the South Sudan border. There is incredible wildlife here that comes right up to some of the lodges. Elephant, zebra, nile buffalo, kob often visit the lodges.

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi is probably one of the deepest lakes in Africa. Its twenty nine islands offer a variety of accommodation including backpackers and swimming is popular due to the small numbers of bilharzia parasites and absence of hippos and crocodiles. The lake is 25 kilometres long and 7 kilometres wide and lies at an altitude of 1,950 metres.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is in the Virunga Mountains and in the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion. Totaling about 33.7 square kilometres, it is the smallest of Uganda's national parks. The park is about 15 kilometres, by road, south of the town of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometres, by road, west of Kabale, the largest city in the sub-region. The park is located within Bufumbira county of the Kisoro District. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park includes three of the eight Virunga Mountains volcanoes: Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo. These dormant volcanoes are international mountains, with Muhabura and Gahinga on the Uganda/Rwanda border, and Sabyinyo a tripoint on the Uganda/Rwanda/Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) borders.

Mount Elgon National Park

Mount Elgon National Park is a national park 140 kilometres northeast of Lake Victoria. The park covers an area of 1,279 square kilometres and is bisected by the border of Kenya and Uganda. The Ugandan part of the park covers 1,110 square kilometres while the Kenyan part covers 169 square kilometres. The Kenyan part of the park was gazetted in 1968, the Ugandan part in 1992. Mount Elgon National Park is uniquely split down the middle by the Kenyan-Ugandan border. Mount Elgon is an important water catchment for the Nzoia River, which flows to Lake Victoria, and for the Turkwel River (known as the Suam River in Uganda), which flows into Lake Turkana. Elephants and buffalo can be found on the lower slopes. The park is also home to a variety of small antelope and duiker, as well forest monkeys, including the black-and-white colobus and blue monkey. red-tailed monkey have been reported after being thought to be locally extinct. Both leopard and hyena existed there in the late 1990s. Mount Elgon is home to at least 144 bird species. Of particular interest are Jackson's francolin, the eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Hartlaub's turaco, the Tacazze sunbird and the endangered lammergeier, due to their restricted range.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is known for its waterfalls, where the Nile drops down for over 40 metres, making it one of the most powerful waterfalls in Africa. A boat ride will take you past hippos and crocodiles and other wildlife in the park, including elephant, buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard and many species of antelope and birds. The park is only accessible by a tour, or by private vehicle, as the actual falls are far from the gates, and walking alone is not permitted. The hike up to the top of the falls is a short walk, but steep uphill, but does afford fantastic views over the falls.

Rwenzori Mountains

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a mountain range in southwest Uganda bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is 120 kilometres long and 48 kilometres wide with its highest peak at Mt Stanley (5,109metres. The range was first described in the 2nd century by ancient Greek astronomer Ptolemy as the "Mountains of the moon", and first ascended in 1896 by Italian explorers. By the end of 2006, its ice cap has retreated from 6.4 square kilometres a century ago, to less than 1.28km². In the Rwenzori Mountains near Fort Portal you find Mitandi. The place represents a unique opportunity to explore the mountains and get to know the culture of the local Bakonzo mountain people.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park, crater

Queen Elizabeth National Park, crater

© Winkekatze

Queen Elizabeth National Park offers another option to go on a safari, with great wildlife viewing between Lake Edward and Lake George and on top of that the Kasinga Channel has the largest concentration of hippos in the world! Also, the endemic Ugandan Kob, a species of antelope, lives here.

Ssese Islands

The Ssese Islands are beautiful stretch of islands on Lake Victoria with isolated beaches and a bit of jungle. Jungle walks you could easily manage on your own, spending half a day. Beware that there is bilharzia in Victoria Lake, so if you swim, go check up with the doctor afterwards. However, you can expect to spend around 8 hours getting to the Ssese islands. As an alternative, Busi island can be reached in around 45 minutes from Entebbe. there is a camp site, with a small number of beds in a dorm and some bandas which are presently under construction.

