Uganda

Many travel to Uganda to catch sight of the mystical, mountain gorillas living in the dense forests. Yet Uganda’s attractions don’t stop there. The hippo-filled rivers, abundant birdlife, serene lakes and villages filled with enthusiastic locals consistently capture the attention, imagination and hearts of travellers worldwide.

Uganda Tours & Travel

Top deals in Uganda

Departing Days Price AUD
1 Nov 2014 Gorillas, Chimps & Game Parks 16 $2646
8 Nov 2014 Gorillas, Chimps & Game Parks 16 $2646

All our Uganda trips

Gorillas, Chimps & Game Parks

16 days from
USD $2,440
CAD $2,577
AUD $2,646
EUR €1,853
GBP £1,588
NZD $2,940
ZAR R24,949
CHF FR2,258

The ultimate African adventure tour. See chimps in Kenya's Kibale Forest, elephants in Uganda and go on a gorilla...

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Gorillas & Rhinos In Depth

21 days from
USD $3,475
CAD $3,764
AUD $3,759
EUR €2,541
GBP £2,166
NZD $4,114
ZAR R36,930
CHF FR3,074

Visit Africa and travel to Kenya for an overland tour to spot gorillas and rhinos in the jungles of Rwanda and Uganda...

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Gorillas & Rhinos In Depth

21 days from
USD $3,330
CAD $3,499
AUD $3,569
EUR €2,486
GBP £2,136
NZD $4,024
ZAR R33,395
CHF FR2,959

Visit Africa and travel to Kenya for an overland tour to spot Gorillas and Rhinos in the jungles of Rwanda and Uganda...

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Uganda Gorilla Shortbreak

4 days from
USD $2,012
CAD $2,142
AUD $2,225
EUR €1,547
GBP £1,330
NZD $2,637
ZAR R20,252
CHF FR1,907

Travel to Africa to meet some of Uganda's rare and beautiful mountain gorillas. Visit Kampala, Queen Elizabeth...

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Uganda Gorilla Shortbreak

4 days from
GBP £1,615
NZD $3,112
ZAR R27,977
CHF FR2,327
EUR €1,922
AUD $2,795
USD $2,762
CAD $2,850

Travel to Africa to meet some of Uganda's rare and beautiful mountain gorillas. Visit Kampala, Queen Elizabeth...

View trip details

Uganda trip reviews

Our Uganda trips score an average of 4.63 out of 5 based on 35 reviews in the last year.

Gorillas, Chimps & Game Parks, May 2014

Gorillas, Chimps & Game Parks, May 2014

Video

Articles on Uganda

8 African snacks you must try

Posted on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 by Jacqueline Donaldson

In Africa, most action takes place on the streets and roadsides – people hawking their wares, kids running to and from school, friends hanging out just chatting. There’s always movement [...]

Read more

About Uganda

At a glance

Trips Available: 10
Capital city: Kampala (population 773,463)
Population: 34.6 million
Language: Swahili, English, Ganda
Currency: UGX
Time zone: (GMT+03:00) Nairobi
Electricity: Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
Dialing code: +256

Best time to visit Uganda

For sunshine and hot weather, visit Uganda from late December to late February as this is the dry season. June to September is also a good time to travel as you can expect warm temperatures and little rain. The wet seasons run from March to May and October to November – during this time downpours are frequent and often create less accessibility on roads and within some national parks.

Kampala weather chart

Culture and customs

uganda children passionfruit market smiling fruit local produce
Uganda is home to many different tribal groups, and a wide variety of different customs and traditions can be observed depending on where you travel in Uganda. Spontaneous dance and song is a hallmark of African culture and this is not an exception in Uganda, where tribes and villages will often greet groups of newcomers with rousing song and dance. Greeting others is a very important part of Ugandan culture and not greeting or acknowledging someone you are passing or meeting can be seen as impolite, especially in rural areas and villages. Shaking hands is an appropriate greeting when meeting someone for the first time and often both hands are given for a handshake.

Food or drink is often extended to visitors, even though many Ugandans have very little, and it is viewed as impolite to decline an offer of food or hospitality. Accept willingly and graciously eat or drink what has been offered to you. Generally, most of Uganda’s population lives in rural or regional centres, although urban areas are rapidly expanding and modern influences are infiltrating Ugandan society at a fast rate. With this modernisation, some of the old ways are dying out as younger Ugandans become more adept at using technology, although many still live tribal lives based on hunting and agriculture.

