Travel Tips

General Tips

The question in the mind of those considering coming to the Pearl of Africa on a Safari, Am I safe visiting Uganda as a Tourist? The answer is a resounding yes.  Uganda has implemented both in cities, towns and its national Park an unprecedented level of Security for visitors and Ugandans alike.

The Pearl of Africa, it is an incredibly beautiful country, the most bio-diverse, the premier primate destination on the continent and source of the River Nile. The country boasts of countless Tourism accolades, and though located on the Equator, it has Holiday like weather all year long. Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa whose diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and the immense Lake Victoria. Its abundant tourist attractions include the enormous species of wildlife such as the chimpanzees as well as rare birds, with the remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park renowned for being a sanctuary for mountain gorillas. This is not to forget Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest known for its 43m-tall waterfall and wildlife such as hippos.

Whatever your reason of visiting Uganda is, you will find it safe, secure, stable and most of all welcoming and friendly. Travel to anywhere can be stressful especially where a traveler is ill-informed as to what to expect at his destination. Uganda is a different experience, and Kent Tour Safaris will therefore endeavor to provide you all the information needed to enable you prepare and be in the know before you embark on a journey to our beautiful country.

For anyone intending to travel to Uganda, the following information will be highly essential in helping to prepare for the this safari;

Getting to Uganda by Air

If you are coming to Uganda on Safari the traditional Way is to fly into Entebbe International Airport and start exploring the country from there. However, other travelers whose main interest is to track Mountain Gorillas have also used the unofficial Gateway to Southwest Uganda – Kigali International Airport. From there it is 3 hours to Mgahinga Gorilla Park and 4 1/2 hours to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Packing for your Trip to Uganda

If you are coming for a Safari – you will need to pack differently than if you are coming as a volunteer or business visitor. However, every visitor while visiting Uganda should make plans to spend a few days in the African Wild even on a mini-safari. How much you can pack is determined by which region of the world you are flying from since different regions have different allowances for suitcases.

Common Sense- Don’t Leave Home without it

Africa is different from any part of the world, quite different from anywhere else in the world and it takes the practical common sense to get the most out your time in Africa. Often, the African ways may frustrate a Westerner.  Things like lack of customer service (something that is rapidly improving), the indifference of wait-staff and hotel management at times can drive a Westerner crazy.

Just before you lose your patience with a Ugandan who is not getting what you want or before losing your sense of humor, take a deep breath and realize that in many ways we may do things differently, but we may have similar dreams of tomorrow.

Uganda Tourist Visa

The most convenient way for Tourists to obtain visas for Uganda is on arrival at the airport in Entebbe, if you are flying.  By land, you can obtain the Uganda Visa at any point of entry into the country. You can apply for the Uganda Tourism Visa online if you want everything settled prior to arrival. This process in our opinion, however, is cumbersome compared to the visa on arrival, owing to the numerous formalities such as photos, uploads of itineraries, plus a Credit Card fee that must be taken care of in the process of applying. (For more information about Traveling to Uganda, please refer to our online portal “Visas and Passes”)

Communication in Uganda

Ugandans might find that question amusing since the World Linguistic Society declared Uganda as the best English Speaking country in Africa. There are over 40 languages and various dialects spoken in Uganda but English and Kiswahili are the official languages. In recent years however, the use of Swahili has increased due to it being taught in Schools and, anyone wishing to do business in East Africa, he/she must know Swahili.  Luganda is the language most often used in Kampala and the Central area of Uganda.

Money and other modes of exchange

Uganda is a cash-based society where the US dollar reigns as the international currency of choice. The use of credit cards is limited because Traveller Cheques are not accepted everywhere because of belief that exchanging them into cash is a cumbersome process.

 

Credit Cards can be used but normally there is a 5% fee when you use a credit card. However, most ATM machines found in major towns accept Visa ATM Cards; Master Card can be used at limited banks. ATM machines in the country however do not accept American Express Cards.

What will I eat on a Safari in Uganda?

