Money Information That Travelers and Visitors in Uganda Need to Know
Money Tips for Uganda Safari – The official currency for Uganda is the Uganda shilling which is also widely used across the country more than any other currency while the currency of choice, Commerce and Tourism is the US Dollar. Travelers who come with US dollars can exchange for Uganda shillings at any convenient Forex Bureau, there are several in towns. Credit cards mostly Visa cards are accepted at many areas which deal with travelers. Other cards that are accepted are Master cards. Use of credit cards has an overcharge of about 5% and more to cater for the extra fees incurred by the traders in banks. You may find challenges to use traveler cheques since most Forex Bureaus don’t accept them. Areas where you can pay by credit cards are hotels, supermarkets and others. It is important to always have some cash in the local currency on you to avoid getting stuck at some points. When purchasing items in markets and supermarkets, you need to have Ugandan shillings. Business entities that will accept US Dollars are safari companies, most hotels, national parks and airlines.
US Dollar is the currency of choice, trade and tourism and is readily exchanged and accepted at most places where tourists go such as hotels, game parks and other destinations. It is important to exchange your dollars with 50 and 100 bills because smaller bills may get you less money. Also, ensure that your dollar bills are newer than 2003 because most places will not accept older bills.
Before going to places whose prices are not in dollars, exchange your money to the local currency/Ugandan shillings because you’ll not get your change if you use dollars and this way, you’ll find yourself losing money in small portions.
Other currencies that are exchanged in Uganda are Euros and UK Pounds.
You can access Forex Bureaus in many areas around Kampala
There are many forex bureaus in Kampala but they usually have different exchange rates. It is important to always find out the latest rates before exchanging since they keep changing. Check for them I newspapers or Google (USD-UGX). Some bureaus have better rates than others, therefore, ask your driver and he’ll take you to these areas. Some of the areas in Kampala with god exchange rates are those at Grand Imperial Hotel. One of the areas to avoid exchanging from because of having the lowest rates are those in Kabalagala.
Banks in Uganda
There are many banks around the country but several and more accessible in Kampala. You can use credit cards to get money. Yes, this is a safer way to carry your money but you are charged a certain amount of fees when getting cash.
You can also decide to exchange money form the bank. Banks have better exchange rates though the process takes longer than at Forex Bureaus. Banks often have long queues.
Bans are the best places for you to have your traveler cheque changed. Those using other cheques not American Traveler cheques have to show a passport and proof of buying for proof of ownership of the cheque.
It is advisable that travelers use international banks because they offer better services than the local banks.
ATM’s in Uganda
Visa debit cards are used at ATMs in Uganda. It is very crucial to let your bank know that you will be using your card in Uganda so that it is not blocked. You’ll get the best rate from your country’s currency to Uganda shillings. You have to k now how much mo0ney you’ll need that day so that you’ll withdraw enough or else be sure of how many times your bank allows you to use the card in a day. Using Master card should not be so much considered.
When withdrawing money at an ATM, ensure that it is located at a safer place. Do not allow anyone outside to help you, rather go inside the bank and seek help from staff. Don’t also allow anyone to see your PIN.
Use of Credit cards in Uganda
It is risky to use credit cards in Uganda when paying for your services. This is because there have been many cases in Ugandan and other African countries of taking the information of the credit card and stealing the money. Use of credit cards is not encouraged eve by the UK government. Staff working in areas like hotels and elsewhere frequented by travelers steal the information on cards.
Other than credit cards, it is better to use Visa cards or Master card. Payment by credit card also involves an additional charge of not less than 5% on when paying for your services.
Using travelers cheques is very frustrating in Uganda. Apart from the American Express, other traveler cheques require you to have a passport and proof for buying the cheque to confirm that it belongs to you. Besides much time that will be consumed on this, you’ll get a lower exchange rate than when you use cash. Therefore, if you can please avoid using traveler cheques when traveling to Uganda.
Keeping your money safe in Uganda
It is not good to think that you are in a safe place so you can pull out all your money with other people watching you. Always keep money thart you are going to use soon nearer and keep the rest far safe. In case you you’ll need cash where you are going to, carry it in a money belt around your waist. Carrying money in a back pack when walking especially in busy towns is not safe as someone can open it and pick the money without your notice.
Using the ATM at night is risky. You are also advised not to use big notes in markets and bars because it attracts robbery and pickpocketing.
Money changers are common at entry points to the country especially land borders and some in Entebbe and Kampala. They are fond of using fake currency/notes and also throw you into loss by giving less money. As they count for you the money, they will be fast and you’ll think that they have counted enough money yet its less.
The safest places to exchange money are Forex Bureaus and Banks.
Money transfers in Uganda
Some of the easiest ways to send and receive money internationally in Uganda is by using western union and MoneyGram. Money can also be sent using wester union and you receive it on your MTN account in Uganda and withdraw it from an agent. Mobile money agents are many in towns and even villages.
Using WorldRemit to send money to someone in Uganda is also easy and convenient.
You can opt to use PesaPal where money is transferred to one’s MTN mobile money account/phone number at lower charges.
Using banks to transfer money is quite frustrating and takes longer.
When buying items
If you are planning to buy any souvenirs or items from shops and markets, have your dollars exchanged to shillings and pay for them in the local currency because if you pay for these items using dollars, it means very time you pay in dollars some money is lost as an exchange rate. Most of other things such as paying for transportation in public means or even special hire require payment using local currency.
Exchange rate of US Dollars in Uganda
Don’t just exchange money from anywhere, find out where you can get better rates. Be aware of the rates before exchanging. And make sure you exchange enough money before moving to place which will limit you from using dollars or from exchanging at lower rates like some hotels and other destinations or happening places.
Doing a safari yourself is actually more costly
You may think that you’ll save by arranging your travel to Uganda by yourself. It is actually not easy to put together all that you need to travel around a country like Uganda. Consider things like paying for and obtaining a gorilla permit, finding a better road to dodge jam and managing to arrive on time for your activities at the destinations. What if you had arrived earlier at the destination and avoid paying an extra charge for staying at the destination? This saves money. Adventure in the wilds safari knows how to plan for safaris and avoid unnecessary extra charges that make a trip costly. It is therefore better to use a tour operator than conducting the trip by yourself.
Where to invest your dollar on a Uganda safari
Uganda was referred to as the “Pearl of Africa” by Churchill Winston and indeed it remains so with the variety of wildlife, great tasty food, interesting diverse cultures and amazing landscapes. Of all this, toady Uganda has become a famous destination for mountain gorilla trekking. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a fantastic experience that anyone should consider. Bwindi national park is the major destination for the activity alongside Mgahinga national park. We book and pay for your gorilla trekking permit and obtain it before your travel, book for a room at your preferred lodge and advise you about more activities depending on the time you want to spend in the country.