Money and Methods of Payment
Currency: The National currency is Uganda shillings (UGX). Notes are in denominations of UGX50,000; UGX20,000; UGX10,000; UGX5,000; UGX2,000 and UGX1,000. Coins are in denominations of UGX1,000; UGX500; UGX200; UGX100 and UGX50. However the most used currency in tourism transactions is US Dollars (USD). Foreign currency may be exchanged at the Foreign Exchange Bureaus found at Entebbe International Airport on arrival or in Kampala city and all the other major towns in Uganda. It is always advisable to exchange money if need be in Entebbe or Kampala City.
Exchange Rate: At the time of publication: $1.00=UGX37,000; €1.00=UGX4,000 and £1.00=UGX4,700
Credit and Debit Cards: American express, Diners, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted, especially in National Parks, Hotels and other well established restaurants. However most purchases at shopping points may involve use of cash and especially in Uganda Shillings. Check with your credit or debit Card Company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.
Currency restrictions: The import and export of local currency is prohibited. There is free import of foreign currency if declared on arrival. Unspent Uganda shillings can be reconverted to foreign currency.
Banking Hours: Generally Banks open from Monday to Fridays, 08:30am to 04:00pm and Saturdays 09:00am to 01:00pm. However, some branches of Standard Chartered Bank may operate up to Sunday.
Import: The following Items may be imported into Uganda by visitors over 17 years without incurring customs duty (except from Kenya and Tanzania): 200 cigarettes or 225g of tobacco or a combination thereof; one bottle of spirits or wine; 568ml of perfume.
Export: a special permit is required to export game trophies and specimens
Regular Public Holidays:
January 1st New Year’s Day; January 16th Janani Luwum Day; January 26th Liberation Day; March 8th International Women’s Day; April Good Friday and Easter Monday; May 1st Labor Day; June 3rd Martyrs Day; June 9th National Heroes’ Day; October 9th Independence Day; December 25th Christmas Day; December 26th Boxing Day. Note: Muslim Festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon hence we are unable to give the exact dates or timings of these festivals.
Yellow Fever: Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required from travellers over 1 year of age arriving from infected areas. Travelers arriving from non-endemic zones should note that vaccination is highly recommended for everyone coming to Uganda even if an outbreak of the disease has not been reported.
Cholera and Typhoid: A cholera and Typhoid vaccination certificate is not a condition for entry into Uganda, however we recommend that our clients consult their doctors and if possible get vaccinated on precautionary basis.
Malaria: Try to have your hotel windows closed at night and sleep under mosquito net when throughout your stay in Uganda. All hospitals and health centers in Uganda have medication in case of Malaria fever.
Food and Drinks: Eat from recommended food outlets or restaurants and Hotels. Your food should be served hot and it is recommended that you only drink bottled water from recommended brands served at eating outlets, restaurants and hotels. Some well-established restaurants and hotels also serve boiled water, bottled water is highly recommended. We have a lot of delicious food served by roadsides; you must consult your tour guide before you get tempted to buy roadside food because of unhygienic environment of some roadside food points. Only eat well-cooked Vegetables, meat and fish preferably served hot.
Other health risks: Avoid swimming in Lake Victoria, Lake Kyoga and River Nile; there have been some cases of Bilharzia reported. But one can swim in well maintained Hotel swimming pools because the water is always treated and also swimming is recommended in Lake Bunyonyi the deepest lake in Uganda and the third deepest in the world after Lake Baikal and Lake Tanganyika. Sexually transmitted infections and diseases like HIV/AIDS are still prevalent in Uganda. If you must have sex use protection like Condoms which are available at all accommodation facilities in Uganda or both of you first go for medical check-up in a credible medical facility.
Health care: visitors should bring personal supplies of medicines that are likely to be needed because of personal health history. However one needs to enquire first from the Embassy or High Commission whether such supplies may be freely imported. Comprehensive health insurance is essential and should include cover for emergency air repatriation in case of serious accident or illness. Most health facilities in the capital city of Uganda are of international standards.
General Transport Information
Air transport: Currently the main International Airport is Entebbe International Airport. Entebbe is served by Many International Airlines like: Uganda Airlines; KLM the Royal Dutch Airline; Brussels Airways; Qatar Airways; Fly Emirates; Ethiopian Airways; Kenya Airways; Air Tanzania; South African Airways and Rwandair among others. We also have some scheduled domestic air transport services to our major towns closer to the National Park and also Charter flights can be arranged to the National Parks that have airfields like Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park or to a town closer to the National Park.
Water transport: Between Kampala and Mwanza in Tanzania or Kisumu in Kenya is possible to catch a boat, but this is unreliable and not recommended for tourists. However domestically most tourist destinations on the beautiful Islands of Lake Victoria can be accessed by boats and ferry services. Through Entebbe we have Nakiwogo Landing site and Bukakata Landing site in the South near Masaka Town, which are the reliable ports for catching water transport to Ssese Island.
