Uganda: What Should Be in Your Bag?

Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda, Africa

[Pal Teravagimov]/[iStock]/Thinkstock

I’m sitting at the airport waiting to board a flight that will take me from Los Angeles to Istanbul and then onto Entebbe, Uganda. Though I’m still down to one bag, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve overpacked yet again. Aside from my passport and wallet, here are the only absolutely crucial things I wouldn’t leave home without on this trip.

Mosquito Net
Probably won’t need this one, but if I don’t bring it, I’ll wish I had. Murphy’s Law. If you’re staying exclusively in hotels, this is not something you probably need to worry about. However, I’m not sure where exactly I’m headed yet so I opted to throw a net in my bag. Better to have it and not use it than to need it and not have it. Though, you should be able to find one there if you really need one. Since I have one lying around the house, it’s going in.

International Certificate of Vaccinations
Though having all recommended vaccinations is…well…recommended, the one you really want to make sure you’ve got before you head to this part of the world is your yellow fever shot. Make sure to head to your local travel clinic to get your shot at least 10 days before your departure. They’ll add that stamp to your international certificate of vaccinations, which you’ll want to bring with you in case anyone asks for it as you enter the country.

Sleeping Bag Liner
I’m heading to Uganda in January, one of the warmest months to visit the country. Because I’m not exactly sure about accommodations and because I don’t feel like lugging around a sleeping bag in my Venturesafe 32L, I threw in a silk sleeping bag liner instead. Small, lightweight, and easy to pack, a sleeping bag liner basically acts as a travel sheet that you can use in warmer climates or in areas where you’re not sure you’ll be provided a sheet. If you’re bouncing from hostel to hostel, this item is well worth the 40-60 bucks. You can find them online for as little as twenty so make sure to shop around.

Water Purification Tablets
Drink bottled water wherever possible, but a package of water purification tablets is so light and small that you might as well throw it in your toiletry bag to use in case of dubious water. Read here for more tips on treating drinking water.

Malaria Pills
There are a number of pills on the market so which ones do you pick? Well, you’ll have to check with your doctor on that one, but I opted for Chloroquine. Yeah, the side effects include increased sensitivity to sun exposure, which isn’t exactly a good thing when headed to Africa, but it’s the cheapest and simplest option. Also, my travel doctor told me not to take Lariam because I’m a Cancer and water signs don’t react well to the emotional imbalance caused by this medication. I, um, live in Berkeley.

Hiking Boots
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, anyone? Ok, how about Sipi Falls? Either way, I’m going to be doing some hiking to see some amazing wildlife. Hiking boots are a must.

By Nikki Hodgson