Hiking poles are a must for gorilla trekking
What to buy: To say that gorilla trekking is hard work is probably understating the case, and you'll be grateful for any help that you can get.
Perhaps the most useful prop that you can acquire is a trekking pole - an oversized variation on a walking stick theme, which allows you to stabilise yourself on steep ground, and gives you something firm (and insect-free) to lean against when you're trying to catch your breath.
Most responsible trekking operators should offer to loan you one of these, and my earnest advice is to gratefully accept assistance from whence it's offered. They also make unusual souvenirs (with significant 'pose value' if you use them on subsequent hiking trips), although they're not the easiest things in the world to transport - also beware of possible restrictions if you live in a country that has strict rules about impirting wooden items.
Hiking poles can be bought from most craft stalls - however, for sentimental reasons, we chose to buy the ones that we used on our trek from our lodge, as by then, they had become trusted friends!
Local malls and shops: Very chaotic but pretty nice experience
Everybody in Uganda is complaining that they have no money but than when you come around Nakasero Market there you will see huge crowds around where everybody is buying or selling something. Most of the merchandise is very low in quality and prices, most of it probably originating from China or India. There you could find shoes and cloths which nobody from Europe would even care to look at it. "Bata" brand is very popular in eastern Africa but shoes you could see in the shops are looking alike those from 50 years ago.
This people here are badly cheated for their small money and all traders should be very ashamed for what they are offering in local markets.
Ndere Cultural Centre: Wooden craftwork by Acholi people
I haven't seen any good souvenir shop in Kampala, most of the articles I saw around were of Chinese origins and I didn't like any of it. It was nice surprise seeing local craftworks exposed in the Ndere Cultural Centre. The lady there couldn't tell me where I could buy any of it but later on was told by other people that I should visit small villages in the countryside from where all this exsibits originally coming from.
Market stall: Get a shirt made
In every market across the country you will see banks of Ugandans crowded into small stalls or shops hunched over sawing machines franticly pedalling away at the manually powered and usually very ancient sawing machines. These women (it’s mainly women) are busy churning out school uniforms for kids as well elaborate African dresses made from exotic printed batiks that quite often are imported from The DRC. Very occasionally as a customer they get a Muzungu tourist with bad taste in shirts wanting to get a shirt run up in a piece of material that had caught his eye. Well that’s how it happened with me.
A piece of material did catch my eye so I inquired about the price of a shirt made from the finest vivid polyester. Evelyn the lovely lady who owned the stall in Gulu market told me that it would cost 10,000 for the material and 5,000 for the making of the shirt. I was still a bit undecided so Evelyn asked me how much I could afford I told her it was not the case of money but whether I needed a shirt or not. So I guess I could have got the shirt for cheaper than the 15,000 UGX which I agreed on. 15,000 UGX I though was an absolute bargain; in November 2010 the exchange rate made that less than £4.
Evelyn measured across the shoulders, the length, and length of arms and what she called my ‘bust’. I paid up front and was told to come the same time tomorrow to pick up the finished garment. A week or so later in another tailors in Kampala they said they would quite happily run up a shirt in half an hour. Brilliant service!
I was well made up with the resulting shirt
Stanbic Bank: MasterCard money
Stanbic Bank came to my rescue since my credit card company switched me to MasterCard from Visa.
Stanbic as far as I know are the only company in Uganda that you can receive money with a MasterCard credit card from an ATM. Thankfully there are Stanbic ATMs all over the country and not just attached to banks. In Kampala there are several stand alone enclosed ATM points comprising of two ATMs complete with an askari (security guard) outside.
If you can work out things from my iffy photo you will see the logos of the cards excepted by Stanbic.
Small shops, stalls, street wendors
Life is all but easy in Uganda, locals struggle day by day in order to survive because good piad job is only a dream for great majority of this people. Those with low education or none education at all cannot count on any job, therefore they open small shops or stalls selling everything what can be sell. Most of the shops or stalls are situated along the roads and look alike to this you can see on my pictures.
What to buy: It's hard to say because I never bought anything in this shops. Most of goods is of very low quality, even the fruits.
What to pay: Just in case, the prices are very affordable but the question is it worth to buy.
Equator stores: Bargaining on middle earth
Lots of touristy things to buy here - the drums aren't actually that bad but be careful of the size if you are flying!
Little tip - we hired a driver to get here and when bargaining for goods he often intervened and got us a better price than we could have hoped for. Just goes to show its no what you know....
