Every traveler thinking of visiting Uganda should have all the available coronavirus information at their fingertips to avoid inconveniences during the trip. Besides, we greatly understand how much excitement for the Africa safari experience you’ve built up during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown of worldwide travel and how much you would like to burst that bubble. The people who work in the national parks and all attractions that you come to experience heavily rely on your visit.
While you are planning your safari trip to Uganda before you fix the best dates to travel and consider which attractions to see, make sure you’re up-to-date with Uganda’s current coronavirus travel information and entry restrictions. In this post, we try to keep up with the MoH, GoU, WHO, and also give you links.
Airport & Border Entry Restrictions
Uganda opened borders and airports on October 1, 2020. Travelers are only allowed entry when they fulfill restrictions set by the Government of Uganda and the Ministry of Health. The operating guidelines minimize infections and keep everyone protected while enjoying the destination. The entry restrictions include:
- Officials have put health screening procedures at entry points, including temperature checks, compulsory wearing of facemask required, hand sanitization, and physical distancing. If a health official finds you with coronavirus symptoms, they’ll hand you over to MoH’s Emergency Operations Center for isolation and treatment. Hotline: (+256) 0800 203 033, 0800-100-066, or 0800-303-033
- On arrival, tourists and business visitors will need to provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test dated no more than 72 hours before their arrival into Uganda. The same applies to outbound. An outbound traveler can get a PCR COVID-19 test at several hospitals in Kampala & Entebbe, with results given within 8-24 hours at about $65.
- After finishing with the immigration and health desk, your driver or Uganda tour manager will have to ensure that you proceed directly to your place of stay and not mix with Ugandans.
- There will be no requirement to self-isolate or need to submit themselves to institutional quarantine on arrival.
- Ugandan nationals who arrive with a negative PCR COVID-19 test will be allowed to proceed straight to their homes. It is not yet clear whether they will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days or not.
- There’s a nationwide curfew from 21:00 to 06:00. However, the curfew will not affect anyone traveling through the airport. All security operatives have been informed to let any traveler with proof of travel documents through.
- Uganda or East Africa Visa can be gotten at the entry point but to avoid contact. Please process your online at visas.immigration.go.ug. You’ll need a six months valid passport and yellow fever vaccination certificate to be allowed entry.
- A PCR COVID-19 test in Uganda can be taken at these authorized hospitals: Makerere University Hospital, Mulago National Referral Hospital, Lancet Laboratories (041-4341621), MBN Laboratories (0700-533-954), Nakasero Hospital (0312 531400), Kampala Hospital (0312 563400), City Medicals at City Ambulance Acacia (0392 177174), Ruby Medical Centre (0800 833 111), Case Clinic (0312 250 700), Mengo Hospital (041 4270222), Mbarara Doctors’ plaza (0703206832). You are required to cover the cost (about US$65), and a results certificate could be issued in a time frame of 8-24 hours.
Coronavirus restrictions for getting around Uganda
- Night clubs, weddings with large gatherings have been banned.
- Social, physical distancing a must for everyone. Wearing masks is highly promoted, and you would be punished if a cough without one in traffic.
- Churches and religious gatherings restricted to only 70 people per session with strict operating procedures
- Public transportation has been eased with the compulsory wearing of a mask and public vehicles like minibusses, buses, and ferries currying passengers at half capacity.
- Keep your mask on and watch the things you touch. Sanitize your hands frequently to minimize Coronavirus infections.
Wildlife Parks Restrictions
- There will be mandatory temperature screening using non-contact infra-red thermometers at the different protected areas’ key tourism gates.
- Wearing of masks is mandatory for all visitors in the park. And you’re recommended to carry with you at least 2 N95 or cloth face masks and portable hand sanitizer with you.
- Tourists will also be subjected to mandatory hand washing / sanitizing at the entrances of all UWA premises and protected areas.
- Government guidelines of carrying “half capacity” to observe physical distancing shall apply to vehicles and boats in the parks. These include concessionaire delivery vehicles. Salon cars shall not be permitted in the park.
- All tour guides/drivers must have a negative coronavirus test certificate issued not more than 10 days before the trip. They are also required to disinfect the safari vehicles before and after the game drive watching out for main touchpoints like door handles and car seats.
- Staff on duty shall sensitize the visitors on the general government-approved COVID-19 operational guidelines, including those developed and approved by UWA management.
- Staff is provided with appropriate wear to protect everyone from any possible infection.
For more information on Uganda wildlife COVID guidelines, download the full SOPs document.
