Whether you are visiting Uganda for mountain gorilla safaris, chimpanzees, or general wildlife, there are strict rules and regulations you MUST adhere to. These rules have been drafted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to ensure the safety of travelers and wildlife as well as promote sustainable tourism in the Pearl of Africa. Travelers visiting any of the 10 national parks in Uganda are called upon to follow these rules and regulations. These apply before meeting wildlife, when with the animals, and after meeting them.
Rules in Savannah Parks of Uganda
• Do not camp anywhere in the park except at the designated camps. Camping in Uganda is restricted to only designate places.
• Do not make campfires in the park. Campfires can result in wildfires, especially in the dry season, which destroys vegetation and wildlife disrupting tourism in the designated park
• Do not sound horns or trumpets. This disrupts the peace of wildlife in their homes
• Do not drive off the tracks. This is so much emphasized during game drives. The park wardens must approve off-track driving.
• Driving in the park starts at 7:0am ending at 7:00 pm. Driving beyond this time is illegal and calls for punishment.
• Do not litter in the park
• Driving speed in the park is strictly 40km per hour (25mph)
• Do not bring pets (dogs and cats) into the park
• Do not bring firearms and ammunition into the park
NOTE: You are reminded to keep your entrance receipts for official inspections
Gorilla Trekking Rules in Bwindi Forest & Mgahinga Gorilla Parks
In addition to the above rules, travelers visiting mountain gorillas have extra rules. These include:
1. Do not trek gorillas when sick. Travelers with any kind of communicable illness (cough and flu) are not allowed to trek the endangered gorillas, which are susceptible to these illnesses.
2. Do not use flashlight cameras when taking photos of the mountain gorillas. The endangered species are frightened by the light
3. Do not look directly into the eyes of the gorilla. Direct eye contact with the endangered gorillas is a scare to them and can cause them to charge and act wild.
4. Do not eat or drink in the presence of the gorillas
5. Do not smoke in the presence of the gorillas
6. The allowed time with the gorillas is strictly an hour
7. Only 8 visitors are allowed to trek a family of gorillas
8. The allowed age limit to trek gorillas is 15 years old. However, if a child is almost celebrating his/her 15th birthday, they are allowed to visit the endangered gorillas
9. Human waste should be buried at least 30cm (12) deep. Travelers are reminded to tell their ranger guides in case they want to ease his/herself.
10. Keep a distance of seven meters away from the endangered gorillas. This is to avoid close encounters with the gorillas
11. When sneezing or coughing, turn your back and cover your nose to avoid the spread of germs.
12. In the case of a silverback gorilla charging, travelers are advised to stay calm and stay back.
Popular Tourist Destinations in Uganda
Having known the rules and regulations that govern national parks in Uganda, we bring you the popular parks that you ought to visit on your Uganda safari. These include:
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park
Located in southwestern Uganda, Bwindi Forest is a not miss for anyone visiting the Pearl of Africa. The impenetrable forest shelters half of the world’s mountain gorillas hence the prime gorilla tour destination in the world. The park is bisected into 4 regions (Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga). Altogether, Bwindi Forest shelters over 450 mountain gorillas habituated into 21 gorilla families. These are Mubare, Mishaya, Rushegura, Habinyanja, Kyaguliro, Nkuringo, Bweza, Oruzogo, Busingye, Katwe, Nshongi, Christmas, Kutu, and Rwigi gorilla families among others. Each family is visited by a group of eight people a day for an hour. You are required to have a permit, which costs $700 each.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls Park is Uganda’s largest and oldest national park located in northwestern Uganda. The park is famous for the mighty falls “Murchison Falls” and is also home to a high number of wild animals. Game viewing, boat cruising to the bottom of the falls, hiking to the top of the falls, bird watching, nature walks and chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest are the most done travel activities in Murchison Falls National Park.
Kibale Forest National park
Also known as the Primate Capital of the World, Kibale Forest National park is a must-visit for anyone coming to Uganda. The Rainforest Park is home to 13 primates, which makes it the best destination for primate trekking in Uganda. The primates in Kibale Forest include chimpanzees, Vervet monkeys; Grey cheeked Mangabeys, L’Hoest monkeys, Blue monkeys, Baboons, Red tailed monkeys, Olive baboons, and Black and White Colobus monkeys among others. The popular activities done in Kibale Forest National park include chimpanzee trekking, butterfly watching, bird watching, and forest/nature walks.
Queen Elizabeth National park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is yet another popular destination to visit in Uganda. The park is the second largest park in Uganda after Murchison Falls National park. The top activities in the QENP include game viewing, a boat cruise at Kazinga channel, visiting the crater lakes, bird watching, and sport fishing and community tours. The park is also famous for hosting the tree-climbing lions, which live in the Ishasha sector south of the park.
Conclusively, Uganda National Parks offer you the best wildlife and primates experience. Endeavor to follow the rules and regulations in the ark and enjoy the best in Uganda’s popular destinations.