Frequently asked questions about travelling to Uganda Lodge

Some helpful tips and advice for when you travel in Uganda. If you have other questions please contact us here.

What’s the weather like?

Although situated near the equator, Ruhanga is about 1500 metres high and it can get quite chilly in the evenings. You often need a sweater or jacket, even if it was very hot during the day. You are more likely to want a blanket than a fan at night! Single duvets are useful – you might like to bring an old one and leave it behind, although bedding & mosquito nets are supplied. Rain, when it falls, is usually very heavy for an hour or two and then it stops and the sun returns again. Only occasionally does rain continue for several hours and this tends to be at night. Probably July and August are the driest months but seasons are changing. Darkness falls about 7pm and daylight starts at 6am almost all year around.

Can I use my mobile phone?

We suggest that you take an unlocked mobile phone with you (a cheap one from Carphone Warehouse is great) and buy a Ugandan Simcard on arrival; these are available at the Airport once you have come through immigration, or in Kampala city. You now need a passport photo to register it. When you have your own Ugandan card you can text your number to UK friends and family – they then call you cheaply from their UK landline – check dialling code and rates before you go try using 0844 300 6060.

Can I use my debit/credit cards?

It’s a good idea to take two different ATM cards with you and notify your bank which countries you are visiting before you leave home. One can be a cash travel card available at travel agents or supermarkets.

If you have a cash card you can keep your own bank debit card for emergencies such as loss or in case the ATM eats one! (Tip – take VISA as Mastercard is increasingly not being accepted in Uganda.) To have online banking facility is a good idea as ATM’s do not give out balances and it’s easy to go over your limit. You can transfer cash from your bank to a cashcard online or by sending a text from a mobile phone. Emergency money can also be sent out to you via Western Union – it costs about £10 per £300 next day service from UK and is easy to collect just 10 kms from the project in Ntungamo town – where the closest ATM to the project is also found, however the maximum withdrawal at the town’s ATM is £60 and be mindful that when power is down or its broken there’s no other local machine.

What should I pack?

It can get very hot in the daytime but generally cools down in the evening. If rain comes it’s often very heavy, but still quite warm and generally stops after an hour or two. While tiny tops and very short shorts are OK around the Lodge, girls especially are asked not to wear them out into the villages and towns. You will feel more comfortable and indeed should wear knee length skirts or loose trousers, so you do not offend the local women, or give men the wrong ideas. In fact is may soon become an arrestable offence not to wear knee length clothes for women.

You can buy most things you will need in Ntungamo (nearest town) quite cheaply although you might like to bring any of the following as they are sometimes more expensive in Uganda than home. Anything you can leave behind is welcomed.

  • Your laptop? Good idea if you use it a lot, but you can also use the Lodge ones in the computer room. We have an internet Dongle and you can share the cost of airtime or if staying for a while you may like to buy your own.

  • A Power Surge protected extension lead (red zig-zag logo and 3 square pins as in UK) –

  • Camera + spare camera, charger and batteries

  • SB stick and extra memory cards for back-up.

  • Unlocked phone.

  • Head torch and/or rechargeable/battery lantern.

  • Portable DVD player/I-Pod etc.

  • 2 or 3 medium sized padlocks with keys or secret code numbers.

  • Cagoule or poncho, jacket and sweater.

  • Trainer-type sandals & trainers

  • Lightweight tent (but we have some you can use for our safaris.)

  • Single thin duvet and a cover. (These can be taken on safari instead of sleeping bags).

  • Insect spray & repellent and after bite cream; sunscreen & aftersun etc.

  • First Aid Kit containing plasters, antiseptic, Imodium, Aspirin or Lemsip, antihistamine

  • Anti-malaria tablets.

Is there internet access?

Currently we get internet access via a dongle; volunteers should contribute towards the monthly cost of this & avoid a 20km round trip into town. If you do so however you get much better download speeds and its only a  £ or so for an hour’s usage. If you would like to take your own laptop then it should be safe out there if left locked in your room. If you are offered one cheaply or as a donation, then our computer students would welcome an extra laptop after you leave.