For hotels and lodges in Uganda, the Uganda Travel Board (UTB), with the help of WHO and MoH, has released a document underlining operating procedures to be observed by all players to keep all hospitality facilities and their occupants free of Coronavirus infections. Download the hospitality SOPs document.
Violators may face varying consequences, including verbal warnings from police, being detained for a period of time, or formal arrest for disobeying presidential directives and/or for a negligent act likely to spread disease.
For the police to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols, local defense Units are deployed nightly.
Important Recommendations and links to stay up-to-date
- Check with your airlines, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
- Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Uganda.
- Uganda Ministry Of Health Coronavirus page
- MoH Uganda: Uganda COVID-19 Information Portal
- World Health Organization: WHO Coronavirus dashboard page for Uganda
- Wikipedia: Uganda Coronavirus page
- Google News: Uganda Covid-19 news
- To keep up-to-date with the most recent information on the risk of contracting COVID-19, please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
- Australia travel advisory
- EU countries travel advisories
- US travel advisory
- US Embassy Uganda Advisory
- CDC uganda travel advisory
- UK travel advisory
Financial protection in the event of a change of travel
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we travel and compel us to watch the way we handle our finances. You should know how to handle your bookings accordingly if there are travel restrictions. Here are a few ways we think can help:
Paying less money upfront is one of the best ways to lower your financial risk. It is common practice for safari tour operators to request a 20-40% deposit upon booking a safari. They need this money to confirm your reservation with the accommodations being used on your safari. But these are exceptional times, and the safari industry requires clients. Therefore, it’s worth checking with tour operators because they might be able to arrange a lower deposit or waive a deposit completely.
Please only agree to a lower deposit if the operator can agree with the accommodations to lower or waive their required deposit. Otherwise, the tour operator will have to take a great financial risk by paying the deposit for the accommodation themselves. And that is not sustainable for you or other people who travel with this tour operator.
Lowering the deposit will be easier to achieve if you plan to go on a safari within a couple of weeks versus planning a safari in 12 months. It is more likely that accommodations will be flexible for short-term bookings.
Depending on the terms and conditions of your credit card, you might be protected financially if your tour operator is not able to honor their obligations. We recommend that you contact your bank or card provider and ask if your credit card protects if the tour operator goes bankrupt or cannot provide a refund (in a situation where you are entitled to a refund). If your credit card provides financial protection, we recommend using a credit card to pay for your safari trip to Uganda.
Please note that accepting credit card payments is expensive for tour operators, and it is common practice to apply a 3-4% surcharge. Please also ensure that you have your paperwork in order: a booking confirmation, proof of payment, the cancellation policy, and other terms and conditions provided by the tour operator. You will need those in the event you want to apply for a refund or chargeback from your credit card company.
Be sure to ask the tour manager for their cancellation policy and other terms and conditions. If a tour operator offers highly flexible cancellation conditions, but you are still required to pay a large deposit, we recommend being a bit watchful. The only sustainable way for a tour operator to offer flexible cancellation conditions is if the tour operator’s accommodations offer similar flexible conditions. If a tour operator offers flexible cancellation conditions, we recommend contacting the accommodations yourself to verify whether they offer similar flexible conditions to the tour operator.
Around the second half of March 2020, most travel insurance policies stopped covering coronavirus risks for new bookings. Insurance companies consider the pandemic to be a ‘known event.’ But as the coronavirus risk gets smaller over time, insurance companies might introduce coronavirus coverage as a premium add-on to their travel insurance. Therefore, it is always worth a search on the internet to see if such policies are being offered.
Some countries have organizations that offer a protection scheme for residents when they book a holiday or vacation with a travel agent located in their home country. Often the laws in these countries require all travel agents to be a member of these organizations. The ABTA and ATOL are examples of such organizations in the UK. If a protection scheme is available in your country, you might want to consider booking your safari with a travel agent in your country.
Uganda is safer than most destinations in Africa. You can still enjoy the vast savannah drama and mountain jungles with confidence. Our expert local tour operator on the ground is in the know, and their immediate priority is to keep you protected from infections. We have made sure that all the properties they book you in complying with the latest MoH, WHO, UWA, and GoH guidelines keep tourists safe. The Safari vehicles are well maintained and at every stop disinfected to protect you from Covid. You’ll receive a free mask, sanitizer and recommend things and places to avoid and stay safe. When you send us an email/inquiry (email@example.com), you’ll be connected directly to the operator, no third parties. Plan your safari trip to Uganda with confidence.