Tips, challenges, and opportunities of planning a Uganda Gorilla safari during Covid-19. Despite the acute pandemic conditions on the travel industry, Uganda is still open for international tourism and travel to help recover the industry after a devastating toll. Planning a Uganda gorilla safari during COVID-19 will require that you adhere to the prevailing stringent standard operating procedures that will keep you and the primates protected yet still delivering that same authentic wild experiences that has made the pearl of Africa famous.
The golden rule for trekking gorillas has always been that you stay away from the gorilla sanctuaries if you feel ill, which has not changed. Since gorillas share 98% of human DNA, we’ve always known that they’re susceptible to human diseases, and travelers have always followed a set of carefully studied guidelines to keep the primates protected from any human virus strains.
In addition to that, in partnership with the government, gorilla conservation bodies have tightened the gorilla trekking rules to help cab infections that could spread from the tourists to the gorilla troops.
If you’re planning a Uganda gorilla safari during Covid-19, please see that you get your complete COVID-19 vaccination jab. The vaccination will not only protect you, but it will help in combating the spread of the pandemic along your journey.
There’s a thin line between protecting the mountain gorillas from the scourge and keeping tourism open because gorilla tourism is the main reason the primates are flourishing in their natural habitat. Yet if the Covid-19 virus made it into their natural habitat, it would leave devastating consequences on the endangered species that would take more than 70 years to clean up.
Money collected from tourism almost entirely finances conservation efforts and keeps the surrounding communities out of the jungles and employed. So gorilla trekking has to stay open, and also, we have to do everything we can to protect the precious creatures.
It is paramount that tourists adhere to the procedures to protect these rainforest jewels and keep gorilla tourism open. Therefore, we’ve gathered information to guide you in planning your gorilla trekking safari in Uganda post-COVID-19. Take a look.
The essential item in planning a Uganda gorilla safari is the gorilla permit. Since there are countable gorilla families available for tourism, and only eight people are allowed to visit one gorilla family per day, gorilla permits are very restricted and scarce.
Therefore, you need to get yours as soon as possible and months in advance. Travelers can even book two years in advance. That way, you’re assured of seeing the mountain gorillas on your set travel date.
A gorilla permit in Uganda costs USD 700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX 250,000 for East African nationals. During COVID-19, when travel was at its lowest, Uganda Wildlife Authority discounted the permits to $400 for foreign non-residents. The discount promotions run until June 31, 2021. We’re not sure if the promotion will be extended, but we’ll keep our blog updated.
You can book your gorilla permit directly with UWA offices or with a licensed tour operator in Uganda. During this covid period, you can use Encounter Africa’s booking resources to acquire your gorilla permit. In case of any change in travel, Encounter can postpone your gorilla permit for a later travel date which would be challenging for an individual.
A magical journey into the isolated jungles of East Africa, promising you an expereince like no other.
Save on the price of a gorilla permit by tracking in Bwindi. Start the trip from Kigali a few miles to Bwindi and save on drive time too.
Gorilla trekking is done in two national parks found in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The most famous is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas find refuge. The other is Mgahinga National Park, located on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains and sharing habitat with Rwanda and DRC.
There are five trailheads, where all gorilla excursions start, between the two gorilla destinations in Uganda, with four of them in Bwindi and one in Mgahinga. Your acquired gorilla permit allows you to trek in only one of the five trailheads.
The trailheads include Buhoma trailhead in the north of Bwindi with five gorilla families, Nkuringo sector in the south with three gorilla families, Rushaha sector in the southwest with five gorilla families, Ruhija trailhead in the east with three gorilla families, and Mgahinga with one gorilla family. Therefore make sure you point out which one suits you in terms of terrain, accommodation reservation, and access when booking your gorilla permit.
UWA has initiated stringent COVID-19 operating procedures at all the trailheads. Before you head into the jungle to meet a mountain gorilla group, you’ll be required to meet all the standards.
All trekking trailheads have a string of accommodation choices ranging from budget camping to luxury bush lodges that follow tight operating procedures to protect all tourists and advise them on Coronavirus protective measures. So all the way through your Uganda gorilla safari during Covid-19, everyone is watching out for your health and others.
Feed your eyes with glamorous beauty of the natural habitant which is a home of gigantic wildlife creature i.e. gorillas.
Enjoy a scenic drive from rwanda to Uganda and then Track mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The first and most crucial gorilla protective measure is to stay home if you feel ill. Not just with Coronavirus but any sickness that can infect anyone else. Gorillas share 98% of our DNA and can easily get infected with our diseases, which could be a fatal blow to years of conservation. Uganda Wildlife Authority guides will not allow anyone into the gorilla forest if they suspect them of any sickness.
Secondly, you should have tested negative for COVID-10 and at least fully vaccinated before you make it to the gorilla park. Besides, it’s one of the main requirements to enter the country. Carry a valid NEGATIVE PCR COVID-19 TEST certificate issued not more than 120 hours beforehand, and you’ll have jumped the greatest stump to see the incredible mountain gorillas in Uganda.
Note that it does not matter whether you’re fully vaccinated or not. Either way, plan on having your VALID test certificate for your Uganda gorilla safari during COVID-19. Otherwise, the only Uganda primates you may see could be the immigration officers.
Your gorilla safari driver-guide will have tested negative for the virus within 48 hours before they pick you up at the airport. They must carry a valid document to that effect and wear a facemask at all times when with you.
The Ministry of Transport and UTB will have licensed your safari vehicle to be on the road for the gorilla safari. It will be disinfected regularly with a minimal number of occupants to avoid overcrowding and observe physical distancing.
