Uganda travel guide
A reputation for political instability and the looming shadow of Idi Amin have long – and unfairly – blighted Uganda’s fledgling tourism sector. Now, though, things are looking up for the East African nation once described as “the pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill.
And a brief look around is enough to show you why. From the second you step off the plane, the overwhelming impression of Uganda is one of rich natural diversity, friendly locals and a burgeoning cultural scene that is currently producing some of the most exciting artists in Africa.
Culturally, much of the action happens in the capital, Kampala, a hilly urban sprawl ringed by farmland and perched on the muddy banks of Lake Victoria. While most foreign travellers confine themselves to the city centre or the diplomatic quarter, Kololo, its worth venturing into the bustling bars and clubs of Kabalagala, where expats and locals meet for a slug of the local Nile beer and a friendly game of pool.
Away from the capital, Uganda’s towns and cities have little in the way of diversions (although Jinja’s location on the banks of the River Nile has made it a favourite with thrill-seeking rafters). Instead, head west towards the Congo border where, along with the fascinating pygmy people of Fort Portal, Uganda’s natural wonders reveal themselves.
A popular spot for wildlife watching is Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is home to four of the Big Five, a flock of flamboyant flamingos and the rare tree-climbing lions of Ishasha.
The star attraction, though, is the iconic mountain gorilla, which can be found further south in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. While you’re down there it’s also worth taking a detour to Lake Bunyonyi, a mountain retreat famed for its stunning vistas and freshwater crayfish.
More natural wonders await in northern Uganda, home to the magnificent Murchison Falls, and in the east, where visitors will find the outstanding desert crags and ossified anthills of Kidepo.
Regardless of where you go in Uganda, when it comes to leaving, it will be with a reluctant heavy heart.
241,038 sq km (93,072 sq miles).
41,487,965 (UN estimate 2016).
157.1 per sq km.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni since 1986.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja since 2021.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Uganda on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Land borders are open and commercial flights are operating to and from Uganda. Check with your travel company for the latest information on flights.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Uganda.
Returning to the UK
Travelling from and returning to the UK
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Uganda
The Ugandan Ministry of Health has advised that fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear a face mask outdoors provided there are no crowds. Further guidance is available from the Ministry of Health website. Some government buildings may require evidence that you are fully vaccinated to allow entry.
Public transport is now operating at full capacity but passengers must adhere to COVID guidance, including no air conditioning.
Hotels and restaurants are open with social distancing measures in place.
Public places and services
Places of worship are open but with a maximum of 200 worshipers only. Marriages and funerals are also permitted, but with a maximum of 200 attendees and must observe COVID rules strictly.
Healthcare in Uganda
There are a number of public and private COVID-19 tests centres in Uganda. For further information on the outbreak in Uganda, please see the Ugandan Government COVID-19 Response website.
If a foreign national tests positive for COVID-19 and wishes to be repatriated for treatment outside of Uganda, they will be expected to cover the costs themselves.
For contact details for English speaking doctors, if you are running low on medication or require emergency medical treatment, you should contact one of the medical practitioners on this list. They will be able to discuss your situation over the phone and advise on the best course of action. Some hospitals and pharmacies are able to deliver medication to you. All major pharmacies in Kampala and surrounding towns are able to read and understand prescriptions issued by UK doctors. UK issued prescriptions are accepted but you should be aware that pharmacies in Uganda do not always stock the same range of medication found in UK pharmacies. British nationals are therefore advised to travel with adequate stocks of their medication for the duration of their stay in Uganda.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Uganda.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Uganda
The Ugandan national vaccination programme started in March 2021. AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are currently being used. British nationals resident in Uganda are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme, in line with the eligibility requirements and order of prioritisation as set out by the Ministry of Health. More information is available on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination webpage.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Uganda, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, you can contact the British High Commission Kampala on 0312 312000 or +44 1908 516 666.
Opportunistic crime like burglaries, muggings, drive-by bag snatches and thefts from vehicles occur in Uganda. There have been a few cases of individuals being drugged and robbed on public transport and in bars. Don’t accept food and drink from strangers. Foreign visitors and residents may be targeted by scam artists. Be wary of strangers approaching you or your accommodation or contacting you by phone asking for personal information or financial help. There are regular reports of criminal kidnaps, these very rarely target foreign nationals.
