Are departures guaranteed?
Reservations are subject to availability. Once Drifters has received your desired date, they will apply for your gorilla permit as soon as possible. Drifters may require additional information in order to apply for a permit on your requested dates. Just because the operator has requested your information does not mean your dates are secured. You'll receive a verification email once your permit has been purchased. Please do not make travel arrangements or book airfare until you have received confirmation from Drifters and confirmed your permits.
Once I purchase my voucher, what are the next steps to securing my date and the gorilla permit?
As soon as you book your voucher, you'll need to contact Drifters directly with your desired dates (see the following FAQ for a list of possible date options). It's recommended you provide a second or third back-up option in case your first date is not available. Drifters will immediately contact the permit authorities in Uganda to see if permits are available for your chosen dates. If the permit is available on the date requested, they will immediately secure and book the permit. Once the permit has been acquired, you'll receive confirmation from Drifters regarding the permit and your tour dates. If no permits are available on the departure date requested, Drifters will suggest dates or ask you for alternative dates.
Which departures can be requested?
The following departures may be requested (depending on permit availability):
January 24 - February 5, 2021
February 7 - 19, 2021
February 21 - March 5, 2021
March 21 - April 2, 2021
April 4 - 16, 2021
April 18 - 30, 2021
May 2 - 14, 2021
May 30 - June 11, 2021
June 13 - 25, 2021
June 27 - July 9, 2021
July 11 - 23, 2021
July 25 - August 6, 2021
August 15 - 27, 2021
August 29 - September 10, 2021
September 12 - 24, 2021
September 26 - October 8, 2021
October 10 - 22, 2021
November 7 - 19, 2021
November 21 - December 3, 2021
December 5 - 17, 2021
December 19 - 31, 2021
Is there anything else I need to know about the gorilla permits? Can permits be refunded if I cancel my trip?
Due to the high demand in permits and the limited number available, it is recommended that you contact Drifters as soon as possible with your desired dates so they can check permit availability. Do not book any flights or pay for any other services until Drifters has confirmed that they have a permit booked for the you. The demand for permits is extremely high and Drifters cannot guarantee that they will always get a permit for the departure date requested. The Uganda Wildlife Authorities do not allow operators to book permits in advance. The only way to book a permit is to send the name of the person booking along with payment.
The permit you buy is only valid for one trek. This means you have one chance to search for the gorillas. In the eight years Drifters has run this tour, they have never had a group that did not find the gorillas. However, there is no absolute guarantee that you'll find them. The itinerary allows multiple days for the gorilla trekking to allow guests the best possible chance to get a permit. If permits are not available on the first day there is another option for the next day.
Once the permit is booked and confirmed, refunds cannot be issued later on for the permit if you decide to change or cancel your trip. The gorilla permit fee is $725.
Is there a minimum number of people required for the trip to run?
Each departure requires a minimum of four guests.
Are there any other conditions that may prevent this trip from running?
It is highly unlikely, but in rare circumstances like natural disasters or civil unrest departures may have to be cancelled or rescheduled.
What is the best way to get to the trip start location?
Plan to fly into Entebbe International Airport (EBB) in Uganda. Transfers and pre / post tour accommodations can be booked through Drifters for the Lake Heights Hotel, near Entebbe, or Kalagala Falls Camp near Jinja. Meals are also available. Airport transfers are included in the accommodation rate for guests who book pre and post night accommodations. Otherwise, you'll need to arrange your own airport transfers before and after the tour.
What are the accommodations like?
This is primarily a camping trip and for the majority of the trip you'll camp in two-person dome tents and use shared facilities. However, in Kalagala Falls (Days 11-12) you'll be staying in permanent tented units which are bigger than the dome tents and have normal beds. Additionally, one night (Day 8) is spent at the Masindi Hotel, where you'll stay in clean, spacious twin en-suite rooms.
Can solo travelers get their own room? Is there a single supplement fee?
This trip is based on double occupancy. Drifters will pair up single travelers of the same sex. If there are no other single guests of the same sex to share, you'll get a single tent/room automatically. There is no additional charge for this.
