1. Decide Where to Go
With 10 National Parks and 4 Wildlife Reserves to choose from, deciding where to go in Uganda can be quite a roller coaster. The first step is to determine the kind of safari vacation you want or the specific things you’d like to see.
Are you looking for a wildlife safari experience? Then perhaps Queen Elizabeth NP or Murchison Falls NP are the right destinations for you and if you want to discover great ancient cultures perhaps Karamoja in the north or Kidepo Valley national park may be more of dream destination, and For a primate wildlife safari jungle trekking experience, consider the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (home of the mountain gorillas), Mgahinga national park where silver meets gold or kibale national park “the chimp capital” where you can meet our tree-dwelling cousin the chimpanzees for chimp trekking.
If you’re an avian friend looking to tick off your birding list, Entebbe near Lake Victoria and western Uganda should be where you go birding. For fascinating city culture and adventure, Kampala city or Jinja town (where you’ll find the source of the Nile) will keep you awake throughout the night.
If you’re traveling with small children who can’t take prophylactics, you will probably need to avoid Uganda, where malaria looms, especially in the low altitudes where mosquitoes breed profusely. Otherwise, Uganda is excellent for a family trip.
Top 10 Destination in Uganda
2. Decide When to Go
Once you’ve chosen your destination, the next step is to decide when to travel. Uganda has two travel seasons that most travelers consider; the Dry season and Rainy Season.
Usually, the dry season is better for most Uganda safari trips. The Dry season (June through to September) is the best time for gorilla trekking adventures because the forest floors are less damp, trails are passable, and you’re sure you and your photography equipment will not get drenched in the torrential downpours. However, it would be best if you didn’t rule out rain because you’ll be hiking in a rainforest.
The wildlife savannah reserves during the dry season, skies are clear, less rain, more sunshine, and vegetation is less distracting for wildlife photography. At this time, the animals gather around main water holes, making wildlife easier to spot. The dry season is the best time to take that boat launch safari on Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth NP and on Victoria Nile in Murchison Falls NP.
If work commitments or school breaks, or world health concerns (like COVID-19) mean you’re restricted to traveling at certain times of the year, you may want to tackle this step before deciding on your destination.
Detailed recommendations on when to go.
Best Weather, Climate & Attractions Recommendations
3. Book Your Tour Activities and Lodging
Next, you need to decide whether you’re going to travel solo or with the help tour guide. If you opt for an all-inclusive guided safari, your tour operator should organize details like accommodations (high-end, mid-range, budget facilitates depending your choice) and tours for you.
Even if you decide to book everything yourself, you’ll probably have to arrange treks and safaris through a specialized local safari company (unless you’re taking a self-game drive in easy destinations like Lake Mburo NP or Queen Elizabeth NP).
At Jamie jungle safaris we are the best local tour operators to give you a great experience in tailoring, planning and drafting your safari itinerary. We have been operating Ugandan expeditions since 2019. And we partner with local service providers like hotels, lodges, national parks, petrol stations, restaurants, and even other local tour operators to offer you the best safari holiday in the pearl of Africa.
Get in touch with us as early as a year beforehand to tailor the holiday of your dreams, and it’s a good idea to book your gorilla permit well in advance because seeing the mountain giants is limited to eight trekkers per habituated gorilla group.
4. Book Your Flights
Depending on where you’re flying from, flights to Uganda can be expensive, and a limited number of carriers often means that seats fill up quickly. For the best rates, book as far in advance as possible.
If you have air miles, make sure to check whether the corresponding airline flies to Entebbe International Airport, EBB (Uganda’s only international Airport); if not, use a flight comparison website like Skyscanner.com to guarantee the lowest fare.
Try to communicate your international flights with us when booking, so the ground handlers or first night hotel will be responsible for arranging airport transfers or Jamie jungle safaris company representative.
5. Buy Travel Insurance
By this time in the planning process of your safari trip to Uganda, you’ll have invested a significant amount of money—in flights, tours, and your accommodation. It would be best if you had protection at this point. Travel insurance is essential, especially in Africa, where airlines cancel flights without warning regularly, and state hospitals are not places you want to end up after an emergency.
Besides medical costs, your insurance should cover trip cancellation, loss of valuables, baggage loss, or theft. If you’re headed to a particularly remote spot, make sure that your insurance covers medical evacuation as well.
6. Check Your Visa Requirements
Several months before your departure date, make sure to check with your consulate whether you need a visa. This will be determined based on your nationality, not on your country of residence. Uganda visa rules change at any time, so it’s important to check with an official government source rather than relying on advice given by outdated travel websites.
Uganda’s immigration allows you to purchase a visa upon arrival, but also you can apply online in advance from your home country. Even if you don’t need a visa, there may be some special requirements for your passport; like entering Uganda, your passports should be valid for at least six months from the date of entry for all nationals.
Uganda issues single-entry visas valid for three months from the date of issue and multiple-entry visas valid for six months. See https://www.immigration.go.ug/content/visas-and-passes for more details.
Uganda Travel Advisory
Trusted advice to help you plan your trip to Uganda.
