UPCNL International mission trip program

Working in Unity so that every joint supplies its share Ephesians 4:16   

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About Uganda

Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom. The name Uganda, the Swahili term for Buganda, was adopted by British officials. Uganda is also called “the Pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill and Henry Morton Stanley. Uganda is bordered by Sudan to the north, Congo to the west, Rwanda and Tanzania to the south and Kenya to the east. The country lies in a cradle of mountains and is home to half of Lake Victoria and the source of the River Nile. This East African nation is rich in wildlife and natural resources. People of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu-speaking populations migrated to the southern parts of the country who were probably from central Africa, These groups brought and developed ironworking skills and new ideas of social and political organization. Uganda embraces 52 different ethnic groups. Music and dance are integral to each of these cultures, as is a rich tradition of storytelling and folklore. Uganda is a landlocked, lush and fertile country which depends on an agricultural economy with 85% of its workforce engaged in farming, forestry, and fishing. Coffee is the main commercial and export crop. Others are fish, cotton, tea, flowers and other horticultural products. The official languages are English and Swahili, although multiple other languages are spoken in the country. Uganda was ruled by the British beginning in the late 1800s and gained independence from Britain on 9 October 1962, and now maintaining its Commonwealth membership. After achieving independence from Great Britain in 1962, was ruled by two brutal dictators: Idi Amin (1971-79) and Milton Obote (1980-85) who were responsible for the deaths of nearly 1 million people. In 1986, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni seized power and established a government that remains in place today.

The flag of Uganda was adopted in 1962. The Black color identifies Uganda as a black nation of Africa, the Yellow represents the abundant sunshine Uganda enjoys being situated on the equator, and the Red represents the brotherhood of Ugandans with the rest of Africa and the world. The crested crane, the national Bird of Uganda, adorns the center of the flag and stands on one leg facing the flag pole. The raised leg symbolizes that Uganda is not stationary but moving forward.

THE CRESTED CRANE is the official bird of Uganda. The three colors of Uganda, Black, Yellow, and Red, are contained in its plumage. It is a friendly, gentle and peace loving bird, characteristics which are certainly true of the Ugandan people. It is a crime punishable by imprisonment to kill a Crested Crane.

The coat of arm

The official insignia (coat of arms) of Uganda reflects the identity, aspirations and economic activity of Uganda. The Crested Crane includes all the national colors (black, yellow, and red) plus it is friendly, gentle, and peace loving, characteristics true of the Ugandan people. To the left is a Kob which symbolizes the abundant wildlife found in Uganda. The Spear and Shield are traditional tools of defense in Africa. The Sun represents the abundant sunshine found in Uganda as an equatorial nation. The Drum is a symbol of the cultural heritage of the Ugandan people. The Upper Blue Lines (top of shield) represent Uganda's abundant rainfall while the Lower Blue Lines (under the shield) represent plentiful lakes and rivers. To the left see Coffee Growing and to the right Cotton, both cash crops of Uganda

Uganda Motto: (For God and My Country)

The motto For God and My Country reflects upon Uganda as a nation of people who fear God and love their country.

Anthem: "Oh Uganda, Land of Beauty"

  1. Oh Uganda may God uphold thee, We lay our future in thy hand, United free for liberty Together we'll always stand.

(2) Oh Uganda the land of freedom, Our love and labor we give, And with neighbor all, At our country's call In peace and friendship we'll live.

(3) Oh Uganda! the land that feeds us, By sun and fertile soil grown, For our own dear land, We shall always stand, The pearl of Africa's Crown


  • New Year's Day - 1 January
  • NRM Liberation Day - 26 January
  • Easter Sunday, Good Friday - March - April
  • Martyrs' Day - 3 June
  • Heroes Day - 9 June
  • Independence - 9 October
  • Christmas Day - 25 December
  • Boxing Day - 26 December

Largest Cities & Towns of Uganda


City name






1 353 189




146 858




119 323




97 500




93 061




79 157




76 493




67 290




67 269




65 373


Ugandan shilling (UGX)

Time zone


Summer (DST)


not observed (UTC+3)

Drives on the


ISO 3166 code


Internet TLD


Calling code


Languages                                             English (official), Luganda, Swahili, Bantu languages, Nilotic languages,

About Food & Drink

Uganda's' culture weaves a thread of variety not only through the manner of dress, language and other characteristics but also in its variety of dishes. Ugandan cuisine consists of traditional cooking with English, Arab, Asian and especially Indian influences. Like the cuisines of most countries, it varies in complexity, from the most basic, starchy filler with a sauce of beans or meat, to several-course meals served in upper-class homes and high-end restaurants and hotels. One popular local dish is matooke (bananas of the plantain type) which are cooked boiled in a sauce of peanuts, fresh fish, meat or entrails.

Matooke really goes with any relish, except that the best and most respectable way the Baganda cook it is to tie up the peeled fingers into a bundle of banana leaves which is then put in a cooking pan with just enough water to steam the leaves. Main dishes are usually centered on a sauce or stew of groundnuts, beans or meat. The starch traditionally comes from ugali (maize meal) or matoke (boiled and mashed green banana) in the South, or an ugali made from millet in the North. Cassava, yam and African sweet potato are also eaten; the more affluent include white (often called "Irish") potato and rice in their diets. Soybeans were promoted as a healthy food staple in the 1970s and are also used especially for breakfast. Chapati, an Asian flatbread, is also part of Ugandan cuisine. In Uganda you can find delicious drinks like, juicy fruits, sodas and other drinks. It is recommended to avoid drinking tap water and to be careful with the use of ice cubes. Boiled water and water sold in sealed bottles are perfectly fine to drink. It is important to drink a lot of water especially in dry and hot areas.

