Backpacking Uganda Travel Tips
In his book “My African Journey,” Sir Winston Churchill wrote that Uganda is from end to end one beautiful garden, where the staple food of the people grows almost without any labour and this description still holds true when backpacking Uganda, even today.
Located just above the Equator in the heart of Africa, is the beautiful Uganda. With an average altitude ranging between 2000 to 4000 feet above the sea level, this automatically enables the country to enjoy pleasant climatic condition. The annual recorded average temperature is 22 degrees Celsius. A bird’s eye view treats the viewer to infinite greenery and a panorama of gardens. Uganda is referred to as the land of sunshine. With its breathtaking sights, a variety of wild animals and bird species, a wide range of luxury holiday facilities, and diverse, rich culture. Uganda is the home to beautiful, welcoming, and warm-hearted people.
In addition to its scenic beauty, it is a country of great uniqueness from the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains to the Murchison Falls in western Uganda; it is a land of vast tourist experiences. There are thrilling adventures and tours in Uganda, from mountain climbing to gorilla trekking, backpacking Uganda is a rewarding experience. The infrastructure of the country is also top notch with easy access in and out through road or air transport; it goes without saying, Uganda is indeed gifted by nature.
MOST POPULAR PLACES TO VISIT IN UGANDA
Murchison Falls – It’s also known as Kabalega Falls. It is located on White Nile, between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert. Murchison is known for its furious flow rate; it’s the favorite hiking spot of Uganda. Trekking is economical, that makes it backpacker friendly location.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forrest – Bwindi is the last home for the Mountain Gorillas, it is somewhat similar to the Mountain Forest that you’re seen in the “George Of The Jungle”, about 400 Gorillas lives here with another animal, of course. It is a wet and cool forest, the temperature never reaches above 25 degrees celsius and never go below 10 degrees. It rains about 5-inches per month on average. June-August and December-February are drier seasons.
Kabale National Park – With 70 species of mammals, 13 species of primates including the Chimpanzee, 375+ species of Bird and 351 tree species, Kibale is one much diverse rainforest park in Uganda. Some trees rise over 55 meters high and are older than 200 years.
Queen Elizabeth National Park – Uganda is famous for its Tree Climbing Lions, and guess what, you won’t find them anywhere else than the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Besides Lions, the park has over 95 mammal species – including Hippo, Giraffe and Elephants, 550+ bird species and over 27 Vegetation
Rwenzori Mountain – Rwenzori Mountain Range is 120km-long and 65km-wide. It’s trekker’s heaven and has world’s rarest vegetation. Rwenzori has Glaciers and Ice Caps on top of Mount Stanley and Rainforest in Rwenzori Mountain National Park, with an annual rainfall of over 300 centimeters.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – It’s the only place in Uganda where you can see Rhinos in the wild. It’s a conservation project that started with 6 Rhino; four bought from Kenya and two donated by Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Today, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has 15 Rhinos.
GETTING AROUND WHILE BACKPACKING UGANDA
Uganda is another heaven for a backpacker. With visa on arrival, dorm/hostel available for about $10 per night, and cheaper bus transportation. You can keep backpacking Uganda Travel safe in the knowledge that it’s totally safe and without any political conflict. English is their first official language (Swahili comes to second), so communication is one big plus.
Top Backpacker locations include Nile whitewater rafting, Murchison Falls, and Queen Elizabeth National Park. We wouldn’t list Bwindi Impenetrable forest for the Backpacking plan because Gorilla tour permit is expensive, would someone with a tight budget spend a few hundred dollars to get a one-day permit?
Backpacking in Uganda is also possible with a small budget. Of course, you can walk to a destination or hitchhike, but cheap transport is always an option. In fact, backpacking Uganda is easy because the weather is pleasant all year round and people are extremely friendly, and they would love to carry a visitor with them.
Hotels and hostels in Uganda
You will also learn while backpacking Uganda that it is not a backward state. There are many 4 to 5-star hotels available in the major cities. Hotel accommodation in cities like Entebbe and Kampala can be expensive, but then you have lodges available for the economical budget. Dorm and hostels are also available in the cities for an even cheaper budget.
Hotels, Lodges, and Safari camps in Uganda are controlled and regulated by the Uganda Hotel Association, and one can have a look at the cost of accommodation easily by clicking association’s website. It includes everything – from “pitch your own camp” at the camp to the “full board deluxe family cottage”.
Uganda has prospered recently. Transportation is fairly easy. Apart from renting a car or hitchhiking, tourists have many options available to them backpacking Uganda. Matatus Taxi – which is a 14-seater minibus, Boda Boda cycle – normal bicycle/motorbikes intended to use border to border, Special Hire vehicle – specific destination based travel service and Public Buses. The Public Bus terminal is international.
FOOD AND SHOPPING
Food is cheap in Uganda and cuisine is influenced by the English, Arab and especially Indian food. Meat and chicken stew are popular in Uganda and is served with Rice, Chapati, Matoke (cooked banana mash) or with other starch-based bread. Fish is an important food here as Uganda has so many lakes. Nile Perch and Tilapia are the local favorite fish. Fizzy drinks are widely loved in this country and they have a local banana beer. Chai (Tea) is people’s favorite hot drink, but it’s brewed with hot milk.
Kampala city is the capital and shopper’s stop. Uganda Crafts 2000 in Kampala is our first recommendation to shop for trinket souvenir, made by widows. They won’t loot you; it’s a fair price shop. Next, we have Owino Market, Garden City Complex, Acacia Mall, Oasis Mall and Banana Boat. Aristoc is a Book Market in Kampala, where you can find Ugandan publications in English.
THINGS TO DO IN UGANDA
MEET THE LAST MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to the last Mountain Gorillas. There are about 800 gorillas in the world, and half the total population lives here, in the Mountain of Bwindi. Meet them before it’s too late. Yes, the cost of the permit is high, would you have another chance to spot Gorilla’s outside zoo.
CRUISE TO THE MURCHISON FALLS
Book a cruise trip to the Murchison Falls, on the River Nile. And spot water buffalos and elephants roaming around with the crocodiles on its bank. The fall itself is heavenly, about 300 cubic meters/second water passes through a very narrow gap (less than 7 meters) before it nosedives 43 meters into the Murchison Falls.
TREK TO THE MARGHERITA PEAK
The highest summit of Rwenzori Mountain Ranges and the third highest peak in Africa, Margherita Peak is the Highest Peak on Mount Stanley, it’s 5119 meters high. Any physically fit person should trek the Margherita and should be proud of this memorable experience.
DO WHATEVER IN LAKE VICTORIA’S SSESE ARCHIPELAGO
Ssese is a lush archipelago of 84 islands inside Lake Victoria, how interesting! There is not much to do here, as swimming is not advised due to Bilharzias risk and Hippos and Crocodiles. But a traveler sure can enjoy canoe trip, a few drinks on the beach with nightly bonfires and resort stay.
As mentioned in the middle of this post somewhere, if you are not sure of anything or want help organizing part of your trip just send me a message on Facebook or even better, post an inquiry on the Facebook page itself.