COVID Updates & Uganda Travel Restrictions

Background Information

The current coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to the travel industry in Uganda and across the world. At Bamboo Ecotours, we are closely monitoring and following the Uganda government’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Uganda has already suspended all incoming and outgoing commercial flights for at least a month effective 22nd March 2020. Access to the country through land borders is also restricted during the same period. We will keep you informed of any significant changes that might affect your trip.

Cancellations & Rescheduling

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is NOT refunding tour operators for the money paid for gorilla and chimpanzee trekking permits. UWA is, however, allowing tour operators to reschedule gorilla permits affected by COVID-19 to any date through March 2022 at no additional cost.​

​If you need to reschedule your trip to a future date due to the COVID-19 and haven’t contacted us already, please send us an email(opens in a new tab) at info@bambooecotours.com, and we will work with you on the next steps.

UWA has also suspended gorilla tourism through 30th April 2020.

Updates

Update on Covid-19 PCR Testing, Uganda Tourist Visa, and Uganda/Rwanda land border

Update on 10th July 2021

Here are the revised guidelines for PCR testing in Uganda, applying for the Uganda tourist visa, and the status of the Uganda/Rwanda land border crossing.

Current Status of Tourism in Uganda

1. Entebbe International Airport is open, and tourists are still allowed into the country even during the current lockdown running through the end of July.

2. Inter-district travel ban on both public and private transport is in effect. However, licensed tourism vehicles are permitted to travel across all tourist destinations.

3. All national parks are currently open with strict Covid Standard Operating Procedures, including mandatory masks when visiting national parks.

4. Rescheduled gorilla & chimp trekking permits are still valid through December 31, 2022.

5. The Uganda/Rwanda land border is still closed, and no indication of reopening. The only way to visit Uganda is by flying into Entebbe airport. Flying into Kigali airport & cross over into Uganda through land borders is not an option at this time. Read more here

6. Uganda Tourist Visa: Uganda has issued a new directive to apply for tourist visas online during the current lockdown. It’s no longer possible to obtain a tourist visa on arrival at Entebbe airport. See the government visa memo here. The visa application portal is accessible here(opens in a new tab)

 

Covid-19 Testing Requirements

1. a)All passengers from category 1 (India) are currently not permitted to enter Uganda, regardless of nationality. Any visitors to Uganda who have been to India in the last 14 days will not be permitted to enter Uganda. 

b). Visitors from category two countries (United States, United Kingdom, UAE, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, and Tanzania) who haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 must take a mandatory Covid PCR test on arrival in Uganda & stay at a designated hotel at their own cost while awaiting results. 

c). All other visitors not in categories 1 and 2 are not expected to get tested on arrival in Uganda but are subject to the testing requirements in #2 and #3 below. See government memo here.

2. All visitors to Uganda, regardless of vaccination status, are expected to carry a negative PCR test taken within 72hrs before boarding the flight to Uganda. The testing counts from the time the sample is collected. See government memo here(opens in a new tab).

3. Then, on exiting Uganda, another negative test taken within 72hrs is required before departure. The exit test can be taken in Entebbe, Kampala, or Mbarara city, depending on the itinerary. The PCR test results are typically available in about 12-48hrs at the cost of USD ~65.

Current Status of Tourism in Uganda and New Covid-19 Restrictions announced in June 2021

Update on 08th June 2021

Current Status of Tourism in Uganda

Uganda is currently open for tourism, except that we seem to be having a second wave of the virus. This week, new lockdown restrictions were imposed, including a ban on inter-district travel. However, tourism vehicles are still permitted to cross districts. And the national parks and other tourism sites are fully open. 

Covid-19 Travel Restrictions

In terms of Covid requirements, all visitors to Uganda are expected to carry a negative PCR test taken within 120hrs before boarding the flight to Uganda. Visitors from certain countries (including the UK & USA) who haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 must take a mandatory Covid PCR test on arrival in Uganda & quarantine at a hotel at their own cost while awaiting results. Then on exiting Uganda, another negative test taken within 120hrs is required before departure. For the exit test, we use a company in Kampala or Entebbe where the test results are available in about 6-48hrs at the cost of ~USD65.

For Covid-19 PCR testing, we are using the following centres.

  1. Test & Fly in Kampala or Entebbe (opens in a new tab)
  2. Sameday Laboratories in Entebbe(opens in a new tab)
  3. MBN Laboratories with a branch in Kampala and Mbarara

Status of the Uganda-Rwanda land border crossing

As you might have seen, Bamboo Ecotours does have several tour packages that start with a pickup or drop-off in Kigali, Rwanda. Kigali being closer to Uganda gorilla parks (4-5hrs drive to Bwindi National Park), most of our clients prefer flying into Kigali and crossing into Uganda. Comparatively, a drive from Entebbe/Kampala to Bwindi National Park takes about 8-9hrs.

Unfortunately, the land border between Uganda and Rwanda is currently closed due to Covid-19. We typically use the affected land border crossings for traveling between Uganda and Rwanda are Kyanika in Kisoro district and Katuna in Kabale district. Given the border crossing restrictions, our safari vehicles are not permitted to cross the two countries. With the situation at the border, we can only organize trips with pickup and drop off at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda.

