THE EYE Magazine
Pick up your free copy on arrival in Uganda. Printed quarterly. ‘The in and out guide to Uganda’. An invaluable resource to keep tucked away in your pocket.
The border posts of Malaba and Busia are where most overland visitors to Uganda arrive. The crossing from Kitale at Suam is open but the road very rough. There is insecurity in this region to consider as well as a distinct lack of transport. Any crossing north of Suam would be unwise due to insecurity. There are crossing points to Tanzania through the Kagera salient on the western side of Lake Victoria between Bukoba and Masaka at Mutukulu. From DR Congo, the two main crossing points are west from Kisoro to Rutshuru via Bunagana, and northwest from Kasese to Beni. There is a major security problem in the west of the DR Congo. The borders are open with daily commercial traffic passing through. Borders crossings to Rwanda are open at Katuna when proceeding to Kigali from Kabale and at Cyanika when going to Ruhingeri from Kisoro. The border with Sudan at Nimule is open with daily bus and commercial traffic. All persons intending to enter the south of Sudan from Uganda must obtain a visa which can be obtained in the same working day from the South Sudanesse Mission in Kampala. Note this visa does not permit travel onward to Khartoum.
Should you be arriving at Entebbe International Airport your will find taxi services at the exit of the arrivals lounge. Airport transfers services can be prebooked through the Airport Link service to all corners of the country offered by The Airport Transfer Company tel. +256 (0)713 805580.
Traveling with your own vehicle:
For those traveling with their own vehicle read the Uganda Facts page where details appertaining to Temporary Import Permits/Carnet de Passage for foreign registered vehicles can be found.
On the road in Karamoja
There is a small network of domestic services. Use of shared minibuses (known as taxis or matatus) is the preferred mode of transport in the towns. Shared taxi fares are fixed and vehicles leave when full.
Buses connect the major towns on a daily basis. Post Bus minibuses travel from Kampala to all major centers several times a week. Post Bus buses are cheaper and much safer than using the Express public buses. Kampala boasts countless motorbike taxis (known locally as boda-boda). Fares are reasonable but your safety is questionable. Motorbike taxis can be found all over the country and are augmented by bicycle taxis in some towns, namely Mbale and Kabale.
There is a good road system between most major towns in the southern and western part of Uganda. Roads in the north and northeast can be very harsh especially during the rain season.
Fuel in Uganda is expensive compared to its neighboring countries although available everywhere through a network of modern filling stations. Diesel is cheaper than petrol.
Fuel price as of June 2009
US$1 – Ushs2200-
Visitors intending to visit outlying areas of the country would be unwise to consider using a self-drive rental vehicle. Rental vehicles including a driver can be arranged through any of the backpacker’s hostels in Kampala. The following car rental companies are reputable and rent 4 wheel drives, cars and minibuses with drivers.
City Cars Ltd: Tel 041 268611, 0772 412001. email email@example.com Room 20, First Floor, Tankhill Parade, Muyenga.
There are direct flights to Entebbe from Kenya (Nairobi), Tanzania (Dar Es Salaam/Arusha), South Africa (Joburg), Ethiopia (Addis Ababa), Egypt (Cairo), Belgium (Brussels), Holland (Amsterdam) UK (London Gatwick), UAE (Dubai).
The ‘Old Terminal’ Entebbe International Airport
Egypt Air offers the cheapest tickets to just about anywhere out of Entebbe. Buying a 30-day return will be the cheapest option if you had been considering a one way. Egypt Air offers free stopovers in Egypt. Tickets to destinations in Europe cost approx US$850- plus tax. Other carriers offer European destination tickets in the order of US$1000- plus taxes. Ethiopian Airlines is establishing itself as the regional bus service carrier taking advantage of open traffic rights between Entebbe, Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi on flights connecting to Addis. Ethiopian would be an interesting carrier to consider for those wanting an open jaw ticket.
Air Uganda is the most recent airline on the local civil register to get airbourne in 2008. They offer daily filghts to Nairobi, Arusha, Dar, Zanzibar and Juba. Tel: +256 (0)414 216 5555 www.air-uganda.com.
Uganda Airlines is now completely defunct (2001) as is Africa One which has ceased operations (2003) on the twice weekly Dar Es Salaam service.
