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Visiting Uganda on a Budget: Budget Safaris in Uganda

Uganda is known for providing exceptional safari experiences as well as some of the most thrilling extravagant—forest activities on the planet. Less well-known is the cost-effective side of visiting the Pearl of Africa. Uganda is also recognized for its nice and hospitable people, spectacular scenery, epic wildlife encounters, and decades of political stability and safety. Tourists can travel in Uganda on a budget and experience more of the exceptional legacy of the still primitive, wild, and free that Uganda encompasses on a large scale.

Popular neighbors Kenya and Tanzania surely outshine Uganda’s magnificence. Uganda may not be able to compete in terms of the sheer quantity of wild packs, size, and leisure vacationers, but the region certainly packs an astounding amount into its small space. Uganda’s tiny size, natural and wildlife assets, and lack of tourist throngs make it an excellent choice for private safari experiences. This little place combines the finest of everything an African safari vacation has to offer.

The snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, located in Uganda, are one of the continent’s tallest mountain range. The Nile, the world’s longest river, flows gently from the world’s second-largest freshwater lake (Lake Victoria). Mountain gorillas prowl the foggy jungles up the mountain, and the tropical rainforests are home to one of the world’s greatest monkey populations. Kampala, Uganda’s cultural capital and capital, is safer than most places in the region. On top of all of this adoration, Uganda’s ever-expanding range of safari activities has earned it the label of Adrenaline Capital. But how can a budget-conscious traveler visit Uganda? In this post, I’ll try to give budget visitors a good idea of how much they can spend on a Uganda trip.

Visiting Uganda on a Budget

Because Uganda is on the verge of becoming a top tourist attraction, now is the perfect time to visit. In general, the tourism sector is recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic’s travel ban. Uganda is becoming popular enough to compel hotels and safari lodges to meet the region’s high standards, and it has lower lodging rates than other locations in the region. Every traveler, regardless of budget or taste, will find a place to stay in Uganda. But, before you get too enthusiastic about organizing your safari itinerary, here are a few methods to Visiting Uganda on a Budget.

Abseiling in Sipi falls

How to Cut Transportation Costs when Visiting Uganda on a Budget

Uganda has a diverse range of transportation options, including indistinct but affordable public transportation and dependable but expensive private transportation. Uganda’s public transportation largely consists of buses and other modes of motorized road transport. And it’s the cheapest way to travel in Uganda on a tight budget. Let’s look at how you can save money on road transportation.

Travel with friends or Family.

As a solo traveler, you foot the bill of fuel, guide and car rental. As a group or family, the cost is divided amongst the different individuals on the safari. For instance, a safari car costs between $50 and 150$ a day. If 4 people are on safari, the cost per person per day will be paying $12.5 per day. This will greatly reduce the cost of your overall safari.

Boda, Boda (Motorbike)

The motorcycle-taxi, also known as a boda-boda, is a popular and inexpensive mode of transportation in Uganda. It was originally a bicycle with heavy panniers used for smuggling items over borders via rural pathways. They are now equipped with pillions and powered by 50 to 200 cc engines, making them a practical mode of suburban transportation and ideal for short side trips when public transportation is scarce. Fares are negotiable and inexpensive, costing less than US$2, or Ush1,000 to 10,000 per trip. Furthermore, two travelers can ride on the same bike as the rider and get away with it. When you see a family riding the same bike, it’s a sight to behold. If you rely on public transportation in Uganda, you will almost certainly utilize a boda-boda at some point. However, before you board, you should be informed of the city’s dismal safety reputation. Boda-boda riders are almost always deficient in official training and road safety awareness, which is usually urged.

As a result, the disorderly character of Ugandan Boda Boda transportation has recently caught the attention of the tech world. Ride-hailing services or ride-sharing applications are the new method to get around cities, and if you’re a big fan of Uber, you’ll be able to use it in Kampala on Boda Bodas as well.  This is a considerably superior option to simply hailing a bike on the street late at night. Taxify, SafeBoda, and UberBoda are examples of popular Boda Boda smartphone applications that are acceptable in Uganda. The cost is the same as for street-hailed motorcycles.


Visiting Uganda on a Budget

Minibus taxis, along with Boda Bodas, are the cheapest mode of transportation in Uganda if you are Visiting Uganda on a Budget. In addition to buses, most main road transit routes in Uganda are served by a steady stream of white minibuses that leave when they are full – every ten to thirty minutes on busy routes. They are by far the quickest method to travel on a budget in Uganda. When traveling large distances, fares are slightly higher than for buses, but substantially lower when traveling within the same region, city, or town. A minibus taxi will drive you 38 kilometers (23 miles) from Entebbe to Kampala for a dollar or less.

