Uganda Travel Guide: The Pearl of Africa

Explore Uganda with this helpful Uganda Guide and experience the wonders of Africa's Pearl, from Gorilla trekking to amazing crater lakes, waterfalls, wildlife, and inspiring people.

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UGANDA NATIONAL PARKS VISITED

Uganda Travel Guide

Uganda is the world's premier primate destination as the country is home to over 5000 chimpanzees, more than half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas, and the highest number of monkeys and baboons. Apart from that, Uganda's Pearl of Africa is a beautiful, diverse country with magnificent landscapes, stunning wildlife, and hard-working friendly locals.

If Uganda isn't on your bucket list yet, reconsider adding it! Apart from seeing Gorillas in the wild in Bwindi NP and trekking Chimpanzees in Kibale, Uganda offers many other natural wonders, such as a boat trip to the source of the Nile in Jinja, having a swim in Africa's second deepest lake, named Lake Bunyonyi, a stunning crater lake area with several volcanic crater lakes, the vast African Savannahs and the peaceful green Sipi Falls area, which is a true hikers paradise. 

With 10 official Uganda National Parks and 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there's enough to see! Well-known National Parks are Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo National Park, and Murchison Falls National Park.

Check out this ultimate Uganda guide where I share the most popular places to visit in Uganda including some of the best things to do and things to know before you travel to the Pearl of Africa, for example, the best time to visit, safety in Uganda and visa requirements.

Interesting Facts Uganda

  Flag of Uganda

Uganda country flag

  Uganda's National Animal

Ugandan Kob

  Ugandan Dish
Matoke, steamed and mashed green banana

  Currency in Uganda

Ugandan Shilling (UGX) or Dollars

  Uganda Time Zone
East African Time Zone or EAT (GMT+3 hours)

Best time to visit Uganda

What is the best time to visit Uganda? The best time of the year to visit Uganda depends on your planned activities. If you want to go on a safari in Uganda, the best time to visit is during Uganda's dry season from June to August and from December to February. The high season in Uganda is from June to September. If you want to go on a Gorilla Trekking adventure in the high season, it's highly recommended to book your gorilla permits way ahead. Real peak season doesn’t really exist as mass tourism luckily doesn’t apply to Uganda travel. The wet season in Uganda is between March and May. During this period, it's a little harder to travel to Uganda as roads and trails can be in poor condition, but nothing to worry about.

Read the full article about the best time to visit Uganda including a weather chart and the best time to visit popular national parks by month.

Best time to visit Uganda
Read full article about the best time to visit Uganda

Things to know before you travel to Uganda

Safety in Uganda

Uganda is a safe country with low crime rates. Avoid travel by road outside major towns at night (except between Kampala and Entebbe Airport). It’s better to avoid the South Sudan border region and Karamoja in the very north, but it’s definitely safe to travel to Kidepo Valley National Park, close to the border with South Sudan. If you do want to travel to these areas, consider hiring a reputable local guide. I traveled through Uganda with a guide and I felt safe at all times.

Do I need a visa when traveling to Africa?

Visa requirements for Uganda

All foreign nationals require a visa to travel to Uganda. Apply for your Uganda eVisa through the official Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration. This is the only authentic Visa Application Portal for Uganda visas and it costs $50. Avoid other (fraudulent) portals where you’ll pay much more for your visa! It's still possible to get a visa on arrival for Uganda, but they plan to replace the visa on arrival for e-visas. It's very quick and simple to apply for a visa online. This is what you need: a passport copy, a recent passport-size photo, and a yellow fever vaccination certificate. You also have the possibility to apply for an East-Africa Tourist Visa (for example if you also travel to Kenya and Rwanda) or a multiple-entry visa.

Which vaccinations and antimalarials do I need for Africa?

Vaccinations & anti-Malaria tablets for Uganda

Required vaccinations for Uganda depend on what you will be doing in Uganda, which places you will be visiting, and how long you will stay. However, most travelers to Uganda require Hepatitis A and TDAP. Sometimes it's also advised to take Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis B, and Rabies. Apart from that, you require a Yellow Fever certificate. Without this, you can't get a visa for Uganda. Malaria is a risk throughout Uganda. Use mosquito repellents, mosquito nets, and antimalarials. Long pants and sleeves during sunset hours will also help to avoid mosquito bites. Consult a travel clinic for personal advice regarding your travel plans. 
What language do they speak in Africa?

