Trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda during covid-19
Are you looking at trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda during covid-19? Uganda is one of the countries in Africa where mountain gorillas can be done in Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Both national parks are located in the southwestern part of the country with Mgahinga national park boarding volcanoes national park of Rwanda and Virunga national park of DR Congo all protecting endangered mountain gorillas. Uganda has also been affected by the covid-19 pandemic therefore it has put different measures on how to protect her endangered mountain gorillas to keep the gorilla tourism open the fact that they share 98% human DNA.
Previously, people with transmitted diseases such as flu, cough, and diarrhea have not been allowed to trek mountain gorillas since they can transmit these diseases the fact that they shared 98% human DNA. Mountain gorillas are vulnerable to diseases that’s why travelers are given a set of rules and regulations to follow to protect mountain gorillas from human diseases.
The government has partnered with different gorilla conservation bodies to tighten gorilla trekking rules to can the infectious diseases that could spread from trekkers to mountain gorillas.
If you are intending to do a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda during this hard Covid-19 time, you need to first make sure that you have a full vaccination jab for Covid-19. The medication helps you in fighting the spread of this virus along your trip.
The money got from selling gorilla permits in use in conservation efforts and 10% goes out to the surrounding communities to help them improve their lives. Most of the people from communities around the parks are employed as guides, porters and some are rangers.
Tourists need to follow the procedures put in place by the ministry of health to protect the mountain gorillas from getting infected and also keep gorilla tourism taking place at any time of the year. In this article, we shall help you on how to plan a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda during Covid-19, places where gorilla trekking is done, the best time to visit the country, and operating procedures for gorilla trekking during Covid-19
How to plan a mountain gorilla trekking safari in Uganda during Covid-19
If you are looking at trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda during covid-19, you need to consider the following;
Gorilla trekking permit
A gorilla permit is the first thing you need to think about when planning a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. The gorilla permit can be booked from Uganda Wildlife Authority or a trusted tour operator. There are over 20 gorilla families in Uganda that are open for trekking meaning Uganda has over 160 gorilla trekking permits daily since only 8 people are allowed to trek each gorilla family.
Fact that there are a few gorilla permits compared to the number of people who want to trek mountain gorillas, you are advised to book your gorilla permit in advance of 3-4 months to avoid inconveniences. Booking a gorilla permit in advance means that you are assured of trekking.
The cost of a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda is $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents while East African citizens pay UGX250,000. During the covid-19 times, the permit for foreign non-residents reduced from $700 to $400, foreign residents from $600 to $300, and East African Citizens permit reduced from UGX250,000 to UGX150,000. The discount stopped on 31st June 2021 and we have hope it might run again.
Booking a gorilla trekking permit can be done directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority or a local tour operator can do it for you. When you use a local tour operator like Africa Adventure Vacations, we do ask for the days you want to travel then check for availability with Uganda Wildlife Authority after conforming the dates, we shall send you a voucher for payments and after we have received the money, we shall secure for you a permit.
Places in Uganda where mountain gorilla trekking is done
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in 2 national parks all found in the southwestern part of Uganda. These are Bwindi impenetrable forest national park which has the biggest percentage of endangered mountain gorillas and Mgahinga gorilla national parks with over 80 habituated gorilla families.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has over 19 habituated gorilla families that are open for trekking in 4s sectors of the park while Mgahinga gorilla national park has only 1 gorilla family called Nyakagezi. A person is allowed to trek only 1 habituated gorilla family on a single day.
The 4 sectors of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park include Buhoma in the north, Rushaga in the south, Nkuringo in the south, and Ruhija in the east. Each of the above sectors has its own gorilla families with even 2 of them undergoing habituation namely Bikini and Bushaho gorilla families. When booking gorilla permits most especially the ones in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, you have to make sure that you choose the sector for you, and the best accommodation facilities.
There are several operating procedures that the Uganda Wildlife Authority has put in place that tourists need to follow before going to the jungle to protect the remaining species of endangered mountain gorillas.
There are several accommodation facilities in different sectors of eth ark where one can stay depending on their travel budget. These accommodation facilities range from budget to mid-range to luxury facilities and all have been asked to follow covid-19 procedures to protect tourists from coronavirus infections.
Standard Operating Procedures followed when visiting any destination
The first thing you as a person should do is to stay home when you are suffering from diseases such as flu and cough because these are easily transferred to mountain gorillas and since they are vulnerable, they can even die. Mountain gorillas share 98% human DNA meaning they can easily be infected by human diseases. During the briefing, if they suspect that somebody is sick or has signs of infectious diseases, they don’t allow them to head out into the jungle to trek these primates.
You need to be fully vaccinated of covid-19 or you need to test covid-19 negative before arriving into the country and also before trekking mountain gorillas. A covid-19 test certificate is one of the requirements that is needed by tourists before trekking mountain gorillas. The test must be negative to permit you to trek mountain gorillas and be around them for a maximum of 1 hour.
You need to know that trekking mountain gorillas are not done by only those people that are fully vaccinated but those that are not as long as they are covid-19 negative. Both the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated need to go for testing on arrival at the airport and those with negative results will be allowed to trek mountain gorillas in their natural habitats.
The safari guides to transfer you to the gorilla parks need to have tested covid-19 negative in the last 48 hours before picking you at the airport. They must present to you a valid covid-19 certificate and need to wear a mask and sanitize where necessary.
What to carry for gorilla trekking during covid-19?
As much as a gorilla trekking permit is important, you need to carry other necessities to do a gorilla trekking experience in Uganda. One of the items asked before gorilla trekking is a covid-test certificate that must show that you are negative in the last 48 hours.
The other things to carry for gorilla trekking during covid-19 are the facemasks and sanitizer for spraying in your hands anytime you feel insecure or touch anything. You also need a pair of waterproof boots, a pair of gaiters, hiking gloves, a pair of binoculars, a camera and extra batteries, a light backpack, a waterproof rain jacket, long-sleeved clothes, insect repellents, enough drinking water, and energy-giving snacks.
Testing for Covid-19 during a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.
If you are from category 1 countries such as India you won’t be allowed to trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park. Travelers from category 2 countries such as the United States of America, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania who have not been fully vaccinated must do covid-19 on arrival at the airport and wait for 2-4 hours for their results at a fee.
If a traveler is checked on arrival and they test covid-19 positive they will have to go for quarantine for at least 14 days at a designated hotel by the government at their own cost. If the traveler is from category 2 countries namely the United States of America, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania and they are fully vaccinated, if they show no signs of covid-19 with being exempted from the PCR tests upon arrival. These travelers must carry along their vaccination certificates and a covid-19 test showing negative in the last 120 hours before arrival.
Travelers from category 3 countries I mean all those not in category 2 will not be subjected to the Covid-19 PCR test. These travelers must carry along their vaccination certificates and a covid-19 test showing negative in the last 120 hours before arrival. When the gorilla trekking safari is done, the travelers must do another test to show that they are covid-19 negative at the airport and then wait for like 5 hours to get their results.