Kampala, Uganda, September 17, 2020 – Are you planning to visit Uganda or Rwanda for gorilla trekking? The great news is that the primate parks are now open to tourists. All the national parks hosting primates including gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys, and more have been re-opened but with strict Standard Operating Procedures that are aimed at protecting both the primates and the tourists. The national parks have been opened after consultations with various stakeholders in conservation including government and non-governmental organizations.
According to a press release from the Uganda Wildlife Authority, all tourism activities related to primates are now open for visitors.
These popular destinations have been reopened for primate safaris in Uganda. These include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park, in South Western Uganda. These two national parks are popular destinations for gorilla trekking and attract tourists throughout the year.
Another reopened park is the Kibale Forest National Park a renowned destination for destination hosting 13 different primate species. Kibale is the most popular destination for chimpanzee tracking on the African continent. The forest hosts more than 1500 chimpanzees.
These national parks were closed back in March after the onset of the global health crisis. In a move to prevent this viral infection from spreading to the primates most especially the gorillas and chimpanzees, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) suspended all tourism activities in Uganda national parks.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has put several standard operating procedures for the containment of the possible spread of the diseases in the protected areas. These SOPs have been set by the government of Uganda through the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities as well as the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
- Mandatory temperature screening using non-contact infra-red thermometers at key gates to Uganda’s national parks
- Mandatory hand washing or sanitizing at the entrances of all Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) premises and protected areas.
- Visitors should wear a face mask while visiting the protected areas.
- Tourists visiting the national parks should observe social distancing at all times.
- All tourists going for primate watching activities should carry at least two protective masks.
- Tourist vehicles carrying tourists should operate at half capacity in order to ensure social distance.
- Visitors going to the national parks are encouraged to carry their own sanitizers.
- Briefing and de-briefing of visitors will be done in small groups of up to eight tourists.
- A maximum of six tourists shall be allowed to a chimpanzee group at a time.
- Tourists going on primate watching expeditions must keep a distance of not less than 10 meters away from the gorillas or chimpanzees.
Updates from Rwanda
Rwanda closed all its national parks from tourist visits in March 2020. They are three national parks that host primates that are now open to tourists and these are; the Volcanoes National Park, Gishwati-Mukura National Park, and Nyungwe Forest National Park.
From June 17th, 2020 the Volcanoes National Park has been open to tourists taking Rwanda Safaris and several visitors have already gone gorilla trekking in this renowned home to the rare and endangered mountain gorillas.
The reopening of tourism activities and resumption of charter flights came into effect from June 17th, 2020. Commercial passenger flights were also resumed on August 1st, 2020. Therefore you can start planning your Rwanda gorilla trek with a local tour operator and feel free to book trips for 2021.
The well-being of tourists is a top priority to the country and several robust health and safety guidelines have been put in place to ensure that both the visitors and the primates are safe from illnesses and diseases. Therefore, the country reopened with several SOPs that must be strictly adhered to;
- Tourists visiting the Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe Forest are required to test negative for all ailments within 48 hours prior to visiting these primate parks.
- Visitors traveling by charter flight or scheduled flights to test negative for all ailments within 72 hours prior to arrival. A second test will be done upon arrival and if a test turns out negative, you will be allowed to commence your trip.
- During the 24 hours, visitors will be required to self-isolate in designated hotels as they await their results.
Together with other safety measures such as hand washing and sanitizing, you can enjoy a memorable primate safari within Uganda and Rwanda.