One can travel to Uganda using any of the 40 existing immigration stations around the country’s border. These include Entebbe International Airport, a couple of airfields, and marine ports. Most tourists who go to Uganda arrive/leave by air. However, many tourists use land border crossing, especially when on an overland safari trip.
Travel restrictions and additional entry requirements may apply for Uganda due to the coronavirus pandemic. And if so, it can change from day-to-day. Please visit our Covid-19 page to stay informed about the latest developments.
How to travel to Uganda by air
The most convenient means of reaching Uganda from anywhere in the world is by air for any leisure traveler. Though there are no direct flights to Uganda, travelers might find it easier to book flights reaching Entebbe via Kigali, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, or Johannesburg. The newly launched national carrier, Uganda Airlines, which begun flights in August 2019, promises to fill this gap by 2021. But currently, the carrier serves Somalia and East Africa region.
Traveling from Nairobi, or elsewhere in the region, Uganda Airlines, Rwandair, and Kenya Airways operate flights between Entebbe and regional destinations such as Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Juba, South Africa and Kigali. If choosing the latter, don’t expect the same level of efficiency and customer care on a regional hop as on one of their international flights.
When searching for cheap flights to Uganda online, you’ll be hit with a plethora of offers you won’t resist clicking. Because of the ever-advancing technology, searching for a flight can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many factors: dates, times, price, fare class, airline, and more. Even when you know exactly when and where you want to fly, you should look for the absolute best price is still not an easy question to answer.
Unfortunately, no website consistently has the lowest prices. Most popular OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) are usually in the same ballpark for the price, but not all offer the same benefits or search functionality. More often than not, booking directly through the airline’s website will give you the best price for a flight ticket to Uganda, or will at least be the same as the OTAs.
If you chose to book through OTA, the top five sites I would recommend are Kayak, Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, and Agoda, among the many online.
List of Airlines that fly to Uganda.
- Uganda Airlines
- Kenya Airways
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Etihad Airways
- Brussels Airlines
- Egypt Air
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- Precision Air Services Plc
- South African Airways
- Tarco Air
- Turkish Airlines
- African Express Airways
- EA Safari Air Express Limited
- Jambojet Limited
Arriving (and Leaving) by Air in Uganda
The main entry point for flights that travel to Uganda is Entebbe International Airport (EBB), located on a peninsular 40km from Kampala, the capital. International charter flights can also land, usually by arrangement with immigration, at some airstrips around the country such as Pakuba (Murchison Falls NP), Kasese (Near Queen Elizabeth NP), Kakira (Jinja), Kihihi (Kiso near Bwindi), and Apoka (Kidepo Valley NP).
Provided that you have mandatory Uganda entry requirements like a negative Covid-19 test certificate, a valid passport (6 months validity), and a return ticket, you should whizz through Entebbe’s entrance formalities with no hassle. The yellow fever vaccination and coronavirus (Covid-19) negative test certificates will be required at all entry points. Make sure you have these health requirements to protect you and others when you travel to Uganda.
Return/onward ticket restrictions
The only reason a traveler likely to fly to Uganda without a return ticket is because they intend to travel more widely in Africa. If you will be arriving with a one-way ticket for this or any other reason, there is a small but real possibility that you will be given a rough time by immigration officials concerned that you won’t have enough funds to buy a flight out of the country. Obviously, the more money you have, the less likely they are to query your finances. And a credit card will almost certainly convince them to let you in.
Assuming that you intend to travel to neighboring countries, you can underline this intention by arranging an East African Visa that will show that you intend to travel to Rwanda or Kenya on your trip.
Finally, an onward ticket technically is an entry requirement for travel to Uganda, so there is little point in arguing the toss or becoming needlessly aggressive with immigration officials who are only doing the job they are paid to do — patient diplomacy is a far better approach.
The worst that will happen if you arrive without a return ticket is that you will have to repurchase a ticket to your home country before being allowed entry. Assuming you intend to leave Uganda overland, you must check with the relevant airline that this ticket will be refundable once you have left Uganda and select a departure date that will give you time to get to a country where you can organize the refund.
