English is the official language of Uganda. It is taught in schools and used in the government, but few speak it. Swahili is another popular language in Uganda, but there are several dozen other languages spoken in different regions of Uganda.
Kinyarwanda is the chief spoken language in Rwanda. It is also spoken in the east of D.R. Congo and in the south of Uganda (Bufumbira-area).
The local currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (RWF). In Uganda, it is the Ugandan Shilling (UGX).
Relative to other African countries, Uganda and Rwanda are expensive destinations. Most of your usual costs like food, safari vehicle and guide, lodging, park fees, etc. however are covered in your AWR tour fee.
Most safari lodges will allow you to settle bar tabs and curio purchases with a credit card, but not always. Also, since relatively few smaller countryside shops, etc. will take credit cards, and if they do, they may charge an additional 5-10% credit card transaction fee, bringing cash (US$, Euros, or Ugandan Shillings) is advisable. Make sure you bring newer bills (post-2006 and newer), in good, clean condition, with no stains or tears. ATM machines are available in the largest cities only. Mastercard is rarely accepted; it is better to bring a Visa debit card. Travelers cheques are no longer accepted in Uganda.
International telephone communication is very good from Kampala and Kigali but more difficult from some up-country areas. The mobile telephone network is good and rapidly expanding. Most European or American mobile phones with a roaming agreement work in Uganda and Rwanda.
Local SIM cards can also be purchased in many outlets. Our guides have cell phones and minutes can be purchased for their phones if requested.
Internet facilities are available in most major towns in Uganda and Rwanda although the quality and speed of the connection varies.
Uganda: 240 volts. 3-pin (square) sockets.
Rwanda: 230/240 volts at 50 Hz. 2-pin (round) sockets.
It is best to travel with your own plug adapter. Most camps/lodges, even if they do not have power, can make arrangements for recharging batteries, just ask the manager or consult your AWR safari guide.
How much to tip in Uganda depends entirely on your level of satisfaction, but even a small tip to show your gratitude will be greatly appreciated. You may consider US$10/day/person if you are happy with the service of your safari guide and 5-10% tip in upmarket hotels, Uganda lodges and restaurants. Many safari lodges and hotels have a central tip box that rewards all staff. Any amount is appreciated but between $5-10/day/person is wonderful. Ask a manager or your safari guide if the lodge has a tip box for the staff.
More Travel Information:
U.S. Department of State
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Health Information for Travelers to Rwanda
- Health Information for Travelers to Uganda
- Travel to High Altitudes
- Common Travel Health Topics