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Uganda safari - guiding travel notes

Guiding Travel Notes

4th April 2018
Travels

Important Notes

  • Yellow Fever- It may be required to show a Yellow Fever certificate upon entering the country(s) visited. Please check in with your local health expert for advice on Yellow Fever and other inoculations required for this area.
  • Travelling can be difficult on this tour in a few rural areas of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. This discovery Safari is about travelling to see what the region is like, and see some animals in game parks, to trek to see the mountain gorillas, along and some other sites in between. As such, we cover long distances and have long, bumpy travel days to get to some of these amazing locations. Despite this, the diversity and scenery of the African landscape, the local culture and abundant wildlife are all well worth the experience.
  • Great Trekkers can never guarantee the sighting of wildlife, especially when it comes to mountain gorillas. However, the mountain gorilla trek is organized to ensure success. Before heading into the jungle, our local guides receive coordinates from trackers on the whereabouts of the gorillas, and the trackers stay with the gorillas until the group arrives. Please note that if you are unwell with anything contagious, even a common cold, you may be denied any of the treks to ensure the safety of the gorillas and chimps. This is a national park regulation, and trekking permits will not be refunded if you are denied entrance due to illness.
  • Visitors to Uganda should be in excellent physical condition, without any heart problems and prepared to spend strenuous days in humid rain forests, steep terrain and high altitude trekking for chimpanzee and gorillas, as well as other primates. Those preferring to remain at base camp in Bwindi may do so, however, there is no price reduction.

Transport

For the entire trip we use a 4 Wheel drive Vehicle –Land Cruiser type, Tourist mini Vans and walking.

Accommodation

Luxury self contained Cottage rooms with hot showers are included as per the itinerary.

What to Take

You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible. Your baggage should be clearly labelled and restricted to one soft compact suitcase, sports bag, or backpack, no larger than 30cm(height) x 30cm(width) x 60cm(length), maximum 15kg, plus a daypack. Luggage limits on airlines are strictly enforced, and due to limited vehicle capacity, the cost of transporting any luggage beyond these restrictions is the responsibility of the client. Please note, if you are travelling with a large amount of luggage for other legs of a longer tour, you may leave a portion of it at the start hotel in a selected hotel.

On this trip you may experience several types of weather. It is important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings, as well as a warm jacket for early morning game drives. Light, quick-drying, practical clothes are advisable for this trip. We suggest you take something warm eg tracksuit, fleece or pullover for the mountainous areas i.e. Bwindi National Park. It is at a higher altitude and will therefore be cooler in the evenings – a jersey, anorak/wind jacket and tracksuit pants would be suggested. It will also be necessary to take some wet weather gear as it does rain in the mountainous areas of Uganda on a regular basis. We suggest lightweight rain gear for the walk to see the gorillas.

While gorilla trekking you will need a comfortable, hard wearing, pair of walking shoes or boots. Conditions are generally very muddy/ slippery. There are uphill sections which may be quite steep and strenuous. It is also advisable to wear a long sleeve cotton shirt and lightweight long pants to protect yourself from the undergrowth, stinging nettles and biting ants. (Tracksuit pants often get caught on bushes, thorns, etc and jeans can get very heavy when wet). Gloves are also highly recommended – just cheap gardening gloves will do. Tuck your long pants into your socks/boots to avoid biting insects. Also take a water bottle, and a day pack for camera gear and to carry your jacket if it’s too warm.

Your clothes will in all likelihood get very muddy and may not recover to their original state – therefore take old clothing for the gorilla trekking. Hard wearing clothes, no bright colours, or no army camouflage clothing should be worn. Greens, khaki and similar neutral clothes are recommended.

