Your GTL Janice McDonald was an early AFSer and has traveled with Suzy since almost the beginning. She has visited more than 96 countries and all 7 continents both on her own and in her job as a writer and television producer! She has actually been to Antarctica TWICE – once with the legendary Jacques Cousteau and a second time with Prince Albert of Monaco. Imagine that. While she currently works mostly with ABC News, she spent 20 years with CNN, reporting news across the globe. A prolific writer, Janice has written 17 books on travel and history. She also has an independent production company called J-Mac Productions which has afforded her the opportunity to do independent documentaries as well as producing marketing, training and commercial materials. She has won numerous awards including 6 Emmys and three Edward R. Murrows for her work. No words can describe her professionalism and bubbly personality. Janice consistently remains upbeat even when things don’t go as planned and is simply Large Fun to go on a solo travel tour with!
- Africa for AFS Afriholics!
- AFS Afriholics
- Animal Lovers
- Bucket List
- Eco Tour
- Small Groups
- Wildlife Watcher
Gorillas in the Mist with Chimp Safari
Wonders of Uganda August 5-13, 2023
Price listed below the daily itinerary and trip closes out May 1
“Nothing can prepare one for the thrilling impact of encountering a full-grown silverback gorilla, up to three times the size of man, yet remarkably peaceful and tolerant of human visitors.” – Jack V.
Join us on a once-in-a-lifetime journey into the heart of Africa for the wonders of Uganda. High in the mountain jungles, 20 of you fortunate travelers will live the ultimate safari dream in tracking the elusive mountain gorillas in the wild. This is a Livingstone type of adventure in itself, but the greatest reward comes from being able to get close to these great apes just as Diane Fossey did. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, UNESCO World Heritage Site of 200 square miles, is one of the last remaining refuges for these endangered human-like creatures. As of this printing, there are just 604 left on earth. There’s nothing more humbling than being mock-charged by a silverback or watching the playful suckling infants. Just one moment will take your breath away. As you follow the footsteps of your professional tracker, it takes patience and stamina but the payoff is unforgettable.
It’s a photographer’s dream here with lush mountain slopes, emerald lakes and dense rainforests. You’ll enjoy game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to a wide array of wildlife from leopards and elephants, to zebras and tree-climbing lions. This region holds 126 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies and 163 types of trees. Along the way you will experience a Chimp Walk, game drives on safari, cultural immersion with friendly villagers, boat trip on Kazinga Channel, and colorful markets for handicrafts. You’ll be pampered throughout with fine lodges that serve fresh delicious local cuisines.
This is our 9th group here and every single person loved this surreal experience, most proclaimed it as their “best vacation ever.” Why repeat this again? Because this small group trip always sells out and many were left behind on last year’s waitlist. We know Uganda well and each time we tweak it to perfection. This year we enhanced it with an internal flight included and we set a slower pace with some free time to relax. Permits are costly, but we priced this trip so low in comparison to others for all that is included. August is the perfect time to go. Gorilla and Chimp permits are extremely limited to tourists daily with reservations up to 2 years out, but we have yours secured. Your vacation not only benefits you but also contributes to the Gorilla Habituation Fund and aids local communities with sustainable tourism.
Mountain gorillas can only live in the wild, so the only way to see them is to trek into their natural habitat. Sitting in silence for 60 minutes in the mountain forests is one of life’s greatest luxuries. Warning! This experience will exceed your greatest expectations. Our 2022 group sat a mere 3 feet away from these gentle giants for the best photos ever! This will fill quickly. Now is the time to book this epic 8 days of adventure for the rarest encounter in the world!
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
Trip Highlights: This is your opportunity to finally tick off that BIG bucket list item – trekking with the gorillas in the incredible Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, up close encounters with the chimpanzees in Kibale, incredible game viewing in Queen Elizabeth NP and the amazing Kazinga Channel with an abundance of elephants, hippos and crocodiles
Aug 4 or 5 – Depart USA to Entebbe Uganda. Full details to come in our AFS trip tips soon.
Aug 6 – Arrival – Entebbe.
On arrival taxi to Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel just a 17-minute drive from Entebbe International Airport. Entebbe is a small quiet town on the shores of Lake Victoria with many things to see and easy to explore. (Our supplier Nicki has blocked rooms for those who may want a pre-night coming in early. She will reach out to you.)
