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Uganda, the famed Pearl of Africa, is a destination many travellers ought to have on their bucket list. There’s a lot to see in this small yet mysterious country and if you are not careful enough, you will end up spending your blife’s savings just to explore its beauty.

You might think that traveling Uganda on budget would be easy, given the foreign exchange rate and how literally almost everything seems cheap; accommodation, fruits, food, drinks, transportation and even some tours.

But with everything sounding cheap, it could hurt your bank account in the long run if you don’t find ways to tame your expenses while out here in Uganda. Plus, some of the most famous activities in Uganda can be very pricey, like gorilla trekking, or safari. To help you backpack on a budget in Uganda, follow these insider tips.

Meals

When it comes to meals, there are various ways you can stick to your budget when backpacking Uganda. Food is generally cheap in Uganda, but of course it depends on your choice of restaurant. The most popular Ugandan dishes include matooke/ green bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, beans, peas, peanuts, chicken, beef, cabbage, and pumpkin.

Usually, the best place to find affordable prices is to eat at a local restaurant, since they mostly serve local food and cuisines. If you are the kind that loves to integrate variety, there are plenty of midrange restaurants that serve delicious treats. Usually, their prices range on location and cuisines offered.

Cooking for yourself can also help you save some money; it is very much possible in big cities and towns where they have supermarkets that offer a wide range of spices, vegetables and tinned foods. Vegetables are readily available around Uganda, though vegetarians are less catered for in restaurants.

Accommodation

This is one of the areas that most travelers fail to stick to a budget. The accommodation in Uganda comes in all ranges, and you can find options ranging from 1 star to 5 stars depending on where you are. Usually in towns, accommodation rates are quite high, but if you travel a few kilometers outside of the city center, you might find a budget-friendly, comfortable and quiet option.

A budget option for backpackers in Uganda is to stay at a hostel, which is a great budget option for most travellers to Uganda both local and international. There are a wide range of hostels that you can check out like Kyampisi Backpackers Home, Nile River Camp, and Red Chilli among others.

Camping is greatly increasing in popularity in Uganda, there is also an increase in the number of organized campsites. The fees for these tend to differ depending on whether you have your own tent or not.

Another budget accommodation option is to find a home stay, though these are quite hard to arrange in Uganda. Most homestays are arranged through word of mouth, so if you have a friend who has travelled here before, they can recommend places they have been to.

Budget Safaris and Tours in Uganda

Stick to budget tours and safaris in Uganda

Stick to budget tours and safaris in Uganda

It is always good to visit a country and carry back as many memories of it as possible because we never know when we will visit again. Carrying a camera is very important on such trips and knowing how to get the best deals is another way.

When it comes to budget safari options, group tours are the best; you don’t only get to mingle with people from other nations and walks of life, you also get to kick away the boredom of traveling alone, and it even gives you the courage to try out some adventures that you wouldn’t have tried if you were alone.

For solo travelers, the best time to travel in Uganda is during the low season; that is the rainy season and there are pools in the parks, that’s if you are not afraid of getting stuck while there. The most unique thing during this time though, it is the period when the country is most beautiful, the savannah plains and everywhere else is covered in green and photography is at its best. There a different glow too when the sun shines over in the afternoons and evenings.

Another unique and better way is to go off the beaten paths and explore places that most tourists rarely visit and discover these raw and untouched wild places. Among these are rarely visited waterfalls like Kisizi, Itanda, almost deserted islands in the Victoria Lake, dense forests like maramagambo, tea, sugarcanes and coffee plantations that adorn Uganda’s nature. Such places keep you immersed in nature’s own ambiance and make you part of it.

Transportation on a Budget

If your plan is backpack Uganda extensively, then you will most likely use public means or walk. There are private means of transport like hiring a cab or hiring a car to drive yourself but the charges on these make them expensive in the long run especially if you are staying longer in the country. There are a lot of options in regards to the public means for you to choose from as well.

Mini buses/ taxis or matatus are also used to get from city to city. These do not run on a set schedule but rather leave when full; they are the most affordable means when going from town to town or city to city though one has to be certain of their destination/ drop off when considering these.

And the boda-boda (motorcycle taxis) found almost every in Uganda; one of the most popular and exciting way of getting around though they should be approached with caution, and don’t do it unless you feel comfortable.

