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Top 10 Tourist Attractions to See in Uganda

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Namugongo Martyrs Shrine

Tourist attractions in Uganda are distinctive; the variety of its game stock and the raw untouched scenic beauty stand out.

The flora and fauna, the friendly climate – all year round, the variety of landscape and not forgetting the Ugandan people and their culture are outstandingly unrivalled and unique and therefore why Uganda has first become one of the hottest tourism destinations in the world.

Mountain Gorillas

The irresistible experience that could easily be top of Uganda’s tourist attractions is the Bwindi Impenetrable forest. It arguably possesses half of the world’s total mountain gorilla population – and that is for an endangered species by the way.

Bwindi Mountain Gorillas

Track the gorillas and come face to face with these creatures that possess the closest relation to the human race. Bwindi will also offer you over 300 species of birds, over 200 species of butterflies and tree species you will not find else where.

Uganda’s Birds

Bird lovers/watchers will certainly love the sheer variety of bird species that Uganda has to offer. The collection is unique – some of the birds you will not find else where.

Uganda Shoebills

Remember Uganda has more bird species than any other country in the world. 10.6% (1,061) of the world’s 10,000 bird species are found in Uganda – that is more than the entire Europe (1,000). Uganda has 46.1% of bird species in Africa (2,300)

Nyero Rock Paintings

The originality of the Nyero Rock paintings in the eastern region cements the heritage of Uganda. These paintings date back to the iron ages – believed to have been made by the light skinned bushmen.

Nyero Rock Paintings

Gazetted as a world heritage site, these rocks are amazing tourist attractions and well worth a visit.

Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Namugongo

Back in Kampala, the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo is one place to visit especially if you happen to be in the country by start of June.

Namugongo Martyrs Shrine

It is a venue for the annual pilgrimage every June 3 and Christians from all walks of life gather here to celebrate spirituality and history – remembering the lives of the 32 young men who under the orders of King Mwanga II of Buganda kingdom, were burned to death for their refusal to denounce Christianity in 1886.

Unfortunately it very much comes alive as a tourist attraction round about June 3 and this day is gazetted as one of the Ugandan public holidays

Budget Travelling Around Uganda – the cheaper option!

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Budget Travel in Uganda

Budget travelling around Uganda is very possible especially if you are running on a tight budget. Certainly you will miss out on the luxurious hotels in Uganda but who cares if you can still get all the fun to make a perfect holiday – and yet spend less!

Yes! It’s possible to spend less but again, take extra caution because ironically even cheap stuff can turn out to be expensive in the long run. It is therefore worth taking time to carefully look through your travel plans and what you exactly want to do with your holiday… sadly even the cheap stuff still cost money!

But your tight budget shouldn’t stop you from travelling around Uganda and enjoying the remote and beautiful country side of the country. You will possibly see quite a lot more than what a guided tour would give you.

Here I have looked at some of the possibilities of saving up on your holiday in Uganda. This will be particularly interesting for people on working holidays; those with more time than money, the backpackers and also for everybody else who would love to do some travelling around Uganda.

Hire a Car

On renting a car in Uganda, I would say yes and no – this will entirely depend on how long you plan to stay. If you are looking at a short holiday travelling around Uganda, then this is the better option. Find the right car hire (very reliably a full time 4×4); at the right price and off you go…

Also find out from your embassy in Uganda – they will usually have advice on this and they could also have a notice board where people who are leaving post ads for items on sale. You could land a bargain!

With a group of friend, you could also stay at the backpackers hostels to save up on accommodation. Hostels are a great way to meet new friends and make connections and also meet people who are leaving and selling their cars. Such people will also be reliably informed on how to find a good car and point you to a few places.

Ugandan Survival Phrases

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Learn Ugandan English

Are you planning to visit Uganda? Wondering about the simple words you can grasp and get introduced to the locals during your holiday in Uganda? Let us introduce you to Ugandan survival phrases in Luganda that can help you get around easily.