Overnight: Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel indoor pool and restaurant Plot M79 Lugard Avenue, Entebbe +256 41 7305000 B/B
Aug 7 – Entebbe – Kibale Forest (450 km approx. 6 hours).
After breakfast, you will depart Entebbe for Kibale Forest National Park arriving in the afternoon. Kibale Forest is a large protected block of rainforest, which has the highest number of primates in Africa such as Chimpanzees, Grey Cheeked Mangabey, Red Tailed monkey, Red Colobus and more. Relax in the afternoon.
Overnight at Nyaika hotel at Kibale F/B (= full meals)
Aug 8 – Kibale Forest – Queen Elizabeth National Park
Chimp Walk! This morning, you will go chimp tracking and be part of the team that goes to study the behavior of these primates in order to enable them to get used to human beings. Spend the whole morning in the forest returning to the lodge in time for lunch. It may be challenging at times to follow the chimp troops but always rewarding.
This afternoon, you can choose an optional tour like Bigodi Swamp Tour or Crater Lakes Walk or relax and enjoy this beautiful environment.
Overnight at Nyaika hotel at Kibale F/B
Aug 9 – Kibale – Queen Elizabeth NP
This morning depart on a Game Drive to the Kasenyi area of the reserve returning in time for lunch. It’s little wonder that Queen Elizabeth boasts one of the highest bio diversity ratings of any game park or reserve in the world, – from the open Savannah to Rain Forest, dense Papyrus Swamps and brooding Crater lakes to the vastness of Lake Edward.
Almost 100 mammal species include Lions, Hippos, Buffaloes, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Elephants and the elusive Giant Forest Hog plus remarkable 606 bird species that include the Black Chested Eagle, the Swallow Tailed Bee Eaters, to mention but a few. The Primates include Chimps, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Blue, Black Faced Colobus, and Golden Monkeys and Olive Baboons. Reptiles are the amazing huge Rock-Python, Puff adders, Spitting Cobras, Gabon vipers, Green Mambas, and Turtles etc. All these are regularly sighted around the tourist village on the Mweya Peninsula and this makes it a superb safari territory. Great photo ops for all the wildlife and stunning landscapes here.
Overnight at Nyaika hotel at Kibale F/B
Aug 10 – Queen Elizabeth – Southern part of Bwindi (Approx.: 5 hours drive).
This morning we depart on another game drive to the thrilling Kasenyi area of the reserve. Joy-filled game drives may reveal herds of zebra, impala, eland, lions, leopard and other savannah species. For birders, this is one of the best places to find African Finfoot, Papyrus, Bush Shrike, etc. Arrive at lodge in time for lunch.
This afternoon we depart for a relaxing boat trip along the beautiful Kazinga Channel. Hippos huff and spray mere feet away from the boat, Buffalos linger in the shallows, a tremendous variety of birds grace the grasses on the shores. Great White and Pink-Backed Pelicans, Great and Long-Tailed Cormorants, Open-Billed Stork, African Jacana, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers are commonly seen.
Overnight at Munyanyange Cave Lodge F/B
Aug 11 – Queen Elizabeth – Southern Bwindi
After breakfast, we drive through Queen Elizabeth NP around 5 hours to the southern part of Bwindi passing Kabale with beautiful scenery of hills and valleys as well as terraced tea plantations. Arrive at Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge in the afternoon with time for relaxtion. This lodge lies on the shores of Lake Mutanda which overlooks the famous Virunga Volcanoes near Kisoro in the southwest. Get a good night’s rest for the thrilling day ahead.
Overnight at Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge F/B
Welcome to Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge
Aug 12- Gorilla Trekking –Bwindi southern group
Early to rise as we head to the National Park headquarters and meet our expert guides for the day to begin our gorilla tracking experience. After a full briefing, our guides and trackers will accompany us on an early morning trek into the dense rainforest on the mountain slopes. The journey through dense foliage and up steep climbs is abundantly rewarded with the lifetime experience being with these extremely rare massive primates. Often one can smell the apes before seeing them. Suddenly from the silence, you’ll hear their grunts. You may see a range of ages in the family including the huge Silverback the patriarch of the group. You’ll get within meters of the family and be privileged to spend time with them. It’s an experience you’ll never forget! (Please understand you must be reasonably fit for the stamina required. Treks take 2 to 6 hours on average. Of our past nine AFS groups here, some had it easy whereas others had it more difficult.)
