Budget tips: What did we spend travelling in Uganda?

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

How much does a trip through Uganda cost? The answer to this question depends on the type of traveller you are, the activities you do and how long your trip is. But I can tell something about what we have spent in Uganda. So in this blog: how expensive was our trip through Uganda and how much does food cost in Uganda?

How much money did we spend in Uganda?

First a disclaimer: Everyone travels in his or her own way and has different priorities. That is completely fine, but keep this in mind when you read our costs. It can always be more expensive or cheaper.

We made a 16-day trip through Uganda where we travelled the majority of the distances in a rental car. We combined Uganda with Rwanda, a perfect combination for a journey of +/- three weeks. Click here to read what we spend in Rwanda. Because we were travelling on a budget, we tried to camp as much as possible, something that is very doable in Uganda. We cooked many meals ourselves and we sometimes consciously chose not to do any activities or to do this in another country (eg a volcano hike and chimpanzee trecking).

In the costs below I did not include the gorilla treck that Ries did. This cost $600 pp, which is a very large amount (from 01-07-2020 this amount will be increased to $700). This entree fee is used for a conservation program and to protect the gorillas as these animals are threatened with extinction. Because this is not normal “backpack” activity and is therefore not representative for a backpackers budget, I did not include this activity. If you want to do this, take a higher budget into account.Elizabeth National Park Uganda

What were our total spendings for Uganda?

Number of days: 16
Total spent: Ush7,706,942/ €1900.17/ $2,094.28
Expenditures pp: Ush3,853,491/ €950.09/ $1047.15
Avg expenditures per day: Ush481,681/ €118.76/ $130.89

Our budget: Ush519,158/ €128/ $141.08
Days on or under budget: 10
Days above budget: 6

All expenses are for two people and are calculated based on exchange rates during the trip. This does not include our airline tickets. The currencies displayed are Ugandan Shilling (Ush), Euro (€) and USA Dollar ($).

Transport: 44.8% of total

Total spent: Ush3,453,131/ €851.38/ $938.35
Car rental: Ush2,676,908/ €660/ $727.42
Gasoline:  Ush535,809/ €129.64/ $142.88
Taxi costs: Ush84,728/ €20.89/ $23.03
Public Transportation: Ush165,684/ €40.85/ $45.02

Definitely, our biggest cost item in Uganda was transportation. This is mainly due to the four-wheel-drive that we rented (from Roadtrip Africa), which cost € 55 a day, and the many kilometres we drove. However, since we rented a car including camping gear, our overnight costs and costs for meals were a lot lower, because we were able to cook ourselves and campsites are often cheaper than hotels, especially in the national parks.

In addition, the rented jeep gave us a lot of freedom and we were able to travel faster. If you want to spend less money, consider traveling by public transport in Uganda. In Kampala we used Uber, cheap and safe. Another way of public transport in Uganda is, of course, the Boda Boda, a motorcycle taxi. If you use such a motorcycle taxi, pay attention to its safety! We were advised against taking a Boda Boda in the evening because many accidents happen and/or robberies occur.

Accommodations: 19.8% of total

Total spent: Ush1,524,621 / € 375.9 / $ 413.30
Number of nights: 15
Average overnight stay for 2 people (including camping gear): Ush101,641 / € 25.06 / $ 27.61
Average camping /hostel price per night (2 people): Ush69.194 / € 17.06 / $ 18.80

Accommodations in Uganda are generally cheaper than in the surrounding countries such as Kenya or Rwanda. Of the 15 nights, we have camped 12. During the other three nights, we slept in hostels or in a guesthouse. It’s important to know is that we did not stay in a luxury hotel. A campsite usually costs $10 per person, a hostel around $30 for two people, but a nice lodge or hotel starts from $80. So if you prefer to sleep a bit more luxurious, keep more room in your budget.

One of the nicest (and most exciting) nights we had in Uganda was in the Murchison Falls National Park. We camped here inside of the park with a ranger who protected us against the wild animals (lions, hyenas, hippos). In the evening he made a campfire while we pitched our tent in the dark and cooked a nice meal. Laying in our tent at night, we heard the hyenas howling and hippos roar. The idea that they are so close was exciting anyway!

Below you will find all the campsites/hotels where we stayed at Uganda:

Rhino Sanctuary

Food: 11.8% of total

Total spent: Ush910,757 / € 224.55 / $ 247.49
Of which expenses on restaurants: Ush467.363 / € 115.23 / $ 127
Of which groceries: Ush443,393 / € 109.32 / $ 120.49
Expenditure per day (for 2 persons): Ush56,904 / € 14.03 / $ 15.46

Food in Uganda is not expensive! We often cooked ourselves, using local ingredients from the market. In the big cities, you will find supermarkets such as the Shoprite (South African), but in smaller cities, there are only small neighbourhood supermarkets. Their variety is limited, but you can get long-life bread, peanut butter and water everywhere.

