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Uganda: FAQs

Our frequently asked questions about travel to Uganda. If you have any other questions, please contact your travel designer or concierge.

You are STRONGLY advised to take out your own medical and travel insurance before coming to Uganda, as medical facilities are basic, and an evacuation may be required for more serious ailments than can be treated in Kampala. In case a medical evacuation is required, an evacuation from Kigali can be arranged. Please note that medical evacuation cover (to Nairobi) is included in the price of your tour.

Domestic flights – weight restrictions

Please note that when packing for your trip to Africa, it is extremely important to note that there are strict weight restrictions enforced by the airlines. This is to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers on board. Light aircraft are designed with a maximum body weight and luggage weight allowance in mind, and are limited to physical space restrictions.

Important: Max luggage allowance on light aircraft flights is 15kg (excluding camera equipment and hand luggage). Luggage must be in soft bags, with no wheels or hard aspects, as needs to pack in to small undercarriages of light aircrafts.

Please inform us in advance if anyone travelling has an individual weight of more than 100kgs (220lbs) as additional weight allowance on the aircraft must be purchased for safety and comfort.

On ALL light aircrafts, only one soft bag per person will be accepted – no hard suitcases, as they cannot physically fit in the aircraft. The most efficient bags are soft, non-rigid bags with no wheels. Some airlines also impose luggage size restrictions – these can be found in the information to follow.

These luggage restrictions may sound very limiting, but bear in mind the following:

–  Most safari camps / lodges and hotels provide basic toilet amenities

–  Laundry can be done on a daily basis (and many camps provide this service free of charge but hotels do charge a nominal fee)

If you wish to bring additional luggage with you that exceeds the allotted weight restrictions for one person, you may choose to purchase another seat.

Do I need any vaccinations before I go away to Uganda?

Please seek professional medical advice and recheck close to the date of travel as the situation may change. A yellow fever vaccination is required for all travellers. What is recommended for all is that you ensure you are up to date with Hepatitis A&B, Typhoid and routine immunisations – specifically tetanus-diphtheria, measles-mumps-rubella, polio, and for those travelling to the north of Uganda, meningococcus.

Do I need to take malaria tablets?

Malaria is prevalent in throughout Uganda so you will need to take the currently effective prophylactic prescribed. We recommend you bring some mosquito spray.

Should I bring travellers cheques?

We don’t usually suggest bringing travellers’ cheques are as they can be troublesome and time consuming to change.  Cash machines are available in the capital Kampala.

Which currency should I bring?

The local currency is the Uganda Shilling – Ugs. Currency can be exchanged at major banks and in hotels but you may get poor exchange rates if you choose to do so at hotels. MasterCard and Visa are accepted in Kampala and ATM machines are available in the capital Kampala. We suggest you carry sufficient local currency and additional US dollars to cover the cost of any additional purchases, as well as gratuities.

We tend to advise that if they are carrying US Dollar Cash with you, the notes should be no smaller than $100 denomination to ease conversion into local currency at a beneficial rate, and should all have been issued no earlier than 2006 to avoid rejection.

Do I need to get a visa?

This can always change, and you should check with your local embassy before travel. To enter Uganda visas are currently required by citizens of EU, US and Hong Kong as well UAE, Canada and Singapore. We do advise that you purchase these in advance to avoid any complications or delays. If your itinerary crosses into other countries, please bear in mind that you may need visas for these.

Please also ensure that you have sufficient blank visa pages (not endorsement pages) in your passport, with at least 2 consecutive/side by side blank pages. Our recommendation is 3 pages (or even 4 if you are travelling through more than one country on your journey). If there is insufficient space in your passport then entry into a country could be denied. It is also important that your passport if valid for at least six months after your intended departure.

Travel insurance

It is vital that you take out valid comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical repatriation, cancellation and curtailment for you trip to Africa. This gives you peace of mind that you will not lose money should you be forced to cancel your trip due to illness before you travel or during your vacation.

Please ensure that your insurance covers you for medical evacuation and repatriation both internationally and locally, and we could advise that your policy covers loss and theft of your possessions.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all aspects of your vacation. You must ensure that you will be covered for activities such as walking, rafting, canoeing and horse riding.

Remember to carry your insurance details with you at all times.

Laundry

Most camps and lodges have laundry facilities, provided you have sufficient time to allow for drying and ironing. Some properties charge a nominal fee for this (some include it). As laundry in lodges is generally done by hand, we suggest that you wash your own underwear.

Electrical plugs in Africa

The electricity supply in Uganda is 230-240 volts and those from the United States should bring electrical appliance adapters with them. Please note that all electrical wall outlets in Uganda are the flat three-pin, so ideally you should bring a three-pin to two-pin adapter with you.

Gorilla tracking

There are a total of 10 habituated families in Uganda, all located in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in the south west of the country. Each group receives a maximum of 8 visitors per day. Permits are attributed to specific gorilla groups at the time of purchase.

The terrain in Bwindi means that you sometimes start your trek at the top of the hills, descend on foot into the valley to see the gorillas, and then climb up the slopes at the end of the day, which can be more arduous. In short, Uganda tends to be a harder option than Rwanda but just as magical!

You will not be able to track the gorillas if you are unwell, as gorillas are highly susceptible to human illnesses. If you suspect that you have a contagious illness such as a common cold, influenza or diarrhoea, please report to the guide at the park headquarters. There is a good chance that you will be refunded the cost of your gorilla permit. If you do not disclose your illness, and the guide detects it, you will be barred from tracking, and your permit price will definitely not be refunded.

Tracking conditions can vary greatly according to the location of the gorillas. It is entirely possible that you will find the gorillas quite quickly and be back at your hotel for lunch; or you could face a three or four hour hike (sometimes even longer) each way.

It is important to be in good physical condition, as you are likely to find yourself climbing up steep slopes at high altitudes, scrambling through, over, and under dense undergrowth with nettles, barbed vines, and bamboo thickets and crossing slippery and muddy terrain. Correct footwear and clothing are essential!

A general level of basic fitness is normally recommended for Gorilla tracking. It is not recommended to go gorilla trekking if you have any kind of heart or back problem. Travellers who are concerned about their general fitness levels, or have certain medical conditions and/or physical disabilities should advise us of their situation at the time of booking (or at the time such a situation occurs should this be after the reservation is made).

We have a purpose-built ‘off road’ sedan chair that can be used to transport someone to the location of the gorillas if you are found to have a significant disability. So please do let us know your requirements when you enquire and we will do our best to help.

Wearing masks

It is not currently compulsory to wear face masks when visiting the gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda.

However, wearing masks can reduce the high risk of infecting gorillas with human diseases – something to which they are highly susceptible.

With this in mind, we kindly ask our travellers to wear a mask when visiting the gorillas.

It is a huge privilege to see these animals in their natural environment, but for this to continue, we must do so responsibly.

Perhaps when you are there, you will inspire other travellers to also wear a mask. If the Ugandan and Rwandan governments can be convinced that it will not negatively affect tourism, they will be more likely to enforce mask-wearing as a rule. It is already compulsory in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park.

‘Wearing masks is not an inconvenience: it is a simple step to safeguard the health of critically endangered mountain gorillas.’ – Dan Bucknell, Executive Director of Tusk.

‘Wearing masks when visiting the critically endangered gorillas ensures the best protection from our human diseases.’ – Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, Founder of Conservation Through Public Health.

‘A simple human sneeze travels seven metres, and gorillas have no immunity to the bugs we routinely pick up on the plane over. Wearing a mask is cool – and looks great on your Facebook profile!’ – Jillian Miller, Executive Director at The Gorilla Organization.