mutanda gorilla tours

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

questions & answers about safaris in uganda and surrounding areas

1. Is Uganda a safe country?
Although Uganda has a turbulent history and suffered from war for many years, it is a safe country to visit nowadays. You will be warmly welcomed by the friendly residents and Kampala is announced to be one of the safest capital cities in (East) Africa!
Most national parks are situated in the south(west) of the country and are safe to visit. The border area with Rwanda and DRC remains stable. All national parks and wildlife reserves are well protected by the rangers of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Visitors of Bwindi National Park are always accompanied by a military escort during their activity.
The national park that is most in discussion is Murchison Falls. Due to twisted information and the impression that the area, some foreign ministries are giving a negative travel advisory for Murchison Falls National Park. However, tourism programs continue normally and many tourists are still travelling to this area. We carefully selected the routes to be taken and thanks to the measures that are implemented UWA guarantees security for all intending visitors.

2. What is included/excluded in the prices?
All mentioned prices are inclusive of:
• Ground transport per comfortable 4WD safari vehicle
• Visit to all mentioned places in the program
• The service of an experienced English speaking driver/guide
• National park entrance fees
• Activities that are mentioned in the itinerary, except for the optional activities
• Overnight in the mentioned accommodations, based on a twin or double bedroom
• Full board Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
• Bottled mineral water of 2 liters per person per day in the vehicle
• Government taxes
• Ranger fees
Not included are:
• International flight
• Visas (available at the airport)
• Meals and snacks that are not mentioned in the itinerary
• Beverages other than the bottled mineral water in the safari vehicle
• Tips and gratuities for the guides
• Laundry
• Gorilla permit
• Optional activities that are mentioned in the program
• Items of personal nature
• Travel insurance
• International transaction costs
In most cases we do mention the extra charges for optional activities in an itinerary. If not, or if it is not clear for you, please contact us for the additional fee.

3. What is the best time period to travel to Uganda?
Officially Uganda has a dry season from December/January till mid March and from June till mid September. These months are also most popular with tourists, with July and August as the peak season. Most rain falls in October-November and April-May. However, this doesn’t mean that it rains all day. Usually it is a tropical shower at night or shortly during the day, but in Uganda you can trust that after rain comes sunshine! The weather is no reason to avoid travelling in the wet season. You might even consider it because of the availability of gorilla permits. Like in the rest of the world, climates seem to be changing and make it more difficult for us to predict the weather during your safari. On the contrary, the temperature is very stable and pleasant, with sunshine 365 days a year. During the day the temperature averages between 23 and 27°C, though in some places it can cool down night. One remarkable aspect about coming to Uganda is, whether you travel in the dry, dusty months or in wet season, you will never find the crowded tourism like in Kenya or Tanzania. If you spot a lion or leopard, it is very likely that you will be the only one, even in peak season!

4. How big are your groups?
We offer tailor-made safaris for every number of participants. No minimum number is required, but of course the more people the more attractive the price will be. Our comfortable Land Cruisers offer seats for 4-6 people. Besides the Land Cruisers we also own several 4WD minibuses which can take a maximum of 8 people. However, to ensure that everybody has a window seat and luggage can be stored well, we usually don’t take more than 7 people in these safari vehicles.

5. Can I book my safari with you when I am travelling alone?
As explained above even single travellers are very welcome. However, to reduce the costs it might be possible join other groups. Essential is that your interests, budget and preferred route correspond with the group that you want to join and of course other members should agree too. Note that finding other groups to join can be quite difficult, especially in low season. If you would like to stay in a single room please notify us well in advance and we will try to meet your request. Take into consideration that single rooms are not common and if accommodations have sufficient availability, you will stay in a double room for single use. Single rooms supplement will apply.

6. Do I need a visa?
Despite the fact that you need a passport which is valid for another six months, you are also required to have a tourist visa before you enter Uganda. Visas can be purchased upon arrival at Entebbe Airport. Photos are not required and a visa costs US$ 50 per person.

7. Can I do the gorilla tracking?
If you are interested in a mountain gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda you are required to buy a gorilla permit. As only eight people are allowed per day at each gorilla group, the demand is high. Of course we would be happy to assist you with this, all we need to know is the preferred date. In order to be able to buy the gorilla permit you have to provide us with your full names, nationality and passport number. A certain level of fitness is not required for the gorilla tracking, though you will be refused on the tracking when you are sick. Also note that the minimum age for visiting the gorillas is 15 years.

8. What transport do you offer?
Provided cars for the tours are open roofed 4WD safari vehicles. Our comfortable Land Cruisers offer seats for 4-6 people. Besides the Land Cruisers we also own several 4WD minibuses which can take a maximum of 8 people. However, to ensure that everybody has a window seat and luggage can be stored well, we usually don’t take more than 7 people in these safari vehicles.