“What will I eat on a Safari in Uganda?” The answer is simple. It depends on what kind of lodge that you are staying in.  If you are in an upmarket, luxury, exclusive Lodge then you will be served meals that exceed the quality of the best restaurants in and around Kampala. When we pick lodges for you, the Quality of the Meals served is a top Consideration for us. Whether the Chef is flexible and meets the needs of a Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, low-Sugar Diet is accorded utmost consideration. Most Luxury Lodges have their own gardens where they grow organic fruits and vegetables or will use some local gardeners to raise vegetables to their specifications.

 

A Taste of Uganda is what is always on the Menu, often as a delightful fusion meal. Luxury Lodges will have experienced Chefs that will present their culinary delights that you will not soon forget, and if you have special requests for that certain taste of Uganda Dish they will most likely prepare for you aside from what is on the Menu for that day. Meals at upmarket, luxury Lodges will often will be creative an innovative taking what is available in Uganda and creating meals beyond your expectation. Though you come on a Safari in Uganda to see the Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Wildlife, we know that Safari life is much better if you get “a Taste of Uganda” while in the Perl of Africa. Safari Meals are part of your African Safari adventure, with well prepared meals that offer you a “bite of Uganda,” beyond the usual Safari Fare.  If this is something that appeals to you, be sure to let us know and we will make sure that you on Safari with us get a Taste of some of best in the Pearl of Africa.

What will I eat on a Safari in Uganda staying at Mid-Range Moderately Priced Lodges?

You will not go hungry on Safari in the Pearl of Africa, Uganda. Freshly prepared food will be served at meal times giving you a Taste of Uganda.

 

The meal that may at times lack some creative content will be breakfast at mid-range lodges. However, you may take the initiative and order a Rolex (chapatis) for breakfast, so as to have a delightful change. Chefs at mid-range lodges may not have the training and background of Luxury Lodge Chefs however, we rarely get complaints. Mid-Range lodges are synonymous with Sumptuous Meals on Safari. Not all things listed will be available at a lodge, but we will make arrangements at your Request.

Tropical Fruit Delights:

Uganda is the Tropical Fruit Basket of Africa.  Ugandans consume more Bananas than anyone else in the world.  There are 50 plus varieties grown here from the small dessert Bananas to Gonja – which you roast and eat as a snack. A perfect Banana for stir-fried dishes and one cannot forget is Matooke, the daily bread of Ugandans eaten mostly mashed.

 

Pineapple, Papaya, fresh Jackfruit, Oranges, Tangerines, Lemons, Watermelon, Guava, Star fruit, and Avocados are some of the fruit varieties that will spice up your safari, and when it comes to fruit on your Safari to the Pearl of Africa, you will always have more than you imagined

Eating out in Kampala Restaurants

Kampala, the other city that never sleeps is well known for its vibrant nightlife, its restaurants, bars and eating places. You may however have to avoid food that is not hot, avoid buffets where candles are used for warming, and avoid fruit salads, green salads, ice cubes and juices where water is not boiled or bottled. Also, avoid Street Vendors, especially so because often times, cholera rears its ugly head and lack of hygiene is often the culprit.

Culture

Knowing Ugandan Culture, a bit of background and history, the concept of family, time, relationships, language, and traditions would help smoothen your time in Africa. Cultural Sensitivity is the keyword when relating with Ugandans and that includes officials plus those in business, and it begins by sharpening your listening skills and listen more than you speak.

 

Ugandans are considered some of the friendliest people in all of Africa – their gracious and courteous ways are some of the nicest you will find anywhere, yet culturally we may have very different values and the best way to find those differences and to see what we have in common is done by meeting Ugandans, asking questions and listening. As a visitor to Uganda, not knowing the Ugandan culture – you probably will make some cultural mistakes- not even knowing that you have made such since the gracious Ugandan will never tell you about that mistake you have made.