White Water Rafting

As one of the sources of the Nile is in Uganda, the country offers fantastic white-water rafting. The centre of the activity is in Jinja, conveniently on the route between Kampala and the border to Kenya. There are several tour operators in town, offering full-and half-day packages with various options. Usually, the full-day means about five hours on the river, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner - sometimes the accommodation for the night after as well. The rapids are between grades one and five, so expect the boat to tip over at least once! Prices start from about US$75 for a full day - however, it is worth checking the company's safety records before committing as new companies seem to come and go. One of the tour operators also offers a bungy jump over the river (dipping into water optional).
Note that there is bilharzia in the still parts of the river.



Events and Festivals

Festival on the Nile

This weekly celebration takes place at the beginning of August in Jinja, and focuses on the rich and diverse cultures of the people that live along this famous river, blended with traditional art and culture from all over the globe. It features music, dance, theater, folklore and storytelling, and food as well as live performances. It also has a street parade, children’s activities and dance workshops. It is a great opportunity to learn about the tribes throughout Uganda, and the lineup changes each year.

Amakula Kampala International Film Festival

Also known as the Amakula Kampala Cinema Caravan Festival, this festival moves around the country over a course of four months, from the beginning of September to the end of November. It showcases both old and new films that feature themes of independence and fall under one of five platforms, which include African Panorama, Highlights and Tributes, Regional Views, Landmarks and Contemporary World Cinema. It also offers workshops on film training and creating soundtracks for silent films.

Bayimba International Festival of Music and Arts

Each September, this popular three-day festival takes place at the Uganda National Theatre in Kampala’s city centre. The festival focuses on arts and culture in Uganda and is a must for all visitors hoping to learn more about the music and art scene of the country. This festival has grown to become the country’s number one festival, in which Kampala truly comes to life. The festival brings music, film, dance, theater, and visual arts together under one roof, and showcase not only local artists but those from other East African counties as well.

B-Global Indigenous Hip Hop Festival

This four-day festival that happens each September was created to celebrate hip hop in Uganda. Its vision is to educate youth through hip hop culture and to teach Ugandan youth the importance of reconnecting with their roots. It brings the youth of Uganda together with some of Uganda’s hip hop leaders to promote peace, love and fun.

Nile Gold Jazz Safari

This one-day event happens each October in Kampala and features some incredible jazz played by musicians from all over the world. Each year there is a new list of performers, but one thing that is consistent is that the music is always fantastic. Saxophones, bass guitars, drums, keyboards and pianos play to a growing audience of Ugandan jazz lovers, and of course visitors are always welcome.

This Is Uganda

This annual festival is to showcase the diverse cultures throughout Uganda through art, music, poetry and dance, with an emphasis on female artists. Each December thousands come to Kampala’s Kyandondo Rugby Club to watch some phenomenal live performances. The festival also has a lounge area where festival goers can socialize, as well as booths that promote woman’s rights, education and HIV/AIDS awareness.




Uganda has a tropical climate with hot and humid weather throughout the year. There are two dry seasons, the cool and long from June to September, and the warm and short from December to February. From March to May is the long rainy season, with heavy rain possible for days on end. From October to early December is the short rainy season with showers at the end of the day but most of the time it is dry. Daytime temperatures usually hoover around 30 °C, but a bit lower from June to September. Some parts in the north are warmer though and temperatures over 35 °C are not uncommon. Night temperatures are typically around 20 °C. In the mountains in the west temperatures at night can become rather chilly though.



Getting There

By Plane

Air Uganda is the national airline of the country and only started flights in 2007. It is based at Entebbe International Airport (EBB) near Entebbe, not far from the capital Kampala. International destinations are Nairobi, Mombasa, Khartoum, Kilimanjaro/Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. Other airlines serving the country are mainly African airlines serving a number of destinations in East and Central Africa. South Africa Airways flies to Johannesburg, Brussels Airlines to Brussels, British Airways to London and KLM to Amsterdam. Eagle Air has many charter flights to lots of African countries only.

By Train

Back in the old days, trains from Mombasa continued all the way to Kampala, but for know there are no plans to reinstall this great journey.

By Car

Most border crossings are open to cars as well, including those with Kenya and Rwanda which are relatively straightforward. Travelling to and from the Democratic Republic of Congo is not recommended.