Luganda Phrases

Greeting

Greetings & Civilities

Good morning ……………….Wasuze otya nno? (literally ‘how was your night?’)
Good afternoon………………Osiibye otya nno? (literally, ‘how was your day?’)
Good evening……………….. Osiibye otya nno?
[The one asked responds with “Bulungi” (i.e. ‘fine’) and repeats the inquiry]

Hi? (informal)……………………………………….Ki kati?
How are you?………………………………………..Oli otya?
I am OK……………………………………………….Gyendi
Have a nice day……………………………………..Siiba bulungi
Good night…………………………………………….Sula bulungi (on retiring)
Farewell (to one person)………………………….Weeraba
Farewell (to several people)…………………….. Mweraba
Welcome (to one person)…………………………Tukusanyukidde
Welcome (to several people)…………………….Tubasanyukidde
See you later………………………………………….Tunaalabagana
Please……………………………………………………Mwattu
Please shut the door…………………………………Mwattu ggalawo oluggi
Please clean my room……………………………….Mwattu longoosa ekisenge kyange
Please come in…………………………………………Mwattu yingira
Please sit down………………………………………..Mwattu tuula wansi
Thank you………………………………………………Weebale
You are welcome……………………………………. Kale
Excuse me (to get attention)……………………….Owange
Pardon? (What did you say?)……………………..Wangi? / Ogambye ki?
I’m sorry (apology)……………………………………Nsonyiwa

Meeting People

What is your name………………..Erinnya lyo ggwe ani?
My name is………………………….Erinnya lyange nze….

Forms of Address

It is considered polite to show respect to older people regardless of their station in life. Respectful forms of address should be used when addressing superiors.

Sir………………………………………Ssebo
Madam………………………………..Nnyabo
Mr………………………………………Mwami
Mrs……………………………………..Mukyala

Age

How old are you?……………………………Olina emyaka emeka?
I am………………………………………..Nina……

20 years old……………………………Emyaka abiri (20)
35 years old……………………………Emyaka asatu mu etaano (35)

Family

This is my…………………………………..Ono ye…

Mother………………………………………Maama wange
Father……………………………………….Taata wange
Wife………………………………………….Mukyala wange
Husband…………………………………….Mwami wange
Child………………………………………….Mwana wange
Nephew/Niece…………………………….Mwana wange
Grandchild…………………………………..Muzzukulu wange
Son…………………………………………….Mutabani wange
Daughter……………………………………..Muwala wange
Older brother/sister……………………….Mukulu wange
Younger brother/sister……………………Muto wange
Sibling (same sex)………………………….Muganda wange
Sibling (opposite sex)……………………..Mwannyinaze
Aunt (paternal)………………………………Ssenga wange
Aunt (maternal)……………………………..Maama wange omuto
Uncle (paternal)…………………………….Taata wange omuto
Uncle (maternal)…………………………….Kojja wange
Cousin (paternal)……………………………Muganda wange / Mwannyinaze
Cousin (maternal)…………………………..Kizibwe wange (also maama omuto/kojja)
Grandparent………………………………….Jjajja wange
Great uncle/aunt…………………………….Jjajja wange
Father-in-law………………………………..Ssezaala wange
Mother-in-law……………………………….Nnyazaala wange
Friend………………………………………….Mukwano gwange

Do you have any brothers or sisters……Olina bagandabo oba bannyoko?
Are you married?…………………………..Oli mufumbo?
I am not married…………………………….Siri mufumbo
I am married………………………………….Ndi mufumbo
Do you have any children?……………….Olina abaana?
I don’t have any children…………………..Sirina baana
I don’t have any children yet………………Sinnafuna baana
I have……………………………………………Nina..

One son…………………………………………Omutabani omu
One daughter………………………………….Omuwala omu
Three sons……………………………………..Abatabani basatu
Two daughters………………………………..Abawala babiri

Feelings

I am…………………………………….

Angry…………………………………………..Ndi munyiivu
Cold…………………………………………….Mpulira empewo
Determined…………………………………….Ndi mumalirivu
Full……………………………………………….Ndi mukkufu
Happy…………………………………………..Ndi musanyufu
Hot……………………………………………… Mpulira ebbugumu
Hungry………………………………………….Enjala ennuma
Sad………………………………………………Ndi munakuwavu
Scared………………………………………….Ntidde
Sick……………………………………………..Ndi mulwadde
Thirsty…………………………………………..Ennyonta ennuma
Tired…………………………………………….Nkooye
Worried………………………………………..Ndi mweraliikirivu

 

Languages Commonly Used in Uganda

A glimpse into what the languages are about; giving you the basics you need to start learning Ugandan languages.

