Frequently Asked Questions and Travel Tips in Uganda and East Africa Safaris
Zimbo Safaris Uganda finds it necessary to answer the most frequently asked questions and also provide travel tips to all travelers around the world to help them to know more and guide them as they plan for a vacation in Uganda depending on their interests.Below are some of the highlighted Frequently asked Questions as well as Travel tips crafted by Zimbo Safaris Uganda.
1.Where is Uganda Found?
Uganda is a landlocked country found in East Africa. It was named the Pearl of Africa by WINSTON CHURCHILL for its magnificence water sources, the diverse landscape and the beautiful nature. Uganda has a population of 42.86 million local people according to the Statistics made by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics in 2017.Ugandans peaceful people and have the best hospitality towards travelers who come to Uganda. They depend on Agriculture due the fertile soils and the favorable climates that support farming and the crops grown in Uganda include, Arabic Coffee,cotton,tea,sugarcanes,Banana locally known as matooke,Millet,sorghum,Maize,sweet and Irish potatoes among others.
Uganda experiences a warm tropical climate that ranges from 25-29 c (77-84 F) with the hottest days in December to February and most regions of Uganda apart from the North have an annual rainfall of between 1000mm and 1500mm.There is heavy rain between March and May and between September and November making road transport difficult in some parts of the country, However the best time for trekking is during the dry seasons between January to February and June to August. Wildlife viewing is best at the end of the dry season when animals concentrate around the shores.
2.How Do i get to Uganda?
Uganda has its main entry point for flights into the nation at Entebbe International Airport It is located near the town Entebbe about 46km from the capital city of the country (Kampala).The airport works 24/7 and it is so reliable for all travelers who wish to visit Uganda the pearl of Africa. Transportation with in the country is mostly done by the Vehicles commonly known as Taxis where the tour operator will collect you from the airport or hotel and they will arrange further transportation as part of your Safari package. Below is the Visa link to enable you acquire the Ugandan Visa. Uganda – https://visas.immigration.go.ug
3.How Safe is Uganda?
Uganda is ranked among the safest, with good political stability,a strong united security force,and above all the pleasing hospitable citizens. Uganda is free from wars and internal conflicts which makes it safe to visit at any time thus rated as one of the safest country in Africa having 99% of visitors who come and leave the country without any instability incident.
4.What is the Best Time to Travel to Uganda?
Uganda has two seasons that is to say the dry seasons which occur in December and January to March and June up to September. Dry months are the most popular with tourists mostly in June- August; New Year’s being the peak seasons. Rainfalls in October – November, April-May but this does not mean that it rains the whole day or every day, the weather is just favorable because it can rain in the morning and in there comes sunshine in the afternoon meaning immediately after it stops raining sunshine begins.The wet season is loved by Gorilla permits so one does not need to mind about the weather because it is favorable.
5.Are Vaccinations Necessary for my Visit to Uganda?
Yes vaccinations are necessary for your visit to Uganada. The following vaccines are recommended before you travel to Uganda; Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Yellow fever, Rabies, Meningitis, Influenza and Cholera. This was recommended by the World Health Organization. (WHO)
However,a Yellow fever card vaccination is a must have for every traveler who wishes to travel to Uganda
6.What are the Travel Requirements?
For any one interested in visiting Uganda (the pearl of Africa) is obligated to have the following requirements ;Passport, VISA, travel insurance,Yellow fever card, foreign currency and air ticket.
7.What Transport do you Offer?
The main means of transport are the small minibuses (vehicles) which are commonly used in Uganda and known as Taxis which carry a capacity of 14 people and low prices. Nationally they are noticed by their blue chequered markings.The other means is known as Bodaboda which is convenient for the last few kilometers and they are the cheapest for distances of few kilometer.however,Airport taxis have now been introduced and they are always available and ready for any airport pick up and drop off.
8.How are the Accommodations?
Uganda has got three categories of accommodation facilities that differ in service provision,these are Budget/backpackers accommodation,Mid-range accommodation and Luxury/Up market accommodations. These accommodations are either hotels or Safari lodges.Hotels are usually found in towns and capital cities well as Safari lodges are found in up country.
9.Where are Mountain Gorillas Found?
Uganda’s mountain Gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National park in southwestern Uganda. Bwindi has half the number of mountain gorillas remaining in the whole world. Bwindi is the only national park in the world where chimps co-exist with mountain Gorillas. To track Uganda’s mountain gorillas, One must acquire a gorilla permit that costs of USD600.00 per person, per trek.Mgahinga National Park is the other Park where Uganda gorillas are found. It is one of the parks in the virunga ranges shared between Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC.
10.What is Gorilla Tracking?