According to general procedures, you’ll be required to wear a facemask in all public places, allow your temperature to be checked at all access points, and disinfect your hands and footwear whenever necessary.
At the gorilla trailhead, you’ll be asked to wear a facemask and carry an extra one for when you meet the mountain gorillas. Your footwear will be disinfected, and you’ll be asked to keep your hands sanitized with a portable hand sanitizer spray.
When hiking in the jungle, you’re allowed to put off your facemask before you meet the primates to enjoy the natural forest air. It could take from 30 mins to 4 hours under the forest canopy tracking the mountain gorilla family; make sure you’re in good physical form to take on the uneven terrain in the thick misty forest for long hours.
When you meet the gorillas, your guide will ask you to leave everything else you carried, except your camera/phone, about 50 meters away and approach the gorilla family, not beyond 10 meters. The 10-meter safe distance should be maintained even if the curious little ones approach you. There should be as little to no contact with the gorillas as possible. Seek the guidance of your guide or rangers during this period.
During COVID-19 and any other time, trekkers are allowed only one hour with the mountain gorillas. It’s only with the habituation experience when trekkers are allowed at least four hours with the gorillas. Primatologists came up with this time duration to avoid discomfort in the wild creatures because of alien presence and minimize disease infections.
After you spend your allotted time with the magnificent forest giants, your guide will quietly lead you out of the forest and find a good serene spot to have your packed lunch and exchange experiential vibes. Please don’t little or leave whatever you came with in the forest; gorillas could pick them up and get sick from whatever you carry around.
At the trailhead, your lead guide will award you a certificate for trekking Uganda’s gorillas during COVID-19. A souvenir to show off your brevity and once-in-a-lifetime experience that only a countable few get to have. Show it off when you get home to initiate memorable conversations in your home.
Before you get on your flight to head back home, you’ll need to take another COVID-19 PCR test. Otherwise, you may not be allowed to fly. We’ll talk about how in the later text.
That is just about it on the Covid-19 gorilla trekking operating procedures. The government could make changes to the guidelines, and Encounter Africa will be there to have your back when you book your Uganda Gorilla Safari with us during this Covid-19 period. We have the capacity to postpone your trip in case of any development and also make sure you have your money’s worth. Send us an email at [email protected] to book your gorilla safari.
Enjoy the most thrilling experience in Volcanoes National Park while tracking gorillas the kings of the jungle.
Enjoy a scenic flight on your trip to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and later track mountain gorillas.
For one, don’t forget your Covid-test certificate, the gorilla permit, and a pack of N95 facemask. A cloth mask is environmentally friendly, but they haven’t been medically tested to protect you effectively. Doctors have used the surgical ones for ages. Throw in a small bottle of hand sanitizer spray; it’ll come in handy.
Pack a good pair of waterproof boots; the forest floor is damp and muddy. Your lightweight hiking boot will protect your foot from the creeping forest floor dwellers and dirt.
Pack a long-sleeved shirt and pair of trousers; there are no used trails in the forest, and shrubs could do your body harm during the trek. Covering your arms and legs will also protect you from bug bites and naughty insects that could crawl up your legs and create a whole other nasty experience.
Of course, you’ll need a light backpack to carry your lunch, energy bites, water bottle, camera equipment, and anything else you’ll need. Make sure it’s waterproof if you’re carrying camera gear.
There’s more: check out our packing list.
At the time of writing this, trekkers coming from category-1 countries (currently only India) are not allowed into the country. Those coming from Category-2 countries (USA, UK, UAE, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, and Tanzania) must take a mandatory COVID-19 PCR test on arrival. Results are given within 2-4 hours at the traveler’s cost of $65.
If a traveler tests positive for Coronavirus, they’ll be required to quarantine for 14 days at a designated hotel at their own cost.
If the traveler from category-2 has been fully vaccinated, they won’t be required to take the mandatory test. However, like every other inbound traveler, they should carry a VALID Negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate issued not more than 120 hours before their arrival.
After gorilla trekking and when heading back home, the trekkers should prove that they’re negative by taking another mandatory PCR test. Your guide or operator will recommend the quickest licensed labs to take your test. Some labs can even send your results via email while you wait in your hotel room.
The gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and then head to Mgahinga National Park to meet the beautiful golden monkey.
Track the habituated gorilla in Bwindi and take a classic game drive safari in Queen Elizabeth N. Park
The best time to go for a Uganda gorilla safari in these COVID-19 times is during the two dry seasons of January to February and June to September. During the dry season, the roads are passable, and there are little to no downpours to interrupt your excursion.
In the wet seasons, downpours are eminent, and some roads become impassable. However, gorilla trekking in Uganda is an all-year activity, and many travelers like to take advantage of the wet seasons’ off-season discounts to cut costs. The rain adventure is worth the experience, though!
Read more on when to travel.
Travel restrictions keep changing, and your Uganda gorilla safari itinerary may unexpectedly be postponed. In that case, you need an expert licensed safari operator to care about your interests and money.
Encounter Africa can take care of all the bookings, including accommodation, permits, transfers, and also be able to make changes when travel restrictions change. We have successfully taken travelers on private Uganda safaris during Covid-19 with no fetal incidences and would like to do the same for you. Inquire with us at [email protected], use our online forms to reach us, or call the numbers at the footer right now to chat with a consultant.
Comprises of gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest National Park
Explore the source of the mighty Nile river and later hike into Bwindi to track the elusive mountain gorilla..
Separated by 275 kms, visit these two massive rainforests Bwindi and Kibale Forest on this primates safari.
This trip takes you to bwindi Impenetrable forests for gorilla tracking and later to Queen Elizabeth N.P for game drives.
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