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SABILI TOURS WELCOMES YOU TO UGANDA THE PEARL OF AFRICA
WHAT EVERY VISITOR SHOULD KNOW
Uganda generally experiences tropical climate; with the country experiencing two rainy seasons and two dry seasons annually. If you would like to avoid the rains the best periods to travel will be June to August and December to February. Nevertheless, Uganda is arguably a place to be all year round.
English is the official language. In many places however Luganda and Swahili are commonly spoken.
The country’s local currency is the Ugandan shilling. However, other currencies can easily be exchanged at forex bureau in the country’s central business district for local currencies for a very good rate. Most payments will be required in Ugandan shillings. If necessity arises, most lodges, hotels, accommodation facilities and tourist destinations accept foreign currency though the US dollar, Euros and Pound sterling are the most common. Please note that all accommodation facilities and tourist destinations reserve the right to set a particular exchange rate as they deem appropriate.
Credit cards are accepted at most banks and ATMs but the most commonly used is VISA. Some but relatively few accommodation facilities and tourist destinations accept credit card payments but a surcharge will be subjected with every transaction made.
Traveler’s cheques are accepted at some banks but the process is very tedious and it is generally advisable to resort to either credit card or cash options.
These are well spread in Kampala and have provisions to exchange almost all international foreign currencies at reasonable rates. It is also possible to find forex bureaus in most towns and cities around the country.
Uganda is one of the most secure African countries but it is very important for tourists to be relatively security cautious. All items of relative value should be safe in the custody of a hotel’s safe. Never leave any of your valuables in a parked vehicle without any of you left in it.
What to wear
This is entirely decided based on where you intend to go, which months you have travelled and what activities you intend to engage in. Light rainwear, sturdy walking shoes, long sleeved trousers are the way to go if you intend to track the mountain gorillas. For a white water rafting spree on the Nile you will need a T-shirt with board shorts or a swim suit, and waterproof sunscreen for wear on the river. Shoes or sandals are unnecessary but pack a towel with another change of clothes and warm top which you will require at the end of your rafting trip.
Where to eat
This will solely depend on where you are at the moment but most lodges, hotels and tourism destinations cater for both local inter-continental cuisines with a wide variety to choose from. In Kampala the restaurants are well distributed. Most tourism destinations have restaurants and getting a sumptuous meal will not be a problem. Where a restaurant cannot be accessed your tour operator will provide a packed meal. In cases of mountaineering meals and chefs are also catered for.
One of the things that make’s Uganda unique is that we have a number of road side markets with fresh fruits and vegetables right from the garden on the roads upcountry. If one cannot stop by the road then there are markets like Nakasero Market, Wandegeya Market, Kibuye Market, Zana Market, Kireka Market, Nakawa Market all located in the various areas around Kampala. Uganda also has roadside barbeques along most of the high ways but one has to be careful about the hygiene at the various points before you buy the meat.
Ugandans are generally very hospitable and will readily help out a stranger. There is basically no hostility or racism in Uganda. You can easily get directions from a stranger. Nevertheless be cautious who you trust to because petty thieves are not absent. Also keep your valuables at bay.
The road network is generally good and fully accessible with tarmac in the Kampala and most of the major cities upcountry. A 4×4 vehicle is recommended for safari especially in national parks and upcountry where the terrain is predominantly murram.
Entry and exit
Entebbe airport is Uganda’s main entry and exit point in the instance of international flights. A visa can easily be obtained on entry if you fulfill the necessary requirements. In the absence of traffic jam a drive from Entebbe to Kampala transfers by road will be little less than an hour.
Uganda has a really rich culture with over 60 tribes. Every culture has something unique ranging from its dress code, dance and way of life to mention but a few. It’s because of this aspect that a Ugandan cultural trail is very interesting.
It is possible to get information on the history of these cultures from the Uganda Museum. One can also learn about animals in the country and also the political history of the country. Prepare to be there for at least half a day.
Even though some countries are exempted from visa acquisition to enter Uganda, like (Angola, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Burundi, Comoros, Cyprus, Eritrea, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Italy (Diplomatic Passport holders only), Jamaica, Ireland, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe); all other nationals must possess a visa to be allowed right to entry. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months and if you have visited a country with a risk of yellow fever, you will need to present a vaccination certificate as an immigration requirement.
If you love the nightlife, there are several executive night clubs and discotheques that you could easily visit in the suburbs within the central district Kampala and in various towns like Jinja, Mbarara, Mbale, Masindi, Kasese, Bushenyi among others. For a rich cultural experience the Ndere Centre in Kiwatuule holds shows on specific days with a display of different cultural dances from all over Uganda.
The Kampala festival is celebrated every year on the first Sunday in October, with the day labeled as a public holiday. This is a time where many people in Kampala can sell have a street sale of their items, where you can enjoy mouth watering nyama choma on a street stand. Donkey, Camel and horse rides can be taken at a fee, you can have your face painted cheaply, listen to your choice live music playing and enjoy displays of wildlife and many more.
The annual Bayimba Festival is a music festival held in Kampala whereby people from Uganda and East Africa showcase music and art. It now starts with regional festivals then later the main celebrations are held at the National Theatre. This is best for culture, music and art lovers. For more information http://bayimba.org/bayimba-festivals