Travel tips in Uganda.

Passport and Visa

For any visitor to enter Uganda, a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry is required by all nationals. Entry may be refused to passengers not holding sufficient funds, return or onward tickets, and other necessary travel documents.

Visa requirements

Requirements for Uganda visas and entry into Uganda differ from country to country, are subject to change, and each Uganda visa application is treated as an individual case. Always make visa inquiries before travelling to Uganda.

A Uganda visa is a clearance permitting an individual to proceed to visit Uganda. Uganda visas are issued at Missions/Embassies abroad and also at the entry and exit points of Uganda like Entebbe airport, Busia border, Malaba border.

In 1999 Uganda introduced visa requirements for all visitors and people entering Uganda except nationals of a few countries. There are different types of visas needed depending on what you are going to do in Uganda: Student Visas, Single Entry visas, Multiple Entry 6 month’s visas, Multiple Entry 1 year visas, or Inland Transit visas.

If you arrive or enter Uganda without a valid travel visa, you may be fined and immediately deported at your own expense. You must obtain a Uganda Government VISA before entry into Uganda. To obtain a Uganda Government VISA the following are required:-

Fill out both sides of Visa Application Form “J”. Submit your passport and two (2) passport-size photographs.

A passport issued by your government valid for at least six months. Your passport must also be valid past the date of your expected departure from Uganda. (Passport must be signed.)

One completed Uganda visa application form, Two passport-size photo taken within the past six months, International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever and Letter from applicant’s company if travelling for business (on company letterhead and signed by someone other than the applicant).

Accessibility
Entebbe International Airport is the Major Airport in Uganda. It lies 43km from the capital Kampala and is serviced by a number of international airlines such as SN Brussels, British Airways, South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania, Rwanda-Air Express, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines and Air Uganda. Uganda can also be reached overland from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Arrival
At this point customs and immigration officials of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) are polite and efficient to all the visitors to the country. A visa can be purchased on the spot at Entebbe International Airport or at any overland border. Foreign exchange and ATM facilities are available at the airport, which is also serviced by several shops and restaurants. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required. All visitors should take malaria prophylactic drugs. It is advisable to drink bottled rather than tap water. At the airport there is a variety of Airport taxes which can take you on town service, but is much advisable to our clients to request for our standard vehicles to any destination of choice.

Departure.

There is no Customs desk on departure at Entebbe International airport. Departing passengers are required to present a valid passport or other travel document and completed departure embarkation card to the immigration officer. The officer will ascertain that the traveler obtained the relevant Visa.

The travel document is duly stamped and returned to the passenger. Passengers then proceeds to the departure-transit concourse for duty-free shopping and refreshments. After the final security formalities, passengers get into the holding-area where one can ascertain their belongings, tickets, passports, traveler’s checks.

Where to Stay

Uganda has a number of hotels and safari lodges that offer meals and overnight accommodation to both budget and luxury travelers. You can do your booking to Uganda Hotels, safari lodges, Guest houses and apartments in Uganda through the experts of Trekking adventure Uganda.

Security tips

Precautions should be taken as in any major city. Unless safety deposit boxes are available in your hotel or lodge, always carry travel documents, travelers cheque’s, cash and other valuables with you at all times. We recommend that you do not walk late in the night but instead take a taxi if you have too though Uganda is extremely safe, we can’t guaranty you safety.

Currency
The unit of currency is the Uganda shilling. The US dollar is traditionally the hard currency of preference, but Euro and Pound Sterling are also widely accepted. Hard currency cash can be changed for local currency at banks and private Forex bureaus in all large towns. However traveler’s cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala.

When to Visit

Uganda has a beautiful climate all year round and can be visited at any time. The temperatures range from 21 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius in the day and 16-20 degrees Celsius in the night. The hottest months are from December-January and the wettest and coolest months are March-May and the mid-September to November. Activities like mountain hikes, gorilla tour which involving tracking through steep slopes with dense foliage and undergrowth and other forest walks are more challenging during the rainy seasons, which generally peak over mid-September to November and March to May.

What to Bring

Visitors to Uganda are required to have valid passports, and visa requirements should be checked with the customs and immigrations at the Airport on arrival before you travel. Binoculars and tour guides will enable you reap the most of game reserves and national parks tours and game drives. Zoom lens for Photographers who intend to capture the beautiful wildlife and scenery (70-300 or similar). Printing film and developing facilities are available in Kampala. Toiletries and other essential commodities can be purchased at any of the numerous supermarkets and shopping centers in the cities.

What to wear

During the day, temperatures are generally warm depending on which region of the country one is at, so bring lots of light clothing. Evening temperatures are cooler at especially high altitudes, so it is advisable to bring a couple of light sweaters as well. For the tourist intending to hike or climb on the mountains, you are advised to pack accordingly due to the alpine temperatures. You would do well to carry solid walking shoes and strong clothing, a sun hat, sunglasses, waterproof jackets which are ideal for forest walks, game drives and national park tours.

Driving

Visitors who wish to do self-drive are advised that driving in Uganda is done on the left side. There are numerous car hire service providers within the city with attractive rates although the fuel prices are fairly high, considering that Uganda is a landlocked country. For visitors that have no experience of African roads, you are advised to arrange for a vehicle with Trekking adventure Uganda plus a driver.

Tipping

Tipping is not culture that is practiced often at local hotels, bars and restaurants, but it is always appreciated. The amount depends on the tourists’ discretion, although tour guides and drivers should always be tipped.