Kenya Airways: 5 flights daily from Nairobi. Tel. 041 344304, 233068. Daily KLM flights to/from Amsterdam connect with Kenya Airways operations out of Nairobi to/from Entebbe.
East African Airlines: All East African Airline’s flights have were suspended May 2005. The airline has since terminated it’s entire flight operation.
Victoria International Airways: The airline has suspended all services after only 2 months of operations after launching in November 2006.
Precision Air: Tel. 0312 360000/113/118/125. Effective July 15th 2006 a twice weekly frequency will operate between Entebbe-Mwanza-Kilmanjaro on Mon/Sat.
Air Tanzania: All services between Tanzania and Entebbe were suspended in 2007.
South African Airlines: Tel. 041 255501. Daily Joburg direct flights outbound from Entebbe effective March 1st 2008.
Sudan Airways: Tel. 041 230438, Fax 041 230423. 1 flight a week on Saturdays via Juba to Khartoum. Inbound 10.30, outbound 11.30.
Dairo Air servies: Tel. 041 256 213, 0772 778903, email. firstname.lastname@example.org. 6 services to Juba a week.
Egypt Air: Tel. 041 233960 / 341276, email: email@example.com. 2 flights a week to and from Cairo inbound @ 0330 and outbound @ 0430 wed/sun. A second flight (wed) was added as of June 7th 2005.
British Airways: Tel. 041 257414/6. Operates 3 flight a week Mon/Wed/Fri direct to Entebbe.
Emirates: Tel. 041 349941/2. Daily flights to and from Dubai. All flights are via Nairobi with onward connections to Europe through Dubai.
Ethiopian Airlines: Tel. 041 254796. Operate a raft of flights in and out of Entebbe throughout the week, Ethiopian have traffic rights on the Dar-Ebb-Dar route and Ebb-Nbo-Ebo route.
SN Brussels Airlines: 4 flights a week to Entebbe from Belgium on Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun.
KLM: The Dutch carrier is to begin operations in and out of Entebbe 5 times a week from 1st December 2008. Services will be every Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday non stop from Amsterdam to Entebbe. In addition, through the KLM / Kenya Airways codeshare, another 11 weekly flights between Amsterdam and Entebbe are available via Nairobi.
Alliance Express: Ceased operations (Apr 2003). They formally operated daily flights except Saturdays to/from Kigali.
Rwanda Express: Tel. +250 575757. Operates 6 flights per week between the two countries on Mon/Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sun. Rwanda Express also offers connections to Joburg, Bujumbura and Kilimanjaro
Air Burundi: Connections from Entebbe to Kigali and Bujumbura have received a boost following the start of regular air operations between the three cities in March 2005. Flights on Wed/Sun now connect Burundi’s capital city Bujumbura via Kigali / Rwanda with Entebbe.
Gulf Air: No longer fly to Entebbe, services in conjunction with Kenya Airways through Nairobi.
Domestic services are available to Arua, Adjumani, Kisoro, which are served by Mission Aviation Fellowship (Tel. 041 26466/2), Reliance Air Services (Tel 041 321251, 0772 705185) and Eagle Air (Tel. 041 344292) www.flyeagleuganda.com.
Airport Departure Tax
International US$50-. This amount is always included in the ticket price you pay to your travel agent or carrier airline.
Airport Taxis and Transport:
From Entebbe International Airport the big hotels offer courtesy shuttle buses. A taxi to anywhere in Entebbe should not be more than US$10-. You can pay as little as Ushs10,000- if you know where your going and have local currency. A taxi to Kampala will cost US$45-. A cheaper option is to take a taxi to Entebbe and then board a shared minibus taxi (Ushs1,500-) to Kampala.
Getting to the airport terminal from Entebbe (3 kms) is done cheapest by Motor Bike taxi. This should not cost more than Ushs1,000-. A taxi from in front of the Flight Motel will cost closer to Ushs5,000- and you will have to pay the Airport vehicle entrance fee (Ushs1,000-). Motorbikes are free.
In Kampala there are plenty of appointed travel agents but only a handful that have an online reservation system to check seat availability. Ticket prices vary little from agent to agent as all airlines have ceased to pay a commission.
