Frequently Asked Questions
This website provides you with all information you need to know to prepare for your gorilla tracking tour to uganda and rwanda.
For those are planning to do a gorilla tracking safari in Uganda, the following information would apply (as set out in the printed leaflet by the Uganda Wildlife Authority ‘Gorilla Rules’).
Before departing on your gorilla tracking:
- A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
- On the way to the gorillas:
- Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
- DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
- You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
- When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.
When you are with the gorillas:
- A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
- You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
- Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
- Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
- Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
- Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
- The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
- After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
General health rules:
Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:
- Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
- If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
- If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
- Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
- Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
- If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.
What to bring on your Gorilla Safari:
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
- Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
- Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
- Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
- Bring a photo of film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.
General Information about Uganda
Entebbe International Airport, which lies 40Km from the Capital, is serviced by a number of international airlines, including SN Brussels, British Airways, South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania, Rwandair Express, Egypt Air and Ethiopian Airlines. Uganda can also be reached overland from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Customs and migration official are polite and efficient, and a visa for those who require one, can be purchased on the spot at Entebbe International Airport or at any overland border .Foreign Exchange and ATM facilities are available at the airport, which is also serviced by several shops and restaurants .Most midrange to up market hotels in Kampala and Entebbe will arrange airport transfers by request, as will any tour operator based in or around the capital .Local time is GMT+3
A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required. All visitors should take Malaria prophylactic drugs .It is advisable to drink bottled rather than tap water.
The unit of currency is the Uganda shillings. The US dollar is traditionally the hard currency of preference, but Euro and Pound Sterling are also widely accepted. Hard currency cash can be changed for local currency at banks and private bureau de change in all large towns, but traveler’s cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala. Local currency can be drawn against Visa and other major credit cards at selected ATMs in Kampala, at Entebbe International Airport, and in a few other large towns.
Educated Ugandans are generally fluent in English, which is the official language. Of 30 – plus different indigenous languages, Luganda serves as something of a lingua franca.
When to Visit
Uganda can be visited at any time, though mountain hikes, gorilla tracking and other forest walks are more challenging during the rains which generally peak over mid September to November and March to May.
What to Wear
Daytime temperatures are generally warm to hot, so bring lots of light clothing. Evenings are cooler, especially at high altitudes, so carry a couple of light sweaters too. Those who intend to hike on the mountains will be exposed to alpine temperatures and should pack accordingly .Solid walking shoes and sturdy clothing are ideal for forest walks .Don’t forget to bring a hat , sunglasses and a waterproof jacket.
What to bring
A valid passport is mandatory, and visa requirements should be checked before you travel. To make the most of the game reserves and national parks, carry binoculars and field guides. Photographers will need a zoom lens for wildlife (70 – 300 or similar).Print film and developing is available in Kampala .Toiletries and other essentials can be bought in the cities.
Driving is on the left side. Visitors without experience of African roads are advised to organize a vehicle with a driver rather than self – drive.
Tipping is not standard practice at local hotels and restaurants, but it will always be appreciated .It is normal to tip 5 – 10% at tourist oriented restaurants .Guides and drivers should always be tipped.
Food & drink
Tourist oriented hotels and restaurants serve good western –style meals , while a wider range of cuisines being available in the capital and some larger towns .Local restaurants serve Ugandan dishes , typically ugali (a stiff maize porridge) or matooke (cooked banana) eaten with stew.
What to Buy
A wide selection of local handicrafts are available as souvenirs .These include musical instruments , such as the hide drums made in the vicinity of Mpigi , as well as excellent local basketwork , paintings , batiks and pottery.
Guide books from Bradt, Spectrum and lonely planet and a wide range of other books about Uganda, can be bought at bookstores in Kampala.