Uganda Travel Budget

When we chose to take a trip to Uganda, we assumed it was going to be expensive. I mean, gorilla trekking permits are known to be very pricey and safaris aren’t something we think of as being cheap. So we were surprised when we calculated our Uganda travel costs and found that they were much lower than we had predicted. For those wanting to do a trip to Uganda, here is our Uganda travel budget.

Pinterest graphic for a blog post on our Uganda travel budget

Investigating how much it cost to travel in Uganda, we first looked at guided tours. Obviously, these range in price massively, but budget ones cost about $4000 per person for the two-week trip. This included the gorilla and chimp trek permits, accommodation and travel. That seemed pretty reasonable.

Then we read about people who had done their Uganda trip as a self-drive. That appealed – we like road trips, having recently done them in the USA and Greece, and we liked the idea of the independence of an independent trip. What we didn’t know was whether it would save us money.

We calculated all of our Uganda travel costs during the trip, using the Tripcoin app. Our total travel budget for Uganda was $4,262 for both of us (USD – all costs in this blog will be in USD, despite us being British).

That’s right, doing our trip independently halved our travel costs. And that included all food and drink during our trip, which was not all part of the cost of a guided tour.

Let’s look at the Uganda travel budget breakdown:

How much does it cost for activities in Uganda?

Cost of chimp and gorilla trek permits for Uganda

This was by far the biggest chunk of our Uganda travel budget. Gorilla trekking permits for Uganda cost $650 each and chimp trek permits were $150 each. Both were well worth the money.

Read about our experience gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park

Gorilla trek permits are a big part of a Uganda travel budget
Silverback mountain gorilla in Mgahinga National Park

Ugandan National Park costs

National Park fees also contributed to the high activity cost in Uganda. We paid $40 each for entry into Queen Elizabeth National Park and the same for Lake Mburo National Park. National Park fees for Kibale National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park were included in the price of our trek permits.

As well as entry into the national parks, we paid for guides in both Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo which cost $40 and $20 respectively. We also paid for activities such as the Bigodi Swamp Walk (around $14 each) and Kihingami Wetlands Walk (around $16 each).

Read more about our chimp trek and birdwatching in the wetlands around Kibale National Park

Total cost for activities in Uganda: $2,065 for two people, an average of $137 a day.

Cost of transport in Uganda

We hired a car in Entebbe to drive us around for our two-week trip. We used Self Drive Uganda, who we completely recommend. They provided excellent service, booking our gorilla and chimp trek permits for us, delivering the car to our accommodation in Entebbe and picking it up, and providing great support while we were on the road.

The car we hired as part of our Uganda travel costs
Kris driving our Rav 4

Read more about our tips for self-driving in Uganda

Our car hire of our Rav 4 cost $49 a day, plus an additional $40 for delivering it and picking it up.

We filled it up with petrol five times during the trip, at a total of $215 for the trip.

Our transport costs for Uganda were $939, and an average of $62 per day (we didn’t have it for the time in Entebbe).

Of course, this didn’t include the cost of getting to Uganda. We flew return from Kyiv to Entebbe for around $1000 each. Originally we had cheaper flights with Fly Dubai, but they cancelled the route and we had to rebook. By that time we had already booked and paid for our treks and various other travel costs, so we couldn’t be flexible with the dates.

We didn’t include the $2000 flight costs in the total Uganda travel budget

Uganda travel budget for accommodation

Our Uganda travel costs for accommodation ranged from about $70 a night for the most expensive hotel, to $21 for the cheapest. We would probably label ourselves as ‘flashpackers’ in terms of accommodation. We like a double room and ideally our own bathroom, but as long as it is clean and comfortable we don’t need luxury.

Carpe Diem Guesthouse Entebbe, the most expensive room in our Uganda travel budget
Our most expensive room, typical of our accommodation style

Our total accommodation costs in Uganda were $653 for two of us, an average of $40 a night.

