This is a strenuous activity and one should be physically fit to enjoy gorilla trekking. Professional guides will accompany groups through the forests for Gorilla Tracking experience. Minimum age is fifteen years. Anyone with signs of communicable disease like cough, runny nose, diarrhea and others will not be allowed to trek.
The tracking experience takes a couple of hours (Up to 8 hours) depending on the location of Gorillas and where they slept the previous night and you are allowed to spend up to one hour with the Gorillas at a minimum distance of 7 meters.
No flash photography is allowed and fast film is therefore recommended (minimum 400-1600 ASA). Personal DVD recorders are allowed. Special arrangements need to be made for professional film makers, and filming permits are required for commercial photography and filming.
We strongly recommend a breathable and lightweight rain jacket or poncho, a warm jacket or fleece for overcast days and evening, long-sleeved shirt and trousers, sturdy waterproof walking boots (seasoned or well worn footwear), leather gardening-type gloves, sunscreen, cap or sun hat, sunglasses, insect repellent, comfortable day pack for carrying water and minimum amount of personal items. Cameras and video cameras are allowed, but come along with film batteries
Accommodation: Accommodation facilities in Uganda are up to standard with many a variety of hotels and accommodation
Electricity and piped/mains water supply may not always be available, although clients will always find a hot shower waiting for them after a long day’s trek. In some remote locations, ‘long-drop’ or compost (eco) toilets may be found.
Food may be basic, but you are usually assured of fresh produce and a variety of tropical fruits which taste so much better than supermarket imports in the West! The more upmarket lodges and hotels offer excellent facilities on a par with other safari destinations.
Parkview safaris takes care in booking the best accommodation available for your budget. All of our prepared itineraries start from Kampala. If you require pre or post-safari hotel bookings in Kampala please advice us and we will make the necessary arrangements. Reservations should be made in advance to avoid disappointment.
Health/Medical: More adventurous activities such as mountaineering and hiking, gorilla trekking and chimp tracking, white-water rafting, canoeing and kayaking may pose additional risks and should be undertaken with care and caution. You are therefore required to be physically fit and healthy
Gorilla trekking and Chimp tracking are not permitted to those individuals who have signs of a communicable disease such as colds, flu and other airborne diseases. Chimps and gorillas are highly susceptible to human diseases and it is therefore essential that you declare all illnesses and seek our advice if you are unsure. National Park Authorities reserve the right to deny access to individuals they consider unfit to accompany any activity.
Anti-malaria tablets and mosquito repellents are essential. Seek advice from your home country on vaccination and inoculation requirements, a Yellow Fever card is required by law.
Please bring all personal medications required. Medical services and facilities are basic. Clients are fully responsible for securing adequate medical insurance which should include evacuation cover.
It is recommended that you drink bottled or boiled water only. Sodas, beer and alcoholic beverages are generally considered safe. Coffee and tea, as well as fresh fruit juices, are prepared with boiled water.
Airport: Most guests arrive by air, landing at Entebbe International Airport. The drive to/from Entebbe and Kampala City is approximately 45 minutes. We can organize transfers to and from the airport for any size group.
Airlines: Several airlines service Uganda regularly including Air Tanzania, British Airways, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, South African Airways and Brussels Airlines. There are also several airline companies such as aerolink, eagle air offering domestic flights within the East African region. However, chartered flights are quite expensive.
Visas: Single entry (usually three month) tourist visas are available on arrival at Entebbe airport priced at USD $50 and at the land borders. We recommend clients obtain them on arrival.
Uganda follows a policy of reciprocity (if your Country requires a Visa for Ugandans to enter, Uganda will impose the same). Irish Nationals do not require visas. Check with us directly or contact the airline or your travel agent.
Roads: Main roads are generally good and recent road works have much improved the road network in and around Kampala. Secondary roads vary in quality and may be poorly maintained. Be prepared for long and sometimes bumpy car journeys especially in remote villages and some tourism attraction sites. This is another experience you should not miss while in Uganda, it’s really fun.