Spoken languages in Uganda

There are 41 living languages in Uganda, but the country has only three official languages: Luganda, Swahili, and English. English has been Uganda’s official language since its independence in 1962. Luganda is the most widely spoken indigenous language and the second language alongside English. Swahili is more symbolic than functional; it's an African lingua franca and shares with English the characteristics of being the most influential trans-ethnic language in East Africa.

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Things to do in Uganda to cross off your bucket list

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Chimpanzee Trekking Kibale

Chimpanzee trekking is an exciting activity that must be on your Uganda itinerary! There are around 300,000 chimpanzees left. In Uganda, tourists are able to observe them in their natural habitat, for instance in Kibale Forest National Park; Africa’s primate capital of the world. Along with Gorilla trekking, this is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Uganda. Read about things you need to know to prepare for your Chimpanzee trek and the differences between tracking chimps and the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience.

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Ethical Gorilla Trekking Bwindi

My personal number one reason to visit Uganda was to witness the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat while trekking through Bwindi Forest National Park in search of an amazing Gorilla family with a silverback Gorilla and some cute playful baby gorillas. Don't travel to Uganda without doing this once-in-a-lifetime Gorilla trekking. Don't forget to buy your Gorilla Permit a few months ahead of your visit, to be sure the trekkings aren't sold out. 

Tree Climbing Lions in Queen Elizabeth, Uganda

Tree Climbing Lions in Ishasha

The Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park is famous for its tree-climbing lions. During the hottest part of the day, you have the highest chance of seeing lions chilling in a tree. You can also spot other wildlife on a game drive in Queen Elizabeth, such as elephants, Ugandan kobs, hippos, and Giraffes. Apart from the African Savannah, you will also find beautiful salt crater lakes with large herds of buffaloes and lush forests! You might even see Flamingoes at Lake Munyanyange.
Sunset Lake Mburo National Park Uganda

Epic Sunsets in Lake Mburo NP

Lake Mburo is the smallest national park in Uganda and a real gem to add to your Uganda itinerary! You are able to sleep inside this National Park and explore the area on a horse or by bike, so you will feel extremely close to nature. Imagine watching a stunning African sunset on top of the National Park with endless views over the wide-open savannah interspersed with rocky ridges, forested gorges, and a lake full of hippos. Visiting lake Mburo is the perfect choice to break up a long journey from Lake Bunyonyi or Bwindi back to Kampala or Entebbe. 20% of the park’s entrance fee is used to fund local community projects such as building clinics and schools. I slept in a stunning eco-camp on top of the hill with impressive views!

Sipi Falls Uganda Things To Do

Hiking experience in Sipi Falls

Sipi is a fascinating hiker's paradise with a series of three huge waterfalls on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park and the border of Kenya. The unharmed landscapes of the Sipi Falls area are absolutely spectacular; a perfect place to unwind and one of the best places to visit in Uganda. A local guide will accompany you on your hike. The small fee you pay is a way of supporting the community to benefit from the tourist visiting Uganda. Apart from hiking around Sipi Falls, you are also able to visit local coffee plantations to learn more about the process. Don't forget to look for chameleons on the coffee plantation!

Visit Kidepo National Park in Uganda

Eco-friendly lodging in Kidepo National Park

Being the country's best treasure with true African wilderness, Kidepo National Park is a must-visit in Uganda. Kidepo is the most isolated park in Uganda and it has been named the 3rd best national park in the whole of Africa with a 'Serengeti-feeling'. It’s a long drive up to the northeast, but totally worth it! It offers spectacular Savannah landscapes with endless views of the rocky horizons. Kidepo National Park is also known as the best place for spotting wildlife in Uganda with a great variety of animal species, including 4 members of the Big 5.
Boat trip Lake Bunyonyi and Punishment Island

Lake Bunyonyi:
The Switzerland of Africa

Lake Bunyonyi is one of the top natural treasures of Uganda where you can go for a swim. The number one reason to visit Lake Bunyonyi - the second deepest lake in Africa - is that you can find 29 small islands scattered across the water with each island having its own unique story. One of the most famous islands is 'Punishment Island', where unmarried pregnant girls used to get abandoned to starve to death. I was lucky to meet the only living survivor of 'Punishment Island' and was impressed by her story and what she went through. Because of the winding roads, peaceful valleys, and green terraced hills, Lake Bunyoyi is also called the ‘Switzerland of Africa’. A perfect place for landscape photography or to relax on the lakeside!
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