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Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Big Game & Culture

Uganda has earned a tourism reputation as the “Pearl of Africa.” The country has ten national parks and a dazzling array of landscapes, which range from dry savannas, snowcapped mountains to dense rainforests harboring endangered primates. Visitors can observe lions prowling the grasslands one day, go white-water rafting down the Nile the next, and adventure with mountain gorillas. Ugandans are also famously friendly, and English is widely spoken.

Somewhere in his book, My Africa journey, Winston Churchill describes Uganda as “The Pearl.” Mainstream has taken it a notch higher to call Uganda the “Pearl of Africa,” which remarkably represents the name accurately. The Equator strands across its plains, dividing the country into two climates with the colder south and dryer air as you head further into the northern areas. The southwest, immediately after the equator, raises into jugged highlands blanketed with massive patches of rainforest reserves. Within its rainforest reserves are some of the most precious wildlife jewels on the planet, the mountain gorillas, which attract a healthy flow of tourists into the country.

In the center of two rift valley arms, the geographical position of Uganda and the equator combine to control the weather and create a landscape that has none like it in all the world. It is Africa distilled up through six thousand feet, like the vital and refined essence of a continent. The Pearl of Africa views are extensive. Everything that you see makes for greatness and freedom and unequaled nobility. When in the highlands, travelers wake up in the morning and think: Here I am, where I ought to be. When you breathe in, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air.

  • Coming face-to-face with four hundred pounds silverback mountain gorilla impenetrable jungle and on the bamboo-clumped slopes of the Virunga mountains.
  • Following a narrow rainforest trail awkwardly with the heart-throbbing pant-hoot chorusing of chimpanzees
  • Cruising the Kazinga Channel in the shadow of the Ruwenzori mountains while elephants drink from the nearby shore
  • Watching a prehistoric shoebill swoop down on a lungfish in the brooding reed-beds of Mabamba Swamp.
  • The roaring, spraying sensory overload that is standing on the tall rocks above Murchison Falls
  • Rafting grade-five rapids on the Nile

Planning an All-inclusive Uganda Safari

Uganda is still low-key with tourist crowds: all-inclusive group tours seldom exceed six in number. Even the most popular wildlife game-viewing circuits retain a relatively unconstrained atmosphere. The Pearl of Africa’s wide selection of forested and game reserves remain highly accessible to independent travelers and relatively affordable to those on a limited budget, such as off-the-beaten-track gems as the Ssese Islands, Katonga Wildlife Reserve, Sipi Falls, and Kasenda Crater Lakes.

The Pearl of Africa enjoys one of the healthiest reputations of any African country regarding crime directed at tourists. The level of day-to-day hassle faced by independent travelers is negligible. And Ugandans as a whole — both those working within the tourist industry and the ordinary man or woman on the street — genuinely do come across as the warmest, friendly, and relaxed hosts imaginable.

So here are the hurdles you may have to jump while planning your all-inclusive Uganda safari holiday.

Gorilla Trekking

Primates Viewing

Bird lovers Paradise

Culture & Community Tourism

Active Adventure Abounds

Climb through 25,000-year-old rain forest via misty tea plantations to encounter the world’s largest living primates on their own turf. Their sheer size and beguiling humanlike interactions will leave you spellbound. Uganda has the largest mountain gorilla population and is cheaper than Rwanda. Primate-lovers can also trek chimpanzees and golden monkeys.

Trekking chimpanzees through the tall, tangled scrubs and primeval trees that carpet western Uganda’s rainforest in the most dramatic jungle encounters on the African continent. With over 20 primate species and the highest density worldwide, Uganda promises exceptionally thrilling primate adventures than any other destination worldwide.

Birding in Uganda puts any birdwatching enthusiast in the center of an excessive number of bird species, making Uganda a fabulous destination for keen bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. The Pearl of Africa is home to more than 1,030 birds species. That’s 49% of Africa’s total bird population!