Climate: Uganda is on the Equator which gives it an ideal climate with little variation. Mean temperatures are between 21ºC and 31ºC all year round. There are two rainy seasons from March to April and October to November. Travel is often slower in the rainy season and trekking more difficult. Mountainous areas tend to be much colder than the plains and receive more rain. Temperatures in mountainous areas can go down to 10°C in certain months. Lodges and other facilities are open all year round. There is no bad time of year to visit Uganda!
Clothing: Light summer cotton clothing supplemented by a sweater or jacket should be sufficient all year round for most of Uganda. In the hilly and mountainous areas, waterproof jackets or ponchos, strong waterproof walking boots and warmer fleece or heavy sweaters will be required in the evening. Informal dress is usual, although Ugandans appreciate modest dressing. Cotton slacks and flat comfortable walking shoes are recommended on safari. Don’t forget to bring a hat and sun protection, along with your swimsuit. Request additional details at the time of booking for specific areas
Security: Occasional security issues may arise as in any other developing country. Parkview safaris maintains up-to-date information on all parts of the country and we will advise clients accordingly at the time of booking, if any risks appear to be present. Basic precautions should be taken, as in all countries, and common sense should be used. It is not advised to display expensive jewelry, leave bags unattended or money lying around. Most hotels and lodges have safe deposit boxes available.
Photography: No photographs of, or near, military buildings or soldiers are allowed. It is only polite to ask people before taking photographs.
Film and other photographic equipment/supplies are available in Uganda. Fast film (400-1600 ASA) is recommended for gorilla tracking and forest walking. For digital photography, we recommended you bring extra batteries and a car charger. If you have special requirements, then we strongly suggest that you come with the necessary equipment to avoid disappointments.
Most accommodation will have facilities for recharging batteries used by audio/visual equipment. Feel free to confirm in advance.
Telephone/Internet: International telephone communication is good from Kampala but more difficult in some rural areas. Uganda has a good mobile phone network throughout most of the country and local SIM cards can be purchased throughout the Country. International roaming facilities are available.
Internet services are widely available in Kampala through internet cafes, and most major towns will have access, although the quality and speed of the connection varies.
All our drivers/guides have cell phones and maintain contact with the Head Office throughout safaris.
Alcohol: Several brands of local and international beer are available, including leading local beers: Bell, Club, Pilsner and Nile Special beers. Most spirits and wines are imported and are readily available. Drinking and driving is prohibited and purchase of alcohol under the age of 18 years is also illegal.
Currency: The currency in Uganda is the Uganda Shilling. It is issued in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 Uganda Shillings notes. Coins are available for smaller denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 shillings.
US dollar, GB Pound and EURO are readily exchangeable. Large US dollar bills attract the best exchange rates. Currency exchange rates vary and are posted at all banks and forex bureaus around Kampala and in the local newspapers.
It is recommended that you change money in Kampala prior to safari where more favorable rates are offered. Attempting to change money upcountry can be frustrating and the rates are not good.
NB: US Dollar bills pre-2000 are most often not accepted in Uganda or are exchanged at a less favorable rate. Poor quality foreign currency notes may be rejected. Please ensure you bring with you new or notes in excellent condition with no stains or tears.
Credit Cards: AMEX, VISA and MASTERCARD may be accepted at a few choice establishments in Kampala and some upcountry hotels and lodges. Kindly note that credit cards are not widely accepted and most organizations reserve the right to levy a surcharge on credit card transactions, usually 7 – 9% on top of the original cost.
Banking: Several international banks operate in Uganda including Barclays, Standard Chartered, Stanbic, and Citi Bank. Many local banks and forex bureaus also operate across the country. Generally the banking hours are 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Some institutions are open longer hours and on Saturdays.
Begging/Donations: We do not recommend clients give money to beggars or street children as this only lends to the culture of begging and dependency. Donations can be made to established international and local charities that work with the homeless, street children or orphans.
We can arrange visits to local projects or institutions on request. If personal donations are preferred, we would suggest exercise books, pens or pencils are useful gifts.
Tipping: Ugandans tip according to level of service and there are no fixed or assumed rates. Culturally people may not feel it appropriate to outwardly show their appreciation for money given, however salaries are generally low in Uganda compared to neighboring tourism destinations and all tips will be greatly appreciated.
