Uganda travel advice – tourist visas, tipping, credit cards and money, weather
Do I need a visa to enter Uganda?
You are required to purchase a tourist visa before you enter Uganda. Tourist visas can be bought in advance via the embassy or consulate in your country or simply purchased upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport or at any overland border. Photos are not required and a single entry tourist visa costs US$ 100 per person for up to 90 days stay in Uganda.
If you are planning to combine Uganda with a visit to Rwanda or Kenya it is recommendable to request for the East African Tourist Visa instead of a single entry visa. This special visa costs US$100 per person and allows a 90-days multiple entry to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. Regretfully, Tanzania is not (yet) a member of the East African community and therefore not part of this special visa arrangement.
Can I use my ATM card or credit card in Uganda?
Only a few banks accept ATM cards or Visa credit cards for money withdrawal in Uganda. While you can withdraw a limited amount of cash per day from ATM machines in Kampala, there are very few opportunities to withdraw cash once you are on safari in Uganda.
Payment by credit card in Uganda can attract additional charges of between 5–10%, occasionally more. Do check with lodges and restaurants in advance, if you plan to pay by credit card.
We therefore advise you to bring cash and have money changed upon arrival in Kampala. US dollars, British pounds and Euros are easy to change. However, for some expenses, like the payment of a tourist visa at the airport/border, it is easier to have dollars available. It is often possible to pay for tourist activities with US dollars.
Please note: US dollars bills issued before 1999 are NOT accepted in Uganda. Exchanging low denomination dollar bills (anything less than a USD100 bill) attracts a lower exchange rate.
Are travelers cheques accepted in Uganda?
Travelers cheques are no longer accepted in Uganda.
Is MasterCard accepted in Uganda?
Very few places in Uganda accept MasterCard. In addition to cash, we suggest you bring a Visa debit card.
What should I tip in Uganda?
How much to tip in Uganda depends entirely on your level of satisfaction of course, but even a small tip to show your gratitude will be highly appreciated. You might consider USD10 per day if you are happy with the service of your safari guide and 5-10% tip in upmarket hotels, Uganda lodges and restaurants.
What is the best time to travel in Uganda?
Officially, Uganda’s dry seasons are from December/January through to mid March and from June through to mid-September. These dry months are the most popular with tourists, with July and August and Christmas and New Year being the peak seasons.
Most rain falls in October-November and April-May. However, this doesn’t mean that it rains all day, nor does it mean it will rain every day. Usually there’s a tropical shower at night or a shorter shower during the day, but in Uganda you can trust that after rain comes sunshine!
The weather is no reason to avoid travelling in the wet season – you might even consider it because of the easy availability of gorilla permits.
As in the rest of the world, the East African climate is changing, making it more difficult for us to predict the weather during your safari. However, in Uganda the temperature is very stable and pleasant, with sunshine almost 365 days a year. During the day, the temperature averages between 23 and 27°C, although in some places it can be quite cool at night.
One remarkable aspect about Uganda safaris is: whether you travel in the dry, dusty months or in the wet season, you will never find the crowded tourism like in Kenya or Tanzania. If you spot a lion or leopard, it is very likely that you will be the only one to see it – even in peak season!
Uganda travel advice: health information for Travelers to Uganda
Are vaccinations required for my Uganda safari?
A number of different vaccinations are recommended and/or required before entering Uganda. A certificate proving you have had the Yellow Fever vaccination is mandatory for entry into Uganda. Immunizations against DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio) and Hepatitis A are recommended as well.
Besides bringing mosquito repellent, we also advise you to take malaria ‘prophylactics’ (prevention medication).
For the latest Uganda travel health advice, please check one of the travel health web sites or contact us at Great Lakes Safaris. We’re always happy to give free Uganda travel advice!
Will I get sick when I’m in Uganda?
You are unlikely to fall sick while you are in Uganda but do take all recommended preventive measures. If you take any regular medication, please bring it with you.
Take your Malaria medication as directed – before, during and possibly after – your visit to Uganda (depending on the Malaria prophylactic you take).
Although HIV/AIDS infection rates are lower than many countries in Africa, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS infection is certainly higher than in most Western countries. Tourists and visitors to Uganda sometimes engage in risky behaviour that they wouldn’t engage in back home. Play safe. Please take your sexual health seriously.
Uganda travel advice: safety information for travelers to Uganda
Is Uganda a safe country for tourists?
Uganda is a very safe country to visit.
Although Uganda has lived through a turbulent history, the country is safe, stable and welcoming. Ugandans’ hospitable nature is legendary! You will be warmly welcomed wherever you go by the country’s friendly residents.
The most popular National Parks are situated in the south (west) of Uganda and are safe to visit. The border area with Rwanda and DRC remains stable and all National Parks and wildlife reserves are well protected by the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s rangers. Tourism is hugely important for Uganda’s economy and a Tourism Police force has been created to protect visitors.
If you are unsure about the safety of travel to Uganda, please contact Great Lakes Safaris.
Your travel insurance company or foreign office may offer information about travel to Uganda. However, in our experience, these bodies all err on the side of caution and do not necessarily know what is happening on the ground in Uganda at the time. For example, May 2013, some still advise against travel to KidepoValleyNational Park in Northern Uganda, although it is now safe to travel there by road, or by air.
Your safety is our absolute priority and you can rest assured that we will always give you the best Uganda travel advice.
Is Kampala a safe city for tourists?