Eating and drinking

Traditional style Chai tea

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

Things to try in Uganda

1. Matooke

This local dish of mashed plantains, often cooked in a nut sauce and served with meat or fish, is a favourite with locals and can be found pretty much everywhere in Uganda

2. Chai Tea

While coffee is grown widely in Uganda, most is shipped out for international sale so locals drink tea instead. Chai tea is popular, which you’ll find at markets, kiosks, cafes and restaurants.

3. Fresh Fruit

Mango, pineapple, avocado, banana, plantain, passionfruit and jackfruit are all plentiful in Uganda. Buy from a market or roadside stall as a refreshing, cheap snack.

Geography and environment

Baby Gorilla grinning in Ugandan National Park
Uganda sits in East Africa and shares borders with Sudan, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Kenya. Despite being landlocked, Uganda still has access to fresh water via surrounding lakes (Lake Victoria, Lake Edward and Lake Albert). As a well-watered country with rich soil, much of Uganda’s land is used for agriculture and cash crops. Coffee, cotton, tea and tobacco plantations are common sights, as are farms of plantains, corn and cassava. The rest of the country is a combination of woodlands, swamp, forest and savanna, as well as pockets of protected nature reserves and national parks.

History and government

Ugandan traditional straw village hut

Early History

Inhabited by hunter-gatherer tribes for centuries, it's thought that the Hamitic people from neighbouring countries arrived sometime before 1000 AD, bringing with them knowledge of animal husbandry and agriculture. Migration from neighbouring countries continued, with tribespeople from Kenya and Tanzania flowing into Uganda well into the 16th century, as well as Arab traders moving inland from the coast and Christian missionaries arriving during the 1800s.

Recent History

Uganda came under colonial rule during the late 1800s, and was known as the Kingdom of Uganda under British rule. Colonial rule continued for many years until independence was granted in 1962. From 1971 to 1979, Uganda came under the rule of Idi Amin, hallmarked by a time of economic decline and human rights violations. By the time Amin had fled to Libya, many Ugandans were suffering from extreme economic hardship and social difficulties. Conflicts with neighbouring countries in the 80s and 90s created more turmoil and upheaval, although more recently, Ugandans have enjoyed a time of relative peace with an improved economy largely due to an increase in tourist numbers and agricultural export.

Top Picks

Close up of Gorilla in Ugandian National Park Leopard sits and keeps a watchful eye on his surroundings Tired looking lion posing for the camera in Ugandian National Park

Top 10 Amazing Animals of Uganda

1. Mountain Gorilla

Be transfixed by the wonder and majesty of Uganda’s highly endangered mountain gorillas. The challenging trek through the steamy jungle of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is all worth it once you’re beholding these beautiful beings.

2. African Elephant

Population numbers of the mighty African Elephant continue to grow in Uganda’s nature reserves and national parks. Catching sight of one of these brilliant beasts while on a game drive is a truly breathtaking experience.

3. Black and White Colobus Monkey

These curious creatures are fond of grunting, roaring and croaking – so they aren’t hard to find. Look for their white faces in the treetops while walking in Uganda’s national parks.

4. Black Rhinoceros

Although critically endangered, it’s still possible to see black rhinos in the Ugandan wild. Conservation projects have gone a long way in seeing the population numbers improve so with luck, you’ll spot a couple while on a game viewing safari.

5. Leopard

These stealthy predators are relatively difficult to spot as they are masters of staying silent and blending in with the scenery. Watching a leopard stalk prey is a tense, exciting and riveting experience.

6. Lion

There is simply nothing more thrilling than casting your eye on a pride of regal lions. Whether they are lying in the sun or going in for the kill, lions are captivating creatures to watch.

7. Hippopotamus

Hippos are synonymous with the African bush. Spot them lurking underwater and basking on the riverbanks along the rivers and channels of Uganda.

8. Chimpanzee

It’s fun to watch cheeky chimps swinging and playing in unadulterated bliss in the trees of Uganda’s forests.

9. Golden Cat

You’ll be lucky to catch a glimpse of this famously elusive feline. The African Golden Cat is a solitary creature, which favours living alone in the tropical and cloud forests of Africa. If you’re lucky enough to see one, count your blessings as they are simply remarkable.

10. Ostrich

These flightless feathered friends are commonly found in the savanna of Northern Uganda. Be amazed at their size and impressive plumage, as well as their remarkable ability to run at top speed.

Shopping

Traditional handwoven baskets in Uganda

Uganda has loads of interesting markets to visit, although many handicraft items are produced in neighbouring Kenya.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Things to buy in Uganda

1. Basketry

The practise of making traditional baskets is quite developed in Uganda. Choose from assorted shapes – from shallow dish-shaped basketry to deeper bowls and baskets. Materials range from raffia to millet and banana fibre.