In the afternoon relax at the lodge.
Optional Village Walk at a cost of $30.This is an incredible experience offering insight into the amazing history and culture of the Batwa tribe or the Pygmys who until recently lived in the forest with the gorillas.
Overnight at Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge F/B
Aug 13 – Fly to Entebbe
You will transfer to Kisoro airstrip for your charter flight back to Entebbe. Flight departs 08h30, arriving Entebbe at 11h30 ( goes via Queen Elizabeth NP). After lunch, relax at the botanical gardens and later fly back home. All flights back to USA depart late in the evenings.
Price $3170 twins share pp + $900 for the gorilla & chimp permits.
Deposit: $900 to secure gorilla and chimp trek permits. 2 single rooms available to an added $895
When entering or departing Uganda, you must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccinations
- Scheduled flight from Kisoro to Entebbe
- All Meals and accommodation as per the itinerary on F/B and B/B basis.
- Gorilla permit each at $700
- Chimpanzee permit at $200
- All ground transportation in a comfortable 4×4 vehicle.
- Park entrance fees.
- Services of a full-time English-speaking driver/guide.
- Water, coffee or Tea while on safari.
- A boat trip on the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth NP
- All game drives.
- All airport pickups and drops.
- All activities at stipulated in the itinerary.
- And all government taxes/levies.
- Travel Insurance
- Gratuities $95
- Visa fee $50
- Land prices per person twin share. Trip price based on a minimum number of participants.
- Single rooms limited with $ supplement. Cost varies. Email us for availability. AFS will find you a roommate.
- The earliest we present group air is 10 months prior. We’ll send email to ask who wants it. A minimum number of 12 is needed.
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions, Heading Abroad with AFS, Covid Policy. Travel insurance is important nowadays. It’s rare, but we reserve the right to modify schedules, tour and hotels.
- Read Trip Tips on its own tab next itinerary for latest details.
AFS Gorilla Trek Trip Tips – Your source for trip-related questions.
Thank you for booking with us to one of the planets top “bucket list” adventures as we track gorillas and chimps in the wild with so much more! Prepare to be thrilled on our once in a lifetime adventure into the land of gorillas that people only dream about. Our past 9 groups loved it, some stating it as their best vacation ever! Uganda is a feast for all your senses with stunning landscapes, amazing wildlife and the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. This trip will provide you with the most profound travel memories of all. We have a wonderful group of 19 travel lovers with space to add 2 more so please tell your friends. Get to know each other now by connecting on your private Facebook group. Ask for the link if you have not received it already.
Uganda, deservedly dubbed the Pearl of Africa, is located in the Great Lakes Region in central Africa and boasts an ecological diversity that rivals many larger countries. Here, Eastern Savannah meets West African jungle. Uganda really does offer visitors incredible diversity with its multitude of varying ecosystems. Bordered by the Rwenzori Mountains (often called the Mountains of the Moon, the 3rd highest in Africa), the Virunga Mountains, and Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, it’s a beautiful country bursting with birds and wildlife. In no other African destination can one see a comparable variety of primates with so little effort – not just the great apes but also more than ten monkey species. And, if Uganda will have primate enthusiasts grinning with satisfaction, it will have birdwatchers doing cartwheels with 1,000 bird species have been recorded and it is particularly rich in western rainforest specialists – undoubtedly the finest bird watching in Africa. For most, the highlight is found amongst the forests in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where coming face to face with endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is one of the most profound wildlife encounters you will ever experience. Discover tree-climbing lions around Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National Park, trek chimps in Kibale Forest and the herds of elephants in the plains. We pack such great value here. AFS gorilla trips are thousands of dollars less in cost than all other tour companies for the same itinerary. We even added a domestic flight at trip’s end to cut your driving time down.
It is your responsibility to read our important emails and updated notes here. Let us sweat the small stuff as we strive to make your trip worry-free. This may well be the best time to go and fully enjoy your vacation! Bookmark this page to conveniently find your way back.
Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)
- FINAL PAYMENT DUE April 1, 2023 second payment. May 1 final due. . Our new data management system allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase. As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price. If you prefer to use the mail, make your payment to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080
- Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
- Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages. We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email. Also good to scan any docs, Covid test, trip tips, etc.
