Packing list for a Uganda Safari
Packing list for a Uganda Safari: After booking, reserving or confirming your Uganda Rwanda safari with your tour consultant or travel agent, with your confirmed air ticket, Visa, yellow fever vaccination and you are excited about experiencing a once in a lifetime trip to Uganda or Rwanda, next thing for you to prepare is your packing list to travel to Uganda or Rwanda. When preparing your packing list, you must consider the size and weight of your luggage depending on the plane you booked for your safari. If you are travelling to more than 2 countries or staying for quite longer days, and your flight company accepts a given amount of luggage to carry, you can consider keeping some of it that you will not need with your tour consultant until the end of the safari. Knowing what to carry for your safari also determines how much you will enjoy yourself; imagine the plight of realizing you did not carry a camera charger or extra batteries for it miles deep in the wild. Tales and memories that grow distant with age and time will be all you are left with after that trip. Therefore, the packing list below will help you enjoy and know what to pack on your Uganda/Rwanda Safari.
Documents and miscellaneous items
As you start packing for your safari to Uganda, the very first items for you to pack are you documentations, these include; your passport, air ticket, your yellow fever vaccine, Uganda safari itinerary, travel insurance documents, since 2019 every traveller is required to travel with a negative COVID 19 PCR test, consider also carrying an alternative identification in case loss of passport, locks for your bag luggage, and visa document for countries that require a visa on entry.
Pack your credit card or Visa card or Master card for financial services, these are under miscellaneous items. Whether you have paid for your trip or not, you must carry your money transaction cards especially for those who do not like travelling with hand cash. Most of the urban hotels and national park lodges do have payment machines that allow use of credit cards for anything extra clients would like to purchase that is not included in there safari package quote.
Apart from carrying credit cards, you also need to carry some hard cash on you because there are some items that you will not need a credit card to pay for. The commonly accepted foreign currency in Uganda is the United States Dollars (US$), so to avoid inconveniences in currencies; carry all your cash money in dollars only. There are several forex exchange bureaus in Uganda where you can change your currencies easily including the other currencies such as the Great Britain pounds, Euros and the East African shillings. The exchange rates keep fluctuating but you will be able to exchange the foreign currency into Uganda shillings. Some of the items you will need to buy/pay with cash in Uganda shillings may include; tips for your porter, rangers, driver-guide, hotel staff, laundry and sometimes souvenirs or any other road item that you may need to but while on your Uganda safari.
Safari friendly Clothes
Uganda has warm tropical climate with temperatures ranging from about 25 degrees Celsius to 29 degrees Celsius apart from the mountainous areas which are cooler for example Mount Elgon and the western parts of Uganda especially the Kigezi region and areas close to Mount Rwenzori which is covered with snow at the top. The hottest months in Uganda are January, February, July, August and December however, during the evenings in Uganda; the weather is chilly after the heat of the day with temperatures of about 16 to 18 degrees Celsius. Most regions in Uganda receive annual rainfalls between 1,000 mm to about 2,000 mm, heavy rains are usually experiences in the months of March, April May, September and November.
Therefore the month, you plan to travel to Uganda greatly speaks to what you can pack for clothing. During hot seasons, you will need light cloths while during rainy seasons, you need warm cloths. However, the weather in Uganda is unpredictable anytime of the year when you travel, carry both warm and light cloths because there are some Uganda tourist destinations that are always hot even in the wet season like the northern part of Uganda in Kidepo national park and some places are always cold even in the hot season like Bwindi Impenetrable national park. For wildlife safaris, your clothes should have colours that blend the environment such as brown, khaki, Olive green and other dull colours because the bright colours scare animals away, blue and black colours tend to attract mosquitoes and tsetse flies. Choose fabric that does not easily stained, easy to hand wash and dries faster. For the ladies, a sports bra will be ideal given the rough nature of Uganda road leading to the national parks. For both ladies and gentlemen, remember to carry your own changing underwear and swimming suits in case of swimming adventure or while relaxing in the evening at your lodge. For example while on a gorilla trekking or forest walk or any hiking/trekking experience, long sleeved shirts, gloves, long trousers and socks to protect against insect bites and a rain poncho are recommended attire of the activities. However, given that Uganda is not entirely hot, the morning and evenings can get quite chilly so wearing layers to either remove or add as the weather changes is advised. A light weight water proof jacket that can be packed together into your day pack is handy too.
While packing your clothing for a safari in Uganda, keep in mind the cultural affiliations related to dressing in Uganda. There are places are respectful to the Uganda communities and everyone is required to dress appropriately for example some cultural and religious sites especially for women require long free and dresses that do not show off the body of a woman, places like Uganda Mosques, Kasubi royal tombs, Kabaka’s palace to mention a few.
Comfortable Safari foot wear
Depending on what activities you will be doing on your Uganda safari, packing comfortable shoes is the most important aspect of your safari. If you are on a sightseeing tour in a city or relaxing at your hotel or lodge, it is ok to wear sandals, although to some cultural attractions for example if you are visiting a shrine, shoes or sandals are not allowed in the sacred places for the ancestral gods. While on a Uganda safari, comfortable light weight hiking and walking shoes are recommended for wildlife safaris, nature walks or simple hikes. For activities like gorilla trekking in Uganda, chimpanzee trekking and Mountain climbing, you are advised to carry rougher shoes because hiking in Uganda involves going deep into the muddy forests therefore; hiking boots are so much required for hiking. You are also recommended to consider coming with waterproof shoes made of material that is easy to wash without getting wet and shoes with harder rubber soles so that they are not easily penetrated by pricking’s while in the forest.
