Why You should Track Mountain gorillas In Uganda

Mountain Gorillas are primates species that live in the forested mountains of Eastern Africa. They are among the rarest primates only found in three countries on the entire planet that are Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain Gorillas are listed endangered by the IUCN and their total population is estimated at only 1000 individuals in the wild. These live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southwestern Uganda and in the Virunga massif a chain of dormant Volcanic mountains along the Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo border.

Mountain Gorillas are covered with thicker fur that enable them endure the cold temperatures of the region that fall below zero degrees. They are pure vegetarian and their diet mainly comprise of plant vegetation. They live in families headed by a dominant male gorilla called silverback. Some of the Mountain gorilla families have up to 20 individuals or more. Just like their name, mountain gorillas live in the mountainous areas. The elevation of Bwindi impenetrable forest for example ranges from 1,190 to 2,607 meters above sea level and that of the Virunga massif ranges from 2,400 to 4,507 meters above sea level.

A hike in the Virunga massif or Bwindi impenetrable forest offers an incredible encounter with the mountain gorillas. This experience has been described by many as a once in a life time experience. There are mainly Four mountain gorilla parks that include Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Mgahinga gorilla and Bwindi impenetrable Forest national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. Let us look at the main reasons why you should track mountain gorillas in Uganda of all the 3 gorilla trekking destinations in East Africa.

Mountain Gorillas Bwindi Uganda
A mountain Gorilla Family in Bwindi. Courtesy Photo.

Diverse Gorilla Trekking Ecosystems

Uganda is blessed with 2 mountain gorilla parks. Mgahinga gorilla park is part of the Virunga massif ecosystem encompassing 3 of the Virunga mountains. These include Mount Gahinga, Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Muhabura. These mountains are covered with light bamboo forests that transcends into an Albertine rift montane forest with heath and moorlands and an alpine zone at the higher altitudes of the mountains.

The light bamboo forests are homes to the mountain gorillas and many other mammals in the park. There is only one habituated mountain gorilla family in this park called Nyakagezi that offers intimate and exclusive gorilla trekking experiences. A mountain gorilla trek is more like that in the other Virunga massif parks offering a great and unique primate trekking experience.

Bwindi impenetrable forest national park on the other hand comprises of a number of hills with altitudes ranging from 1,190 to 2,607 meters above sea level. These are covered with a dense afromontane home a to a variety of wildlife species including mountain gorillas. The vegetation and relief of Bwindi is different from the Virunga massif including Mgahinga gorilla park.

Trekking gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest offers a completely unique gorilla trekking experience from that of the Virunga massif. The forest is a home to many other primates including colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, chimpanzees some of which seen while gorilla trekking. There are many other mammals in the park like forest elephants, buffaloes, a number of birds among others. It is from this animal and plant life diversity that Bwindi was given a status of a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Uganda has the highest of the remaining mountain gorilla population. Over 450 mountain gorillas live in Bwindi impenetrable forest which is half of the entire population on the planet.

Bwindi impenetrable national park has four major sectors with 22 habituated gorilla families. They include Buhoma the northern sector of the park with 6 habituated families namely Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mubaare, Katwe, Binyindo and Muyambi familes. Ruhija is the eastern sector with Bitukura, Mukiiza, Kyaguriro and Oruzogo families. The southern sector has Rushaga with Bweza, Mishaya, Nshongi, Kutu, Mucunguzi, Busingye, Kahungye and Bikingi families. Also in the south is Nkuringo with Christmas, Nkuringo, Bushaho and Posho families. All these are open for gorilla trekking offering more chances of gorilla trekking and a unique wildlife experience in the park.

Mgahinga gorilla park’s only one habituated gorilla family also adds on the numbers to Uganda’s grand total. If you are therefore looking for the numbers of high chances then Uganda is the right place to track mountain gorillas.