7. Organize Travel Medication
At least two months before you depart for your Uganda trip, you need to visit a travel clinic and determine what vaccinations are recommended for your destination.
Hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies are good ones to have. Uganda immigration will require proof of yellow fever vaccination as a condition of entry, while malaria is prevalent throughout most regions.
A negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate is a mandatory entry requirement in Uganda. That and other entry requirements you should look out for.
Be sure to consult your doctor before deciding which anti-malaria prophylactic to take as all of them have different side effects. Pregnant women should be aware that the Zika virus is also a problem in some areas.
Covid-19 pandemic changed the way we travel, and on safari trips, we lookout for yours and our protection. Make sure you’re up to date with current coronavirus recommendations for travelers like checking https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/ frequently.
Health Advisory for Travelling to Uganda
8. Buy Your Travel Equipment
Now comes the fun part of planning your impending safari trip to Uganda: buying all of your specialized equipment. Your shopping list may include items from mosquito repellents to a good set of binoculars and a pair of durable hiking shoes.
Be prepared for all kinds of weather because, even in the Dry season, nights can be incredibly cold. Think about preserving your memories, whether that means investing in a quality camera or buying a scrapbook and a spare set of pens. One essential purchase is a first aid kit, complete with any personal medications as well as all items you’ll need to treat minor injuries.
What should you pack?
What to pack for your trip
9. Decide What to Do About Money
Decide what to do about money a few weeks before you travel. In Uganda, carrying large amounts of cash around isn’t safe; however, ATMs are not necessarily available on every street corner. Avoid traveler’s checks, also, as they’re rarely accepted as a viable currency.
Generally, your best bet is to draw enough cash upon arrival to get you to the next big town, where you should be able to draw more money with your credit or debit card. Remember that ATMs may not be able to get you to change, so visit a Forex Bureau on arrival, change some cash into smaller bills and also exchange some into Uganda Shillings (UGX). Fortunately, almost all modern safari camps and lodges in Uganda accept debit/credit cards. Confirm this with your local safari operator before your trip.
For safety, divide your cash, and keep it in several different locations. Make sure your credit card has a Visa or Mastercard logo, and during planning your Safari Trip to Uganda, alert your bank to avoid canceling your card on suspicion of fraud the first the card is used abroad.
10. Read About Your Destination
Researching your Uganda before you get, there is a great way to increase your excitement level and improve your local knowledge. An online travel guide like this one or a good guidebook, such as Lonely Planet or Bradt Travel Guides, can give you valuable insight into a country’s history and culture while also advising you on lesser-known things to see and do.
Phrasebooks are a good idea, too, because knowing even a few local language sentences will go a long way towards helping you make friends. Try Swahili or Luganda-English phrases for travelers.
Lastly, fictional books are written by African writers or set in the country you’re traveling to help give you a sense of what to expect before you travel.
ON THE WAY TO THE GORILLAS
1) Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
2) A maximum number of eight (8) visitors may visit a group of habituated Mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human borne diseases.
3) You will be taken to where the guides left the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the mountain gorillas’ trail to find them. Look out for the gorillas’ nesting sites along the way!
4) When you reach the Mountain Gorillas, the guides will inform you when to get your cameras ready.
5) Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great birdlife and other wildlife in the forest.
6) Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you.
WHEN YOU ARE WITH THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
1) Keep your voices low at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide (s) questions.
2) You must stay in a tight group when you are near the mountain gorillas.
3) Keep a minimum of 7 meters (21 feet) from the Mountain Gorillas. This is to protect the Mountain Gorillas from human disease transmission.
4) Do not eat or drink while you are near the mountain gorillas.
5) Sometimes the Mountain Gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example crouch down slowly. DO NOT look the Mountain Gorilla in the eye. Wait for the Gorillas to pass and do not attempt to run away as this could increase the risk of attack.
6) Do not touch the Mountain Gorillas. They are wild animals.
7) Flash photography is not allowed. When taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.
8) The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the Mountain Gorillas is one hour. This is done to limit their disturbance. If the Mountain Gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early.
9) After the visit, keep your voices low until you are 200 metres away from the Mountain Gorillas.
GENERAL HEALTH RULES
Remember Mountain Gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following are ways to minimize the risk your visit might pose to them;
1) If you are feeling ill, or have a contagious disease when you are already at the park, please volunteer to stay behind. An alternative visit will be arranged for you or you will be refunded your money as per gorilla reservation guidelines.
2) If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the Mountain Gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of viruses or bacteria.
3) Always stay 7 metres (21 feet) away from the Mountain Gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
4) Respect the Gorilla limit imposed on the time visitors are allowed with the Mountain Gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
5) If you need to go to the “toilet” while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole and ensure you cover it when you have finished.
6) Do not leave any rubbish in the park.
By following the rules above and through purchase of a permit, you are contributing to the conservation of the Mountain Gorilla.
A percentage of the funds raised from park entrance fees and the community levy on permits is shared with the local communities living adjacent to the parks so as to help contribute to their development projects and also improve on the natural resource management in the region.
Any breach of these rules may lead to termination of tracking without any refund