21st Congress International Primatological Society
TRAVEL TIPS FOR UGANDA
We will provide you with a recent copy of ‘The Eye’ magazinethere will be a copy in your conference bag. It should contain the most up-to-date information for your travel while in Uganda.
ENTERING THE COUNTRY
Non-residents of Uganda will be required to purchase a visa when they arrive in Uganda. Visas can be obtained at the airport and we recommend that congress delegates acquire a 30-day tourist visa at a cost of $30 US Dollars. Delegates must bring cash in US Dollars only and make sure that bills are issued post-2001 ("big heads").
Uganda also requires that all visitors are vaccinated against Yellow Fever. While they may not always check, we strongly recommend that delegates bring proof of this vaccination with them when they enter the country.
Additional visa option details are available at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at http://www.mofa.go.ug/immigration.php
Uganda is sunny most of the year, with temperatures rarely rising above 29oC. The heavy rainy season is March-May, light rainy season November-December, though there will always be a few hours of sunshine. June is usually dry, but showers can still be expected.
The official language in Uganda is English. Luganda and Swahili are also widely spoken.
230/245 volts. British-style plugs with three pins are used.
FOOD AND DRINK
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).
The official currency for Uganda is the Uganda Shilling. Ugandan shilling notes of shs 500 and smaller are no longer legal tender and have been replaced with coins (50, 100, 200 and 500). Larger notes are 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000.
As of June 2005, the exchange rate between the shilling to the major currencies is:
US$1.00 = Ushs 1,740/=
EURO 1.00 = Ushs 2,100/=
GBP1.00 = Ushs 3,170/=
Banks and Changing Money
There is a wide array of banks and forex bureau’s to choose from, with several international banks represented (Barclays, Standard Chartered, Stanbic).
The US dollar and the pound sterling are the strongest currencies used in Uganda and are the easiest to exchange. US dollar notes dated prior to 1997 are turned away, we recommend if you are using US$ 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.
You can change money on your way in at the airport, because it is convenient, however, be aware that the airport is currently not as competitive as TAB or other forex bureau’s in Kampala. We suggest you change up as much as you will need to get you through the first day or so (recommend US$50-100 only). TransAfrica Bank, down from the Entebbe Police Station, offer a better rate than that offered at the airport, however, exchange rates will always be more favourable in Kampala.
Despite what some guidebooks claim, credit cards are not widely accepted and where they can be used, mainly with the larger hotels and companies, hefty surcharges are common. Barclays Bank (open Mon-Fri, 9.00 am 3.00 pm), however, offers cash advances against credit cards with a small surcharge.
At the time of writing, Standard Chartered Bank is the only bank who currently offer automated cash machines for (their own) cards, locally and internationally. These ATM’s can be found at the airport and also in Kampala. They only accept Visa, not mastercard.
Malaria Risk and Prophylaxis
Malaria risk is high and chloroquine resistance is a problem in Uganda. A prophylactic medication such as Mefloquine (Larium) or Doxycycline is recommended. Travellers should also carry malaria treatment such as Fansidar or Artenam (also available in the drug shops in Uganda). Again, please consult and discuss with your physician which treatment is most suitable for you.
Other Health Risks
Bilharzia is a snail born disease, found around inhabited lakeshores. Lake Victoria does host bilharzia. The options are either to avoid going in the lake, or get tested for bilharzia once every 6 months and take the treatment (Praziquantel).
The Imperial Botanical Beach and Resort Beach Hotels have internet connections in all the hotel rooms.
Otherwise internet access will be available at a computer lab in the conference venue. There is also an internet café in Entebbe (“Cybercafe”) and several (around 30) more in Kampala. Prices range, but on average, it will cost you Ushs 4,000/= per hour (approximately US$2.30).
If you are planning to bring your own mobile phone, the network is very good in Entebbe and Kampala and most parts of the country. If you are not using a roving account, you can purchase a SIM card for relatively low cost (Ushs 15,000.00 i.e. US $9.00) in Entebbe. These are available all over Uganda and there are three competitive companies MTN, Celtel and UTL.
If you bring your own mobile phone, first check that it is not “sim locked”, otherwise it will cost you anywhere up to Ushs50,000/= to have it “unlocked”.
RECREATION AND SHOPPING IN ENTEBBE
Botanical Gardens (where the very first black and white Tarzan series was filmed in the 1930s)
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (official holding facility for all confiscated animals in Uganda, and one of our Trustees)
Kitoro Markets on a Tuesday evening secondhand clothing market and reduced prices on fruits and vegetables
Entebbe golf course
Various hotels with swimming pools and relaxed atmospheres
China Palace Chinese Restaurant in the Centre of town (average food)
Lake Victoria Hotel varied cuisine (good pizza)
4 Turkeys traditional English fare (good fish and chips)
Golf Nest varied cuisine including local fare (very slow service)
African Village is a favourite for local cuisine
Laos Restaurant near Anderita Hotel.