Travel Uganda on a Budget

Hop on a boda-boda to travel in Uganda on a budget

The buses that go across regions and the most comfortable and more organized in regards to payments and staging. There are plenty of bus and coach service providers in Uganda that link nearly all towns and cities. Most tickets provided within Uganda are one way, so you can spend as much or less time in a region as you desire.

Private taxis/special hires are also helpful in some cases. These are comfortable and can be relied on when getting around as they drop/ pick up to/from your specified location. They usually charge per kilometer or route and depending on the deal you give them.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to travel Uganda on a budget

Volunteering is a great way to travel Uganda on a budget

One other way of backpacking Uganda on budget is through volunteering. Volunteering gives you a touch to a country’s culture than anything else; you get to move deep down to the grassroots, get immersed in particular culture, learn and share ideas, something an itinerary limits. There are number of organizations that provide volunteering services to students, professionals and seniors in different communities across the country and some of these have extra activities over the weekends that help you to discover and travel around. Ssamba Foundation provides free volunteering to Uganda.

Affordable Travel Insurance

It is always good to travel with Travel insurance, especially to a country like Uganda where you will have new experiences on almost everything. Insurance will help protect yourself from a lot of would-be hustles, when you run out of money, or when things are not going your way. Travel insurance will get you covered if you face the unexpected, like if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, or when you fall seriously ill and need to fly back. One of the most commonly used travel insurance company is World Nomads and the reviews about it are very good.


There are many other ways a person can travel to Uganda on budget, it could be through consulting a friend who has been here before, or having to stick to a budget to get you going. Everyone traveling on budget has a special way of doing it apart from the basics, like having a local guide friend to help you juggle day to day life or get attached to an organization that offers country coordinators.

There are so many reasons why someone would choose to travel solo, it could be work, it could be a need for some “alone time,” or just desire to experience different cities on your own. Traveling solo gives a different vibe from group traveling, one of life’s most inspiring adventures that bring in a renewed passion to understand the world around you.

Traveling solo is an act of self-indulgence, a feeling of complete freedom to go just anywhere and do what you would love to. It empowers a traveler, helps build confidence, and helps you get more connected with the traveler within you.

Traveling solo in Uganda near the Rift Valley Escarpment from Bwera, Kasese

Traveling solo in Uganda near the Rift Valley Escarpment from Bwera, Kasese

Uganda is one of the best destinations for solo travelers, from hiking to volunteering to safaris, the country boasts of some of the most spectacular wildlife and natural landscapes in Africa and the world at large. Traveling alone in Africa can be daunting, especially with the number of misconceptions about this great continent, but in recent years many have done it, so why don’t you try it too?

Uganda is safe; the people here are friendly and ready to help but still, precaution needs to be taken when traveling solo around Uganda, below are some tips.

Speak the Language

The majority of Ugandans are literate and can understand the Queen’s language, English, which is the official language. If you’re not a native English speaker, it would be great to brush up and learn some common phrases to help you out when the need arises.

Managing your Cash 

Always carry just enough cash with you when moving around, a lot of cash attracts thieves easily. Be mindful that ATMs and forex shops are not always available everywhere, so it would be a great move if you keep yourself loaded with some local currency all the time.

Don’t Carry Valuables with You

While traveling solo in Uganda is generally safe, it might turn into a nightmare if you had your lovely watch or necklace stolen amidst traffic. Always keep a copy of your passport and visa backed up on email, leave valuables and jewelry at home if possible, and keep your valuables in a safe place. A travel waist bag could be of help.

Dress Appropriately

Pack light loose clothes in fabrics like cotton, silk, or linen that are easily washed and worn again, it is always good to have an easy-to-carry backpack. Ladies should try not to wear clothes that are too revealing, especially in rural areas, as most people are conservative. 

Bring the Essentials With You

The big cities may have stuff available but if you’re looking forward to experiencing the rural bit of Uganda; then having enough sunscreen, insect repellant with deet, any essential medicines, a travel first aid kit among others. This is because you never know how far you will have to travel to buy any of these.