About Clothes

Daytime temperatures are generally warm to hot, so bring lots of light clothing. Evenings are cooler, especially at high altitudes, so carry a couple of light sweaters too. Those who intend to hike on the mountains will be exposed to alpine temperatures and should pack accordingly. Solid walking shoes and sturdy clothing are ideal for forest walks. For female travelers we advise a strong and comfortable bra. The roads are not always as good as somebody wishes and a solid bra can certainly be useful. Uganda is located directly on the equator and the sun can be very powerful. It is sensible to take a hat or cap, as well as sun cream with high protection and sunglasses on safari with you.

About Accommodation

Hotels, restaurants, lodges, hostels and guest houses are available.

About Health And Vaccinations

All travelers should visit either their personal physician or a travel health clinic 4-8 weeks before departure.

Hepatitis A: recommended for all travelers
Typhoid: Recommended for all travelers
Yellow fever: Recommended for all travelers.

We highly recommend you to check with your family doctor or the following website http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list regarding what type of vaccinations or medications to take when going overseas. Your family doctor will know your history and what shots you have already had and if they cannot assist you they should be able to refer you to a specialist who can. It would be up to you what you choose to do with the advice of your family doctor, specialist or www.cdc.gov.

About Communications

Different mobile services are available country wide for example, MTN Uganda, Uganda telecom, WARID telecom, Celtel Uganda among others. These offer reliable services for mobile phones country wide. Internet facilities are widely available in Kampala. Also in smaller country towns and hotels there are several options for internet, but depending on your itinerary you might have some days on which there are no internet services available. International calls: when you want to make a call abroad during your visit to Uganda it can be expensive, especially at the hotels. It is often a better idea to call with our mobile phone.

About Photography and Video

A journey through East Africa is an introduction to another culture and also meeting with a great variety of different people. You certainly want to capture these encounters on photo or video. Sometimes the local people consider this as an intrusion to privacy. Showing respect by asking if you may take a photograph before pulling out your camera creates a lot of 'goodwill'. This way the contact with the local people will be a bigger experience then when you are only shooting pictures from a distance. You can charge the batteries of your equipment in most places.

About Voltage

Local voltage in Uganda is 240volts, 50 cycle AC. 3-pin (square) sockets. Electric switches generally switch on downwards. The voltage can greatly vary, be careful with sensitive equipment. In addition you need a three-legged plug. If you do not   have this then a good idea is to buy a world plug, this allows you to use it worldwide.

About Money

The unit of currency is the Uganda shilling. The US dollar is traditionally the hard currency of preference, but Euro and Pound Sterling are also widely accepted. Hard currency cash can be changed for local currency at banks and private bureaux to change in all large towns, but travelers' cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala. Local currency can be drawn against Visa and other major credit cards at selected ATMs in Kampala, at Entebbe International Airport, and in a few other large towns.

Uganda for the most part is cash based society.  Here and there you can use your credit card, (Visa cards most readily accepted, Master Card is next, but not Discover Cards and or American Express) and usually it means 6 to 8 or more% surcharge for the privilege for using your card (due to fees that are incurred by merchant in Uganda).  That means one needs cash while in the country.  Many hotels, safari companies and airlines will ask for US dollars. Uganda Shillings will be accepted in many cases instead, not always at market exchange rate.  Traveller Cheques are often harder to cash and are cumbersome requiring extra fees in banks.  Most Forex Bureaus will not take traveller cheques from you.  Below are some tips that will make your visit to Uganda smoother.

US Dollars are the currency of Choice:  Entry VISA and most permits such as the ones for gorillas must be paid in US Dollars.  Euros and UK Pound are ok for changing money into Ugandan currency.  It is important that you obtain dollar bills (50’s or 100’s) newer than 2003 and no tears or blemishes on them. This helps your exchange rate and getting them accepted. (2003 is due to forgeries in times past)

NOTE: small US bills (5, 10, and 20’s) are not normally accepted or bring a much lower exchange rate.

Forex Bureaus are readily available in the downtown area of Kampala: There are plenty of exchange offices located around Uganda with varying rates.

Banks:  You can always exchange money at a bank and it might take a bit longer and in most cases you will get a lower rate.  You can use your credit card to get cash at banks (Barclays is the fastest and the cheapest), however it may take a bit of time. You can also change your traveller cheques (American Express are best – but not advised) there - you will need proof of purchase and passport to prove ownership of cheques you want cashed.

ATM Machines: If you have a visa debit card it is easy to use ATM’s around Kampala and in some areas outside of Kampala. You can get the best rate from your country's currency converted into Shillings in most cases you can take out 700,000sh per day. You can also use a visa credit card if you have  a pin number...alert your bank that you will be doing withdrawals in Uganda otherwise you will not get any money out of the machine.

Traveler Cheques:  (NOT ADVISED) Use American Express ones only.  All others you will have a harder time getting money or no money at all.  You will pay a fee for exchanging them into money.  Plus in spite of suggestions from American Express you will need proof of purchase and passport to prove ownership checks you want cashed.

For more detailed information visit a few of these sites:

   Wikipedia/Uganda - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda

   Uganda Embassy - http://www.ugandaembassy.com/

   Uganda Tourist Board - http://www.visituganda.com  

About Tipping

Tipping is not standard practice at local hotels and restaurants, but it will always be appreciated. It is normal to tip 5-10% at tourist-oriented restaurants. It is usual to tip guides and drivers, especially if you feel they did a good job. An average amount is around USD 5 per person per day, but a more personal gift like a good book or a new pair of shoes will certainly also be appreciated.