Don’t carry large sums of cash or wear expensive looking jewellery or watches. Take particular care of your passport. Take extra care when going out on foot and avoid walking after dark wherever possible.
Keep car doors locked and windows shut when driving in towns. There have been a number of thefts from cars and taxis while stationary in traffic. Don’t leave valuables in vehicles. If you are stopped by armed criminals, don’t resist.
Political rallies, protests and violent demonstrations can occur without warning, causing loss of life and injury, anywhere in Uganda. Incidents are more likely around elections. The police have used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse demonstrators. You should take great care and avoid all demonstrations and rallies where possible.
In November 2020, there were election-related protests in Kampala and other locations across Uganda, with incidents of violence and a number of deaths. Country-wide internet shut-downs have been implemented around elections, other political events and during protests. Disruption to social media sites (e.g. Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp) have also taken place in Uganda.
Certain colours; for example red and yellow, are strongly associated with political parties in Uganda. You should be cautious about wearing these colours in public.
If you find yourself caught up in a political demonstration, remain calm and try to move away from the area by the safest possible route. If you’re travelling in a vehicle, ensure that the doors are locked and windows are up. If you’re in your accommodation and there’s a demonstration nearby, remain inside if you judge that leaving your accommodation is threatening or unsafe. Familiarise yourself with the security procedures in place at your accommodation, and make sure appropriate precautions are deployed as necessary.
Local travel - north-east Uganda
There is an ongoing military operation in northeast Uganda in the Karamoja sub-region (districts of Kaabong, Kotido, Abim, Moroto and Nakapiripirit) against armed cattle theft and intercommunal violence. Military and civilians have been killed during the operation. Armed raids to steal cattle have also been reported in districts that neighbour Karamoja in the Teso and Acholi sub-regions. Foreigners are not usually the target of attacks but you should remain vigilant, exercise caution and, like in the rest of Uganda, avoid any travel at night.
The north east is particularly susceptible to flooding during the rainy season (from March to May and October to November). Monitor local media and take care in all remote areas including the use of suitably equipped 4 wheel drive vehicles.
Local travel - northern and western Uganda
Take great care near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. The FCDO advises against all travel to the provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo that border Uganda and against all travel to South Sudan.
Uganda and DRC began joint military action against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in North Kivu and Ituri provinces of eastern DRC, near to parts of the Ugandan border, on 30 November 2021. Ugandan troops are present on both sides of the border as part of the joint operations.
This operation may affect the function of some border crossing points which could close at short notice. There is also a risk of banditry. If you are in these areas you should be vigilant and keep your security situation under constant review.
Local travel - west Uganda
There have been a number of incidents of violent clashes in western Uganda, particularly the Kasese area, in recent years. There has been no suggestion that tourists or foreign nationals have specifically been targeted in these incidents, but if you plan to visit this area, which is close to popular tourist destinations including Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Kibale National Parks, you should remain vigilant, exercise caution, avoid crowds and follow local media for updates on the current situation.
Local travel - south west Uganda
The parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo immediately neighbouring southwest Uganda have a history of instability and violent conflict can flare up with little notice. Take care when travelling in the area. The FCDO advises against all travel to the provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo that border Uganda.
On 12 June there were reports of renewed clashes between government forces and armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo very close to the Ugandan border, near the Bunagana border crossing in Kisoro district. If you are in this area you should be vigilant and keep your security situation under constant review. There were previous clashes on 23 May 2022 and 29 March 2022 and border crossing points were temporarily suspended. They could be closed again at short notice.
On 2 April 2019 a foreign national and a Ugandan national were kidnapped from the Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both were released 7 April 2019.
Local travel - eastern Uganda
Travel to eastern Uganda is largely trouble free, but during heavy rains there is a risk of landslides particularly in Bulucheke sub-county in Bududa District near Mount Elgon National Park, a popular tourist destination.
Local travel - National Parks
Use reputable, registered tour operators and contact the Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) for up to date advice and information before you travel. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Parks are in the extreme south west of Uganda near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. It’s routine practice for security personnel to accompany tourists on gorilla-tracking visits in this area.
Some gorilla trekking operators cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo. You should avoid taking these tours. The FCDO advises against all travel to the provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo that border Uganda, this includes Virunga National Park.
You can drive in Uganda using a UK driving licence for up to 3 months, after which you will need to get a Ugandan driving licence from the Uganda Revenue Authority or an International Driving Permit.
