Backpacking Uganda

Uganda is located more or less at the centre of Africa and, as such, close to the equator. Bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda and Tanzania, the country isn’t necessarily among the first you’d have in mind as a backpacking destination. But don’t let this hold you back from going on an adventure in Uganda! The country’s consistently warm, pleasant climate and gorgeous landscapes are sure to convince you of its appeal. Uganda’s proximity to Lake Victoria and the equator allows for a high vegetation density and is the reason why the country is home to verdant rainforests. When in Uganda, you definitely shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the country’s rainforests. Uganda’s beautiful, lively cities offer a great contrast to the time you spend surrounded by peaceful nature. Particularly Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, is one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of Africa.

Enjoy exploring our ideal backpacking route for Uganda.


Important Basics

Official language

English, Swahili

Basic vocabulary (Swahili)
YesNdio
NoHapana
Thank youAsante
HelloHabari
GoodbyeBaadaye
Capital city

Kampala

Form of government

Presidential republic

Telephone area code

+256

Currency

Uganda Shilling

Climate

ø Highest daily temperature: 25 to 27°C
ø Highest temperature at night: 16 to 18°C

Due to the county’s location near the equator, there are only marginal differences in temperature and no standard seasons.

Fun fact

In Uganda, a normal church service lasts between 4 and 6 hours.

Cities

Kampala

Kampala, Uganda’s capital, is a lively and thriving city. Surrounded by bustling crowds, thousands of boda bodas, street vendors and maybe some curious gazes, you can stroll through the, at times confusing, streets and gain your first proper impression of life in Uganda. Kampala is a large city and has plenty of restaurants offering food from all around the globe. In some of the city’s coffee houses, you can try Ugandan coffee. While the country is known for the coffee it grows, almost all of the beans are exported out of the country. The locals tend to drink instant coffee instead.
Kampala is the cultural centre of the country. While there, you can visit various museums and admire the governmental buildings. But watch out, you aren’t allowed to take pictures!
In the nearby Entebbe, you’ll find large shopping centres selling international brands.
In Kampala, you can stay in a hostel dormitory for just €6 per night. The hostel is near the main road, allowing you to quickly get from point A to point B.

Jinja

Leaving the capital in a Matatu, you are now headed to Jinja. The city is located in eastern Uganda and, among backpackers, is particularly well-known as a place to go white water rafting on the Nile River. In some parts, the river’s current is so rapid it reaches a class 5 rafting classification. The cosy town has a population of around 100,000 and provides you with some nice cafés and restaurants to sit and relax in. A word of warning: It’s worth heading to a restaurant before you start getting hungry. Service can be somewhat slow and long waits are pretty standard. True adrenaline junkies also have the opportunity to go bungee jumping over the river. After a day packed full of exciting experiences, take the chance to get comfy on the banks of the Nile and watch the sunset with a local beer in hand.

The source of the Nile River, Lake Victoria, is also near the city and can be reached by taking part in a boat tour.

For €12 per night, you can stay in a hostel dormitory.

Murchison Falls

Your trip continues into the untouched northwest of the country and to Murchison Falls National Park. This impressive national park is 3877 km² in size and is crossed by the Nile River.
Murchison Falls counts among the most biodiverse national parks in Uganda. With a bit of luck, you might even be able to spot a rare animal like, for example, a jaguar during your visit. To increase your chances of seeing unique animals, consider hiring a ranger at the entrance to the national park. Generally speaking, the rangers will ask to be paid around €20, plus an additional €3-4 tip.
Inexpensive accommodation can be found at one of the hostels and will cost you around €15 per night.

Masaka

In contrast to Kampala, Masaka is a much smaller and more manageable city. Despite its smaller size, the city provides you with several international restaurants and cafés to pick and choose from. While, in terms of culture, Masaka has less to offer than Uganda’s capital city, it makes for a great home base when you are planning to go on day trips and want to explore the surrounding area. You can, for example, head out to another national park: Lake Mburo National Park. Lake Victoria is also not too far away from Masaka and can be reached easily via minibus. If you’ve already made it to the shores of Lake Victoria, consider visiting the Kalangala island group and spending a day just relaxing on the beach.
Spending the night in the dormitory of one of Masaka’s hostels will cost you €6.


Kampala

Kampala

Kampala, Uganda’s capital, is a lively and thriving city. Surrounded by bustling crowds, thousands of boda bodas, street vendors and maybe some curious gazes, you can stroll through the, at times confusing, streets and gain your first proper impression of life in Uganda. Kampala is a large city and has plenty of restaurants offering food from all around the globe. In some of the city’s coffee houses, you can try Ugandan coffee. While the country is known for the coffee it grows, almost all of the beans are exported out of the country. The locals tend to drink instant coffee instead.
Kampala is the cultural centre of the country. While there, you can visit various museums and admire the governmental buildings. But watch out, you aren’t allowed to take pictures!
In the nearby Entebbe, you’ll find large shopping centres selling international brands.
In Kampala, you can stay in a hostel dormitory for just €6 per night. The hostel is near the main road, allowing you to quickly get from point A to point B.

Jinja

Jinja

Leaving the capital in a Matatu, you are now headed to Jinja. The city is located in eastern Uganda and, among backpackers, is particularly well-known as a place to go white water rafting on the Nile River. In some parts, the river’s current is so rapid it reaches a class 5 rafting classification. The cosy town has a population of around 100,000 and provides you with some nice cafés and restaurants to sit and relax in. A word of warning: It’s worth heading to a restaurant before you start getting hungry. Service can be somewhat slow and long waits are pretty standard. True adrenaline junkies also have the opportunity to go bungee jumping over the river. After a day packed full of exciting experiences, take the chance to get comfy on the banks of the Nile and watch the sunset with a local beer in hand.