 

When it comes to culture, there are many things that we might take for granted in the West, but are simply not accepted and tolerated in Uganda. Africa is quite conservative, often the values and principles are based on faith and those values and principles are held as almost sacred. There are customs here that are also quite different such as polygamy which is still quite common though it may not be called that, but terms such as other wife may be used.

 

Conversations with Ugandans will enable you to find out the mindset, the values and the principles that rule the lives of Ugandans and at the same time they would love to hear yours. However, one thing, Ugandans and most Africans hate is to be lectured by “Bwana knows best from the West.” Listening is one of the most important aspects of conversation in Uganda.

The African Concept of Time:

In Africa, the Trains do not run on time. Time is seen in terms of relationships, not in terms of tasks, but in terms of being with family and friends. If you are on Safari everything will go according to the itinerary with most companies. Do not get up tight, be flexible, read a book if things do not work out according to your time schedule– some say “we are on Africa Time.” Always remember that the African Concept of time is based on relationships, at least most of the time. The Mistake that Ugandans make is not realizing that Westerners consider punctuality a virtue.

Emotions – such as Anger:

Things do not always go your way or according to your expectations – the last thing you want to do here is explode (a huge cultural mistake), grin and bear it (keep quiet) that is the Ugandan way. Confrontation with a Ugandan will often lead nowhere except distance as they will always resort to “I don’t know” as response to your request. In this culture, to admit a mistake is a rarity and you cannot extract anything but a deep dislike for you. Keep in mind the relationships rather than you simply venting your feelings. Do not vent your emotions even when irritated in a restaurant, but quietly share your feelings. Emotional outbursts such as anger are considered “Bad Manners’ and people will avoid you.

Meeting and Greeting People in Uganda

In Uganda, it is always best to shake hands when meeting, even strangers will do you, and then there is the more intricate handshake with added touches that you will quickly learn when coming to Uganda. Both men and women shake hands. When it comes to hands one cultural difference here is that friendship between men and men and women and women are often expressed by lightly holding hands. Another cultural difference is that children may kneel upon your arrival in the home and so will women in the central region of Uganda. This is a cultural sign of respect and should be gracefully accepted. Never bypass anyone in Uganda without greeting them.

Picture taking in Uganda:

Taking a snap with Ugandan has become so easy since not only do most have a camera but also other mobile devices. If you are taking a portrait, a picture of people, permission should be sought as sometimes Ugandans may think that you will profit from that picture of them. So, as a matter of courtesy ask for the consent of the person with whom you want to take a photo.

 

Scenes of streets, markets, events are quite different and you do not have to ask permission. There are certain installations in Uganda where signs are posted not to take pictures – it is also generally not a good idea to take pictures of military personnel or police.

Public Affection:

Kissing in public or showing other signs of affection even with your spouse are frowned upon, though Ugandans will write it off because you are a Muzungu and do not know what is acceptable in Ugandan culture. Ugandans normally do not show affection in public. You will see men holding hands at times; however that is a sign of friendship.

 

Kissing in a public place is not accepted norm in the culture, neither is a conversation about what is considered intimacy. There is however a slow change, middle-class and Ugandans especially women will give a hug to those persons they know too well.

What to Wear in Uganda

Africans like to dress smart and you will readily see that in Kampala upon arrival, even though much of the clothing that they wear is second-hand. Ugandans like to dress smart, but are very conservative. Even if a woman wears a short skirt they will put on leggings, jeans or other slacks, (unless going to a bar or nightclub).

 

Ugandans find it insulting if you are wearing clothes that are not neatly pressed, cleaned and in need of mending. In the city, being dressed smart, even though you are wearing leisure clothing is the key. Women should avoid mini-skirts and skimpy shorts. In actuality, men and women are more respected not wearing shorts and safari, you will have better protection from insects. Modesty in dress applies equally to men and women. In Kampala you will see many Ugandan men in suits, you certainly do not have to wear a suit, but neat, clean and pressed clothing will be appropriate. Many women both in Kampala and especially in villages will wear a traditional dress called Busuuti also referred to as Gomesi while men will put on what appears like a dress, called Kanzu. Both the Busuuti and Kanzu are worn at such events such as weddings and introductions.

