A safari tour to Uganda is without doubt an experience of a lifetime when you book any of our Uganda safari packages or when we help you custom-build the safari you like.

When you land in the beautiful Pearl to start your Uganda gorilla safari, primate safari, birding safari or wildlife adventure safari, the last thing on your mind is a medical emergency! However, there is no rock-solid guarantee that nothing can go wrong!

Going forward, our partnership with the Flying Doctors’ Society of Africa means that we will recommend our clients to take out travel insurance.

This will be such that should you require urgent medical assistance during your safari to Uganda, you need to make sure that your medical care is well arranged and fully covered.

In conjunction with the Flying Doctors’ Society of Africa, Uzuri Uganda Safaris offers you the opportunity to register for a med-evac insurance Tourist Evacuation scheme. The med-evac cover gives you access to emergency air evacuation whenever its required and wherever you are with all emergency evacuation costs covered 100%.

This covers the whole of East Africa, including Rwanda and Burundi. Travelers going for Gorilla safaris, to Zanzibar, to Southern Tanzania or to North Eastern Uganda are all covered by the 1000 kilometre radius that the cover offers. This cover is for short periods ranging from 2 weeks to 2 months.

Flying Doctors Society of Africa.

The Society is a fundraising organization that has been in existence for over fourty years. We raise funds specifically to finance medical outreach work in Africa. We do so by, among other things, selling membership and shop merchandise.

All our members are entitled to free unlimited air ambulance evacuations in case of a medical emergency while in East Africa and two ground ambulance evacuations in Kenya.

We co-ordinate all emergency calls and evacuations through our 24hr radio room guaranteeing all our members a fast, reliable and effective evacuation response.

The costs are as follows;

1000km radius – covers – (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania Rwanda and Burundi) $30 for 14days and $50 dollars for two months

Why register for Tourist Evacuation Scheme?

Supporting a charity

If you have been registered for the Tourist Evacuation Scheme but do not need evacuation after all, consider that you have given back to help medical services reach disadvantaged people who cannot afford medical care in East Africa. The Flying Doctors Society of Africa funds Medical Outreach Programmes in Africa. The objective of this is to treat patients who would not otherwise have access to the care they need and to train local health teams in extremely rural areas to carry out this work themselves in the future.

The Medical Outreach Programmes serve more than 150 rural hospitals in the eastern Africa region.

Who benefits?

The principle beneficiaries of the Outreach projects are poor disadvantaged patients living in remote rural areas of Eastern Africa, together with their families, and the communities in which they live. It is estimated that 30 million people living in the rural parts of Eastern Africa covered by the services benefit from the programme indirectly.

How the programme works

The Programme takes specialist surgeons to areas where there are no communications, limited medical services and little or no surgical services.

For more information about FDSA, please visit their website: http://www.flyingdoctorsafrica.org/

 

I don’t know about you, but I can spend hours day-dreaming about my next travel destination. All it takes to get me started is a few minutes spent scrolling through the seemingly endless array of travel-themed accounts on Instagram. But, there is a story that those wanderlust photos don’t tell you. That story is the planning that went into traveling to that destination.

Deciding that you want to go on a safari in Uganda is the easy part. I mean, how cool would it be to visit the source of the Nile River or live a real-life adventure by tracking gorillas in misty mountains? This is the stuff that adventure and wanderlust are made of!

But, if we’re being honest here, the planning needed to make sure that you get the most of your travels can be quite taxing. Thankfully, we have the all-knowing oracle (the internet) to provide us with all of the answers to our questions. However, it can be time-consuming to sort through all of the information and pick and choose what is truly necessary.

So, to help save you time planning your safari adventure, we’ve put together the only guide you’ll ever need for traveling in Uganda.

From best time of year to visit and visa information to the vaccines needed and the safaris you cannot miss, we’ve got you covered. When you’ve finished reading, you’ll want to bookmark this page!

Why Visit Uganda?

There is a reason why this country is regarded the ‘Pearl of Africa’. You don’t need to look very hard for reasons to want to travel here, but we thought we could share a few anyway.

Uganda packs a lot into one small country and, unlike Kenya and Tanzania, it is still pretty under-the-radar, meaning you will escape the crowded tourism. Traveling here can go from days spent climbing the ice-capped Rwenzori Mountains to spotting rare animals while trekking through tropical forests and even white water rafting on the Nile.

But, it is more than just an amazing destination for adventure addicts. This beautiful East African country is situated in a basin between the eastern and western branches of the Rift Valley, giving it an amazingly warm year-round climate that is perfect for lazing on beautiful beaches and reconnecting with nature through yoga.

The Basics

Now that you know that Uganda is your next travel destination, let’s cover some of the basics:

Best Time of year to visit

This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when planning. Thanks to its pleasant temperatures, Uganda is a year-round destination. But, of course, there are peak and low seasons that can make the world of a difference when taking crowds and budget into consideration.

Generally speaking, December/January through to mid-March, and from June through to mid-September are peak tourist seasons thanks to the drier climate. However, if you’re looking to go on a budget safari, then consider traveling during the wetter time of year.