Other primate experiences

The mountain gorilla parks in Uganda are not only homes to mountain gorillas but other primates. Mgahinga gorilla park for example is also home to the golden monkeys that are endemic to the Virunga massif. Mgahinga gorilla park is one of the few places where you can track both mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Just like their name, golden monkeys are covered with golden fur and also live in families of up to 20 individuals.  

You can arrange a golden monkey trek after your mountain gorilla trekking expedition. It also starts with an early morning briefing at the park headquarters from where you are led to the forest where you will meet the golden monkeys amidst sighting of other wildlife species especially birds.

 Bwindi impenetrable national park is a sanctuary for chimpanzee and colobus monkeys plus other primates. Much as trails to explore these primates are not fully developed you can spot some of them while on hikes to the gorillas. You can also take guided nature walks in the park where you will get to see a number of the primates.

Tracking gorillas in Uganda generally gives you an opportunity to to see a number of these primates and more wildlife species.

The mountain gorilla parks are surrounded by local communities where you can enjoy authentic community and cultural experiences. The Batwa trail in Mgahinga gorilla park is highly recommended as the Batwa take you back the forest demonstrating their hunting and gathering skills. There are also some Batwa communities near Bwindi impenetrable forest as well as the Bakiga. You can visit any of these communities after the gorilla trek to get to know more about the local people’s ways of life.

Best time to Visit

You can have a mountain gorilla trek in Uganda any time of the year but for best experiences it is better to visit in the dry season. This stretches from June to September and from December to March. During these months there is minimal rainfall disturbances which makes hiking through the different trails a little easy.

During the wet season you can still enjoy your gorilla trek in Uganda. It is also a great time for birding as migratory birds set in from as far as Europe.

Kampala City tour, A local Guide

A Kampala City tour in Uganda‘s biggest and main capital City is very ideal and a better way to start the pearl of Africa exploration. Kampala City is located in the central part of the country. The city was established In and its most famous for its vibrant life. Beyond that are very exciting and interesting places to explore. These range from cultural, historical, Religious, political and social aspects.

Much as the city is a bit congested, it can be explored and below are a Must Visit to a Kampala city expedition

Old Kampala Mosque. Kampala City tour
Old Kampala Mosque. Courtesy Photo

The Bahai Temple located in Kikaya Hill is the only temple of the Bahai Faith on the African continent. The Temple construction work was completed in 1961, 10 years after the Bahai Faith had been introduced in Uganda in 1951. The Bahai temple is very outstanding icon and a religious landmark best to visit to a Kampala City tour.

Named as the Mother Temple of Africa, the Bahai House of Worship in Uganda was designed by Mason Remey. Its green dome is made of mosaic tiles from Italy. The temple is seated on 50 hectares of land that also the over 600 seater temple, gardens, an administrative centre and a guesthouse. While on a Kampala City tour ensure to add the temple on the Must Visit places. You will get to know more about the Bahai faith and relax in the lavish green gardens if you like.

Kasubi Tombs

The Kasubi tombs are a burial ground for the Kings of Buganda Kingdom. The burial site has great cultural significance in the Buganda Kingdom. It has Four royal tombs in the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga the main building that is circular and was constructed using purely local and organic materials. The tombs were designated a United Nations Educational Scientific and cultural Organization (UNESCO) Heritage site because of its cultural significance.

The tombs sit on a 30 hectare piece of land. The site was formally a Palace of Kabakas’ (Kings) of Buganda having been built in 1882. Two years later it was turned into a royal burial ground. For those interested in African culture the Kasubi tombs a Must visit place. Its strategically located in the city centre and can be easily accessed by those on a Kampala City tour.

Uganda Museum

The Uganda Museum was founded in 1908 and is one stop centre for those exploring Kampala city. It is the oldest in East Africa when Uganda still a British Protectorate. It has a collection of archaeology, science, natural history and cultural facts of Uganda. The Museum is strategically located in Kampala just 5 kilometers from the city centre.