2. Paper Beads

Throughout Uganda there are many workshops and organisations that sell beautiful and colourful beaded necklaces made from recycled paper. These creations not only cut down on waste by utilising recycled paper, they also usually provide employment for local women.

3. Bark Cloth

Tribes from South Uganda have been creating bark cloth for centuries, and it’s still available for sale. Nice finds include journals, notepads and photo albums made from a combination of bark cloth and recycled paper.

Festivals and Events in Uganda

Christmas

For Ugandan Christians, Christmas Day is a time of holy reverence and family get-togethers. Most Ugandan’s dress up in their finest attire, go to church for a long service and spend the afternoon and evening eating beef. With many Ugandan’s living simple lives, eating beef is a rare pleasure reserved for Christmas.

FAQs on Uganda

Tipping isn’t mandatory in Uganda but considering that most Ugandans earn little, tips will be appreciated. As a guide, adding 10% in cafes and restaurants is acceptable, although not necessary.
Travellers will be able to access the internet quite easily in the internet cafes of Uganda’s capital and large cities, but limited to no access should be expected in regional and rural areas.
Mobile phone coverage is generally good in Uganda’s large cities and towns, but less so in rural and mountainous areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated before leaving home if you wish to use your mobile phone.
Squat/pit toilets are the standard in Uganda, except for western-style flushable toilets that are sometimes available in large hotels and other modern buildings. Carry your own supply of soap and toilet paper, as these are rarely provided.
Can of soft drink = 1,500 UGX
Bottle of beer = 2,500 UGX
Street snack = 3,000-4,000 UGX
Meal at a cafe = 10,000-20,000 UGX
Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Uganda. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found; some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credit cards are usually accepted by large hotels and western-style restaurants (particularly in the cities) but not by smaller vendors. Ensure you have adequate cash to cover purchases not able to be made on credit.
ATMs are easily found in large cities and tourist areas, but are rarer in small towns, rural areas and villages. Be sure to have other payment methods available when venturing out of the city, as ATMs aren't always an option.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Jan 26 Liberation Day
Mar 8 International Women’s Day
Mar 29 Good Friday
Apr 1 Easter Monday
May 1 Labour Day
Jun 3 Martyrs’ Day
Jun 9 National Heroes’ Day
Aug 8 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
Oct 9 Independence Day
Oct 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 Boxing Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Uganda/public-holidays
UGANDA:
Visas are required by most nationalities, including the EU, US and Australia. Visas are available at point of entry to most nationalities. Some nationalities are required to obtain visas in advance - you MUST check before departure. If you plan to purchase your visas on arrival, you will need new (post 2003), clean American dollars cash and the cost is around US$50. When on one of our gorilla itineraries visiting Rwanda, you may require a double entry visa to Uganda. This is dependent on the border guard of the day and can be easily purchased on re entry from Rwanda for nationalities which qualify for visa on arrival. Please allow US$50. UGANDA:
Die Angehörigen der meisten Staaten benötigen für eine Einreise nach Uganda ein Visum, darunter Angehörige der EU Länder, US Amerikaner und Australier. Visa sind für die meisten Staatsangehörigen bei Einreise erhältlich. Manche Staatsangehörigen müssen hingegen im Voraus ein solches Visum beantragen und erhalten. Welcher Fall auf Sie zutrifft, MÜSSEN Sie vor Beginn der Reise in Erfahrung bringen. Für die Visumbeantragung bei Einreise benötigen Sie neue (nach 2003 ausgestellte), saubere US Dollar in bar. Die Kosten für ein Visum belaufen sich auf ca. USD50. Sollten wir laut Reiseprogramm die Gorillas in Uganda besuchen, benötigen Sie ein Visum mit zweifacher Einreise für Uganda. Dies hängt vom Ermessen des Grenzbeamten ab. Staatsangehörige, die berechtigt sind bei Einreise ein Visum zu beantragen, können am Grenzübergang ein Visum für die erneute Einreise beantragen. Dieses Visum kostet ca. USD50.

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Uganda Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Uganda

1. Be considerate of Uganda’s customs, traditions, religions and culture.

2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.

3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.

4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not ForgetAndrew Rice
Girl SoldierFaith McDonnell and Grace Akallo
The Impenetrable Forest: My Gorilla Years in UgandaThor Hanson
Abyssinian ChroniclesMoses Isegawa
The Last King of ScotlandGiles Foden