By Bus

International bus connections include those to Kigali in Rwanda (8 hours, some continuing to Bujumbura in Burundi), Nairobi (12 hours) in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. You can also cross from Uganda directly to Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, although it's quicker and safer from Rwanda. You can also travel in stages by minibus if you want to stop in other places like Eldoret in Kenya.

By Boat

There used to be passenger service across Lake Victoria to Tanzania, but services were suspended. You might be able to book a passage on a cargo ferry (operated by Tanzanian Railways) to Mwanza though. Most boats start at Port Bell near the capital Kampala.



Getting Around

By Plane

Eagle Air probably has the most domestic flights, flying between Entebbe (near Kampala) to most major towns. Several other smaller charter airlines have flights as well, including those to small airstrips in or near national parks.

By Train

There is no internal train service. For now, the international train link with Nairobi is out of order as well, although this is worth checking, as the situation seems to change often.

By Car

Renting a car in Uganda is very expensive, as is fuel. Add to that the absence of road signs and the occasional rough roads, and you start to realize how hard it can be to drive in Uganda. Hard, but certainly not impossible.

Hiring a car is possible with international companies at the airport in Entebbe and in Kampala and major towns near the national parks. You can ask for a car with a driver as well, for a few more dollars. If driving yourself, be sure to have an international driving permit. Driving is on the left.

By Bus

Buses connect most major towns on at least a daily basis. Many buses originate in Kampala. The Ugandan postal service has minibuses travelling from Kampala to all major centres several times a week as well, usually being cheaper as well as faster and more reliable.
Minibuses, matatus, are an essential part of life in Uganda. Regular minibuses travel between Kampala and Entebbe, and many other towns, such as Masindi in the north, and Jinja in the east. Minibuses do not have set schedules, but depart when they are full; be aware that sometimes you might be waiting up to two hours. Most matatus in Kampala depart from either the New Taxi Park, or the Old Taxi Park, located about 300 metres apart. Note that matatus are sometimes called Taxis in Uganda, and buses simply mean the large, inter-city buses, which have a set time table.

By Boat

Local boat services link Entebbe to the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria. There is no boat service to Tanzania.

By Bike

Biking around Uganda is dead easy. The country is well enough populated to ensure that you never have to carry more than half a day's worth of food, but not overpopulated, so peace and tranquility is occasionally stumbled upon. The south is hilly and relatively cool (but still high 20 °Cs mid afternoon). Guesthouses (not all top quality) abound and food is cheap so you could probably leave your tent and stove at home.



Red Tape

Ugandan visas are issued on arrival or online at or at embassies and High Commissions. The Uganda Visa Policy uses the principle of reciprocity, that is all countries that require visas for Ugandans are visa prone in Uganda.

The best way to get a Ugandan visa is visa on arrival which can be done at the airport or at all land borders for US$50.

Visa fees are:

  • Single Entry good for 90 days US$50.
  • Inland Transit US$50.
  • East Africa Multiple entry tourist visa good for 90 days US$100.

Since multiple entry visas are expensive and must be obtained from Uganda's diplomatic missions abroad, bona fide tourists may want to consider the East Africa Tourist Visa first issued in 2014 that allows travel between Kenya, Rwanda'and Uganda with multiple entries in a 90-day period for US$100 and without "restrictions on country of origin". You can buy this visa online (or when you get to Kenya or Rwanda if that is your first port). However, since some finicky airlines may refuse to board you without the assurance of a visa, Rwanda has made the smart move of setting up an webpage on-line website to issue these, which means that some tourists may want to first land at Rwanda's capital airport of Kigali rather than Entebbe or Nairobi since this visa must be issued by the country that you first plan to visit (similar principle to Schengen visas in the EU).

Countries exempted from visas: Angola, Antigua, Bahamas, Botswana, Barbados, Belize, Comoros, Cyprus, Eritrea, Eswatini, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, Tonga, Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Visa Extension

You can get a free one-month visa extension at immigration offices in Kampala, Fort Portal, Jinja and Mbarara. However, you can not get a visa extension on a 90-day East African tourist visa, but only on a 90-day single entry Uganda visa.