Checklist

Additional Items:
• Sleeping bag and liner (Seasonally appropriate)

Cold Weather:
• Long-sleeved shirts or sweater
• Scarf
• Warm gloves
• Warm hat
• Warm layers

Documents:
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)

Essentials:
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Footwear
• Hat
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Moneybelt
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Shirts/t-shirts
• Sleepwear
• Small travel towel
• Sunglasses
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket

Gorillas:
• Gardening gloves (Highly recommended for gorilla trekking)
• Neutral coloured clothing (Your clothes will likely get very muddy – therefore take old clothing for the gorilla trekking. No bright colours should be worn. Greens, khaki and similar neutral clothes are recommended)

Trekking:
• Gloves
• Hiking boots/sturdy walking shoes
• Hiking pants (Convertible/Zip-off and quick dry recommended)
• Snacks (Protein bars, chocolate, dried fruits, candies, energy sweets.)
• Socks (Trekking socks (woollen or synthetic, not cotton).)
• Thermal base layer (Woollen or synthetic, not cotton.)
• Walking poles (Highly recommended)

Warm Weather:
• Sandals/flip-flops
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana

Note: The climate in East Africa varies between the dry and rainy season. Please ensure you bring a windproof rain jacket if you are travelling between April & May, October & November.

Laundry

Hand washing of clothes can be done at most of the Lodges / Hotels. We recommend you bring a non polluting/biodegradable soap, as well as a roll of simple string to act as a drying line for your clothes. If you arrive in the late afternoon, or if there is poor weather, it may not be possible for your clothes to completely dry.

Visas

All countries require travelers to have a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity), and you are required to acquire the entry visas for each of the countries visited.

IMPORTANT NOTE
It may be required to show a Yellow Fever certificate upon entering the country(s) visited. Please check in with your local consulate and health expert for advice on Yellow Fever and other inoculations required for this area.

Kenya

The Kenyan Government has introduced an electronic visa process with effect from July 2nd. Travellers wishing to enter Kenya need to visit www.ecitizen.go.ke and follow instructions for processing their electronic visa in advance of their arrival into Kenya. As this measure was introduced with little advance notice, there is a grace period where travellers may continue to apply upon arrival into Kenya for their visa. You can obtain a visa for US$50. Please note that Kenya is now strictly enforcing a “blank pages, condition of entry”. All those requiring a visa on arrival must have at least two blank pages available in their passports. Failure to meet this requirement could mean that entry will be refused.

Border crossing from Kenya to Uganda through Malaba Border Post.

** Please be advised that a valid yellow fever vaccination card may be required for entry into Kenya.

Uganda

Visas for Uganda for most nationalities must be obtained through an Electronic Visa application online in advance, and a payment of $50 USD cash will have to be made upon arrival to the border.

LIST OF COUNTRIES WHOSE NATIONALS DO NOT REQUIRE TO PAY FOR A VISA TO ENTER UGANDA:
Angola, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Burundi, Comoros, Cyprus, Eritrea, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Italy (Diplomatic Passport holders only), Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Nationals of these countries are issued gratis (free of charge) visas upon their arrival.

** Please be advised that a valid yellow fever vaccination card is mandatory for entry into Uganda.

East Africa Tourist Visa

An East Africa Tourist Visa allows the holder to move freely between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with only one Visa, and is valid for a period of 90 days. It also acts as a multiple entry Visa, so if you leave any of the above countries, you do not need a new Visa to re-enter (provided it is within the 90 day validity period). These need to be applied for in advance, and you should contact the foreign Embassy (of the country you will be entering through) for more details. The cost is 100USD.

Please see below for more information:

http://www.visiteastafrica.org/visa/

** Please note that travellers looking to participate in the Rwanda Day Tour from Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda are encouraged to purchase the East Africa visa for entry into Rwanda.

This information is accurate at the time of writing, and please contact your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements and costs, regarding these, and the other countries visited, or see your travel agent. It is your responsibility to have the correct travel documentation.

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Money Exchange

The local currency in Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling (UGX, or USH), and in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES, or KSH).
Shillings can be obtained locally by changing foreign currency or by using ATMs (where available) which will disperse local currency. Your tour guide / driver will inform you where you can change money throughout the tour and approximately how much money you will need for each country.
The easiest foreign currency to exchange for locally for any of the local currencies is the $US; however the British Pound and Euro may also be exchanged as well. Please note that due to past problems with forgery, $US notes that are older than year 2006 are not accepted in Africa.
Large note ($US 50, $US 100 etc) can be difficult to change in some places, but will gain you the best exchange rate.