Plan your Accommodation

Always plan your accommodation in advance. Depending on where you will be staying or visiting, the most disappointing thing is arriving in the locality, and you don’t even know where you will lay your head. It would be good if your first-stop accommodation is booked in advance such that you base from there to plan your next move. Also, always have the location of the hotel you are staying at on your phone. You can find accommodation from guest houses, hostels, or hotels on booking.com, where you can also filter by guest reviews and budget.

Understand How to Travel Around

Local means of transport are cheap to travel solo in Uganda, especially for those on budget. Before you travel using either taxi or boda-boda, make research about the charges to the destination. If you are to use a bus, make sure you make payments in the bookings office of the recommended or preferred bus company, also first get the receipt before handing over your money as it’s common practice to be ripped off by another company. Also, never leave your luggage unattended.

Go with the Flow

Enjoying some solitude in Uganda near the Sezibwa Falls in Mukono

Enjoying some solitude in Uganda near the Sezibwa Falls in Mukono

To have the best experiences comes with flexibility and going with the flow. Uganda is the same too, the more flexible and spontaneity you are, the more you enjoy the country, and also it’s an opportunity for you to try those out of the box/guidebook ideas that locals may recommend because, at the end of the trip, it’s the experiences and memories that matter.


Usually, solo travelers in Uganda are never alone for the entire trip/ tour, they always meet like-minded people, locals or not to join them at one point in time in their pursuit of adventure. As a solo traveler, Uganda should not miss out on your travel bucket list.

When traveling in Uganda, there is a myriad of options when deciding how to spend your weekend, vacation, honeymoon, or holiday. One activity that will allow you to stay fit while experiencing the beautiful landscape of the country is hiking in Uganda.

The geography of Uganda features numerous hills and mountains as well as low lands with good hiking areas.

Each of these locations offers different experiences, so depending on your preference, there are vast choices in terms of elevation, the ruggedness of the trail, and the surrounding wildlife and plant life.

Whether you want to explore challenging and beautiful landscapes of the mountains, want to catch sight of wildlife, or just want to meander through plains, hills, and forests, there are hikes in Uganda that will suit all levels and age groups.

Uganda is an amazing country where you can explore the great outdoors, so if you are thinking about exploring the country on foot, or want to learn about its history, beliefs, and cultures, dive into our list of the best places for hiking in Uganda.

Rwenzori Mountains

Discover the Rwenzori Mountains, one of the best hiking spots in Uganda

Discover the Rwenzori Mountains, one of the best spots for hiking in Uganda

The famed “mountains of the moon” are a worthy place to visit, this has the highest peak in Uganda and is usually covered in snow throughout the year. In fact, the snowmelt is the source of rivers and waterfalls in the Rwenzori area.

The Rwenzori Mountain range is one of the best places for hiking in Uganda, and there are several trails through which a ranger guide leads hikers through different vegetation at different heights in the mountain.

It takes about 8-10 days to reach the apex of the mountain, where there’s stunning snow almost year-round. If you don’t have as much time, there are other peaks in the mountain range that take fewer days to ascend.

Most of this mountain region is covered in forests and serves as a home to primates like baboons, monkeys, reptiles, and a variety of birds. As you climb the impressive peaks, you will be able to catch amazing views of rocky cliffs, vast valleys, and towns in the foothills below.

Bwindi Impenetrable Park

Bwindi is a famous destination because of Uganda’s prime tourist activity, Gorilla trekking. It’s possible to do hikes both within and outside the park.

The most famous hike in Bwindi Impenetrable Park is one that goes through the forest to Lake Mutanda, where you can encounter residents of the forest like chimps, gorillas, and a wide variety of birds.

Another famous trail here is the Batwa Trail. The Batwa are the original inhabitants of the Bwindi forest, and they lived there until they were evicted when the forest was transformed into a national park.

While inhabiting the forest, they lived sustainably as hunter-gatherers and never destroyed their surroundings for farming purposes. The cultural values and ways of these people have been kept alive by conducting cultural hikes through the forests to the places where they once lived.

Mabira Forest

Discover untouched nature in the Mabira Forest Reserve

Discover untouched nature in the Mabira Forest Reserve

Mabira is located along the Kampala Jinja highway and is home to a variety of birds and primates among other wildlife.

There are a couple of trails that take you to the innermost parts of the forest, some of these are covered with a canopy where nearly all sunlight is blocked by the thick vegetation. Along with forest hikes, you can also partake in other activities like zip-lining and tree climbing.

