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When Can I Travel to Uganda? Post-lockdown FAQs

By Diaryofamuzungu @CharlieBeau
When can I travel to Uganda? Post-lockdown FAQs

Travel to Uganda and Kenya during the COVID-19 pandemic: frequently asked questions about quarantine, visas, immigration, Entebbe airport, bus travel and borders.

[Entebbe Airport photos used in this article taken pre-pandemic].

Over the last few weeks, I've had a lot of questions from Ugandans, Kenyans and expats of different nationalities who want to travel to Uganda.

  • Do you want to travel to Uganda?
  • Are you waiting for Entebbe Airport to reopen?
  • Are you applying for a Uganda or Kenya tourist visa online?
  • Do you want to travel by air or bus between Uganda and Kenya?
  • When will Uganda's airport open again?

Uganda Travel Enquiry # 1

Hi I want to travel to Kampala on 20th of August but I currently haven't organized it yet. Must I have a work permit because am only going there for a project?

Leila, Kenya, August 9th 2020 in response to MASH-tastic - the muzungu's bus tips from Kampala to Nairobi.

The Muzungu replied:

The borders are currently closed and Uganda's Entebbe International Airport will not be open until mid-September at the earliest (according to a good source). Read about the push to reopen Entebbe Airport here.

If you are coming here to work or volunteer, you will need a work permit. You would normally be able to enter the country on a single entry tourist visa and then apply for your work permit however, one case varies from another.

For info, read how to apply for your Uganda visa online.

To contact Uganda Immigration directly, use their Facebook page. Before the pandemic, immigration would normally reply within 24 hours but they have reduced staff at the moment.

My feeling is that you will not be travelling on the 20th August but good luck and let me know how it goes! Safe journey.

Uganda Travel Enquiry # 2

Hello: I've followed your blog since coming to Africa and it is highly informative and well done. I'm a U.S. businessman trapped in Nairobi on lockdown. You clearly have a feel for what's going on in East Africa, so I had a hunch you might know something about the border travel situation. I was initially in Kampala for a month in October 2019 and then did a month of volunteer work in Nyanza en route to business in Nairobi. I'd hoped to be here briefly so I could return to Kampala to wrap up various issues before departing Africa. But here I still am. I've read news reports online saying there's pressure on the Uganda government to reopen Entebbe. I've called Mash POA and EasyCoach who both tell me there's no Nairobi / Kampala travel and they don't know when it will resume. Do you have any notion or rumor that you might be kind enough to share?

Peter, Nairobi, August 7th 2020

The Muzungu replied:

Yes Peter, there is mounting pressure on the Ugandan government to reopen Entebbe International Airport. I am following developments closely and will let you know if I hear anything positive re the airport or land borders.

Sorry to hear that you got marooned in Nairobi. When President Museveni closed the schools, I made sure I raced back upcountry... and here I have remained since March. You might enjoy some of my #LockdownDiaries from Kibale Forest in Western Uganda.

Uganda Travel Enquiry # 3

Hello dear Charlotte, I am glad to hear despite these difficult times which the whole world is in a kind of depression, that you didn't lose your positive attitude.

I am somehow happy for Uganda that it is not affected by Covid like the neighbouring countries. Hope soon the airport will start functioning again so that I can board a plane. Any idea when the airport is going to be available for us to fly back?

I wish you the best and thanks for your efforts keeping Uganda's safaris, wildlife and tourism alive.

Sako, Beirut, August 7th 2020

The Muzungu replied:

The government said it would reopen Entebbe International Airport on August 1 (but that hasn't happened). A lot of people are putting pressure on to reopen Uganda's airport. I will let you know in case I hear of anything.

Yes things are okay so far in Uganda (August 7th) and I'm very happy to be in Kibale Forest. Nature is keeping me positive.

Uganda Travel Enquiry # 4

Thanks a lot for the updates and all the helpful information you have offered. Am planning to travel to Kampala in November just for leisure. Can that be possible with this Corona issue at hand? Any new updates please?

Monica, Kenya, 23rd August in response to MASH-tastic - the muzungu's bus tips from Kampala to Nairobi.