Gorilla tracking is an activity whereby a group of tourists/people go searching for Gorillas in the wild (not actual dictionary definition). Gorilla trekking is currently available in three African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo. The process of seeing these Gorillas involves hiking or trekking in the forest in search for the rare Mountain Gorillas. One needs to acquire a Gorilla permit for Bwindi National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park or Virunga National Park to be able to see these Mountain Gorillas. The process of Gorilla trekking normally starts with an early morning briefing at a respective park offices, then a hike or walk into the forest following the trail used by Mountain Gorillas and once found, you spend only one hour with the Mountain Gorillas. You will then return back and be offered a certificate as a soveniour. The trek itself may take from 30 minutes to three quarters of the day but once you find Gorillas, you are allowed to spend only one hour with them.
11.How Many People are Allowed to track a Gorilla family per trek?
A maximum number of 8 people are allowed to trek or visit a given Gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla and Volcanoes National Parks. Bwindi National park has about 16 habituated Gorilla families and thus each family is allowed only 8 people/trackers per day for one hour. Sometimes park management is forced to have more than 8 people depending on circumstances on ground. If such happens, the park authorities will explain. When it comes to Gorilla habituation, its only 4 people that are around to spend four hours with Mountain Gorillas under habituation.
12.What are Chances of seeing Mountain Gorillas?
The most asked question about Gorilla trekking is the chances of seeing the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda. We are glad to confirm that chances of seeing Gorillas in the either in Bwindi National Park or Volcanoes National Park is 98%. Many tourists tend to book two or more Gorilla treks in the fear that they may fail to see the Gorillas on the first trek and therefore may be lucky with the second trek. The truth of the matter is that Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda has a special organized way in that there is an advanced team of trackers/National park rangers who wake up every morning to find where these Gorillas are. Once they find them, they will then communicate to the park headquarters and your ranger guide of the day of the where about of these Gorillas. You will then start your trek from where the Gorillas would have spent the previous night up to when you find them. The advanced team will keep communicating with you guide to make sure you don’t get lost. If the Gorilla family in question keeps moving very fast, communication will be made and should they feel that you cannot cope with the speed, the park authorities may decide to take you to another family.
13.What is Gorilla Habituation?
Gorilla habituation experience is another way of spending more time with the mountain gorillas of Uganda. Gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an initiative aimed at giving tourists who have extreme passion for the gorillas more time with them to create more photographic memories.Gorilla habituation experience permit goes at a higher cost of USD1500.00 per trek in the southern part of Bwind Impenetrable National Park and each gorilla family under habituation is visited by a maximum number number of 4 people. Contact Zimbo Safaris Uganda about gorilla habituation experience safaris
14.What is a Gorilla Permit?
A gorilla permit is a document or card issued by ORTPN, Rwanda Development Board or Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) that allows any traveler above 15 years of age to trek mountain gorillas in any of the three habitats – Bwindi Impenetrable national Park, Mgahinga National Park (Uganda) and Volcanoes National Park in( Rwanda). A permit allows you to view gorillas for only one hour but the gorilla trekking itself can take a minimum of 30 minutes or up to nine hours while looking for gorillas in the forest.
Our Gorilla Permit Booking Information is aimed at providing you details to prepare well for your gorilla safari
15.What is Included in a Gorilla permit?
A Gorilla permit allows you stay for one hour with mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda or Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Included in the Gorilla permit are park entry fees for the respective parks, services of National park guide and armed rangers for your safety who will escort you to the forest Uganda will ensure that you secure permits in advance.
16.How Much is a Gorilla Permit in Uganda and Rwanda?
A gorilla permit in Uganda costs USD $600 per person- per trek and USD1500.00 for gorilla habituation experience permits.A gorilla permit can only be used once (single day), by a single person and to trek Uganda gorillas in only two destinations, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and MgahingaNational park.
Buy your gorilla permits or secure your gorilla permit in Kampala (the capital of Uganda) at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) headquarters by paying USD 600.00 per person for foreign non residents, USD 500.00 for foreign residents with working permits and sh250,000 for East African Citizens. We organize all inclusive safaris to see gorillas.
In Rwanda you can get permits through the Rwanda Development Board offices (ORTPN) in Kigali or Ruhengeri (near the PNV) after paying USD 1500.00.per person-per trek.
17.How Do i Acquire A Gorilla Permit?
Please contact us and share the date/month and year when you want to trek gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda, we will check availability of gorilla permits at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and inform you. We will send you and invoice and once you have transferred you funds on to our account, we will pre purchase your permits and send you scanned copies.
To help us do this, you need to send us your passport details which are needed by Uganda Wildlife Authority in order to print and issue your gorilla permits.
With all the Gorilla Permit Booking Information at your finger tips, we would like to interest you in some of our tailor-made gorilla trekking tour packages that many of our travellers have rated highly. Because hundreds of our travellers have rated our tours highly, we’re able to get you low rates on many high end Lodges, transportation and getting a gorilla permit is so easy for our team.
18.When Should i Book my Gorilla Permit?
You are always advised to book your Gorilla permit at least three months in advance due to high demand most especially in the high season. Gorilla permits also tend to sell out quickly since more tourist track mountain Gorillas in Uganda since Rwanda doubled the price of its mountain Gorilla permit to USD1500. Contact us at Great Adventures Uganda for more information.
