Introduction to Uganda

Did you know that Uganda is famous for pineapples, avocados, bananas and mangoes? Or that peanuts are called ground nuts?
Up to 85% of the population lives in rural areas. Have you heard that Uganda is a non-commercialized country – you will not find any McDonald restaurant there! Additionally, the lake Victoria is the largest lake on the African continent.
Ugandan people love bicycles! And what about you?
Find out more information about Uganda below!

Country local name: Republic of Uganda
Government type: republic
Capital: Kampala
Time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Independence: 9 October 1962 (from the UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 9 October (1962)
Population: 35,918,915
Ethnic groups: Baganda 16.9%, Banyankole 9.5%, Basoga 8.4%, Bakiga 6.9%, Iteso 6.4%, Langi 6.1%, Acholi 4.7%, Bagisu 4.6%, Lugbara 4.2%, Bunyoro 2.7%, other 29.6% (2002 census)
Languages: English (official national language, taught in grade schools, used in courts of law and by most newspapers and some radio broadcasts), Ganda or Luganda (most widely used of the Niger-Congo languages, preferred for native language publications in the capital and may be taught in school), other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic
Religions: Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% (Anglican 35.9%, Pentecostal 4.6%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.5%), Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9% (2002 census)
Terrain: mostly plateau with rim of mountains
Elevation extremes: Lowest point: Lake Albert 621 m
Highest point: Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley 5,110 m
Natural resources: copper, cobalt, hydropower, limestone, salt, arable land, gold
Agriculture – products: coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cassava (manioc, tapioca), potatoes, corn, millet, pulses, cut flowers; beef, goat meat, milk, poultry
Industries: sugar, brewing, tobacco, cotton textiles; cement, steel production
Exports: coffee, fish and fish products, tea, cotton, flowers, horticultural products; gold
Shopping hours: Monday – Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm. On Saturday some shops may be close at around 1 pm.
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhoea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vector-borne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and trypanosomiasis-Gambiense (African sleeping sickness)
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2013)
Climate: tropical; generally rainy with two dry seasons (December to February, June to August); semiarid in northeast
Natural hazards: NA



Uganda has a pleasant sunny and tropical climate with a slight seasonal variations with the average temperature around 21.5°C (71°F), making it great to visit throughout the year.

The most convenient time to visit is during the country’s two dry seasons, which occur from January to February and from June to September. It’s also the best time for trekking and watching gorillas.

It’s worth knowing that the wettest months fall between March and May and from October to November. It’s hard to see gorillas at that time. On the other hand, the hottest months are between December to February. Ideal time for hiking, climbing and animal sightings.

Ugandan cuisine combines international flavours (Italian, Chinese, French and a lot more) and restaurants offer cheap prices almost anywhere in the country. 
Most popular ingredients used for dishes include plantains, yams, sweet potatoes, beans, corn, cassava (a starchy root) and other tropical fruits.

Uganda is famous for ugali (a stiff maize porridge, served with stew of groundnuts, meat and beans) and matoke (a green banana steamed in its own leaves, served with vegetables, meat, fish or peanut sauce), chapatti (Indian-style flat dough-cakes fried in oil) or Samosas (deep-fried dough-pockets filled with vegetables and sometimes meat). Other specialities like Grasshoppers (deep-fried insects), Luwombo (stew made from meat, vegetables steamed in banana leaves), White ants (fried insect snack), Posho (cornmeal cooked with water into a porridge) and millet ‘bread’.A popular dish for vegetarians is mandazi (a doughnut served with cinnamon or sugar). Barbecue is also often eaten.
Many kinds of fish are popular, e.g. mputa, tiger fish, tilapia or mukini.

Drinks which you must try: tea (chai masala tea), beer (popular brands: Bell lager, Moonberg, Nile lager), pombe and lubisi (fermented beer made from banana or millet), wine and waragi (gin made from millet). Tap water is not recommended.

·    Uganda’s motto sounds “For God and my Country”.
·    The name Uganda comes from the Buganda kingdom.
·    Uganda has about 40 different languages.