All places listed above provide alcoholic beverages. 4 Turkeys is a local hotpsot. Pool can be played at several bars including the 4 Turkeys and African Village. Check out market night on Tuesday’s at Kitoro, also known as “Kabubu” (meaning “the turning of the clothes”). They have a good second hand market which sells clothing and other household items. Lake Victoria Hotel is popular for a buffet and drinks on a Friday night. For late night partying go to Kampala (see separate sheet for Kampala). The Lake Victoria Hotel has a swimming pool which you can use for a small fee (5,000/=).
Located in Entebbe town, a 20-minute walk from our headquarters. Open Monday to Friday, 9.00 am 6.00 pm and Saturdays 10.00 am 2.00 pm. Closed Sundays. Post is quite reliable, packages generally turn up… eventually!
There are many small supermarkets and shops located around town. Upland Supermarket is well stocked with lots of goodies and is the supermarket.
Kitoro market is the best place for produce of all kinds. There are also many small stalls carrying various items of interest. On Tuesday nights, the market expands and prices are reduced. Enjoy a beer at the Elgon Bar after shopping a favourite hangout for the Entebbe expatriate community.
Although it is recommended that you go to Kampala for any serious medical treatment, the St Louis Medical Centre in Entebbe can help you with treatment of minor illnesses and/or diagnostic tests.
For a good guide to Kampala use your copy of “The Eye” magazine (will come with your conference package). This publication will provide you with all the addresses you are likely to need during your stay, as well as useful tips on travel itineraries and medical issues.
Kampala is a friendly and safe city. Most people will be more than happy to give you directions during your first days there. It has excellent restaurants, interesting markets, two cinemas, a couple of theatres, large supermarkets, nightclubs and bars.
There are various modes of transport. The “boda boda” is a moped taxi. For short journeys (up to 500m) expect to pay Ushs500/=, and for anything longer expect to bargain a little. Special hires, i.e. regular car taxi’s, cost more and bargaining is definitely required. For “Matatus” (14 seater mini-van which act as buses), no bargaining is required, but if in doubt ask your fellow passengers for the appropriate price. Once you find out the prices of the journeys you take regularly it will be easier to get around.
You can catch a “matatu” (mini-bus taxi) from the “stage” or by flagging it down on the side of the road. The ride between Entebbe and Kampala takes about 40 minutes and costs Ushs1,500/= for a one way fare. In Kampala you will be dropped off at the Old Taxi Park.
THINGS TO DO IN KAMPALA
Owino Market excellent for secondhand clothing and shoes, as well as hardware, food, household items, etc.
Makerere University - East Africa’s oldest institute of higher learning
Bahai Temple the only one in all of Africa
National Theatre see the bulletin board for plays and events
Kasubi Tombs most impressive royal tombs of the ancient Buganda Kingdom
Cineplex Cinema (for the latest movies)
Plus many great bars, restaurants and nightclubs
Kampala offers an amazing variety of international cuisine, including Italian (Mambo Point), Chinese (Fang Fang), Thai (Krua Thai), Greek (Andy the Greeks), Al Tarboush (Lebanese), Indian (Masala Chat/Handii’s), Ugandan (Ekitobeero), Ethiopian (Fasika), European (Sam’s) and pizza (Dominoes/Speke Hotel), coffee/fresh juice (Ban Café), bakery (Vasili and Sons) and fast food (Nandos/Steers)... to name a few!
There are several bars in Kampala: Wagadugu’s, Just Kicking, Kaos, On the Rocks, Al’s Bar, DV8, Steak Out, Obligato.
Nightclubs: Club Silk, Ange Noir and Viper Room.
Cineplex offers movies at Ushs7,000/= and DV8 bar is located behind.
The National Theatre features plays, dance and music see their bulletin board for what’s on.
The Post Office is centrally located on Kampala Road near Barclays Bank, open Monday to Friday, 9.00 am 5.00 pm and Saturdays 10.00 am 2.00 pm. Closed Sundays.
There are many grocery stores in Kampala. Shoprite is our latest and greatest supermarket and has everything you could imagine… or not imagine, to get in Uganda!! Lots of exciting imported foods from South Africa. Star and Starlite Supermarkets are also good. “Your Choice” next to Sam’s Restaurant has some special goodies but is quite pricey. Luisun, on Bombo Road, is a great Italian delicatessen.