Learning a new language can be exiting especially starting with the survival phrases – they can be quite handy ice breakers, introducing you to the local community and into their day-today life and activities.

If you are planning to travel around Uganda; to live and work with the local communities, then learning the local language of the area is ideal.

These Ugandan survival phrases will teach you easy and simple expressions to help you get by in Uganda. They are quite simple to practice and are grouped as used in various situations and conversations.

Uganda is one of those countries that is quite blessed with lots of different local languages – let alone the different dialects within these languages. Throughout the Ugandan regions, different languages are spoken by different tribes and groups.

Note; that English and Swahili are the two official languages of Uganda as per the constitution – not that they are predominantly spoken, in fact some of the local languages are more spoken than these two – depends on where you are!

… And also, majority, if not all Ugandan languages are tonal in nature. They don’t have a specific word for ‘please’; There is a lot of expression and politeness read into the tone one uses. Quite often therefore, you will find Ugandans very soft spoken.

Use the menu below as a guide to the different languages. I have carefully looked at the predominantly spoken ones and the list will keep growing as I add more languages.

These phrases are used in the most common situations that will quickly get you going.

Enjoy!

How to Open a Bank Account in Uganda

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What are the requirements to open a bank account in Uganda? Are there any special requirements?

There are no special requirements. The requirements are pretty much the same as you would find else where; you will need your passport with a valid visa for identification or….

…. If you are already a permanent resident, you will need your driving license or identity card. To accompany these, you will require a recommendation letter from your employer or local council chairman and or a copy of your utility bill.

For some, you will also need a letter of introduction – this will usually be from someone who already banks with the same bank and has been with them for a substantial period.

Find out what the minimum deposit (minimum balance) is – depending on which account you want to open. This is an essential requirement that you will need to fulfill.

And then of course you will need to fill out one of their account opening forms and sign it before you return it. Beauty is that, with some of the banks, you can now down load the form off their website – which saves you from having to pick it up from one of their branches.

Don’t forget to carry some passport photos – They might usually require 3 or more. And remember to write your names and sign on the reverse of the photos.

An immigration lawyer can likely open an account for you if you want one before you get here. There will be a fee for it, of course.

….and your account should be up and running in not so long!

Christmas in Uganda – Let the Feasting Begin!

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Ugandan Christmas – What is it like? You might be in Uganda for work, for vacation, in transit … and suddenly Christmas is here!

… And what better place to be, to celebrate Christmas in Uganda? Welcome to the land of feasting and merry making . Ugandan Christmas is filled with love and sharing with family and friends – I guess as it is the world over … but this in many ways is with our own Christmas traditions and style.

Feasting mighty be universal – but we are not talking ‘preparing turkeys’ here, it’s everything. Yes!, everything!

But first; the mood that comes with it. It’s about the birth of JESUS CHRIST – The saviour of mankind! Don’t forget that Ugandans are very God fearing people. Christmas is not simply about the feasting … but they draw the meaning of Christ’s birth and religiously have a special attachment and understanding of the day.

That said, I have been to countries in Europe were the mood turns Christmassy – If you like, as early as late October – Now, that might not be the case here … but the world is fast catching up with us. I have also been around the streets of Kampala in November and there is a feeling of ‘Christmas-is-round-the-corner‘.

Fast forward into December and it’s Christmas season in Uganda. You start to see the Christmas trees, the lighting and decorations and you hear Christmas tunes playing on FM stations and everywhere (some you can quickly pick out like ‘jingle bells’). What is interesting, you see shopping malls filled with all kinds of merchandise – majority of which is made in China of course, at discounted prices.

And what about this Santa Claus guy? Sure, he has finally found his way into Uganda (put it to the last 10/15 years). It’s not a proper in house thing yet – perhaps in the cities and towns. A few can now relate to the Santa mystery – more with the elite, the educated and town dwellers.

Not many can and will afford a gift for each family member for Christmas and still have enough left for the big feast. The size of our families will certainly not allow; they are much extended with such extensions that will include relations and friends at times. But if you are lucky to receive a Christmas gift, it will perhaps be the attachment and thought that that person has for you that matters, with Santa out of mind.

