Travel Tips, Gorilla Safaris in Africa & Gorilla Trekking Tours in Uganda, Rwanda & DR Congo
Airport Entebbe International is a local airport in Uganda. The airport is used by passengers traveling to Entebbe, which is 37 km away from Kampala Capital City. Travelers’ often use airport Entebbe International for weekend breaks. Airlines refer to airport Entebbe International under the code EBB. The airport has only one terminal.
Airport Entebbe International offers flights within Uganda, international flights and long-haul flights. Airlines British Airways, South Africa airways, Ethiopian Airways, Brussels Airlines, Emirates, KLM and Qatar Airways offer flights to EBB.
The neighboring countries like Kenya (Kenya airways), Rwanda (Rwanda air) and Tanzania (Tanzania air) offers flights to Entebbe international airport on regional and international level. Uganda can be accessed from these neighboring countries either by Road or air transport. For travelers’ interested using water transport it is available but only from Tanzania-Mwanza port to Bukoba Masaka Uganda.
Passport and Visa
For any visitor to enter Uganda, a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry is required by all nationals. Entry may be refused to passengers not holding sufficient funds, return or onward tickets, and other necessary travel documents.
Requirements for Uganda visas and entry into Uganda differ from country to country, are subject to change, and each Uganda visa application is treated as an individual case. Always make visa inquiries before travelling to Uganda.
A Uganda visa is a clearance permitting an individual to proceed to visit Uganda. Uganda visas are issued at Missions/Embassies abroad and also at the entry and exit points of Uganda like Entebbe airport, Busia border, Malaba border.
In 1999 Uganda introduced visa requirements for all visitors and people entering Uganda except nationals of a few countries. There are different types of visas needed depending on what you are going to do in Uganda: Student Visas, Single Entry visas, Multiple Entry 6 month’s visas, Multiple Entry 1 year visas, or Inland Transit visas.
If you arrive or enter Uganda without a valid travel visa, you may be fined and immediately deported at your own expense. You must obtain a Uganda Government VISA before entry into Uganda. To obtain a Uganda Government VISA the following are required:-
Fill out both sides of Visa Application Form “J”. Submit your passport and two (2) passport-size photographs.
A passport issued by your government valid for at least six months. Your passport must also be valid past the date of your expected departure from Uganda. (Passport must be signed.)
One completed Uganda visa application form, Two passport-size photo taken within the past six months, International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever and Letter from applicant’s company if travelling for business (on company letterhead and signed by someone other than the applicant).
At this point customs and immigration officials of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) are polite and efficient to all the visitors to the country. A visa can be purchased on the spot at Entebbe International Airport or at any overland border. Foreign exchange and ATM facilities are available at the airport, which is also serviced by several shops and restaurants. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required. All visitors should take malaria prophylactic drugs. It is advisable to drink bottled rather than tap water. At the airport there is a variety of Airport taxes which can take you on town service, but is much advisable to our clients to request for our standard vehicles to any destination of choice.
There is no Customs desk on departure at Entebbe International airport. Departing passengers are required to present a valid passport or other travel document and completed departure embarkation card to the immigration officer. The officer will ascertain that the traveler obtained the relevant Visa.
The travel document is duly stamped and returned to the passenger. Passengers then proceeds to the departure-transit concourse for duty-free shopping and refreshments. After the final security formalities, passengers get into the holding-area where one can ascertain their belongings, tickets, passports, traveler’s checks.
Where to Stay
Uganda has a number of hotels and safari lodges that offer meals and overnight accommodation to both budget and luxury travelers. You can do your booking to Uganda Hotels, Safari Lodges, Guest houses and apartments in Uganda through the booking agentsnone other than us.
Precautions should be taken as in any major city. Unless safety deposit boxes are available in your hotel or lodge, always carry travel documents, travelers cheque’s, cash and other valuables with you at all times. We recommend that you do not walk late in the night but instead take a taxi if you have too though Uganda is extremely safe, we can’t guaranty you safety.
The unit of currency is the Uganda shilling. The US dollar is traditionally the hard currency of preference, but Euro and Pound Sterling are also widely accepted. Hard currency cash can be changed for local currency at banks and private forex bureaus in all large towns. However traveler’s cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala.
When to Visit
Uganda has a beautiful climate all year round and can be visited at any time. The temperatures range from 21 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius in the day and 16-20 degrees Celsius in the night. The hottest months are from December-January and the wettest and coolest months are March-May and the mid-September to November. Activities like mountain hikes, gorilla tour which involving tracking through steep slopes with dense foliage and undergrowth and other forest walks are more challenging during the rainy seasons, which generally peak over mid-September to November and March to May.
What to Bring
Visitors to Uganda are required to have valid passports, and visa requirements should be checked with the customs and immigrations at the Airport on arrival before you travel. Binoculars and tour guides will enable you reap the most of game reserves and national parks tours and game drives. Zoom lens for Photographers who intend to capture the beautiful wildlife and scenery (70-300 or similar). Printing film and developing facilities are available in Kampala. Toiletries and other essential commodities can be purchased at any of the numerous supermarkets and shopping centers in the cities.