This rain forest is well known for being the only place in the country that harbors the rare Gray Cheeked Mangabey; an old-world monkey that dwells in trees and is closely related to the baboon family.

There are three habituated groups in the forest that can be easily tracked with the help of guides. The forest is also home to other species of monkey, like the red-tailed monkey among others.

Kibale forest, the Primate Capital of the world

The Kibale Forest is famed for its great number of primates, including chimps, baboons, and a couple of different species of monkeys. The trails here go through Bigodi Swamp, the top of the world hike where you can view a vast area of the region as well as the nocturnal forest walk.

Not far from the forest is Fort Portal town, famed as the “Tourism city of Uganda” where you can enjoy a smooth hike to Amabeere Caves and Nyakasura Caves that have a long-standing history in the area.

Once you hike to the top of the hills, you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views of the crater lakes that make the region so beautiful.

Mount Morungole

Mount Morungole is one of the most thrilling places for hiking in Uganda and even the world.

The trail here leads you to places where the Ik people live, the only way to meet these indigenous people in their village just outside one of the most beautiful wildernesses in Africa, Kidepo Valley National Park in northeastern Uganda.

If you desire to hike in isolated places where you are immersed in wilderness trails, then this is the best hike to go for in Uganda.

Mount Elgon

Sipi Falls near Mount Elgon

Sipi Falls near Mount Elgon

Mountain Elgon is the largest solitary extinct volcanic mountain in East Africa. Atop the mountain, you’ll find a collapsed crater caldera which covers more than 40 kilometers at the summit is the largest known natural crater.

It is not very steep and can be climbed even by people who do not have much hiking expertise. Trails here lead past caves, viewpoints, and waterfalls.

Also in the area, you can visit Sipi Falls that can be reached after hiking through some plantations. Hike to the top of the falls for the thrilling experience of seeing the water cascade over the rocks.

Murchison Falls National Park

Top of the Falls hike in the Murchison Falls National Park

Top of the Falls hike in the Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls is a waterfall along the mighty River Nile where the Victoria Nile breaks and forces its way through a seven-meter gorge, toppling 43 meters below.

There are various trails to choose from while in the park, the most famous hike leads right to the top of the falls. Other trails are located in forests surrounding the Park, like Budongo and Rabongo. Wildlife sightings here include chimps, birds, monkeys, and baboons among others.

West Nile

The West Nile is the region that is located west of the river Nile in Northern Uganda. The Nile acts as a major border of this region from the rest of the country. The region has its own gems and attractions that make it unique from the rest of Northern Uganda.

Mount Wati is the highest mountain in West Nile, standing at approximately 1250 meters above sea level. Surrounding the mountains, you’ll find the Offude Hills.

This is not just an ordinary mountain but rather a place where mysteries unfold as it is also said to be central to the ancestry of the local Lugbara people.

Fascinating stories are told of this mountain and spending time in this region, you will get to experience a mix of cultural, traditional, and spiritual adventurism in the ancestral world.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Take to the trails in Kyambura Gorge in Western Uganda

Take to the trails in Kyambura Gorge in Western Uganda

This is a region in Uganda with a couple of trails to choose from. The most popular option is The Kyambura George exploration, where you hike and have the opportunity to view chimps in their natural habitat.

Another interesting hike is to explore the Maramagambo Forest, which covers part of the park from Kichwamba escarpment to Lake Edward. The other trails are in the Mweya Peninsula where you can do a Banded Mongoose research hike and the Ishasha river hiking trail that takes you along the river in the Ishasha sector.

Cycad Village Trail

The Cycad Village Trail is a new trail located along Mpanga River Gorge in Kitagwenda district in western Uganda. The village is named after the local cycad, a pre-historic plant species that is believed to date back to the dinosaur age.

Closely related (yet completely different from) palm trees, the large plant is unique for its beautiful appearance and the pleasant aroma of its fruits, which penetrate the entire region. The trail is still under development, but it is still possible to hike in this region to view this beautiful village.


These are what we consider as the best areas for hiking in Uganda, though there are a couple of other good trails not included in this list. Trips to any of these can be organized by Ssamba Safaris. If you want to learn more about Uganda, check out our guide to backpacking in Uganda.