There are a number of reasons landlocked Uganda should be added to your East African travel itinerary.
Much less visited than neighbouring Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya national parks, the Rwenzori Mountains on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are home to stunning trekking. Known as the Mountains of the Moon, the park is one of the only places in Africa where you can wander alpine ecosystems and admire snowcapped mountains.
From Rwenzori, head south to the keystone of Uganda’s tourism industry: the eerily named Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Famous for gorilla trekking, the park in southwest Uganda boasts half of the world’s wild gorilla population.
Most trips to Uganda start with a trip into Entebbe International Airport, the gateway to Kampala, the country’s capital city. The hilly capital borders Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest body of water. Be sure to explore UNESCO site Kasubi Tombs or take advantage of Kampala’s famous nightlife before jetting or driving off to any of the above destinations.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) recommends travellers see a travel medicine specialist at least six weeks before visiting Uganda. Travellers should discuss the following:
- Yellow Fever: A Yellow Fever Certificate is required for travellers coming from a country where there is a risk of the disease. Vaccination is also required for travellers younger than nine months of age.
- Typhoid Fever: The typhoid vaccination is recommended for travellers to Uganda. The illness is caused by consuming food or drink that has come into contact with fecal matter.
- Hepatitis A: Spread to humans through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. This vaccination is recommended for all travellers to Uganda.
- Hepatitis B: This contagious liver disease is contracted through the exchange of bodily fluids or contact with contaminated needles or piercing tools. The vaccination is recommended for travellers who may be exposed to those above scenarios.
- Meningitis: Uganda is in the Meningitis Belt that extends across Africa. This area is at increased risk of the disease. Younger travellers may have already received the vaccination, and the shot is recommended for all others who have not.
- Rabies: While not mandatory for visitors to Uganda, the rabies vaccination should be considered for those travellers coming in close contact with animals.
- Cholera: There was a recent outbreak of this infection in Busia District in eastern Uganda. Nearby Tanzania is also experiencing an outbreak of the infection. It is recommended travellers take Dukoral, an oral vaccination to protect against cholera.
Mosquitos infected with malaria and yellow fever are present in Uganda. Insects carrying a variety of other diseases are also found in the country. The PHAC recommends taking preventative measures against insect bites.
Appropriate health services are limited outside Kampala. Ensure your travel insurance plan covers evacuation in case you need to be flown to the capital city or out of country.
For more details on any of the above vaccinations, visit our detailed vaccination pages or make an appointment with your International Health Passport travel Specialist by calling +39 392 0056499 today.
Here’s what to expect from the weather when visiting these Ugandan destinations:
- Kampala: Kampala has a tropical rainforest climate. Average temperatures remain consistent throughout the year, sitting at between 27º Celsius and 29º Celsius. Variation in climate is caused by the city’s two rainy seasons, one from August to December and the other from February until June. April is the rainiest month.
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Temperatures in the national park are cooler than in Kampala, and range between 7º Celsius and 27º Celsius. Because of the variations between day and night, bringing a light jacket is recommended. Visiting outside the rainy season months of March to April and September to November is highly recommended.
- Rwenzori Mountains: The Rwenzori Mountains are chilly and wet, with cool daytime temperatures ranging between 10º Celsius and 15º Celsius. Nights get much colder, and warm clothing is suggested, especially if sleeping in tents. The best time to visit is from June to August and December to February.
Criminal activity in Kampala has decreased significantly over recent years. Despite the decline, armed muggings and theft still happen across the country. Precautions should be taken, including not carrying valuables or large amounts of money, keeping vehicle and hotel doors locked, and taking advantage of hotel safes. This is especially important since most crimes against travellers are crimes of opportunity.
Despite strict penalties for impaired driving, many road accidents happen as a result of drunk driving. The World Health Organization says Uganda has one of the highest road fatality rates in the world. Road travel at night is not recommended because of this, in addition to banditry and poor road conditions. Accidents happen frequently on intercity buses and public transportation such as boda-bodas (motorcycles) and matatus (public buses). Watch for pickpockets on public transportation.
Homosexuality is forbidden in Uganda and LGBTQ travellers should exercise caution when visiting the country.
As in the rest of East Africa, wearing clothing with camouflage pattern is forbidden. Photography is not allowed at certain sites, including airports and at the Owen Falls Dam, the source of the Nile River.
The Italian Goverment recommends travellers take high levels of caution when visiting Uganda, and doesn’t recommend travel to areas bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
Here are some essential items to consider for your trip to Uganda:
- American bills printed after 2003: While the Ugandan shilling is the main currency, US dollars are widely accepted and are valuable emergency currency. Travellers have had issues exchanging American money minted before 2002. Ensure you note this when withdrawing money at the bank, and keep your bills in a place where they will stay untorn and unfolded. Some exchange bureaus will give a lower exchange rate for older bills.
- Wet wipes and hand sanitizer: Many people go to Uganda for multi-day adventures out of the city. There won’t always be running water or showers in these places, so bring wet wipes and hand sanitizer as a precautionary measure.
- Good quality hiking boots: Conditions may get damp and slippery when trekking. Pack a pair of broken in boots with good grip.
- Quick-drying clothing: Your trip to Uganda is likely to be filled with hot weather and potentially wet adventures (think: rafting on the Nile). Pack clothing that dries quickly and wrinkle-free.
- Gloves: These aren’t to protect you from the cold, but rather to save your hands from grabbing onto rough bark and thorns when hiking in the mountains or gorilla trekking. Gardening gloves or something similar are ideal.
All Italians visiting Uganda should register with the Embassy before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
Ambasciata d’Italia a Kampala
Plot n.11, Lourdel Road, Nakasero
P.O.Box 4646 Kampala
Tel.: + 256-(0)312 188000 - 001
Emergency line: +256.752.750448
Visit the Embassy website prior to your departure.
Italian travellers require a tourist visa to enter Uganda. These visas are available on arrival or can be applied in advance on line. The Italian Government strongly recommends applying before leaving for your trip. As of 2016, only 90-day single entry visas are being issued for Uganda. They cost $100 USD.
For those planning to travel the region, there is also a $100 USD East African visa that allows entry to Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda for a 90-day period. That visa can be applied for online using the same visa application form included above.
To get a visa, Italian passports must be valid for at least six months past the intended day of departure.
If you have any questions about travelling to Uganda or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your International Health Passport travel clinic by calling +39 392 0056499 or booking online now.