If you are a solo traveler and would like to guarantee a single room/tent, you'll need to request and book this in advance. You'll need to pay a single supplement fee of €210 to book and secure a single room/tent.
How large is each travel group?
Each group has a maximum of 17 guests.
Are meals included? What is the food like?
Most meals are included throughout the tour (see the day-to-day itinerary). Food varies depending on seasons and availability. The guides prepare various types of meals that include local ingredients. Breakfast varies from continental (with yogurt, toast, cereals, fruit juice, and tea/coffee) to warm breakfast with eggs, bacon, etc. Lunches are normally include wraps, pasta salads, and sandwiches. Dinners normally include a salad, vegetables, and meat cooked in various forms.
How much extra money should people budget? What do I need to know about currency in Uganda?
Plan to spend $100 to $600 depending on how many drinks, souvenirs, and snacks you want to buy or how many optional activities you want to go on.
NOTE: The recommended currency for Uganda is the US dollar and all bank notes should be dated 2009 or later. Old bank notes will not be accepted.
What should people bring? Do you have a packing list?
A sleeping bag, pillow, and towel will be required for camping. The following is a recommended guide of additional items to bring:
For walking, hiking, safaris, and your gorilla trek:
- Sport shoes / sneakers/ closed shoes for gorilla trekking
- Hat or cap
- Water bottle
- Smaller daypack (recommended for hikes, walks, and excursions)
- Camera and binoculars
- A pair of lightweight gloves to protect your hands from thorns while trekking to the gorillas (recommended)
For general traveling (to keep yourself entertained on the longer drives):
- Personal iPod
- Personal reading books and books on birds/mammals
- A deck of cards (or something similar)
- Battery chargers for your personal devices (Drifters vehicles are well equipped with charging facilities while driving)
- Clothing and personal toiletries
- Long trousers / tracksuit
- Waterproof windbreaker
- Jersey / jumper
- T-shirts / shirts
- Insect repellent
- Socks and underwear
- Swimsuit and towel
- Mosquito net (optional)
- Malaria prophylaxis (please enquire from your general doctor at home)
- Money (for miscellaneous expenses and gratuities)
- Flashlight / batteries
- Passport / visas (if applicable)
Luggage and packing space on tour vehicles:
Luggage should be limited to a maximum of 33 lbs (15 kg). Each guest has their own locker on the truck which is accessible even while driving. Backpacks, barrel bags, or soft suitcases are strongly advisable as standard hard suitcases sometimes don’t fit into the lockers. Each locker can be locked with your personal lock.
What documentation is required to visit Uganda?
A valid passport with at least six months remaining and one blank page for the entry stamp is required. US citizens will also need to get a tourist visa.
Are there any medical precautions I should take before traveling?
A yellow fever inoculation and vaccination certificate are required. Malaria precautions are also strongly recommended.
What is the weather like in Uganda?
It is summer year round in Uganda. The country straddles the equator which means there is no winter and no summer – you can expect rain and sunshine everyday throughout the year. Temperatures in most parts of the country vary between 77°F and 86°F, dropping only by about 9°F overnight. Traditionally May and November are the wettest months in the country where morning clouds build up and are followed by torrential rain and spectacular thunder and lightning shows. Please take weather conditions into consideration when choosing a sleeping bag for your tour. Please note that night time temperatures during June, July, and August can be cold. Uganda is an Equatorial country predominantly covered in rainforest – severe rainfall can be expected during the rainy season. It is advisable to carry a second pair of shoes during the rainy season, ideally of a fast-drying or semi-aquatic design. Waterproof backpack liners are also advisable.
What are the safari trucks like?
Drifters has a fleet of custom-built safari trucks that are all built to travel through Africa. The trucks all have forward facing seats that ensure a comfortable ride and lots of leg room. The seats are also adjustable should you wish to have an afternoon siesta. The big windows ensure everybody in the truck has a clear view of the surrounding area so you won't miss anything on the road or on the game drives. All vehicles are inspected, serviced, and completely re-supplied before each tour departure.
