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Uganda

Country info

Uganda is a landlocked country, bordering Sudan in the North, Rep. of Congo in the west, Rwanda and Tanzania in the South, and Kenya in the East. Lying astride the equator between latitudes 4deg.0' North and 1deg.30' South of the equator, and longitudes 30deg.0' East and 35deg.0' East of Greenwich, covering an area of 242,554 km2.
Topographically much of Uganda can be classified as a plateau, with numerous small hills and valleys and extensive savannah plains. The entire country lies above 900m above sea level generally sloping from South to North.
The country lies in a cradle of Mountains on its East Border with Kenya, Mount Elgon, and Mount. Moroto in the North East, and the South-Western Rwenzori Ranges rising to altitudes over 5000m.Uganda is a well watered country with close to 17% or 51,000 sq.km. of its area dedicated to swamp or open water. Much of the country lies in the 'Interlacustrine Region' (Between the lakes) of Africa.
This region receives abundant rainfall, and is rich in tillable land, a major determining factor in settlement of the area. The vegetation in Uganda is extremely diverse a result of the different micro-climates of the country. Vegetation zones can be roughly classified according to the rainfall zones and are generally; Lake region, Northern Region, and the Highlands of the South-East. These are defined according to the climate of the particular areas.

Travel info

Climate
The climate of Uganda cannot be categorised into any single climatic zone, although it has been generally categorised as a 'Modified Tropical' climate. Its central location on the East African Plateau is a major determining factor in the local climate. In reality Uganda has three sub-climatic zones differentiated mainly by altitude and rainfall.
Uganda's equatorial climate is tempered by cooling breezes from the mountains. In general terms the lowland area and lake shores enjoy a warm climate, while it is cooler in the highlands. The rains are mainly between March to May and October to November.
Most of the country is a plateau more than 1,000 metres above sea level bounded on the east and west by mountain ranges more than 3,000 metres high. But nearly a fifth is swamps and open water, including the lakes Victoria, George and Albert and the River Nile. The south is thickly forested while the north is largely savannah with some semi-desert areas in the north-east.

Clothing
Uganda has mild winters and the summer days can get quite hot. Lightweight casual clothes can be worn all year round, with a jacket or jersey for early winter mornings and evenings. On safari keep clothes to a minimum and mostly of neutral colouring - khakis, browns and greens. A sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellant are a must.

Gorilla Info
From January 1,1999 there will be no more gorilla standby permits at the parks. All gorilla permits will be booked in advance.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The permits for Habinyanja/lbaare group that has been on standby will be open for advance booking on December 15,1998 at 9.00 am for the permits of January, February and March 1999. The sale will be at the booking office at the Uganda Wildlife Authority Headquarters Kampala. Priority will be given to members of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), and second priority to individuals.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The standby permits for January and February 1999 will be open for sale on January 1,1999 at the Park Offices in Kisoro. Thereafter, all the six permits per day will be sold in advance from the Park Office in Kisoro.
Please, check with the UWA Headquarter Offices in Kampala before you travel to the two parks for gorilla tracking.
For more information contact:
Uganda Wildlife Authority
Plot 3 Kintu Road
P.O. Box 3530
Tel: 256 41 346287/346288
Fax: 256 41 346527
Kampala - Uganda
Email: uwa-vsd@infocom.co.uq

Visa
Apart from the following exempted countries: COMESA COUNTRIES ANGOLA, COMOROS, ERITREA, KENYA, MALAWI, MAURITIUS, MADAGASCAR, RWANDA, SYCHELLES, SWAZILAND, TANZANIA, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE

OTHERS
ANTIGUA, VANUATU, CYPRUS, TONGA, ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES, SOLOMON ISLANDS, SOLOMON ISLANDS, SINGAPORE, SIERRA LEONE, MALTA, LESOTHO, JAMAICA, GRENADA, GAMBIA, FIJI, BELIZE, BARBADOS, BAHAMAS, ITALY (Only Diplomatic passports)

The rest are required to obtain visas from Uganda's Diplomatic and Consular Missions abroad. Visas can also be obtained on arrival at Entebbe Airport or any other entry point (See official communication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) as long as one satisfies the entry requirements. You are however advised to ensure that you get your visas before you embark on the trip to Uganda to avoid unnecessary paper work at point of entry.
The following visa fees are charged:
Single entry US$30
Transit visa US$15
Multiple entry (6 months) US$80
Multiple entry (1 year) US$160
Student visa US$20
For more details check with the nearest Uganda representative or write to
The Immigration Department,
P. O. Box 7166 Kampala - Uganda.