One of Ries’ favorite dishes in East Africa is chapati, a kind of savory pancake that is fried (also called Roti). You can get this in many places. You can also have lunch with beans, rice and matoke (banana) in local restaurants for a few euros. Our favourite discovery in Uganda (and later we also found it in Kenya) is Krest, a fresh soda that tastes a bit like bitter lemon.

Activities: 22.7% of the total

Total spent: Ush174,530 / € 430.31 / $ 474.27
National Parks: Ush675,676 / € 166.59 / $ 183.61
Rafting: Ush507.314 / € 125.08 / $ 140
Sunset tour over the Nile: Ush199.308 / € 49.14 / $ 55
Spotting rhinos: Ush367.999 / € 90.73 / $ 100
Visit tea plantations: Ush10,000 / € 2.46 / $ 2.71

We visited the Murchison Falls National Park and the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Other National Parks we skipped because of the high costs. All safaris were self-drive safaris, whereby we were driving around in our own rented vehicle without a guide. A guide at most parks costs $20. To enter the park with your own car, you also pay a small car fee.

In most National Parks in Uganda, you can buy a 24-hour permit ($ 40 per person). This means that you can enter and leave the park (as many times as you want) within 24 hours. We tried to deal with this in a smart way, by entering (and therefor starting such a permit) in the afternoon, staying in the park until sunset (and even staying overnight in Murchison Falls) and then visit the park the next day before sunrise again. This way you are in the park during the moment that most animals are active. As mentioned earlier, the gorilla hike that Ries did is not included in the above costs. He paid $600 for this trecking (from 01-07-2020 this amount will be increased to $700).Jinja - RaftingKiko Tea Estate

Other: 0.9% of total

Total spent: Ush73,128 / € 18.03 / $ 19.87
Cellphone subscription: Ush45,142 / € 11.13 / $ 12.27
Beauty products: Ush1,744 / € 0.43 / $ 0.48
Tip: Ush6.854 / € 1.69 / $ 1.86
Bribery: Ush20,000 / € 4.78 / $ 5.27

To be reachable, we bought a local SIM card from Africell (but for better coverage in terms of reach, we recommend MTN as a provider). We had 6GB for 30 days + 35 minutes of calling. For this, we paid 40,000 USH (just under 10 euros). In addition, we had to pay an additional tax to be able to use social media, the costs of which are 6,000 USH.

And well, we were forced by the police to bribe them … which costed around 5 euros. Curious how and what? Read this diary blog!Murchison Falls

What does food cost in Uganda?

  • 1 Kilo of apples: Ush10,000 / €2.46 / $2,71
  • 500 Ml olive oil: Ush39,743 / €9.80 / $10.80
  • Mango: Ush2000 / €0.49 / $0.541
  • Bag of chips: Ush4000 / €0.99 / $1,09
  • 1 Kilo of bananas: Ush2000 / €0.49 / $0.54
  • 500L Yoghurt: Ush3500 / €0.86 / $0.951
  • Bread: Ush3000 / €0.74 / $0.871
  • Avocado: Ush1000 / €0.25 / $0.28
  • Pack of milk (1L): Ush3000 / €0.74 / $0.81
  • Nutella (375 ML): Ush23.183 / €5.72 / $6.30
  • Bottle of water (1.5 L): Ush4000 / €0.99 / $1.09

  • Bottle of wine in supermarket (750 ml): Ush38.000 / €9.37 / $10.32
  • Bottle of Coca Cola (2L): Ush4500 / €1.11 / $1.22
  • Beer in the supermarket: Ush4000 / €0.99 / $1.09
  • Shampoo: Ush20,000 / €4.93 / $5.43
  • Cappuccino: Ush10.156 / €2.5 / $2.76
  • Glass of wine in restaurant: Ush15.000 / €3.70 / $4.08
  • Local beer in a restaurant: Ush4000 / €0.99 / $1.09
  • Simple lunch/evening meal (1 person): Ush15,000 / €3.70 / $4,071
  • Liter of gas: Ush4230 / €1.04 / $1.15

Murchison Falls

Conclusion: is Uganda expensive?

For us, Uganda feels like the cheaper sister of Kenya where the locals are friendlier and mass tourism has not yet taken a huge flight. Activities are cheaper than in Kenya (where access to the most famous National Parks is $80 per person), staying overnight is also slightly less expensive (although you will also find super luxury and expensive lodges in Uganda) and food is tasty and cheap!

But that does not mean that Uganda is cheaper than, for example, Madagascar or countries in Southeast Asia. Public transportation is cheap but much less comfortable than in Vietnam, for example. Activities such as rafting and a gorilla trek make Uganda also an expensive destination. We have stayed well within our budget. The convenience of a car was very nice and also outweighed the extra costs that we had to make. If you want to spend less, consider leaving out a car, that saves you 55 euros a day.

Travel Blogs Uganda

Click here for all my travel blogs on Uganda.

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What did we spend traveling in Uganda

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