See also Money Matters

Like a lot of African currencies, the Ugandan shilling floats against other currencies, and it is therefore a good idea to check the correct rate before exchanging money. There are plenty of bureaus de change in Kampala, as well as plenty of ATM's. Most machines accepts Visa; the Barclays in town centre also allows you to withdraw with foreign debit cards.
When crossing over from Kenya, there is an ATM right at the border, as well as money changers. Try and carry small notes with you, as change is usually hard to come by. Ask your money changer to give you small notes.
It is possible to pay with US dollars at some hostels/guesthouses, and for some activities; however, they usually offer a much poorer exchange rate than the exchange bureaus.




Kampala hosts Makerere University which is a world class institution.




There are about 32 tribes each with their own culture and language. These can be grouped into bantu and nilotic languages. In fact, in the west of Uganda, the languages spoken are collectively known as Runyakitara and have a lot of similar words.
However, as Uganda was a British Colony, English is the official language, and so you are more likely to find English speakers. Also Swahili is spoken in the north of Uganda and borders with Kenya and Tanzania.




Bananas are the main staple in most parts of Uganda. There are different types of bananas. Large bananas called bogoya ; thick finger sized bananas called sukari because of their intense sweet flavour; then there is roasting bananas called gonja usually sold at road side stalls. Green bananas known as matooke are usually steamed in leaves and served with savoury sauce.

The diet of most Ugandans is vegetarian and consists of starchy foods like sweet potatoes, cassava (manioc or yukka), white potatoes, yams, bread made from ground maize flour called ugali or posho and also bread made from a combination of ground millet and cassava, pumpkin. These are served with sauces made from legumes like peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, sauce made from groundnuts (peanuts) which is similar to satay.

Ugandan cuisine has been influenced by Indian settlers and so you'll find chapatis (flat bread made from wheat flour). Sometimes this is rolled up and stuffed and is nicknamed rolex. Another influence from India is chillies kamurari. Ugandan food is traditionally not chilli.

Meat is eaten once a week. The rich can afford to have it every day. Chicken is for very special occasions or special guests. Roast pork and goat muchomo are popular in drinking establishments.

Fish - large Tilapia is grilled whole. You will also find smoked fish sold in the markets. This is normally cooked in peanut sauce. Uganda has a wide choice of delicious fruit and availability depends on the season - large sweet pineapples, mangoes, oranges (with green skin but very sweet), tangerines, jackfruit, passion fruit, papaya (called pawpaw) sugar cane, coconut etc.




There are many hotels in Uganda. If you go on the higher end you will pay high prices, over $100 per night. Standard traveller hotels will have simple rooms with shared bathrooms for around 3,000 to 10,000 shillings. Many places will rent you a tent, or place to pitch a tent for the budget traveller. There are various budget places in Kampala and Jinja to choose from. Some are better than others, and may suit different preferences, so it's best to explore the reviews on Tripadvisor to assess what would be best for you. A stay in one of these will cost from US$5-15 a night, depending on whether you camp or stay in a dorm. They also offer private rooms or safari tents, and some have self-catering cottages which are great for long stay/groups.




Coffee is one of the best products from Uganda, but the British hooked the locals on tea, so finding a decent cup of coffee is nearly impossible, especially outside of Kampala. In Kampala, try the coffee house 1000 Cups on Buganda Road.
Chai tea is available widely, and is best in the rural areas near the tea plantations. You will see signs posted on shops and kiosks where it can be purchased.
Lower-end South African wine can be had in some restaurants, but stick with the beer. Any of the four major brands are acceptable, though the Pilsner brand is the only one made without added corn sugar for those who care about such things.
Be advised to drink Bottled water, usually called mineral water in local restaurants. Water flowing from taps is not treated.




See also Travel Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Uganda. There are two exceptions though. You have to have a cholera stamp (prove of the fact that you don't have that disease) when entering Uganda overland. And you need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Uganda) where that disease is widely prevalent. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended anyway.

Still, it's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Uganda. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also both hepatitis A as well as typhoid would be recommended.

If you are staying longer than 3 months or have a particular risk (travelling by bike, handling of animals, visits to caves) you might consider a rabies vaccination. Vaccination against Tuberculosis as well as hepatitis B are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months. When staying longer than 6 months, vaccination against meningitis might be recommended, depending on your contact with other people.