OR

Uganda Tourist Board
Tele: 256 41 342196/7
Fax: 256 41 342188
E-mail: utb@starcom.co.ug

Car hire
There are many car hire companies offering a small range of vehicles. Some offer a flat weekly rate, but most charge a daily rate plus mileage, insurance and petrol. Most cars come with a chauffeur but arrangement for self-drive cars are picking up especially with destination management companies.

Health
Visitors from or passing through a yellow fever and cholera zone (most of tropical Africa and South America) must be able to produce a valid International Certificate of Vaccination. Air travellers who only pass through the airports of such a zone are exempt from the requirement.
It is also advised that all travellers be vaccinated against Meningitis Typhoid and Hepatitis. As Uganda is in a malaria zone, visitors should also take prophylactics against malaria although the best way to avoid catching malaria is to avoid bites by using mosquito repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net. It is advisable to drink only boiled or bottled water and avoid swimming in ponds and still water pools.
It is strongly advised that visitors to Uganda take full health insurance. Availability of health care is restricted to the major towns. Where it is available services are in high demand and can be expensive.
Bring any special medication you may need. For your own comfort take a mosquito repellent. Bilharzias is present in some of our lakes, and swimming is not recommended except in designated areas. In hotels and lodges there will be flasks of drinking water.

Currency
The unit of currency in Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling (Ush). There are coins in the following denominations: 50, 100, 200, 500 in circulation concurrently in with notes of similar denominations. Eventually, notes of 50 to 500 will be phased out and replaced by coins. There are bank notes in denominations of 1000, 5000 and 10000. -- see exchange rates for more.
There are no restrictions on importation or exportation of currency into or out of Uganda although any monies over US$5000 have to be declared to customs officials. Licensed Forex Bureaus can be found in all major urban areas and are abundant in Kampala. They will gladly exchange British Pounds Sterling, US Dollars, German Marks, Swiss Franks, French Francs and Kenya Shillings. It is safest to carry British Pounds Sterling, German Marks or US Dollars. When changing travellers cheques a valid passport is required. Some agencies may ask for your Sales Advice Slip. It is also important to note that small denomination bills of US$1, 5, 10, and 20 are changed at a substantially reduced rate, as are torn and soiled notes. This can be as much as a 5% difference.

Commercial Banks
Kampala is well serviced with banks. The two largest banks in the country are the Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) and The Co-operative Bank which have an extensive branch network throughout the country. Other larger indigenous banks are Nile Bank, and Orient Bank. International Banks include Stanbic, Allied Bank, Barclays, Standard Chartered, and Tropical Africa Bank. -- see banks for more.
Banking hours are generally 09:00 to 15:00 Monday to Friday and 09:00 to 12:00 Saturdays. Some banks open later. Forex bureaus are normally open till 17:00 and are able to do electronic transfers to and from Overseas. The Uganda Commercial Bank also has a branch at the Entebbe International Airport to serve incoming and outgoing passengers.

Language
There are over 56 dialects spoken in Uganda which is a reflection of Uganda's multi-tribal society. English is the official language and most Ugandan's are able to communicate fluently in English. All media and business is in English and most Ugandans speak it fairly well. Swahili is the next most commonly understood language, followed by Luganda.

Accessoires
sun block, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent - essentials!
binoculars and a camera are a must
track suit - good for sleeping in during winter months
light, compact raincoat is a good idea for the summer
swimsuit and snorkelling and diving gear
towel, torch and sleeping bag for camping safaris (sleeping bags can be hired from most safari operators)
                                                       copyright: Paul Janssen