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Uganda : General information

Welcome to Uganda!

The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country situated in the African Great Lakes region in East Africa. It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the southwest by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania.

Capital: Kampala
Currency: Uganda Shillings (UGX)
Continent: Africa
Population: 41,652,938 inhabitants
Official language: English (official language)
Luganda (commonly used)
Natural Resources: Oil, fish, agriculture, tourism
Local Time: GMT +3 hours


Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital Kampala. The people of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago when Bantu-speaking populations migrated to the southern parts of the country.


At the beginning of 1894, the area was ruled as a protectorate by the British, who established administrative law across the territory. Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9 October 1962. The period since then has been marked by intermittent conflicts, including a lengthy civil war against the Lord's Resistance Army in the Northern Region, which has caused hundreds of thousands of casualties. The president of Uganda is Yoweri Museveni, who came to power in January 1986 after a protracted six-year guerrilla war.

Country Facilities


Travel arrangements

Participants should make their own travel arrangements for both outward and return journeys. They are strongly advised to have their return flights confirmed before departing for Uganda, as onward reservations and deviations may be difficult to obtain at short notice.


Arrival in Kampala (Uganda)

Upon arrival at the airport, prearranged transport by the hotel at a fee for the visitors is available. Alternatively, airport taxis are available at a negotiable fee between 40 and 60 USD. The common means of transport are road public vehicles. Curfew is 6:00pm


Health requirements on arrival/departure

Visitors to Uganda arriving from Yellow Fever and Cholera infected areas should be vaccinated (and certified). Prescribed dosages of Malaria prophylactics should be taken one week before travel, during your stay in Uganda and continued for two more weeks after your departure. Should you require medical assistance, Uganda has qualified doctors, and your hotel can assist to contact them.

Insurance

Participants should make their own arrangements with respect to health and travel insurance.


Local transportation

Kampala has a local minibus network, as well as special-hire taxis for private trips. Elsewhere you will have to rely solely on two-wheel taxis, known as boda-bodas as they originally shuttled people between border posts: from 'boda to boda'. Never hesitate to tell a driver to slow down if you feel uncomfortable with his driving skills, or lack thereof. Outside Kampala, there are few trips within any town that should cost more than USh3000.

While boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) are perfect for getting through heavy traffic, they are also notorious for their high rate of accidents. If you decide to use their services, get a recommendation from your hotel for a reliable, safe driver. It's also very wise to find a driver with a helmet you can borrow and insist on driving slowly.

Currency and Exchange Facilities

The currency for Uganda is the Shilling, divided into the following denominations:
Notes: 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000 and 1,000.
Coins: 500, 200, 100, 50 and 10.
As of 15 March 2018, the exchange rate for US $1.00 is UGX 3654.38 It is possible to withdraw dollars and all types of credit cards can be used. However, it is important to have cash with you because Uganda is predominantly a cash economy with a few services allowing payment by credit card.


Climate

Uganda has varying weather indicators. The hottest months are January, February, June and July when the average daytime range is 24-33°C (52-91°F) with peaks of up to 40°C/104°F in the far North whereas the Wet season runs March, April & May, September, October & November, temperatures average around 28°C/82°F and morning temperatures around 16°C/61°F. There is more rainfall throughout the country during these months.

Language

The official languages are English and Swahili, although Luganda, a central language, is widely spoken across the country, and several other languages are also spoken (Runyoro, Runyankole, Rukiga and Luo).


Clothing

Please pack light and heavy clothes because the weather changes in Uganda are unpredictable. It's also important to carry both light and heavy footwear for comfort and protection depending on the weather. Carry light and heavy clothes and footwear for comfort and convenience depending on the month in which you're traveling.

Tourism

Visit useful links provided by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities:
Tourism Uganda
Uganda Wildlife Authority

Security and safety tips

Security in Kampala is good all round 24 hours. However, caution should be taken at night, move in pairs or avoid dark areas. Be mindful of using your gadgets with the car windows rolled down during traffic jam, because there are so many thieves disguised as people going about their business, gadgets can easily be snatched if caution is not taken.


Precautions

  • Be ALERT at all times, you are the key to your own safety
  • Do not flaunt riches (rings, necklaces, wallet)
  • Dress and behave modestly
  • At night stay in well-lit areas
  • Keep other staff and family members informed of your whereabouts
  • Do not meet with strangers and do not accept invitations or make appointments with people you do not know personally
  • Maintain good communication - it is vital to good security. Keep your mobile phone with you all time.
  • Carry a photocopy of the vital information page(s) of your passport or UNLP; leave the original in the hotel safe or otherwise secure location
  • Ask for directions or advice from your hotel staff
  • Important telephone numbers should be carried at all times
  • Stay abreast of local news events