If you plan to rely on cash, please bring foreign currency (Euro, Pound, USD) with you, as it is often expensive to buy these currencies locally. And in more rural areas, it is often not likely.
If you plan to buy your visas at borders, you will need to bring $USD cash to pay for these visas. Please note you cannot use the local currency or any other currency to buy these visas- they must be purchased in USD.

Please do not bring Travellers’ cheques to Africa. They are difficult if not impossible to exchange in many places.

Visa/Plus system cards are the most widely accepted debit cards. it is harder to find machines Mastercard/Cirrus cards. We highly recommend that if you hold a Mastercard, you obtain a Visa card prior to departure and travel with both. This is also useful should something unforeseen happen to one of your cards during your travels.
While there are many ATMs in the major centres, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work in Africa. Check with your bank.

Credit cards can be used in major cities and towns ONLY but please do not rely on them as a method of payment because they are generally not widely accepted. You should be aware that to purchase products or services on a credit card a fee of 5%-10% usually applies. The majority of our optional activities can also be paid by credit card. Your Guide will advise on these.

Please note that in many areas there may be occasional power-outages, where there will be no electricity for hours at a time. In addition, ATMs outside of larger centers often run out of cash or can be out of order unexpectedly. These factors could affect your ability to access money from ATMs. As such, please do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money.
A combination of foreign currency and debit/credit cards for cash advances is best. Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.

As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com.

Emergency Fund

Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an ’emergency’ fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!

Departure Tax

USD40, usually included in most international air tickets.

Tipping

Tipping during your tour is optional, but the gesture is expected as a way to show your satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour.

Although it may not be customary for you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, as an important source of income for those in the tourism industry. It is one of the most direct ways that you can have a positive economic impact within the communities that you visit.

Giving a tip should be seen as a formal ‘thank you’, and the action should in no way be awkward. The best method of tipping someone that has served the whole group is to plan in advance, and not rush when it comes to saying goodbye. A suggestion would be for each group member to contribute anonymously by putting their tip into an envelope. This often works the best and the group as a whole should gather to present the gift to the recipient(s), offering their thanks and showing their appreciation. This method brings the action out into the open, allowing for a friendly and appreciative interaction between the group and the recipient(s).

You may use the following as a guideline, all given in a per client format:

Company Lead Tour Guide and drivers: $10-30 USD each, per day worked.

Trekking Guides in Uganda and Rwanda:
Certified Safari Guide/Driver: $10-15 USD (full day)

Restaurant/Café servers: 10% of cost of bill, especially when in a large group (no envelope required).

Local guides: $1 USD for every couple of hours

Optional Activities

Optional activity prices are subject to change and can fluctuate in relation to the high/low season and the number of people on a specific excursion. Not all excursions listed here may be available, due to season, or weather conditions.

All prices are listed in US dollar amounts, per person, and are examples of the entrances fees charged – this does not include hiring transport to/from the destination. And the majority of the activities should be paid in local currency.

Please note that the price of this tour includes all national park and permit fees for the gorilla tracking experience in Uganda. As such, you will not be expected to pay any other fees in order to take part in this amazing experience on this tour—we include all fees of this activity within the selling price.

KENYA
Nairobi
Bomas of Kenya $65
Karen Blixen Museum $12
Nairobi National Park $60
National Archives F.O.C.
National Museum $10
Railway Museum $5
The Carnivore Restaurant $35 set meal

UGANDA

Jinja
Rafting Half/Full day $140/$160
Tandem Kayak $160
Quad Biking Half/Full day $70/$110
Bungee Jumping $115
Horseback Riding 1-2 hours $40-60
Sunset Cruise $45 pp (minimum of 5 passengers)

Bunyonyi
Bird Watching $5
Nature Walk $5
Canoeing $8 per canoe
Traditional Dance Show $20
Fishing $5
Boat Tour of Lake $20/15 mins, $25/1 hr.

All prices are per person (unless stated otherwise), and are subject to change as services are provided by third party operators.

Health

We recommend you contact your family physician, or your local travel clinic for the most up-to-date health information at least one month before departure. Travellers should also carry a basic first-aid kit and hand sanitizers/antibacterial wipes on their travels. Medical facilities are basic throughout these countries. For your own safety, we strongly recommend that you advise your tour leader of any medical condition that may affect you while travelling with the group. Your tour leader will be able to inform you of local health advisories (e.g. drinking water quality). Please ensure you have all the inoculations recommended by your doctor.
 