And, because it’s common on most routes to pay just before arrival rather than on departure, there’s minimal chance of getting overcharged if you glance about and observe what other passengers are paying. Minibuses are known as taxis in Uganda (though we’ve dubbed them minibus-taxis to avoid confusion with special rental taxis) and matatus in Kenya, which Ugandans understand but do not use. In most regions of Uganda, a regulation requiring a maximum of three people per row is strictly enforced, making minibus riding significantly more comfortable than in the remainder of African countries, where four bums per row are standard. By legislation, all minibus taxis must now have a unique blue-and-white band across the middle, with a taxi light sign on top, while special hire cars must have a black-and-white band.

Special Hire Taxis

A modern city inhabitant would be familiar with special hire taxis. A special rental car is one that you hire privately to take you somewhere. Urban taxis, also known as special hires in Uganda, are normally painted yellow, around the middle (Entebbe airport taxis), or with a taxi cab light on top. Taxis are more expensive than other modes of transportation, but they are significantly more secure to travel with provided you organize a particular hire vehicle and haggle hard. Alternatively, you might use one of those taxi-hailing applications that charge you based on the distance traveled. They are far less expensive than customized hires and are available in Kampala, Entebbe, and other important towns. Uber and Taxify outperform the competition; download from the Apple or Google app stores.

Shared Taxis:

If you’re in a remote Ugandan town, shared taxis are the most cost-effective mode of transportation if you are Visiting Uganda on a Budget. They are typically four to six seat light saloon automobiles. They drive into their own territory on routes with inadequate human traffic for minibuses. For example, when traveling between Katunguru and Mweya in Queen Elizabeth National Park or Kisoro and Buhoma in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

They are usually packed and slow compared to minibuses, and they run on routes where no other public transportation is available. Fares are reasonable, given that it may be your only alternative from where you are. However, they are frequently exaggerated. Drivers frequently overcharge tourists, so set the price ahead of time and bargain hard.


Coach and bus services serve all main routes and, all things considered, are undoubtedly Uganda’s safest mode of public road transportation. Large modern buses often go at 100km/h or faster on all highway routes, allowing them to travel between the capital and any of the major urban areas in western Uganda in less than five hours for less than US$10.The picks of the lot include Gaa Gaa Buses (North and West Nile) and Elgon Flyer, YY Coaches to the East, and Easy Coaches, modern cost and Mash Poa to Kenya). Horizon & Swift Safaris (southwest Uganda), Kalita (Fort Portal), and Post Bus are the best of the others (Gulu). Link operates buses appear to be well-maintained and are capable of frightening speeds. The Post Office’s Post Bus service is regarded as the best in the country due to its twice-daily departures, on-time arrivals, and properly maintained fleet.

The better services have somewhat fixed departure schedules, with one or more coaches leaving every hour or so from around 07.00 to mid-afternoon between Kampala and places like Mbale, Mbarara, Kabale, Kasese, Fort Portal, and Masindi.

Car Rental

Self drive safaris are increasing in popularity and are one of the ways to minimize on your Safari cost. Car rental in Uganda ranges from $40-100$ a day. With this, you will cut down on the costs of hiring a guide. Better yet, you can rent a roof tent which will eliminate the cost of accommodation. Laba Africa has a wide selection of safari vehicles ranging from small SUVs to 4×4 land cruisers. These rental cars can include camping equipment and cooking utensils cutting down the costs of buying food and accommodation.


Other modes of transportation when Visiting Uganda on a Budget

When Visiting Uganda on a Budget, private car hire, is not always a low-cost alternative. If you’re looking to save money on transportation, you’ve come to the wrong blog. In Uganda, gasoline alone is fairly expensive, and automobile rental businesses demand outrageous daily rates. You’ll pay between $40 and $150 every day, depending on the model of car, plus you’ll have to empty the gas tank yourself and pay national park car entry fees on top of that.

How to Save Money on Uganda Accommodation when Visiting Uganda on a Budget

Budget travel in Uganda has never been easier. Uganda has expanded tremendously in recent years, and no matter where you go or how much money you have, you’ll have no trouble finding excellent holiday accommodations. Most towns have a good selection of mid-priced and low-cost hotels, and even the smallest settlements usually have somewhere to stay for a couple of dollars. Tourists in Uganda have not always had such a diverse range of options.

