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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 Uganda Uganda

Country Information & Lifestyle

 The Pearl of Africa

The Pearl of Africa

Uganda, The Pearl of Africa, is a landlocked country in East Africa bordered by Kenya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

The terrain is mostly plateau at altitudes of 1,000-1,200 m, and by the result of rifting and warping; the Easter African landscape was formed by giving way to the Western Rift Valley of Uganda and the most gorgeous mountains like Rwenzori Mountains neighbouring Congo.

The climate is mainly tropical, generally rainy with two dry seasons, December - February and June - August. The northeast is semi-arid and therefore drier. The country is generally fertile with many spectacular views that remain the best in Africa.

During Uganda's era of British colonialism, settlement by Europeans was not allowed, and today there are few Caucasians in Uganda. The term for whites is muzungu (plural bazungu), and Caucasian visitors should get used to hearing it shouted out by children in every corner of the country. It is not a derogatory term per se, so smile and wave in reply.

Uganda is accessible and affordable, but not up to the high tourism standards of the more mature destinations such as Kenya or Tanzania, much less South Africa. This gives it more edge, more authenticity and less predictability.

This does not mean danger, rather greater opportunities for delight -- and frustration. This is real Africa, the dirty urban bustle of Kampala bursting at the seams then giving way to lush subsistence farming and small villages. Roads are rough, people are friendly, everything seems to have a smell all its own, and not everything moves according to schedule or to plan.

Food from Uganda is a sensation. You should sample the luwombo, which is meat cooked in green leaves, try the traditional matooke, binyebwa (ground nut sauce), chapatti and meat stew. The fried fish mainly cooked on the beach is succulent.

There are roadside stands and markets where you can buy fresh produce - fruits and vegetables abound and are very cheap, and there are also a number of fast-food places. In many towns Chinese food is available in excellent restaurants.

Coffee is one of the best products from Uganda but the British hooked the locals on tea. Chai tea is widely available and is best in the rural areas near the tea plantations where you will see signs posted on shops and kiosks where it can be purchased. Be advised to drink bottled water, tap water is not treated.

Uganda is endowed with lakes and rivers among these Lake Victoria where the Ssese Islands are found. There are 84 small islands varying in size, the largest is Bugala. These still virgin islands have isolated beaches for relaxation while enjoying the cool lake breeze and you can take a forest walk or a boat ride.

The islands form one of Uganda's prime destinations for causal rambling and off-the-beaten-track exploration, as well as game fishing.

Bugala is the most developed and easily accessible and is privately owned with a popular budget resort. The Vervet monkey can be seen in numbers on the island. The islands of Bubeke, Bukasa and Bufumira can be visited with varying degrees of ease.

Ngamba is a small fascinating island of Lake Victoria where the Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located. Tracking safaris to the sanctuary take place all year round.

Not least among Ssese Islan's attractions are their rustic character and the sense of being well away from established tourist circuit. A ferry connects the islands from Bukakata, while small wooden boats run from Kasenyi. It takes around 35 minutes from Kampala. There is also a sea plane service.

Uganda is naturally gifted with water bodies like Lake Victoria, Albert Kyoga, Edward and several crater lakes. Around these water bodies are diverse bird species not easily found anywhere in Africa especially the rare shoebill and the papyrus gonolek.

The source of the Nile is located in Jinga. Because of the rapid Bujagali waterfalls it is a famous destination for white-water rafting and bungee jumping. Quad biking and zip wire across the Nile are all possible in Jinja, the adrenaline adventure capital of East Africa.

Entebbe is built around the shores of Lake Victoria and is primarily active as the location of the airport. Entebbe offers a relaxed stopover alternative to Kampala on your way into or out of the county by plane, as the air is clean, the streets are safe to walk, and the old colonial gardens and parks with the lake in the background make for a serene atmosphere. The drive to or from Kampala is about an hour.

Kampala, the capital, is a bustling African city. The market in Kampala is particularity impressive, and if you haggle for produce and chat up the locals, you can have an interesting day. There are various colonial architectural buildings but nothing of great interest.

A visit to the Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi is a great way to spend an entire day. The tombs are a world heritage site and a great first stop in Uganda.

Fort Portal is generally considered Uganda's most attractive settlement. Approached from Kampala through extensive tea plantations, it contains some fine old buildings and a superb Rwenzori backdrop.