Uganda being one of the most diverse countries on the planet, it has a beautiful culture and heritage that are well exhibited at the Uganda Museum. There are musical instruments From all tribes of Uganda that one is free to play while at the Museum. The Museum has an open ground with traditional huts and enough space where one can relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of the area.

The Uganda museum is open from 8 to 5 pm and a must visit while on a Kampala city tour.

Old Kampala Mosque

The Old Kampala Mosque is also known as the Uganda National Mosque located in Kampala City. With a sitting capacity of over 15,000 worshipers, its the largest mosque in East Africa. It is an iconic religious attraction and very symbolic to the muslim community.

The mosques’ construction works started as early as 1972 but was completed and officially opened in 2007. Constructions was first halted in 1976 and later restarted in 2001 to be completed 6 years later and was officially commissioned by Colonel Muamar Gaddafi the then President of Libya.

The Old Kampala mosque offers a 360 degree view of the City and its the best place to have a panoramic view of Kampala city. The Unique architectural design of the mosque is also an attraction with a beautiful dome and Minaret. If interested in religious tourism and best views of the city this is the place to be.

Craft Villages

These are located along Buganda Road in the city center with a collection of locally made crafts and paintings. All of the crafts here are made using local materials and the clothes and bags are made with local fabric. The craft villages are best places to get to know about the rich Ugandan and African heritage. They are the best places for shopping souvenirs and local items you will not find in any other places.

The craft villages are strategically located and are highly recommended for one exploring Kampala City. Many of the items here are very affordable ranging from $10 to $50. Purchasing items here is a direct support to the Ugandan local community enabling them to directly earn from tourism.

Nakasero Market

Nakasero market is a food market situated in the heart of Kampala. Uganda being the food basket of Africa, there is a variety of foodstuffs and vegetables grown around the country. Some of these include Avocados, tomatoes, watermelons, pawpaw, eggplants, mangoes among others. Many of these and much more are supplied daily to Nakasero market to meet the demand of the highly populated Kampala City.

The market is open daily from early morning and it’s a great place to visit while on a city tour. Here you get to meet vibrant and hard-working men and women who will serve you with a smiling face. While on a Kampala city tour do not miss tasting Ugandan fresh fruits and getting to know more about the ever-growing agricultural sector In Uganda.

Kampala city is known as the city that never sleeps with very vibrant night clubs. Often times there are musical performances by Ugandan and international artistes celebrating African culture and heritage.

During the day because of traffic, it might be a little hard to access some parts of city. You can however explore the city on a boda boda another unique and adventurous experience. Beyond the city Uganda has a lot to offer ranging from the rare mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, Big Five mammas and much more. Visit Uganda today and be part of the never-ending adventures in the city and beyond.

What You Need To Know About Bwindi, The Best Gorilla Trekking Destination

Mountain Gorilla tourism has over the years gained popularity as people seek exclusive gorilla trekking experiences. People travel from different parts of the world to the forested mountains of East and Central Africa for mountain gorilla trekking. One may wonder what are mountain gorillas and why are they special?

Mountain gorillas are endangered primate species with over 95% DNA similar to humans. They live in the forested mountains at elevations ranging from about 8000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. They are covered with fur that helps them survive the cold temperatures of the forested mountains.

Gorillas live in families headed by a dominant male called Silverback and are pure vegetarian with their diet consisting of plant vegetation and bamboo shoots. They are endemic to the Virunga massif along the Rwanda, Uganda & DRC Border and Bwindi impenetrable Forest in Uganda. 

The total mountain gorilla population is now estimated at over 1000 and Bwindi Impenetrable forest has almost half of the total population. Bwindi is currently the best gorilla trekking destination and here is more information you might need to know.

1. Various Gorilla Trekking Sectors

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an extensive park covering about 321 square kilometers. The park has different gorilla trekking sectors evenly distributed each sector with various gorilla families.