Traveling out of Entebbe Airport
Once through customs and immigration at Entebbe, the first thing you will want to do is get some local currency. There are 24-hour foreign-exchange facilities at the airport, though the rates are lower than at the private forex bureau in town, so I wouldn’t exchange any more money than I have to.
As you exit the airport doors, you’ll see a group of men dressed in blue shirt uniforms waving their hands for attention. Those are airport taxi drivers—and of course, if your trip is planned, your tour manager will be waiting with a name placard. They are always there for all arrivals at any time.
A private airport taxi from the airport to Entebbe costs around US$5, and one to Kampala should cost no more than US$35. The alternative is to take a shared taxi between the airport and Entebbe, where you can pick up a minibus to the old taxi park in Kampala for roughly US$2 per person.
Overland— through boarder entry points
Uganda borders five countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, DRC, and Sudan. A high proportion of visitors to Uganda enters and leaves the country overland at the borders with Kenya or Tanzania. Uganda’s immigration operates 40 entry/exit points, 13 passport centers, and 9 regional offices around the country’s borders ready to serve your travel needs. Many leisure travelers enter or leave Uganda from Rwanda, mostly to see mountain gorillas on either side of the border.
DRC’s never-ending border insecurity effectively puts it off-limits to leisure travel. International NGOs and other organizations are now active in southern Sudan following an end to that country’s interminable civil war. Though plenty of Ugandan commercial traffic crosses the borders near Nimule, Oraba, and Moyo, foreign travelers unattached to an aid agency or NGO should seek local advice before heading that way to explore.
Uganda’s land borders are generally very relaxed. Provided that your papers are in order, you should have no problem, nor is there a serious likelihood of being asked about onward tickets, funds, or vaccination certificates. About the worst, you can expect at Ugandan customs is a casual search of your luggage.
It may be necessary to exchange money at any overland border in or out of Uganda if you think you’ll need local currency. And carry small bills for easy tipping and purchasing curios.
Crossing between Kenya and Uganda by road
Crossing between Kenya and Uganda couldn’t be more straightforward, and there are several ways you can go about it. You can travel to Uganda from Kenya through either Busia or Malaba border points, either driving or by bus. A bus will likely pass through Kisumu and cross from Kenya to Uganda at the Busia border.
The immigration will most likely ask you to show your Yellow fever vaccination and coronavirus negative test certificates. Show your passport (6 months validity) and a visa (US$50). I would recommend an East African Visa, which allows you to visit Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda for US$100.
The road is well paved all the way to Kampala, so comfort is assured unless you choose the wrong travel vehicle.
There bus routes between Nairobi and Kampala, which take about 12-13 hours, with stops in major towns along the way. Your best bet seems to be the MASH bus service (tel +256 774 082 853 Kampala and +254 718 121 251 in Nairobi). This company operates a comfortable daily coach service departing at 18:00 (check-in 45 minutes earlier) from De Winton Road opposite the National Theatre. It’s an unexpectedly pleasant depot that includes a good café and comfortable waiting room. One-way tickets cost US$35.
Plenty of transport connects Kisumu, Eldoret, and other major centers in western Kenya to either the Malaba or Busia border post. Another option, currently little used, is the Suam border to the north of Mount Elgon.
If you are crossing from Kenya in your own vehicle, bear in mind that Uganda’s fuel prices are higher than in Kenya, so stock up accordingly. Nairobi to Kampala may take US$35-$65 worth of fuel depending on the type of vehicle you’re traveling in.
Crossing between Uganda and Tanzania
The best way to cross between Uganda and Tanzania depends on which part of Tanzania you want to visit. You can take a catamaran speed vessel between the Port Bell in Kampala (MV Amani) and Mwanza (MV Bluebird) Tanzania side of lake Victoria, which will take you about 3 hours if you have the pockets for it or a board cargo ferry service takes about 19 hours between Port Bell and Mwanza. I would take the latter for the valued experience and the former to get where I have to be fast.
The only direct road between the two countries connects Masaka to the port of Bukoba, crossing at the Mutukula border post. From Bukoba, overnight ferries continue to Mwanza thrice weekly.