Travelling by road can be hazardous, particularly outside the main cities. Driving standards are poor, vehicles are often poorly maintained and the accident rate is high. Other road users may be driving without lights and livestock roam across the roads. The Jinja - Kampala and the Kampala - Masaka roads are particular accident black spots.
Speed limits in built-up areas are generally 50km/h and out of town 80km/h. The police enforce this law and breaking speed limits can result in a fine, imprisonment or both.
For reasons of road safety and security you should avoid travelling outside of the main towns after dark, except on the roads between Kampala and Entebbe International Airport.
Make sure your vehicle is in good condition and stocked with items you might need in case of a breakdown or other incidents.
There have been a number of serious accidents involving Ugandan long distance bus services, linking Kampala with other towns in Uganda and internationally with Nairobi, Kigali and Dar es Salaam. Some overnight buses have been robbed after being forced to stop by roadblocks or by criminals posing as passengers.
You should avoid using matatus (minibus taxis following a particular route) and boda-bodas (motorbike taxis). Though cheap, matatus and boda-bodas don’t meet western safety standards, are generally in poor condition, badly driven and often don’t have proper insurance cover. Accidents are common, and can be fatal. There have been recent incidents of foreign nationals being mugged whilst using boda-bodas.
Large numbers of ferry passengers have died in accidents on Lakes Albert and Victoria in recent years often due to overloading of passengers and goods.
Use a reputable ferry company and if you believe a ferry to be overloaded or unseaworthy, don’t get on. Familiarise yourself with emergency procedures on board and make a note of where the life jackets and emergency exits are located.
Contacting the British High Commission
You can keep up to date with travel advice by subscribing to email alerts. You can see messages about travel advice on social media by following @FCDOTravel and @UKinUganda on twitter and fcdotravel and ukinuganda on Facebook.
Read the FCDO’s How to deal with a crisis overseas page for more information and advice.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Uganda. Attacks could be indiscriminate or against foreign nationals or places frequented by foreign nationals.
You should be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places like hotels, transport hubs, restaurants and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events and when in close proximity to Government buildings or security installations such as police stations. Previous terrorist attacks and disrupted attacks in Uganda have targeted the security forces, places where football matches were being viewed, restaurants, buses and government buildings.
Recent attacks in Uganda include:
- On 16 November 2021, terrorists used two explosive devices in central Kampala killing 4 and injuring 33 people. Two further explosive devices were disarmed by the police
- On 25 October 2021, terrorists used an explosive device on a coach travelling on the Kampala to Masaka road near Mpigi killing one person
- On 23 October 2021, terrorists used an explosive device to attack a restaurant in Kamamboga, a suburb in the north east of Kampala killing one person and injuring a number of others
The Uganda Police Force regularly issue alerts, particularly around public holidays or religious events. You should remain vigilant at all times and follow the advice of the local authorities.
In 2010 there were bomb attacks in Kampala at venues screening the World Cup final killing over 70 people and injuring many more. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility and linked the attacks to Uganda’s military presence in Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM), and threatened further attacks in the region. Daesh has claimed responsibility for some of the more recent attacks in Uganda.
The Ugandan authorities continue to work to reduce the risk of further attacks. There may be additional security checks, including baggage and car searches in public places, including hotels.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Homosexual activity is illegal and not tolerated in Uganda’s conservative society. Public displays of homosexuality like kissing in public places could lead to arrest and imprisonment. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. Uganda is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which bans trading in ivory. If you’re caught buying or trafficking these goods you’re liable to be prosecuted and receive a prison sentence or a fine.
Smoking is prohibited in all public places, workplaces, transport and other outdoor places within 50 metres of a public place. Electronic cigarettes and shisha (water-pipe tobacco) are banned. There are penalties including fines and/or imprisonment.
Penalties for drug trafficking are severe.
Don’t take photos of military, official or diplomatic sites, including Owen Falls Dam at the source of the Nile near Jinja. If you are taking photographs of people, ask their permission first.
It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in military style clothing. This includes clothing with marks, insignia and accessories associated with the Ugandan military, camouflage clothing and red berets. The offence carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment when convicted.
You may be stopped and asked for ID documents by officials. Carry a copy of the personal details page of your passport (the page with your photograph) with you at all times.
On 22 May 2019 it became an offence punishable by a prison sentence and/or a fine to offer money, food or clothing to children living on the streets in Kampala.