19.Is A Gorilla Permit Reusable?
Note that a gorilla permit is not reusable in After tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda, you need to take note about the gorilla permit you will be holding because it will determine the Region in which you will trek gorillas and the accommodation lodge. Unlike other mountain gorilla National Parks, Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park has four sections and thus each section has its own gorilla families and accommodation properties.
These are the four sections of Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park.
Its recommended to follow the Gorilla Permit Booking Information before confirming any accommodation because the sector allocated on your Gorilla permit determines the accommodation to comfirm.
The above sections have there own gorilla groups or families and for those interested in trekking given section should contact and inform us more of their intrests so that we act accordingly while booking your gorilla permit.
Note that gorilla family allocation happens on the day of trekking where tourists are grouped depending on their physical abilities and interest. You will need to express your interest so that they allocate you a gorilla group that will help you achieve it. For more information and gorilla permit booking and allocation, do contact us.
20.How long Does Gorilla Tracking take?
Mountain Gorilla tracking experience can take from thirty minutes to three quarters of the day so one needs to prepare for both and also requires a certain level of fitness. This depends on several factors that include, mountain Gorilla movements, where the gorillas stayed the previous night and the mood of the gorillas. It may also depend on the people in your group since the guides/rangers move following the slowest person in the group.Zimbo Safaris Uganda is happy to provide all relevant advice.
21.What is Age Limit for Tracking Mountain Gorillas?
The age limit of Mountain Gorilla tracking in Uganda-Rwanda and golden monkey tracking is 15 years. The authorities are very strict on this, so kindly make sure all clients and children are 15 or older in order to avoid any sad incidents like guest(s) kids being refused to track.The age limit for trekking Chimpanzees in Uganda is 12 years old and children 10 years and older are allowed to trek golden monkeys in Rwanda as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Children under 15 years are allowed to Dian Fossey’s tomb although the hike is very stiff so we do not recommend that either to children under 12-13 years old.
22.What Should i pack for Gorilla tracking experience?
All what you need is to prepare very well for your gorilla tracking experience, we advise you to park long pants, long sleeved shirts or blouses, long socks to enable you tack in your trousers, garden gloves, a hat, sun glasses, hiking boots, insect repellents and some energy giving foods with a small rack sack for carrying your parked lunch and drinking water.
23.How many Gorilla Families are in Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park?
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has managed to habituate 5 gorilla families in Rushaga sector than any other sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Rushaga gorilla families that are ready to for tracking include; Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye and Bweza. This translates in 40 gorilla permits available for booking daily. Therefore chances of getting gorilla permits for your Rushaga gorilla tour are higher than in other regions with fewer gorilla families. Zimbo Safaris Uganda offers you all the necessary assistance in acquiring the gorilla permit and we also make reservations for you and advise you according to you interests.
24.What is the Best Time to Track Mountain Gorillas?
All clients/tourists want to get the best experience and value for money for their Gorilla tours in either Rwanda or Uganda. The “Frequently Asked questions” that comes in is –When is the best time for Gorilla tracking? Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda can be tracked throughout the year, dry months of June, July, and August to early-September and then December up to February are the most preferably months. There is always no guarantee that it would not rain because Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a tropical rain forest and its climate is influenced by micro weather conditions of the area. Uganda Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Gorilla permits are at USD600. Per permit per trek well as Rwanda Volcanoes National Park are at USD1500. Per permit per trek.
25.Does Rwanda have Discounted Gorilla Permits?
Rwanda still offers discounted Gorilla permits or Low season discounted Gorilla permits in Low season months of May and November though Uganda abolished low season discounted gorilla permits in 2017. The condition for benefiting from Rwanda discounted Gorilla permits is that you have two book at least three more days in one of the Rwanda’s National Park. These National Parks include Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park. Rwanda discounted Gorilla permits costs USD1050.00 per person per trek to trek Rwanda Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The 1050.00 includes Volcanoes Park entry fees for Volcanoes National Park, watching mountain Gorilla for one hour with habituated mountain Gorillas and services of well-trained gorilla rangers or guide.
26.Is it Possible to track Mountain Gorillas in Uganda through Kigali?
It is possible to trek Bwindi Gorillas Uganda through Rwanda by flying to Kigali International airport. By flying through Kigali International Airport, one is able to reduce the drive time to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to 5-6 hours compared to if one uses Entebbe International Airport where the drive takes you 9-10hours from Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. With the introduction of the East African tourist visa, one can now visit both Uganda and Rwanda without hassle. The good news also is that one can now apply for Rwanda Visa upon arrival something that is making the process of obtaining Rwanda visa easy. East African tourist visa costs USD100.00 and allows you to visit three east African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. Contact Zimbo Safaris Uganda for details about Bwindi Gorilla safaris/tours through Kigali international Airport in Rwanda.