Uganda’s public holidays

January 1stNew Year’s Day

The New Year’s Day given by the Gregorian calendar is a major public Holiday in Uganda  celebrated annually from December 31 .The celebrations continue to mid night January 1st. The day is usually celebrated by dancing, fireworks, eating and drinking plus praying among Christian communities.

January 26th-Liberation Day

This is celebration of Uganda’s liberation. On January 25, 1986, the National Resistance Army (NRA), under the wing of the political National Resistance Movement (NRM), ousted a government that represented years of corruption, civil rights offenses, and alleged voter fraud. The movement, led by Yoweri Museveni, promised “a fundamental change in the politics” of Uganda. The country now commemorates the event every year as NRM Liberation Day. It has been marked as a public holiday.

March 8thInternational Women’s Day

This is another public in Uganda. On this day Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) originally called International Working Women’s Day. Celebrations of the day range from respecting loving and appreciating women’s economic, political and social achievements.

April 6th-Good Friday

Good Friday is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday proceeding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Black Friday, Holy Friday, Great Friday, or Easter Friday, though the latter normally refers to the Friday in Easter week.

April 9thEaster Monday

Easter Monday is another public Holiday in Uganda; it is the day after Easter Sunday and is celebrated as a holiday in some largely Christian cultures, especially Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox cultures. Easter Monday in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar is the second day of the Octave of Easter Week.

Formerly, the post-Easter festivities involved a week of secular celebration, but this was reduced to one day in the 19th century. Events include egg rolling competitions  and, in predominantly Roman Catholic countries, dousing other people with water which traditionally had been blessed with Holy water the day before at Easter Sunday Mass and carried home to bless  the house and food. In Uganda Stanch Christians go for prayer in their respective churches.

May 1st    
Labour Day

This is another public holiday in Uganda; the country joins the rest of the world to celebrate the day in honor of all workers. Different workers cerebrate by marching especially where the national celebrati0on is held. On this public holiday, concerns of workers in different sectors of the country are raised.

June 3rd           
Martyrs’ Day

This Ugandan public holiday is in honour of the 45 Uganda martyrs. On June 3rd 1886, 26 Christian’s converts were burnt alive at Namugongo. Although others were killed earlier in different places, June 3rd was made a public holiday because many of the Christians were killed on this date at Namugongo as the climax of the campaign against the Christian converts.

The Buganda King by then Mwanga saw that  the converts had diverted their loyalty to some other authority ‘Religion ,belief in God ‘and their allegiance at all costs could no longer be counted on. Worst of all some of these subjects had refused his homo sexual advances.

June 9thNational Heroes’ Day

Uganda National Heroes Day honors all those who sacrificed themselves to better the lives of the Ugandan people. Unfortunately, the holiday is one of the most divisive days in the Ugandan year. What constitutes a hero, and who specifically should be honored, are matters of debate in the country.

Many of the heroes officially recognized by the government are fallen soldiers who died during Uganda’s civil war in the 1980s.

Ugandans who are identified by the public for doing extra ordinary abilities for the sake of the nation are also honored.

August 19thEid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)

It is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity,” while Fiṭr means “breaking the fast”. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan.

The first day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month Shawwal.
Eid-ul-Fitr has a particular salah (Islamic prayer) consisting of two raka’ah (units) and generally offered in an open field or large hall.

October 9thIndependence Day

Uganda gained independence from Britain October 9th-1962. The British flag was lowered on this date and the Uganda flag was raised on this date. The first post-independence election, held in 1962, was won by an alliance between the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and Kabaka Yekka (KY).

UPC and KY formed the first post-independence government with Milton Obote as executive Prime Minister, the Buganda Kabaka (King) Edward Muteesa II holding the largely ceremonial position of President and William Wilberforce Nadiope, the Kyabazinga (paramount chief) of Busoga, as Vice President.

Oct 26th-Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)

December 25thChristmas Day

Though the date for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ varies between Christians who use the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar, Uganda celebrates the day on 25th December like the majority of Christians across the world.

Ugandan Christians celebrate the birthday of Jesus who was born more than 2000 years ago as the promised messiah God promised in the Old Testament to come as a prophet, priest and God by himself.

December 26thBoxing Day

ABOUT GORILLAS

The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. There are two populations. One is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three National Parks: Mgahinga, in south-west Uganda; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda; and Virunga in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The other is found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Some primatologists say that the Bwindi population in Uganda may be a separate subspecies, though no description has been finished. As of spring 2010, the estimated total number of mountain gorillas worldwide is 790.

Scientific classification: Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Mammalia, Order: Primates, Family: Hominidae, Genus: Gorilla, Species: Gorilla. Berengei Subspecies: Gorilla. Berengei. Berengei.

ABOUT CHIMPANZEES

The scientific classification: Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Mammalia, Order: Primates, Family: Hominidae, Subfamily: Homininae, Tribe: Hominini, Sub tribe: Panina, Genus: Pan.

Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitats of the two species: Common chimpanzee, Pan Troglodytes (West and Central Africa) and Bonobo, Pan Paniscus (forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Chimpanzees are members of the Hominidae family, along with gorillas, humans, and orangutans. Chimpanzees split from the human branch of the family about 4 to 6 million years ago. The two chimpanzee species are the closest living relatives to humans, all being members of the Hominini tribe (along with extinct species of Hominina sub tribe). Chimpanzees are the only known members of the Panina sub tribe. The two Pan species split only about one million years ago.