Uganda: A Primate Paradise
Before You Go
Participants on this adventure should be fit and capable of hiking along forest trails that are often steep and muddy; some hikes will be rigorous and up to eight miles in length. Some travel days will be long, involving rides in 4x4 vehicles over bumpy roads that require sitting for extended periods of time—sometimes up to 10 hours. With the exception of our hotel in Entebbe, accommodations throughout the journey will be in safari lodges and permanent tented camps. The rooms are spacious, include hot water and en suite facilities, and add the classic feel of a safari from a bygone era.
Trip Preparation: Gear Up!
As you adventure through the Ugandan landscape in search of the elusive primates who reside here, you’ll trek sturdy and secure in these triple-layer Taslan Gore-Tex/Cordura boot “Croc” leg gaiters, a trusted brand that received Backpacker Magazine’s “Editors Choice Gold Award” back in 1999 and has been a trusted favorite ever since.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
- Activity Level
- Arrivals & Departures
- Baggage Allowance
- Extending Your Stay
- Flight Information
- Gorilla Trekking Etiquette
- Health Information
- Internet & Phone
- Local Time
- Packing Suggestions
- Passport & Visa Requirements
- Payments & Cancellations
- Photo & Video Restrictions
- Wild Animals
- With Our Compliments
Participants on this adventure should be fit and capable of hiking along forest trails that are often steep and muddy; some hikes will be rigorous and up to eight miles in length. Some travel days will be long, involving rides in 4x4 vehicles over bumpy, dusty roads that require sitting for extended periods of time – sometimes up to 10 hours.
Should you have any physical limitations, please notify us in advance of your departure.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your international flight at least two hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E-ticket confirmation. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to the final destination allowed, and that you have all baggage and E-ticket receipts.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates or have booked extra nights at the group hotel through Zegrahm.
Airlines change flight times frequently and Zegrahm will send you any updates for flight reservations they made as they are received from the carrier. Still, we recommend reconfirming the departure time of your flights with the airline directly within 24 hours of departure. This can be easily done online and will ensure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight.
If you are handling your own travel arrangements, please forward a copy of your itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
Due to our charter flights in Uganda, baggage on this expedition is restricted to one bag per person, maximum weight 40 pounds (18 kilograms), plus one small carry-on not to exceed 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). Excess baggage can be stored at the hotel in Entebbe.
PLEASE NOTE: Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
We recommend the use of soft-sided luggage, as it is easier to store. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry with you essential toiletries, prescription medications, and a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary, so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event that your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
Temperatures throughout Uganda in July are generally warm. However, exact conditions vary depending on our location and altitude. Entebbe’s climate is influenced by Lake Victoria; the mountainous, western part of the country is a bit cooler due to the altitude.
If you wish to do your own research on the region’s climate, you may want to check local weather conditions on the Internet, the Weather Channel, or Accuweather shortly before departure.
The following are average high/low temperatures in July for selected locations on our itinerary:
As of February 2015, the exchange rate for $1 US dollar (USD) is 2,865 Ugandan shilling (UGX).
It is recommended that you use the money changing facilities at Entebbe airport, as it is difficult to change money during the rest of our itinerary. There is also an ATM machine at the Entebbe Airport that dispenses up to the Ugandan shilling equivalent of US$270 per day. Ensure you have a four-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number) for your debit or credit card if you wish to obtain currency at ATMs. Please note that some vendors require your credit card PIN number in lieu of a signature.
Many of the hotels and lodges on our itinerary do not accept credit cards and accept only Ugandan shilling to settle incidentals.
You will receive your Pre-Departure Packet—including a Personal Information Form that will need to be returned to Zegrahm, a complete packing list, reading list, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior to your departure.
Electricity in Uganda runs at 240V and 3-prong round and flat edged outlets are found there. As there is insufficient electricity available at the permanent tented camps to power appliances, we ask that you not take them with you. Fortunately, there will be facilities for recharging video/camera/telephone batteries during our itinerary. Participants can recharge batteries at all camps and lodges. At these locations, you will need to bring a European, round 2-prong adapter and a converter if your equipment is not compatible for charging off 220V electricity. Batteries may also be recharged from vehicle cigarette lighters, as long as the necessary adapters are available.
PLEASE NOTE: Some appliances, such as video camera battery packs, require heavy-duty converters rather than the normal travel type. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.
