Recommendations/ Travel tips for Uganda

Getting to Uganda the pearl of Africa, If flying in Entebbe International Airport typically where big planes land, Entebbe lies 40km from the capital Kampala, it is serviced by a number of international airlines, including SN Brussels, British Airways, South African Airways , Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania , Rwandair Express, Egypt Air and Ethiopian Airlines. Uganda can also be reached overland from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Customs and immigration officials are polite and efficient, and a visa –for those who require one-can be purchased on the spot at Entebbe International Airport or at any overland border. Foreign exchange and ATM facilities are available at the airport, which is also serviced by several shops and restaurants. Most midrange to up market hotels in Kampala and Entebbe will arrange airport transfers by request, as will any tour operator based in or around capital. Local time is GMT+3

The Airport Tax is about US $ 40 (or it’s equivalent in Uganda Shillings at the prevailing rate)  is compulsory for every International traveler, unless it’s included in the price fr your tour/Safari package. Those who book with Harmony safaris limited need not to worry about airport transfers. We pick our clients from the airport on arrival and we take them back to the airport for departure

Uganda has 2 main rainy season:  March to May and September to November. The rest of the months are dry, but occasionally punctuated with short rains which keeps the country lush and green all year round. The hottest areas (about 35 degrees C.) are the low altitude places like the Semliki and  Nile Valleys and the Northeast of the Country, well as the cooler parts (about 23-28 degrees C.) are the high-altitude areas of the south -west stretching from Kabale (the Switzerland of Uganda) though the Volcanic areas of Kisoro to the Rwenzori mountains (Mountains of the Moon) on the Uganda Congo boarder.  
We advise travelers to Uganda to carry light clothing and a sweater since the temperatures vary a lot in short distances.

A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required. All visitors should take malaria prophylactic drugs. It is advisable to drink bottled rather than tap water.
The unit of currency is the Uganda shilling. The US dollar is traditionally the hard currency of preference, but Euro and Pound Sterling are also widely accepted. Hard currency cash can be changed for local currency at banks and private bureaux de change in all large towns, but travelers’ cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala. Local currency can be drawn against Visa and other major credit cards at selected ATMs in Kampala, at Entebbe International Airport, and in a few other large towns.

There is a wide array of banks and forex bureau’s to choose from , mainly in and around kampala the capital city, with several international banks represented (Barclays, Standard Chartered, Stanbic).

The US dollar and the pound sterling are the strongest currencies used in Uganda and are the easiest to exchange. US dollar notes dated prior to 1997 are turned away, we recommend if you are using US$ to bring notes issued not earlier than 2000. Also, notes smaller than US$50 attract a far lower exchange rate. All the forex bureau’s take cash – look around for the best exchange rate. We suggest you bring cash and/or credit cards with you as opposed to traveller’s cheques, as the exchange rate (on traveller’s cheques) is much lower.

Educated Ugandans are fluent in English, which is the official language. Of 30-plus different indigenous languages, luganda serves as something of lingua franca.
Uganda can be visited any time though mountain hikes, gorilla tracking and other forest walks are more challenging during the rainy season which is generally at peak in mid-September to November and March to May.
Daytime temperatures are generally warm to hot, so bring lots of light clothing. Evenings are cooler, especially at high altitudes, so carry a couple of light sweaters too.
Those who intend to hike on the mountains will be exposed to alpine temperatures and should pack accordingly. Solid walking shoes and sturdy clothing are ideal for forest walks. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses and waterproof jackets.
A valid passport is mandatory, and a visa requirement should be checked before you travel. To make the most of the game reserve and national parks, carry binoculars and field guides. Photographers will need a zoom lens fro wildlife (70-300 or smaller). Printing films and developing is available in Kampala,toiletries and other essentials can be bought in the cities.

There are very few Camera shops in Kampala, so clients are advised to carry their own Cameras and enough films or a good memory cards for the digital cameras and their charging accessories. The power supply in Uganda is the standard 220- 240 volts hydro and generated power. So we advise you to carry your own adapters to suit your equipments

Internet access is available in in some form or another in just about all of Uganda's major centres of population. Even the smallest of Internet cafes are able to boast a wireless connection or similar. Speeds are acceptable although costs can be as much as Ushs 200- per minute in some outlying areas. Kampala is at saturation point in the number of cafes open to the public which has driven surfing rates down to as little as Ushs 20- per minute.

Driving is on the left hand side .visitors without experience of African roads are advised to organize a vehicle with a driver rather than self-drive
The IDD code for Uganda is +256. MTN Uganda, Uganda Telecom (Mango) and Celltel operate cellular Networks on the 078, 077, 071 and 075 prefixes respectively.
Tipping is not a common practice at local hotels and restaurants, but it will always be welcome and appreciated. It is normal to tip 5-10% at tourist oriented restaurants. Guides and drivers should always be tipped.
Tourist oriented hotels and restaurants serve good western-style meals, while a wider range of cuisines are available in the capital and some larger towns. Local restaurants serve Ugandan dishes, typically ugali (stiff maize porridge) or matoke (cooked green banana) normally eaten with stew.
Uganda with its agricultural resources, combined with the conducive climate, produces a wide range of food products. Bananas, millet, maize, sorghum, rice, wheat, sweet potatoes, irish potatoes and cassava grow in abundance. Fruits and other vegetables are also plentiful - watermelon, passion fruits, pineapples, mangoes, tomatoes, aubergine, green peppers. You will probably eat better here than you do at home! Tea and coffee is readily available almost everywhere and the latest craze is coffee houses or cafes. Soda (coke, fanta, sprite, bitter lemon, etc) are sold by the (glass) bottle, which are returnable and recycled. Local beer (lagers only) are as good as any international beer and there are many to choose from – Bell, Club, ESB, Pilsner, Nile Special, Eagle, Castle, Guinness (all brewed in Uganda).
There is a wide range of handicrafts are available a souvenirs, these include musical instruments such as the hide drums made in the vicinity of Mpigi as well as excellent local basketworks, paintings, batiks and pottery.
Situated at the geographical heart of the African continent, Uganda has long been a cultural melting pot, as evidenced by the existence of 30-plus different indigenous languages belonging to five distinct linguistic groups and an equally diverse cultural mosaic of music art and handicrafts.

The people of Uganda are probably the most welcoming people in the whole of Africa, but, value their culture and are always happy to teach it to the visitors. They feel honored if the visitors do respect them too.  We have a very rich culture and a lot of this is included in our itineraries, and our guides interpret it during the site visits and during the course of the trips, its our duty to advise clients on how they are expected to conduct themselves when interacting with the local people.Its easy to adopt some simple routines

Despite the exaggerations,  the Country has been quite stable for over ten years and security beefed up quite often when need arises. There is a Military unit attached to National Parks and other tourist destinations including lodges and Camps to ensure tourists safety when visiting those areas. However, safety precautions must be considered especially when walking in the streets of major cities and towns as is the case  in other cities around the world.

One has to be reasonably physically fit and healthy to participate in the Gorilla tracking excise.

A daypack  for carrying water and packed lunch .

Light water proof steady hiking boots and thick socks and gaiters if possible..

High-speed  films or memory card.

Waterproof gloves and Raincoats or Poncho is a must carry.

A baseball Cap is recommended too.

Harmony Safaris aranges for your ground transportation, accommodation, meals and a whole range of  other activities. We take care of the details so that you can relax and make the most out of your dream Safari. With our tailor made packages and a variety of options, we are sure to design a switable packages for you.