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Uganda - Getting there & away, getting around

Uganda - Getting there & away

Kampala's international airport is actually in Entebbe, 35km (22mi) southwest of the capital. The airport is remembered for the 'Entebbe Raid' of 1976, when uninvited Israeli commandos dropped in on Uganda to release a planeload of their fellow countrymen held hostage by Palestinian militants. (The event was dramatised in a cheesy Charles Bronson film.) Idi Amin was later found to be in cahoots with the hijackers. Plenty of taxis and minibuses ply between the airport and Kampala. Few travellers enter Uganda by air because most flights to East Africa from Europe and North America use the Kenyan capital Nairobi as a gateway. From Nairobi, most people then travel by bus to Uganda. There are flights to Entebbe from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. If you leave Uganda by air there's a departure tax of US$40.

The two border posts used by most visitors travelling by bus from Kenya are Malaba and Busia. The route into Uganda from Tanzania goes through the Kagera salient on the western side of Lake Victoria between Bukoba and Masaka. From Zaïre, the two main crossing points are west from Kisoro to Rutshuru via Bunagana, and northwest from Kasese to Beni. However, the situation in eastern Zaïre has been uncertain; check the security situation before attempting this crossing. Overland entry into Rwanda can also be unsafe and entry into Sudan is impossible at present.

Direct buses operate between Kampala and Nairobi daily, and take around 12 to 14 hours.

All Ugandan passenger-train services have been suspended for several years and until a large injection of cash is found the situation is unlikely to change.

Getting around Uganda

Uganda Airlines has no scheduled internal flights; however, there are several smaller airlines offering both scheduled and charter flights. Eagle Uganda offers flights throughout the country. Most locals get around by share minibuses (known as taxis), and there's never a shortage of them. Fares are fixed and vehicles leave when full.

Buses connect the major towns on a daily basis and Ugandan postal service minibuses travel from Kampala to all major centres several times a week. The latter cost less and are safer and faster than the former. Kampala also has bicycle taxis (known locally as boda-boda, as they originally used to shuttle people between border, or boda, posts).

There's an excellent system of roads between most major centres in the southern part of Uganda, though some require a 4WD. Rental car companies are based near the airport in Entebbe, and in Kampala and other major towns. Drivers need an international drivers licence and should drive on the left. Note that road signs are non-existent and fuel is horrifically expensive.

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