Rail transport: Currently Uganda Railways Service operates only one commuter which train between the main City center and Namanve Industrial area. The other trains operated by Uganda Railways service are cargo trains that operate between Kenya and Uganda. However there are plans to reintroduce passenger trains to serve all major parts of the country in future.
Road transport: There road connections with all neighboring countries, however travelers should seek local advice before crossing the border to Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. There is Daily bus service between Kampala and Neighboring countries’ cities like: Nairobi, Arusha, Dar-es-Salam, Kigali and Juba. For Safari in Uganda it is highly recommended that you hire a private customized reliable safari car that can enable you do game drives with pop-up roof for proper game viewing. In Uganda traffic drives on the left and the roads are variable in quality as you traverse the country. We also still have some police & Army road checkpoints to ensure proper safety and security for travelers. The speed limit is 80km/h or 100km/h on highways, but it is always advisable that you stick to the speed limit of 80km/h for safety purpose. Always keep vehicle doors locked and fasten your seatbelts at all times when you are travelling in a vehicle.
Summary of top things to see and Do in Uganda
Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Kibale Forest National Park (Chimpanzees), Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Mountain Gorillas), Mgahinga National Park (Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys), Lake Mburo National Park, Mt. Elgon National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park (mountain climbing), Semiliki National Park, Pian Upe game reserve, Sipi Falls, Kampala Capital City tour, The Uganda Museum, Kasubi Tombs, Wamala Toms, Nagalabi Coronation site, Katereke Prison Ditch, Kibuli Mosque, Gadafi Mosque (National Mosque), Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, Bahai Temple, Idi Amin Torture Chambers, the Kings Palace (Lubiri), Buganda Parliament, Ssezibwa Falls, Mabira Forest, Source of the Nile, Tea and Sugar Plantations, Itanda Falls, white water rafting and kayaking, sport fishing on Lake Victoria and Murchison Falls National Park, Owen Falls Dam, Budjagali Falls and Dam, Kagulu Rock, Botanical Gardens, Uganda Wildlife and Education Center (UWEC Zoo), Samuka Island, Rwenzori Mountains for mountain climbing, Fort Patiko (Bakers Fort), Ssese Islands, Lak Bunyonyi (3rd deepest in the whole world, Nshenyi Cultural Center, Entanda Cultural Experience, the IK people, the Karimojong people, mt. Muhavura (mountain climbin), Budongo Forest (Chimpanzees), Murchison Falls (world’s strongest water falls), Hot air balloon in Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bungee jumping in Jinja on the River Nile, boat cruise on Lake Victoria, to Murchison Falls, Kazinga Channel and Lake Bunyonyi, Entertainment, shopping and dinning.
Food and Drink: Many restaurants and hotels in Uganda serve both local and international food and beverages; the cuisine has been influenced by cooking techniques from all over the world. However, our national specialties include: Matoke (staple made from green bananas); Kalo (Bantu speaking people)/Atap (Teso speaking people)/Kwon (Luo Speaking people) made from Millet flour and sometimes mixed with Cassava flour, served in all parts of Uganda; Cassava, a root tuber that is commonly made into flour; Sweet potatoes also served in all parts of Uganda; Chicken, Fish and Beef stews; The fresh fish is commonly got from Uganda’s fresh water bodies like Lake Victoria, Lake Kyoga, Lake George, Lake Edward and the Mighty River Nile. It is also common to find fresh cooked greens, beans and groundnut sauce in many restaurants and Hotels. Also famous is the ‘Rolex’ which is originally a mixture of fried eggs, tomatoes, onions, green pepper and cabbages rolled in pan fried dough commonly known as ‘chapatti’; however, sometimes it is modified to have meat, chicken or fish. As far as food production is concerned, in Uganda Bananas, millet, maize, sorghum, rice, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes are grown in abundance. Fresh Fruits are also plentiful like: water melon, passion fruits, pineapples, mangoes, tomatoes, avocado, lemon, oranges, and pawpaw among others. The popular National drink is ‘Uganda Waragi’, a gin popular among visitors as a cocktail base. Uganda also has two main distilleries that produce the largest percentage of beers consumed in Uganda: Uganda Breweries located in Kampala and Nile Breweries located at the source of the Mighty River Nile in Jinja Town. Fresh coffee and Tea is also readily available in all restaurants and hotels all over Uganda. Leading dinning places in Kampala City include: The Lawns, Cayenne Restaurant and Lounge, Kabira Country