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Tourism in Uganda

Travelers are flocking to Uganda's beautiful mountains, trekking opportunities and communities of mountain gorillas. Kampala is now the modern, bustling capital of a new Uganda, a country with one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

A modern, bustling capital, Kampala suffered a great deal during the years of civil strife. In the decade or so since President Museveni came to power, the city has gone from a looted shell to a thriving city befitting the capital of one of the most rapidly developing countries in Africa. The electricity works, clean water comes out of the taps, damaged buildings are now habitable, many new ones have gone up, and the shops and markets are once again well stocked. These days, Kampala even has casinos, nightclubs and fancy restaurants. And it's safe.

Kampala is said to be built on seven hills, but the city centre is on just one of them, Nakasero. The top half of the hill is a garden city of wide, quiet avenues lined with large houses behind imposing fences. This is where you'll find the embassies, international aid organisations, upmarket hotels, government offices and the rich. The bottom half is a completely different world, composed of shops, small businesses, budget hotels, cheap restaurants, street markets, Hindu temples, and the bus station and taxi parks. The streets in this congested area overflow with people, battered old cars, lottery ticket sellers and pavement stalls offering everything from rubber stamps to radio repairs.

If Kampala's streets don't put a spring in your step, there are a few standard attractions. The Uganda Museum's most interesting feature is its collection of traditional musical instruments, which you're allowed to play. The Kasubi Tombs are on Kasubi Hill, a royal palace enclosure first built in 1881. This is where you'll find the huge traditional reed and bark-cloth buildings of the kabakas (kings) of the Baganda people. The Uganda Wildlife Authority Office, a few kilometres northeast of the city centre, makes bookings to see the gorillas in outlying Bwindi National Park.

Health risks: Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia), HIV/AIDS, Yellow Fever, Malaria
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +3
Dialling Code: 256
Electricity: 240V ,50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

The Rwenzori Mountains in southwestern Uganda offer some of the best trekking in East Africa and are almost as popular with travelers as Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya, though definitely harder to climb. Be prepared for a five-day trek and take warm, waterproof clothing. Within the Bwindi National Park in the south-west, the Waterfall Trail, Muzabijiro Loop Trail and Munyaga River Trail are three beautiful walks of varying degrees of difficulty. The water around the Ssese Islands south of Kampala is clean, cool and perfect for swimming. On the Nile River, white-water rafting is an unforgettable experience; most rafting operators are based near Jinja, a town at the confluence of the Nile and Lake Victoria.

When to Go
The best time to visit Uganda is late December to late February, as the weather at this time of year is generally dry (though hot). A close second is the June to September period. Don't even think about trekking outside of these dry months.

Uganda celebrates many Christian holidays, including Christmas, Easter and Good Friday. The Muslim population honors Islamic holidays, which follow the Muslim calendar. Hari Raya Puasa, the sighting of the new moon, signifies the first day of the Muslim calendar and the end of Ramadan, the fasting month. Women's Day takes place throughout the country in early March. There are also several holidays associated with independence and events during the civil wars: Liberation Day is 26 January; Martyrs' Day is 3 June; Heroes' Day is 9 June; and Independence Day is 9 October.

Getting there
Kampala's international airport is actually in Entebbe, 35km (22mi) southwest of the capital. Plenty of taxis and minibuses ply between the airport and Kampala. Few travelers enter Uganda by air because most flights to East Africa from Europe and North America use the Kenyan capital Nairobi as a gateway. From Nairobi, most people then travel by bus to Uganda. There are flights to Entebbe from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. If you leave Uganda by air there's a departure tax of US$40. The two border posts used by most visitors travelling by bus from Kenya are Malaba and Busia. The route into Uganda from Tanzania goes through the Kagera salient on the western side of Lake Victoria between Bukoba