- To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
- Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
- Vaccines – Bring your vaccine card. Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it. You can take photo of both sides and store on phone. Yellow fever shot (see below).
- All airline rules differ. It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure! Airlines are in the process of making routing and scheduling changes now. Always check your flight before departure.
- A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is a requirement in Uganda for all travelers at this time. Yellow fever vaccination certificates are valid for a lifetime. (A Uganda vaccination waiver can be issued by your medical practitioner if the yellow fever vaccine is contraindicated for medical reasons. Uganda yellow fever exemptions allow travelers who are 60 years of age and older and those who are allergic to egg proteins that may develop rashes on their skin to apply for clarifications of an exemption letter through the Uganda immigration online application process.). Most in our groups who travel to Africa have this. Bring your yellow card. To get yellow fever vaccine contact your local county health department or a travel clinic. Or get a doctors note for exemption.
Uganda visa – Your passport must have a minimum of at least two full clear pages for visas and stamps and be valid for more than 6 months from the date of entry into Uganda. Most passports need a single-entry visa (cost US$55). Visas cannot be obtained on arrival. You must apply and pay for them online at https://visas.immigration.go.ug at least two weeks before your arrival. We will email you when and how to apply in July! Do nothing until we advise. You will be required to upload clear copies of your current passport, yellow fever certificate and a passport photo. Only Visa and Mastercard cards are accepted. Once payment is made, the system will process your application and send you a barcoded email. Print out this email and bring it with you to Uganda. Upon arrival you should present the barcoded email to the immigration officer, who will scan the barcode, take your fingerprints and photo and place a visa in your passport.
East Africa Tourist Visa – If you add more Africa countries…If you are planning an East Africa trip to include Uganda, Rwanda and/or Kenya, it may be better value to apply for a multiple entry visa – valid for 90 days for tourists only. Cost is USD100 per visa. For more information go to: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/#/apply if you are entering Uganda first, or alternatively the Government visa site for the East Africa country you will be first entering.
Fitness level – No trouble walking. You must be fit for the stamina on the trek. With nature, one never knows as the gorilla families are always on the move, but our trackers are experts in finding them. Your trek may be easy 2 to 4 hours or it could be more arduous taking 5 to 8 hours. Our past groups had relatively easy treks. Gorilla trekking can vary tremendously as they continuously move through the rainforest. It is good to be prepared and weather can change with very little warning. The terrain can vary considerably.
The Trek… Gorillas are the world’s largest primate weighing up to 600 pounds. But don’t forget the other amazing wildlife – Lions, elephants, hippos, crocs, balloons, monkeys, warthogs, waterbuck, birds and much more! You will be allowed up to one hour for viewing the gorillas. This is to ensure that the wild animals are not overexposed to human presence. While watching them you’ll be able to be required to keep a minimum distance from them, generally between 5 to 7 m and your guide to ensure that this is enforced. It depends on where the gorillas moved from the day before. Plan on hiking 3 to 4 hours.
You will be guided through the forest on your gorilla tracking by an Uganda wildlife authority who you will meet at the departure point in the morning of your trek. Your guide will help you book a porter so that you can trek without having to carry anything heavy aside from your daypack. (These porters are from the local community and are used to the local conditions. They will in assistant and support you through your trek, if conditions get tough. They are very poor and depend on tips. Please support the locals and hire one or two of these people even if you feel you don’t need them. Do your part to help those willing to work and help you.) There are no guarantees in nature but your sightings have a 97% probability. There are 5 gorilla families in Bwindi now. You’ll be thoroughly briefed and divided into 2 groups of eight each with six trackers and porters. Each group will be divided by consideration of physical ability. Stay together, keep your voice is low, no eating or flash photography. If babies come to you, don’t move. It’s a silverback charges you, do not run. but crouch down, act submissive and look away (yeah, right).
Travel Health & Meds – Anti-malaria pills are recommended, but no required. See more on this below. Contact your doctor for these. Bring inspect repellent with DEET. Also, a yellow fever inoculation (see below) is compulsory now but it may change. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to get your shot which is good for life. Bring certificate with you as proof. Understand all your food and water is pure. However, it’s always a good idea to bring Imodium just in case.