This page has information on travelling to Uganda. Check what you must do to return to the UK.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Uganda set and enforce entry rules.
You’ll need a visa to enter Uganda. Following an announcement by the Ugandan Ministry of Internal Affairs on October 14 2021, you are required to have a visa before your trip. Visas will not be issued on arrival.
See the Visas section for more information.
A negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate is no longer required for fully vaccinated inbound and outbound travellers. Children under the age of 6 are exempted from providing a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate whether vaccinated or not.
Arriving passengers will be subject to temperature checks and will be screened for infectious diseases by the Port Health authorities. If your temperature is above normal or you display COVID-19 symptoms you may be required to take a COVID-19 test. If a foreign national tests positive for COVID-19 and wishes to be repatriated for treatment outside of Uganda, they will be expected to cover the costs themselves.
Only passengers with valid tickets and airport officials will be allowed into the terminal building.
For more information about entry requirements, visit the Ugandan Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control website.
If you’re fully vaccinated
If you are fully vaccinated (and for children under the age of 6) you are now able to enter Uganda via air and land border points without showing a negative COVID-19 PCR certificate. You will be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated.
Proof of vaccination status
You are required to show your COVID-19 vaccination status on arrival at Entebbe International airport and land border points in Uganda
If you’re not fully vaccinated
If you are not fully vaccinated you will need to show a negative COVID-19 PCR certificate issued no more than 72 hours before departure on arrival by land or air.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year
There are no special arrangements in place for travellers who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.
Children and young people
Children under the age of 6 do not need to show a negative COVID-19 test certificate on arrival. Unvaccinated children aged 6 and above will need to show a negative COVID-19 test certificate issued no more than 72 hours before departure on arrival at land border points and Entebbe International Airport
If you’re transiting through Uganda
If you are transiting through Uganda on your way to another country and staying in the airport (airside) you will need to provide proof that you are fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test certificate on arrival.
If you are transiting through Uganda on your way to another country and will be passing through immigration (sometimes known as a layover), for example to stay in a hotel for a flight the next day, you will need to provide proof that you are fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test certificate on arrival.
There are no exemptions to Uganda’s entry requirements.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Uganda.
You can apply for a visa at the Ugandan High Commission in London or apply online for an ‘e-visa’. You can find full details of how to apply on the website of the Ugandan High Commission in London. You should give yourself sufficient time to apply for a visa and make sure when applying that the start date and validity covers the period you wish to travel.
You can also apply for an East African Tourist Visa. This is valid for 90 days and allows multiple entry into Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. You can apply for this visa on the ‘e-visa’ website.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Uganda. ETDs must be valid for 6 months for entry into Uganda. A police report for lost/stolen passports is required for departure on an ETD.
Returning to the UK
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Uganda on the TravelHealthPro website
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Uganda.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
Medical facilities in Uganda are limited especially outside Kampala and the current COVID-19 outbreak means that many healthcare providers are severely stretched. Medical help at the scene of an accident is likely to be limited, particularly outside of Kampala, and many popular tourist attractions are far from adequate medical facilities. In the case of serious accident or illness, evacuation by air ambulance may be required. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Malaria and Schistosomiasis (bilharzia) are common in Uganda. There are regular outbreaks of cholera in Uganda. You should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre
UK health authorities have classified Uganda as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website
Only use boiled or bottled water, and avoid ice in drinks. Don’t eat food prepared by unlicensed vendors or where you have concerns about kitchen hygiene.
Particularly for longer periods of residence in Uganda, it’s good practice to keep spare basic provisions (eg, drinking water and non-perishable foods) at your accommodation, as there can be supply problems from time to time.
In the 2016 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 1,300,000 adults aged 15 or over in Uganda were living with HIV. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV or AIDS.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
On 16 December 2021, DRC’s 13th Ebola outbreak was declared over. The outbreak began on 8 October 2021 in Beni, North Kivu province in eastern DRC, bordering Uganda and Rwanda. There have been no new cases since 30 October and none recorded in Uganda. Further information and updates on Ebola can be found on the WHO website and the Public Health England (PHE) website.
Localised flooding and landslides as a result of heavy rains can occur throughout Uganda particularly during the rainy seasons of March to May and October to November.
Uganda is in an earthquake zone. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
ATMs are widely available and credit cards widely accepted in Kampala and in other main towns.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.