Luxury, Safety and Security
Climate and Transport
A visa is a clearance permitting an individual to proceed to visit another country.
Ugandan/Rwandan visas are issued at our Missions/Embassies abroad and also at the Entry/Exit
Points such as Entebbe airport, Kanombe/Kigali airport, Busia, Malaba, Katuna, etc. Ugandan
visas are required by the citizens of the European Union, the USA and Japan. Not required by
nationals of many African countries, Bahamas, Seychelles, Jamaica, Mauritius, Madagascar,
Italy (only Diplomatic Passports), Cyprus. Other nationals should check. Rwandan visas
are not required by nationals of many African countries, as well as nationals of Canada,
Germany, South Africa, Sweden, UK and USA. Other nationals should check. A valid passport
is mandatory in all cases. For a stay not exceeding 6 months, the single-entry visa fee is US$60
and US$50 for Rwanda and Uganda respectively; the multiple entry visa fee is $200 for Uganda;
Rwanda does not offer a multiple-entry visa. Others who need longer periods, as well as those
who require Inland transit and student visa categories should check.
Uganda and Rwanda have a wide range of standards when it comes to places to stay – from five star hotels and first class luxury lodges,
to rustic bush camps, guesthouses and campsites. In some cases, the lodges and hotels are not as luxurious as in some European countries.
In towns, accommodation ranges from 3-5 star hotels and guesthouses. Travelers must pay in US Dollars except for the smaller guesthouses
where the local currency is used. Not all of the small town hotels are equipped to take travelers’ cheques or credit cards so
it is best you travel with some cash.
English and Swahili are the official languages and most Ugandan’s are able to communicate fluently in English. Swahili,
English and French are widely spoken and understood in Rwanda. French and local Kinya-rwanda are the official languages.
Souvenirs may be exported without restriction but game trophies such as tooth,
bone, horn, shell, claw, skin, hair, feather or other durable items are subject
to export permits. Foreigners are not allowed to engage in the local politics.
Laws applicable to you
Clients are advised not to carry too much money around. Our safaris are all-inclusive and except for a need to tip, buy souvenirs and a
few meals in towns, there may be nothing else in relation to your safari that you need to buy. Kampala is well serviced with banks.
International Banks include Stanbic, Eco Bank, Barclays, Standard Chartered, and United Bank of Africa. The unit of currency in Uganda
is the Ugandan Shilling (Ugsh). British Pounds Sterling, US Dollars, German Marks, Swiss Francs, French Francs, Euro, Japanese Yen,
SA Rand notes are also used. The unit of currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (RWF).
There are no restrictions on importation or exportation of currency into or out of Uganda and Rwanda although any monies over US$5000 have
to be declared to customs officials. Licensed Forex Bureaus can be found in all major urban areas and are abundant in Kampala and Kigali.
It is safest to carry US Dollars.
Credit cards are allowed in most hotels, restaurants, banks, travel agencies and the bigger shops in Uganda.
Only a few hotels and banks in Kigali will accept credit cards. Most of the bigger banks and hotels will advance
local currency against a credit card. The most commonly accepted credit cards are VISA, MASTER CARD, DINNER’S & AMERICAN EXPRESS.
Departure tax was incorporated within the cost of the air-ticket. Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya charge VAT at 18% for other items.
Uganda is GMT +3 hrs. Rwanda is GMT +2hrs.
It is important to note that Tourism being a year-round activity,
these holidays do not affect the operations of travel agencies/tour
operators, national parks and other tourism-service providers.
The following are public holidays in Uganda on which offices,
including banks and diplomatic missions, may not open: New Year’s Day (1st Jan);
Good Friday (variable); Easter Monday (variable); NRM ruling Government Anniversary
Day (26th January); International Women’s Day (8th March); Labour Day (1st May);
Uganda Martyr’s Day (3rd June); National Heroes Day (9th June); Independence Day
(9th October); Christmas Day (20th December); Boxing Day (26th December); Idd-el-Fitr
(variable); Iddi Adhuha (variable).
The following are public holidays in Rwanda on which offices, including banks and
diplomatic missions, may not open: New Year’s Day (1st Jan); Good Friday (variable);
Easter Monday (variable); Democrat’s Day (28 January); Genocide Commemoration Day (4 April);
Labour Day (1st May); Independence Day (1 July); ‘Kamaramkapa’/Abolition of the monarchy Day (20 September);
All Saints Day (1 November); Christmas Day (20th December); Boxing Day (26th December);
Idd-el-Fitri (variable); Iddi Adhuha (variable).
Luxury, Safety and Security
In both countries, postal services are well organized. International call facilities as well as fax facilities can
be found at the main Post Office and in many Secretarial bureaus around. You can also send postcards or letters back home.
International telephone communication is very good from Kampala and Kigali, but as you travel upcountry it is more difficult.