Most rain falls in October-November and April-May, and you might see quite a drop in the cost of going on a safari, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy it. Low season means fewer crowds and more wildlife viewing.

Top Tip: Traveling during the wetter months also means easy availability of gorilla permits.

Budget

The cost of traveling is one of the biggest concerns for many people and one of the most common misconceptions is that the further you go, the more expensive it is.

The good news is that, depending on what your travel style is, you can still have an amazing holiday without breaking the bank. Generally, flights are the most expensive part of traveling but there are plenty of ways to find cheaper flights to almost every destination.

Personally speaking, I prefer to go for all-inclusive packages so that minor costs such as airport transfers and every day meals and drinks are taken care of. But, if winging it is more your style, then here is a little breakdown of a few of the basics:

Dorm bed: US$12–20

Double room in a budget hotel: US$30–50

Street-food snack: US$1–2
Meal in a good local restaurant: US$10–20

Bottled water: US$ 0.28
Local beer: US$1

What You Should Know Before You Go

Visas

All persons entering Uganda require a visa, which usually costs around US$50. Although it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival, the Ugandan embassy highly recommends applying for one online before your travels.

Here’s a little breakdown of the basic requirements:

For a single-entry tourist visa, you’ll need:

Passport copy
Recent Passport-size Photograph
Vaccination Certificate (Yellow Fever)
Copy of recent Passport size Photograph
Travel itinerary/Return Ticket

Top Tip: There are no banks, ATMs or Forex bureaus before immigration. So keep some cash on you while traveling

Vaccines and medications

While traveling to Tanzania, I vividly remember arriving at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport and watching young travelers being refused entry because they didn’t have a yellow fever certificate.

Vaccines are definitely one of the most vital parts of travel planning, and you want to make sure that you have all the needed documentation. If you’re traveling to Uganda, you will require vaccinations for hepatitis A, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and meningococcus.

Another common ailment among travelers to this region is travelers’ diarrhea, so be sure to pack medications to keep on hand in case you become ill.

Currency

The local currency is the Ugandan shilling (USh) and there is an abundance of ATMS available in the cities. If your home currency is US dollars, then you’re in luck as these are widely accepted, especially in small towns.

Top Tip: If you’re using dollars, try to avoid bills printed before 2006, as often they’re not accepted due to a higher risk of them being counterfeit.

On the Ground

So, your bags are packed, tickets are booked, and now you’re counting down the days until you travel. It’s a pretty exciting time and can also be a little daunting if you don’t quite know what to expect when you hit the ground.

The Locals and language

Although there has been plenty of negative hype about the region’s LGBT bill in the news, Uganda is one of the most tourist friendly African countries to visit! So much so, that Winston Churchill even wrote about it after his trip back in 1907.

Of course, there are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while traveling through Uganda. For example, it is seen as a sign of respect to engage with elderly people of the community, dress modestly and always ask for permission when taking photos of people.

Public affection is also a sensitive issue here. While you may see men holding hands with other men, this is known as a sign of friendship. In general, kissing in public or other signs of affection even with your spouse are frowned upon.

Useful phrases:

‘Hello’: Oli otya
‘I don’t know’ : Simanye
Do you speak English?’: Omanyi olungereza?
Please’: Mwattu
Thank you’: Weebale

Where to Go on Safari in Uganda

Now for the fun part! There is so much to see and do in Uganda that planning your itinerary can be a little overwhelming. To make this process a little easier, we have put together our favorite wildlife safaris in Uganda:

3 Days Gorilla Express Tour and Safari

This is, perhaps, my favorite safari because it checks all the boxes. Most people today don’t get to explore the world because of time and money, but this safari takes care of that. It is easy on the wallet, not too long, and allows you to get up close and personal with Uganda’s gorillas.

While on this thrilling safari, you will spend three days in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which is home to half of the endangered mountain gorillas in the world, and you will have a chance to meet the region’s royal drum makers.

2. 7 Days Uganda Safari Tour

One week may not seem like much, but this exhilarating safari is packed full of adventurous tours and wildlife viewing. How does seven days of waterfall showers in Murchison Falls, views of River Nile, Big Five game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park and rhino tours in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, sound to you?

The best part about it is that your entire itinerary is taken care of, from airport transfers to accommodation, meals and all tours. All you need to do is arrive ready for adventure!

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There you have it. All the information you need to have an epic adventure is right in front of you! So what are you waiting for? Go on an exhilarating safari in Uganda!

Habituation of two gorilla groups complete

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has announced the addition of two new gorilla families/groups that are now available for tourists who safari to Uganda for a gorilla tracking/trekking – bringing the number to 17 up from 15.

According to a public statement that the conservation authority has issued, the addition of the two families follows the successful habituation of Katwe group in the Buhoma sector and Christmas group in the Nkuringo sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Big demand for gorilla permits

The new development comes at a time when tour operators are stuck with visitors intending to go for a gorilla safari but are hampered by the unavailability of permits – having already sold out! As things stood before the new additions, all August and September permits had been sold out.