Meals taken in a Ugandan Home:

It is customary to wash your hands prior to eating a meal and afterwards since many Ugandans eat a meal with their hands. Often, a prayer of thanksgiving may be said, and if sitting on the floor does no harm to your legs, sit in a modest fashion. You will most likely be given a chair and also a fork and knife, in the city most will sit on chairs, sofas, however often Ugandans do not have a dining room unless they are of the affluent class, and many prefer to take the meal sitting on mats, but you will have the honor of the chair that will be brought to you.

 

During the meal, children will not speak unless addressed. After meal, it is customary to thank the host for the meal and addressing the person who prepared it with “Thank you for cooking.”

Some simple Luganda Phrases for Travelers to Uganda

Good Morning:  Wasuze otya nno?

Good afternoon or Good Evening: Osiibye otya nno?

 

Some other greetings depending on day or night as you leave or come are:

 

Hi – Ki kati, the ki is pronounced Chi

How are you?  Oli Otya? The answer is -I am ok – Gyendi the G here is pronounced like a j

Have nice day – Siiba bulungi. Pronounce ‘g’ like a ‘j’

Good night when going to bed or leaving for the night:  Sula bulungi

Saying goodbye to one person: Weeraba

Saying goodbye to more than one person:  Mweraba

Welcome to one or several people:  Tukusanyukidde / Tubasanyukidde

See you later:  Tunaalabagana / Tulabagane

 

Polite phrases and other nice things to say:

 

Please:  Mwattu

Thank you:  Weebale

Thank you very much:  Weebale nyo

Please come in:  Mwattu yingira

Excuse me (in order to get someone’s attention):  Owange

Please sit down:  Mwattu tuula wansi

Pardon me, what did you say? :  Wangi or Ogambye Ki?

Apologizing (saying I am sorry):  Nsonyiwa

OK:  Kale

No thanks:  Nedda

I do not know:  Simanyi

What time is it? :  Sawa mmeka?

How much is it (money)? : Ssente mmeka?

I do not have any money: Sirina Sente

I love you: Nkwagala

I am:  Nze (your name)

 

Addressing People

 

Madam: Nyabo

Sir:  Ssebo

 

 

Uglish – Ugandan version of English

 

Visitors to Uganda are often perplexed by the English that they may hear. They do not know the meaning of some words since they are used differently than in their home country, or they are entirely new and different. Welcome to Uganda where you often will find “Uglish,” a localized version of the English Language being spoken. Please note however that Uganda is the best English Speaking Country on the African Continent as a recent study pointed out.

 

No matter where in the world English is spoken, over time that English of that particular country develops a unique local flavor and so it has in Uganda and here it is known as Uglish. We provide you with some basic Uglish Phrases below and their meaning.  Knowing the meaning of the phrases could make a real difference in your understanding of Ugandan people and their culture.

 

I need to make a short-Call: The short-call catches many visitors – some even offer their phone, however, it means going to the bathroom, washroom, W.C, whatever you call it in your part of the world.

 

Balance Please: In many other English-speaking countries, one asks for their change. That might not get you anywhere here. In Uganda you ask for the Balance.

 

Eating Money: That is a reference to person stealing money through corruption and spending money like there is no tomorrow or spending large amounts of money. Eating at the table is when a person takes advantage of their position of power and takes advantage of his or her office stealing funds.

 

You are lost: You enter a home, an establishment such as a restaurant and are greeted with “You are lost.” It is the same as “I’ve missed you” or “have not seen you for a long time.”

 

Now-now: Now -now is simply an urgent now and it means “now” or at / in this particular moment

 

Slowly-slowly:  tells someone to have patience.

 

I’m on the way: You are sitting in a restaurant and you had a noon luncheon appointment and there is no sign of the person. You call them on the phone and you get “I’m on the way” or I’m reaching there” sometimes even “I’ve reached,” all the while you will sit there for another hour. The African concept of time is different from the West and based more on relationships than punctuality.

