Things to Consider when choosing a tour operator in Uganda
After listing the tour operators in Uganda, it is time to discuss the main factors to consider choosing your favorite: –
Safety precautions in place: The company must be able to ensure that their clients are safe throughout the tour. If the company is not offering travel or medical insurance, it should make it known to the travelers and suggest good insurance providers. The company must also alert the travelers about any security incidences in the country and any safety precautions while traveling to the different parts of the country (including major cities). The company Guide/Driver is the security focal person and responsible for ensuring that the personal belongings of clients are safe at all times.
Company Website: The tour operator in Uganda must have a functioning website with complete information about their services and their location. The company must state its motivation for doing business clearly and have a link to their Terms/Conditions of service.
Social Media: Apart from an official website, a good tour company in Uganda should have a social media page to reach out to clients. Social media pages like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest contain current information that might not be found in the official website. It may also be the place to look out for feedback from past clients.
Ownership: The choice between using a local tour company in Uganda and an international brand is up to the traveler. Whereas international tour companies are thought to guarantee quality, they are also more expensive. In fact, most of the international tour companies will still contact a local tour operator to organize their tours. Choosing a local tour operator in Uganda is one way of supporting the local people and empowering them. Moreover, most of the local tour operators also offer high quality services but at a lower cost. The decision is up to you.
Reviews and Reputation: The Reputation of a company can easily be known by visiting review sites like Safari bookings, Google review or TripAdvisor. These tools are used by past travelers to describe their experience with the tour operator. Traveler reviews will give you a hint of what to expect with the tour operator. After describing their experience, most travelers give a rating of between 0 to 5 stars. Look out for the overall ratings and not an individual review. It is not uncommon to see bad reviews written about a company from competitors. An average rating of between 4 to 5 is good enough. If you are not satisfied with the information gathered from these review sites, ask the tour operator to share contacts of clients who traveled with them in the past (If possible from clients who are citizens of your country).
Communication with the Company: How frequent is the communication with the company? A good tour company in Uganda will answer your first inquiry as soon as possible. The company should not only respond in a timely manner but with correct information. If a company responds to your emails after several days, it may mean that they are not serious in what they do. The company should be prompt in responding to your queries even after making payments.
Local Tour Associations: Many of the good tour operators in Uganda are members of some kind of association. Membership to these organizations makes it easy to raise complaints in case you are dissatisfied with a service. However, remember that membership to these organizations do not guarantee quality services. There are also companies who choose not to register with these organizations because of internal politics and management. International Travel companies may also not be party to these Tour operator organizations.
Accommodation facilities offered: Your tour operator should be able to offer you the best accommodation facilities in each category. By this we mean the best budget hotels if you are traveling on budget. The same standards should be applied to mid-range and Luxury travelers. Before booking with the tour operator, request for links to the hotels you would be using and check out their websites or what other travelers say about them.
Officer Drivers/Guides: It is often said that the tour Guide/Driver can make or break a trip. Check out reviews of the company and see what other travelers say about their company drivers. If you see several good reviews about a specific driver, request the company to assign you that one. A good Guide/Driver is one who is pleasant, knowledgeable and experienced.Excellent Guides will share information about the country/destination and go out of their way to ensure that your trip is memorable.
The Itinerary: A good tour company in Uganda will propose or recommend the perfect itinerary based on your interests and the number of days set aside for the tour. If you are not familiar with all the tourist attractions in Uganda, see what other tour operators are offering to know if there are other things you might be interested in. If you are not sure of what to do in Uganda, the tour operator must work with you to come up with activities that you like. The tour operator can only recommend activities and leave you to make the final decision on what to do.
Cultural Aspects: Before choosing the tour company to use for your safari, ensure that the itinerary also includes cultural encounters. Uganda is an amazing country with over 40 tribes. You don’t want to show up just to see the wildlife because there is so much to experience in Uganda. You can request to visit one of the indigenous tribal groups like the Batwa or the Karamojong. There are also high-end cultural centers where you can learn about the history of the country and buy amazing art.
Overall cost of the tour: When choosing a tour operator in Uganda, consider the overall price of the tour and what other companies are offering –especially if you are traveling on budget. Remember that some companies may offer lower prices but compromise on quality. Choose a company that offers a good price but that can guarantee quality. Before accepting any offers, check and see what is included or not included in the overall price of the tour.
Group Size: If you are planning to have a private tour with only spouse or family, ensure that the tour operator can provide that. Group tours are more ideal for lone travelers or those who want to meet new people and have fun. If you want a private tour, ensure that the company can provide you with your own car and driver. If you wish to join a group, ensure that the tour company can find you a group to join on the days you plan to do the tour. You should be frank with your tour operator and find out if you can be given a group that you are comfortable with. Teens may wish to join a group of younger travelers while seniors may prefer older travelers.
Method of Payment: The tour company must be able to provide you with at least two payment methods. Every tour company must provide the option of paying by credit card and also using an official bank account. Sending many through Western Union, Money Gram or World Remit is only recommended if you already know the tour company and there is trust. All payment methods must be secure.
Banking Information: Registered tour operators must have a bank account in their company name. Ensure that you send money only to a company bank account. Having a bank account in their company name is a strong indication that the company is registered.
Giving back to the Community and Eco-tourism: If you wish to give back to the community or support wildlife conservation, choose a tour company that shares your values. Check to see what the tour company is doing for the community or wildlife conservation. Does the company use part of its profits to improve the lives of communities in the country? Do they support wildlife conservation programmes or Eco-tourism? Choosing a company that supports the community or wildlife conservation is an indirect way of ensuring that your money does good to society.