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FAQ

WHAT'S THE WEATHER LIKE?

Uganda enjoys a tropical climate, though the heat is tempered by the altitude, as much of the country is more than 1000m above sea level. Rainy seasons are from March to May, and September to November Dry seasons are from December to February and mid June to mid August Average temperatures range from about 16°C (61°F) in the southwestern highlands to 25°C (77°F) in the northwest; but in the northeast, temperatures exceed 30°C (86F).

WHAT SHOULD I BRING?

General Daypack. High SPF sunscreen (Uganda is on the equator!). Flashlight/torch. Insect repellent. Spare or rechargeable batteries (these are difficult to find once you are in the Parks). Waterproof bags to protect equipment. Electric plug adaptors for 240 volts AC 50 Hz. UK-style square-pin plugs are used. Some people find contact lenses uncomfortable in Uganda because of the dust – you may find it more comfortable to wear glasses while on the road. Antiseptic hand wash. An International Driving License if you are thinking of hiring a vehicle. Clothing Good walking boots/shoes. Sandals or other light shoes. Waterproof jacket or rain poncho. Lighter clothing for Kampala and the savannah, with layers for the cooler evenings. Warm clothing for mountainous regions, including thermal layers and a fleece. Sun hat/cap. Professional climbing gear is required for summiting the Rwenzoris. Uganda is a conservative country, and visitors should dress respectfully. Avoid short skirts and short shorts.

SHOULD I BRING ANY SPECIALIST EQUIPMENT?

This depends on your interests – for photography, birding and wildlife enthusiasts we recommend the following: Binoculars: You get what you pay for! Waterproof binoculars are great in Uganda as they are also dustproof. For most travelers stick with 8 or 10 magnification and 32 objective. These will be lighter than the 42 objectives which are heavy to carry all day. Cameras: Choose something which you know you can handle – a heavy camera with many settings will be off-putting for some people to use. For good wildlife shots. Six to eight megapixels is fine unless you want poster-size photos. Bring a lens cloth to remove dust, several changes of batteries (even if you use rechargeables – all sites have power points) and take several memory cards instead of one large one, to avoid losing all your photos if something goes wrong

DO I NEED A VISA TO ENTER UGANDA?

For most nationalities, including the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and Ireland, 90-day tourist visas can be purchased on arrival at Entebbe airport for $50, or at the Ugandan Embassy in your home country prior to departure. Your passport must be valid for at least six months following the date of entry. As visa regulations change frequently, please check with the Ugandan Embassy in your country before departure.

What is the currency?

The Ugandan shilling. There are a few agencies like SALABED LONDON that sell shillings but otherwise shillings are hard to find outside Uganda. How do I exchange cash?

US dollars, UK pounds and Euros are accepted by Gonya Safaris and Forex bureaus in urban areas. Many larger hotels will also accept US dollars and Euros-though you should check first in advance. All US dollars must be printed post-2009, should not be damaged or written on in anyway. Higher exchange rates are given on larger value notes. Banks and forex bureaus will exchange cash; alternatively you can use ATM machines common in the major towns. They should accept visa debit and credit cards.

How do I make payment for my safari/day tour etc?

To make payment for your safari or any activity with Gonya Safaris, simply use the online payment platform of PESAPAL for Visa and Mastercard holders. PESAPAL is East Africa’s equivalent of PAYPAL. Please note a surcharge of 3.5% applies for every payment made. Payment can also be made by bank transfer. Please contact us for bank details. As a last resort payment can be made in cash at our offices in Jinja – Uganda.

CAN I BARGAIN WHEN SHOPPING?

Prices are fixed in shops, but food and craft markets will be more flexible. You stand a better chance of getting a reduced price if you purchase several items from the same seller.

Prices are generally very low – so do consider if what you are asking for is fair.

Agree on charges for minibuses (matatus) or motorbike taxis (boda-bodas) with your driver beforehand.

SHOULD I BRING ANY OTHER MEDICATIONS?

Anti-malarial tablets are recommended throughout Uganda - visit your local travel clinic to determine which type is best for you. Note: Chloroquine does NOT protect against malaria in Uganda.

Bring all prescription medications with you – they may not be readily available in Uganda.

Be sure to purchase travel insurance before you begin your trip, including medical evacuation in case of an emergency.

WHAT OTHER HEALTH RISKS ARE THERE?

Even if you are taking anti-malarials, you should still wear insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts, long trousers and closed shoes. This will also help protect you from other diseases carried by mosquitoes and other insects such as tsetse flies.