There are ample opportunities for visitors to experience Uganda beyond the gorillas. From watching the traditional dance, visiting hidden forest tribes, learning about bee-keeping, visiting herb gardens, or taking a community cooperative coffee tour, every traveler has a cultural experience.

Thrill-seekers can’t get enough of Uganda’s kayaking the Nile waters, white water rafting the five-grade Nile rapids, hiking across the Bwindi Impenetrable forest via the oldest trails in the country, climbing the scenic Rwenzori mountains summits and the volcanic mountains in the southwest.

Seeing Mountain Gorillas

In the southwestern corner of the Pearl of Africa are the Virunga mountains and the rugged rift valley slopes where more than half of the last remaining mountain gorillas flourish. One can trek, and within meters, spend at least an hour with the precious gorillas of the mountain. Gorilla trekking is arguably the most exciting wildlife encounter The Pearl of Africa has to offer — though tracking chimps in the Kibale Forest may trample it for some tourists.

THINGS TO DO, SEE, AND PLACES TO VISIT

The rugged rift valley region and the Virunga slopes in the Pearl of Africa’s southwestern corner are where more than half of the last mountain gorillas flourish. One can trek, and within meters, spend at least an hour with the precious gorillas of the mountain. Gorilla trekking is arguably the most exciting wildlife encounter The Pearl of Africa has to offer — through tracking chimps in the Kibale Forest trample it for some tourists. In Uganda’s premier savanna reserves, one can be almost certain of encountering lions, elephants, buffaloes, and many savannah dwellers. There are the Ruwenzori Mountains and Mount Elgon, where one can explore East Africa’s bizarre montane vegetation without the goal-oriented approach associated with Mount Kenya or Kilimanjaro’s ascents. And there is Bujagali Falls on the Nile River, which — with its white-water rafting, kayaking, and bungee jump — is revered as East Africa’s ‘Adrenalin capital.’ The Pearl of Africa’s natural attractions far exceeds the trek to see mountain gorillas and the ‘BIG 5’ game drives that are a safari craze. Uganda is the greenest, fertile, and overwhelmingly tropical of all of Africa’s reasonably established safari destinations! The Pearl of Africa is where the eastern savanna meets the west African jungle — and it does offer visitors the best of both these fantastic worlds. In no other African destination can one see a comparable variety of primates with so little effort — not just the great apes, but also more than ten monkey species, as well as the tiny, wide-eyed bushbaby and peculiar potto. If Uganda has primate enthusiasts wandering around with ear-to-ear grins, it will have birdwatchers doing cartwheels. Yet, Uganda is the smallest of the four African counties in which specialists have recorded more than 1,000 bird species. It is particularly rich in western rainforest specialists — in practical terms, undoubtedly the finest birdwatching destination in Africa. And yet, after well representing its position as the Pearl, Uganda does feel like a more intimate, unspoiled, and low-key destination than its safari peers.

Planning a trip to the Pearl of Africa Q&A

Uganda is still low-key with tourist crowds: group tours seldom exceed six in number, and even the most popular wildlife game-viewing circuits retain a relatively unconstrained atmosphere. The pearl’s plethora of forested and game reserves remain highly accessible to independent travelers and relatively affordable to those on a limited budget, such as off-the-beaten-track gems as the Ssese Islands, Katonga Wildlife Reserve, Sipi Falls, and Kasenda Crater Lakes. The Pearl of Africa enjoys one of the healthiest reputations of any African country when it comes to crime directed at tourists. The level of day-to-day hassle faced by independent travelers is negligible. And Ugandans as a whole — both those working within the tourist industry and the ordinary man or woman on the street — genuinely do come across as the warmest, friendly, and relaxed hosts imaginable

Is Uganda safe for travel?

