Information Uganda

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Uganda and Rwanda travel guidelines before you leave home

Travel in Africa
Travel in Afro-tropical destinations is of necessity an adventure: the very nature of such travel is exhilarating, but it is not for everyone. A trip may be forced to re-route for various reasons, for instance climatic or political, to mention two of the most obvious. Each trip has its own highlights and adventures – the real essence of this type of adventure travel is the possibility it holds for personal involvement. On the road there can be no place for rigid attitudes, personal prejudices or false expectations. Hotels in remote parts of Africa are not of the same standard as are rural hotels in your home country. That said, they are mostly clean, albeit basic or simple.
Some roads in Uganda are excellent, others well, whatever we tell you, you cannot fully appreciate it until you are there in person… Fortunately however, such ‘roads’ usually lead to – and pass through – places of unsurpassed beauty – Africa at its unspoilt best.
Travel to the Afro-tropics can only be enjoyed if one has an open mind, a desire to learn from and appreciate the cultures into which you may come into contact with, a good measure of patience and perhaps most importantly, a sense of humour.
If you do select a tour into one of these destinations, you will experience some of the most beautiful parts of Africa, and you will bring back memories to last a lifetime.

A relatively small country, Uganda is 241 136 sq. km. in extent, of which 44 000 sq. km is fresh water. Situated astride the Equator, it experiences a mean annual temperature of 220 C, with an annual rainfall of 125 cm. English is widely spoken and the basic infrastructure is rapidly improving.

Air Tickets:
Checking-in and flight reconfirmation:
It is essential to check-in early for both international and domestic flights. Allow a minimum of 3 hours for international and 2 hour for domestic flights. Remember that airlines often overbook their flights and that the earlier you check-in, the less likely you are to suffer the consequences. If the airline cannot accommodate you because you have not checked in early enough, Topi Tours cannot be held responsible for any delays or losses that result.
Once in Uganda, you should check flight dates some days before your departure. Flight timings may have changed.

Lost luggage:
If your luggage is missing or damaged, report it immediately to the airline representative in the baggage reclaim area. Complete a Property Irregularity Report and keep a copy as proof for your insurance company.
Leave the Property Irregularity Report, a copy of your passport and a written authorization to the local agent allowing him to collect the luggage on your behalf.

If included in your holiday, arrangements for transportation between hotels and airports will be indicated on your itinerary with the name of the organization making the transfer. Please look out for the representative and/or vehicle of the company concerned at the airport or station exit
Our local agent will send a driver guide who will at all time display a placard bearing your names and the same guide or his colleague will drop you off at the airport for your departure

Passports and Visa:
Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in Uganda. British and other EU, American and Canadian passport-holders require a visa for entry to Uganda. Visas may be issued by any Ugandan high commission or on arrival at Entebbe Airport. A 3-month, single entry visa issued on arrival or an e-Visa costs US$ 50 for all passport US, Australian or European holders and must be paid in US Dollars (cash on arrival only). For people going Gorilla tracking in Rwanda and then re-entering Uganda, a multiple entry visa is required. This can be arranged only in your country of origin, so must be done before you travel.
Otherwise you will need to buy a completely new visa at for US$ 50 when re-entering Uganda. The transit visa does not exist any longer. A multiple entry visa (valid 6 months) is US$ 100.
We must emphasize that you are responsible for ensuring that your travel passport and visa are in order.

When you travel, carry your insurance policy with you. Leave photocopies of this document, your passport and a note of the numbers credit cards or equipment at the Lodge or hotel in case the originals are lost or stolen. It is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport and your airline tickets with you.

You’re Itinerary:
Uganda is a poor country with a modest, developing tourism infrastructure. Your itinerary has been carefully planned, but it may be upset on the ground, particularly if flights are unexpectedly changed or cancelled. Should circumstances dictate changes to your itinerary; our agents will do everything in their power to make alternative arrangements. We are in constant communication with our agents and will be involved in handling any unforeseen difficulties.

If any of your flights are cancelled, please keep the unused ticket vouchers in a safe place and send it to the Air- line tickets when you return home. We cannot seek a refund on your behalf without the ticket voucher.

There is a danger of petty theft in all large towns, especially in Kampala. Wear a money belt or neck pouch and leave valuables with hotel reception. Leave expensive jewellery and watches at home. Photocopy your passport and airline tickets and keep them separately from the originals. Use a combination lock on luggage.
At your hotel, check the fire regulations and find out where the nearest fire exit is. In the event of a fire, place a wet towel across the bottom of the door to keep smoke out.

Road Conditions:
While travelling through Uganda you will be mostly on tarred roads (good and medium grade). There are some very long drives, but the scenery and stops compensate amply. Note that there are also some very bad and rutted dirt roads.