Air– land dates are August 6-13. Go in a day early to relax. Air dates then would be August 4-13. USA roundtrip to Entebbe. You must be in Entebbe EBB by 3 PM on August 6. We may not present group air as this is a small group of seasoned travelers. Air is easy to search round-trip USA to Entebbe (EBB). Meet up by 3PM when guide will transfer you to Entebbe Hotel near the airport. Our supplier Nicki can help you with any air. Email her at email@example.com.. Best airlines to consider our Qatar, Emirates, Turkish, KLM and Air France with Delta and Brussels Air. Our past groups used Brussels with United and British Airways for good connections.
We find few people book group air now and may find better rates on own direct from hometown. This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end. We recommend you now book flexible air tickets that can be refunded or changed. (For decades, AFS presented group air to make your trip totally hassle-free. Guides greet you on airport arrival and if any flight changes, we had your back. Sadly now, only around 10% want group air and often meet can’t minimum.) We like Google Flights, Kayak or Momondo. 3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it near impossible to handle air problems. Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you. Buy travel insurance and have a flight backup plan.If you can afford to splurge on business class, contact our guy: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone is 305-676-2314. For all classes of tickets, email email@example.com your exact air dates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate.
Hotel Transfers- We will collect arrival and departure times about 4 weeks prior to departure to assist with airport arrival transfers. Everyone flies round-trip into Entebbe. You may want to add a stopover en route.
Our hotel is Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel Plot M79 Lugard Avenue, Entebbe
Click here for More Tips like packing, money, shopping and more
Supplemental Trip Tips Info
Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland. Due to space limitations in the vehicles it is imperative that luggage be kept to a minimum. We suggest a barrel or soft bag (15 kg maximum) for your main gear, plus a smaller ‘day pack ‘ for inside the vehicle. Samsonite / hard bags / suitcases, etc. are not suitable as it makes packing very difficult.
You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 40lbs – weigh on a bathroom scale. If you overpack by adding side pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. (So many cool new luggage trackers like Samsung or Apple Trackers.) Be sure to attach ID to carry-on and bag to assure your bag never gets left behind.
Packing – Check Google Weather a week prior to departure. Temps should be 65° low to 80° high. T
Bring… 2 pairs of quick dry pants, 3 short sleeve shirts, 1 sweater or sweatshirt, 2 quick dry long sleeve shirts, waterproof poncho or light jacket, 3 pairs heavy tube socks to tuck pants in, sneakers, sandals, wide brim hat, rain gear. On your trek wear long pants and sleeves. Bring waterproof walking boots, even better rubber boots as things can get muddy. Bring leather or canvas garden gloves (Home Depot) to grip vegetation, small day pack. Also bring – sunglasses, mini flashlight, wet wipes, mosquito repellent with DEET, bandanna, swimsuit, water bottle. Binoculars are not necessary. Long trousers and long-sleeved shirts are also recommended for general evening use to assist in the prevention of mosquito bites and also as it’s generally cooler than during the day. There is a strict ban on the use of plastic bags throughout Uganda. Laundry is available.
Electric– Bring a EU 2 prong plug and a 3-prong plug. Lodges may have limited power at certain times of day. Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug. AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers. Some lodges use solar power systems and have power available depending on how much sun there is that day so it’s a good idea to have battery power to charge your personal equipment as a backup. This is an especially good idea for something like a laptop which uses a lot of power.
Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $400 in cash should suffice. (Venmo may be convenient at home, but useless overseas, ATM may eat your card. Always bring some cash! Wise to have new crisp bills.) Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM. Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency. Master Card and Visa widely accepted. Amex not accepted. You only find ATMs in the larger cities.
- Currency Exchange Rate $1= 3660 Uganda Shilling
- Follow the link below to create a conversion cheat sheet
- US Dollars cash is widely accepted and in most cases preferred as the currency that travelers should use to EXCHANGE into UGX on arrival for spending money on the road e.g. for drinks, curios, tips. Please note that USD bills older than 2009 are not accepted. Ensure your USD bills are 2009 or younger. Small USD bills are difficult to change – use Uganda shillings for small tips.
- Credit Cards: Only Visa and Master Cards are accepted. They can be used at some lodges and hotels, but a transaction fee will be charged which can range up to 5- 8%. Ask first.