Club, Kampala Casino, Mango Grove Restaurant, Nyanja Restaurant, Paradise Terrace (Sheraton Kampala), Piato, Sam’s Restaurant, Shahi Darbar Restaurant, Soho Café and Grill, Spectrum at Labonita, The Bay, The Bistro, The Peal of Africa, The Space, Victoria (Sheraton) for breakfast only, Villa Kololo, Pyramids Casino and Restaurant, The Fez Brasserie and Wine Bar, 7 Hills Revolving Restaurant, Pardis Corner, Faze 2 and II Patio. African Cuisine in Kampala can be accessed at: 2k Restaurant, Baguma Restaurant, Spectrum Restaurant at Labonita, Shaka Zulu Foods, St. Anthony’s Restaurant and Kembabazi Catering Center. Other specialty Restaurants can also be found in Kampala like: Ethiopian Food (Ethiopian Village and Gojo Ethiopian Bar and Restaurant); Greek Food (Athina’s Taverns and Mythos Greek Taverna and Loungue); Indian Food (Handi, Kati Kati Restaurant, Khana Kha Zana, Khyber Pass-speke Hotel, Nyanja Restaurant, Oasis Club House-Munyonyo, Open Hous, Pavement Sizzles and Flames, Sizzler’s and More, The Asian Fusion, Top Tree-Fairway Hotel; Italian Food (Caffe Roma-Lubowa, il Patio, Mamba Point Restaurant, Mediterraneo Restaurant, Pizzeria Mammamia, The Explorer, Villa Kololo); Japanese Food (Kyoto Turkish Restaurant and Pizza Meter, Yujo Japanese Restaurant); Korean Food (Arirang Restaurant); Mexican Food (Romeo’s Restaurant), Thai Food (The Oriental Simply Thai-Metropole Hotel); and West African Food (Mama Ashanti Restaurant).
Shopping: Uganda is an ultimate destination for souvenir shopping. In Uganda, you can have a mix of old and new, African and Western, sophisticated and basic souvenirs that you can take back home with you. The common souvenir purchases done by most tourists in Uganda include: bangles, necklaces, bracelets, woodcarvings, basketry, tea, coffee, ceramics, handmade shoes, kitenge dresses, scarf, kikuyu bags, African Sandals, ear rings, cow horn saucers, candle stands, wooden mortars, wooden African masks, African stools and chairs, baskets and mats. The list is actually endless, hence one should always leave enough space on their baggage allowance to enable them take these souvenirs without having excess baggage to pay for. Most of these Items can be found in many tourist service points including hotels. In Kampala, handmade souvenirs are mostly bought from places like Exposure Africa in Buganda Road; Craft Africa also on Buganda Road; and Uganda Arts and Crafts Village next to The National Theatre. Popular shopping Centers in the City are: Garden City complex, Quality Supermarket, Capital Shoppers, Shoprite Lugogo, Forest Mall, Village Mall, Acacia Mall and Standard Supermarket. Shopping hours: daily from 08:00am to 05:00pm Monday to Saturday, though some few places may be open up to Sunday.
Night Life and Performances: Nightlife is more interesting in Kampala than any other part of the country. Unlike other towns, Kampala never closes the eyes; it stays awake, wide eyed and ready to party. From Monday to Sunday there is point in every party of Kampala that keeps happy people on their toes. This has also been revealed by some recent studies that found out that actually most people from Kenya, Sudan, and Rwanda choose to spend their weekends in Kampala because of the enormous entertainment and leisure opportunities in Kampala City. The safety and Security in Kampala is one of the most important factors attracting many people to spend their leisure time in Kampala. Kampala is also graced by countless Bars, Restaurants, night clubs, comedy venues, cultural centers for cultural entertainment and very many music concerts. Few cities across African Continent can rival the nightlife of Kampala. Popular Bars and Night Clubs in Kampala City include: Bamboo Nest Bar and Restaurant, Bubbles O’Leary (Irish Pub), Capital Pub, Casablanca Pub and Restaurant, Cayenne Restaurant and Lounge, Equator Bar and Lounge, Faze 2, Lotus Mexicana, Mammamia Restaurant, Obama’s Kabalagala, Olive Garden, Palm Café’ Pizzeria and Bar, Piato, Punchline Bar and Night Club, Rock Garden, The Mist Bar, The Park Square, The Terrace Bar (The Barn Steakhous) The wine Bar, Big Mike’s, Fame Loungue, Club Ambiance, Club Amnesia, Guvnor Club, Insomia, Illusion, Kampala Casino, Kings Casino, Casino Simba, Mayfair Casino, Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino, Ceasars Palace Casino and Empire Casino.
Tipping: Although always appreciated, it is not standard practice. It is normal to tip USD5 to USD10 at tourist service points per day and this may also apply to tourist guides and drivers per day of service. But it is not a must do, it should be in appreciation of good service offered according to the tourists measure of good service.
A suit and neck tie is best worn by men for business meetings. English is used for all business discussions. Appointments should always be made. Office hours: Monday to Friday 08:00am-12:30pm/01:00pm and 02:00pm-04:30pm/05:00pm.