GORILLA TRACKING AND PERMITS
To track gorillas each person must have the day’s gorilla permit which needs to be arranged and paid for in advance. Each gorilla park (Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda and Parc National des Volcanoes [PNV] in Rwanda) has different numbers of permits per day (18, 6 and 32 for Bwindi, Mgahinga and PNV respectively). No person is allowed to track more than three times in three consecutive days. Permits are non-refundable except for medical reasons and a medical certificate has to be provided. To protect gorillas from disease and to avoid problems of arduous conditions in the forests young trackers below the age of 15 and those with illnesses are not allowed to track. Flash photography is not allowed and visitors are advised to use still cameras, at a distance of at least 5 meters away from the animals. Professional filming requires extra fees to be paid. Tracking through the thick jungle, traversing canopies of thick undergrowth can be tough, arduous and wet – the tracking can last from as little as 45 minutes to as much as 9 hours. Trackers therefore need to be well equipped with food and water, strong water-proof clothing and must be fit and healthy. Strong, light clothes could be carried, as well as rain jackets, a torch, sunglasses, a sun hat, gloves to grip vegetation, socks. Use jungle boots, long-sleeved shirt. A walking stick may be needed. Porters can be hired to carry equipment for all trackers (fees range between $5-20 per porter per day). Part of the fees paid to the park authorities goes directly to help local communities around the Protected Area(s).
Primate Safaris that include a visit to the gorillas are subject to availability of permits at time of booking. Please check with us for availability before you travel. Book your gorilla permit in advance to avoid disappointment. Gorilla permits are in high demand, because of the stiff competition for them, and therefore are booked with payment on the basis of first come first served. To track gorillas each person must have the day’s gorilla permit which needs to be arranged and paid for in advance, and if you are bringing a group of 10 or more, it is highly recommended that you book preferably at least 10 months for the high seasons – June-September and December-February; or latest 4-6 months in advance for the low seasons – October-November and March-May. Contact us for the latest status of availability, even for last-minute bookings maintain a sense of decorum, avoid short-shorts and exposing much of your body in public. It is considered irreverence in some cultures.
Recognition of traditional courtesies is important when visiting another country. While Ugandans are all well aware of the form in other countries, they tend to be conservative at home. A handshake greeting is normal and unsuitable clothing such as brief shorts or swimwear is not acceptable in towns and villages. Shoes are taken off before entering sacred places.
Visiting drivers must hold an International Drivers License. Drivers’ licenses from other countries are not valid. New residents are required to pass a driving test. A person driving into the country on business can have their car admitted without having to pay duty, provided they will not use it for hire or commercial purposes. They will also have to show that the car is owned by themselves or by their company. Uganda drives on the left hand side of the road. Rwanda drives on the right-hand side of the road.
There are a number of sporting, dancing and social clubs, theatres and other entertainment in the major towns. Visitors are usually welcomed. Some charge a temporary membership fee. Avoid staying up till late when you are traveling the next day. Interactions and friendly relations are at the discretion of the client, but seek your guide’s advice. Many of the main hotels have swimming pools, and there are excellent opportunities for golf, tennis and squash in Kampala/Kigali, and in several other parts of the country. Football, rugby, tennis and cricket clubs are found in the main towns. Sailing and water-skiing are available on Lake Victoria. Fishermen should head for the lakes and the River Nile.
The Business hours for Government offices range from 08h00 to 16h30, Monday to Friday. Closed from 13h00 to 14h00 for lunch hour. Bank hours vary from bank to bank but most are open from 08h30 – 16h30 Monday to Friday. Only some are open on Saturdays. Forex bureaus are normally open till 17:00 and are able to do electronic transfers to and from Overseas. Most banks also have a branch at the Entebbe International Airport and Kanombe International Airport to serve incoming and outgoing passengers. Shops are generally open from 08h00 to 17h00, Monday to Friday and 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays; some in Kampala open from 06h00 for up to 16 hours. Main roads are generally good but travel is much slower than on European roads. Secondary roads are of variable standard, often slow and bumpy; some require high four-wheel drive vehicles. Light aircraft can also be chartered to the main destinations. Traffic drives on the left side in Uganda; in Rwanda, Congo and Burundi traffic drives on the right. The major highways are two lane class 6 roads. Driving in Uganda and Rwanda is quite an experience, yet probably the best way to see the country. One however has to be cautious of Pedestrians, Cyclists, wildlife and Livestock on all roads.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILMING
Before taking pictures of people it is polite to ask. Photographs should not be taken of people or religious ceremonies without their consent. Photography of the airport or strategic buildings, military installations and soldiers is NOT allowed. Bring sufficient films, including fast film for gorilla tracking and batteries although these can readily be bought in Kampala and Kigali. Only print film and processing is available in Kampala/Kigali, not slide. Keep your cameras in a dust resistant, padded case and out of the midday sun. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari. Commercial photographers should consult the Ministry of Information for a permit.
Filming generally takes long to process and its best you contact us or the Uganda Communications Commission or Office Rwandese de Tourism in Rwanda well in advance for assistance.
In Uganda, the following are the general guidelines for filming crews.
