Uganda is Africa condensed, with the best of everything the continent has to offer packed into one small but stunning destination. Uganda is home to the highest mountain range in Africa, the Mountains of the Moon in the Rwenzori National Park. It is the source of the mighty Nile, and around Jinja offers the best white-water rafting in the world. It has the highest concentration of primates on earth, including the majestic mountain gorilla, one of the rarest animals on the planet. Head to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for a chance to get close to these great apes.
On top of all this, the scenery is so striking that it looks like an oil painting, the beautiful national parks see far fewer visitors than in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, and the capital, Kampala, is safer and friendlier than most in Africa. In 1907 pioneering tourist Winston Churchill called it the ‘Pearl of Africa’. He was right.
Mention Uganda to most people today and the first thing they’ll think of is the brutality of Idi Amin. Their naivety is their loss as, thankfully for Uganda, the big man died in exile in 2003. The reality is vastly different. Stability has returned to most parts of the country and tourists are welcomed with open arms. Despite the trials and tribulations of the past, Ugandans have weathered the storm remarkably well. The people offer heart-warming hospitality up and down the country, their ever-present smile accompanied by ‘Hello Mzungu!’. They are truly some of the finest folk on the continent.
Take the plunge now, before the world wakes up to this magical microcosm of Africa
Uganda enjoys one of the best climates in the world. It is sunny and green all year around with two distinct rainy seasons stretching from March to May and September to November. However, rain can occur anytime. The temperature average 27C with the highest being 31C in the Karamoja and Kasese regions and lowest being 15C in kabale.
Things to see and do
Lake Mburo National Park
This national park (260 sq km) is the zebra capital of Uganda. Midway between Masaka and Mbarara, the terrain is savannah with scattered acacia trees. There are five lakes, including Mburo, and some of the rarer mammals in Uganda, such as impalas, elands, reedbucks, klipspringers and topis. Lake Mburo is one of the few national parks in which visitors are allowed to walk, accompanied by a ranger.
There are three entrances to the national park from the main Masaka–Mbarara road, but for hitching into the park or chartering a vehicle, it’s best to use the route from Sanga. A 4WD is recommended, but a trip around the park is possible in a 2WD car during the dry season.
Kibale Forest National Park
The chimpanzees are the stars at Kibale. There are hundreds and hundreds here, plus great hordes of monkeys, giving this small national park (admission 1/2/3 or more days US$20/30/50) one of the highest primate population densities in the world. It’s not as strenuous as tracking the gorillas, but you don’t get as up close and personal either. The chimps tend to keep a safe distance in the tall trees, chomping on fruit and defecating at will, but it’s still a fascinating experience for the uninitiated. An excitable chimp makes mountain gorillas look decidedly shy.
From the park headquarters at Kanyanchu, guided walks in search of the chimps (3km to 5km, two to four hours) can be arranged along well-marked tracks. The walks start at 8am (the better time) and 3pm and cost a hefty $70 per person, plus park fees, making Murchison Falls National Park the better value place to track chimps these days.
Mountain Gorilla tracking exploration is a must do for every visitor to East Africa. At the centre of the African continent, Uganda is endowed with beautiful vegetation and scenery that spoils any visitor with choice.Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees being our great cousins, finding them interacting in their natural environment is amazing and awesome that will surely leave you with a life time memorable experience.
White River Rafting
Top quality safety gear and highly experienced guides run the biggest rapids possible. Total rafting is for 25 km of river including some of the best rapids in the world. You don’t have to do all the side runs, unless you want to. The river is graded 4+ to 5 and provides one of the best day rafting trips on planet Earth! Huge standing waves leap from the clear blue skies and rock walls vibrate from the power of the thundering rapids. Be among the first to experience the breathtaking thrill and excitement of the Nile water rafting from this point of Bujagali falls.
Money & Costs
The Ugandan shilling (USh) is a relatively stable currency. Cash can be changed easily at major banks and foreign exchange (forex) bureaus. The best banks are Standard Chartered and Barclays Banks. The forex bureaus offer slightly better exchange rates than the banks. At both banks and forex bureaus, small US dollar bills attract a much lower exchange rate than do US$50 and US$100 notes, and the rate for traveller’s cheques is about 2% lower than they are for cash. Exchange rates in Kampala are up to 15% better than is the case elsewhere in the country, so stock up on shillings in the capital.
Standard Chartered Bank has a network of ATMs that accept international credit cards, located at branches in Kampala, as well as in J,inja Mbale and Mbarara.
For credit-card cash advances, the only realistic option is Barclays Bank in Kampala, which offers advances in US dollars or Uganda shillings. Some hotels and big expenses such as white-water rafting can go on the card.
Bargaining is necessary in informal transactions such as those at markets and roadside stalls, but not in shops that display fixed prices.
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.
A passport valid for three months beyond the date of entry, visa and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required. Visas are available at Entebbe Airport or may be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Uganda. Airline companies may also require travelers have a visa before boarding. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Uganda