The source of the Nile River, Lake Victoria, is also near the city and can be reached by taking part in a boat tour.

For €12 per night, you can stay in a hostel dormitory.

Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls

Your trip continues into the untouched northwest of the country and to Murchison Falls National Park. This impressive national park is 3877 km² in size and is crossed by the Nile River.
Murchison Falls counts among the most biodiverse national parks in Uganda. With a bit of luck, you might even be able to spot a rare animal like, for example, a jaguar during your visit. To increase your chances of seeing unique animals, consider hiring a ranger at the entrance to the national park. Generally speaking, the rangers will ask to be paid around €20, plus an additional €3-4 tip.
Inexpensive accommodation can be found at one of the hostels and will cost you around €15 per night.

Masaka

Masaka

In contrast to Kampala, Masaka is a much smaller and more manageable city. Despite its smaller size, the city provides you with several international restaurants and cafés to pick and choose from. While, in terms of culture, Masaka has less to offer than Uganda’s capital city, it makes for a great home base when you are planning to go on day trips and want to explore the surrounding area. You can, for example, head out to another national park: Lake Mburo National Park. Lake Victoria is also not too far away from Masaka and can be reached easily via minibus. If you’ve already made it to the shores of Lake Victoria, consider visiting the Kalangala island group and spending a day just relaxing on the beach.
Spending the night in the dormitory of one of Masaka’s hostels will cost you €6.

Uganda Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Kampala
Home - Kampala
Flight
250
Night (dorm)
6
2. Kampala
Kampala
-
night (dorm)
6
3. Kampala – Jinja
Kampala – Jinja
Bus
3
night (dorm)
12
4. Jinja
Jinja
-
night (dorm)
12
5. Jinja
Jinja
-
night (dorm)
12
6. Jinja - Murchison Falls
Jinja - Murchison Falls
Bus
10
Night (hostel)
15
7. Murchison Falls
Murchison Falls
-
night (hostel)
15
8. Murchison Falls
Murchison Falls
-
night (hostel)
15
9. Murchison Falls – Masaka
Murchison Falls – Masaka
Bus
10
night (dorm)
6
10. Masaka
Masaka
-
night (dorm)
6
11. Masaka
Masaka
-
night (dorm)
6
12. Masaka – Kampala
Masaka – Kampala
Bus
3
night (dorm)
6
13. Kampala
Kampala
-
night (dorm)
6
14. Kampala - Home
Kampala - Home
Flight
250

Total price.

Flights 500,00
Transport 26,00
Tours 23,00
Accommodation 122,00
Total672,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Rice and plantains:A typical Ugandan breakfast consists of rice and bread. This gives you plenty of energy for the day. The plantains add some more flavour to the dish. By the way, plantains are a real classic in Uganda and are served with almost everything.

Soups

Peanut stew: This soup is popular all throughout Africa. Peanut stew is also a well-known meal option in Uganda and is often served for lunch.

Main courses

Potatoes: These are usually fried and served with pan-cooked vegetables. You also have the option to order meat with it, usually beef.

Chapati: This is a small flatbread that is either eaten on the side or, when served with rice, enjoyed as a main course.

Tilapia: A type of bass found in the Nile. It’s a speciality in Uganda and, for the locals, is only enjoyed occasionally.

Grilled meat on a skewer: These inexpensive treats can be purchased at street food stalls. Simply delicious!

Dumplings: They are usually filled with mashed potato and a bit of meat. Another popular variety has a banana filling – these are great for anyone with a bit of a sweet tooth!

Drinks and snacks

Tea: In Uganda, tea is cultivated in many different regions. A really tasty type of traditional tea is often served alongside breakfast.

Beer: You wouldn’t necessarily expect it, but Uganda has some great beer for you to try. You should definitely give the Nile Special beer a go!

Uganda

The exchange rate for 1,000 Ugandan shillings is around 0.24 Euro (as of June 2020). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of living

Food

Free time

Personal hygiene

Dos

Venture on the road less travelled: The best way of getting to know Uganda is by simply visiting one of the region’s smaller villages and chatting with the locals. Don’t be shy!

Neat clothing: While in Uganda, make sure you’re always dressed properly. Outfits that are too short are seen as inappropriate and you should also generally stick to plain clothing.

Chat with the locals: There’s a striking level of hospitality in Uganda. Stay open and feel free to ask the locals questions. If you do, you’ll get to know them and their country much better.

Don'ts

Act like a tourist: Try to adapt your behaviour to that of the locals as much as possible. Conspicuous behaviour or weird looks are inappropriate!

Support begging children: Even though it might be difficult, try not to give any money to the children who beg you for some. Unfortunately, this is a big problem in Uganda and you should avoid contributing to it.

Mention poverty: Yes, Uganda is a very poor country. Nonetheless, this is a topic that you’d best avoid in conversation, even if you just want to express your sincere sympathy.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

yes

Temporary passport

yes

National ID

no

Temporary national ID

no

Child’s pass

yes

Visa

yes

Vaccine

yes

Additional Remarks.

We recommend researching the travel document, visa and entry requirements for your home country before your departure. If you travel to Uganda, consult a health care provider before you leave to discuss vaccination requirements.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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