Wild Animals:
Attacks by wild animals are rare. We cannot guarantee that attacks won’t occur. Neither Topi Tours nor our associates can be held responsible or liable for injuries caused during an incident involving the behaviour of wild animals. Avoid feeding wild animals as this gives them bad habits of attacking people expecting food and more so dangerous.

Yellow fever is now required in Uganda make sure you have a valid vaccination at least 10 days before travel. Tetanus is recommended, as is Cholera but neither is compulsory. Hepatitis inoculations are at the travellers’ discretion. Your own doctor is the best source of precise and accurate information about health requirements and you should be guided by his/her advice.
There is a risk of malaria and precautions, including anti-malaria tablets and insect repellent, are imperative. Some strains of malaria are resistant to certain prophylactics and you are strongly advised to take precautions (i.e. insect repellent, long trousers etc.). We strongly recommend that you take a generous supply of wet wipes and use them after handling currency to reduce the risk of digestive upsets. Never drink un-purified water or use it for brushing. Bottled water is available almost everywhere.
People planning prolonged camping trips should take water purification tablets.
Avoid local ice cream and yoghurt. Peel all fruit before eating it. The strong rays of the African sun can cause severe burns and sunstroke in a few hours. AIDS is widespread in Uganda and in Rwanda.

You will be expected to purchase your own drinks. If you prefer wine / spirits we suggest you bring it from abroad or buy it at the airport duty free and supermarkets.
Beer, cool drinks, bottled water, local gin, etc. are readily available at reasonable prices. Local beers are excellent, as is the potent ‘Waragi’ white rum.
Bottled water is widely available. You will be supplied with clean bottled water on all transfers in the safari car which is part of your safari but in your room you can order with the lodge.
Bottled water costs approx. 1.500 UGX
Beer around 3,000 -4.000 UGX
Soft drinks cost from 2.000 UGX

When using a swimming pool, check the depth and any other feature that may affect safe swimming. Serious accidents can occur, for example, from diving into a pool in which the water is not sufficiently deep.
Avoid swimming in rivers and lakes because of hippos, crocodiles, bilharzias and guardian. Swimming is safe only in the high-altitude Lake Bunyonyi, which is free from bilharzias and crocodiles.

It is a condition of carriage and essential that all members of your party have comprehensive travel and cancellation insurance. The policy should include emergency repatriation home and a 24-hour emergency telephone number should be provided. All tourists can arrange insurance through their travel agent, bank or insurance broker. Please be sure you send written details of your insurance to agents.
Some credit card companies provide automatic travel insurance if you pay for your holiday by credit card. Please check the extent of cover provided with your card company. We have found that cover for medical expenses, loss of luggage and cancellation charges is not always adequate.
You should arrange separate insurance cover for valuable items like cameras before you go. You may be able to extend your household insurance for this purpose. Leave expensive jewellery at home.

When visiting wildlife areas, you will need a large, powerful torch, spare batteries, camera, binoculars (large 8×40 are recommended), a sun-hat, sun block and insect repellent. If visiting a rainforest, pack a waterproof jacket and comfortable shoes. If you are camping, take warm clothing, a towel and soap, and a roll of toilet paper.

Get the list what to pack:

Facilities: Lodges and Hotels
Depending on the style of your safari and range /availability of accommodation available in each stop, accommodation may range from luxurious to moderate to basic. In higher quality lodges, expect hot water, en-suite rooms etc.
Should you stay in the modest local hotels/guest houses you will have the use of showers and toilets, though hot water may not always be guaranteed. Such small hotels/guest houses are basic and clean with friendly and accommodating staff. Food is a blend of good, hearty African fare and European cuisine.
Campsites are generally basic with communal facilities, cold showers and toilets at such campsites may be ‘long drops’. For camping safaris (e.g. our very popular ground Camping Safaris) we use showers and toilet units in the park.
Hotel Check-in:
In most instances, bedrooms will not be available for occupation until 1400 hrs. Check-out is often expected by 10.00 hrs. Some hotels provide rest areas and storage facilities. If early access to a bedroom is a priority, you should make a reservation for the previous night.

Money matters:
US Dollars cash is the preferred option in Uganda. We suggest a combination of small denomination notes (US$ 1, 5, 10, 50) as well as US$ 100 bills – make sure they are post 2007. Note that while it is more convenient in terms of changing currency and not having to carry around huge amounts of Shillings, there is normally a surcharge on the smaller notes when changing them. You may keep your slips but they are now any linger required while you change surplus Shillings back to US$ cash when leaving the country.
Now main towns in Uganda have got Forexe services though they tend to give slightly lower rates than in Kampala and bigger Notes fetch much more than the smaller notes.

