Before You Leave
If booking your Uganda safaris and accommodation beforehand, try to choose a responsible tour operator and lodge. Think about what to take. Stuff Your Rucksack and Pack for a Purpose provide details of hundreds of projects around the world that need donations of anything from books and stationery to clothing and car parts. A small gift will make a huge difference.
A way of reducing your own environmental impact is to use eco-friendly products such as sun screen, soap and shampoos – particularly important in areas where it is hard to dispose of waste water. These are not readily available in Uganda, so consider bringing them with you.
Respect the Communities
Respect the local people – don’t take photos of them without asking, dress respectfully and learn how to say please and thank you in the local language (you can learn these and other useful Luganda phrases here) – politeness is always appreciated.
Tip guides, porters, drivers and waiting staff as you would back home.
Haggling over a price is fine – as long as you are prepared to pay a fair amount. Think about the time and craftsmanship that has gone into what you want to buy, and remember the seller is trying to make a living.
Use local guides where possible, eat at local restaurants, shop at community craft shops and consider spending part of your trip in community-run accommodation – it will be an exciting, authentic experience for you, and worthwhile for the local village.
Ask where the crafts came from before you buy – in some cases they are imported, and will not support local craftspeople.
Do not give sweets or money to children as this encourages begging. If you want to give gifts (such as pens or pencils) during a community tour, give them to your guide to distribute afterwards.
Respect the Environment
Obey park rules at all times – do not approach wildlife, drop litter or stray from designated roads/hiking trails. Keep noise to a minimum and follow your guide’s instructions.
In many places, fresh water is in short supply, so keep showers short, avoid leaving taps running and reuse towels and linen. In places with solar panels, be aware of your electricity use – turn off lights and all electrical appliances when not in use.
Never buy crafts or products made from protected or endangered animals, such as ivory, fur or feathers.
Do not buy meat such as hippo, bush buck or buffalo. These are obtained only through illegal poaching, which poses one of the greatest threats to Uganda´s wildlife today.
Recycling facilities are limited in Uganda, but many lodges have bins to collect plastic bottles, and all glass bottles should be returned to the place you bought them to be reused.
Take all batteries home with you – they cannot be safely disposed of in Uganda. If possible, use rechargeable batteries to reduce toxic waste.
Give Something Back
Many communities offer short or long term volunteer placements – in a school, nursery, clinic, reforestation project, or even helping the community work on their tourism business. If you have some time to spare, why not inquire about placements? You are sure to get as much out of it as the people you are there to help!