What are the road conditions like on this tour? How much driving is involved?
Drifters operates this tour in a permanent 4 x 4 truck. Road conditions in Uganda are at the best of days not great, so the vehicle plays a big part in the tour. Be prepared to travel over rough terrain for hours at a time.
This trip has a significant amount of driving and throughout the tour you’ll cover approximately 1,200 miles, some of it on extremely bad roads, but the rewards are unequalled.
What is the gorilla trekking like?
It is difficult to predict how long the gorilla trekking portion of the tour will last. The trek starts from the edge of the forest and guests need to follow their guide and ranger to look for the gorillas. Guides know where the gorilla families are but it can take anywhere from half an hour up to four hours before you find the gorillas. The gorillas constantly move through the forest and there is no way to accurately say how long the trek will take.
During the gorilla trek, guests must be prepared for hot and wet conditions on very uneven forest terrain. Long sleeve shirts and pants are highly recommended for protection against the underbrush.
Are there additional activities that customers can purchase? If so, what is the fee for each?
Optional activities (booked and paid on arrival) include:
- Half day white water rafting ($125)
- Full day white water rafting ($140)
- Horse riding ($40-80, depending on if you ride for 1-3 hours)
- Bwindi Pygmy Village visit (+/- $15, rate is negotiable on arrival with the local people)
Do you require or recommend travel insurance?
It is compulsory that all passengers make arrangements for adequate travel insurance to financially safeguard against unforeseen circumstances. Travel insurance allows you to seek reimbursement if you are forced to cancel your trip for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to cover medical help, emergency transport, and/or theft or accidental damage while traveling. For travel insurance, we recommend World Nomads as a provider.
Are there special requirements for entry into the destination I am visiting?
We recommend you visit the local government websites where you plan to travel and review the required documentation for entry, current restrictions, and general recommendations for travel within the area. We encourage you to also visit your home country's embassy website if you are traveling to a foreign country. Requirements can change rapidly. Please be sure you stay abreast of the requirements and restrictions for anywhere you plan to visit. You can also enroll in the U.S. government’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and you will be sent updates if the situation in your destination changes. You can find the program link at https://step.state.gov/.
Can I cancel the trip?
Book confidently with Free Cancellations within 72 hours of booking. However, if your gorilla permit has been booked and confirmed within this time period, that portion cannot be refunded if you decide to cancel your trip. The remainder of your trip cost can be refunded within 72 hours of booking. After 72 hours, cancellation fees will apply. Cancellations are subject to the full discretion of Drifters and cancellation fees range from 20% to 100% of the trip price depending on the trip. See below for additional information on our Travel Cancellation Policy:
WHY ARE THERE CANCELLATION FEES?
Our Operators work hard to build incredible experiences across the globe. Operators immediately begin incurring expenses for things like food, accommodations, permits, and more for your trip even if you do not go on the trip. Cancellation fees cover these costs.
WHAT IF THE TRIP IS CANCELED FOR INCLEMENT WEATHER?
Unfortunately, we cannot control weather conditions during your trip. The Operator has full discretion to determine if weather conditions warrant the cancellation of a trip. If the Operator decides to cancel the trip due to weather, you may choose to reschedule your trip for another date with the Operator. If the trip cannot be rescheduled, please contact us so we may assist in finding a replacement trip. All cancellations for weather conditions will receive a credit toward a future trip. We do not refund trips that have been canceled due to weather. We encourage you to purchase travel insurance to protect your investment.
WHAT IF THE OPERATOR CANCELS THE TRIP FOR REASONS OTHER THAN WEATHER?
On rare occasions, Operators may need to cancel your trip. If this occurs, you will be provided with a full refund or the option to reschedule your trip once we receive confirmation from the Operator that the trip has been canceled.
WHAT IF I NEED TO CANCEL FOR MEDICAL REASONS?
You must provide a signed note from a physician explaining that you are unable to take part in this trip for medical reasons. Cancellations or rescheduling of a trip will be accepted on a case-by-case basis. We encourage you to purchase travel insurance to protect your investment. The above cancellation fees may still apply.