To break this down per hotel, this was:

Entebbe: 2 nights in the Carpe Diem Guesthouse – $70 a night (en suite bedroom)

Fort Portal: 3 nights at the Westend Motel – $21 a night (small en suite room, including breakfast)

Queen Elizabeth National Park: 3 nights at the community-run Elephant Home – $50 a night (large en suite room)

Mgahingha Gorilla National Park: 2 nights at the Amajyambere Iwacu community Camp – $40 a night (twin room with bathroom shared with rest of camp)

Lake Bunuoni: 1 night at Bunouni View – $30 a night (en suite double room)

Lake Mburo National Park: 2 nights at the Leopard Rest Camp- $50 a night (‘lazy’ tent with shared bathroom)

Entebbe: 1 night at La Feve Bed and Breakfast – $$46 a night (en suite double room with breakfast)

As you can see, there didn’t seem to be any relationship between the price and what you got. Around the national parks, where most accommodation was big posh safari lodges, accommodation was far more expensive than in the towns.

Uganda Travel Costs for Food and Drink

We ate in a range of places in Uganda, from stalls selling traditional ‘rolex’ (a thin omelette wrapped in a chapatti) to expat run restaurants. Many of our meals were in the places we stayed, because on safaris there aren’t many other places to eat.

Making a rolex on an outdoor grill
Making a rolex on an outdoor grill

Most hotels had set menus for $10 each, which generally had 2-3 courses. You got a salad or soup starter, a main meal and then a dessert. Portions were huge! Main meals could be a chicken leg with two sides e.g. potatoes and rice, plus vegetables. Perhaps surprisingly, there were a lot of vegetarian and vegan options, and often hotels only offered those for their lunch menus.

Cheap and hearty Meals make for a cheap Uganda travel budget

We like a beer or two in the evening on holiday and had a few bottles of the local Tusker beer or Nile Special every night. In Entebbe and Fort Portal we explored a few bars, where a bottle of beer only cost $1-2 each.

Kate enjoying a Tusker beer, on the Uganda trip budget
Enjoy a cheap, cold Tusker beer (basically a generic lager).

Food and drink cost us $525 for the trip, which was $35 per day.

Other Uganda Trip Costs

Travel Insurance

We generally use World Nomads for our travel insurance, because we don’t have to be in the UK when we start the policy. Another advantage is that you can extend the policy while you are travelling.

We paid about $170 for their Explorer policy for our two-week trip.

Travel Vaccinations

It’s essential to have had a yellow fever vaccine before you travel to Uganda. You have to show it at immigration before you enter the country. We had our vaccines at a clinic in Kyiv, and paid about $40 each.

Find out more about how we planned our independent trip to Uganda

Visas for Uganda

A visa for Uganda costs $50 each, or you can get an East African visa for $100. We were only visiting Uganda so we added $100 to our Uganda travel budget.

Mobile Phone Sim Package

As we were driving ourselves around Uganda, we bought a sim card with a one month package including 9GB of data for $11. What we didn’t realise is that it didn’t include social media. You have to pay OTT tax to use Facebook, Instagram and the like. If we’d known, we would have paid that as well.

So, our final Ugandan travel budget came to just over $4000, half of what it would have cost to do a guided tour. Now, of course, there are many advantages of having a guide and a driver – you can relax and sleep on long journeys and you always have an expert on hand.

However, we loved our self-guided trip, and had the added bonus of saving a lot of money. It cost far less than we had budgeted for, which is always nice to find out at the end of a holiday.

Read all of our posts on our Uganda trip.

Have you done a trip to Uganda? How much did you pay? Let us know in the comments to share with others.

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2 Responses

  1. Charlotte Mathis says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience of your self-drive trip in Uganda. This is very helpful as we are thinking of doing the same in the fall of this year.

    We are accustomed to driving rentals in foreign countries and prefer that mode of transportation. We drove around Zanzibar last year. Other countries have been Indonesia, Jamaica, South Africa, Iceland and New Zealand.

    Did you make reservations for hotel stays before you embarked on your trip, or did you stop at places along the way?

    Did you feel that you were easy targets for locals being tourists?

    Did you drive at night, or only during the day?

    Were you stopped by police at all? We were victims of a police shakedown in Zanzibar last year.

    Any other information that you might have would be greatly appreciated.

    • KateandKris says:

      Hi, we made hotel reservations before we left, but there were places you could stay in along the way

      We didn’t feel targets at all. Locals were very friendly.

      We only drove by day. Our car rental didn’t cover us for driving at night, and it’s not at all recommended.

      If you read our post on driving in Uganda, Kris talks about police, but the quick answer is no.

      Have a look at our other post and send us a Facebook message if you have more questions.