Uganda Tours and Travel Operators
Who is a tour operator?
A tour operator is an individual who combines tour and travel components to create a package holiday. He or she usually controls, books and devises means to ensure the entire trip comes to reality according to the interest of a client. In the Ugandan context, a tour operator’s main responsibility is to organize and prepare holiday tours and itineraries for clients from different parts of the world.
What is the role of tour operators?
The most important role of a tour operator is planning a tour. Tour operators plan a tour and make a tour itinerary which contains the identification of the origin, destination, and all the stopping points in a traveler’s tour.
A tour operator is also responsible for designing tour packages. This is usually achieved by assembling various travel components into one final product called the tour package which is given to a tourist at a cost.
Tour operators arrange tours according to the tourist’s demands. This is often where they arrange a tour package including various tourist activities to reward the tourist with the best experience.
A tour operator, on the other hand, provides the necessary travel information to a tourist. He or she provides up to date information and timely feedback concerning destinations, modes of travel, accommodation, security measures about permits required to travel to a particular location, and many more.
Tour operators also assist client make different reservations by making linkages with accommodation centres to reserve rooms for tourists, transport personnel to reserve vehicles for hire as well as other entertainment bodies to reserve slots for the tourist’s engagement.
How to choose the right tour operator for your trip to Uganda
There are a number of essentials to consider while selecting the right tour operator for your safari to Uganda. In my opinion, these are summarized in mainly two features; quality control and travel destination as explained below:
- Quality control
Quality control involves evaluating the quality or reputation of a tour operator how he or she has fared serving tourists up to this point. This gives you a sense of whether or not the operator can deliver the services he is offering. The easiest way to conduct quality control is to read what previous clients are saying in their reviews from travel guides such as Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet among others.
- Travel destination
The majority of the safari providers in Africa specialize in a particular area bounded by specific regions, countries, and wildlife areas. While choosing a tour operator, it is important to select one in whose proximity to intend to travel. He or she can save the day and provide a much better safari experience as he will be equipped with a wider range of knowledge about your area of interest.
Is it important to contact a local tour operator ahead of my trip to Uganda?
Tour operators do not work as individuals but instead, they work through companies known as “tour and travel companies”. Most of the Uganda Tours and Travel Companies are owned and managed by locals, and some work as ground handlers for foreign tour operators. Although different people may have controversial views about contacting a tour operator ahead of one’s safari to Uganda, it is by far a very vital matter which comes along with a number of benefits as one shall notice during the different stages of the trip.
Most importantly, a visitor who uses a tour operator stands a chance to enjoy tailor-made itineraries based on his or her preference. This is so because one is always in constant communication with the tour operator ahead of the trip to see how they can enjoy an out of the ordinary experience which tour operators labor to render to each visitor in Uganda.
Similarly, a tour operator will aid the visitor to make appropriate budgeting for all the expenses one might incur during their trip to Uganda. Budgeting for the trip ranges from comfortable accommodation to ideal transport means, meals, and park entry charges among others. Tour operators in Uganda are well versed with the travel destination and are in a position to advise a guest accordingly.
Can I plan a successful trip to Uganda without a tour operator’s assistance?
Yes, it is possible for a visitor to plan a successful Uganda safari without consulting any local tour operator for assistance. However, it is important to remember that this is not as easy as it might seem while one browses the internet for travel options in Uganda. It takes a lot of hard work to obtain a magical travel experience which could have been easier if one used a local tour operator.
How can I plan a trip to Uganda without consulting a tour operator?
- Research is key
Knowledge of the destination one intends to tour is as important as making a decision about which place to visit. It is because of this that visitors planning to visit Uganda need to do adequate research by reading extensively about which places to tour while on an African safari as well as comparing a variety of sources of information. Research may also involve the lifestyle of the people, accommodation options available, off- the- beaten track locations in the country, appropriate means of transport, and many others.