 
Yellow Fever Certificate Note: (Updated: Jan 2018)
 
It is compulsory to show a valid Yellow Fever Certificate if you are travelling to the following countries from a Yellow Fever endemic country:

–          Botswana
–          Ethiopia
–          Kenya
–          Madagascar
–          Malawi
–          Mozambique
–          Namibia
–          Rwanda
–          South Africa
–          Swaziland
–          Uganda
–          Zambia
–          Zimbabwe
 
For some of these countries, proof of Yellow Fever vaccination is also required for passengers who have travelled more than 12 hours through the airport of an endemic country. If other countries not endemic to Yellow Fever have been visited after visiting an endemic country, then a Yellow Fever certificate may still be required on entry. Please check country-specific regulations before your departure.
 
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that is present in some regions in Africa. Risk of malaria can increase during periods of heavy rain, during the rainy seasons, and in densely populated areas of Southern & East Africa. To prevent malaria, we recommend speaking to your doctor about taking preventative medication (prophylaxis), combined with regular use of insect repellent spray/cream. Please check updated travel health advisories specific to malaria before your departure.

Safety and Security

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your tour Guide / Driver has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your Tour Leader will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your Tour Guide will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.

Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.

Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our Tour Leader to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).

Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.

We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety. For ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling, please visit:

Trip Specific Safety
-Always leave your passport (It’s better to carry a photocopy of it instead), other valuables and money that you won’t be using in the safe deposit in your hotel room/reception. This is free of charge to clients.
-Remember that like in any other city, you should never leave your bags unattended, nor flaunt jewellery, cameras etc
-Please don’t wander through the city at night. Stick to the main streets only during the day, and after sundown, please take a taxi. Taxis can be organized from reception of your hotel. Also, take the address of the hotel with you.
-People are generally friendly, but don’t let people take advantage of you, especially the sales people!
-Beware of people approaching you on the street with an apparent interest of where you are from, and want to sit down and have a chat with you. These people are most likely con men and try to get money from you in one way or another
-People on the street who ask you if you want a safari and have a brochure are often con men, best to avoid these folk. Besides, you’re already on safari!

Photography
Please refrain from taking photos of police stations, airports, bus stations, immigration are border crossings, army barracks and personnel, or any government building. It is against the law and will result in the minimum of your film and camera being confiscated.

Medical Form

Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility’ is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our Tour Leader’s work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.

The medical questionnaire can be found online at:

A Couple of Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our Tour Leaders have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by our Tour Leader, who will take note of your insurance details.

Nyabuhama –Rwenjeru Community Project

Through our commitment to sustainable tourism, we dedicate 20% of the total profits generated to supporting community based projects in Lake Mburo communities. As a responsible social enterprise we realized a need of supporting community based initiatives which other travel agencies couldn’t do. As a company we are sharing our profits with the community. Currently we are supporting 2 schools located in Lake Mburo National Park (Nyabuhama and Rwenjeru Primary Schools) where we have launched Wild Life Clubs and our plan is to establish an Eco-friendly Community Camp site where people could have more direct benefits once employed as workers among other related benefits. Great Trekkers Safaris is offering educational support to 20 children studying in the above mentioned schools.  Some of these children had dropped out of school and had started hunting animals in Lake Mburo National Park as a way to raise an income through selling of animal meat. We are sponsoring these children by paying half of their fees and providing scholastic materials. Our plan is to have more support if we can have more people willing to support and sponsor the education of these vulnerable children

For more information about Great Trekkers Children Support Projects and related community based initiatives which we are supporting, or to make a donation, please visit http://greattrekkers.blogspot.ug

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that we’ll give you 5% off the price of your next Adventures trip with us if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at info@greattrekkers.com  and we will send it on to you.

International Flights

Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.

3 thoughts on “Guiding Travel Notes

  1. Administrator
    4th April 2018
    Reply

    Great Job with this information

  2. kabuubi macknon
    10th April 2018
    Reply

    wow great development the website is on standard .

    • Administrator
      11th April 2018
      Reply

      Thank you for your comments !

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