The northern and busiest sector is called Buhoma with 6 mountain gorilla families. Closer to Buhoma is Ruhija the eastern sector with 4 mountain gorilla families. It takes about an hours drive from Buhoma to Ruhija and you can therefore have a gorilla trek there incase you had accommodation in Buhoma.

Rushaga and Nkuringo are situated in southern Bwindi. Rushaga has 8 gorilla families while Nkuringo has 4 gorilla families. The Nkuringo region is however steep and one having a gorilla trek there will require some level of fitness. Ensure to know the exact sector where your gorilla trekking experience will be and book your accommodation accordingly.

Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi. Gorilla Trekking
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable NP. Courtesy Photo

2. Varying Gorilla Trekking Elevation

Bwindi has many hills with a gorilla trekking elevation from 1190 to 2607 meters above sea level. With this, the gorilla trekking experience comes in handy. You must therefore know if the gorilla family you are tracking will require a lot of hiking.

Much as gorilla trekking doesn’t require any levels of fitness, there are some gorilla families that live at high elevations. Those with altitude sickness, the elderly and some health restrictions need to ensure they track families that don’t require a lot of hiking.

Luckily Bwindi has over 22 gorilla families and one has a range of options to choose from. An average hike takes 2 to 4 hours though others take longer and a full day. Talk to your local safari guide or park ranger to ensure you are allocated an easier family to track.

3. Accessibility

Bwindi impenetrable can be accessed by both road and air transport. If you are coming from Entebbe international airport or Kampala by road, it takes a 9 to 10 hours drive. Its a long one but impressive going through the Ugandan countryside. You would have en route stop overs for photography at the Equator and for a lunch break and proceed to Bwindi.

Incase you don’t want the long drive you can fly to an airstrip near the park. There are two airstrips serving the park, one in the north and the other in the south. Kihihi airstrip serves the northern and Eastern sectors. Its 30 to 40 minutes drive to Buhoma sector and about an hour and a half drive to Ruhija

Kisoro airstrip serves the southern sector and its an hour drive to the park. Flying saves a lot of time and its the best option for those who don’t want the long drives. It also offers great aerial views of the countryside and other open savanna parks.

4. Best time for Trekking

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi can be enjoyed anytime of the year. The best time though is in the dry season from June to September and December to March. During this time there is minimal rainfall disturbances and the tracking trails are therefore dry. With this, there is easy movement and great chances for better wildlife photography.

In the wet season from April to May and October to November gorilla trekking is possible but rainfall can occur anytime of the day. Its an adventurous experience having a downpour while in the jungle but some people don’t like it.

5. Gorilla Permits

Mountain gorilla trekking permits for Bwindi cost $700 per person for international tourists, $600 per person for East African foreign residents and Uganda shillings 250,000 for East African citizens.

Gorilla permits are on a very high demand and only 8 tourists are allowed to track one gorilla family a day.  Ensure to book your permits in advance to avoid missing out. You can book and buy permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices. Incase you are using a tour operator ensure to pay for the permits in advance.

If you are interested in the gorilla habituation experience, permits are limited to only 4 people. Habituation permits cost $1500 per person for international guests, $1000 per person for East African residents and shillings 750,000 for East African Citizens.

Uganda Issues New COVID-19 Travel Guidelines

Moutain Gorilla. Uganda Primates - COVID-19 Travel Guidelines
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda. Courtesy Photo

Uganda recently issued new COVID-19 travel guidelines as tourism steadily increase with the country receiving more tourists. Its coming to two years when the world was hit by the deadly Corona virus pandemic. This led to economies closing up making tourism one of the worst hit sectors as travel came to a standstill.

As the world has slowly coped up with living with the Virus, countries often come up with COVID-19 travel guidelines. These help in reducing the number of public transmissions of the Virus especially for the frontline workers. Its also protects the country’s citizens from travelers coming from highly infected areas.

