Uganda Reopens National Parks to Tourist amidst Coronavirus COVID-19

On 25th March, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) suspended Uganda safari activities for tourists in the national parks especially Primate tracking which includes Gorilla trekking safaris & chimpanzee trekking safaris in their respective national parks. This was done to protect Uganda’s wildlife heritage, the Uganda Wildlife Authority staff and visitors (tourists) who visit Uganda’s protected areas and participate in the various tourism activities.

Following the reopening of its Head of Offices in Kampala to the public, the Uganda Wildlife Authority consulted various stakeholders and put in place standard operating procedures for the containment of the possible spread of Covid-19 in its protected areas and decided to reopen all the savannah parks for Uganda safaris especially to tourists interested in visiting them. This comes after the President of the Republic of Uganda announced measures of easing the lockdown; which has been in effect since March 2020.

However, primate parks like Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park & Kibale National Park whose Uganda tour activities require close contact of the tourists and wildlife are to remain close until further notice. Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda are famous destinations for Uganda gorilla trekking safaris while Kibale Forest National Park is prominent for chimpanzee trekking safaris in Uganda.

Although the parks are open, the country’s borders, including Entebbe International Airport, remain closed to passenger flights as one of the government measures to avoid importing COVID-19 cases. Therefore, Uganda tour operators are now focusing on increasing domestic tourism after international travel was interrupted by the pandemic.

The Savannah National Parks to be reopened are Murchison Falls National Park, Semuliki National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Mburo National Parks. To visit any of these parks, you can book your African safari to Uganda with a certified African tour operator in Uganda; Prime Safaris & Tours Ltd or simply visit our website www.primeugandasafaris.com and check out our different packages to these beautiful savannah parks. We’ll put together an exciting travel package for you, family, friends or your group!!

New guidelines have been put in place to ensure that all tourism activities within the protected areas are undertaken in a manner that ensures safety and health, as per the guidelines from the Ministry of Health Uganda and the directives given by the President of Uganda; HE: Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

These Measures include:

  • There will be mandatory temperature screening using non-contact infrared thermometers at the key tourism gates of the protected areas
  • Mandatory hand washing/sanitizing at the entrances of all Uganda Wildlife Authority premises and protected areas
  • The government guidelines of carrying half capacity in order to observe social distancing shall be adhered to, especially in regards to the use of vehicles and boats in the parks
  • Saloon cars/non-customized safari vehicles shall not be permitted to carry out game drive activities in the protected areas
  • Large groups of visitors exceeding 25 people shall not be permitted in the parks at the same time for the same activities
  • Social events such as destination weddings shall not be permitted in the parks
  • Visitors (tourists) and guides going to the parks are encouraged to carry their own hand sanitizer and facemasks.

The statement also emphasizes that the Uganda Wildlife Authority staff has been trained and given appropriate wear to protect themselves and the visitors from any possible infection.

Staff on duty in these protected areas will be expected to sensitize visitors on the general government-approved COVID-19 operational guidelines including the ones developed and approved by UWA. The safety of all staff and visitors is very important and therefore a high degree of caution will be exercised at all times.

Tourism is one of Uganda’s leading foreign exchange-earners. The Uganda Wildlife Authority collects about shs100 billion per year but this will not be realized this time since the national parks were closed due to the virus and the resultant reduction in revenue collection.

Many stakeholders have always cried out to the government for a stimulus package to investors in the tourism industry who have greatly suffered because of the Coronavirus lockdown.

President Museveni on Thursday said he was optimistic the number of tourists to the country will grow rapids because of the way the government has handled the pandemic. “By correctly managing the pandemic, the reputation of Uganda will grow in the World. After the pandemic, people will flock here, “Museveni said while giving the State of the Nation Address.

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