Before you travel to Uganda, there a few aspects that you may need to know. About travel documents what kind of documentation do you need to come to Uganda and when, accommodation, climate when is the dry season and when is the rainy season, transport is it road, rail, water or air, health and safety what vaccinations do I require to visit the Pearl of Africa, all is presented below.
Where is Uganda located?
Uganda lies astride the Equator in Eastern Africa between longitudes 29 ½° East and 35° East and between latitudes 4 ½° North and ½° South, at an average altitude of 1,100 meters above sea- level. The total area is 236,580sq.Km. The country is bordered by South Sudan in the North, Kenya in the East, Democratic Republic of Congo in the West, Tanzania in the South and Rwanda in the South West.
Do I need a visa to enter into Uganda?
Yes! You require a visa to enter Uganda. With effect from March 1, 1999, the Government of Uganda introduced visa requirements for all visitors entering Uganda from all over the world. However there are countries that are exempted from the visa while visiting Uganda, these countries include; East African Community (EAC) Citizens and Nationals of COMESA countries( Angola, Comoros, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Madagascar, Rwanda, Burundi, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe) Other countries exempted include; Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malta, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Tonga, Vanuatu, Italy (Only diplomatic passports) and Cyprus. Therefore all nationals of countries other than those in the list above are required to have a visa while visiting Uganda.
Where can I get a Visa to Uganda?
You can get a visa at Uganda’s High Commission or embassy in your country of residence or on arrival at Entebbe International Airport. It is always advisable to try and get the visa before you leave your country that is in case your country has a Ugandan embassy and if it is a hustle, you can always get a visa into Uganda at the airport in Entebbe upon arrival.
What immunizations are required when I am traveling to Uganda?
You are required to take a Yellow fever vaccine which is the most important vaccination required to enter the country. Other highly recommended vaccinations include; Hepatitis A and B, Meningitis, tetanus, polio and typhoid. In case you anticipate close contact with wild animals while in Uganda, you should prioritize taking a rabies vaccination.
When is the best time to visit Uganda?
Like most tropical countries, Uganda’s climatic seasons always change from year to year. However, it is always a little dry throughout the year apart from the rainy seasons between April – May and October – November. The country only has two seasons namely; the dry and rainy season. Although the country is suitable to visit all year round, most people prefer visiting during the dry season which normally runs between December to February and June to September. However if you are in interest is to go on a Uganda safari, then you can travel in time of the year!
You can acquire a visa at Uganda’s High Commission or embassy in your country of residence or on arrival at Entebbe International Airport
Immunisations required when travelling to Uganda?
Yellow fever vaccine is essential. Hepatitis A and B, Mengitis, tetanus, polio and typhoid are also recommended.
Expecting to get closer to wild animals, rabies vaccination should be prioritized.
When is the dry season?
Uganda’s climatic seasons always change from year to year. However, it is always a little dry throughout the year apart from the rainy seasons between April – May and September – November.
Are Ugandan gorillas dangerous?
Uganda’s Gorillas and primates are non-endangered, monitored and well tracked especially on the visitors’ trip.
Guides and security are always alert and ready to assist in case of adversary.
Which age group is allowed for gorilla tracking?
Gorilla tracking is strictly for those who are 18years and above. It is always advisable to seek more information from the Uganda Wildlife Authority when in need of a tracking permit.
Gorillas are available all year through, but tracking is suitable during fairly dry seasons of Febraury to March and July to September.
Where do I find Chimpanzees?
Chimpanzees can be found almost where Mt. Gorillas exist, similarly, Monkeys. The Ngamba Island on L. Victoria have been reserved for Chimpanzees and visitors and tourists always storm the Island throughout the year to enjoy these playful creatures.
Where do I find Mountain gorillas?
Mountain Gorillas can be found in both Bwindi Impenetrable Forests and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, all found in the western part of Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is best known for its Mountain Gorilla populations and gorilla tracking although, it also offers some of the finest montane forest birding in Africa and is a key destination for any birder doing a Safari to Uganda. Amongst the numerous possibilities are no fewer than 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics, including spectacular, globally threatened species such as Shelley’s Crimson wing and the African Green Broadbill. Bwindi is one of the few national parks in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age and it is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas.
Though it is best known for its outstanding gorilla tracking, it also provides refuge to elephant, chimpanzee, monkeys and various small antelope and bird species. The variant biodiversity is supported by the fact that Bwindi is extremely old and also its slopes extend over a broad altitudinal range of 1447m above sea level, enabling habitats ranging from lowland forest to Afromontane vegetation.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is found in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley, about 530km from Uganda. The park occupies the size of about 321 sq km. This park is divided into four gorilla tracking sectors including Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors
Bwindi can be accessed either by air from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip or by road from Kampala. From Entebbe, there are scheduled flights to Kihihi which is close to the northern sector of Bwindi and also flights to Kisoro which is close to the Southern sector of Bwindi. Flights to Kisoro only leave in the morning while Kihihi has both morning and afternoon departures from Entebbe. You can also do charter flights from Kajjansi Airstrip to either Kisoro or Kihihi.
By road, there are alternatives that include;
- Kampala-Kabale-Kanungu-Buhoma which follows a tarmac highway until Kabale for about 414km spending about 6-8 hrs and then connect on a murram road through Kanungu and Kanyantorogo for about 120km to Buhoma. For the latter route, it is highly recommended to have a 4WD vehicle and this journey can take about 4-5 hrs.
- Kampala-Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma which follows the same route as the above first option except the Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma section is about 95km on a murram road and can take about 3-4 hrs also highly recommended to have a 4WD vehicle.
- Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo also follows the same as the above routes to Kabale and an additional 105km about 4-5 hrs drive on a mountainous murram road to Nkuringo from Kabale. Some people prefer spending a night in Kisoro which is about 80km from Kabale and in the morning proceed to Nkuringo for gorilla tracking.
- Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi-Buhoma is regarded as the quickest and most direct of all the routes from Kampala and follows a tarmac rout to Rukungiri about 390km followed by murram roads to Buhoma for about 82km.
There is also a route that goes through Queen Elizabeth National Park via Kihihi and to Buhoma passing through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park famed for the tree climbing lions. Sometimes this route is not favoured because of the bridge which keeps on breaking down.
What to do
The major activity in Bwindi is; Gorilla tracking limited to a maximum of 8 people per particular gorilla group per day – Permits must be booked before since they are on a very high demand all year round.
How to get Gorilla permits.
Gorilla tracking is limited to only 18 people per day and the permits are available only for people above 18 years. These can be obtained from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.