Uganda budget: the costs and prices of backbacking trip trough Uganda!

How much does a trip through Uganda cost? Is Uganda a possible destination for backpackers? The answer to these 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, what is a realistic daily budget and how much does food cost in Uganda?

How much money to budget for a trip through 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. So we backpacked in Uganda, but with the convenience of a car! We combined Uganda with Rwanda, a perfect combination for a journey of +/- three weeks. Click here to read what a realistic Rwanda budget is. 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 in Uganda: 16
Total spent in Uganda: Ush7,706,942/ €1900.17/ $2,094.28
Expenditures per person for Uganda: Ush3,853,491/ €950.09/ $1047.15
Average daily expenditures for Uganda: Ush481,681/ €118.76/ $130.89

Our budget for Uganda: Ush519,158/ €128/ $141.08
Days on or under budget Uganda: 10
Days above budget Uganda: 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 ($).

What are the prices fo transport in Uganda? – 44.8% of total budget Uganda

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 travelling 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.

Free travel guide: All you need to know about the adventure capital Jinja in Uganda!

How expensive is accommodation in Uganda? – 19.8% of total budget Uganda

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!

In this blog you will find our favorite hotels in Uganda! Including campsites & lodges in national parks.

Rhino Sanctuary

Is food or going for dinner expensive in Uganda?- 11.8% of total budget Uganda

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’ favourite dishes in East Africa is chapati, a kind of savoury 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.

What is the price of activities in Uganda? – 22.7% of the total budget Uganda

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

Price of a safari in Uganda

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.

Reading tip: free travel guide on the Murchison Falls National Park!

What to budget for a safari in Uganda?

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. And in this way, you can do a safari in Uganda without breaking your budget!

As mentioned earlier, the gorilla trekking that Ries did is not included in the above costs. He paid $600 for this trekking (from 01-07-2020 this amount will be increased to $700).

Click here to read all you need to know about a gorilla trekking in Uganda(Bwindi National Park)!

Jinja - RaftingKiko Tea Estate

Next read for your Uganda itinerary: Lake Bunyonyi!

Other expenses in Uganda – 0.9% of total budget Uganda

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 cost around 5 euros. Curious how and what? Read this diary blog!Murchison Falls

Prices of food and general expenses 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
  • 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 an expensive holiday destination?

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.

What is a realistic daily budget for Uganda?

Are you travelling through Uganda on a backpackers budget or a shoestring? Then budget around 55 euros per person per day. For this amount, you mostly travel by public transport, visit some national parks, sleep in dorms and eat simple meals.

Prefer something more luxurious? Then budget a daily budget of 90 euros per person per day. For this you have a rental car, you sometimes sleep in a beautiful lodge but you are also sometimes camping. Sometimes you cook yourself, but there is also luxury in eating out.

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  1. by Sophie on 26 December 2023  22:15 Reply

    Hello Charlotte! I love your blog! Do you remember with which company you rented the car in Uganda? Thanks :)

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 29 December 2023  14:49 Reply

      Hi Sophie,
      Yes we rented it via Roadtrip Africa (also available in Madagascar, Kenya and Rwanda).

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