Overview

Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa; with fantastic natural scenery. Half of the world′s remaining mountain gorilla population is in Uganda. It also offers world-class white water rafting at the source of Nile and some of the region′s more peaceful national parks, where wildlife viewing doesn′t involve long waits in line behind a dozen or more vehicles. The natural attraction is among the best in the region, and as tourism is still being re-established, there simply aren′t the crowds found elsewhere. Take your pick from the highest mountain range in Africa, the Ruwenzori Mountains; one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world, Murchison Falls; or perhaps the highest primate density in the world, in Kibale Forest National Park -Uganda has all this and more. It′s a beautiful country with a great deal to offer.

Ecologically, Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the West African jungle. Where else but in this impossibly lush country can one observe lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon, then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with hippos and crocodiles before setting off into the misty mountains to stare deep into the eyes of a mountain gorilla? Certainly, Uganda is the only safari destination whose range of forest primates is as impressive as its selection of plains antelopes. And this verdant biodiversity is further attested to by Uganda’s status as by far the smallest of the four African countries whose bird checklist tops the 1,000 mark.

Location

Uganda is a landlocked country astride the equator, about 800 kilometers inland from the Indian Ocean. It lies on the northwestern shores of Lake Victoria, extending from 1 south to 4 north latitude and 30 to 35 east longitude. Uganda is bordered by Tanzania and Rwanda to the south, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the west, Sudan to the north, and Kenya to the east. With a land surface of 241,139 square kilometers

People and Culture

Situated at the geographical heart of the African continent, Uganda has long been a cultural melting pot, as evidenced by the existence of 30-plus different indigenous languages belonging to five distinct linguistic groups, and an equally diverse cultural mosaic of music, art and handicrafts. The country’s most ancient inhabitants, confined to the hilly southwest, are the Batwa and Bambuti Pygmies, relics of the hunter-gatherer cultures that once occupied much of East Africa to leave behind a rich legacy of rock paintings, such as at the Nyero Rock Shelter near Kumi.

At the cultural core of modern-day Uganda lie the Bantu-speaking kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro, Ankole and Toro, whose traditional monarchs – reinstated in the 1990s and serving  as important cultural figureheads. According to oral tradition, these centuries-old kingdoms are offshoots of the mediaeval kingdoms of Batembuzi and Bachwezi, which lay in the vicinity of present-day Mubende and Ntusi, where archaeological evidence suggests that a strongly centralized polity had emerged by the 11th century. Three former kings of Buganda are buried in an impressive traditional thatched building at the Kasubi Tombs in Kampala.

Climate

Uganda boasts of temperate climate even though a bulky of its area is in the tropics with varying temperatures of 16 – 26°C (April – November), and over 30°C during warm seasons (December – March). It also harbours the world′s second largest lake the Victoria, the source of the world′s second longest river, the Nile.

Travel and Accommodation

Currently there is one International Airport at Entebbe. A number of international airlines fly directly to Entebbe, among them South Africa Airways, British Airways, Emirates Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Egypt air, Ethiopian Airways, Turkish Air among others. Most major towns have an airstrip as do most National Parks and Game Reserves.

There is no shortage of hotels of all qualities in Kampala and most other towns can offer tourist standard hotel accommodation. Most National Parks also have a choice of accommodation ranging from campsites to luxury safari lodges.

Travel within Uganda is relatively straight forward, most major roads being in good or reasonable condition. Once off the major roads conditions are more difficult and 4 x4 vehicles are recommended.

Governance

Officially named The Republic of Uganda, headed by the President guided by the republican constitution. Voting qualifications are universal but for those above 18 years of age.

Economic profile and Currency

Consistently ranked among Africa’s fastest growing economies since 1986, Uganda has experienced a steady expansion infrastructure, and a corresponding increase in international tourist arrivals and upmarket facilities. Uganda Shillings is the local currency but it is advisable to carry American dollars (the series should not be less than the year 2000) or Traveler’s cheques or any more hard currency. There are numerous Forex bureau and banks in the capital and the man towns. Credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants, but generally it is best to carry cash upcountry.

Best Time to visit

The climate is good in Uganda all year round, day time temperatures generally hovering between 24 -28C. It cools down considerably at night, enough for a jersey but woolens are not necessary. The rains come twice a year, in October/November (short rains) and mid- March to end of May. Rainy season is no reason to postpone travel however, as generally it rains for an hour and the rest of the day is clear and sunny.

Visas

Visas are now necessary for most Nationals and should be obtained prior to travel .You can also get a visa upon arrival at the airport.

Health:

Yellow Fever vaccinations are mandatory, and we recommend anti – malarial tablets, especially during the rainy season. Most prescription drugs can be bought affordably and with ease over the counter in Kampala. Personal Insurance is advised.

Official Language

English, Luganda and many local dialects. Swahili is also widely spoken and understood.

Clothing

Safari attire is casual and comfortable. Light clothing, hats, sturdy shoes, long sleeve shirts for evening. Sweatshirt or fleece for evenings upcountry. Uganda’s position on the equator suggests a need for sun cream. Women in rural towns may feel more comfortable wearing clothing that covers their knees and shoulders, but this is not mandatory. It’s usually hot by midday, but evenings are always pleasant.

National Holidays:  1st January, 26th January, 8th March, Good Friday, Easter Monday, 1st May, 3rd June, 9th June, 9th October, 25th & 26th December.

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