I always tell tourists that safari companies greatly determine how your entire safari will be. If you book your safari with any of the inexperienced tour operators or travel agencies then your safari is likely to be substandard in terms of arrangements and services offered. Always ensure you book your safari with one of the best Uganda safari operators and be assured of the best services, customer care and of course help in case of any uprising. This article not only lists down some of the best tour and travel companies in Uganda that can help you plan your holiday but also lays down a criteria you can use to identify which company is likely to offer you the best services compared to the rest.
The companies above are fully registered, affiliated to travel associations like AUTO, experienced and 100% trust worthy. I personally have visited all their offices and i guarantee they have the capacity to turn your journey of a safari into memories.
So how can you identify the best safari operator?
So many factors can be used to identify the best safari company for your trip and below are the most important of all. What you should know is, the best tour operator is the one that gives you the best offer of a safari considering they meet the standards below. Never go with brand because even the strongest brand can sometimes give you a bad experience. Over a year ago i encountered a review on tripadvisor of a client complaining about a top safari company (name withheld) purchasing their gorilla permits in wrong names and switching their accommodation standard from comfortable to wild camping despite paying for comfortable accommodation at the time of booking the safari. So what does this mean? You should worry less because the standards below will help you make a personal judgement or perhaps, you can choose from the companies that make up the list above.
Below are just some of the most important points you should consider before booking a safari with any Uganda tour operator. Endeavor to inquire with at least 10 operators, then research about them as you zero down to the best safari operator that you believe you should book a trip with.
1. Safari Package offered. This is actually the most vital point on the list. Even the best companies gain credibility and trust because they offer exceptional services to their clients hence, you should mind so much about the safari package you are booking. Look carefully through the lodging options, the type of vehicle to be used (must be a 4×4 wheel drive and open roof), the activities, driving hours, price, inclusions plus exclusions and if you feel the package looks good then you can go ahead and list the safari operator down for more research.
2. Customer Care. How respondent is the safari company you are booking a safari with or alternatively how do they communicate with you? Is the communication perfect or rather just any other normal business communication? Customer care portrays itself right from the moment of inquiry and you should take it seriously. Any company that communicates well with you is likely to maintain that even when you book a safari with them. I once saw a tour operator interact with a client to an extent that the client wanted him to accompany them on their safari. That’s the whole point about customer care.
3. Affiliations to Travel Associations. Is the company you are dealing with affiliated to any travel associations in the country or outside the country? At the moment, the most powerful travel association in Uganda is AUTO (Association of Uganda Tour operators) but it’s sad to know that out of the 500+ tour companies in Uganda, less than 200 are registered with them. AUTO guarantees you financial security and has a list of guidelines for Uganda tour operators which has helped it maintain a list of only credible operators as their members. It’s very uncertain to hear that a member of AUTO has engaged into a wrong activity.
4. Is the Safari Company fully registered? There are very many ways you can find out whether a safari company is registered and incorporated to operate within the laws of Uganda. The first is making deposits to their company bank accounts (only registered companies get company bank accounts), second is checking for their membership in AUTO (Auto requests for original company registration documents before listing members), third is finding out from Uganda Tourism Board and lastly, checking for their membership on SafariBookings (Also requests original company documents before listing members BUT rather a scan and not an original). There are several other ways you can find out the company registration status of a safari operator but the ones i listed are actually the easiest for you. However, making deposits to bank accounts and checking for AUTO membership are so far the best ways. I don’t recommend the SafariBookings option because anyone can forge documents to get listed. What if the company you are dealing with is registered in another country? This happens so much! The only way to it is making deposits on company bank accounts.
5. What does Tripadvisor and SafariBookings say about your operator? These platforms are very essential and they tell a lot about a company. They host reviews of past clients that can help you differentiate a bad company from a good one. Visit them, check for reviews and if you see any bad reviews about a tour operator that is related to financial problems then i suggest you cross out that company from your list.
6. Does experience matter? Experience does matter a lot but question is, in what way? Is it in the perspective of a safari company or rather the staff? I would side with an experienced staff any day reason being, people who have been in the tourism industry for long often decide to start up their own companies. This means the company might be new but with some of the most experienced staff and one way you can determine this is through point number 1. The safari package an operator sends you is somehow enough for you to judge their experience and knowledge especially if you have already carried out personal research.
7. Are their prices high? Fact is, over 90% of travelers mind so much about the price of a safari which has created a lot of competition in the industry. One thing about the big players is they don’t mind so much about bargaining with you. These companies have long built their reputation, are certain of their services and have several bookings to cater for. At the same time, these are the companies that are likely to give you the best experience of a safari implicating you should not hesitate to invest in your safari if the package presented is nice. If you want to spend less, you can inquire with at least 10 operators then compare their prices, packages and settle for the best.
8. Google Business Verification. This doesn’t matter so much but it helps you locate the exact offices of a tour operator on a map. Most reputable companies have their businesses verified on google maps which you can confirm by looking right of search results on Google’s Knowledge Graph. Please check out photo below;
9. Financial Position. This point is not so relevant but i want to support it! Every one feels comfortable when they keep their money in a bank that has a good financial position. The same applies to tour and travel operators. Dealing with financially stable companies will guarantee you 100% financial security because you are certain the company won’t run bankrupt any time soon. I live in Uganda and i see a couple of tour companies operate on indirect debts. Some companies receive money for trips months prior and divert it into other demands like staff salary and the likes then use money from other trip confirmations to cover for your safari. So what happens when there so many trips close to each other yet the company’s financial position isn’t good? This is where the confusion comes in. Another risk with this falls in scenarios of refunds! Any financially insecure operator that receives booking funds in advance and diverts it into other things will hardly issue a refund in case of any cancellations. I have seen this happen personally! Not once and not twice but rather many times. This doesn’t mean these companies can’t deliver a trip to you! Of course they can figure out other ways of raising money and cater for your trip when you arrive. The only advantage of dealing with a financially stable operator is that you are guaranteed of receiving instant refunds as per their respective refund policies at any time in case of any cancellations.
It took me a lot of effort to come up with this list of Uganda safari companies and i will try so hard to maintain it’s quality because i want to ease the stress of making decisions when it comes to booking your safari. I check each of these companies respective Tripadvisor and Safaribookings pages occasionally to ensure there are no bad reviews especially reviews about scamming clients. These are companies you can definitely trust especially when it comes to financial security but still, Uganda Travel Blog is not in any way affiliated to any of these companies. We simply recommend them for their exceptional services!