You will love the bargains though – I certainly do. The beauty is that you will surely find something for the kids; the toys, the sweets, the little pretty shoes and lovely dresses … The shops will invitingly welcome you to find a gift – if only the Chinese would make the collection a little more durable to last beyond boxing day!

A week before the 25th, Christmas in Uganda is in ‘full-swing’ as the Ugandans will say. Majority are running around like headless chickens trying to do that last minute shopping – further discounts and offers make it even worse, there is just a lot to pick up for a few shillings.

That reminds me of Public Holidays in Uganda – lest I forget to mention. And I will make particular reference to the Christmas period (You are looking at say 20th Dec, all the way through new-years day, to a week after). If you have got work related deadlines to beat, best is to avoid this period. Sections of society here go into sleep mode and I will tell you why shortly …

Like I said, Christmas in Uganda is about feasting and sharing with family. A lot of people will prefer to travel to their ancestral homes to join the rest of the ‘extended’ family (which family they will have possibly not seen in a very long time). ‘I am travelling up-country for Christmas‘, they will say.

This requires some preparation and the travelling could be a few hundred miles away. The transport fares tend to go up towards Christmas and with all the shopping and luggage to take with them, one would rather travel as early as 20th Dec than leave it late.

You will therefore get to some public offices and find little or no service at all because ‘the man with the key has gone for Christmas‘ – which can be frustrating!

On with Christmas, once everybody has arrived and settled in, celebrations will start as early as 23rd Dec. In rural Uganda, the 23rd and 24th will be the butcher days. There will be a lot of beef and in some places – pork, lots of chicken and other animals slaughtered for the celebrations as the ladies of the house get on with the preparation of the big meal.

It’s interesting to see how much time the women put in – it takes them quite a few days to put together their recipes. Trust me, the end result is well worth it! Christmas is the time to taste Mama’s food if you’ve not in a long time!

Most of the feasting kicks off on the 24th of December – perhaps with a bit on the hand-brake, saving the best for the D-day. The ladies are in the back ground putting the final touches to their well-thought-through recipes. There is a relaxed-mood feeling in the air.

Kampala will be close to empty; no traffic, with a few people walking around (possibly the custodians of the city).

Come the 25th of December – Christmas day, first things first; Majority of Ugandan families will attend church in the morning (which is usually a long church service that will test one’s patience) … and then soon after, ‘hell breaks loose‘! The waiting is over – It’s such a great atmosphere to be part of; the big meal that has been prepared with precision strikes your palate with approval.

Lots to drink, dancing, catching up with family, lots of stories to tell, laughter and eating again and again and … going on through to the 26th December – Boxing day.

Quite often, there will be a slight break and then the celebrations will resume on the 31st of December to see off the year and usher in the new one on 1st Of January.

… A few days to a week later, the town dwellers will start to return to their stations reflecting on a well spent Christmas holiday.

If you are lucky to visit Uganda over the Christmas holiday, join in and share the fun. And if you are invited by a Ugandan family, gladly accept the invite and experience a memorable Christmas in Uganda that will live with you forever.

You will love it!

Best 10 Ugandan Trade Shows Not to Miss

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Uganda Trade Show

Ugandan trade shows are a great way to promote and grow your business. You can quickly get involved by participating in or attending one locally to get the feel of it. Be it services or a products, trade shows in Uganda cover a wide range.

If you are in the initial stages of establishing your Ugandan business and have a product that needs exposure, want to increase your sales and expand your market or you want to introduce something new to the market, trade shows can be the way to go. They will extensively introduce and present your company to a wide range of potential clients, encouraging them to use your product or service.

Your business will also from time to time be presented with other low key exhibition opportunities as one-offs away from the big trade fairs. Such exhibitions in Uganda may be specifically targeting your area of service or product – an opportunity for you to showcase your product or service in detail. These can be good to test the reception of your product or service at its inception in the market.

Leading Ugandan trade shows;

There are two leading and most popular Ugandan trade shows with one comprehensively showcasing an agricultural theme while the other is extensively for all businesses and services.

Uganda International Trade Fair (UMA)

Organised by the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) in Kampala, The UITF – Uganda International Trade Fair is the most popular and increasingly becoming one of the most sort after in the sub-Saharan region by investors who want to showcase their products/ service to capture the vibrant Ugandan market.