Gratuities – It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, wait staff, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $10 to $15 per day should cover all for the trip. (For gorilla and chimp traking in Uganda, this is recommended; trackers $20, rangers $10, Forest porters $20, Safari driver guides $12, $20 head guide. $100 should cover all.) Bring $100 total that we will collect later. Please understand this is only the suggested minimum. For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.
Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly. All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I carry a stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Porters – AFSers roll bags to their room. If you use a porter, please tip. For group lunches or dinners included, please leave $2 for waitstaff!
In Uganda, most of your meals are included. Drinks are not but are affordable. Please leave a tip in each lodge tipping box before you depart.
Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad. Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate. Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.
Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation. Thieves not only want your money but also your data. Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.
- Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water.
- Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night. Never carry your passport outside of the room.
- It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own. To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.
- Travel health – Drink bottled water. Avoid street foods. Bring Imodium. Need meds or shots? Book a Tele-chat with a travel doctor for shots and meds at runwayhealth.com. Load up on antioxidants like vitamin C to zinc.
Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask. Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. The best photos on a gorilla trek is when YOU are in the same frame as the apes. Also, there is a village pygmies nearby Bwindi Forest. Ask your hotel how you can visit them.
Accommodations – Please see the itinerary Hotel tab for details. Hotels can change, but it’s rare. You can Google these or see the itinerary.
Roomies – Single supplements have significantly increased – if available at all. Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching. 99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night. Note, kindness begets kindness.
Note on 3rd World Travel – Uganda is not for typical tourists. Things may not go as planned. Roads may have potholes, water, or electric issues at times. But we make it as easy and comfortable as possible. All our past groups said this was their “best trip ever.” It’s a humbling experience with the chimps, gorillas, elephants, and the Batwa people. You AFS travel lovers are a tribe united by your adventuresome spirit. Africa always shifts our perspective on so many things we take for granted. You return home filled up with gratitude. Begging is frowned upon by locals. School supplies for kids are appreciated.
Optional Tours – Crater lakes hike, a village walk with the pygmies, a boat cruise – range $20-$30 each. Will get a headcount later.
Leisure Time – For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions. We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results. Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.
Amending tour pre-or post-trip or arranging private tours during free time. We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips.
Private Facebook Group Page – The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour. The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit. (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)
Emergency Contact – AFS Phone 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/ and more contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 weeks before departure.Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone. 3 weeks prior to departure more details on this will be emailed.
Cancellation Penalty – At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions Briefly, on land packages we’ll refund your deposit less 50% until 6 weeks prior trip’s final payment due date. Any cancellation after this date will result in full forfeiture of your deposit. AFS reserves the right to resell or otherwise use the canceled space at our discretion.
Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation, especially on this trip to Uganda. Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com. CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive. Note that no company covers for fear.
Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage. The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period. We like TravelSafe, Allianz or Seven Corners.
- Click here to Purchase Travel Insurance online
Travel Psychology 101 – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit. If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience. Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude. Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness. Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.
The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy
“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable. It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman
Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel. In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK: Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.
Suzy’s Africa Travel Tips
“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa. For he has so much to look forward to.”
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere else. How can you describe its magic? How can you explain the fascination of the past and noble dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? How are experiences here in a way no other place can? Maybe it’s because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind. The happiest years of my life were spent here.” Paul Theroux
Some travelers who’ve never been to Africa think a safari is non-stop action. Behold the stunning boredom! The fact is there’s a lot of glorious downtime between early morning and evening game drives. Time in the bush is like entering a remnant of an earlier era. Everything slows down. Shade seeking lions flop over like house cats, zebras stand still as statues, leopards drape over branches to sleep. All game rests. With them, we engage in a communion of laziness. We relax. We observe.
Wildlife Encounters – All animals are wild and you are prey. Respect proximity. Wild animals are totally unpredictable. If you ever encounter a predator in the bush-never run! You will always be the slowest. Animals may roam into lodge camp. Never deviate off path or walk alone at night. Guards will escort you. Never walk near a riverbank or swim in lakes. Hippos hide well.
Game Drives – You will be divided into groups of 4-6 per safari vehicle. Do not interfere with or direct your expert rangers – guide who lived there. He’s far more than a driver with years of experience and intense certifications. Your safety is their number one concern. They can spot everything from ground to sky. Suggested tip is $5 per game drive. If several days of drives, wait until the end.
