Ecologically, Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the West African jungle. Where else but in this uniquely lush destination can one observe lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon, then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with hippos and crocodiles before setting off into the misty mountains to visit the majestic mountain gorillas? Uganda is the only safari destination whose range of forest primates is as impressive as its selection of plain antelopes. Besides the wide biodiversity, Uganda is also blessed with a vast bird population of more than 1,000 species.
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES
Most guests to Uganda Safari arrive by air, landing at the Entebbe International Airport ; approximately 45 minutes drive from the capital Kampala. If not included in the tour, transfers to and from the airport are available for any size group.
All PTA countries, EEC countries, Japan and USA are required to have visas. Visas are available at Uganda's representative missions abroad and can also be availed at border entry points including Entebbe airport.
Uganda enjoys ideal weather conditions ranging from the warmth of the lowlands to the coolness of the highlands. Mean temperatures are between 21 C and 31 C all the year round. Wet seasons are March - May and October - November.
June - October, and December - March are the dry seasons and the busiest. The dirt roads may be dusty, but should not prove to be a major discomfort. The relatively "rainy" season includes the month of April, May, and November. During this time the landscape is beautifully green, and there are fewer tourists. Expect showers interspersed with beautiful sunny skies. Many travelers prefer to go on safari during these months.
GORILLA TOURS BOOKINGS
Gorilla trekking permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and are usually sold 2 years in advance. Only members of the Association Of the Uganda Tour Operators(AUTO) have a privilege of securing these permits ahead of time.
Light summer clothing supplemented by a sweater or jacket should be sufficient all year round. Usually dressing is informal. Cotton slacks and flat-heeled comfortable walking shoes are recommended on safari. Don't forget to bring a hat for sun protection and a swimsuit. Umbrellas and windbreakers are recommended in the wet seasons. Request additional details at the time of booking.
Malaria risk is general and a prophylaxis should be taken. The following are some of the recommended Anti Malaria drugs: atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances). It is advisable to start anti-malarial medications 10 days prior to arrival and continue with the same until 14 days after leaving East Africa. Certificates are required for vaccination against yellow fever. Check current medical advice on typhoid, cholera and hepatitis. Private hospitals are the best for emergency care while on safari. You should have supplemental medical coverage insurance including transportation back home.
Precautions should be taken as in any major city. Unless safety deposit boxes are available in you hotel or lodge, always carry travel documents, travelers checks, cash and other valuables with you at all times. Although it is generally safe, we recommend that you do not walk late in the night but instead take a taxi.
Electricity Supply in Uganda is 220/240 volts 50Hz. Sockets are usually three pin plug. Charging is available at most of the top lodges on tour however, it is advisable that for appliances such as video cameras or battery chargers should have an in built adapter or an external one: You can also charge these in the comfort of your safari vehicle.
Prior to the start of your tour, a number of good hotels are available to choose from in Kampala. However, for the tours that include the first and last night in Kampala or Entebbe, this is not applicable.
We recommend the following:
* Sheraton Hotel
* Emin Pasha Hotel
* Grand Imperial Hotel
* Hotel Africana
The following airlines service Uganda regularly include: British Airways, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates Air, SN Brussels, Kenya Airways/KLM and South African Airlines. Most of these connect to Entebbe through Europe.
Several brands of local beer are available, including Bell, Club and Nile Special. Most spirits and wines are imported and are readily available at slightly elevated prices. There are no legal limitations on the drinking of alcohol in Uganda save for the drivers.
Several international banks operate in Uganda including Barclays, Standard Chartered and Stanbic. Many local banks and forex bureaux also operate across the country. Generally the banking hours are 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday to Friday, though some institutions are open longer hours and on Saturdays. There are no legal restrictions on foreign exchange transactions and currency is easily convertible. Use only USD notes dated after 2003.
You can withdraw money from your Visa/MasterCard but there is a limit on each card per day. Very few establishments accept credit cards and travelers checks apart from the large Hotels in Kampala and some on tour. You can withdraw money from Barclays and Standard Chartered Banks ATMs using your visa card.
The Uganda Shilling is the currency used. It is issued in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000 UgShs notes. The rates vary from time to time but are readily available from banks and forex bureaux. The average rate for 2008 is $1 = 1600 UgShs.
We recommend that you do not drink tap water. Most hotels and restaurants provide previously boiled drinking water Mineral water is also available and is provided at no charge in the safari vehicles.
Fresh tropical fruits and vegetables abound throughout the country. A wide range of dishes, both traditional and international, is served in the hotels and restaurants. The food served at most upmarket safari lodges and tented camps is of the highest quality. Gourmet cooks bake fresh breads, and produce soups, salads, and entrees that could easily grace tables at top restaurants around the world.
The official language is English though Swahili and Luganda are commonly spoken throughout the country.
Take equipment that you have used before. Take a waterproof pouch to protect your camera from moisture and dust. Take extra batteries and plug-in adapters if you plan to use a video camera. It is smart to take a recharger that works off a vehicle battery. Larger lithium batteries that you can wear on your belt will last longer. We suggest a good 35 mm camera with a 35-70 mm zoom lens, and a longer lens, such as a 80-200 mm to capture the multitude of rare birds you see. Most lodges and camps have facilities for recharging your batteries. For Wildlife photography we recommend a Bean or a rice bag which can be made locally on tour. Pictures of Military Installations are forbidden. Enough memory cards for digital cameras and Make sure to bring plenty of film 200ASA for plains game and 400-800-1600 ASA for the gorillas and Chimps. You can download pictures at major towns at internet cafes.