Bank cards:
Visa credit card ATM teller machines are common, Master cards will be not accepted

This is a subjective matter; tipping is at your discretion entirely. An indication of what is generally given per passenger. Here you will find the rates:

Driver-guide 60,000 per day 12 20 15
Hotel staff  use the Tipp Boxes in the hotel, 10.000 UGX p/day/client
Restaurant servers 20,000 per service 5 8 6
Local guide 20, 000 ½ day/per client  5 8 6
Local guide 35,000 full-day/per client 9 12   8
Gorilla tracking porters 50,000   per client  10  15  12
 Gorilla trackers 20,000 per client 5 8 5
Head ranger  40,000    per client 5 14 10

Gorilla & Chimp Tracking (forest  and nature walks):
Pack hard-wearing clothes. No bright colours and no army camouflage patterns should be worn. Greens, khaki and similar neutral colours are recommended. Avoid dark colours and bright blue in areas where tsetse flies exist.
In Uganda, you will often experience diverse weather conditions. Pack warm items e.g. tracksuit and pullover/sweater/jumper/fleece for the mountainous areas (Bwindi, Rwenzori, Virunga volcano chain, Kigezi highlands). Altitudes are higher there so temperatures can drop dramatically in the evenings.
Take wet weather wear/gear rainfall is high in the mountainous areas of Uganda and Rwanda. Pack lightweight rain gear for the walks to the gorillas.

While Gorilla tracking, you will need a comfortable, well-worn pair of walking shoes or boots. Conditions are generally muddy and slippery. There are uphill sections which may be quite steep and strenuous. It is also advisable to wear a long sleeve cotton shirt and lightweight long pants to protect yourself from the undergrowth, stinging nettles and biting ants. Tracksuit pants often get caught on bushes, thorns, etc. and jeans can get very heavy when wet. Gloves are also highly recommended – a pair of cheap gardening gloves is best for protecting your hands from stinging nettles. Tuck your long trousers into your socks/boots to avoid biting insects. Take a water bottle, and possibly a small day pack for camera gear. When you have had your briefing at the park HQ, porters will be introduced to you and will charge a small amount (usually US$ 20 minimum). He or she not only carry your day pack and jacket but he or she becomes your personal helper on the walk especially when the walk goes beyond your expected time and above all, this is one way you can support the local communities directly. Your clothes will in all likelihood get muddy and may not recover to their original state – so for the gorilla tracking days, pack old clothes.

Chimp permits:
– Kyambura Gorge (QENP) US$ 50, two sessions of chimp tracking a day with maximum 8 persons at a time morning and afternoon, that is 16 pax a day.
– Kibale: US$ 150 per person. Kibale has as well two sessions of chimp tracking a day.
– Kibale Chimpanzee habituation in experience is $ 250 (full day).
Booking and payment of these activities must be done prior at UWA H/Q in advance.
Forest /nature walks: US$ 20 per person. (4 hours)
The permit cost is exclusive of National Park entry fees except for Gorilla permits and Chimpanzee habituation experience.

Do no not photograph government buildings, police, military posts or personnel in uniforms.
Please ask your driver-guide before photographing local people. For gorilla photography a 35 – 70 mm zoom, or 50 mm fixed is usually sufficient, but you may want to carry a longer lens but remember you may well be in low light conditions.
Game & bird photography: zoom lenses are recommended, 80-400mm, ideally
Do not spend all your time with the Gorillas trying for classic photographs – look around you and enjoy your brief time with these gentle animals.


Should you wish to take a video to go and see the Gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda you may incur an extra cost of up to US$ 50 for home videos. There is no charge for personal cameras.
The vehicles are not equipped with sophisticated recharging equipment. You would have to charge directly from the battery. You will have to supply your own equipment to do this.
Film, tapes, batteries, etc. are not readily available in Uganda – ensure you have ample for the trip. Some lodges have solar power which is sufficient for charging batteries.

Electricity spec: 240 volts British Standard, generally through 3 pin square plugs. Some lodges and camps have power only at certain times of the day, and in some video charging facilities are centralized. You will need your own charger. Power banks are useful to charge phones or tablets.

If you are dissatisfied with your accommodation or services, you should notify the hotel/company management immediately so that they have the opportunity to put things right. Should you need further assistance, you can contact our local agents or you may also contact Topi Tours directly +256 772 3996 661 or +256 778 923 670. Your driver-guide should have a mobile phone at all times for emergencies and there is reception in most parts of Uganda except area with no network.
Bwindi area now has reception so your guide will be able to communicate at all times in case of any need, however the international communication will be at your charge. Furthermore your driver guide will provide you with feedback forms to give any comment about your travel experience. With that way our local agent can directly inform all parties concerned for improvement.

Local Agents
Our agents will be pleased to assist with any extra travel arrangements, such as day excursions to be locally paid.

Topi Tours Ltd
Namulanda off Entebbe Road/ Plot 667
PO Box 26707
Kampala (Uganda)
+256 772396661
reservation (at) topitours (dot) info

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