Animal sightings are not guaranteed. AFS past groups have been extremely successful on all. Over 3 decades, we never had a bad safari. Big cats are usually present, but leopards and cheetahs tend to hide. Don’t just search out the big mammals. You’ll miss the marvels of small creatures like badgers to bushbabies and spectacular birdlife.
Photography- Rather than hauling big lenses, small digital cameras get incredible shots nowadays. Edit/delete each night. On drives, keep camera in the bag to protect it from dust and sun. Don’t forget extra batteries! Best light on safaris is 6 to 10 AM and 4 to 6 PM. Rangers will assist with the best vantage points. There is usually a pair of binoculars to share in jeep. Always get consent before photographing local people.
On return home, share your pics on AFS private Facebook page or use Shutterfly.com. (I have over 8000 photos of elephants and lions. Please take human photos as well as wildlife. Better yet, take photos AFS humans with the wildlife.)
Expert Africa Packing: Bring only soft-sided luggage. No hard cases can fit in Safari vehicles. If we use small charter aircraft deep into bush like Botswana, I’ll advise of strict weight restrictions for both bag and carry-on. Pack light and wear the same clothes more than once. Laundry is always available.
Neutral colored clothing (no bright colors or fragrances to alarm animals.) light cotton shorts and T-shirts by day. Jeans/pants with a long sleeve top at night. Early-morning drives always cold-bring warm jacket, fleece or sweater. Smart outfit for evening functions.
Hat with a brim for sun protection and chinstrap for drives. Bring a simple light day pack on drives. Sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent with DEET, swimsuit, adapter plugs, mini flashlight, toiletries.
Lodges or Camps – All first-class properties or “glamping” style tents. All food and water is purified. If water is not, guide will advise. Cover bathroom sink with a washcloth as a reminder not to use. Bottled water in the rooms and always available daily. Hydrate! African air is dry and sun is strong.
Lodges have a staff tip box. $5 to $10 is generous to give and will be shared with all staff.
Ask reception for charging station to plug-in phones, cameras and tablets.
About Anti-malaria drugs
This is a common question from our travelers to parts of Africa and So. America. It is a serious disease that can happen when being bitten by an infected female mosquito. However, it’s extremely rare. While locals, tourism staff and guides there do not take pills, many travelers prefer to play it safe with either weekly or daily pills which starts a week before your arrival.
In the US, we are limited to only 3 choices; Malarone, Doxycycline or Atovaquone (Larium). Malarone can be costly, but now there’s a generic. Wal-Mart or Kroger have best prices. See your doctor for a prescription. Sometimes one only needs a strong DEET repellent (roll-on best) and wearing pants and long sleeves at dusk. Malaria prophylactics are a must and can be purchased from your local pharmacy. Please consult your pharmacist/doctor.
Some clients go to CDC website which prepares all for the worst and creates unnecessary fear. We only stay in fine properties with clean food and water. We do not use needles, swim in rivers, work with the sick or have sex with locals.
I don’t want you to over immunize yourself sick, spending hundreds for unnecessary dollars. Over 2 decades selling Africa and South America, no AFS client has ever contracted any disease. Ultimately, it’s your decision on what’s best for you.
Travelers’ diarrhea can happen anywhere outside USA. It can be caused from the stress of travel, different diets and water that is contaminated. However, all lodge meals are hygienic clean meals. (Cause of infection may be a virus, parasitic or bacterial, so don’t think Cipro is a cure-all.) You all know not to drink untreated tap water, use ice cubes. It is contagious so be scrupulous with washing your hands and using a clean towel to dry. And not to brush teeth with it.
If you get sick, rehydrate with oral rehydration salts, take Imodium or Lomatil. If it doesn’t pass in a week, see doctor. Don’t reach for ‘’stoppers’’ right away. Allow toxins to pass. Fluids are essential.
Things for Children – Bring anything as all we be used. Think Dollar Store of Target. Some stores will even donate. (Get creative. I bring hair scrunchies and mirrors for girls and balloons for kids.). In poor places, school supplies can be useless with no paper to draw on. They need shoes, socks, clothes. The love caps, toys and inflatable balls. You can always donate cash to the headmaster or visit Packwithapurpose.com to see who needs what in each country.
Supplier Uganda Notes Below…