African Safari on a Budget

Be aware, too, that Ugandan use of the phrases single, double, and twin differs from Western norms. Rather than simply requesting a double room, couples may want to inquire about the size of the bed in a single room. Several hotels now provide larger beds in which two guests can sleep for the price of one. When such establishments offer bed and breakfast, breakfast is normally served to only one guest. Some double rooms, which are furnished with a double and a single bed, allow for triple occupancy.

How to Avoid Expensive Lodging when Visiting Uganda on a Budget

In Uganda, lodging is classified as Luxury, midrange, budget, shoestring, or camping, with camping being the most affordable. The upmarket or luxury category includes all hotels, lodges, and resorts that cater largely to international leisure or business travelers and are likely to be rated three to four stars globally. Most hotels in this category provide smart, modern accommodations with en-suite bathrooms, mosquito nets, air conditioning or fans, and digital satellite television (DSTV) in all rooms in cities. A premium room costs more than $300, and in certain cases, more than $1,000.

However, if you want to vacation in Uganda on a budget, this information will help you avoid the premium accommodation category.

The intermediate category is your next option if you have a slimmer pocketbook. Essentially, it encompasses those lodging facilities that, for one reason or another, cannot genuinely be defined as a luxury but are also too pricey or of a sufficiently good grade to be labeled budget lodgings. They are respectable lodges in well-known tourist regions that charge far lower rates than their premium counterparts while remaining clearly a grade or two above the budget category. Lodges in this price category often provide comfortable lodging in self-contained rooms with hot water, a cooling fan, and maybe DSTV, as well as a quality restaurant and a high proportion of English-speaking personnel.

Most midrange hotels charge between $100 to $300 for a double room with breakfast, however, others are somewhat more or less expensive.

Budget Accommodation in Uganda for Travelers

If you want to save money on housing and travel in Uganda on a budget, we still need to find you a place to stay. The hotels in this category are often focused primarily at the local market and do not meet international standards. Nonetheless, they will normally be relatively clean and pleasant, a big step up from the basic guesthouses that are common in most cities. This category of hotels and safari lodges will typically include a respectable restaurant, English-speaking personnel, comfortable rooms with en-suite facilities, running cold or maybe hot water, a cooling fan, and good mosquito net.

Shoestring Accommodation:

This category is dominated by small local guesthouses, which are common in most towns and serve virtually entirely to residents. Some, like Red Chill in Murchison falls national park and Backpackers in Entebbe, cater solely to backpackers. Exclusive local ones often have 10 cell-like rooms arranged in three walls around a main courtyard, with a waiting area or restaurant in the front. Guesthouse standards vary significantly more than their prices, both within and between towns. While backpacker hostels still exist, their lodging options have expanded much beyond cheap dorm beds, which are generally more correctly classed as budget.

This category may have a significantly greater number of modest guesthouses crowded together near the bus station or market, with little to pick between them. If you’re looking for a place to stay, I’ve found that guest homes owned by women or with a significant female presence are often cleaner and more welcoming than those run by men. Because maintenance standards are minimal, the new guesthouse will be the cleanest and brightest.

A twin room on the cheap normally costs around US$10-50, with some establishments charging a little more. In most cases, common bathrooms and toilets are offered rather than en-suite facilities, and breakfast is either not included or is very small. Housing fees for UWA-operated units range from $5 to $15 per person, depending on the level of accommodation and whether they are sharing. This is the category to look at if you want the cheapest available lodging in Uganda, regardless of quality. However, it frequently includes absolutely pleasant hotels that are also inexpensive.


In recent years, the number of organized campsites has increased dramatically, and there are currently very few established tourist centers where you can’t pitch a tent in a guarded site with adequate facilities. Camping costs about $5 per person per night in most places, and $10 in national parks. Tents at UWA cost between $20 and $30.

Hiring a car with a roof tent

Hiring a car with a roof tent is one of the optimal ways of cutting down on the cost of your Uganda safari. Not only does this option cut out the cost of a hiring a safari guide, it comes with a roof top tent for accommodation. We have 2 person tents and family tent that sleeps up to 4. These tents are comfortable and comes with sleeping bags, camping chairs, tables with options of cooking utensils. You will have the flexibility to tailor your itinerary to your preference, spending more time in your areas of interests.