A European or American mobile phone with a roaming agreement works in Uganda. In Rwanda, local SIM cards can be purchased in many outlets.
There are Email and Internet access services in Kampala, Kigali, Entebbe and in some towns upcountry.
There are a number of sporting, dancing and social clubs, theatres and other entertainment in the major towns.
Visitors are usually welcomed. Some charge a temporary membership fee.
Avoid staying up till late when you are traveling the next day.
Interactions and friendly relations are at the discretion of the client, but seek your guide’s advice.
Many of the main hotels have swimming pools, and there are excellent opportunities for golf,
tennis and squash in Kampala/Kigali, and in several other parts of the country. Football, rugby,
tennis and cricket clubs are found in the main towns. Sailing and water-skiing are available on
Lake Victoria. Fishermen should head for the lakes and the River Nile.
Bank hours vary from bank to bank but most are open from 08h30 – 15h00 Monday to
Friday. Only some are open on Saturdays. Forex bureaus are normally open till 17:00.
Most banks also have a branch at the Entebbe and Kanombe International Airport to
serve incoming and outgoing passengers. Shops are open from 08h00 to 17h00, Monday
to Friday and 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays; some in Kampala open from 06h00 for up to 16 hours.
Main roads are generally good but travel is much slower than on European roads. Secondary roads
are of variable standard, often slow and bumpy; some require high four-wheel drive vehicles.
Light aircraft can also be chartered to the main destinations. Traffic drives on the left side in Uganda;
in Rwanda traffic drives on the right. The major highways are two lane class 6 roads.
Driving in Uganda and Rwanda is quite an experience, yet probably the best way to see the country.
One however has to be cautious of Pedestrians, Cyclists, wildlife and Livestock on all roads.
Before taking pictures of people it is polite to ask. Photographs should not be taken of people or religious ceremonies without their consent.
Photography of the airport or strategic buildings, military installations and soldiers is NOT allowed. Bring sufficient films,
including fast film for gorilla tracking and batteries although these can readily be bought in Kampala and Kigali.
Only print film and processing is available in Kampala/Kigali, not slide. Keep your cameras in a dust resistant,
padded case and out of the midday sun. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari.
Commercial photographers should consult the Ministry of Information for a permit.
Be quite awake when walking around carrying anything of value. As in all countries petty theft, including pickpockets is around in some places.
Do not walk around at night unescorted before seeking advice. If possible, never leave your vehicle unattended and never change money on the streets.
Carry minimum amounts of cash and keep it hidden or in a money belt, if possible. Secure your belongings such as passport or airline tickets and other
valuables and documents; use safe deposit boxes where available. For the most part, however, Ugandans and Rwandans are very friendly and helpful.
If in doubt seek local advice.
Safety and Security
Climate and Transport
Uganda and Rwanda have a tropical climate which varies according to altitude.
The hottest months are from December to February during the year, and the rainy
seasons are from April to May and October to November, with the wettest month being April,
but it can rain at any time of the day. Despite their location the temperatures in some parts of
Uganda and Rwanda can be quite cool. Other parts of Uganda are much warmer, but Rwanda experiences
more cold because of its higher altitude. The best times are December-March and June-September.
Alpha Wild Safaris Ltd is the best and reliable company that can arrange your transportation either self-drive or chauffer/guide-driven.
We charge a daily rate including fuel, mileage and government taxes. All clients purchasing a full safari or holiday from us need
to have their own comprehensive Travel insurance. We can also arrange chartered aircraft to the various airfields.
To track gorillas each person must have the day’s gorilla permit which needs to be arranged and paid for in advance.
Each gorilla park (Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda and Parc National des Volcanos [PNV] in Rwanda) has different numbers
of permits per day. No person is allowed to track more than three times in three consecutive days. Permits are non-refundable
except for medical reasons and a medical certificate has to be provided. To protect gorillas from disease and to avoid problems
of arduous conditions in the forests young trackers below the age of 15 and those with illnesses are not allowed to track.
Flash photography is not allowed and visitors are advised to use still cameras, at a distance of at least 5 meters away from the animals.
Professional filming requires extra fees to be paid. Tracking through the thick jungle, traversing canopies of thick undergrowth can be tough
, arduous and wet – the tracking can last from as little as 45 minutes to as much as 9 hours. Trackers therefore need to be well equipped
with food and water, strong water-proof clothing and must be fit and healthy. Strong, light clothes could be carried, as well
as rain jackets, a torch, sunglasses, a sun hat, gloves to grip vegetation, socks. Use jungle boots, long-sleeved shirt.
A walking stick may be needed. Porters can be hired to carry equipment for all trackers (fees range between $5-20 per porter per day).
Part of the fees paid to the park authorities goes directly to help local communities around the Protected Area(s).
Gorilla trekking and permits