Following the countries re-opening of borders to tourists on 1st October, Uganda is welcoming back visitors to explore the natural beauty and incredible wildlife which makes it such a popular destination. Uganda’s extremely diverse landscapes, natural wonders, and abundant wildlife have been attracting over 1.5 million tourists per year, so the nation is very keen to be able to finally reopen safely.
1. Safari tourism in Uganda
Throughout Uganda’s border closure and suspension of tourism, the National Park forests, home to mountain gorilla populations which attract thousands of tourists to the country, continued to be monitored by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) trackers in order to protect them and to continue the habitation process. This is essential conservation work, and during this time there has even been a significant ‘baby boom’, with gorilla families throughout Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks welcoming eight babies in less than three months.
Ugandan National Parks have already been open to domestic tourism since around the start of September, with the first visitor trek in Bwindi Inpenetrable National Park, Rushaga sector, on 08 September 2020. Now, with borders opening, the parks will welcome international visitors once again, and will be able to benefit from the important tourism revenue which contributes to the conservation efforts. Wildlife safari companies will be able to resume visits but will of course be required to implement important protocol which must be followed.
2. Open international borders
In a press conference in late September, President Yoweri Museveni stated, ‘The international airport and land borders will now be opened for tourists, coming in and going out, provided they tested negative 72 hours before arrival in Uganda’. Consequently, after being closed since March 23rd, Entebbe International Airport has now reopened and has started to resume international flights. The Ugandan government has introduced very specific rules, unique to the continent, and all passengers, inbound or outbound, should research these before travelling.
The restrictions in place are:
- All passengers entering Uganda must have a negative PCR test performed less than 72 hours before boarding the aircraft enroute to Uganda. Without this, tourists will not be allowed to enter and citizens will have to purchase a test on arrival
- All outbound passengers leaving Uganda are also required to present a negative PCR test, taken no longer than 120 hours prior to departure from the country
- Face masks are required on the inbound flight and at all times in the airport terminal
- Social distancing of 1.5 metres from other passengers is mandatory in the arrival hall and baggage claim
- All passengers will be screened for high temperatures upon arrival and departure
- Fingerprints will be taken of all arriving passengers
- Any symptomatic passenger will be taken to Entebbe Referral Hospital, tested, and quarantined for 24-48 hours pending results
Uganda has dropped all quarantine requirements for incoming passengers, provided they fulfil the PCR testing requirements (above) and are not symptomatic, and it is also not restricting countries that can enter. As of October 1, there is also still a nation-wide curfew, running daily from 9:00pm to 6:00am. If you have a flight between curfew hours, you can travel to/from the airport but must carry proof of travel with you.