Extending Your Stay
Interested in extending your stay? Speak with one of our Expedition Advisors to find out how easy it is for you to stay an extra night or two. Or, our Private Travel department is available to design customized extended stays for individuals, families, and groups of friends—the same horizon-broadening adventures and life-changing experiences as our group expedition, but on a flexible, intimate, and personalized scale. Call 800.628.8747 or 206.285.4000 for more information.
With the exception of the group charter flights from Entebbe to Murchison Falls and Bwindi to Entebbe, flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements.
You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Entebbe and Entebbe/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.
Gorilla Trekking Etiquette
On the Trail
- A maximum number of eight visitors may visit a group of habituated gorillas per day. This minimizes the behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and their risk of exposure to human-borne diseases.
- Please always keep your voices low. This will increase your chances of encountering other wildlife in the forest.
- You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorillas’ trail to find them. Look for the gorillas nesting sites along the way.
- The gorillas cover large distances overnight, and they are never constantly in one area. The guides will use their knowledge of the gorillas’ habits and information from the previous day to locate the group’s whereabouts. Because of this, the time taken to track the gorillas varies enormously, from as little as half an hour to as much as 9 hours before returning to camp. The terrain may be extremely difficult, with steep slopes (often steeper than a flight of stairs) covered in dense vegetation. In addition, the moderate altitude (3,600 to 5,000 feet) means participants do need to be physically fit to enjoy the trek.
- Tracking conditions differ greatly according to the location of the gorillas, so the exact level of difficulty for a specific trek is impossible to define in advance.
- When you approach the gorillas, the guides will inform you when to get your cameras ready.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to see the gorillas.
- Do not leave garbage in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
When You are With the Gorillas
- Keep a minimum of five meters (15 feet) from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases. Also, the further back you are, the more relaxed the gorillas will be.
- You must stay in a tight group when you are near gorillas.
- Keep your voice down at all times. However, you may ask the guide questions.
- DO NOT eat or drink while you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking will result in morsels or droplets falling, which could increase the risk of disease to the gorillas.
- Sometimes gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example –crouch down slowly, DO NOT look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass. DO NOT try and take pictures, and DO NOT attempt to run away. Running away will increase the risk.
- Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.
- DO NOT touch the gorillas. Although they might look cuddly, 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 may finish the visit early.
- After your visit, keep your voice down until you are at least 200 meters (approximately 650 feet) from the gorillas.
General Health Rules
- Because it is impossible to predict the length and difficulty of any single tracking excursion, this program and specifically the gorilla tracking should not be attempted by anyone who is not in good physical condition. Due to the climbing and bending required as you make your way through the thick foliage, gorilla tracking should not be attempted by anyone who has heart, knee, or back problems. Only those who are capable of walking long distances at high altitudes over slippery, muddy terrain should attempt gorilla tracking. Tracking is likely to involve scrambling through, over, and under dense undergrowth with nettles, barbed vines, and bamboo thickets.
- Remember, gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas per day. This minimizes the risk of disease and stress.
- If you are feeling ill or are carrying an infectious disease, volunteer to stay behind.
- If you feel the need to cough or sneeze when you are near gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth to minimize the spread of bacteria and viruses.
- Again, do not eat, drink, or smoke when you are with the gorillas. Do not leave garbage in the forest; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
The Center for Disease Control recommends a yellow fever vaccination for travelers to Uganda. Similarly, Uganda requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to show proof of yellow fever vaccinations. Please refer to the World Health Organization website for a list of yellow fever endemic countries.
Yellow fever vaccinations, valid for life, must be given at official centers designated by your state’s health departments. The International Certificate of Vaccination must be validated by the center that administers the vaccine and carried with you when you travel. Your local or state health department can provide information regarding the locations and hours of yellow fever vaccination centers.
Malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended. Malaria exists throughout Uganda, but with a few basic precautions it is easily avoidable. Note: Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in Uganda and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.
Insect bites can be a problem, and we urge you to bring an adequate supply of both insect bite relief products and insect repellent.
Protect yourself against the heat and the strong sun. Drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty. By preventing dehydration, you may prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. Take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Bring a sun hat with a wide brim or scarf, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen.
Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications, as pharmacies are not found in the remote areas of this expedition.
During our program, food and drink taken as part of our itinerary and at our hotels are perfectly safe. However, tap water is best avoided. Bottled water will be provided.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of your expedition includes $100,000 in emergency evacuation and $25,000 in medical expense. Details of this policy are available online at www.travelguard.com/zegrahm.