Given that Uganda’s tourism industry features trips to primate national parks with mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, these COVID-19 travel guidelines help a big deal. The mentioned primates have over 95% DNA making them very susceptible to acquiring human diseases. With the continuously updated guidelines though all these amazing wildlife species are protected.

Before, travelers from various countries were required to present negative PCR test results tested not later than 72 hours prior arrival to Uganda. Fully vaccinated and asymptomatic individuals with negative PCR results were allowed without being tested upon arrival.

New COVID-19 Travel Guidelines

India has been removed from Category 1 countries that are red listed. It has been moved to category 2 and travelers from India can now come to Uganda. They will have to present COVID-19 negative PCR results tested 72 hours travel to Uganda. Category 2 countries include India, United States of America, United Kingdom, UAE, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan.

All other travelers will also be required to present negative PCR test results tested 72 hours prior arrival to Uganda. These will also undergo mandatory PCR testing irrespective of the vaccination status if they show COVID-19 symptoms.

Those who will take the test on arrival will have to wait at designated hotels for their results. If they test negative its when they will proceed with the tour. Incase one tests positive he/she will be treated as according to the Ministry of Health Protocol for COVID-19.

Anyone without a negative COVID-19 PCR test undertaken 72 hours from time of sample collection will not be allowed to enter Uganda.

Travelers departing Uganda will be required to take a departure test to ensure they have left the country COVID free. This has been ongoing and testing upcountry especially for tourists is arranged as per one’s itinerary.

Uganda Tourism

The tourism industry in Uganda has been open since July 2020 when savanna national parks were opened for domestic travel. The primate parks also eventually opened up in October and these have since been operating under strict Standard Operating Procedures. Since then tourism in Uganda has been slowly gaining momentum as the number of Visitors keep on increasing.

Major Primates national parks in Uganda are Kibale, Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla parks. In Kibale national park are over 13 primates species and its the best chimpanzee tracking destination.

For ultimate mountain gorilla tracking experiences then Bwindi Impenetrable National park is the best option. The park has half of the remaining mountain gorilla population on the entire planet. If you are seeking exclusive and intimate gorilla tracking safari experiences then Mgahinga gorilla park would be a great option.

Book your safari now to any of your preferred destination in Uganda. Travel now is more enjoyable as there are not many tourists as before making Uganda safaris more intimate and enjoyable.

5 Memorable Uganda Wildlife Safari Discoveries

A post COVID-19 Lock-down safari to the Pearl of Africa offers Memorable Uganda wildlife discoveries. Uganda opened up for tourists on 1st October and is among the Must Visit wildlife safari destinations in East Africa.

Arriving tourists are expected to have tested negative for COVID 19 within 72 hours prior to arrival. On departure one is again required to test 72 hours before departure to ensure that he/she left the country safe. All these tests must be done from a credible health facilities and will be required at the airport.

Below are some of Uganda wildlife discoveries you will enjoy while on a safari to this beautiful country.

1. Mountain Gorillas

These rare apes inhabit the forested mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla parks in southwestern Uganda. The total mountain gorilla population on the entire planet is estimated at 1063 and Uganda has half in Bwindi. Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga offers finest Uganda wildlife discoveries as you meet the gorillas in the wild.

A gorilla trek starts in the morning taking 1 to 6 hours depending on the movement of the gorillas. As you hike the forested mountains you encounter other wildlife species in the park especially birds.

When on a visit to Uganda ensure to have a mountain gorilla trek on your bucket list. Gorilla tracking can be done anytime of the year and permits for international tourists cost USD 700 per person.

Mountain Gorilla Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi Uganda. Courtesy Photo

2. Shoe-bill Storks at Mabamba Swamp

Mabamba swamp is located in Entebbe on the northern shores of lake Vitoria. The swamp is one of the best birding spots in Uganda with over 300 bird species. The swamp is home to the rare shoe-bill storks that are incredible Uganda wildlife discoveries while on birding excursions.