It is a reputable multi-sectoral trade fair that has been running for close to 20 years with a unique opportunity to market products and services.

Participants cut across the entire business sector and come from as far as Asia, Europe and the US. It is an annual event held every October round about Independence Day (9th October) and is one of the heights to mark the independence celebrations.

The Source of the Nile Agricultural and Trade Show

The other popular Ugandan trade shows is The Source of the Nile Agricultural & Trade show. It showcases mainly agricultural products and services but also has all other businesses and services that wish to exhibit along side the farmers. It is organised by the Uganda National Farmers’ Federation (UNFFE) at the Show grounds in Jinja.

Started in 1993, this annual event is held every July. It’s a platform for improved technologies, innovations and production in the agricultural sector – a true incentive for the farmers and other businesses related to agriculture to capture their targeted market.

And just to give you an idea, those two Ugandan trade shows should introduce you to the national and international opportunities that Ugandan business offers…

There are other trade shows and exhibitions of a smaller magnitude;

The vibrancy of the Real Estate industry in Uganda makes the International Exhibition and Trade Show for Building and Construction Industries in East Africa a must attend particularly if your business or service is in this sector.

It is a biannual event held in one of the East African Countries. And Uganda being part of the East African Community, the likelihood is that one of the editions is held there. Uganda was host to the 2012 Edition.

It showcases the latest modern technology in building and construction with participants coming from all over the world.

This is yet another opportunity to introduce your business or service to the wider Ugandan market.

WRTF – The Western Region Trade Fair and ERTF – The Eastern Region Trade Fair are biannual regional events held in the western and eastern regions of Uganda respectively. We could say; they are mini versions of the UITF whose showcase is also multi-sectoral providing a platform for foods and beverages, packaging, printing and stationary, industrial and manufacturing, construction, fashion and clothing, tourism and a lot more….

Both are also organised by Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) and participation cuts across all sectors including; overseas investors and manufacturers, promoters of both the indigenous and foreign technologies and the wider business community.

You will quickly realise that the trade fairs in Uganda give you such an opening, no matter if you have been in your industry for decades or just at beginners level. You will meet others in your field and most of all, market your innovative ideas and find new customers.

Look out for other smaller exhibitions in Uganda throughout the year – these could particularly target your field of product or service and this is where you are most likely to meet the other players in the same field – your competitors, to compare notes and see what else is out on the market.

Ugandan trade shows are ideal for business promos, and have for long been used by corporation and small enterprises alike. Take advantage of every way to increase your profits.

World’s Smallest Church in Uganda

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Biku Nebbi - The World's Smallest Church

Nested on top of Biku Hill within Nebbi district in North-western Uganda dwells the outstanding wonder like never encountered before in Uganda. This magical attraction is the World’s smallest Church that stands at a height of 8 feet and width of about 2.5 meters. This mind-blowing attraction is not only known for its beauty but its exceptionalism because in normal circumstances, churches accommodate more than 100 people but this wonderful small church accommodates only three people that include two congregation members and a priest. It is widely known by the locals for its healing powers which is why most people always dream and strive to climb the Biku Hill in a lifetime.

Biku Church

It is believed to have existed from 1996 when a Korean Pastor known as “Song” in partnership with the retired Archbishop of Church of Uganda-His Lordship Henry Luke Orombi constructed this jaw-dropping structure which has in the past years drawn several locals and tourists to Nebbi in Northern Uganda. This Church was established with an aim of spiritual healing for the locals and indeed the church allows people to encounter God in a special way. There are currently nine prayer points on Biku Hill that enable the people to praise, pray and meditate on the word of God.

The first prayer point is found on top of the Hill and has a very big cross, the second point is just opposite the first prayer point and is a Lilliputian structure built in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ and has 12 windows in the western and eastern side that depicts the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ and is exactly where the Pilgrims always pray for several things most importantly for the neighboring countries like Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Sudan and Rwanda for spiritual and physical peace and revival.

Biku Cross

Prayer point number two rewards tourists with the eye-popping panoramic views of the fascinating Namrwodho waterfalls which is known to be a habitat to the elusive shoebill stork that doesn’t miss in the must-see list of birds on a Ugandan Safari.

