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What’s the weather like?
- Eastern Uganda enjoys a variety of climate, though the heat is tempered by the altitude, as much of the country is more than 1000m above sea level.
- Rainy seasons are from March to May, and September to November
- Dry seasons are from December to February and mid-June to mid-August
- Average temperatures range from about 16°C (61°F) in the south-western highlands to 25°C (77°F) in the northwest; but in the northeast, temperatures exceed 30°C (86F).
What should I bring?
- Insect repellent.
- Spare or rechargeable batteries (these are difficult to find once you are in the Parks).
- Waterproof bags to protect equipment.
- Electric plug adaptors for 240 volts AC 50 Hz. UK-style square-pin plugs are used.
- Some people find contact lenses uncomfortable in eastern Uganda because of the dust – you may find it more comfortable to wear glasses while on the road.
- Antiseptic hand wash.
- An International Driving License if you are thinking of hiring a vehicle.
- Good walking boots/shoes.
- Sandals or other light shoes.
- Waterproof jacket or rain poncho.
- Lighter clothing for Mbale and the savannah, with layers for the cooler evenings.
- Warm clothing for mountainous regions, including thermal layers and a fleece.
- Sun hat/cap.
- Professional climbing gear is required for summiting the Mt. Elgon.
- Eastern Uganda is a conservative region, and visitors should dress respectfully. Avoid short skirts and short shorts.
Should I bring any specialist equipment?
This depends on your interests – for photography, birding and wildlife enthusiasts we recommend the following:
- Binoculars: Waterproof binoculars are great in eastern Uganda as they are also dustproof. For most travellers stick with 8 or 10 magnification and 32 objective. These will be lighter than the 42 objectives which are heavy to carry all day.
- Cameras: Choose something which you know you can handle – a heavy camera with many settings will be off-putting for some people to use. For good wildlife shots, get at least 8x optical zoom. Six to eight megapixels is fine unless you want poster-size photos. Bring a lens cloth to remove dust, several changes of batteries (even if you use rechargeable – not all sites have power points) and take several 1GB memory cards instead of one large one, to avoid losing all your photos if something goes wrong.
What is the currency?
- The Ugandan Shilling.
How do I exchange cash?
- US dollars, UK pounds and Euros are accepted by UWA for gorilla/chimp tracking permits and park entry fees. Many larger hotels will also accept US dollars and Euros – though you should check in advance.
- Note: All US dollars must be printed post-2003, and should not be damaged in any way. Higher exchange rates are given on larger value notes
- Banks and Forex bureaus will exchange cash, alternatively you can use ATM machines – common in the major towns. They should accept Visa Debit and Credit cards.
Can I bargain when shopping?
- Prices are fixed in shops, but food and craft markets will be more flexible. You stand a better chance of getting a reduced price if you purchase several items from the same seller.
- Prices are generally very low – so do consider if what you are asking for is fair.
- Agree on charges for minibuses (matatus) or motorbike taxis (boda-bodas) with your driver beforehand.
Can I use credit or debit cards?
- Visa is more widely accepted in city hotels and stores, followed by MasterCard. Other credit cards are unlikely to work.
- Do not count on being able to use cards outside of Mbale.
- Alert your bank before using your card abroad to avoid it being blocked.
Which vaccinations do I need?
- A yellow fever vaccine is essential – bring your certificate with you
- Hepatitis A and B, meningitis, polio, tetanus and typhoid vaccinations are also recommended
- A rabies vaccination is recommended for anyone who expects to be in close contact with animals, or in a very remote area
- Be aware that some of these require a course of injections, and others take several days to take effect, so you should visit your doctor or travel clinic as soon as possible before you travel.
Where can I use the Internet?
- Internet cafes are common in Mbale and all major towns, though the connection is likely to be very slow.
- Some hotels and restaurants also offer wifi.
Plot 60 Republic Street, Mbale Uganda