The Muzungu replied:

Unfortunately it's impossible to say what the situation is going to be like in November. As of this moment, I'm sure you are aware that Entebbe Airport and Uganda's borders all remain closed.

However - once you get here - public transport around Uganda is operating but taking fewer passengers (for a higher fee of course!)

The number of coronavirus infections hit a peak yesterday with 318 new cases reported and there are rumours that Kampala may go into lockdown again. I spoke to several friends in Kampala today and they've all advised me to stay away longer as most people aren't social distancing nor are they wearing masks properly, especially when you go downtown to the busiest areas. Let's hope coronavirus peaks quickly and you are able to travel here in November 2020.

I would advise you not to make any travel plans until you can be absolutely sure it's safe - and convenient - to travel. You wouldn't want to get here and then spend all your time in quarantine (at your expense!) Currently there is 14 days quarantine for those (very few) people who are coming into Uganda (on special repatriation flights etc).

You may also find these blogs helpful:

Bracing ourselves for Coronavirus in Uganda. Published March 2020 and updated regularly with lots of health advice about COVID-19 / Coronavirus and many useful links.

Advice from the US Embassy in Kampala: Now is the time to take precautions. Published August 2020.

Uganda's tourism private-sector demand airport reopening. Published August 2020.

Uganda Travel Enquiry # 5

Thank you so much for sharing your insights and experience.
After all the craziness of covid has passed, I'm planning to visit Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.
My questions are
1. How soon can I apply for an online East African Visa with Uganda as my first port of entry? Can I apply as early as three months before my planned departure from my home country?
2. With Uganda as the port of entry, how high is the success rate in obtaining an East African visa online? If an application is denied, what are the usual reasons for denial?

Paolo, August 21st in response to What is the east Africa Tourist Visa? A definitive guide.

The Muzungu replied:

Let me advise you based on recent past knowledge. I spoke to someone in Uganda Immigration today and I know things are working really slowly at the moment so we are all going to have to be patient (and bear in mind things may not work the way they did pre-pandemic).

1. Yes you can apply three months in advance. That is the maximum.

2. Regarding the success rate, I can't give you a figure. I think it's pretty straightforward to get it approved, in fact I haven't met anyone whose application has been denied. Once upon a time, Uganda (for example) would ask you to prove that you were planning to visit Rwanda and Kenya and would ask for itineraries or hotel confirmations showing 'onward travel' but that has not been happening recently.

When things were working normally, it would be quick to get tourist visa approval online (within one week). General reasons for a visa being declined are that you have not submitted all the forms that they have requested.

Hope that answers your questions. If not, ping me another message 🙂

Kenya Travel Enquiry

How long does it take to get East African Visa via Kenya online?

in response to What is the east Africa Tourist Visa? A definitive guide.

The Muzungu replied:

I could not find an exact answer to your question but I have been in contact with tour operator friends in Kenya who shared this:

Note that: "Kenyan immigration is advising that all passengers requiring visa to enter Kenya need to apply online. Visa application on arrival into Kenya will also be done online. Cash payments for visas on arrival will NOT be allowed. Visa cards will however be accepted."

Kenya High Commission in the UK issued a Communique on the resumption of international air travel to Kenya on 1st August 2020.

It states "All arriving passengers on international flights whose body temperature is NOT above 37.5° C (99.5°F); do NOT have a persistent cough, difficulty in breathing or other flu-like symptoms; have negative PCR based COVID - 19 test carried out within 96 hours before travel and are from countries considered low to medium risk COVID - 19 transmission areas shall be exempt from quarantine.

When can I travel to Uganda? Post-lockdown FAQsCOVID-19 Kenya travel restriction update July 2020. Apply online for Kenya visa. Criteria for self-quarantine at home

The communique lists "countries from which travelers will be exempt from quarantine" but (how up to date is that list?) Note that "review of countries will be undertaken by Ministry of Health on day to day basis... the risk profile of any country could change and therefore the status with regard to these clarifications and directives could also change."

Do you have questions about travel to Uganda and around East Africa during the pandemic? Do you have advice or experiences to share? If you want the latest travel advice, feel free to post a comment here or contact me directly. Things change daily... #staysafe

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