Saving Money on Food and Drinks

Dining out

You can eat cheaply practically everywhere in Uganda if you are not picky and don’t mind a lack of variety. In most towns, numerous local restaurants serve uninspiring but full meals for less than US$2. Local cuisine is typically composed of pork or chicken stew served with one of four staples: rice, chapati, matooke, and ugali (posho)—a starchy flatbread eaten throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Matoke is a boiling or mushy mound of cooked green bananas that is a staple food in many parts of Uganda.

Groundnut sauce is another Ugandan specialty. Mandazi, the local version of doughnuts, are delicious when they are freshly prepared but less so after a day. Mandazi is available in hotels and stores. Food vendors near markets and bus stations are frequently inexpensive. Although it is inexpensive, the appeal of such a fare quickly fades for most travelers. The Rolex lunch is a popular street offering. This is simply a freshly cooked chapati topped with a fresh omelet, chopped onions, tomatoes, green peppers, and thinly sliced cabbage. The latter are rolled up within the former, thus the name, and placed in a polythene bag.

In many popular ‘local’ nightspots, you’ll find Rolex street merchants armed with metal hot plates, a charcoal grill, and a chopping board. Rolexes are undoubtedly a firm favorite among travelers, gap-year students, and volunteers since it’s exactly the type of street food your mother cautioned you against eating in Africa Expect to pay between 60 cents and a dollar. For around US$5-10, you’ll usually find a couple of finer restaurants (often attached to expensive or midrange hotels) serving Western or Indian cuisine. There is far more choice in Kampala and Entebbe, where you may eat pretty well for US$10 per person. Good park lodges typically serve high-quality food.

Vegetarians are frequently underserved in Uganda safari hotels (the exception being up-market or Indian restaurants). People on guided trips should make sure that the safari operator is aware of this or any other dietary restrictions in advance. It’s worth noting that Swahili names for various items are extensively used in Uganda, so brushing up on your Swahili or Luganda may come in handy.

Making food for oneself

Making your own meals using goods acquired at markets and supermarkets is an alternative to eating out. The variety of items available varies by season and location, but in most of the big cities, you can count on finding a store that sells frozen meat, a few canned products, biscuits, pasta, rice, and chocolate bars. Vegetables and fruits are best purchased at markets, where they are quite inexpensive. Most towns sell potatoes, bananas, onions, tomatoes, sugarcane, paw-paws, avocados, mangoes, coconuts, oranges, and pineapples. If you have specific needs, you should buy in Kampala, where large international supermarkets such as Shoprite and Game have a greater assortment of goods. Quality supermarkets, for example, offer a wide range of international options.


Branded soft drinks like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Fanta are readily accessible in Uganda and reasonably priced by worldwide standards. If the bubbly stuff doesn’t appeal, stores in Kampala and other large towns provide local quality packaged juices like Splash as well as imported South African fruit juices. In Uganda tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled mineral water is commonly accessible and highly recommended.

Hot Beverages:

The most popular hot beverage in the region is chai, a flavored sweet tea made by boiling all of the ingredients together in a saucepan. Chai is frequently seasoned with spices such as ginger and cinnamon leaves in some sections of the country. African tea, which is whole milk boiled with tea and flavored with ginger, is another popular hot beverage. An excellent cup of tea with cream costs 60 cents or less. Coffee is one of Uganda’s most important economic crops. Even so, you’ll be unlikely to find a Ugandan in a budget hotel who knows how to make a great cup of coffee – except in luxury hotels and fine restaurants, it will nearly always taste insipid and watery.


The principal alcoholic beverage is lager beer, which is produced by two major manufacturers, Nile Breweries and the pioneer Uganda Breweries. All local beers are sold in 500ml bottles for $1 in local bars and up to $3 in some upscale hotels. The most popular beer among travelers is definitely Nile Special, though some prefer the milder Bell. If you’re looking to get drunk, consider Eagle Extra, which has a 6.5% alcohol content. Kenya Tusker and Congo Primus, two of Africa’s most palatable lagers, were once only available in towns close to their respective borders but are now widely available throughout the country. If you’ve never gone to Africa, you should try the local millet beer (Marwa). It’s not horrible, but for most people, once is plenty.


Most tourist-class hotels and bars, as well as many supermarkets, sell a selection of superior plonk-quality South African wines for around US$10-20 per bottle — outrageous to South Africans who know the same wine would cost 20% less in a supermarket at home, but not unrealistic in international terms.


Bond 7 Whisky and Uganda Waragi, a local gin, may be purchased for very little money in various bottle sizes or 60ml sachets – ideal for hiking in isolated places or taking with you to fancy hotels for a budget nightcap in your room.

