Located at the equator, Uganda is geographically the heart of Africa. The country is made up of four regions (central, eastern, northern and western) and spans an area of 236, 580 sq km.
Uganda harbours Lake Victoria, which is the largest lake in the world and forms the source of the Nile – the second largest river in the world. The average altitude is 1 100m above sea level, and Uganda borders the Republic of South Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
The country is fortunate to harbour Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world forming the source of the Nile, the second largest river in the world.
Uganda experiences a temperate climate even though most of the country is situated in the tropics. Temperatures range from 16 to 26°C for most of the year (from April to November). The hotter months are from December to March, where temperatures can reach 30°C.
The dry season is from June to August, and December to February. The wet season falls between March to May (there is more rainfall through Uganda during these months) and then again from September to November.
Banking hours in Uganda are generally Monday to Friday from 08:30 to 14:00, and Saturday from 09:00 to 12:00. Forex bureaux are open until 17:00 and able to do electronic transfers to and from overseas. American Express, Diners, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are sometimes accepted but not widely used. Some large hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and shops in urban areas accept credit cards.
You’ll find ATMs available in the larger cities of Uganda but limited in smaller towns and rural areas. It’s a good idea to check with your bank to see whether your cards are compatible with Ugandan ATMs.
Traveller's cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala. If you want to avoid additional exchange rate charges, it’s advisable to carry traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling. Make sure you bring sufficient US dollars in cash in case of emergencies. Higher denomination bills usually give a better exchange rate than smaller notes.
English and Swahili
Fly Uganda (www.flyuganda.com), Eagle Air (www.flyeagleairuganda.com) and Aerolink (www.aerolinkuganda.com) offer scheduled and charter internal flights.
Travelling by bus is affordable but departures aren’t always running on a schedule. There are two types of bus travel – matatu (minibus) or kigati (van), which travel fixed routes, and larger coaches or buses.
Uganda’s coach and bus services connect all major towns. The Post Office’s Post Bus Service (www.ugapost.co.ug) offers relatively comfortable buses and is more safety-aware than some other bus companies.
You do have the option to self-drive or hire a private car with a driver. You’ll find international hire companies based near Entebbe International Airport and in the centre of Kampala. If you’re planning to visit rural areas, a four-wheel drive is recommended. The speed limit is 80kph (50mph) or 100kph (62mph) on highways. An International Driving Permit and adequate third-party insurance is required. UK driving licences are accepted. Drivers must carry their vehicle log books and must pay for a temporary road licence.
Although some major roads are paved, the majority of minor and side roads are unpaved and have potholes – so drive with caution, especially during the rainy season. There are still some army and police checkpoints on roads. Always keep vehicle doors locked and valuables out of sight.
You can identify private taxis by their black and white stripes.
A passenger ferry links Nakiwogo Dock, south of Entebbe, to Lutoboka on Buggala in the Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria. There is also a free vehicle ferry that runs from Bukakata, 40km (25 miles) east of Masaka, to Buggala. Lake taxis also link some of the other islands.
Passenger boats can be overloaded and there have been several accidents, usually during the rainy season which can bring storms and high winds. Always makes sure boats have life jackets before you set off.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Uganda are the "Type G " British BS-1363 type.
Important to know
Uganda is a high-risk malaria area, so it’s important to check with your doctor to find out whether the places you are visiting are malaria area. Following an outbreak of yellow fever in April 2016, all visitors must provide proof of yellow fever vaccination.
Avoid drinking tap water unless it has been purified or boiled. Bottled mineral water is widely available.