The third prayer point is established in the Map of Africa and has two magnificent entrances.  It also has ten windows that show the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament of the Bible.  This Prayer point was dedicated for praying for all the African countries, mostly the African countries

Prayer point four, five and six are positioned with a large serene garden, with prayer point number four crafted in a format of a Heart showing the Love of Jesus Christ with a cross made of thirty three stone showing the 33 years of Jesus Christ. Prayer point five is a shape of an arrow head that shows the energetic youth speed whereas prayer point 6 features 66 windows that signify the 66 books of the Bible, and 39 of the windows are at the back because they show the 39 books of the Old Testament while the 27 windows show the 27 books in the New Testament. The Point features three wonderful doors crafted in a structure of a man standing that shows people who are well equipped with the Word of God. Prayer point six was made in the shape of al alter which depicts the living testimony that the church is a living offering to the mission of Jesus Christ whereas the rough stones on the cross show that  Christians are living stones.

Prayer point seven is a round structure that is shaped in form of a globe and is found at the back of the towering rock with an open-ended Cave at its bottom of which one is supposed to crawl from one end to another to have a glimpse at the suffering that Jesus Christ endured and tourists who visit the site have to crawl for five minutes through the dark mysterious cave.

Prayer point number eight is the most spectacular because contains the World’s smallest Church-known as the Bethel Church that has twelve (12) windows at the entrance depicting the 12 stones found on Aaron’s breastplate that is the twelve tribes of all saints. The ceiling of the Church has seven beams that show the seven rainbow colors that demonstrate the covenant of God-never to destroy the World with floods after the time of Noah and the eastern window rewards tourists with the views of the Cross that is positioned on the highest Peak on prayer point one. This view offers the visiting Christians with a chance to always look up to Christ Jesus. Regardless of the detail and beautiful appearance, it took only 79 bags of Cement and was built with an intention of lasting more than five Centuries before the foundation is weakened.

The last remaining opposite point was made in the shape of a womb along with the prime chapel that is large enough to accommodate over 400 pilgrims hence you will relish a breathtaking encounter during a safari in Uganda.

Save More on Uganda Car Rental

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Many people approach Car Rental as a lowest-price-possible contest rather than to concentrate on the value of the deal they eventually would get, in terms of what type of car, whether it has air conditioning and automatic gear shifting functionalities as well as the type of service they are buying.

The fact is, Car Rental in both developed and developing countries has now become a very competitive activity yet rates differences for comparable quality and services are relatively small, sometimes as small as $10 to $20 in developed countries and $45 to $120 in developing African countries like Uganda where cars are scarce. On our recent travel to Uganda, we tried out our look and looked for the best deals on car rental in Uganda and indeed am now acquainted with more ways on how to get the best and save on your next trip. After contacting various car rental agencies, we zeroed down with CarRentalUganda.com, a well established agency and here are the tips on how to how to save on your next trip;

  • Use the internet – It is advisable to book your rental car early enough on most parts of Africa. The quick way to start on your process is by using Google and look out for possible car rental agencies. Though most car rental agencies are offline we had luck and we found out about 10 agencies and they really offered great deals.
  • Look out for discount coupons – this is hard! we only found CarHireUganda.com to be with coupons that can be used to save a few dollars from 1 – 5. Remember these are many beers that you can save. You can find the coupons here http://www.carhireuganda.com/specials.html
  • Buy Gas from major urban areas – It is is advised to buy plenty of gas in urban areas. The more you travel into remote areas, the more expensive prices you will find at the gas stations.
  • Unlimited Mileage – Always ask your agents whether they can get you a car on unlimited mileage. This will help you save more if compared with limited mileage.
  • Make sure that you get a fully inclusive price for your rental car. In Uganda most agencies, their rental fees are all inclusive except fuel. Always look out for that deal! Remember your rental price may not include drop charges for remote destinations and gasoline.
  • Avoid Late Returns – Like everywhere else, in Africa you should also get ready to pay the late return charges in case you returned the car late after the agreed upon time.

Nobody likes to pay higher prices more than supposed to do, thus you are recommended to first shop around, browse the internet and check the various rates available at different car hire companies, or even Internet at comparison sites can simplify the task. Make sure you compare apples to apples and not apples to pears.