Virunga National Park & Nyiragongo Volcano Hikes

As you might have read in the news, Mount Nyiragongo recently erupted and displaced so many people. At this point, it’s unclear if the treks to the volcanoes will be open soon. Virunga National Park is still closed due to Covid-19. It’s uncertain if the park and the borders will be reopened soon. 

New Year’s Eve Batch two donation to the Batwa families, tour guides, and porters in the Mgahinga community

Update on 31st December 2020

Today, Bamboo Ecotours distributed additional Covid relief food items to 42 Batwa households in the Nyarusiza sub-county, adjacent to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Kisoro, Uganda. Additional financial support was provided to 28 tour guides and porters, who have lost work due to the closure of tourism businesses.  This support will assist these households in securing food for their family members during these challenging times.

We are grateful to a Bamboo Ecotours friend and supporter who donated the funds to assist these families.

Covid relief for the Batwa community of Mgahinga, KisoroCovid relief for the Batwa community of Mgahinga, KisoroCovid relief for the Batwa community of Mgahinga, Kisoro

Uganda Reopens International Airports on 1st October 2020

Update on 5th October 2020

Uganda has reopened Entebbe International Airport on 1st October 2020, which implies that foreign visitors and tourists can visit Uganda. All travelers to Uganda will be expected to have a negative COVID-19 test certificate obtained within 72 hours before boarding the Entebbe bound flight. Travelers without the mandatory PCR test will not be permitted to enter the country. When exiting Uganda, another negative PCR test takes within the last 120 hours (5 days) is required to exit the country. If the next destination has stricter requirements, those will supersede the 5-days Uganda requirement.

If you plan to visit Uganda for tourism purposes, including trekking mountain gorillas, contact Bamboo Ecotours and provide additional information. The gorilla trekking parks are open with Standard Operating Procedures in place. Stay safe, travel safe!

Rwanda and Kenya Set to Reopen International Airports on 1st August 2020

Update on 6th July 2020

Rwanda and Kenya have announced the reopening of international airports on 1st August, 2020. On July 4th, Rwanda announced they would be opening international flights on August 1st. All travelers to Rwanda will be expected to have a negative COVID-19 test certificate obtained within 72 hours. Those remaining in Rwanda will take another test and stay in designated locations until the test results are confirmed. Similarly, Kenya announced the reopening of international airports on August 1st with standard operating procedures in place.


Bamboo Ecotours Donates COVID-19 Additional Relief Items to 40 Batwa Households at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Update on 2nd June 2020

As the leading local tour operator around Bwindi National Park, Bamboo Ecotours continues to provide COVID-19 relief support to ecotourism-dependent communities of Kisoro district in Uganda. We have donated food items to 40 Batwa families in Nyarusiza sub-county, adjacent to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. As former inhabitants of the gorilla parks, the Batwa community are critical stakeholders in mountain gorilla conservation and need support from tour operators during these difficult times.

The COVID-19 support to local communities is in line with the mission of Bamboo Ecotours. We promote tours that generate revenue to the local communities adjacent to protected areas in Uganda, with the understanding that there is an opportunity cost for local people to preserve and protect these fragile ecosystems. As a local tour operator, we must stand with local communities in these challenging times.

We are grateful to our clients and friends, who donated funds to support families affected by the closure of ecotourism businesses around Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks.


Bamboo Ecotours and Mgahinga Community Development Organization (MCDO) Donate COVID-19 Relief Items to Over 300 Households in Kisoro, Uganda.

Update on 28th May 2020

In line with our social corporate responsibility to support the livelihoods of communities adjacent to gorilla parks, Bamboo Ecotours is providing COVID-19 relief support to the ecotourism-dependent communities of Kisoro district in Uganda. In collaboration with our Kisoro-based NGO affiliate, Bamboo Ecotours and Mgahinga Community Development Organization (MCDO) have today distributed COVID-19 relief items worth 6.5 million shillings to over 300 COVID-19 affected families in Kisoro district. Bamboo Ecotours donated 20% of the money to purchase the relief items distributed to the affected families.

The supplies distributed to the families consisted of 1.59 tones of maize flour, 35 bars of soap, and 339 face masks. The beneficiary households are the four villages at the periphery of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, including the indigenous Batwa families, the most vulnerable group. The Batwa community are critical stakeholders in mountain gorilla conservation and need support from ecotourism stakeholders during these difficult times.

The food distribution is the first phase of this concerted effort to support vulnerable families affected by COVID-19 in Kisoro district. In the second phase, if funds allow, we shall start funding sustainable livelihood projects as an alternative source of revenue to wildlife ecotourism-dependent households. We are planning to provide relief support to tour guides, porters, and women handicraft groups around Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks.


Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Issues Revised Guidelines on Rescheduling Gorilla Trekking Permits

Update on 16th May 2020

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has issued revised guidelines on rescheduling gorilla trekking permits and other activities in the parks in light of the current COVID-19 travel restrictions in Uganda. Gorilla permits rescheduling is now permitted through December 2022 from the earlier date of March 31st, 2022.


Ugandan Government Extends Partial Lockdown

Update on 15th April 2020

The government of Uganda has extended the partial lockdown for another 21 days starting from 15th April 2020. All borders remain closed and commercial flights in and out of the country are still prohibited.

For updated information on COVID-19 prevention measures, check these websites:

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(opens in a new tab)

Word Health Organization(opens in a new tab)

Uganda Ministry of Health(opens in a new tab)

Got Any Questions?

Send us a message & get in touch