The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.
Internet & Phone
Wi-Fi will be available in some locations during our expedition. However, due to the remote nature of the trip, the connection may be slow and unreliable.
|Date(s)||Location||Lodge or Hotel||Wi-Fi Access||Notes|
|July 18-19 & 29||Entebbe||Boma Guesthouse||Yes||Available in most rooms and main lodge|
|July 20-21||Murchison Falls||Paraa Safari Lodge||Yes||Available in business center|
|July 22-23||Kigale National Park||Ndali||No|
|July 24||Queen Elizabeth National Park||Mweya||Yes||Available in business center|
|July 25||Queen Elizabeth National Park||Ishasha||No|
|July 26-28||Bwindi||Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp||Yes||Available at main lodge only/not in rooms|
Laundry service is available at many of our camps and lodges. To allow time for clothes to dry, please use this service only at locations where we have a stay of at least two nights.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00a.m. on the North American west coast:
Seattle, WA (PDT)
|10:00a.m.||New York, NY (EDT)|
Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form included with the Pre-Departure packet, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately kosher meals cannot be accommodated.
It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly. Laundry service is available, and by using it, you can limit yourself to just four or five outfits and not be inconvenienced by an overabundance of clothing.
Our travelers often find individual stuff sacks to be useful, allowing them to pack items of a similar nature together (socks, T-shirts, etc.). Stuff sacks are available in a variety of colors for easy identification of items.
You will not have a need for formal clothes, such as a jacket and tie on safari. Dress clothes can be left with your excess baggage and stored at the hotel in Entebbe.
Your safari clothes should be in muted colors such as tan, khaki, and green, but should not be made of camouflage fabric, which is often illegal. Navy blue can attract insects, and bright colors should be avoided when we are on foot safari. We also ask that you not wear colors such as white or red as it can disturb the animals and spoil your viewing. Remember, your hat should be neutral colored as well. Ensure that what you wear is strong and durable as we will be trekking through sometimes dense undergrowth and over fallen obstacles. Bring lightweight, breathable fabrics (denim is discouraged).
Some of our camps and hotels will have swimming pools, so you may also want to pack a swimsuit.
You will receive a complete Packing List with your Pre-Departure Packet, approximately five months prior to departure.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for at least six (6) months after you return home, January 26, 2016. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. Please be sure you have at least one page for each country visited available in your passport for entry/exit stamps, and secure additional pages if necessary. We suggest that you carry a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
Visas are required of U.S. citizens for entry into Uganda. Visas can, however, be obtained upon arrival in Uganda. A visa kit is included with Pre-Departure documentation to assist guests in acquiring a visa in advance. Please read the instructions carefully and complete and forward the requested documents in the enclosed envelope.
If you are traveling independently of the group or to any other countries prior to or after the voyage, check the entry and visa requirements with the local consulates of each country you plan on visiting.
The process for obtaining visas from Uganda is determined by the government of Uganda and their designated consular agents in the U.S. While the visa service will do everything possible to ensure smooth and timely processing, please understand that application rules, turnaround times, and fees are determined by the government of Uganda and can change with no notice.
PLEASE NOTE: Citizens of countries other than the USA should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.
Payments & Cancellations
25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Air fare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars and must be paid in U.S. dollars.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
- 180 days or more - $750 per person
- 120-179 days - 25% of expedition fare
- 60-119 days - 50% of expedition fare
- 1-59 days - 100% of expedition fare
Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition.
Photo & Video Restrictions
Although photography is generally permitted throughout Uganda, photographing military installations, government buildings, and policemen is prohibited. Also note that local people should be asked before their photograph is taken.
IMPORTANT: When with the gorillas, flash photography is prohibited.
Please be aware that these safaris may take you into close contact with wild animals. Attacks by wild animals are extremely rare to travelers, but no safari into the African wilderness can guarantee that this will not occur. Neither Zegrahm Expeditions, nor any principal or employee, nor any agent or agents can be held responsible for any injury or accident on safari. Note that the camps are unfenced and animals do wander through the camps at all times.
With Our Compliments
We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. Gift certificates to our Zegrahm Store and Longitude Books will offer you the opportunity to purchase items from our store along with books or maps suggested in the highly recommended titles sent. The certificates will be sent in your Pre-Departure Packet approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificates for more details.