Baby Gorilla at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. Birdwatching and Gorilla tracking can both be done here.
Birding & Beyond, Birding Africa, Birding Ecotours, Birdquest, Field Guides, Lawson's, Nature's Wonderland Safaris, Rockjumper, Safari Consultants, Safariwise, and Venture Uganda Travel are all sponsors of the African Bird Club and operate tours to Uganda.
There is good information about birds in Uganda both on a national and local level. The formation of the Uganda Bird Guides' Club has helped to establish local site guides who are increasingly becoming the basis of avi-tourism development in Uganda. The Uganda Bird Guides' Club can arrange for a driver and guides on a national basis.
Uganda now has 2 bird guide trainers as accredited by BirdLife South Africa, 8 trained guides at a National Level and 15 site guides.
Anthony W Raphael
Trip reports for Uganda can be found at www.ugandabirdguides.org.
The following items have been updated following a trip to Uganda in July 2011.
Travellers can gain access to Uganda through all the major entrances to the country. The majority fly in through Entebbe International Airport. Several flights to and from Europe are available on international airlines each week. Kenya Airways has daily flights between Entebbe and Nairobi, and regional airlines operate weekly flights to other destinations in Africa such as Dar Es Salaam, Addis Ababa, Cairo and Johannesburg.
A passport, visa and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required for entry. Single entry visas can usually be obtained on arrival at Entebbe or at other borders (US$50 for up to 90 days). You will also need a passport valid for at least a year after entering Uganda, 2 clear pages and a few passport style photographs.
The Uganda Shilling can be bought at Forex bureaux (July 2011) for about £1 = USh4000 or US$1 = USh2500. A better rate may be obtained for larger denomination ($50 and $100) bills. Following various currency scams, US notes earlier than 2006 may be unacceptable anywhere in Uganda. Currency notes attract better exchange rates than travellers cheques.
Accommodation costs vary from international standard hotels / luxury camps at US$80 to 150 and upwards for single / twin rooms including breakfast to US$2 per person per night camping (bring your own tent). Typically, a 2- or 3-bed banda with en suite shower and w.c. can often be rented for US$40 per night. Many establishments offer a range of accommodations and prices. Apparently contrary to various Travel Guide suggestions, US$ seem to be fairly widely acceptable at least in establishments offering mid to upper range accommodation: the exchange rate offered will not be as good as at Forex bureaux, but is generally not too ruinous.
it is often possible to stay as close or even closer to the birds using lower grade and thus much less expensive accommodation. It is worth considering alternatives close to the major sites and finding something which suits your price and facilities requirements.
It is not easy to spend more than US$10 on a meal without drinks, even at the more expensive places. At the budget end, a vegetarian meal of local food can often be had for less than US$2.
Bottled water (500mL, 1 L, 1.5L) and soft drinks are widely available at varying prices. 500mL bottles of cold beer (Bell 4.0%; Club 5.0%or Nile Special 5.6%) are also widely available, at an almost universal price of USh3000. Some luxury lodges charge more, up to USh4000. Wines and spirits are also available at the more up-market places and lodges, but can be expensive.
Health and Safety
Thousands of tourists visit the National Parks each year and the above mentioned trip reports are evidence that birdwatchers have found Uganda safer than many of the biggest cities of the World. You should however visit the following sites or your own embassy sites to get the latest safety and travel information: US Travel and search for Uganda and UK FCO. Safety issues encountered are no different from those met in many other African countries. Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but some key points warrant repetition here. (1) be aware of the risk of malaria, seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended. (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling). (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun too long. Ensure you use sun-block and drink plenty of water, and wear a hat. (4) The incidence of Aids is high. (5) Ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles. One recent visitor found other insects much more of a nuisance than mosquitoes. Though the tsetse flies no longer carry sleeping sickness (they have to pick it up from animals and all the animals have been cured) they, or others can provoke irritating histamine reactions. A recommendation is to take enough anti-histamine tablets for a daily systematic dose as well as insect repellent and local after-bite applicators.