Having had closed all the protected areas in the country following the onset of the global health crisis four months back, the Uganda Wildlife Authority issued a press release on the 5th of June 2020 informing all travelers and wildlife enthusiasts about the reopening of all Uganda’s savannah protected areas for tourism.
The reopened parks include the popular Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park, the two most visited destinations in Uganda. Other parks that are now open to touristic visits include Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Semuliki National Park, Rwenzori Mountains, and Mountain Elgon as well as wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves.
Within this update, UWA admitted to abide and stay committed to all government guidelines in order to disallow the spread of illnesses. According to UWA, all the tourism activities within the reopened protected areas shall have to be undertaken in a manner that does not subvert any of the guidelines given by the Ministry of Health and Uganda’s president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Updated SOPs and Guidelines to Visiting Uganda National Parks
UWA appraised all the tourists willing to travel during these times that they should take; hand washing and sanitizing as a mandate on all UWA premises and protected areas. As tourists, you are still expected to come with your own hand sanitizer.
In order to ensure further protection, wearing a face mask is mandatory. There will also be obligatory temperature screening (using non-contact infra-red thermometers) at the key tourism gates of the different protected areas still on the course of preventing the spread of illnesses.
New Group Size Caps
Large groups – of over 25 people will not be allowed in the protected areas at the same time for the identical activities in order to put the social distancing requirement at work.
Still, with social distancing, UWA affirms that the government guidelines of carrying half capacity in order to observe social distance will have to apply to the operating of vehicles and boats in the Parks, including the concessionaire delivery vehicles.
New Park Guidelines
As of now, UWA has decided to suspend all the saloon cars from entering the national park and carrying out game drives activities in the reopened protected areas.
In addition, UWA has suspending events like destination weddings for the meantime.
According to UWA, the major primate parks are still closed to the public for the time being – until further notice. This is so in order to safeguard the primates, especially chimpanzees and mountain gorillas – which are too vulnerable to catching human infections,.
The still closed primate parks include Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Kibale Forest National Park. The Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is also still closed.
It is important to note that chimpanzee tracking is still suspended in all Uganda tourist sites including the Budongo Forest, Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Kibale Forest, Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu Forest.
Opening Of Primate Parks
The direct impact in Uganda has been quite minimal compared to elsewhere in the world. However, due to the fact that mountain gorillas and chimpanzees have a very close DNA to that of humans, the primate national parks might remain closed until the crisis is mitigated.
During these difficult times, the future of the primates is still uncertain far worse than what has hit human beings.
In response to the curtailed tourism activities over the past four months, Uganda Wildlife Authority has come up with promotional incentives to catalyze the resumption of tourism in the different protected areas;
You can take advantage of these great deals. Please note that all the offers below are valid till 30th June 2021;
Pay for 2 Days and Get one Free
Visitors will pay for park entrance fees for two days and be given an extra day free in all national parks.
Buy a Gorilla Permit and Visit Other Parks
For every gorilla permit booked, the visitor will receive free entry to Mount Elgon National Park and or Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve. The visit should be carried out in one round trip across the country.
Nature Walk Fees Reduced
Nature Walk Fees have been reduced by 50% for visitors to Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Kapkwai Exploration Centre in Mount Elgon National Park.
Filming and Photography Fees Reduced
The filming fees have been drastically reduced for those looking to creating materials for tourism marketing. The filming fees have been reduced by 40% for normal photography and 50% for filming by drone.
Discount on Hiking Fees
A 20% discount is offered to those looking to hiking in Mount Elgon National Park for groups of 20 persons and above.