Who is ready to travel to Africa? Uh, yes please! Within the month, the KinoSol team is taking a few Iowa State University students to Uganda. Our bags are packed, our passports are ready, and our visas are purchased… I think. Yikes, well maybe we need this list just as much as you! Here are 8 things to remember before traveling to Uganda.
Yes, you need a Visa to enter Uganda! According to the U.S. Department of State, this Visa can be done online at least two weeks before you go, or upon entry to the country. To qualify for a Visa, each traveler will need a yellow fever vaccination… Which leads us into everyone’s favorite thing… shots.
As with most travel, sickness and disease can be a worry. Uganda is (sadly) no different. Check out this list by the CDC for more information. Head to your local travel clinic and talk with your doc for answers to all your questions. Plus, if you’re really nice, they give you sparkly band-aids after the shots.
Now… what should you bring? Lightweight, durable clothing is a good bet. It can get very toasty during the day, but temperatures do drop at night so layers are a good idea. For women, lightweight pants or knee-length or below skirts are recommended. For men; hiking pants or other lightweight clothes are fantastic. Uganda follows many Western trends, but err on the side of conservative dress when packing. So none of those spaghetti strap tanks our grandmas loved to lecture us about in high school!
English and Luganda are the two official languages in Uganda, but there are over 40 native languages spoken across the country. The KinoSol team will travel with interpreters to help with language barriers. Just in case though, click here to visit a list of all of the different languages spoken across Uganda.
5. Money Exchange
The official currency is the Uganda shilling, although U.S. dollars are widely accepted. You’ll often find prices for tours and parks quoted in U.S. dollars (souvenirs here I come!) As of October 4th, one U.S. dollar was worth 3,684.6 Ugandan Shillings. This exchange rate varies daily. To exchange your U.S. money, it’s recommended to exchange larger denomination ($50-$100) bills from more recent years (after 2009) at Forex stations or the Bureau de Change. Additionally, make sure your bills are in good condition: (without tears or other damage). This will make the money exchange process smooth sailing.
Petty crimes are common in Uganda, so be safe and wary while traveling. The two main crimes are pickpocketing and people trying to steal cell phones. Two ways to combat these crimes are to keep track of those bags and always travel in groups. The U.S. Department of State has an extended list to help you travel safely and enjoy your time abroad.
7. Go with the Flow
“We will always be on time in Africa” – said nobody ever. Ugandan time is much more relaxed and flexible than here in the U.S., so plan on a little surprise in your daily schedule. The KinoSol team works tirelessly to ensure the schedule is followed as closely as possible, but sometimes a little “Hakuna Matata” is needed.
8. Have Fun!
Finally, remember to have fun! While visas, vaccines, and safety are all important concerns – do not forget to enjoy your experience! You are headed to a new country with new opportunities around every turn. Cherish the little things, because those 10 days will fly by.
Whew, that was a close call! I’m glad we went over that list of what to remember before traveling to Uganda! If a trip to Africa sounds like something you want to be a part of, contact us! And don’t forget to tune in next Monday for our latest One Sunny Day edition!
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