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Discover the hidden charms of Uganda – the Pearl of Africa

Uganda was named the Pearl of Africa by Sir Winston Churchill in 1908, in his book ‘My African Journey’. It was testament to the beauty, colour and profusion of brilliant life he unveiled there and that many a visitor will undoubtedly experience when they travel to this charming country in Africa’s heartland.

Whilst Uganda may be a small country, it packs a punch with its diversity of landscapes. It’s home to the snow-capped Rwenzoris, the tallest mountain range in Africa, the vast Lake Bunyongi, Africa’s largest lake and ten national parks, where you can spot the Big 5. 20% of the country is water, which includes Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake and the source of the Nile.

Culture and history

In 1984, Uganda was claimed by the British and ruled until 1962, when it gained independence. It has since experienced its share of disruption, including the civil war against the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Second Congo War and political unrest from Idi Amin’s dictatorship.

Despite its historical conflict, the country has been at peace since 2005 and is now considered one the safest African countries to visit.

Culturally, the people of Uganda are as diverse as its landscapes. At least 40 languages are spoken, with English and Swahili being the most prominent. Other languages include Luganda, Runyoro, Rukiga and Luo and depend upon the region.

Things to do

The Ugandan visitor will not be short of experiences to immerse themselves in. The majority of Tourists flock to see the Big 5 and there is a plethora of national parks offering safari tours.

The Rwenzoris

The Rwenzori Mountains were coined the Mountains of the Moon, by Ptolemy in AD 350 and continue to have an air of mystery about them, with their misty peaks and rare species of plants and animals. They are the highest peaks in Africa, standing at 5109m at their highest point.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi is a World Heritage-listed national park that is home to almost half the world’s surviving mountain gorillas. Set in luscious mountainous rainforest, the park also has many species of plants, insects and 120 species of mammals.

Lake Mburo National Park

Located in Western Uganda, this national park is the smallest of the country’s national parks, but it has over 300 species of bird and a variety of animals, including leopard, zebra and hippopotamus. Here you can take a guided nature walk.

Flight time

Uganda’s main airport is Entebbe International Airport. Direct flights from London to Entebbe are around 8 ½ hours. Flights with a stopover are around 10 hours.

Currency

Ugandan shilling -

The currency of Uganda is the Ugandan shilling.

Passports and visas

Visitors to Uganda must hold a passport valid for at least 6 months from their return date to the UK. You’ll also need a visa to enter Uganda. You can apply online for an ‘e-visa’ or at the Ugandan High Commission in London.

You can also apply for an East African Tourist Visa online. This is valid for 90 days and allows multiple entry into Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

For more information, visit the GOV.UK website.

Phrases

Although English is widely spoken in Uganda, here are a few useful pleasantries in Luganda, to help you get by:

How are you – Oli otya?

Good morning – Wasuze otya nno

Good afternoon – Osiibye otya nno

Please – Mwattu

Thank you – Weebale

Goodbye – Weeraba

Yes – Yee or Mm

No - Nedda

Timezone

Uganda is on EAT (Eastern Africa Time), 2 hours ahead of London.

Electricity

In Uganda the power sockets are of type G. The standard voltage is 240 volts and the standard frequency is 50Hz. The plugs are the same as those in the UK, so an adapter is not required. You will need an adapter and you may also need a voltage converter, if your appliance does not run at 230 V.

Language

English,Swahili -

The official languages of Uganda are English and Swahili. Some 40 other African languages are spoken across the country, depending on region. Some of these include Luganda, Rukiga, Runyoro, Runyankole and Luo.

Tipping

Tipping in restaurants in customary and 10% is a recommended minimum. Some visitors tip under US guidelines if the experience exceeds their expectations. Tipping in taxis is not expected and you should always agree your price up front.

Climate

Uganda is a landlocked country, which makes it warmer and drier than its coastal neighbours. It enjoys a tropical climate with the average annual temperature around 78°F (26°C). It two rainy seasons from March until May and October until November, and two dry seasons, from December to February and June to August.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Uganda covers 197,100 km2, with 43,938 km2 of that being water.

The population of Uganda is around 36,000,000, giving a figure of 182 people per km2.

Smoking

In 2007, Uganda joined the WHO framework, to ban smoking in public places. Smoking is prohibited in all indoor public places, indoor workplaces, and on public transport. You are also not permitted to smoke within 50 metres of public places such as workplaces, schools and transport terminals.



Climate

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