All accommodation in high-risk areas will have mosquito nets – be sure to use them.

Avoid swimming in Uganda's lakes – they carry a high risk of bilharzia

Tap water is not suitable for drinking, though bottled water is readily available throughout the country.

Mountain climbers should familiarize themselves with the symptoms and treatment of altitude sickness. Above 2500m, altitude sickness can affect anyone, irrespective of age, fitness or previous experience. The risk is reduced by slow ascents to enable acclimatization, while the most effective treatment is immediate withdrawal to a lower altitude.

HOW SAFE IS UGANDA FOR TOURISTS?

Uganda is generally considered to be a safe, stable country with low crime rates.

South Sudan border region and Karamoja in the north should be avoided, with the exception of Kidepo Valley National Park.

Use common sense in cities as you would elsewhere – do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables, and keep money and credit cards in an inside pocket.

For the most up-to-date information on Uganda, visit the FCO website.

IS THERE ELECTRICITY IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY?

Few areas outside the towns and cities have electricity.

Lodges in rural areas will usually have solar panels or generators. This may mean that there is only power at certain times of day, or that plug sockets are limited.

Throughout the country, there are regular "load shedding" blackouts to keep up with the demand for electricity. These may occur several times a day, and vary in duration – it is recommended to bring a flashlight. Load shedding will not affect the lodges with solar panels or generators.

WHAT LANGUAGE IS SPOKEN IN UGANDA?

English is widely spoken, especially in Kampala and by those working in tourism.

Of over 50 local languages, Luganda is most common. Swahili is also spoken by many people as a second language.

HOW CAN I MAKE PHONE CALLS IN UGANDA?

If your cell phone is compatible, you may be able to purchase an inexpensive SIM card, widely available throughout the country. The international dialling code for Uganda is +256

WHERE CAN I USE THE INTERNET?

Internet cafes are common in Kampala and all major towns, though the connection is likely to be very slow.

Some hotels and restaurants also offer wifi.

CHIMPANZEE TRACKING AND HABITUATION

The chimpanzee tracking experience gives you a rare and exciting opportunity to see habituated chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in their natural habitat. Habituation means the chimpanzees have been made used to human presence but still behave naturally even when being observed by the humans.

WHO CAN TRACK OR HABITUATE CHIMPANZEES?

Anybody of age 12 and above

HOW LONG DO I STAY WITH THE CHIMPANZEES?

One hour (chimpanzee tracking)

Four hours (chimpanzee habituation

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR TRACKING AFTER PAYMENT?

After payment, you will be given a permit, including your invoice and receipt.

Travel at least one day before the tracking date to be in time for the tracking which starts by 07:00 am.

Present all the above documents to the staff at the park, including your identification documents for verification (permit, invoice and receipt).

An UWA guide will then be allocated to brief and take you for the chimpanzee tracking experience or chimpanzee habituation experience

WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING OR LUGGAGE CAN I USE WHEN TRACKING?

Jeans, safari clothes (dull colours) and strong jungle boots

Rain gear is also recommended

A bottle of drinking water

What vaccinations do I need?

A yellow fever vaccine is essential-bring your certificate with you. COVID-19, Hepatitis A and B, meningitis, polio, tetanus, and typhoid vaccinations are also recommended.

Can I change my itinerary?

Yes. Any itinerary can be further tailored to include more days and thus reduce driving time or simply enjoy more time in the wilderness or enjoy more activities. Most itineraries can also be amended to have less days or activities so as to suit one’s preferences or budget.

What accommodation does Gonya Safaris use on safaris?

Gonya Safaris will generally use mid-range and some decent comfortable budget lodges and guesthouses as the standard accommodation for private safaris. Accommodation is based on shared rooms in twin or double beds.

Gonya Safaris uses luxury accommodation including Mweya Safari Lodge, Mihingo Lodge and Silverback Lodge among others for luxury safaris.

Gonya Safaris will use budget accommodation for the budget student and volunteer trips unless upgrades are requested.

Each facility/lodge we use is hand-picked after a comprehensive vetting process by our quality and standards team every year.

Can I take my children on tour/safari?

Yes you can. Gonya Safaris tailors specialized family safaris for families traveling with children. These safaris are designed with the children’s needs in mind so we consider aspects of food and driving time while creating this safari. In addition, Gonya Safaris ensures our most experienced guides are always available for these trips where our VIP guests – the children, have to be taken very, very special care of. We have taken parents with children from the age of 6 months on safari. However, some activities on safari like the chimpanzee trekking and gorilla trekking are not allowed for children under the age of 15 years.