- Selection of areas of interest
Once a visitor has obtained enough knowledge about their travel destination, he or she can then proceed with selecting which areas are of interest to him or her. This will help you to choose the appropriate activities to engage in ranging from gorilla trekking to mountaineering, game viewing, chimpanzee tracking, gorilla habituation in Bwindi and so much more while in Uganda.
- Duration of the trip
In order to plan a successful trip individually, one needs to decide how long they plan to stay in a particular travel destination. It is this ‘length of the trip’ that will influence the means of transport a visitor uses to move from one location to another; which activities to take one because so activities run for a day; how much to spend on accommodation which is often booked based on the number of nights one plans to stay at a safari lodge and so many more.
- Costs for accommodation, meals, and transport
Transport, meals, and accommodation often determine the bulk of the safari cost hence should never be underestimated by any visitor who is planning a trip without the assistance of a local tour operator. A visitor is usually free to choose from very pricey luxurious hotels and lodges to very affordable safari camps depending on the nature of one’s budget. Alternatively, a guest may also decide on whether to use flights, hire a safari vehicle as well as other means of transport available while planning the transport costs. This is very vital because it will help one budget his or her expenditure accordingly.
- 4×4 Hire with a Driver
Another way to plan a safari without a tour operator, one can rent a car with a driver in Uganda who acts as a tour guide to take you around the country. He should be knowledgeable about Uganda tourism and can assist you in planning a perfect itinerary, advises you on the best places not to miss and suitable accommodation basing on your budget.
What challenges am I likely to face when planning a trip without a tour operator in Uganda?
Like I mentioned earlier, planning a trip in isolation of the local tour operator is a tiresome venture which might frustrate any individual in a foreign land. Here are some of the challenges a visitor is likely to face in case they choose to take on this rarely trodden path;
- Basing your trip on wrong and outdated information
The internet has provided its self as a resource field for information in these contemporary times but the question between authentic and up to date information is still lacking. Therefore, quite a number of visitors who plan trips without a tour operator’s guidance in Uganda are likely to face this challenge. This can be a huge set back for a guest in a foreign land thus making it inevitable for him or her to incur unnecessary costs.
- Poor budgeting
It is undeniably true that a number of visitors may easily underscore their expenditure during planning for the trip or allocate different activities funding which is a little overboard. It is common practice to imagine getting accommodation that is less pricey only to reach the field and one has a totally different experience than what they had planned. It is because of these irregularities in the hospitality field that one should contact a local tour operator for appropriate planning least they stand a chance of having unnecessary delays or cancellation of some tour activities.
- No refund policy for unsatisfactory services
It is undoubtedly true that tour operators usually run what in my opinion I call ‘a risk control policy’. This is usually common in their terms and conditions with a client under cases of unsatisfactory service delivery where one is free to ask for a refund of part of their payment for a service done badly. However, a visitor who plans a trip on their own often stands a chance of missing this service. He or she incurs loses on their own once the trip backfires or even miss out on an activity due to unplanned delays either at the hotel or with the guide.
Are tour operators in Uganda authorized to conduct the duties they do?
Tour operators in Uganda are authorized to conduct the duties they do. They are usually endorsed by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) to deliver their services alongside other stakeholders like Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), the local council authority to mention but a few.
How do you differentiate a registered tour operator and a non-registered?
In Uganda, registered tour operators possess a number of essential documents that authorize them to operate in this field. These are mainly a copy of the trading license, a copy of the certificate of incorporation, certificate of membership of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators, details of services offered to clients, and many others from the governing stakeholders.
When is the best time to contact a tour operator in Uganda?
The question ‘when is the best time to contact a tour operator’ in my opinion largely depends on which stage one is during his or her planning for a safari to Uganda. For instance, you can contact a tour operator to inquire about the budget of your trip and how much money you need to save up a trip; some visitors also contact a tour operator to inquire about procedures to make final bookings of accommodation and permits; when to travel for the trip and many more.
In conclusion, there are as many tour operators in Uganda as they are tour options. These tour operators often charge differently for their services thus, it is the responsibility of the visitor to choose which operator matches his or her needs as well as preferences.