Uganda is a beautiful country that you do not want to pass up! Winston Churchill referred it to as the Pearl of Africa because of its magnificence. This modest-sized country (roughly the size of the state of Oregon) is home to extraordinary natural landscapes and wildlife. While you're there, make sure to check out the endangered mountain gorillas, of which there are only 750 left in the entire world!
Uganda is best for students who are explorers, are interested in immersing themselves in a developing country and adventuring in and around natural areas full of diverse wildlife.
High school students traveling to Uganda can choose from:
- Teen Travel Tours
- Volunteering and Service Learning Programs
Teen Travel Tours
The most common type of programs that are offered for Uganda are teen travel tours. These occur year-round and can range from two weeks to three months. These shorter-term programs allow high school students to participate in a one of a kind program while still being able to partake in their high school experiences in their home countries. Some programs will even travel to other nearby countries (such as Rwanda and Tanzania) for more comprehensive and comparative educational travel.
Volunteering and Service Learning Programs
These programs are sometimes found on their own as well as in combination with travel tours. Topics that you can expect to be included are poverty, public health, education, sports, wildlife and land conservation, and organic farming. For students seeking a more meaningful time in Uganda, volunteering programs are great for letting high school students be exposed to adventure, academics, and service learning all at once!
Planning Your Trip
Kampala is the largest city as well as the capital of Uganda. Located along the banks of Lake Victoria, it has grown a lot since the 1980s and is now a bustling city with many sightseeing options for tourists. This city sits atop several hills and showcases several important religious and cultural landmarks of Uganda.
Most non-African passport holders visiting Uganda will require a visa. Be sure to ask for a 90-day visa if you are planning on staying over 60 days, or you will most likely be a given 30 or 60-day visa. If you decide to stay longer while on your trip, the Immigration Office in Kampala is the best place to go for visa extensions where you can apply for a free two-month extension (regardless of how many days you were given on your original tourist visa).
The most common housing for high school students are hostels and guest houses (if in urban areas). Whether you're on a tour or attending a volunteer program, if you're in a more rural area, you will likely be placed in homestays, volunteer houses, and camping in either huts or tents.
The Ugandan shilling is the country’s currency, but some places will make quotes in Euros or US dollars. Tips are not necessary but are always expected. While many student programs will be all inclusive, you should plan to budget around $20 USD for incidentals such as extra food, water, or souvenirs you want to bring back for family and friends.
Modest clothing is always the best to bring when visiting countries in Africa. The plains are often quite hot, while the hills get colder and sometimes rainy. We recommend to pack:
- Lightweight, breathable shorts and shirts in neutral colors
- A good pair of walking shoes
- A sweater/sweatshirt and rain jacket for colder weather
- A hat and sunglasses
- Insect repellent
- A power/voltage converter
Health & Safety
The following vaccines are recommended by the CDC for travel to Uganda: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever, with consideration for Cholera, Hepatitis B, Meningococcal Meningitis, and Rabies. Consult your doctor for additional vaccine recommendations, depending on where you will be traveling. Malaria is also prevalent, so it is advised to take the necessary precautions beforehand.
Terrorism is a factor to consider when considering visiting Uganda. It is advised to stay away from the borders where such activities and violence occur. Always consult with your program for more specific safety precautions and check online for any country updates. Like other East African nations, homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and in theory can result in a sentence of up to 14 years in prison. The gay community remains very much underground, so for safe travel, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender tourists are advised to vacation with discretion.
Contributed by Julie Peterson
High School Abroad Programs in Uganda
Other High School Abroad Programs in East Africa
Not enough options in Uganda? Check out these other High School programs in East Africa!
Have you considered taking a gap year after high school? Start researching some of these options in Uganda.