Whether you be a seasoned traveller or undertaking your first trip abroad its always sensible to be prepared for your journey and review your personal safety arrangements, probably just as you would if undertaking a trip in your home country. Whilst this list is not exhaustive, here we present some basic travel advice to help make sure your travel to Uganda runs smoothly and to plan!
Plan your flight many months in advance to get the best value as flight tickets shoot up in price around peak periods. Also don't assume charity flights will be cheaper; they may offer you more luggage and flexible dates but can cost £100s more than other airlines.
Ensure you have proper insurance to cover medical expense (including sufficient cover to repatriate you if required) and also cover missed flights due to breakdown of transport links to the airport both on outward and inwards journeys.
Most nationals are now required to purchase a visa online before entering Uganda. You can apply for a visa here: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/. At time of writing the entry visa fee is $50 and this is paid on arrival when you present your visa. The visa process will only be confirmed on arrival at the border.
Prepare to spend more money than you have budgeted for! You are sure to make friends whilst in Western Uganda and, because there is so much to see and do you are likely to be invited on trips you had not planned. None are expensive but the cost can add up!
Remember to pack sun cream and some deet to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes. Whilst your room will probably have mosquito nets, its also a good idea to take a plug in repellent or, even better, a battery operated one, as often the power is down as well as spray for use during the day. This will offer you greater protection. Also remember to get your mosquito tablets before you leave and take as prescribed.
Packing a lightweight rainproof kagoule or similar to carry around with you is always a good idea because although Uganda is generally hot, when it rains we're not talking drizzle but a torrential downpour and it comes from seemingly no where. One moment blazing sun, the next the wind picks up, all goes quiet then the local look up and state "the rain is coming." Don't get caught short especially when out walking in the mountains.
There are mixed views on eating locally prepared roadside foods. In Kampala recently there has been a typhoid outbreak after pots, pans and food was found to be washed in water contaminated with urine and faeces. Our general advice is not to purchase and consume foods from the roadside or any food outlets where hygiene standards appear lacking.
Whilst boiled water is normally safe we recommend buying bottled water to drink ~ its only around 25-30p a litre and will help prevent any stomach upsets.
Calling abroad from a mobile/cell phone can be expensive so invest in a local SIM card which can easily be picked up for less than a pound, but take your passport with you when buying as all SIMs have to be registered in Uganda. The process takes around ten minutes.
Check out our Uganda culture section here and remember that whilst on the surface there appear to be many similarities, Ugandans, particularly those in rural areas, have established ideas and ways of doing things which are not always a comfortable fit with outsiders (particularly the role of women in the family and wider society) ~ so remember, you are the outsider and just as you may not welcome a visitor to your country who is staying for a few weeks trying to overturn your culture's established ways the same applies to Uganda. Its okay to explain differences, just try not to lecture or become a cultural missionary!
One other point on culture, rural Uganda in particular is very conservative and inappropriate (short cut skirts, shorts etc) can cause upset and distress particularly to the older generation. If you want to make statement about "western values" then please consider visiting a country where those values are accepted instead! Seriously.
Also, "whites" (Muzungos) are still a rarity in this part of the world and probably everything you do will be repeated throughout the village and wider community where you will be staying so please bear that in mind when drinking and displaying excessive behaviour.
Generally the children are very friendly, although unfortunately because of well meaning outsiders (normally volunteers who feel the need to give freely), some have started begging and will demand shoes and money and other gifts because others have received them from volunteers in the past or maybe from the group you are currently staying with. Please don't give!
One thing to be mindful of when visiting Western Uganda is travel. Buses only depart when full, even if you have to wait for hours; fourteen seater minibuses (the local method of travel) can be crammed with up to twenty or more people and a family car sized taxi can have four people sitting in the front and six or seven in the rear. Your best bet is to arrange a "special" taxi giving you exclusive travel ~ but negotiate hard on price. Because you are a muzungo you will be considered rich!
For the latest travel advice isued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office check out our home page.
Find out about local culture and issues to be aware of before you visit communities in Uganda.
Check out all the latest news and current events in Uganda with our daily updated Uganda news feed.
Find out all about Uganda from independence to the present day in our detailed Uganda profile pages.
Find out all about the volunteering opportunities in Western Uganda and make a real difference.
As yet largely uncommercialised, Western Uganda has many tourist attractions for the explorer to visit.
As well as the main tourist attractions there are many other activities to enjoy in Western Uganda.
A guide to the main towns in Western Uganda, where to stay, eat and things to see and do.