Mabamba is one of the best places in Uganda for spotting the shoe-bill stork often attracted by the lungfish. Lungfish is the Shoe-bill storks favorite food and shoe-bill storks are often seen on the lookout for fish.

There are over 12 shoe-bill storks here and the best time for a shoe-bill stork excursion is 7:00 am. You can as well try out late evening like from 5:00 pm and also get to enjoy the African sunset. Other notable bird species at Mabamba swamp include African Fish eagles, African Jacanas, Black-headed herons, blue swallow Egrets and others.

Shoebill Stork at Mabamba Swamp. Safari Experiences
Shoe-bill stork at Mabamba Swamp. Photo by Ryan Wilkes

3. Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park

Uganda is no doubt East Africa’s primates haven with the largest chimpanzee population in the world in Kibale National Park. There are several chimpanzee families with over 30 individuals that are often encountered here.

Chimpanzees are mans’ closest primate species with over 95% DNA similar to humans. They live in a setup of families just like human beings headed by dominant male chimpanzees. These determine the days routine and spend most of the day feeding and looking for fresh feeding areas.

Trek with the chimpanzees of Kibale forest national park for memorable Uganda wildlife discoveries of the primate world. A chimpanzee permit for international tourists cost USD 200 but they are on high demand. Ensure to have your chimpanzee permit booked on advance in order to be part of this wildlife adventure.

Chimpanzee Kibale Forest National Park Destination Uganda
Chimpanzee in Kibale Forest National Park. Photo by Jonathan Benaiah

4. Snow capped Rwenzori Mountains

These are located in western Uganda in Rwenzori mountains National park a habitat to unusual wildlife species. Rwenzori mountain ranges stretch along the Uganda DRC border with the highest peak Margherita at 5,109 meters above sea level.

The Mountains are very unique as the upper parts are snow capped and with glaciers forming incredible wildlife features. A number of adventurous mountain climbers often take on the Rwenzori challenge to have fun and explore the snow.

The slower slopes of the Rwenzori mountains are covered with various vegetation types from tropical rainforests. These act as homes to wildlife including the rare three horned chameleon. A hike to the snow capped Rwenzori mountains no doubt presents unique Uganda wildlife discoveries.

Rwenzori Mountains. Uganda Wildlife Discoveries
Snow capped Rwenzori Mountains. Photo by Ssebuuma Ivan

5. The Nile River at Murchison Falls National Park

The Nile River is Africa’s longest river that start its journey north through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean sea. The River is one of Africa’s hopes of life as it supports a number of wildlife species.

In Uganda the Nile river forms the great Murchison falls as its squeezed in a 10 meters gorge. With this pressure, the falls form a thunderous sound and a permanent rain-ball; quite a spectacular sight to watch.

As the Nile river leaves the gorge, it gives a breath of life with incredible wildlife species often seen here. These include Nile Crocodiles, Africa’s giants like Elephants usually seen at the river banks feeding. All these can be well explored while on the Murchison falls bottom of the falls boat cruise.

Murchison falls is Uganda’s finest Savanna national park with wildlife like Buffaloes, giraffes, warthogs, antelopes usually explore on game drives. The park is a 5 to 6 hours drive from Kampala Uganda’s Capital City and can be accessed by road. In-case you don’t want this drive then you can fly from Entebbe to Pakuba airstrip located within the park.

Uganda Opens Entebbe International Airport and borders For Tourists After 7 months Closure

Uganda Airlines; Entebbe International Airport
Uganda Airlines Bombardier. Courtesy Photo

H.E Yoweri Museveni on 20th September 2020 announced the opening up of Entebbe International Airport and land borders for tourists. This is after a 7 months closure in March that was aimed at restricting the spread of COVID-19.

The Ugandan President was holding a Presidential address on latest updates on matters regarding COVID 19.

Tourists will be required to show COVID 19 negative results at the airport tested 72 hours before arrival in Uganda.