Kabale is a small town in the far south of the country and a stopover to go to Lake Bunyonyi. Kisoro is a town near Congo and Rwanda. There is not a lot to do but it is the stopover to the National Park. A climb up the volcano can be done as a day trip.

Uganda has a lot of interesting safari attractions to see in many spots of the country. Uganda is home to half of the remaining population of Mountain Gorilla in the whole world. These precious, beautiful gorillas can only be found in the tropical rain forests of Mgahinga gorilla national park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park, where four families are available for tracking.

Game viewing is one of the main safari attractions; you will see the Lion, Buffalo, Monkeys, Leopard, Elephant, Giraffe and several other varieties of animals. Uganda's national parks have a rich diversity of wildlife species which gives a great opportunity to explore animals in their natural habitats.

Lowland rain forest and their openness gives you a stunning sight of the forest creatures like gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, butterflies and birds, Ugandan tribe and its cultural practices.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the primary gorilla tracking location. There are troupes reached from Buhoma (north) and a new troupe reached from the south at Nkuringo.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is at the confluence of Rwanda and the DRC. One gorilla troop can be tracked from here, but its range sometimes takes it into one of the other two countries, so may not be accessible.

The Virunga Mountains are the dramatic spine of the park, recently active volcanic peaks. Much other remarkable wildlife is in this often overlooked park

Kidepo Valley National Park located in the extreme North East corner of Uganda on the Sudan border has incredible wildlife here that comes right up to the Apoka Lodge, a great place to stay. Elephant, zebra, Nile buffalo, kob often visit the lodge.

Murchison Falls National Park is full of a variety of wildlife including elephants, giraffes, hartebeest, buffalo and a few lions and leopards. The nearby waterfall is dramatic and beautiful as the entire Nile river plunges down and through a wide crevice.

Kibale Forest National Park near the town of Fort Portal is famed for chimpanzee tracking and is highly recommended. The Rwenzori National Park is in the south-west bordering the Congo, near Fort Portal.

In the Rwenzori Mountains, known as The Mountains of the Moon, you find Mitandi. The place represents a unique opportunity to explore the mountains. Here you can climb Mt Margherita, go safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park and get to know the culture of the local Bakonzo mountain people.

Though a small country, Uganda has different tribes with varying cultural traditions, customs, beliefs and backgrounds. There are three major indigenous groups in Uganada, The Batwa, the Benet and the Karamojong people.

The Karamojong and the Benet typically live in the north east region, and the Batwa people primarily in the south-western region. The Batwa, are Pygmy forest people and along with the Benet are hunter-gatherers, while the Karamojong are pastoralists. Cattle are central to the culture of the Karamojong, who use every part of the cow in daily and ritual life.

The Bakonjo-Bamba are Bantu and are the most numerous of the Rwenzori peoples, they are found in the District of Kasese. They inhabit the villages and farms immediately along the Uganda Rwenzori front hills and form the original population of the mountainous areas and forests. They believe in super-human powers, their Gods are called Kalisa and Nyabarika.

They are industrious and self-reliant and bear themselves with great dignity. Humour is plentiful and their homesteads usually consist of only one or two rectangular houses and a few small store huts, widely scattered and patched on the ridges of the foothills. The Bakonjo-Bamba usually marry early, the girls about 13 or 14.

Uganda is a stunningly beautiful country ready to welcome you and show you her pleasures. Whether you are looking for thrills in Jinga, Gorillas in the Mist or to acquaint yourself with the Bantu people, you are sure to be enthralled.

Purchasing a Property

In Uganda, only citizens have land ownership rights. The 1995 Constitution does not allow foreigners to own land freehold. They may, however, obtain leases for 49 or 99 years. Foreign investors, individual or corporate, cannot acquire land for the purpose of crop or animal production either but can either rent/lease from citizens or from the Government.

Property taxes are levied by the local governments with rates being determined by each local authority (a maximum of 2% of the rate-able value is prescribed by law).

If you are planning to buy land or a property in Uganda a real estate lawyer is needed to handle all required transactions. Local laws, special geographical restrictions or financial transfers are just some of the issues involved in the process. The lawyer will also handle the process of registration and transfer of ownership.

Involving a real estate lawyer will make the purchase a lot faster, easier and safer. Take your time to find one you like and trust as he will be the one working and talking on your behalf. The lawyer is familiar with the local laws, cultures and principles which can be difficult for some foreigners to understand or follow so let your lawyer do this job for you.

Types of Land Real Estate Ownership in Uganda.