In the public statement, UWA made the point saying “we have received overwhelming demand for gorilla permits during the past 3 months.”

The overwhelming demand over the last three months of what is considered the peak season has been partially occasioned by the fact that many tourists and indeed tour operators in Rwanda have been forced to book Uganda gorillas for their customers because of the increased permit price in Rwanda.

Because gorilla permits are generally booked in advance, tour operators have been risking – taking especially safari goers who have been making bookings at short notice to Bwindi in the hope of purchasing permits that become available when tourists that booked them cancel at the last minute.

No betting on gorilla permit availability

UWA said that when such permits have not materialized, tour operators who took the risk of betting on availability have been placing a lot of pressure on UWA to provide permits even when there has been no availability.

In order to address this need, we have increased the number of gorilla families for tracking from 15 to 17, following the successful habituation of Katwe group in Buhoma and Christmas group in Nkuringo.

Tour operators/ safari companies have been requested by UWA to always liase with the reservations office in Kampala before travelling to Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks to avoid being turned away due to unavailability of permits.

In the same vein, tour operators have been discouraged from carrying cash and making on the spot reservations in Bwindi. While the practice of paying cash on the ground in Bwindi or Mgahinga has been discouraged, UWA has said it will be authorized in limited and exceptional cases.

Permits booked at UWA HQ

Visitors or their agents have been advised to book their gorilla permits through the UWA reservations office at the Headquarters in Kampala.

However, a small window has been given to tour operators and individuals who had already booked through the UWA offices in Bwindi and Mgahinga to pay at headquarters and continue to track. Going forward, payment on the day of tracking is possible but has been discouraged.

UWA has also announced that they are working on developing an improved full cashless system for payment of permits and the other services they offer. “Once this is concluded in the next few months, the public will be informed,” reads the statement in part.

Once in a lifetime Uganda safari tour

John and Jerry are Australians who are planning a 30th anniversary trip for a Uganda safari in April next year.

They have chosen to travel to Uganda (having been on safari in Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia before) for two reasons – they want to do a habituation experience with the chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park as well as two gorilla treks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

This is a once in a lifetime Uganda safari tour for the elderly couple – John is 65 and Jerry is 62! They are healthy and fit given that they are avid hikers.

At this stage, they have finalized everything to do with the itinerary (includes hotel reservations, permits for both chimps and gorillas etc) on the ground in Uganda, their biggest challenge are the flight connections to Uganda.

The shortcomings to travel

All the options they are looking at from Perth to Entebbe include a lot of connecting flights with long lay-overs in airports across the world and they arrive at an un-godly hour in Entebbe – 4.00am aboard Turkish Airways to be exact!

The easier option is to fly to Uganda via South Africa but that does not seem to work because they have to be back home in Australia 9 days later. If they take the South Africa option, they will be back home eleven days later and as such they have chosen the option that connects through Istanbul.

In light of the scenarios above, the presence of an efficient Uganda Airlines with interline agreements with some of the major airlines in John and Jerry’s part of the world would make life easier.

It would mean that Jerry and Linda would probably do one hop from Perth to say Guangzhou and then onto a Uganda Airlines flight direct to Entebbe and vice versa. That way they do not have to take tiring detours and stops in different places not to mention the price of a ticket.

The return of Uganda Airlines

News this week that Uganda Airlines is making a comeback will be a welcome boon for people like Jerry and Linda and a lot more prospective safari goers intending to visit Uganda. No doubt the presence of a Uganda Airlines will be good for safaris to Uganda.

It means that potential travelers choosing between Uganda and other destinations when comparing prices will make safari holidays to Uganda as competitive when compared to destinations like South Africa, Botswana, Kenya etc.

Regionally, the return of Uganda Airlines with a focus on regional travel is also expected to add serious appeal to destination Uganda.

Why? Today, a tourist intending to combine a Tanzania or Kenya safari with an experience to see the primates/great apes of Uganda has to pay a lot of money for a connecting flight from Nairobi or Serengeti/Arusha.

A new hope

At Uzuri Uganda Safaris, we are positive the expensive air ticket from Arusha or Nairobi has put off many a potential traveler who would have loved to add a visit to Uganda and as a result, we have all lost out on that income/revenue.

Currently, we are talking to a potential customer who wants to do a double Gorilla trek in Uganda in April 2019 as an add-on to their safari in Tanzania.

Jim and his family want to fly from the Serengeti to Entebbe International Airport and be in time for their domestic connecting flight to Kihihi in the viscinity of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

They do not want to spend a night in Entebbe – they want to arrive in Entebbe and straight away fly to Bwindi! This will mean that they can squeeze the gorilla tracking experience into the time they have available!

While there is a regional airline that will make the connection between Serengeti and Entebbe possible, it is clear that if Uganda Airlines returned and plugged these gaps with cheaper air tickets and many frequencies (with strategic and aggressive marketing by the other tourism stakeholders), destination Uganda would attract more safari goers interested in two or three-country visits.