* In order to bring in equipment, you will require a TEMPORARY IMPORT valid for 3 months.
* This can be extended/renewed for another 3 months should you wish.
* The 3 months period has to be secured by a SECURITY BOND.
* The clearing Agents based at the Entebbe International Airport have BOND facilities and will only be happy to help you at a fee.
* In order to avoid delays on arrival, you are advised to fax or e-mail your details, equipment and value to your CONTACT in Uganda, 7 days to your actual arrival date.
* The CONTACT will get a Clearing Agent who will prepare a Customs Bill of Entry which will facilitate your temporary import of equipment.
* And on exit, the appointed Clearing and Forwarding Agents will need to be notified on your date and flight connection to enable him process re-export documents.
* Remember there is no duty charged by Uganda Revenue Authority. There is merely a fee due to the Clearing Agent and which is negotiable depending on the equipment value.
For general television or commercial tourism-related filming, filmers will need to be cleared by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the Communications Commission and they will be required to pay applicable fees. For specific questions, please contact us.
Visitors from or passing through a yellow fever and cholera zone (most of tropical Africa and South America) may be able to produce a valid International Certificate of Vaccination. Air travellers who only pass through the airports of such a zone are exempt from the requirement. It is also advised that all travellers be vaccinated against Meningitis, Typhoid and Hepatitis. As Uganda and Rwanda are in a malaria zone, visitors should also take prophylactics against malaria although the best way to avoid catching malaria is to avoid bites by using mosquito repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net. For your own comfort take a mosquito repellent. Mosquito nets are provided in most hotels, lodges and camps. Precautions should be taken against malaria both when visitors are in the country, and when they return home. It is advisable to drink only boiled or bottled water and avoid swimming in ponds and still water pools.
While doctors and dentists are available throughout many areas of the country, the major hospitals are located in the main towns. Bring any special medication you may need, and carry medical insurance. Most chemists in the major towns are open from 08h30 to 12h30 and 14h00 to 17h00 Monday to Friday and 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays. There are no emergency chemists open after hours or Sundays.
Medical Insurance should be purchased before you leave your own country and should include emergency air evacuation coverage if you’re spending any time in remote parts of the country. There are some medical rescue organizations available.
Travel Insurance: Clients must have, and demonstrate to the company prior to their departure, adequate insurance for the duration of the tour. Such insurance should fully cover death; personal injury; loss; accident; medical expenses; repatriation in the case of accident, illness or death; cancellation or curtailment of the tour by the company or client; and loss of, damage to, or theft of the clients’ personal property. Activities with a greater inherent risk, such as mountaineering, animal tracking, water rafting, swimming in lakes, should be covered.
Evacuation insurance: Clients are also advised to purchase evacuation insurance before traveling. This covers evacuation in case of an accident, health difficulties, etc. Evacuation insurance for mountaineering in the Rwenzoris is covered in this package.
It is advisable that clients purchase the necessary health insurance for themselves. The company will not be held liable for sickness of a client as a direct or indirect consequence of traveling.
PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE WHILE ON SAFARI
Always remember that while some animals have become accustomed to the presence of people they are still wild animals. Keep your distance. It is illegal to feed any animal, make excessive noise to attract their attention, or to agitate and scare an animal, or deviate from designated roads for that closer photograph. Never get out of your vehicle except at designated points. Close all windows and zippers when you leave your room or tent and spray it with insect repellant.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Be quite awake when walking around carrying anything of value. As in all countries petty theft, including pickpockets is around in some places. Do not walk around at night unescorted before seeking advice. If possible, never leave your vehicle unattended and never change money on the streets. This is less of a problem in the rural areas. Carry minimum amounts of cash and keep it hidden or in a money belt, if possible. Secure your belongings such as passport or airline tickets and other valuables and documents; use safe deposit boxes where available. For the most part, however, Ugandans and Rwandans are very friendly and helpful. If in doubt seek local advice. For specific questions on current security conditions please contact us.
These are clearance permitting individuals to proceed to visit another country. Ugandan/Rwandan visas are issued at our Missions/Embassies abroad and also at the Entry/Exit Points such as Entebbe airport, Kanombe/Kigali airport, Busia, Malaba, Cyanika, Katuna, etc. Underlying the Uganda Visa Policy is the principle of reciprocity, which is all countries that require visas for Ugandans are also visa prone in Uganda. Ugandan visas are required by the citizens of the European Union, the USA and Japan. Not required by nationals of many African countries, Bahamas, Seychelles, Jamaica, Mauritius, Madagascar, Italy (only Diplomatic Passports), Cyprus. Other nationals should check. Rwandan visas are not required by nationals of many African countries, as well as nationals of Canada, Germany, South Africa, Sweden, UK and USA. Other nationals should check. A valid passport is mandatory in all cases. Must have enough leafs for visa stamping and monitoring. For a stay not exceeding 6 months, the single-entry visa fee is US$60 and US$50 for Rwanda and Uganda respectively; the multiple entry visa fee is $200 for Uganda; Rwanda does not offer a multiple-entry visa. Others who need longer periods, as well as those who require Inland transit and student visa categories should check.