Frequently Asked Questions Guide
At African Safari Holidays, we respond to frequently asked questions as an African safari Holiday Planners company, and together with other partners in tourism or safaris to Africa, we get so many concerns and questions from our visitors and we know these would be of help as you plan your next journey to Uganda and Rwanda or Africa. Please find below some of the helpful information.
Q: What is the best time to go on a Gorilla tracking safari or any other tour in Uganda and Rwanda?
A: Both Countries have almost the same climate and terrain. It is possible to travel all year round but the best times to travel are between June to October and December to February however they are also characterized by a greater number of visitors and rainy seasons. This makes the prices of accommodation and transports high making the safari bit on the high side. Though November, March to June would be ideal for best prices being a low season but all said you can visit both countries all year round.
Q: What should I wear or carry along for my Gorilla tracking safari?
A: Shorts, lightweight tops and sandals for travel days; good hiking boots, sun hat, sweatband & gloves (for gorilla tracking Safaris & chimps tracking/Habituation; lightweight rain gear, long sleeve shirt and pants (for any type of walking safari), a light backpack, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Most up-market lodges have swimming pools, so remember your swimsuits! Khaki-colored clothing is advised since it does not attract insects and it is cooler to wear. Evenings may get cooler or cold, especially in mountainous areas like Bwindi, Mgahinga, or the Volcanoes /Virungas (Rwanda) so bring a jacket and/or sweater. Also remember the Insect repellant, especially if you are going to do any walking in the forests. Favorite snacks, enough memory cards, rechargeable batteries, and a diary may also be packed.
Trackers undertaking MUST wear long trousers. The weather is unpredictable sometimes so rain gear should also be packed.
Q: What does it take to do a Gorilla tracking Safari or a wildlife safari?
A: There may be no training needed but some level of fitness is required. Gorilla tracking will involve walking and may involve hiking up and down hills, negotiating over muddy areas or small streams, and sometimes going off track through dense forests. For clients who are gorilla tracking, porters can be hired to carry your backpacks and help you up and down more mountainous terrain. Once the Gorillas are located, all backpacks must be left with the porters or accompanying Park personnel. It is advisable to stretch your arms, back, and legs before and after your tracking. Keep any valuables, money, camera film, and anything else you do not want to be separated from in your pockets! It could take anywhere between 1 hour to 9 hours for Gorilla tracking. Time depends on the season of food plenty or scarcity as well as fitness of the people in the group though from our experience any person of any age can comfortably trek or track the gorillas and have the most memorable experience.
Q: Is there an age limit for any Gorilla tracking or Wildlife safaris?
A: Wildlife Safaris are without an age limit but there is only an age limit for gorilla tracking, and chimpanzee tracking, which is 15 years. The primates and apes are prone to human diseases so to avoid this and the time/distance involved in these two activities make it hard for children to participate. Chimp tracking may last from 1 to 5 hours. As time goes by, chimps get more habituated and are easier to find and less time is spent in tracking. The same is true of Gorilla Tracking, but usually, longer distances have to be traversed to find the various Gorilla family groups. The length of time for forest walks may be decided by how far the chimpanzee/gorillas are in the forest or the other members of your hiking group. The children however have other optional activities they can do at this time in the national parks as will be advised by the travel agent.
Q: What do I do with the children while I go Gorilla tracking or Chimpanzee tracking?
A: Most Lodges and Parks have games and activities that will keep children occupied while parents are going for Gorilla or Chimpanzee tracking. Lodges can usually provide a babysitter to watch children while parents are busy. Ugandans generally love children and are very good with them. You will find that they will develop a good relationship with your children! They could take children on short, easy, guided walks or stay with them in the vehicle or Lodge (whatever your preference will be) while you go on longer outings.
Q: What are the medical precautions I should take before I start my Safari or travel?
A: Get a medical checkup before coming on safari if you have had previous medical concerns, especially if you are tracking gorillas. If you wear prescription glasses or contacts bring a copy of your prescription. Carry all important medications and documents in your hand luggage and if need be, please let us know of any medical conditions for better planning and service. The good news is that there are medical facilities in the large towns and places near the tourist areas. You will also require a Yellow fever vaccination and card for both Uganda and Rwanda. So, we encourage you to contact your insurance company to be fully insured before you travel. Also, to mention are the malaria pills as per the prescription of your doctor before the travel. We do not offer travel insurance. We suggest you arrange your travel insurance before leaving home. All of our safari vehicles are covered with comprehensive insurance.
Q: What kind of accommodation will I be able to stay in?
A: At African Safari Holidays, we consider comfort and value for money so the accommodations we usually recommend have the following: A clean comfortable Twin or Double bed, has a private bathroom, good and safe scenic view, running water (This water is treated and good for bathing but not safe for drinking so we provide bottled drinking water in the car for the entire journey). Some extras may include swimming pools, Massage services, Laundry services available at an extra payment and upon request. We use Luxury, Mid-range, and standard rooms. These accommodations have a resident Chef and they provide all meals including the packed meals with mostly fresh food to.
Q: What are the roads to wildlife and gorilla trackings like in Uganda and Rwanda?
A: Most of the roads are paved roads especially on the highway to most of the national parks. Usually, these major and secondary roads are well maintained in Both Countries. Roads do tend to deteriorate with heavy rains especially on the Ugandan side, which are frequent in the whole region –so there may be portions of roads that are in between maintenance, which could be better. Just be prepared for such instances and take them in stride as part of your African safari experience! A 4X4 car would be advised to use at all times for better comfort and experience and as African Safari Holidays we only Use 4X4 safari vehicles to avoid delays and inconveniences.
Q: What type of transport does K Safaris offer?