Drinking Water: We recommend that you do not drink tap water. Most hotels and restaurants provide previously boiled drinking water, or you can opt from several brands of mineral water.
Foods: Fresh tropical fruits and vegetables abound throughout the country. A wide range of dishes, both traditional and international, are served in the hotels and restaurants. If you have any dietary restrictions, please advice in advance. And if you have to have yellow mustard or black pepper to enjoy your meal, bring it with you.
Language: The official language is English. Kiswahili and Luganda are commonly spoken throughout the country. We actually speak over 40 languages in Uganda since we have got over 40 tribes with different cultures, languages, ways of life and historical backgrounds; therefore expect true African cultural expedition!
Luggage: Airlines will offer you 20-40 Kg, or two pieces, of luggage on most flights. It is preferable for you to use soft luggage as space in vehicles is limited. We can arrange the storage of winter clothes that you will not need on safari.
Security: Precautions should be taken as in any major city. Unless safely deposit boxes are available in your hotel or lodge, always carry travel documents, travelers cheques, cash and other valuables with you at all times or leave them in the possession of Parkview safaris leave your travel documents behind with us, travel with a photocopy. Guard yourself and your valuables as you would anywhere in the world. Stay aware of your surroundings and be cautious but friendly where possible.
Sports Facilities: There are a variety of sports available in Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja city centres – squash, golf, tennis, etc.; Fishing on Lake Victoria or the Nile River is popular. Whitewater rafting and flat water canoeing has been introduced on the River Nile. Whitewater rafting on the Nile from Jinja is considered the best one day trip in the world. Mountain climbing and hiking are popular in the Rwenzori Mountains and on Mount Elgon. For special offers and requests, please let us know in advance.
Transport: The roads are generally in good condition. Four-wheel drive vehicles may be required for upcountry use, especially in the national parks during the rainy seasons. We drive you in a 4WD safari vehicle with enough legroom, open roof and air conditioned, making you much comfortable during your safari. For special needs, kindly let us know in advance
Respect the Environment:
Obey Park Rules at all times. ln many places, fresh water is in short supply, so keep showers short, avoid leaving taps running and reuse towels and linen. ln places with solar panels, be aware of your electricity use — turn of lights and all electrical appliances when not is use.
Never buy crafts or products made from protected or endangered animals, such as ivory, fur or feathers.
Do not buy bush meats such as hippo, bushbuck and buffalo. These are obtained only through illegal poaching, which poses one of the greatest threats to Uganda’s wildlife today.
Recycling facilities are limited in Uganda, but many lodges have bins to collect plastic bottles, and all glass bottles should be returned to the place you bought them to be recycled.
Respect the communities:
Respect the local people don’t take photos of them without asking, dress respectfully and learn how to say please and thank you in the local language (take a look at this basic Luganda language guide) – politeness is always appreciated.
Tip guides, porters, drivers and waiting staff as you would back home.
Haggling over a price is fine — as long as you are prepared to pay a fair amount. Think about the time and craftsmanship that has gone into what you want to buy, and remember the seller is trying to make a living.
Use local guides where possible, eat at local restaurants, shop at community craft shops and consider spending part of your trip in community run accommodation — it will be an exciting, authentic experience for you, and worthwhile for the local village.
Ask where the crafts came from before you buy – in some cases they are imported. And will not support local craftspeople.
Do not give sweets or money to children as this encourages begging. If you want to give gifts (such as pens or pencils) during a community tour. Give them to your guide to distribute afterwards.
Give something back:
Many communities offer short or long term volunteer placements — in a school, nursery, clinic, reforestation project, or even helping the community work on their tourism business. If you have some time to spare, why not take a look at the latest volunteer opportunities? You are sure to get as much out of it as the people you are there to help!
Become a wildlife researcher for a day! Get up close to the wildlife and enter parts of the parks not open to tourists when you join a group of researchers to track lions or monitor mongoose behavior. The activity fees will support the important research projects, and the data you collect will be used as part of the monitoring process.