Kampala is one of the safest capital cities in (East) Africa – although, as anywhere, petty thieves may try and take advantage of people who leave phones and valuables unattended. Your driver guide will give you all the information you need to make sure your trip is safe and incident-free. Feel free to ask questions!
How safe is it for homosexuals to visit Uganda?
Despite some negative press, Uganda is a safe country for gay and lesbian travellers. However, Uganda is a conservative country and we would recommend discretion.
Uganda travel advice: how to book and pay for your Uganda Safari
Can I do the gorilla tracking in Uganda?
If you are interested in a mountain gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda you are required to buy a gorilla permit well in advance of your trip. As only eight people are allowed to visit each gorilla group per day, the demand is high. Great Lakes Safaris are happy to book your gorilla trekking permits and organise your gorilla safari.
To buy your gorilla permit, you will need to provide us with your full names, nationality, passport number, preferred date of trekking and gorilla permit fee. The minimum age for visiting the gorillas is 15 years. A certain level of fitness is required for the gorilla tracking, and you may not be allowed gorilla trekking if you fall sick.
Please click here for gorilla trekking safari information, gorilla trekking rules and tips.
How can I pay for my safari?
Once you have confirmed the final itinerary with us, you will be asked to pay a deposit of 30%. Gorilla permits must be paid for in full at the time of booking. Note that availability of accommodation and permits is not guaranteed until officially confirmed by Great Lake Safaris. Accommodation, permit and activity reservations will be made as soon as payment has been received on our account.
For your convenience, the balance payment of 70% should be settled before the start of your safari. We accept payment by VISA credit card (please include 5% service charge) and bank transfer in either dollars or Euros to our bank account in Uganda. Please note that all bank charges are at the expense of the client.
Click here for Great Lakes Safaris’ Terms and Conditions of booking.
What is the Safari accommodation like?
Uganda Safari accommodation falls into three categories: budget, mid-range or luxury.
Budget accommodation may be simple and basic rooms, bandas or tents, with double/twin beds and mosquito nets when necessary. Private bathrooms are not always available and you may have to share bathroom facilities.
3-star, 4-star and 5-star accommodation offer comfortable rooms or luxury furnished safari tents with a private bathroom. Flush toilets and hot and cold running water are available. Mosquito nets will be provided where necessary.
All Uganda lodges are carefully selected and frequently visited by Great Lakes Safaris’ staff, to monitor quality and service levels. The majority of safari lodges and hotels are small-scale, offering a unique location and ambiance, and usually have a maximum of eight rooms.
Great Lakes Safaris own Uganda lodges include Primate Lodge Kibale Forest, Budongo Eco-Lodge Murchison Falls National Park and Simba Safari Camp Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Has the Ugandan government implemented the planned increase in VAT on tourist lodges and hotels?
No. Although in June 2013, it was reported in the press that the Ugandan government planned to charge additional VAT on tourist accommodation, we are delighted to report that Great Lakes Safaris and other tourism colleagues lobbied the government to prevent this tax being implemented.
What vehicles does Great Lakes Safaris use for safaris?
Great Lakes Safaris provide open roofed 4WD (four wheel drive) safari vehicles for all our tours. Our comfortable Land Cruisers offer seats for four to six people. Vehicles all have a pop-up roof for game viewing. We also own several 4WD minibuses which can take a maximum of 8 people. To ensure that everybody has a window seat to enjoy the best views of Uganda, we usually limit the number of people to seven in these 4WD safari minibuses. Limiting the number of people per vehicle also means plenty of legroom and luggage storage.
The challenging condition of the roads means that safari vehicles are serviced by GLS company mechanics after every trip.
I am travelling on my own. Can I book my safari with Great Lakes Safaris?
Single travellers are very welcome! However, to minimise your costs we would suggest joining a group. Although we can try and arrange this for you, we cannot guarantee we can find a group whose interests, budget and preferred route correspond to yours, especially during low season.
If you would like to stay in a single room please notify us well in advance and we will try to meet your request. Please bear in mind that single rooms are not common and it is more likely that you will be offered single occupancy of a double room. A single room supplement will apply.
How many people are in your group safaris?
We offer tailor-made safaris for any number of participants. There is no minimum number for a group tour, although the bigger the group, the more attractive the price will be.
Our comfortable Land Cruisers offer seats for four to six people. We also own several 4WD minibuses which can take a maximum of 8 people. To ensure that everybody has a window seat, we usually limit the number of people to seven in the 4WD safari minibuses.
What is included in the price of my Uganda or East African safari?
Great Lakes Safari prices are inclusive of :
- ground transport in a comfortable four wheel drive (4WD) safari vehicle
- a visit to all places detailed in the programme
- the service of an experienced English speaking driver/safari guide
- National Park entrance fees
- activities as detailed in the itinerary (except for those that are marked optional)
- overnight in the named accommodations, based on sharing a twin or double room
- full board (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- 2 litres of bottled mineral water per person per day while travelling in the Great Lakes Safaris vehicle
- government taxes
- park ranger fees
What is excluded in the price of my Uganda or East African safari?
Great Lakes Safari prices do not include:
- international flights
- tourist visa (available at the airport)
- meals and snacks that are not mentioned in the itinerary
- beverages (other than the bottled mineral water provided in the safari vehicle)
- tips and gratuities for safari guides and/or park rangers
- gorilla trekking or chimp trekking permit
- optional activities that are mentioned in the program
- items of a personal nature (toiletries, camera batteries, souvenirs)
- travel insurance
- international payment transaction costs