Uganda Covid-19 Entry Requirements

Uganda Vaccination Requirements

Affordable Direct Flights to Entebbe, Uganda

Uganda Visa on Arrival

Best Time to Visit the Pearl of Africa

Before you travel, please be informed of the likelihood of catching CORONAVIRUS if you don’t follow operating procedures put in place to protect you and others. For updated, local information, visit travelbans.org/africa/uganda/ or the government website health.go.ug/covid/. Otherwise, Uganda is open for tourism and entry/exit, and you’ll need a negative PCR COVID test certificate issued not more than 72 hours before your arrival.

With the constant development of the safari industry in Uganda and regular lodge and camp openings, the message is loud and clear: Uganda is thriving and open for business. And there’s a reason it remains one of the most sought-after private safari destinations: the game viewing is incredible year-round, there are no tourist crowds, the people friendly, the logistics easy, and you can visit the Pearl of Africa as a single destination without crossing borders and still get the best of all the Africa safari experiences.

Because we live right in the center of this enchanting safari destination, we give first-hand travel advisory. Our guests are like family, and we would never give out wrong information to our families. Uganda’s superb open-space safari attractions are safe to visit, and its warm, hospitable people will make your holiday vacation a memorable one.

Like all other countries globally, crime threats are present but can be avoided when you observe caution. Uganda is a very safe country, but opportunistic crimes such as petty theft, credit card fraud, and home robbery do occur – just like any other country. Chances of being a victim are rare, and incidences would most probably be in cities like Kampala. When in public places, please be vigilant and cautious by avoiding drawing too much attention to yourself and being less susceptible to pick-pockets.

The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) attempt to deter crime has been increasingly successful with regular patrols and their forces’ placement in strategic locations. The police presence is noticeable everywhere, with security at the airport and borders and police in public places. Across Uganda’s National Parks and tourist destinations, the tourism police, park rangers, military army, and hotel/lodge security personnel are all present to ensure your safety.

Uganda, like many other democracies across the globe, occasionally goes through short periods of political change. The most political unrest in Uganda is usually centered around Kampala city, far from its magnificent safari attractions. And cities like Kampala, in this Coronavirus age, are a hot-bed for infections. The city you jet into the Pearl of Africa is Entebbe, a quiet suburb 34 kilometers outside the capital city housing the statehouse with beefed up security. In fact, in some instances, you’ll fly/drive out of Entebbe immediately after landing, heading to the southwestern or northern attractions. The Ugandan countryside is as peaceful as the bottom of the ocean.

Before you travel, please be informed of the likelihood of catching CORONAVIRUS if you don’t follow operating procedures put in place to protect you and others. For updated, local information, visit travelbans.org/africa/uganda/ or the government website health.go.ug/covid/. Otherwise, Uganda is open for tourism and entry/exit, and you’ll need a negative PCR COVID test certificate issued not more than 72 hours before your arrival.

COVID-19 ENTRY RESTRICTIONS

There will be health screening procedures at airports and other entry ports, including wearing a facemask, sanitization, temperature screening, and physical distancing. If found with Coronavirus symptoms, you’ll be isolated and taken to a designated hospital for treatment. The MoH Emergency Operations Center manages the COVID-19 response and can be reached through their hotline: (+256) 0800 203 033, 0800-100-066, or 0800-303-033.
On arrival, tourists and business visitors will need to provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test dated no more than 72 hours before their arrival in Uganda. Outbound travelers will also be required to take a certified PCR COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before departure. If you don’t have one, take one at a recommended hospital in Entebbe or Kampala before your flight at your cost ($26).
Several hospitals offer the PCR COVID-19 test in Uganda, and these include: Makerere University Hospital, Mulago National Referral Hospital, Lancet Laboratories (041-4341621), MBN Laboratories (0700-533-954), Nakasero Hospital (0312 531400), Kampala Hospital (0312 563400), City Medicals at City Ambulance Acacia (0392 177174), Ruby Medical Centre (0800 833 111), Case Clinic (0312 250 700), Mengo Hospital (041 4270222), Mbarara Doctors’ plaza (0703206832)
Your driver or tour operator will have to ensure that you proceed directly to your place of stay and do not mix with Ugandans. There will be no requirement to self-isolate. Physical distancing, sanitization, and facemask are compulsory for keeping you healthy while traveling in Uganda. There’ll be no self-isolation for 14 Days.
Ugandan nationals who arrive with a negative COVID-19 test will be allowed to proceed straight to their homes. It is not yet clear whether they will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days or not.
National wide curfew is in effect, but travelers to the airport will not be affected if they carry documents for travel proof. Security operatives have been informed to let travelers through within curfew hours.
These travel restrictions are bound to be revised anytime; keep your ear to the ground if traveling.

