Obtaining Uganda Visa

Most non-African passport holders visiting Uganda require visas. Three-month single entry tourist visa cost US$50. Six month multiple visas cost up US$160. You can apply and purchase a visa abroad in many countries such as Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation, South Africa, United Kingdom,USA. This is usually done by applying either in person, with two passport pictures and an application that you can download from the Embassy website in your country of origin. You can also look for instructions as to how to mail it to them with express mail of some kind and receive it back to you in a short period of time.

Two photos required and the are visas issued within 24 hours, or possibly same day if you ask the embassy staff nicely enough.

he second and convenient and easier way is for tourists to apply for the visa at the point of entry such as the border or Entebbe Airport. Same fee, though you probably won’t need a photo, lowering your cost and no mail is required. Just fill out your entrance form and fill in the passport information and dates, and that is your application.

Immigration, either at the airport or at the border crossing, may less than 90 days but the visa is renewable. If you want to avoid the hassle of getting it extended, be clear about how much time you want to spend in Uganda and they may give you more time.

Uganda Visa extensions

For visa extensions pay a visit to immigration office which is located on Jinja Rd, on the right-hand side 300m past the roundabout after Centenary Park.

Other Visas. Kampala is a good place for picking up visas to other countries as there are usually no queues at the various Embassies.

Tips for Uganda Driving and Licenses

If you have an international driving license then you should bring it (although you only need your local driving license from home).

Things you will need to obtain your Uganda visa upon entry.

  • Valid Passport issued by your country of origin.

  • International Health Certificate showing that you have had a yellow fever shot.

  • Return Ticket to country of origin: This is usually not asked for, but can be.

  • Enough funds or ways to obtain funds: In some rare situations, you might be asked if you have sufficient funds with you while you are in Uganda.

Uganda security tips, dangers and annoyances

Kampala is safe as far as capitals in Africa go and there is no need to be suspicious when out late night. However, from time to time, incidents do happen, like anywhere in the world, so it pays not to have all your valuables on you in poorly lit areas at night. The only areas in Kampala in which you should take great care is around the taxi parks, as pickpockets as operate here.

Unlike in the past, there are no more security concerns in Kampala with terrorists campaigns coming to the capital. There was a spate of bomb attacks in 1998 and early 1999, but the ringleaders were captured. However this does not mean security at government buildings, embassies, bars and nightclubs is extremely tight. However you get used to the searches pretty quickly, and remember it’s for your own safety.

Baggers have greatly reduced in central Kampala, and the few that exist are not very persistent. However if you get plagued, try and be patient as there isn’t much of the social security system in Uganda so they have no fallback except to beg.

One final annoyance in Kampala is that taxi and motor bike (locally refer to as “boda-boda” drivers have a tendency to run out of gas at the most convenient times.

Uganda Restrictions

Although there are no official restrictions on photography, there is a certain amount of paranoia about photos being taken of anything that could be interpreted as spying (military civilian infrastructure) or of poverty or deprivation, but try asking for permission before taking photos of people in some places.

Driving Tips

Plan your day around bush time During a 24-hour period there are four main activity times in the animal world – early morning, day-time, late afternoon and night-time. Much of the “action” happens either early in the morning or late in the afternoon and one should plan one’s game drives around these times, and rest when the wildlife rests, which is during the middle of the day.

Make use of get-out points Make a point of stopping at the first get-out spot after entering the park. Spend at least a quarter of an hour walking around, listening to the sounds of the bush, feeling the temperature, looking at the landscape. What trees are in flower? What kind of birds are around? What is the weather doing? This is the best way to start adjusting your body clock away from the rush of the outside world. While in the park, plan your self-drive journeys around get-out points – either at picnic spots or Rest Camps. It breaks up the time spent in your vehicle and sensitizes you to the different environments and scenery.

Drive slowly There is one uncontested truth about enjoying your self drive the slower you drive, the more you’ll see. Avoid the temptation to go fast when nothing much appears to be happening in the bush around you. Wildlife blends naturally into the environment and can easily be missed if you are speeding.

Switch off at waterholes Stop at waterholes, on river banks or shade points and switch off the engine. These are often the most rewarding moments as one witnesses the passing pageant of animal life and the central role that water plays in governing their relationships.

Ditch the “checklist mentality” It’s great to see as much as you can. But the beauty of your safari is that it allows you to experience the rhythm and cycles of the natural world in its entirety. Good sightings should be events that punctuate your experience of the Park rather than be an end in themselves.

Use Rest Camps as education centers There is a wealth of information in every Rest Camp, from the names of trees to environmental and archival displays. Each bit of information enhances your subsequent drive. Rest Camps are a good source of information as to what to look out for in an area. Most of them have at least one sightings board which can help you plan your route in the direction of the last observed kill. Remember that Lions will probably be at a kill hours after it has happened and scavengers may linger in the area for days.

Uganda Technical Tips

If you are hoping to get decent shorts, of the gorillas, then you are going to need fast film, but not too fast as the pictures will come out grainy; the best is to use ASA 400. And likewise for the wild life in national parks, as you tend to see most animals at a dawn or dusk when there isn’t so much light.

Emails and Internet access in Uganda

Email and Internet access is very simple in Kampala, there are thousands of internet cafes. However, beyond the capital, options dry up very fast, although with the onward technology, many have started in major towns in the country and basic email services are available and in most of the upmarket lodges in national parks.

Uganda Post & Communications

There is an efficient poster restate service at the main post office in Kampala. For a list of towns serviced by the EMS Post Bus Servicing a number of provincial capitals, it often only takes a day more than from Kampala.

Phone communications both domestic and international are both pretty good, although not so reliable in provinces. The provincial network is slowly being digitized, but you will still need patience and understanding in smaller downs.

Uganda Money exchanging tips

The Ugandan shilling is relatively stable currency and floats against the US dollar. It is also fully convertible (ie, you can by Ugandan shilling with US dollars or US dollars with Ugandan shilling) at the bank and foreign exchange bureaus. Notes in circulation are Ush50,000, Ush20,000, Ush10,000, Ush5,000, Ush 2000Ush1,000 and coins in 500, 200, 100, 50 Ush. Travellers should note that the bank of Uganda has since April 2010 printed new bills, same denominations but completely different looks. It was at this very time that a Ush2000 note was brought into circulation.

The Ugandan shilling trades at whatever it’s worth with the US dollar/UK pound and there’s usually little fluctuations from Day to Day. However, as the currency speculators prey emerging market, this might change in the future. Small US bills attract a much lower rate of exchange than US$50 and US$100 notes. So unless you don’t mind losing as much as 20% of your money in a transaction, come with large bills.

There is no black market. As a result, it doesn’t really matter too much where you exchange your money, the foreign exchange bureaus generally offer a slightly better rate than the banks. The trouble is that not every town has a foreign exchange bureau, and where one does not exist, the banks take the advantage of this by giving lousy rates. You will find foreign exchange bureaus at both Malaba and Busia border crossings (Uganda-Kenya border), Fort Portal, Jinja, Kabale, Kisoro, Masaka, Mbale and Mbarara. Elsewhere plan ahead so you don’t get caught short.