The local tour operators have also been mandated to ensure that the tourists don’t mix with the local Ugandans. They will be directly driven to their Hotels on arrival or to the wildlife destinations like national parks.

There are airlines that will resume flights to and from Entebbe International Airport now that it is finally open. They include Uganda’s national carrier; Uganda Airlines, RwandAir, Kenya Airways, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Brussels Airlines and others.

Earlier this month, Uganda Wildlife Authority opened primates national parks for chimpanzees and mountain gorillas that had remained closed since March. This was because primates have over 95% DNA similar to humans with high chances of contracting human disease like COVID-19.

After several consultations with the Ministry of health and local tour operators, the parks were finally opened. These will however be run basing on standard operating procedures of social distancing and sanitising.

Entebbe International airport and land borders are now fully open, tourism business in Uganda will resume slowly. Tourism depends a lot on air travel and international border crossings as tourists easily connect to their intended destinations easily.

Uganda’s Main Tourist Attractions

Mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla parks in south western Uganda tops this list. Mountain gorillas are apes that prefer to live in forested mountains and mostly feed on plant vegetation.

All the gorilla parks are now fully open to tourists and can be accessed by road or air by flying to the nearby airstrips. Ensure to buy gorilla permits in advance as they get fully booked because gorilla tours are on high demand.

Savanna wildlife species are other key attractions of tourists to the Pearl of Africa. They include lions, elephants, buffaloes, Rhinos, birds, hippos, zebras and are evenly distributed in the different national parks in Uganda.

Savanna wildlife species are enjoyed on game drives, nature walks and on boat cruises in Parks with Lake and Rivers.

Given that Entebbe International airport and all borders are open, one can visit Uganda for a wildlife safari. There are many tour operators who tailor make Itineraries featuring the various destinations.

Uganda’s COVID-19 cases are stand at 6,017 with 2544 recoveries and 63 deaths. Much as tourism is now fully open there is need to be careful for our own safety.

Uganda National Parks Now Fully Open For Tourism Amidst COVID 19 Crisis

Chimpanzee in Kibale Forest National Park Uganda
Chimpanzee in Kibale Forest NP Uganda. Photo by Alex Mushabe

Uganda just like any other country in the world was hit by the Corona Virus disease outbreak which prompted the closure of tourism and national parks. Many COVID 19 cases have been reported daily with the total cases currently standing at 3667 with 1608 recoveries and 41 deaths.

It should be remembered that Uganda lock down its economy in March this year to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

In June the Uganda Wildlife Authority started opening up slowly for tourism as domestic tourists were allowed to visit the savanna national parks. For the primates in Uganda given that the major primates (Chimpanzees and mountain gorillas) have over 95% DNA similar to humans, the primates national parks remained closed

The continued closure of the primate parks was done to ensure better standard operating procedures are put in place to ensure the safety of primates as they could easily contract the disease from humans.

After several engagements with the various stakeholders and the Ministry, all national parks in Uganda including the primates parks have been officially fully opened for tourist visitation.

Guidelines to be Followed

All national parks are mandated to do temperature screening using non-contact infra red thermometers at key tourism entry points

Its mandatory to have hand washing and sanitizing points and major park entries

All tourists are mandated to wear a face mask while inside the national parks

Social distancing will continue to be observed especially in tourist vehicles and boats in national parks as they will only be allowed to carry half capacity of the usual numbers.

With all national parks now fully open, Uganda now joins the other three East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda that opened their economies for business and tourism.

There is hope that Entebbe international airport will open up for international commercial flights on 1st October 2020 which will great improve tourism as many people having been waiting to travel and explore again.

Uganda is one of the leading wildlife destinations in East Africa with a number of wildlife attractions and a unique culture of the people. Wildlife tours in Uganda feature tourist activities like game drives, nature walks, boat cruises, balloon safaris and primate trekking. These offer great wildlife encounters and its what travel enthusiast need after several months of lock down.