Customary Land - Under this tenure, land real estate is communally owned by a particular group of people in a particular area. Its utilisation is usually controlled by elders, clan heads or a group in its own well-defined administrative structures.

In the Uganda Real Estate industry, this land tenure is usually in the North, Eastern, North east, North West and some parts of Western Uganda. Over 70% of land in Uganda is held on customary tenure system.

In such cases, people own their land, have their rights to it, but don't have land titles. Some tenants on such land allocate specific areas to themselves with known and defined boundaries usually marked by ridges, trenches, and trees.

Freehold Land - A system of owning land in perpetuity and was set up by an agreement between the Kingdoms and the British Government. Grants of land in freehold were made by the Crown and later by the Uganda Land Commission. The grantee of land in freehold was and is entitled to a certificate of title. Most of this land was issued to church missionaries and academic Institutions and a few individuals.

Freehold is the premier mode of private land ownership under English law. The Land Act recognises it as one of the four regimes through which access to land rights may be obtained.

Its incidents are defined to include registration of title in perpetuity and conferment of full powers of ownership that is the power of use, abuse and disposition.

Real Estate Transactions involving freehold land are governed by the Registration of Titles Act. Little land is held under freehold tenure in Uganda.

Mailo Land is land held under mailo tenure system and is mainly in Buganda (Central region) and some parts of Western Uganda. The system confers freehold granted by the colonial government in exchange for political co-operation under the 1900 Buganda Agreement.

Essentially feudal in character, the mailo tenure system recognises occupancy by tenants, a.k.a bibanja holders, whose relationship with their landlords is governed and guided by the provisions of the 1998 Land Act.

Mailo land, like freehold is registered under the Registration of Titles Act. All transactions must therefore be entered in a register guaranteed by the state.

Under this tenure, the holder of a mailo land title has absolute ownership of that land. One only loses such ownership when such land is needed for national interests but still amicable compensations have to be done for a peaceful relocation.

Leasehold Land is a system of owning land for a particular period of time. In Uganda you can get a lease from an individual, local authority or government for a period usually 49 or 99 years with agreed terms and conditions.

The leasehold Real Estate transactions, being essentially contractual allow parties to define the terms and conditions of access in such a manner that suits their reciprocal land use needs.

A grant of land would be made by the owner of freehold, customary or Mailo or by the Crown or Uganda Land Commission to another person for an agreed period of time. The grantee of a lease for an agreed time is entitled to a certificate of title.

Public Land - Under this type of land tenure, the government owns land and has the right to lease it to any company or individual on specific terms and covenants.

In most cases, land under this arrangement is not for settlement; it is basically for business and usually located in urban areas such as Kampala and other big towns in the country.

The underling principle is that Land Real Estate in Uganda belongs to Ugandan citizens. Therefore, if you are not a Ugandan citizen, you can only acquire Leasehold interest in Uganda Land.

Your company can own freehold land if it is Ugandan, but not when it is foreign. Your company will be considered foreign if the controlling interest lies with Non Ugandans.

Family Land is where there is situated the ordinary residence. Ordinary residence is where the family derives sustenance. Where the members freely and voluntarily agree to treat as family Land. Such land accorded that status by culture, norms, traditions or Religion.

You cannot purchase Family Land Real Estate from an individual without prior consent with his/her spouse, because the sale shall be considered void.

However, you can claim your purchase from the purported seller if your Real Estate transaction is cancelled.

Fees & Taxes

Property taxes are levied by the local governments with rates being determined by each local authority (a maximum of 2% of the rate able value is prescribed by law).

Legal Fees UGS1,000,000 (US$543)paid by buyer.

Property Valuation UUGS500,000 (US$272) paid by buyer.

Surveyor Fee UGS300,000-UGS500,000 (US$163-US$272)paid by buyer.

Transfer Fee UGS20,000 (US$11)paid by buyer.

Title Search UGS10,000-UGS12,000 (US$5-US$7)paid by buyer.

Consent to Transfer UGS10,000 (US$5)paid by buyer.

Stamp Duty 1% paid by buyer.

Agent's Commission 5%-10% paid by seller.


All visitors require a passport that is valid for at least six months on entry. Visitors must hold return or onward ticket and sufficient funds.

All nationals can obtain a visa on arrival at a cost of US$50(single entry) or US100 for a six month visa(multiple entry) and US$200 for a one year visa(multiple entry).

Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.

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