9. What types of accomodation do you offer?
For your safari you basically have the choice to stay in budget, midrange or luxury accommodation. Budget accommodation consists of simple and basic rooms, bandas or tents, providing double or twin beds and mosquito nets when necessary. Private bathrooms are always available and you might have to share the washing facilities in some hotels. The 3-5 star accommodations offer comfortable rooms or luxury furnished safari tents with a private bathroom. Flush toilets as well as hot and cold running water are available. Also mosquito nets will be present where necessary. All lodges are carefully selected and frequently visited by us, to ensure quality of the facility and service. For only those that offer a unique location or ambience.

10. How can I pay for my safari?
Once you confirmed the final itinerary with us, you will be requested to pay a deposit of 50% for the safari. In case gorilla tracking is included in the program we also ask you to make a full prepayment for the gorilla permits. Note that availability of accommodations and permits is not guaranteed until officially confirmed by us. Reservations will be made as soon as the payment has been received on our account. We accept payment by VISA credit card (please include 5% service charge) and bank transfer in either dollars or Uganda shillings to our bank account in Uganda. Please note that all bank charges are at the expense of the client. The balance of 50% should be paid upon arrival, BEFORE the start of your safari. Regretfully we can not accept traveller cheques as of now. The balance can be paid by VISA or in cash in dollars or Ugandan shillings.

11. Are vaccinations required for my visit to Uganda?
Different types of vaccinations are recommended and/or required before entering Uganda. Besides bringing mosquito repellent, we also advise you to take malaria prevention medications. Vaccination against yellow fever is mandatory, just as a cholera stamp in your vaccination passport. Immunizations against DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio) and Hepatitis A are recommended as well. Please consult your local doctor or health department for a detailed and updated advice.

12. Are ATM cards / credit cards / traveller cheques accepted?
Unfortunately there are only a few banks that accept ATM cards or Visa credit cards for money withdrawal. Mastercards not widely accepted either and only a small number of banks do accept traveller cheques. Therefore we advise you to bring cash and have money changed upon arrival in Kampala ,US dollars are easy to change, though for some expenses, like the payment of visa, it is easier to have dollars available. Important: US dollars bills from the year 1999 and below are NOT accepted!

13. Should I offer Tips, and if yes, how much should I tip?
Of course a tip fully depends on the level of your satisfaction, but even a small amount to show your gratitude will be highly appreciated. You can think of USD 8-10 per day if you were happy with the service of the guide and 5-10% in (luxurious) hotels and restaurants. The small, local restaurants are not used to tipping.

14. What is required of me before setting off for gorilla tracking?
A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases. Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas. On the way to the gorillas, please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest. DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you. You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way! When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will always inform you to get ready.

15. What should I look out for when with the gorillas?
A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be. You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas. Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions. Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases. Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk. Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully. Do not touch the gorillas. 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 will finish the visit early. After the visit keep your voices down until you are at least 200 meters away from the gorillas.

16:General health rules:
Remember that mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are intended to minimize the risk your visit might pose to them:
Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
If you are feeling ill or are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you or if required, your money will be refunded.
If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

The Mountain Ranges in the area

Mount Gahinga is a dormant/extinct volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and Uganda. Gahinga lies between Muhabura and Sabyinyno, but is the smallest of these three. Mount Gahinga, also known in the local Kinyarwanda/Rufumbira dialect as "a small pile of stones", has a swampy caldera on its peak. The caldera is believed to be about 180 meters wide. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also got its name from this volcano. Mount Gahinga, whose elevation is 3,474 meters, is part of a chain of 8 volcanic mountains of the Mufumbiro ranges. The volcano chain spans across Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The vegetation across the mountain can be described as afro-montane with bamboo composing the main vegetation. Like Muhabura and Sabyinyo, the bamboo forests on Mount Gahinga are a habitat of the endangered mountain gorillas. There are several other species of animals and birds that form part of the Mount Gahinga ecosystem. The golden monkeys are notable to these.

Mount Sabyinyo ("Sabyinyo" is derived from the Kinyarwanda word "Iryinyo", meaning "tooth"; also "Sabinyo, Sabinio") is an extinct volcano in eastern Africa in the Virunga Mountains. It is north-east of Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, and west of Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda. The summit of the mountain, at 3,669 metres (12,037 ft), marks the intersection of the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda. It also is within the adjoining national parks established by these countries: Virunga National Park in the DRC, the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
The slopes of Mt. Sabyinyo are a habitat for the critically endangered mountain gorilla. The mountain carries the local nickname "Old Man's Teeth" because its serrated summit resembles worn teeth in a gum line (in contrast to the perfect conical summits of the adjacent mountains in this range).

Mount Muhabura, also known as Mount Muhavura, is an extinct volcano in the Virunga Mountain on the border between Rwanda and Uganda.At 4,127 metres (13,540 ft) Muhabura is the third highest of the eight major mountains of the mountain range, which is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Muhabura is partly in the Volocanoe National Park, Rwanda and partly in the Mgahinga Gorilla National park, Uganda. The name Muhabura means "The Guide" in the local language, Kinyarwanda It can be seen from many parts of Uganda and Rwanda because of its slope.