It is possible to travel between Kampala and Bukoba in boats, but far easier to use Falcon’s direct bus services. These leave from the central bus park in Kampala on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 10.30, in time to connect with the overnight ferry to Mwanza, and return on the following day. Tickets cost UGX 30,000.
The road routes heading south from Mwanza are now paved, should give you great pleasure driving solo. Far better to backpack the thrice-weekly passenger-train service via Tabora to Dar es Salaam on Lake Tanganyika’s coast or Kigoma.
It is also possible to travel by road from Mwanza to Arusha in northeastern Tanzania. A couple of buses or Land Rovers make the 12-18-hour daily trip from Mwanza to Arusha via the Serengeti and Ngorongoro, a good way of evoking your Africa wild dream of seeing something of the Serengeti if you’re not planning on doing an organized safari — remember to have with you the US$60 as national park entrance fees.
Crossing between Uganda and South Sudan
The ‘Nile Route’ via Juba was very popular with travelers before it was closed for years by long-running civil wars in Sudan and northern Uganda. Both regions are now, finally, at peace, the insurgent area in the south of the country now being recognized as the Republic of South Sudan. It’s now possible to travel between Uganda and Juba, the new capital of South Sudan, either overland via Gulu, Kiboko, or Moyo, or by air with Aerolink.
You won’t travel alone; since the 2005 peace accord, a flood of NGOs and commercial opportunists has been pouring into the area. In principle, this development makes the alluring prospect of following the Nile between its Ugandan headwaters and its effluent into the Mediterranean. In reality, you may find it difficult to secure passage between Southern and Northern Sudan.
To obtain as much information as possible from embassies and NGO contacts before wandering around Southern Sudan. Though peaceful on paper, this is a country in which war has been the norm for decades, and ongoing problems include widespread gun ownership, as well as landmines.
For further information, refer to Max Lovell-Hoare and Sophie Lovell-Hoare Bradt’s guide to South Sudan.
Crossing between Uganda and Rwanda
There are two main border crossing points between Uganda and Rwanda: between Kabale and Kigali via Katuna (Gatuna on the Rwandan side), and between Kisoro and Musanze (Ruhengeri) via Cyanika. The Kagitumba border isn’t convenient for most people, but public transport is on both sides.
The busier crossing by far is at Katuna/Gatuna, and it can take over an hour to get through immigration stations on both sides. There are many shared-car taxis to the border from Kabale and a few minibusses each morning (except Sunday) direct to Kigali. You can also wait at the main junction in the morning for Kampala’s Kigali-bound buses to pass through and hope they have free seats. On the Rwandan side, minibusses are travelling to Kigali (two hours) throughout the day. The border is open 24 hours.
From Kisoro to Cyanika, there’s no public transport, so you’ll need to get a taxi (USh35,000) or a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi; USh8000). Transport on the Rwandan side to Musanze (Ruhengeri) is frequent, and the road in good condition; altogether, it only takes about 1½ hours to travel between Kisoro and Musanze (Ruhengeri). The border is open 24 hours.
There’s also the option of taking a direct bus between Kampala and Kigali (USh40,000), a seven- to nine-hour journey, including a slow border crossing. Jaguar Executive Coaches Reliable company with daily services to Kigali at 7 am, 9 am, 8 pm, and 9 pm. It also has a ‘VIP’ option with more comfortable seats. Simba (Namayiba Terminal) Daily buses to Kigali (USh40,000, 11 hours) at 2 am.
Planning to travel to Uganda can be an odious endeavor, especially if you have no one to answer some questions. Well, this should help you get there and away if you plan on putting this trip together on your own. Otherwise, if reading this post was for informational purposes to help you plan a guided safari trip to Uganda, allow our local experts to help you put together the trip. The advantage is that they know quite a bit about which facilities, attractions, and routes that would befit you. Your inquiry through our email (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be sent directly to a consultant on the ground. That way, you avoid agents’ expenses and get first-hand assistance in planning your dream African vacation. Start planning now while offers still stand.