What to wear
During the day, temperatures are generally warm depending on which region of the country one is at, so bring lots of light clothing. Evening temperatures are cooler at especially high altitudes, so it is advisable to bring a couple of light sweaters as well. For the tourist intending to hike or climb on the mountains, you are advised to pack accordingly due to the alpine temperatures. You would do well to carry solid walking shoes and strong clothing, a sun hat, sunglasses, waterproof jackets which are ideal for forest walks, game drives and national park tours.
Visitors who wish to do self-drive are advised that driving in Uganda is done on the left side. There are numerous car hire service providers within the city with attractive rates although the fuel prices are fairly high, considering that Uganda is a landlocked country. For visitors that have no experience of African roads, you are advised to arrange for a vehicle with Trekking adventure Uganda plus a driver.
Tipping is not culture that is practiced often at local hotels, bars and restaurants, but it is always appreciated. The amount depends on the tourists’ discretion, although tour guides and drivers should always be tipped.
Gorilla Trekking Tips
Travel around Africa to encounter exciting Gorilla expeditions and we recommend you look through the following Gorilla trekking tips for the best.
Be Real about your fitness
Before transferring for Gorilla trekking in any of the African countries, ensure you are really physically fit for some terrains require extra effort to get to see the Mountain Gorillas. This should be taken seriously due to the fact that some Gorilla groups are found in hilly rugged areas which require one to use a lot of energy and stability to get there. If you are kind of fat and weak, book a trekking trip to spot the Gorilla families that are somehow close and not far away in the hills.
Do Adequate Research on the Various Gorilla groups
Before Gorilla tracking, ensure you do a back ground check on the various Gorilla Family groups so as to be informed on what to do exactly. Some groups require hiking longer rugged areas so as to spot the Gorillas where as the rest don’t require a lot of energy. These vary in numbers and activities they do all day long. E.g a group with new born babies could be an interesting one to encounter.
Hire a porter to Help
While going or Gorilla trekking in the forest, you can hire a porter to help carry your bags/ luggage and any property. These are paid USD $12 and their help is really convenient especially when hiking and searching for the Gorillas in the rugged far areas within the forest. Giving money to the porters is a way of supporting the community as well.
Trekking Gear & What to Wear
While packing and preparing for your Gorilla Trekking experience, ensure to carry the appropriate gear to enable you do so with so much ease. This includes
- Gardening gloves to protect you from piercing thorns and rough trees.
- Knee High hiking boots and gaiters.
- Long Sleeved lightweight shirt.
- Fairly thick long pants.
- A Rain Jacket to shelter you from rain and extreme coldness.
- Sweater for evenings, bottle of water, camera with no lash, hat and sun screen
Try and shoot video
When with the Gorillas, you should take as many pictures and videos as possible. Shooting video and taking pictures is very vital for memories. These can also be taken so as to show friends and family on what exactly happened during the trip/ safari. Taking these videos is kind of easy due to the fact that these don’t relocate as fast as lions where you must be fast and vigilant while taking their pictures in the wild.
Practice Gorilla etiquette
While transferring for a Gorilla Trekking experience, always remember that you are going to spot and interact with these in their environment so we advise you to be very respectful by understanding their natural behavior as well as traits while in their habitat. When approaching the Gorillas in the thick vegetation forests, you should put it at the back of your mind that these are wild animals when provoked, they can do a lot of harm to anyone that disturbs their peae/ becomes a threat to them. Follow the guidelines and advice given by the park wardens/ rangers about how to interact around these endangered primates. However, many have been habituated so as to interact with humans freely. Below are some of the precautions to follow so as to have exciting encounters with the Gorillas.
- Don’t stare straight into the eyes of the Gorillas for this is provoking.
- Make a grumbling sound to assure the Gorillas that you are a friend.
- No matter how scared and fearful when approached by a Gorilla, make sure not to run for this is a sigh that you are an enemy. Just be submissive and crouch down.
- In case of any illnesses, sicknesses don’t go Gorilla Trekking for this might infect the primates leading to their deaths.
- Don’t eat or drink while in front of gorillas.
- Keep a distance of 7 meters away from the Gorillas.
Go Gorilla Trekking during the dry season
If you are travelling for Gorilla Trekking in Africa, visit the country during the dry season in the months of June to September to enjoy the best of Gorilla encounters in Africa. This is because during this season, the Gorillas are out into the forest feeding on green plants/ thickets. The ground is also dry and dirt remote paths into the forest are easy to navigate through making it easy to spot and interact with the Gorillas. So visit any country or Gorilla trekking during this time for the best experiences with the Gorillas.
Utilize your one hour
When you meet the Gorillas after a long time o trekking them through the forest, you will be allowed only an hour to interact and spot them in their habitat. During this one hour, take as many photos and videos as you can for remarkable memories and future references. Take clear photos if you must from all the different angles and enjoy every encounter you have with them.
Pack enough food and water
Pack and carry enough food and water to eat/ drink while inside the National Parks for when you access these, you won’t buy/ get anything to eat. You can also carry snacks with you to help in cases of lack of food.