Sun protection gear
During the day when the sun shines in Uganda, it really heats your head to the extent that it affects your sight of things although the mornings and evenings usually are chilly. Besides wearing light or warm clothing depending on the weather, the sun glasses is an item you ought to pack for a safari in Africa particularly Uganda to be able to respond to the changing weather conditions. The sunglasses help in so many eye preventions for example they the sun rays and wind from directly affecting the eyes especially for game drives, the sun or the wind can be harsh for the eyes. Also remember to pack the sunscreens as they help to control the brutal heat that can cause discomfort. Other items that you need to pack for prevention of the hot sun include; Moisture drops however, these are similar to the sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat that is wide enough to cover your head and one with strings that you tire below your chin so that it is not blown off or fall off, these hats can also be worn while hiking or trekking. Lip balm and moisturizers will help to prevent your lips from drying up
Safari gadgets or equipment
What is an African safari without gadgets and equipment! You must remember to carry gadgets that will help you keep the memories of your African safari. Uganda has beautiful attractions that can only be explained to other by form of pictures and not just words. There are handy devices and gadgets that you will need on safari to capture precious sights and sounds in photos or videos and also those that will help you see further than your eyes can reach. The long range Camera is one of the best gadgets for a Uganda safari; pack a camera and its charger that have the best lenses with accurate focus and speed, one that produces clear and sharp images. Although some people will only use their phone cameras for photos, it is just not enough for a memorable experience. The Binocular is another gadget that should never miss on your packing list, the binoculars will help you spot distance things that cannot be reached by bare eyes for example they are best for those travelling for a birdwatching experience. Apart from your phone, carry your laptop, memory card, extra charger and batteries, a flash light (a touch) or a headlamp for night views in case of night game drives. Additionally, carry a 3 pin UK style adapter (Electric plug) since it is the same used in Uganda however, a convertible adaptor is also recommended.
Since WIFI is provided in most hotels and lodges, carrying your mobile phone is of great importance while on your Uganda Safari because you need to keep in touch with your home people – friends and relatives. In case you are the kind that likes to upload your experiences on social media on the go, then your mobile phone, tablet or IPad will be of great use to you during your safari. To access internet in Uganda, you can choose to roam although it is quite expensive or buy a Uganda local sim card but this requires that your mobile phone to be unlocked. The local sim card line can also keep you connected with your tour company in case of poor internet connect in some areas through phone calls.
Hotel and safari lodges in Uganda do provide some toiletries however; you are advised to carry your own just in case especially those staying in budget urban hotels/lodges or camping sites. Luxury lodges provide enough toiletries for guests so you may not really consider carrying some of the toiletries but if you wish to use your own for reasons best known to you, so then you need to carry for your own good. Some of the toiletries items to carry include; wet wipes which you can use to cleanse your face or body of the dust that accumulates from the game drives before you get a full-blown shower, wet wipes are not provided in hotels and lodges. For women, carry your pads or tampons – these are quite rare to find in Uganda compared to pads, so if you need tampons, better carry on your own carry your own, also carry your hair drier, deodorants, hairbrush, blades, nail clippers and so many more items of personal neatness. Carry your own toothpaste, toothbrush, body scrub, money bag and any other kind of toiletries you find essential to you. Laundry services are provided in the lodges and hotels however at a fee.
Although your host tour operator is mandated to provide a first aid kit, you are recommended to carry your own medications especially if you have some illness. Your medical kit will also make your adventure more convenient in preventing or dealing with any unforeseen aches and pains. For chronical diseases such as Asthma, and Ulcers, you strictly need to travel with your medication as prescribed by your home doctor. Some of the items that you should carry in your medical kit include; Insect repellent, pain relief tablets, Antibacterial creams, Antiseptic wipes, Cotton, Elastic bandages, Anti malaria tablets, Platers, small scissors, and condoms.
A day pack bag
When travelling to Uganda, you need to carry a day pack along with you. This bag should be one bag that carries a day’s worth of supplies such as your packed lunch, water, a rain poncho, a journal in a Ziploc bag to prevent it from getting damp or wet and a few toiletries like sanitizer, a flashlight and wipes. Ensure you do not pack too much items that will weigh you down on your day journey. This day pack could be the same bag you pack in your documentation while travelling, it should never leave your body or you should never give anyone to carry it on your behalf. A day pack is usually required on your gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking and hiking experiences.
Items for charity to support local community
The largest percentage of Ugandans living in rural areas are still living in poorly developed situations and the existence of tourism in the rural areas has helped in improving the lives of people who live in villages. It is not mandatory to carry some charity items that could not be of very good use for you but it is a gesture of supporting the communities that need it more than you do. If your safari itinerary includes community based activities, an item or two could change a life of a community member for example clothes, scholastic materials for school going children, or even skills that will help the community to earn a living. Other than giving out money, providing items will create a more impactful opportunities for the community. Your gesture will be a means of giving back to the community that has hosted you during your safari.