Meet the Gorillas & Chimpanzees in Uganda

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As far as tourism is concerned, whenever one hears Uganda, what comes in any foreigners mind is the primate excursions that are always carried out in this country. And not only that, but what also rings a bell to them is the gorilla tracking as well as chimpanzee trekking. However, there are distinctive features that separate these two primates in the way they are tracked and how best one can prepare for both to have an ultimate experience.

Where they are both found in Uganda;

Chimpanzees in Uganda are located in different places but habituated chimpanzees only exist in Kibale National Park located in western Uganda, Kyambura Gorge located in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kalinzu forest located closer to Queen Elizabeth National Park and Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park located in Northern Uganda. We also have orphaned chimpanzees in Ngamba Island which is approximately 23 km in Lake Victoria and can be accessed by boats.

On the other hand, habituated gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. According to the 2013 mountain gorilla census, it was discovered that Bwindi Impenetrable National park has almost half the number of mountain gorillas in the whole while the other population of gorillas are in the Virunga Ranges shared between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo. Today Bwindi is one of the most popular parks for gorilla safaris on the African continent.

Gorilla and chimp trekking experience compared

When compared, gorilla tracking is a more organized activity both in Uganda and Rwanda and chances of seeing gorillas is above 90%. This is because gorillas live in families each headed by a dominant silver back. In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the activity is so organized in such a way that early in the morning, there is an advanced team that goes to the forest to look for where the gorillas would have slept and once they find them, then they communicate to the park head quarters to inform the guides where gorillas are. It’s from here that tourists plus their guide will start the trek to look for gorillas starting from where they slept the previous night until they find them. Once they have found them, they are given one hour to observe and take photographs.

Chimpanzee trekking on the other hand is not as organized as gorilla trekking and chances are high in Kibale National Park and Budongo forest to other places such as Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu forest. The same process of having an advanced team applies to chimps but chimpanzees on the other hand live in communities of around 100 individuals or more and during the day, these communities breakup into small parties to reduce on food competition. Each party is therefore tracked by 6 people. Once you have found the chimpanzees, you are allowed only one hour to view and photograph them.

Family composition

A family of habituated gorillas is trekked by a maximum of 8 people in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga while Chimpanzee parties in Kibale National Park is restricted to only 6 people. While a habituated gorilla family can only be seen by a maximum of 8 people PER DAY, chimpanzee parties are trekked twice in a day (morning and afternoon). Taking a close look at chimp trekking in Kibale National Park, a maximum of 18 people do trek chimps both in the morning and in the afternoon. It is arranged in such a way that each chimpanzee party is trekked by 6 people thus 3 parties for 18 people. The fact that chimpanzees keep on breaking into small parties and regrouping, at a given point, you might find yourselves trekking the same party (18 people) they can join together. This tends to cause confusion amongst tourists if not briefed very well. This sometimes leads to congestion and kills the whole Eco- experience as expected by clients. Mountain gorillas tend to be on ground in most cases and depending on the height of the vegetation, they are better seen compared to chimpanzees which are in most cases up in the trees (Not all the time though as so many people have found them on ground).

What to pack for gorilla or chimp trekking

Both gorilla and chimp trekking requires one to have hiking boots, garden gloves, long sleeved trousers and shirts, rain jackets, sun glasses, huts, a hiking stick and some energy giving foods to give you that extra strength when needed. You might not need a porter for chimp trekking in Kibale but we highly recommend one for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for your gorilla trek.

Gorilla and Chimp permits

In Uganda, you require a permit to either trek gorillas or chimpanzees. Gorilla tracking permit for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park costs USD600.00 which normally goes down from that in low seasons (Feb-may) to the tune of USD350.00. enabling you to save USD150.00. The above includes trekking gorillas, a guide for the trek and park entrance fees. Chimpanzee trekking permits in Uganda vary according to where you will be trekking them. In Kibale, a permit is USD150 while in Kyambura is at USD50.00 per person and includes guide, park entrance and viewing chimps.

Distances compared

Gorilla trekking is done in Bwindi and Mgahinga and they are approximately 8-9 hours from Kampala while driving and it also depends on which side of Bwindi you are going to. If you are flying, then it might take you around about one and half hours to Bwindi or Kisoro. Kibale National Park is about 5-6 hours from Kampala; Kyambura Gorge is approximately 7-8 hours drive from Kampala while Budongo is also approximately 5-6 hours drive to northern Uganda.