On the road shops: Drums
This is not about a particular shop, if not about shops that are located along the roads near Kampala.
If you want to buy real hand-made drums, at very cheap prices related with the prices you'll find in tourist shops in Kampala, these are your shops.
And you'll have the opportunity to see as well, how the drums are made, as they build them there.
What to buy: Drums
What to pay: You can negotiate with them, but prices are so cheap that for me it is not fair to try to save a few euros, because for you a few euros are nothing, and for them is a lot.
UCHUMI, Garden City: Go West
Uchumi is Kampalas´ recent and most significant happening. It covers 5000sq. meters with products ranging from Foods and beverages, Fashion shops, sports activities or Restaurants.
Moreover it opens 24 * 7
What to buy: Foods and Bevareges, Sports articles, Toys, Clothes, name it
What to pay: $50 to 200
The National Theater Art & Craft Market
Pieces of valuable handicrafts are available at relatively low prices as compared to imported crafts, therefore don´t hesitate to snap at the chance. I ´ve been there and i can tell you, its worth it.
Remember, your bargaining power determines what you pay in the end. The vendors are very easy going and friendly.
What to buy: musical instruments, wood carvings, woven goods and pottery.
What to pay: $5 to $ 20
Don´t forget the rule of the game: bargain him down!!!!!!!
EVERYWHERE... OR NOT!: BARGAINING
As in many countries, it seems to be a price fopr the locals and a slighlty highly price for the tourists.... But, contrasting to other countries, prices in street markets for food and beverages are really cheap so I did not see the point of bargaining here. I mean... when you are asked 25 cents for a 33 cl. bottle of coke or 5 cents for a handful of onions.... should you bargain?
When buying souvenir and so on, bargaining is the rule, but the departing prices are not as high as it can happen in northern african countries and this also mean that bargaining is heavier than there. Don't expect to cut price down to 25% of the initial price here, I think 50% or even 60% of initial price is not a bad price to pay. What I would advice is to think first how much you want to pay and try... if you dont get the price and can go out of the outlet without anyone running after you... then is that the discount you wanted was too much :)
MASAKA ROAD: BEST PRICES FOR GIFTS
In the road in between Masaka and Kampala there is a sort of explanade with various gifts and souvenirs outlets which have better prices than Kampala outlets, even if the diversity here is quite limited and you won't find any really interesting art pieces , just standard cheap stuff to make presents for relatives.
AFRICAN THEATRE EXPLANADE, KAMPALA: ¿LOCAL? HANDCRAFTED STUFF
Trying to get some local handcrafted souvenirs is not an easy job in Uganda specially as most of the stuff sold in the markets (or the few touristic oriented places) is produced in Kenya, Tanzania and/or Congo but if you look for african art in general the prices are generally better than in neighbour countries (I found specially interesting the prices of amber statues).
Also don't think of Uganda as a country with the standard touristic shops. Apart of the lodge or luxurious hotels shops (expensive) and the airport outlets (more expensive) little else can be found with exception of what is found in the local markets, even if these are more orientated to food and textile, daily goods and elsewhere else ugandans need.
The best place to buy souvenirs is the explanade next to the African theatre in Kampala, where about 40 outlets (signaled by numbers) sell only stuff for toursits: masks, traditional art, paintings, and mostly everything you can find elsewhere in Uganda. The prices here are more expensive as in other parts in uganda but the variety is higher and you can find very interesting items. I recommend you to take a look to various shops (or all of them if have plenty of time) before deciding what you are gonna get as I said before near all shops have a nice diversity of goods that might vary a lot. If you look for something specific don't hesitate about asking vendors in which outlet you can find them (by the number).
Kampala - Owino Market
You can buy anything here in this chaotic place, there are huge sections for shoes, bags,... It's a big hassle though and I was very annoyed by the venders, they even went touching me, so I didn't stay here long...
Peacock Fashions: Living Colours
Africa in general is known for its colourfulness and if you happen to be there then don´t miss the chance of joining the caravan.
You can purchase excellent value for money.
What to buy: beautifully tailored Hand made ware.
If you want to stay in a luxurious hotel in Kampala, here it is. The Sheraton is located in some...more
Ternan Avenue, Entebbe, KM, UG
Good for: Solo
Looking over the Taxi Park in Arua is the Rippons Motel. This building or two buildings of several...more
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