Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a visa to enter Uganda, Rwanda, or DR Congo?
Before entering Uganda, Rwanda, or DR Congo, you need to obtain a visa. In the case of Uganda, tourist visas can be bought in advance via the embassy or consulate in your country or can be purchased at the airport upon arrival. Passport photos are not required. A single entry tourist visa costs US $100 per person for a stay of up to 90 days. For Rwanda, a visa can be gotten in advance through the embassy or consulate in your country. For most of our travelers, a single entry visa costs US $30 and is available at the airport. If your safari with us includes an extension to DR Congo, we usually apply for your single entry visa for you, which costs US $105.
In a number of cases, your safari will include Uganda and Rwanda. In that case, the best visa to get os the so-called East African Tourist Visa. In contrast to a single entry visa from either country, this visa is valid for up to 90 days of multiple entry into Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya. The price for this visa is US $100. Unfortunately, DR Congo and Tanzania are not yet part of the East African Community (EAC) and therefore do not take part in this special visa agreement.
Can I use my ATM or credit card in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo?
In Uganda and Rwanda, ATM cards and credit cards can be mostly used without any hassle. While Visa credit cards are by far the most convenient way to withdraw cash, MasterCards can be used at Barclay's Bank, for example. Outside of Kampala and Kigali, ATM machines are scarce. Upcountry, ATMs can be found in larger towns. Your Instinct Safaris guide is further advised to temporarily help cover expenses in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo in case you cannot withdraw cash at a given moment. We do not recommend trying to obtain cash in DR Congo at this time. Instead, we recommend bringing cash (either Uganda Shillings, Rwandan Francs, or US Dollars). Travelers cheques are not recommended in the countries we serve.
When is the best time to travel to East Africa?
The topography of Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo covers a wide panel of terrains. Along with this array of landscapes comes a range of climates specific to these regions. All three countries are situated at a relatively high altitude compared to other east African countries. When going on safari with us, it can therefore be important to plan ahead and to know just when to encounter the best trekking and wildlife viewing conditions. While mountain gorilla tracking is recommended throughout the year and rain can come down on any day, our recommendations for the best travel times only apply to wildlife viewing and safari on the flatter plains in Uganda and Rwanda. Game viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Akagera National Park and the other wildlife parks is best at the end of the dry seasons, late February to early March or September to early October. This is when wildlife can be expected to concentrate close to water holes and therefore can be expected to be easy to spot. Bird watchers should look into visiting Uganda between November and April, when migrant species are present. Generally, we only slightly discourage from tours to Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo in late April and May due to unpredictable weather and lots of rain.
What should I bring to East Africa?
As mentioned before, Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo encompass a wide range of geographical features and a number of different climates. In any case, make sure to bring durable walking shoes or boots, sun glasses, and sun screen. Do not forget to pack insect repellent to fight off mosquitoes in the evenings, rain gear, and your camera. As far as clothing goes, go for comfortable boots, preferably two pairs. Shorts and long trousers and regular T-shirts or buttoned shirts are a good choice. Especially around Bwindi National Park and the Virunga volcanoes, mornings and evenings can be rather cold (down to 5 °C). Please make sure to bring appropriate clothing.
How safe is the region?
Uganda and Rwanda are very safe African countries. After long years of struggle, both countries have managed to establish a peaceful environment. Even in Eastern DR Congo, the situation is steadily improving. However, we only use the Goma route from Rwanda and Gisenyi when going to Mt. Nyiragongo. It is considered to be the safest way to reach our destinations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Do I need to get vaccinated before coming to Uganda, Rwanda, or DR Congo?
Before entering Uganda or Rwanda, a number of vaccinations are required or recommended. A certificate proving Yellow Fever vaccination is mandatory in both countries. In order to get the best protection possible, we further recommend vaccinations against the following diseases:
Typhoid: One can contract typhoid through contaminated food or water in East Africa. We recommend this vaccination to all our travelers, as we stay at a number of different lodges in the region.
Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is contracted through contaminated food or water in Uganda, as well. We recommend this vaccination to all our travelers.
Rabies: Including dogs and bats, but even mountain gorillas, rabies is a potential risk in East African countries. We recommend this vaccination to every traveler who will be in close contact with the great apes, but also people who will undertake other outdoors and wildlife activities.
Other vaccinations are generally recommended to clients based on the duration of their stay:
Polio: If you do not know your vaccination status on polio, please talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against polio.
Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B can be acquired through sexual intercourse, contaminated needles, and blood products. We generally recommend this vaccination.
Meningitis/Meningococcal Disease: Uganda is within the “meningitis belt”, a region in the sub-Saharan African continent. We recommend vaccination if you travel with us between December and June, when the disease is most common.
There is no effective vaccination against malaria, so it is crucial for you to proactively prevent getting malaria when on safari. While malaria is generally not a deadly disease if treated efficiently, we still want to take all possible measures to minimize your risk of getting sick. Besides mosquito repellent, malaria prophylactics are recommended. Please discuss the different prophylaxes against malaria with your physician. Malarone, Lariam, Mefloquine, Doxycycline, and Lumefantrine/Artemether are some of the medications prescribed. However, not all of them are suitable for everybody.
What is the minimum age for gorilla tracking?
Gorilla trekking is not allowed for children under 15 years of age in both Uganda and Rwanda. The Uganda Wildlife Authority knows about the physical strength and condition one has to be in in order to track the mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. If your group has a child below the age of 15 in it, please let us know. There are plenty of alternative hikes to choose from. For example, a popular alternative to gorilla tracking is a waterfall walk in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in which up to 25 m high falls are encountered.
How can I pay for my safari with Instinct Safaris?
Instinct Safaris currently accepts three types of payment. Cash payments are possible at our local office in Kampala. Credit card payments are possible through Stripe directly through our website. Wire transfers are possible when directed to our local bank account with Barclays in Uganda. Please be aware of the fact, that all transfer fees have to be paid by the client.
What vehicles does Instinct Safaris use?
Instinct Safaris exclusively uses safari-customized Toyota Land Cruisers. Besides pop-up roofs for game viewing in the field, charging facilities, and a fridge, our vehicles offer space for 6 to 8 people, depending on chassis. We ensure, that all travelers have a window seat to enjoy the best views of Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. Thanks to limiting the number of travelers in a group, we are able to provide exceptional leg space and room for luggage.