On October 7, 2021 the United Kingdom took Uganda off its “red zone” list. The same day the country’s national carrier, Uganda Airlines, launched a Dubai route, the airline’s first commercial flight outside of Africa. Uganda, once called “the pearl of Africa” is known for its Gorilla tourism which shut down during the height of Covid-19, but reopened in October 2020.
“Yes, one of travel’s most coveted ‘bucket list’ attractions, Gorilla trekking in Uganda, is back,” says Makonzi Michael Kiwanuka, the owner and director of Safaris Uganda holds a Bachelors of Tourism, with honors, from Makerere University, and has over 15 years working experience in East Africa’s tourism Industry.
“There are still some restrictions in place, however, to keep gorillas safe. Children under 15 are not permitted on gorilla treks. Guests are required to wear a face mask at all times. Parks also check our guests’ temperatures on arrival. We also do social distancing while on treks.” All foreign travelers to Uganda are required to show a negative PCR test no later than 120 hours before their flight inbound.
Safaris Uganda features a four-day Uganda Gorilla trek safari to three premier gorilla parks in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Lake Bunyonyi and Lake Mburo National Park. The $1890 per person price tag includes Uganda’s obligatory $700 gorilla trek fee.
“Uganda is welcoming back tourists. All Uganda’s national parks are open and safe for tourist visits,” says Ms. Lilly Ajarova, CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board. “We welcome travelers to experience once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and get reconnected with nature, culture and the Ugandan people.”
“With the expansion of Uganda Airlines, the ‘pearl’ of Africa becomes more accessible to more routes and to more travelers,” says Kiwanuka. “Tourism operators, like Safaris Uganda, as well as the National Parks themselves are aware that tourism is a double-edged sword. A mountain gorilla can die from a common cold transferred by a tourist and gorillas in captivity have contracted Covid-19. Hence, we have worked hard to create a seamlessly safe experience for both our travelers and for our precious gorillas.”
Most Uganda safaris are divided into five separate categories: Wildlife, Chimpanzee, Mountaineering Tours, Birding and Camping. Small groups allow the safari experts to guide the adventurers to what is bound to be one of the most impressive journeys of their lives. Whether its boat cruises along Lake Mburo or white water rafting in Jinja, the immersive experiences are well worth the cost. (Prices range from $350-$3500/per person, depending on length of the trip and intensity of the activities). If birding is your thing, Uganda has over 1000 species of birds, the most for any country in Africa. Safaris Uganda weaves bird watching experiences into their tours, accompanied by experts with quick eyes to assist all levels of birders.
The tours take travelers to Entebbe, Kampala, Mabamba and the Mabira Forest, as well as some of Uganda’s national parks, such as Queen Elizabeth National Park, which has a checklist of over 600 birds, not to mention Kibale Forest and Murchison Falls National Park.
For a more “boots on the ground” experience, the camping safaris might be just the thing to make the guest feel like a true African explorer. It is important to know what is included and what is not.
- Transport by Safari vehicle
- All Game Park entry and camping fees
- Use of two person tents
- 3 meals a day (Vegetarian meals also offered)
- Beds with Mattress
- Hot shower
- Flush toilets
- Sleeping bag (though bags and sheets are available for rent)
- Personal spending money
- Towels and toilet paper
- Insect repellent
- One set warm clothes and plenty of light clothes for the hot days
As excitement for big adventure travel is slowly making a comeback, and interest in ticking off the travel list is increased, most likely, due to the pandemic, safari tour companies are eager to welcome back explorers and Instagrammers alike.