Ki Kati – Hi 
Oli Otya – How are you?
Olyotya – How are you? (slang)
Kikati – What’s up?
Wasuze otya nno? – Good morning (How was your night?)
Osiibye otya nno? – Good afternoon or Good evening (How was your day?)
Weeraba – Goodbye (to one person)
Mweraba – Goodbye (to more than one person)
Kale – Okay
Burungi – okay (slang)
Sula bulungi – goodnight (slang)
Weebale Nnyo – Thank you very much
Nsonyiwa – I am sorry
Sawa mmeka? – What time is it?
Mmekka Ssente? – How much is it?
Enjala ennuma – I am hungry
Ennyonta ennuma – I am thirsty
Nyabo – Madam
Ssebo – Sir

·    A handshake is a common gesture to greet someone. Always use your right hand.
·    Ugandans prefer indirect eye contact. What more, they like to express their opinion by using stories and proverbs.
·    Humour is very important, but better to avoid sarcasm.
·    Personal space is very small. People like to talk close to each other.
·    Address people directly by using Mr., Mrs. and Miss before the surname.
·    Punctuality is not respected. More valued in business situations. But everything depends on the relationship.
·    Remember to dress conservatively. Women have to wear long clothing, which covers legs and men should wear long pants.
·    Don’t show public displays of affection. E.g. kissing is not accepted in this culture.
·    A male is the dominanting figure. Women are mostly housewives. Polygamy is generally acceptable as well.
·    You shouldn’t leave the room during a meal.
·    Before the meal you can expect a prayer of thanksgiving.
·    If you want to take a photo of people, you should ask for permission. 

Ssese Islands are luxurious powdery white-sand beaches, located in the middle of Lake Victoria. Evenings chats, relaxation/leisure, sunbathing, you can hire a canoe or grab a good book. In a word, chill-out all day. Farther, tourism industry is rapidly growing.

Lake Victoria is the world’s largest tropical lake, its area measures around thousand square kilometres. The lake contains eighty four tropical islands, which are divided into two groups: the Bugala Group (more popular) and the Koome Group. Lake Victoria is one of the greatest lakes in Africa and it’s a tourist magnet.

Kampala is the country’s capital. As the largest city of Uganda, it offers the Rubaga and Namirembe Cathedrals, the Nommo Art Gallery, the Bahai Temple, palaces of the old Kingdom of Buganda, tree-lined avenues, the National Theatre, The Gaddafi National Mosque, galleries, the Uganda Museum, the Kabaka Tombs (which are on Kasubi Hill), even the building of the Parliament of Uganda! There are also two main markets: Owino market and Nakasero market. Uganda undergone a significant transformation over the years. 

Jinja is the second-largest town in Uganda, which major attraction is the River Nile (one of the longest rivers in the world). You can hire a boat and admire Nile’s charms and bird watching along the banks of the river. Main points are white water rafting and bungee jumping. That's a guarantee of adrenaline. Moreover, you should visit the Nile Brewery.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of East Africa’s most famous national parks and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Park is home to almost half the world’s population of mountain gorillas (around 360), 120 species of mammal, more than 200 different species of butterflies, around 350 species of birds, 27 species of frogs and many endangered species. Only for this reason you have to go for a forest walk.

The Murchison Falls National Park (also known as the Kabarega National Park) is located in western Uganda and it’s the largest national park in Uganda. The Park offers magnificent views and encounters with crocodiles, elephants, buffalos, giraffes, lions, hippopotamus, leopards, antelopes and Uganda kobs, hartebeests and oribis and many bird species. Being here is a fantastic opportunity to explore savannahs, woodlands, wetlands and tropical forests.

Rwenzori National Park is located in southwest Uganda and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Characterized by beauty, biodiversity waterfalls, stunning glaciers and many small lakes. Trekking is great a form of entertainment. You can try it along Africa’s tallest mountain range, but you should know that mountain ranges are tough. The three highest peaks in the range are Margherita (5109m), Alexandria (5083m) and Albert (5087m).

Lake Mburo National Park is situated in western Uganda and the park spreads over an area of 370 square kilometres. It’s home to a huge variety of animals such as deer, impala, hippos, wild buffaloes, hyenas, jackals, leopard, eland, topi and zebras. Furthermore, you can see there more than three hundred species of birds! Walking and horseback safaris are also waiting for you there.

The Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in Uganda’s Western side. The Park is a paradise for birdwatchers. It consists of more than 600 bird species (more than can be found in all of Great Britain!). The gigantic park covers 1978 square kilometres and is home to 95 mammal species. Additionally, scenic savannah landscapes are encouraging and a boat ride along the Kazinga Channel is a must!

Lake Bunyonyi lies in the southwest of Uganda and the name ‘Bunyonyi’ means ‘place of small birds’. Why? A lot of varied birdlife live along the shores and on ca twenty small islands. Furthermore, it’s a perfect place for swimming, without crocs, hippos and bilharzia. You can go for a walk, enjoy canoeing or take a bike.

Uganda is a rare country, which has the Equatorial line. You can find it about 65 km southwest of Kampala. You can recognize it easily. When you see a huge yellow line and circular cement monument, it means – that’s it! A photo is a must! It is amazing to have one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the south.

Read our stories from our trips to NEPAL and PERU combined with volunteering experience, which we made in 2016 and 2017 >>

Join our next volunteering trip in a group and spend 2 weeks far away! Read more HERE!