Like most African countries south of the Sahara, Malaria is prevalent in the country. Don't underestimate this tropical disease and take precautions. Buy repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net.

Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS. Also note that Southern Africa and thus Uganda as well has a high percentage of people with AIDS.




See also Travel Safety

Uganda has been home to some of the more gruesome atrocities in modern African history since its independence in 1962, particularly under the heinous dictator Idi Amin, but in the years since 1987 things have consistently improved. Today the state is relatively stable after 30 years of stereotypically 'strong man' rule by Yoweri Museveni. Kampala has changed into a major centre of East African trade.

In the 2010s, female tourists have been victims of attacks and sexual assaults, and are advised never to walk alone at night.

Travel north to Murchison Falls National Park and Ajai Game Reserve is safe. Overlanders from Tanzania and Kenya regularly make the trip routing through Jinja.

As in any urban area, Kampala can be dodgy. One is well advised to remain in tourist areas, but sensibly garbed visitors not dangling the latest cameras, flashy jewellery or bulging bags are not likely to draw unwanted attention to themselves. Some jihadist groups have threatened the country due to its counter-jihad activities in Amisom (the UN force in Somalia).

However, any non-blacks walking in the street stand out and are likely to be stared at openly, which may cause discomfort to those unaccustomed to travelling in Africa. Individuals of East Asian appearance will be assumed to be Chinese, and often will be subjected to "ni hao" or imitations of Chinese languages (e.g. "Ching chong"). While potentially offensive to Asians raised in Western countries, it is not necessarily intended to be rude and is almost never a sign of anti-Asian hostility.

What little begging exists is some of the most polite and inoffensive you will find in African cities, and not worse than anywhere in the West. Small children are sadly becoming a nuisance in some rural spots frequented by tourists doling out sweets and coins but it is nowhere near the swarming throng one can attract in many cities around the world.

Since an incident in the late 1990s in the gorilla tracking region of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all groups are accompanied with armed guards. There is a visible security presence in the region.

Some jihadists have engaged in retaliatory activities in protest at the counter-jihad policies of Museveni.

Uganda is not a safe destination for gay and lesbian travellers; the country's social and legal system view homosexuality with absolute disdain and abhorrence. In 2023, the Ugandan government passed and approved a highly controversial anti-homosexuality bill that significantly penalises homosexuality. Under current laws, same-sex sexual activity is punishable by life imprisonment or even death. Promoting homosexuality is punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment. It is also illegal not to report someone's homosexuality to the authorities, which is punishable by 5 years of imprisonment.



Keep Connected


Internet cafes can be readily found in Kampala and Jinja. In most larger towns you'll find internet cafes running off of either VSATs or mobile phones. The Internet connection bandwidth is very low and can be frustrating for those who are used to a high speed internet connection.


See also International Telephone Calls

Mobile phone network coverage is available in most parts of the country (over 80%), but geography can cause trouble in the mountainous regions. SIM cards are cheaply available everywhere in 'starter packs' but need to be registered before use. They make a good deal though, as prices for international data roaming are extremely high.

Mobile broadband (3G, HSDPA, HSPA, HSPA+) is available in several places. Airtel has mobile broadband available in larger places along Jinja Road. An example of price for mobile broadband on a phone through Airtel is UGX25,000 for 1GB traffic in one week.In the more rural areas, a slower (EDGE) connection might be available. Orange also offer mobile broadband. Other networks include MTN (the biggest in Uganda), Warid Telecom and Uganda Telecom.


Posta Uganda offers reasonable services. Prices are not high, though it might not be the fastest company. Expect postcards and letters to take at least 7-10 days to Europe, longer to North America and Australia. Post offices are generally open from around 8:00-9:00am until late afternoon. If you want to send parcels overseas, it would be better to use companies like TNT, UPS, FedEx or DHL, as they are competitively priced and also much faster.


Quick Facts

Uganda flag

Map of Uganda


Christianity (Catholic, Protestant), Islam, indigenous beliefs
English, Ganda, Nyankore, Soga
Calling Code
Local name


as well as kimbugs (6%), dr.pepper (4%), Ofelia (4%), hasbeen (2%), Peter (1%), robandpol (<1%)

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