Before you go to Uganda, make sure all your routine vaccinations are up to date. The risk of malaria is low in the higher altitudes (like Bwindi) but high in lower altitudes especially near Lake Victoria. It is higher if you are going into rural areas and villages outside the parks and reserves. Check with your travel doctor if you need vaccinations, and be sure to get them timeously.

Yellow fever

The country requirement at entry: a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers aged one year or over arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. WHO vaccination recommendation: yes

Malaria

Malaria risk due predominantly to P. falciparum exists throughout the year in the entire country.

Entebbe Airport (IATA: EBB, ICAO: HUEN), also known as Entebbe International Airport, is the largest airport in Uganda. It is Uganda’s main international airport and serves the area of Entebbe. Entebbe Airport has non-stop passenger flights scheduled to 27 destinations in 15 countries. At present, there are 5 domestic flights from Entebbe.

There are no direct flights to Uganda from the United States, Canada, Southern America, Central America, the Caribbean, Southern Asia, China, Japan, Eastern Asia, South-Eastern Asia, Central Asia, or Oceania. The only intercontinental flights operating from Entebbe International Airport (EBB) are between Entebbe and Europe and between Entebbe and the Middle-East.

But there are connecting flights from major cities across the world and the cheapest ones are Kenya Airways through Nairobi, Rwandair through Kigali, Ethiopia Airlines through Addis Ababa, South African Airways through Johannesburg.

The newly launched Uganda Airlines will be launching direct flights very soon but for now, operates direct regional flights.

Non-stop flights from Entebbe to Europe

Brussels AirlinesBrussels Airlines (Star Alliance): year-round to Brussels (BRU).
KLMKLM (SkyTeam): year-round to Amsterdam (AMS).
Non-stop flights from Entebbe to the Middle-East / Western Asia

EmiratesEmirates: year-round to Dubai (DXB).
FlydubaiFlydubai: year-round to Dubai (DXB).
Qatar AirwaysQatar Airways (Oneworld): year-round to Doha (DOH).
Turkish AirlinesTurkish Airlines (Star Alliance): year-round to Istanbul (IST).

Foreigners who intend to visit Uganda do not have to go through the hassle of applying for visas. With US$50 and a couple of questions, you get a visa once you arrive at Entebbe International Airport. However, if you intend to do an East Africa tour, there is the option of purchasing a single tourist visa for Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya at US$100.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may want to avoid contact with the visa process at the entry point and make sure you have your visa before you jet in. Thanks to technology, this can be done online with little or no hustle as long you have the requirements to getting the visa like passport copy, yellow fever card copy, and other Covid standard requirements by the government. Here are links to help you get started: visas.immigration.go.ug

When is the best time for a Pearl of Africa Safari Holiday?
Generally, a traveler can visit the Pearl of Africa all year round on safari or holiday. Travelers use many factors to tell when the best time is for a safari in Uganda is. Travelers can consider how much they’re willing to spend, which places they’ll be visiting and how much time you have on your calendar fixed for the trip.

Game viewing in Uganda’s savannah parks is best at the end of the dry seasons – February and March and September/early October – when wildlife is concentrated around water sources. Bird watching is fantastic all year round but is at its peak between November and April when migrant species are present. Even when considered the rainy season, April and May is a great time to visit Uganda and the Gorillas. The views are stunning, and it rains mostly in the afternoon for 1 hr and not tempering with activities.

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