What do I need to know for my trip to Uganda?

People often ask me if I have any tips for them to prepare for their trip to Uganda. I was born in Kampala and have since then spent around 15 years in Uganda, so I can say I have seen quite a bit of its stunningly beautiful landscapes, rich African culture and abundant wildlife. I have travelled UG by motorcycle, bus, car and bicycle and can’t recommend adding it to your bucket list enough – it is worth it. I put together a list of things for you to know before traveling to Uganda:

Uganda truly is something magical

— Dirk Hofman

The best time to travel to Uganda

December, January and February are great months to visit. Generally dry (though rains can linger into December), the wildlife will be lured to waterholes, making this a great time for boat safaris. Migratory birds are also present.

March, April and May see the heaviest rainfall in Uganda, with shorter rains in October to November. This doesn’t affect your chances of spotting gorillas, although be prepared for a soggy, slippery trek! Waterproofs, and waterproof boots, are essential. It’s also believed that the gorillas linger on the warmer, lower slopes during wetter weather, so your trek may be shorter.

The wildlife is not migratory in Uganda so you can still see plenty of game in parks such as Queen Elizabeth, although thicker vegetation makes spotting the animals a little harder. Do be aware that the already appalling roads will become even more bone shaking.

Murchison Falls in the northeast has a drier climate, so is a good place to head during the wetter months.The Uganda Wildlife Authority, which issues gorilla tracking permits, offers discounts of up to 25 percent in April, May and November – well worth it if you’re on a budget.

June, July, August and September are the peak months as they are generally dry (though rain can fall at any time), and coincide with school holidays. This is the best time to visit Uganda, but book well in advance, especially if tracking gorillas – as permits will sell out months in advance.

Throughout the country, the temperature drops quite considerably at night – in most places you’ll want to have a sweater. One advantage of this is that it’s easier to sleep than places like the Kalahari or the coast of kenya.

If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa

— John Hemingway

Getting prepared for your trip to Uganda

Ugandan Visa

Many nationalities need a visa to travel to Kenya. Most of them can apply online in advance for an e-Visa. If you are visiting Uganda, Kenya or Rwanda it may be cheaper for you to get an East-African visa which allows multiple entries into all 3 countries for 100USD. You can also get your visa on arrival for 40 EUR. I highly recommend that you check which category your country is in.

Yellow Fever Vacination

When traveling to Uganda you will need a yellow fever certificate. Even when not coming from a yellow fever area but want to carry on with your travels to another African country make sure you have a yellow fever certificate. Personally, I was asked when flying into Kenya to show my certificate. Please double check with the requirements of the country you are traveling to and from.


Malaria does exist in Uganda. There I said it. I personally have had Malaria 6 times and because I grew up in Kampala know the symptons and how to act accordingly. If you are visiting Uganda for less than a month, it may be best to take malaria drugs to keep you safe.  Almost all the lodges, guesthouses and backpackers have mosquito nets. Still, I advise you to take every possible precaution. When going into area’s that have a lot of mosquito’s I always use a mosquito repellant, preferable one with DEET.

Power Sockets/Plugs

In Uganda like in most commonwealth countries, the power sockets used are type G.  The Type G electrical plug has three rectangular blades in a triangular pattern and has an incorporated fuse (usually a 3 amps fuse for smaller appliances such as a computer and a 13 amps one for heavy duty appliances such as heaters). You will also find this plug in UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong among others.

Africa has her mysteries and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them.

— Miriam Makeba

Welcome to The Pearl of Africa

Welcome to Uganda! Uganda has been described as the friendliest country globally following a survey conducted among expatriates globally, according to the BBC. “Welcoming all nationalities is an intrinsic part of the culture, and residents are quick to offer smiles to newcomers,” according to British Expat. Charlotte Beauvoisin.

Language in Uganda

Uganda is an extremely multilingual country with 43 of its traditional languages still being spoken today. Besides that many people in East-Africa speak Swahili, which is a mixture of Arabic, Portuguese and Local Bantu languages. Swahili is also spoken in countries like Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Don’t be worried though, English, inherited from the colonial period, is Uganda’s official language. But even though English is the official language, Luganda is the lingua franca.

Money and ATM´s

The Ugandan Shilling is the currency of Uganda (UGX). Especially in the rural areas you might not find an ATM that easily. Also not all of them accept VISA or Mastercard.  Always make sure you get your money sorted in the bigger city so you have a bit of cash when traveling to the rural areas. There is often also a withdrawal limit per day per bank which is about 200 EUR – 500 EUR.


People working in bars and restaurants are dependent on tips as their salary is quite low. If you go to a bar or a restaurant, 5- 10% is recommended.

Traffic and Rush Hour

Especially in Kampala traffic during rush hour can be crazy. A stretch of 2- 5 kilometers between 6-9 a.m. and 4-6p.m. can easily take you 1 -2 hours. Carefully plan your day outside of those times.

“For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”

— Winston Churchill

Things NOT to do

Get on any boda-boda (motorcycle taxi's)

I always check if the boda has mirrors and helmets. If he doesn't, he clearly doesn't care for his own life, and won't care about yours. Always wear a helmet and ask your driver to be safe.

Avoid travelling at night

If one thing is certain, Ugandans like to drink. As a result, drunk drivers are everywhere and things can get shady at night.

Don't drink tap water

Ugandan tap water is not as beautiful as its landscape. Avoid drinking tap water and ice cubes in cheap bars/restaurants because you probably can't handle it.

Avoid flashing your money

"Don't wear flashy jewelry or expensive clothes because Ugandans will love you anyway. Don't flash cash when dealing with street vendors, or really at any time in the country.

Don't kiss in public

Although Uganda isn't as conservative as other African countries, and you can generally dress freely, it is frowned upon to show affection to the opposite sex in public.

Don't bring your drone

It is illegal to bring a drone into Uganda. Leave yours at home. Unless you want to leave it at Entebbe Airport in the room with confiscated drones.

Avoid wearing political party colors during election period

For the most part, tension in Uganda outside election campaigns are limited however avoid the wrong colors. Light blue for the opposition Forum for Democratic Change, and yellow for the National Resistance.

I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me

— Kwame Nkrumah

In 2019 Uganda was again named as one of the top countries to visit by National Geographic – this time in the “Cool List” National Geographic Traveller – UK. Uganda is an incredibly beautiful country and if you go in using common sense, you will have an unforgettable experience.