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A small, landlocked country straddling the equator between Kenya and the DRC in Eastern Africa, Uganda is one of the continent's most beautiful countries, boasting a wide variety of scenery, culture and wildlife despite its modest size.
Its reputation as 'Africa's friendliest country' is not only accredited to its likeable people, but also to its redevelopment as an eco-friendly environment, with the enlightened management of 10 national parks, and its introduction of eco-tourism projects, adventure sports and unique gorilla-trekking opportunities that have put the country back on the tourist circuit.
Not only is Uganda progressive in its development as an environment-friendly destination, but its approach towards HIV/AIDS has been hailed as the most effective in sub-Saharan Africa. After years of misrule, hardship and war under Idi Amin, Uganda is once again receiving positive global interest due to its forward-thinking policies and wealth of tourist attractions. The hardship and war have not been forgotten by the people, but they are memories confined to the past.
Uganda's variety of landscapes is as astounding as its biodiversity. Forested crater lakes on the floor of the Rift Valley give way to typical East African savannah as well as tropical rainforest. The glacial peaks of the highest mountain range in Africa, the 'Mountains of the Moon' or Rwenzori Mountains that mark the country's western border, as well as a number of extinct volcanoes make for world-class hiking and mountaineering. There are several large bodies of water, including the massive Lake Victoria, which it shares with Tanzania and Kenya, and the myriad islands dotting Lake Victoria and Lake Bunyoni are ideal birdwatching destinations. Lake Victoria is also the source of the Nile, the longest river in the world, which passes through the impressive Murchison Falls and creates some of the most exciting white water rafting on earth.
What also makes Uganda a unique safari destination is its remarkable concentration of primates, which is the highest on earth, and people are drawn from around the world to track chimpanzees and to experience the face to face encounter of a lifetime: the massive mountain gorilla.
Uganda has a typically tropical climate with little variation in temperature throughout the year. Distinctive wet and dry seasons characterise the climate of most of the country, except in the semi-arid north east. The dry season, generally from December to February and mid-June to mid-August, is the best time to visit. The two rainy seasons are from March to May, and September to November. In the south the rainiest month is April. The mountainous areas in western and eastern Uganda can be cold at night.
The official currency is the Ugandan Shilling (UGX), which is divided into 100 cents. Foreign currency, like US dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling, can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change. Travellers cheques are not widely accepted outside of Kampala. ATMs are available in Kampala. Credit cards are only accepted at major hotels, shops and restaurants, usually only in the cities.
All visitors require a passport that is valid for at least six
months on entry. Visitors must hold return or onward tickets, and
sufficient funds. All nationals can obtain a visa on arrival at a
cost of US$50 (single entry) or US$100 for a six month visa
(multiple entry) and US$200 for a one year visa (multiple
All visitors require a passport that is valid for at least six months on entry. Visitors must hold return or onward tickets, and sufficient funds. All nationals can obtain a visa on arrival at a cost of US$50 (single entry) or US$100 for a six month visa (multiple entry) and US$200 for a one year visa (multiple entry).
- US nationals require a valid passport and a visa, which can be obtained on arrival for a fee of US$50-200.
- UK nationals require a valid passport and a visa, which can be obtained on arrival for a fee of US$50-200.
- Canadians require a valid passport and a visa, which can be obtained on arrival for a fee of US$50-200.
- Australians require a valid passport and a visa, which can be obtained on arrival for a fee of US$50-200.
- South Africans require a valid passport and a visa, which can be obtained on arrival for a fee of US$50-200.
- Irish nationals require a valid passport, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to six months.
- New Zealand nationals require a valid passport and a visa, which can be obtained on arrival for a fee of US$50-200.
Travellers' diarrhoea is the most common complaint for visitors to Uganda. Recommended vaccinations include hepatitis A and typhoid; a Hepatitis E outbreak in northern Uganda since the end of 2007 has killed over 60 people so far and infected thousands more, and visitors are advised to take precautions if visiting the area. All visitors require vaccination against yellow fever. Cholera outbreaks occur occasionally, but most travellers are at low risk for infection; bottled water is widely available. Malaria and HIV/AIDS are widespread. Outbreaks of the plague and meningitis occur and visitors should insure that vaccinations are up to date. A recent outbreak of Ebola has killed 37 people in western Uganda; it is spread through direct contact with blood or secretions of an infected person. Incidents of sleeping sickness are on the rise, carried by tsetse flies. Limited health facilities are available outside of Kampala. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.
- Uganda Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 726 7100.
- Uganda High Commission, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7839 5783.
- Uganda High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 7797.
- Uganda High Commission, ACT, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 (0)2 6286 1234.
- Uganda High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 342 6031/3.
- United States Embassy, Kampala: +256 (0)41 259 791/2/3.
- British High Commission, Kampala: +256 (0)31 231 2000.
- Canadian High Commission, Nairobi, Kenya (also responsible for Uganda): +254 (0)20 366 3000.
- Australian High Commission, Nairobi, Kenya (also responsible for Uganda): +254 (20) 4277 100.
- South African High Commission, Kampala: +256 (0)41 770 2100.
- Ireland Embassy, Kampala: +256 (0)41 771 3000.