A: We transport our clients in private 4WD Customized Safari Land-cruisers (3 seaters), (5 seaters), and (7 seaters) as well as Safari 4×4 Vans (9 Seaters) with pop up safari roofs for better game viewing. It means you will not be sharing a vehicle and for larger groups, coaster buses can be arranged. All of our vehicles are fully converted safari vehicles suitable for any challenging safari. Our driver-guides are excellent drivers and very knowledgeable with experience on our roads.
Q: Is it possible to fly to the destinations and can you arrange Domestic or chartered flying to the safari destinations and gorilla tracking?
A: Yes, we do and there are scheduled domestic flight and chattered planes for our wildlife gorilla tracking flying safaris to meet the needs of the Luxury clients and those that would love to do a gorilla tracking safari in Uganda and Rwanda. Each of the National parks has an airfield that would reduce the time of driving on the road. These safaris are usually tailored on request for busy and adventurous visitors. At African Safari Holidays we have all it takes to handle volumes given our experience. The good news further is that there are scheduled domestic flights now especially in Uganda with special packages based on flight schedules available so please request this option for the best advice.
Q: Is there electricity and internet at the various lodges and tented camps?
A: Some of our safari vehicles have inverters and charging systems as well as Wi-Fi upon request while on the road. Most lodges have power provided by either Hydro Electric power or generators and solar energy. If you are staying inside the National Park, regulations usually do not allow generators to be run throughout the night because of the noise pollution, so it is advisable to pack a flashlight and batteries. If you need to recharge batteries remember to do it when the generator is first turned on. Some tented camps and lodges only utilize lanterns and candles for lighting. But you will have sufficient light as you travel through Uganda and Rwanda. With improvement in technology, there are hotspots in most of lodges and hotels so you will connect to your people at home via the internet when you travel.
Q: What is included in the wildlife and gorilla tracking tour price?
A: As a company, we endeavor to detail all the price inclusions and exclusions on any itinerary we send out to any Agent or client. Some of the inclusions include Transport as requested, accommodation on a full board basis unless otherwise noted, all activities as per the itinerary, English speaking driver-guide. You will also have a ranger guide with you for many of the activities in the national parks you visit, bottled drinking water while on safari, Meals on transit are included in the price.
Q: What is the best way and when am I required to pay for my safari?
A: Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits especially for Uganda and Rwanda are paid in advance upon confirmation of a safari. Due to high demand especially in the high season, Lodges need a deposit upon booking and it would be advisable to pay in advance to get the best lodges. At African Safari Holidays to improve on service we have introduced the Visa and Master card transactions where you do not need to go to the bank but can pay with your credit card on a secure link that we send you with the invoice. We are very flexible when it comes to payment, usually request for payment of gorilla permits and partial deposit for hotels is required and the rest of the money can be paid at least 3 weeks before travel or pay on arrival. This can be done through Electronic transfers which involve going to the bank and cheaper or by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express which is easy and more convenient with a 4.5% charge.
Q: How are the people like in Uganda and Rwanda?
A: We have the most hospitable and happy people in the region. You will be able to get help easily, the people smile a lot, wave and give attention. At times children will make phrases like ‘Mzungu’ this is a term they use to refer to a white person and is not intended to offend you as a visitor. At the advice of a driver Guide, you can even stop by communities and local markets to have an experience with the local people.
Q: Is it a must to tip the Guide and other service providers and how much?
A: As any other Human beings, it is important to appreciate your Driver guide and waiters and waitresses especially if they have rendered good service. It motivates them the more to perform better. The average amount is $10 – $15 per person per day for the driver guides and $5 – $10 per person per night for the hotels and restaurants usually put in a tip box provided so that each staff at the hotels can equally share. However, the amount is and should be determined by you as an individual based on how you have appreciated or been served. But that does not stop the guide or any service provider to perform their full duties to your expectations.
Q: How much money can I carry, when and where can I change money?
A: It is not advisable to carry large sums of money while traveling since most of our trips are all-inclusive packages. Depending on personal expenses, shopping at curio shops we can always advise on some extra payments. To note also, credit cards are acceptable in many of the accommodation and tourist areas. Large towns like Kampala and Kigali are ideal for good foreign exchange rates. Usually torn bills, written on are hard to accept as they may be legal tender outside Africa. Bills that are below 2009 as a year of release are not acceptable or will be exchanged as small bills especially for the US Dollar so it is advisable to carry bills of 2009 going forward and not below. Common terms like small bills are from $1 to $20 and the big bills are $50 to $100 so, when traveling carry the big bills ($50-100) since when changing got the local currency they will reward you with a good rate. Currencies like the Pond Sterling or Euro are not affected that much compared to the USD. You can still transact in the tourist areas in USD or other currencies since they receive many visitors using the Dollars or Euros.
Q: Is it possible to get good food while out of big towns and how safe is it?
A: Food is a sensitive area and can mess up your safari. We always encourage our visitors to inform us beforehand on food allergies, specifications, and preferences. That mentioned all the hotels we use to have professional resident chefs and most of our food and fruits are organic and healthy with less chemical content since they grow in a natural environment. They usually range from; Vegetarian, Indian, Chinese and continental as well as local food dishes as will be advised by your guide. While ordering for food especially on transit, there are set buffets where food is already prepared convenient and saves on time or using the menu to order food of preference which usually may take long or a short time to be served especially in the tourist areas far away from town. The speed of delivery here is not as prompt as the developed countries.
As advised by your guide it is good to taste on the local food like smashed bananas (matooke) with sauce and other types of fresh fruits and food not forgetting roasted meat. It is worth the experience but must be hot from the cooking place as advised by the guide that you will be traveling with.
At African Safari Holidays we have identified good places for such an experience should you be interested in such a local food experience.