Choosing the best safari activities within your budget

Visiting Uganda on a Budget is going swimmingly until you decide on adventures and things to do on your Uganda vacation. Your budget will be determined by the safari activities available in Uganda. One of the two primate adventures in the rainforest rainforests that are most popular is gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga gorilla national parks or chimpanzee trekking in Kibale, Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth national parks.

Gorillas Trekking ($700)

Is Gorilla Trekking better in Uganda or Rwanda

Seeing the mountain’s gentle big gorillas is unmissable, but permits are expensive. For US$700 per person, you’ll be taken into the bush by two armed rangers, a tracker guide, and other trekkers to the location where a gorilla family was last spotted. You’ll only be permitted 60 minutes in their presence with your facemask, gloves, and a 10-meter distance unless you choose the longer Gorilla habituation session that permits you 4 hours for a whopping US$1,500. 

The average cost of a foreigner’s gorilla trekking tour.

Even if you cannot afford to go gorilla trekking, Bwindi is a rewarding park to visit simply to enjoy the lush virgin rainforest. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) runs several 3- to 4-hour walks through the Impenetrable Forest around Buhoma. The hikes commence at 9:00 and 12:00 p.m. and cost $30 per person

Chimpanzee Trekking ($50 and $200)

4 Day Uganda wildlife and primate safari

Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest, is the ideal option to gorilla trekking because it is less expensive and simpler to reach than Bwindi. A Kibale chimp permit costs US$200, although you can trek the bigger apes for less in other parts of Uganda. Kyambura (Chambura) Gorge, located in the eastern portion of Queen Elizabeth National Park, is a lovely green scar snaking through the savanna, a little Eden teeming with chimps and other monkeys. A chimp permit costs $50 here, but $30 in Kalinzu Forest.

Other typical safari experiences

You might not want to go on an adventure with primates. However, there are other possibilities that you can spread out over the course of your Uganda safari trip. Jinja, the famous source of the Nile River, is located in the east. Along the Nile corridor north of town, a variety of adventure sports are available. Activities like whitewater rafting, quad biking, kayaking, and bungee jumping draw a continuous stream of young and young-at-heart travelers. A guided whitewater rafting experience could cost US$140

If a rush of adrenaline isn’t your thing, try alternative low-cost activities in the savannah parks or a self-guided trek in the hilly areas, relax by the crater lake in western Uganda, go on a birding trip, or travel with a purpose and sign up as a volunteer.

How else can you travel in Uganda on a budget?

We’ve covered the most frequent areas for lowering the cost of travel in Uganda, but there’s more;

Venture off the beaten path.

Get off the main path and discover raw, unadulterated untamed locations where most tourist cars will not go. Sipi Falls, near Mount Elgon, is a must-see. Rarely seen waterfalls, almost-deserted islands, deep woods, and coffee and tea plantations beautify Uganda’s natural beauty and are an excellent choice for a budget vacation in Uganda. The volcanic lakes that dot western Uganda’s mountainous terrain (particularly around Fort Portal and Kasese) provide breathtaking views. Lake Bunyonyi, on the way to Bwindi, will undoubtedly immerse you in nature’s unique ambiance. The Bunyonyi region has been dubbed “the Switzerland of Africa,” and it is a popular birding destination in Uganda.

Kilembe hamlet in Kasese, nestled at the edge of Rwenzori Mountains National Park, is a popular starting place for dedicated hikers who spend up to a week in the National Park marveling at its biodiversity. This mountain range was known as The Mountains of the Moon by Ptolemy and other antiquity historians, and it IS the glacial source of the Nile.

Those of you who do not want to go into the Heart of Darkness or do not have a few hundred dollars to spare can spend a few days in the village and invest your money in community tourism. A community handbook can be purchased for less than $20.

7 Days Mt Elgon Hike Sipi Falls & Nile Rafting

Traveling during the rainy season

The ideal time to visit Uganda on a budget is during the low season. The wet season in Uganda is the low season. Because there is less travel traffic, hotels, camps, and resorts are charging lower rates. If you don’t mind a daily deluge and want to travel on a budget, this is the greatest time to visit Uganda. The off-season runs from March to May and September to November.

This is the time of year when the savannah plains and the entire country are clothed in green, and photography is at its best, especially when the sun shines in the afternoons.

Although wildlife in the savannah reserves is more difficult to spot during the Wet season due to high vegetation and animals dispersed across the plain, you’ll still see plenty of newborns and experience gut-wrenching thrills as ravenous predators battle with watchful mothers or snatch the helpless young.

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John Doe

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