A friend burst my bubble, at least that is what he called it and it got me thinking. We have all heard about how great certain countries are and we do not get to hear or to read about the challenges which some travellers face. If we do, they always conclude with “all was worth the journey”.
Now, get comfortable and let us go through one by one and just in case you are caught up with such a challenge you have some little knowledge. This is not to scare, it’s to encourage you to travel more, to let you have a feel of everything and give you a chance tell your own story and experience. So grab your bag and go get to the bottom of all the adventures Uganda has to offer.
There is a lot to talk about, but l will go through the basics, which I am always asked and if I leave out something you would be interested in, do not hesitate to ask I will be happy to help.
Tour and travel companies
Please take your time and try to do an extensive research on the company you intend to use. A lot of travellers have been scammed through tour and travel bookings. Do not just jump on any tour company which has some website set up and providing some subsidised prices and promising a journey of your life time.
Take your time and consult with people who have traveled to the same places you wish to visit, compare a number of tour and travels and make a choice when you are certain.
Secondly, remain with some leverage to demand better services. You do not have to pay all the money of your journey at once, you have to stay with the balance for assurance of a good service. If they do not give you what you bargained for, you will have a chance to change instead of getting stuck with non performers.
Uganda is not under developed, it is a developing country. It has a lot of immigrants who are doing business there, food and beverages being one of the businesses they concentrate in. Therefore, you can find any trans continental restaurant or a food court. With food, you don’t have to worry, you can’t starve at all. The streets are full of delicacies you can try out when experimenting the likes of a “Rolex” – rolled eggs and chapati.
Though when you are out there doing food research, some foods might not agree well with your stomach. The hygiene of Uganda is not top notch in some places and even if some places are five star, you might still have a problem which is quite common when you change the environment or the way the food is prepared.
You don’t have to panic, my friends and I have been using coca-cola. Take some few sips after a meal and please be careful where you eat. This might sound like I am advertising for Coca- Cola, but I am not. It is some lifehacker which has worked for me and some friends. Try it might work for you too, if you’re a pepsi person then try that.
Do not drink water from the tap and do not just ask for a glass of water with your coffee. I do not even think that is provided back home. Whenever you ask for water, you are provided with a bottle, which you have to pay for. Anyways, you do not have to be mad about it, trust me it is safer than water in a glass.
I now live in Slovenia and one thing I do appreciate is safety. I can walk on the streets any time and do not develop a rush in any way. I can walk as I text or talk on phone at ease. I have more than twice left my phone behind and someone called me back for it. Now listen, this might not go down the same way when you travel to my country.
I don’t know how to emphasise this, but do not lazily pick up your call or text on the street. If you can not avoid it, hold your phone firmly. But if you can, ignore the call and look for a place which is less congested and pick up or leave it and you will give the person a call back when you’re settled.
You have to be careful, in fact very careful with all your belongings because trust me you will lose them in a second and you won’t know what has hit you.
Guys avoid putting your wallets in the back pocket of your jeans, that swagger might not last long before your wallet is snatched.
Ladies, you should think twice when you pass through town with your gold necklace, earrings, rings or any bling bling. This goes to any place you will travel to where you’re not certain of the safety. Leave these in your room and you won’t be sorry.
Do not just wonder the streets at night alone, please do that with some friends or let it pass. Ask for help or try to make contact with the people you meet either at the hotel where you stay or on streets. Ask for directions, Ugandans are friendly. Am not saying that trust them completely, am saying knowledge is power, you can’t have it unless you take an initiative to acquire it.
As means of transport within the country, travellers use Matatus (taxi), buses( Coaches) and Bikes (Bodaboda). All these can get you from one place to another and their prices vary according to season, time and who is travelling.
With season, the taxis and coaches fair double or triple. These are periods of xmas or Easter where a great number of people travel from either towns to villages to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones.
Time. Taxis increase prices during the rush hours, which are in the mornings when everyone wants to get to work or in the evenings when it’s time to get home after work. This becomes worse when it rains, most of the taxis get stuck in the traffic jam and on top of increasing the prices, they add on squeezing in the taxi excess passengers, instead of 14 passengers, you can end up being 18.
Now when I say who is travelling, I mean the people who don’t know the common language used, the people who have not used taxis for long and those who are not from the country, I mean someone of different color ( white, indian,chinese etc ).
Like l said, Uganda has got a lot of immigrants from different parts of the world and they all have their stories. Some are fluent in the local languages and others are familiar with the way life is in Uganda and they are enjoying each day.
Do not be overwhelmed if your bus fare is twice what others are paying. First ask someone how much it costs to travel to the place where you are going. make sure the person is not the driver or the conductor. I know it’s a lot to take in but that’s what makes it worthy the journey.
If you have never bargained, l think it’s time to pull out that bargaining card because you will use it when you travel to Uganda when you want to buy some stuff on the streets or use a bodaboda.
The price set is not always the one they sell on so try to bargain you will get a better one.
Last but not least on traveling around town, many people are excited about Boda Bodas and they want to try them out. But as exciting as the experience can be, these boda bodas have caused more accidents than anything using petrol (gas) in Uganda. In Mulago there is a ward which was gazetted for only people who have had bodaboda accidents.
Please if you can avoid them, do if you can’t, wear helmet or let the rider take you slow and let him be careful. If he is not, tell him to stop and you get on another. I repeat, these are so dangerous.
Am not so sure whether there forex bureaus around here in Ljubljana which are not found in the banks. One thing am sure of, is that Uganda has a lot of places where you can exchange your money. You don’t have to get right from the plane to the airport forex bureaus thinking you will have a problem having your money exchanged.
The airport bureau might be expensive than those you will find in town. The banks too tend to have higher exchange rates. If you’re going to kampala you will have a lot of options and this refers to Entebbe too if you’re to stay there.
Maybe it will be better to trust the bank for starters as you get used to the place and you will get to find out the best places where to exchange your money with favourable rates. Though this might not be common, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Prevention is better than cure. Make sure you get a dose of anti malarials before you travel to Uganda. You might have heard from your friends who say they went and they did not get malaria, but you never know may be they were lucky or their immunity is that strong. So do not take chances, just get it and feel safe.
Any way, if you are the stubborn one, and you chose not to get it, then if you get a fever, any weakness, joint pains and you feel powerless. Run to the hospital for the check up. If they find that you have malaria, you have to take the full dose. This time around you don’t have to act strong or smart, you just have to take the whole dose and keep on visiting the hospital where you are treated for the specialist to see your progress.
Besides all these, Uganda is a safe and among the most beautiful countries to travel to, and the people are friendly. Do not stress out, relax and have fun every single day.
Hope this can help you and if you have something more to ask, feel free l will be happy to help.
Have a safe journey to Uganda ( The pearl of Africa)