 

Extend: If you are in a Ugandan’s way and they cannot get through, you just might hear “extend.” That means move out of the way, move over. If they want to sit down on the sofa and there is no space, they will ask you to extend, unfortunately, many visitors will need an explanation as to what “extend” means.

 

Disturbing me: That one is not too hard to figure out, the word disturb means to bother someone, to upset someone.

 

Are we together? : Are we of one mind? Do you understand what I am saying? You might also hear “You get me?”

 

Slope down: Getting driving instructions from a Ugandan can be and is often quite different such as slope left, meaning go downhill to the left.

 

Borrow me some Money: It simply means “Lend me some money.”

 

Beep or Flash me: It means to call the other person’s phone with a wrong ringer, a beep or flash and they call you back using their airtime and paying for the phone call. You will often get one ringer phone calls where someone will want you to call them back and you pay the call.

 

Well done: It basically means “thank you for your work.” It is not used in the same context as in UK or US English where when you have done something out of the ordinary, you hear “Well done.”

 

Where is home? Where do you stay?

 

Where do you come from? Where do you live?

 

First Come: – First Wait. When you ask someone in Uglish to first come – you give them an option to answer with “First Wait.” Meaning let me finish what I am doing and I will come. If you have an urgent need you ask “first come – now, now” adding the urgency of the moment.

 

Putting on: It does not mean putting on something as a pair of trousers or a dress, but it’s in reference to what you are already wearing.

 

Design Well: You are a snappy dresser, or in Ugandan English – Smart Dresser

 

I am shifting: Means that one is moving from one house to another.

 

Side Dish: This is not something ordered in a restaurant, but a man having a mistress, another wife

 

Campuser: Is a University Student – actually a term that has been used for a long time here in Uganda.

 

Beating Buffaloes: A person that is speaking improper / inarticulate English

 

Detoother: Not a dentist, but what we would call – a gold digger, going after the assets of another person.

 

Pensioner: An older man in a relationship with a young woman (also goes along with “Detoother”)

 

Live Sex: Unprotected Sex – certainly a no-no

 

Benching: A reference to dropping in on someone in whom you have a romantic interest.

Health Tips -Staying Well in Uganda:

There are precautions to take before you arrive here and some things to do after you get here.

 

Most visitors to Uganda will get some immunizations prior to coming here and buy a malaria regiment. All Travelers to Uganda are required to have a yellow fever immunization certificate in order to enter Uganda. The most common illness travelers come down with is some sort of intestinal ailment.

Staying Safe while enjoying Kampala’s Nightlife

Almost every bar, of any size has security at the door. There are bouncers and you might be scanned, patted down. However, endure it is for your safety and well-being. Once inside – it is another world. It is Kampala from mild and wild, and there are guidelines, tips and advice you should follow in order be safe and have a good night on the town in the city that never sleeps – Kampala.

 

Kampala’s nightlife, especially the “Kabalagala Nightclub district” is known all over Africa and attracts people from across the region, Rwandans, Kenyans, South-Sudanese, and Tourists flock here for a night on the town in Kampala and the bars do not close at 2am like in the West, but stay open until dawn and beyond, some stay open for 24 hours a day, no wonder Kampala is the city that never sleeps. The music is loud, mostly played by a Dee Jay, as not too many bars have live music, though it is becoming more fashionable.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda?

Is it safe to track Gorillas in Uganda? Your well-being, Safety, and Security are on everyone’s mind while you are tracking the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Your safety and Security is and remains the focus of Kent Tour Safaris.

 

Gorilla Tourism is an investment by the government of Uganda. Gorilla permits in Uganda go for 600 USD, and everything is done to keep Gorilla Trekking Visitors safe and secure in the Heart of Africa.

 

 

The Rangers in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda are all highly motivated to Keep Gorilla Trekking safe and secure. Gorilla Trekking brings in millions of dollars from permits, lodges. Tour operators in Uganda do everything to keep it safe and secure otherwise, there will be no incoming Tourists.