Lets Go Travel Uganda located in the new Garden City Mall is an offshoot of Lets Go Travel Nairobi. They are very competative offering great deals on flights and packages within the East African region.
Direct buses between Kampala and Nairobi run daily operated by the Akamba bus company (Tel. 041 250412 The journey time is 12 to 14 hours. Akamba offer 2 classes of Service, namely ‘Royal’ and ‘Akamba Executive’. Price for the one way journey is Ushs20,000/35,000. These buses arrive and depart from the Akamba Bus Terminal near the National Theater. In Nairobi they depart from River Rd.
Public Bus travel
Scandinavia Express Bus Company has suspended services July 2009. Akamba, Tawig Bus Company, Takrim Bus Company run buses to and from Kampala with buses starting from as far a field away as Dar Es Salaam.
If you plan to alight the bus with any of these bus operators ensure the bus crew is aware of your final destination so your baggage can be stowed accordingly. Baggage holds are sealed by customs and the crew so ensure you will be able to get access to your bag should you not be travelling to the buses final destination.
There is no longer a passenger service from Nairobi to Kampala. Uganda Railways has no passenger train services at all in operation in Uganda.
Tanzania Railways operated a ferryboat service on Lake Victoria that travels between Bukoba and Mwanza in Tanzania. The vessel, the MV. Victoria is prone to breakdowns and the service can be erratic. The ship did operate a service from Mwanza to Port Bell on Mondays which has since been discontinued. It’s current service is as follows:
Bukoba – Mwanza Depart Mon 21.00 Arrive Tues 07.00.
Mwanza – Bukoba Depart Tues22.00 Arrive Wed 08.00.
Bukoba – Mwanza Depart Wed 21.00 Arrive Thur 08.00.
Mwanza – Bukoba Depart Thur 22.00 Arrrive Fri 08.00.
Bukoba – Mwanza Depart Fri 21.00 Arrive Sat 08.00.
Mwanza – Bokoba Depart Sun 22.00 Arrive Mon 08.00
There is cabin accommodation for 1st & 2nd class passengers.
1st Class cabin Tsh11800-
2nd class cabin: Tsh9300-
2nd Class sitting: Tsh7100-
3rd Class sitting: Tsh6200-
MV Victoria in Port Bell
The ferry has a bar and restaurant where meals are available. Vehicles (not trucks) can be accepted and are loaded into and out of the hull of the ship by crane. US$??? per vehicle. Tanzania Railways can be contacted in Kampala on 041 233384 for further information.
Bukoba is in Tanzania and offers access to Uganda through Masaka as mentioned above in the arrival section of this page. For those traveling by public means there is a direct bus from Bukoba to Kampala. Journey time 6 hours, price US$12- in TZ Shillings.
An alternative to travelling via Bukoba is to contact Uganda Railways Shipping. They will carry you and your vehicle providing you get permission from the Director of Uganda Railways in Kampala at the Train Station from Port Bell (Kampala) to Mwanza in Tanzania. The offical policy is that they do not carry passengers, however the one-way passenger fare is Ushs40,000-. Accommodation on the ship can be arranged by renting a bed from one of the crew members for Ushs5,000-. Meals can be bought in the ships galley.
Uganda Railways have 2 cargo ships that carry railway goods wagons back and forth to Mwanza. There is enough room even if the ship has a full load of wagons to fit one vehicle Landcruiser/Landrover at the back of the vessel between the wagons. The cost for transporting the vehicle you would have to negotiate at the Port with the captain and ships load master. The vessels have no timetable but there is a frequent service. You would not have to wait more than 2 days. Passage is usually conducted overnight.
The official freight charges courtesy of Uganda Railways in Kampala will shock anyone with a vehicle into not even considering crossing the Lake with it from Port Bell to Mwanza. For vehicles 0 – 4 tons the official transport fee is is Us$445-, for vehicles 4 – 6 tons the fee is Us$533-. One could safely assume a plan could be made with the vehicle on the dock side prior to the vessel sailing should you be in possession of your permission as a foot passenger from Uganda Railways in Kampala to travel with the ship.
There are immigration and customs facilities at Port Bell.