Uganda General Information
Ugandan officials estimate that 80% of the population are Christian - almost equally divided among Protestants and Roman Catholics. This is largely a result of European missionary activity in the 19th century. Approximately 5% of Ugandans are Muslims. Roughly 15 percent of the people professed belief in local religions or denied any religious affiliation. The basic tenets of all religions (that a spiritual realm exists and that spiritual and physical beings can influence one another) permeated much of Ugandan society. World religions and local religions had coexisted for more than a century, and many people established a coherent set of beliefs about the nature of the universe by combining elements of the two. Except in a few teachings, world religions were seldom viewed as incompatible with local religions.
English is the official national language although Swahili is commonly spoken as a lingua franca. There are around 40 different languages currently in use in the country. The language with the largest number of native speakers is Luganda, spoken in the Buganda region which encompasses Kampala. Other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, and Arabic are also spoken. Uganda's literacy rate stands at just over 52%.
Area (sq. km):
236,040 square meters
GMT + 3 hours
When To Travel
Uganda has an equatorial climate moderated by altitude resulting in moderate temperatures throughout the year. The country is generally tropical in nature, although semiarid in the northeast, and the climate differs between parts of the country. Most areas of the country have distinct dry and wet seasons, though the Lake Victoria area receives rain throughout the year. The rainy seasons occur from March through Mayand then October through to November. Rainfall varies from more than 2100 millimetres around Lake Victoria to about 500 millimetres in northeast.
The drier months in Uganda are January and February and June to September, however all months of the year except for April are fine to travel in. April is the wettest time in Uganda.
Useful Travel Facts
Uganda's international airport is located just outside of Entebbe, south of Kampala. There are some smaller airlines offering scheduled domestic flights from Kampala but these are not usually used by tourists.
The international dialing code for Uganda is +250 Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Africa. Alternatively local sim cards and pay-as-you-go credits are easily obtainable. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.
Uganda's electricity is a 240V / 50Hz system with a type G 3 pin rectangular blade plug. This plug is also used in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The food in Uganda is quite similar to what you would find in Kenya, fairly basic and bland. Maize meal in Uganda is called posho, but more popular is matoke, which are mashed plantains. Most local dishes are meat-based so vegetarian choices will be limited. The national drink is waragi, a banana gin, popular among visitors as a cocktail base.
In Uganda, we get around by local bus, minibus, boat and on foot.
Uganda generally lacks the craft opportunities of other East African countries with the exception of drums, wooden masks and woven baskets and crafts.
Visas are required by most nationalities, including the EU, US and Australia. Visas are available at point of entry to most nationalities. Some nationalities are required to obtain visas in advance - you MUST check before departure. If you plan to purchase your visas on arrival, you will need new (post 2003), clean American dollars cash and the cost is around US$50. When on one of our gorilla itineraries visiting Rwanda, you may require a double entry visa to Uganda. This is dependent on the border guard of the day and can be easily purchased on re entry from Rwanda for nationalities which qualify for visa on arrival. Please allow US$50.
Useful Words & Phrases
Lonely Planet East Africa
Bradt travel guide to Uganda - Philip Bradt
Spectrum Guide to Uganda
The Last King Of Scotland - Giles Foden
Abyssinian Chronilces - Moses Isegawa
The Impenetrable Forest - Thor Hanson
Sowing the Mustard Seed - Yoweri Museveni