Central produce market is on Nakasero Road but beware of pickpockets and it’s fairly expensive.
International Medical Centre, Pentacostal Church Building, Bombo Road (opposite Hotel Equatoria), (Dr Ian Clarke) - phone 041 341 291
The Surgery, 2 Acacia Avenue, Kampala (Dr Richard Stockley) - phone 041 256 003
Barclays Bank on Kampala Road, open Monday to Friday, 9.00 am 3.00 pm, closed Saturdays and Sundays. The only bank in Uganda to do credit card cash advances for the very small fee of 3,000/=. There are many forex bureau’s in town offering good exchange rates.
There are craft shops throughout the city. A great place for textiles (sarongs, bedspreads, table cloths) is the Textile Centre at UGMA Showgrounds, near Metro Cash and Carry. Try the local crafts market behind the National Theatre for a variety of handmade items where you can bargain. UCOTA located on Gaba Road in Kansanga is a great place for handmade crafts, made by communities groups from all over the country. Banana Boat in Kisemente (near Just Kicking) offers exclusive crafts from Kenya and Uganda. A little pricey but definitely worth a look, especially for something a little more special. Cassava Republic, under Wagadugu’s, and their sister shop just around the corner, “Jungle Junk”, has wonderful hand painted cloth with wrought iron spears to hang them from, plus other local crafts.
PLACES TO VISIT IN UGANDA
There is much to see and do in Uganda and you might want to look at options and excursions to do after the congress. Following are a list of places recommended to visit. If you wish to tour the country before or after the congress we recommend you use one of the tour operators listed the tourism services page of this site.
Jinja the Source of the Nile, a short drive from Kampala, lots of places to stay, and for those of you brave enough, white water rafting.
Ssese Islands (just in case you haven’t had enough of living on an island!) camping, site seeing and relaxing.
Lake Mburo National Park this park covers 256 sq kms and is the only National Park to contain an entire lake. It has the largest number of impala and is only one of two parks that has zebra. (It is also the closest national park to Kampala.)
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park situated near the beautiful Kisoro Town, overlooking Lakes Butunda and Bunyonyi. Mgahinga is one of two places in Uganda for gorilla viewing, however, this particular group move between DRC and Uganda so are not always viewable from this side. If they are around, gorilla permits are cheaper than Bwindi (the other site) a much less strenuous walk and quite often only a short walk away.
Lake Bunyonyi for camping, relaxing, canoe rides on the lake and a good place to stay either on the way, or on the way back, to/from the gorillas.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park 10 hours drive from Kampala, is famous for gorilla trekking. As it’s name suggests “impenetrable”, a little harder trekking and gorilla permits are more expensive but well worth the visit. Permits available only through the UWA office.
Kibale National Park home to the largest community of wild chimpanzees, Kanyanchu Tourist Centre is the flagship site for wild chimpanzee trekking. Kibale Forest has over 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee. A must!
Fort Portal the town you drive through before getting to Kibale. Lots of lovely places to stay and wonderful views of the Rwenzori Mountain range (or “Mountains of the Moon” as they are also known).
Rwenzori Mountains National Park Located on Mt Rwenzori, the second highest mountain in Africa. Recently re-opened to visitors, for those of you brave enough to climb the mountains, we hear that it is an amazing experience.\
Queen Elizabeth National Park one of Uganda’s oldest national parks, home to a large array of wildlife (elephants, lions, hyaenas, hippos, etc.), with the famous “Kazinga Channel” trip, where you will see the largest number of hippos and birdlife in Uganda.
Murchison Falls National Park with the stunning falls and views, another great place to visit.
Budongo Forest Reserve we work in collaboration with the Budongo Forest Project (BFP) who are researching and habituating chimpanzees. The birdlife is rich and the forest is magical.
Mount Elgon National Park for the adventurous climber, Mt Elgon is an extinct volcano and the 4th highest mountain in Africa and the 2nd highest peak in Uganda (4321m). The parks has magnificent waterfalls, caves, gorges and hot springs. Excellent for hiking with incredible views of Karamoja and Kenya.
Sipi Falls (not far from Mount Elgon) stunning falls with amazing views of the Karamoja plains. The Crows Nest offers tented camping or log cabin accommodation, with great food (salsa and guacamole!) and the best views of the falls from their camp.
Kidepo Valley National Park not so accessible without a vehicle, and extremely remote in the very north of the Uganda, bordering Sudan, has a wonderful array of unhabituated wildlife, set in the picturesque Karamoja plains.