Uganda Travel Guide
Area: 236,040 sq km (91,135sq miles).
Population: 42.86 million (2017)
Government: Presidential system, Republic, Democracy. Gained independence from the UK in 1962
Head of state: President Y.K.Museveni since 1986.
Head of government: President Y.K.Museveni since 1986.
Electricity: 240 volts AC, 50Hz. plugs are UK-type square three-pin.
Official Language: English and Kiswahili
Lions and leopards are just part of the landscape in Uganda—one of Africa’s favorite safari destinations. More than 20 national parks and game reserves are scattered all over Uganda, covering every imaginable landscape and featuring just about every animal in Africa: from Elephants to Rhino beetles.
As you might expect, wildlife safaris are the lifeblood of Uganda’s tourism, and the infrastructure for travelers is impressive. Land cruisers, buses, and light aircraft fan out daily across the country to safari lodges and tented camps, some simple and rustic, others lavish and opulent. Refreshingly, you can enjoy close encounters with nature even on a budget, with walking safaris run by tribal guides and economic tented camps that scrimp on creature comforts, but not on creatures.
Most people start the journey in Kampala, but few linger when there are more attractive cities strung out along the sun-kissed Lake Victoria shores and dotted around the Ssese islands. Whether you pick the interior or at the beach, with its beach resorts, you can be sure to find a national park, Zoo or reserve close at hand – Entebbe even has a zoo within the city limits, with antelopes, snakes, birds, big five and giraffes just a stone’s throw from the suburbs.
Uganda is also a great place for cultural encounters, with more than 40 different tribal groups, each following its own unique way of life. The semi-nomadic Kalimajong is perhaps the most obvious group, but visiting any tribal village is a fascinating experience. On appearances, Uganda would seem like the perfect holiday destination, but tourism has had its ups and downs in recent years, with political upheaval during elections and a string of high-profile LRA rebel group attacks in northern Uganda and along with southwestern Uganda.
These set-backs made a noticeable dent in Uganda’s tourist industry in early 2000’s, yet travelers still flock to the teeming plains of Queen Elizabeth National park and trek the slopes of Mount Rwenzori, Elgon and Muhabura and the biggest decision for most is not whether to go to Uganda, but instead, which wild animal to search for first. Uganda was granted independence in 1962, and Mutesa I took over power who was later succeeded by Milton Obote.
Uganda is a home to almost half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world, found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest located in southwestern Uganda. Mountain gorilla safaris attract over 70% of the visitors to Uganda. The activity takes place in 4 sectors namely;
- Buhoma sector
- Ruhijha Sector
- Nkuringo sector
- Rushaga sector
There are over 15 habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi National Park and these include Mubale, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Kyaguriro, Oruzogo, Bitukura, Kahunje, Businje, Nkuringo, Nshongi, Christmas, Bikingi, Bushaho and Mishaya among others.
Each gorilla group is visited by a maximum of 8 persons per day! This means, the number of gorilla permits available per day is limited, and you must book early enough because the demand for gorilla permits is very high throughout the year!
Each gorilla permit currently costs US$700 for foreign non – residents (2019), and can be booked through tour operators in Uganda.
Access to Bwindi Gorilla Park
The park is accessible in a strong 4×4 Safari vehicle such as Land Cruiser, Land Rover and Nissan Patrol among others. The roads are in bad state and almost impassable without 4×4 during wet seasons. For travelers on self drive in Uganda, a 4×4 is a must because you won’t make it through unless you have prior experience of driving on slippery roads of Africa.
About 81% of Uganda’s population is Christian (mostly Catholic and Protestant) and the majority of people living Eastern and Central districts are Muslim. A small number follows traditional religions and there are some Batwa in western Uganda and IK in northern Uganda.
- Social conventions
Western European habits prevail throughout much of Uganda as a result of British influences in the country. Ugandans are generally very friendly. The standard greeting of ‘hello’ when addressing an individual is “Gyebale”, to which the reply is also “Kale”. People are delighted if visitors can greet them in Luganda, Runyankole or in any other local language which differs according to the region. Dress code is informal and casual lightweight clothes are accepted for all but the smartest social occasions. Away from the beach, women and men should dress respectably and cover up bare arms and legs. Alcohol is available in most areas in Uganda.
- Language in Uganda
Uganda has no specific national language, however, English and Kiswahili are the official languages. Luganda is widely spoken in the capital city of Uganda-Kampala and Runyankole in western Uganda. There are over 30 ethnic languages spoken, including Luganda, Rutooro, Lusoga, Rukiga, Runyonyo and Lugisu among others.
Tourism in Uganda
Mgahinga National Park
This is Located in southwestern Uganda, home to some of the world’s last remaining population of the mountain gorillas. Here we find one gorilla group called Nyakagezi. However, this gorilla group is not yet stable as it some times crosses the border to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is because gorillas move freely in their natural habitat and cross international borders without visas. Here you not only do gorilla trekking but also golden monkey tracking, bird watching, mountain hiking (Mt. Gahinga, Muhabura and Sabyinyo), and Batwa trail among others. Click here for more.
Ngamba Chimpanzee Island in Uganda
Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary was established in 1999 and is the first and only chimpanzee sanctuary in Uganda. This Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary brings the world of chimpanzees closer to humanity through education end eco-tourism in Uganda. The chimpanzee is considered to be the closest relative to humans and is “endangered’ under a strict application of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Criteria. Click for more