Public Affection:

Ugandans might find that question amusing since the World Linguistic Society declared Uganda as the best English Speaking country in Africa. There are over 40 languages and various dialects spoken in Uganda but English and Kiswahili are the official languages. In recent years however, the use of Swahili has increased due to it being taught in Schools and, anyone wishing to do business in East Africa, he/she must know Swahili.  Luganda is the language most often used in Kampala and the Central area of Uganda.

Electrical Current 240 Volts and UK Plugs:

240 volts is the voltage in Uganda and you will need a UK plug. You can buy a converter plug that will make your appliance fit locally. The power supply is sometimes unreliable in Uganda; therefore it is best to stay in a hotel that has a generator system in place. Uganda can have extended power outages that last up to 12 hours. It is also good if you are using a laptop that you have a surge protector of one kind or another. In Uganda, you can easily buy electrical strips with outlets that will work with your devices. If you are staying they might even have a power strip that will work your plugin.

Staying in Touch with Home:

This has become a lot easier over the years.  Most Hotels, lodges have varying quality of WiFi available to their guests.  We still have clients who choose their Safari unplugged from it all. Most rely on their smartphone / tablet which on safari and Skype will work and you no longer have to buy a local Sim Card, which has become more difficult for visitors to Uganda.  You can use WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, and Twitter. However, not all lodges are equal when it comes to WiFi, some are slow, and others work intermittently. The smartphone is revolutionizing Africa, including Uganda.  “Mobile Money” has become a form of banking here, besides communication.

What to wear in Uganda on Safari:

Ugandans in Kampala dress in style. There is what you wear in town and what you wear on safari As Ugandans say “You are looking Smart.” When you come to visit Uganda one of the things that will amaze you is to see how well Ugandans dress in towns such as Kampala. Short skirts, such as mini-skirts, are not recommended. The style of dress for most of Africa is smart but conservative and that applies to women and men.

Shorts: In Uganda, the only people you will find in shorts during weekdays are school-boys, though if you are a visitor, no such thing would ever be said. It is good to have one more outfit with you for formal functions that you might attend such as the church, a special dinner, etc.

Things to Avoid in Uganda:

There are some things you simply want to avoid in Uganda like crossing the road in Kampala, or passing through Kampala as your safari ends on the way to the airport at rush hour, or should we say Gridlock hour that lasts from 4 pm to 10 pm.  You also want to avoid Self-Drive, Night Driving, it simply isn’t safe.  Speaking of Driving or being driven you want to avoid the leading cause of emergency room admission in Uganda, the Boda Boda Motorcycle, Taxi and a close second, the minibus taxi which is not a taxi at all but a mini-bus with 14 passengers.

 

You might consider avoiding the nightlife scene, the one potential cause of problems for you in regards to safety and security, especially when you hang around with a “mosquito girl” whose sting may have lifelong effects.

 

Avoid Street food, and any other unhygienic food stuffs and beverages such as tap water and some types of bottled water, as our guides / staff may advise you, since some have been found to be counterfeits of the original / authentic products.

Best Time of the Year to Visit Uganda:

Uganda’s year around holiday weather is just another plus to visiting Uganda. One of the nice things about Uganda is that the sun will come out even during the rainy seasons of the year. For the most part, we do not have dryers or even washing machines, normally all laundry are done by hand and dry within hours when hanging on the line.

 

North of Masindi it is 5 degrees hotter than in Kampala, however in the Southwest of Uganda such as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest it can get quite cool at night and lodges give their guests hot-water bottles for a comfortable sleep.

Find Your Destination

5-DAYS GORILLAS AND CHIMPANZE SAFARI- UGANDA
$2300
17 DAYS CHIMPANZEE, RHINO TREKKING AND GAME VIEWING SAFARI
$4200
8 DAYS GAME ADVENTURE SAFARI KIDEPPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK AND SIPI FALLS
$2800