Inside Uganda: Top Things to See & Do

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Uganda, sometimes referred to as the Pearl of Africa is a country which is gifted by nature and is a landlocked African country. It occupies about 236,000 square miles which almost the size of Oregon in the United States of America. The Pearl of Africa lies across the equator and by the northwest shores of Lake Victoria. Our neighbors are Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Uganda National Parks

The country is best known for its unique wildlife in national parks and interesting tourism facilities that have continuously attracted thousands of travelers who take adventurous safaris in Uganda– exploring different regions. There are ten national parks in Uganda that protect a wide range of flora and fauna. From the big five animals to rare animals such as mountain gorillas, there are lots of wildlife within the park.

As you get close to the heart of the cattle in the country, Lake Mburo National park is found. It provides a habitat for diversity of browsing animals including the Zebra, Buffalo, and gazelle. In the west of the park, grasses give way to forests as the land rises up the escarpment of the rift valley. Intersecting the cliff; it is a rapid descent to the valley floor below, Uganda’s lowest point in elevation. The Rift Valley’s dry, hot grasslands contain Uganda’s largest populations of lions and elephants. Just east of the Ruwenzori Mountains is Kibale National Park, a forest with Africa’s greatest diversity of primates.

In the North East of the country, there is Murchison falls national park sometimes referred to as Kabalega National park. It the largest protected in Uganda covering about 3840 square kilometers. The name was given to the point which the world’s longest river, the Nile is channeled through a narrow gorge. In the park, you will find all the big five animals including Buffalos, elephants, leopards, Lions and the Rhinos in the Northern part of the park above the Nile river.

Mountain Gorillas

The most fascinating and curious attraction in Uganda are the endangered Mountain gorillas found in Bwindi impenetrable park and Mgahinga gorilla parks.

Mountains

The pearl of Africa is a home of the Rift western rift valley with unique and interesting features. These include Mount Ruwenzori, Kyambura George amongst which are found in Uganda’s biggest savannah national park.

In the far East of the country, sits mount which is an extinct volcano. This gigantic milestone starts the border with neighboring Kenya. It is protected within a national park popular with mountain climbers. Just outside the park, some of the world’s finest coffee is grown.

The River Nile

In the South Western part of Mountain Elgon in Jinja, there are head waters Southwest of Mount Elgon and near the town of Jinja there are headwaters of River Nile. The river originates from Lake Victoria which is Africa’s largest lake. It lies within the proximity of Central region where Uganda’s capital –Kampala is found. The river cuts the pearl of Africa in two flows. One is towards Sudan and the other towards Egypt and ultimately to the Mediterranean Sea. Along this mighty river, water sports like white water rafting is carried on. As the Nile River gains speed from the source, it discharges over the mighty Murchison falls, which is protected in a national park of the same name.

Lake Victoria

Moving towards the west, away from Kampala city-Uganda’s capital, the land gradually rises from Lake Victoria’s basin. As you move this side, papyrus swamps tend to turn into Savannah grasslands. The Lake Victoria offers thrilling adventures to tourists. There are lots of beaches within Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja where you can enjoy a weekend fun-filled holiday.

Inside the Lake Victoria also lies three notable islands; the Ssesse Island, a wonderful place to enjoy a holiday and Ngamba Island, an island set aside to chimpanzee conservation. Go chimpanzee viewing on the island and interact with our “little cousins”!

Interesting Culture

The pearl of Africa is a home of a number of ethnic groups. The country has a very rich and cultural diversity. Cultural practices and Ethnicity accompany the life style of every ethnic group and act as unique tourism attractions. There has been a history of ethnically- based discrimination promoted by the governments that divert resources to the resolution of the problems.

The population of Uganda is composed of diverse ethnic varying groups with varying customs and norms. They have played a major role in shaping the behaviors and ways of life of the people of Uganda. In most parts of the country, traditional values have changed due to integration of the people as a result of migration and intermarriages. The outstanding cultural groupings in the country include the Baganda, Basoga, Batoro and Itesot. These are predominantly headed by traditional kings and are not politically elected. A number of languages are spoken though the official language is English and Swahili.