Both Chania Hemsley-Smith and our resident wildlife expert, Derek Schuurman, have travelled extensively in Uganda and they rate it highly for its mix of flora and fauna, and here they answer questions about travel in this less well-known African country. Our FAQ sections are intended to help you decide if a particular destination is right for you. Derek and Chania are always delighted to answer questions personally - you can ring them on 020 7666 1250 or email your questions.
Why would I choose a Uganda safari over other wildlife destinations?
Known as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is one of the continent’s most beautiful countries and for most of the year the equatorial climate is enjoyable. With over 1000 recorded bird species the country’s species list is one of Africa’s largest. Among its impressive wildlife is a substantial portion of the world’s remaining Mountain gorillas. There are also well habituated chimpanzees and a variety of other primates, as well as mammals not easily seen elsewhere such as Uganda kob and Giant forest hog. So it’s a real wildlife cornucopia!
How do we get there?
British Airways operate direct flights to Entebbe and Kenya Airways operate daily flights via Nairobi
How do we travel around the country?
All our clients travel in four-wheel drive safari vehicles, some of which have pop tops which allow you to stand up and get a better few of the incredible scenery.
If there was one thing I shouldn’t miss, what would you recommend?
We both would say gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It's the best known attraction and a really memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Is Uganda safe?
Yes, but we avoid the far northern border area with South Sudan. There is always petty crime in big cities and we advise people to be careful in the same ways as they would be at home.
Can I drink the tap water?
Tap water is not safe to drink. As with many African countries, make sure that all water has been well boiled before you drink it or it is treated with iodine or a water purification tablet before hand. We all recommend adding vitamin C tablets to hide the taste - it really works. Bottled water is widely available and you should make sure the bottles are sealed when you purchase it.
Is English widely spoken?
Yes, it is. The official languages in Uganda are English and Swahilli.
Should I expect very basic facilities in all Ugandan hotels and lodges?
Not at all – there are good quality hotels, permanent tented camps and lodges in most of Uganda’s wilderness areas.
What is the local food like?
Very good – there is a strong English, Arab and Asian influence apparent in the food. You will notice a difference in the traditional meals served depending on the kind of restaurants you visit from ugali or matoke based meals to dishes served with rice and potatoes.
How much of a culture shock is travelling to Uganda?
For the most part Uganda is not a culture shock, although some recently implemented legislation that discriminates against same sex relationships is shocking and offensive to Westerners. The treatment of certain marginalised, ostracised and displaced minorities such as the Batwa, does also upset visitors.
How can I contribute to the local economy and conservation programmes?
We can introduce you to local charities that can be visited during your trip if you would like this. Some clients like to support schools, while others want to help conserve gorilla habitats and support the people who live around the edges of the conservation areas. The Forest Peoples’ Programme, a UK-based charity which has done excellent work in Uganda to assist the Batwa – among other groups of people in Uganda – is well worth supporting. Ask us for assistance if this is something that interests you.
Do I need to get any vaccinations ahead of travel and/or malaria tablets?
A yellow fever immunization and certificate is a requirement and the country is malarial.
I am pregnant, can I travel to Uganda ?
Due to the presence of malaria in Uganda, we do not advise on travel during pregnancy. Always check with your doctor before travelling.
Email Derek or Chania if you'd like to start planning a trip.