A Comprehensive Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi impenetrable National Park Uganda 2023/24
This is a comprehensive guide to Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park 2023/24. It is a must-read gorilla trekking guide for those who intend to trek Mountain Gorillas in Uganda.
We have put together all the necessary information and tips to guide you prepare for your gorilla trek in Uganda and enjoy it memorably.
WHAT IS GORILLA TREKKING?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an outdoor activity that involves hours of hiking through steep and dense rainforest jungles of Uganda Bwindi Impenetrable National Park & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Forest in search of habituated families of Mountain Gorillas, which are the world’s largest living primates.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda starts at 8.00 am with a briefing on safety and Uganda gorilla trekking rules. After the gorilla trekking briefing, you are allocated a gorilla family to trek and placed in a group of 8 people. You then transfer to the start of the gorilla trekking trail to begin the actual trek.
Gorilla trekking is done behind an expert local ranger guide who slashes a path through the foliage with a machete. The duration of a trek for these Africa’s great apes depends on the location of the gorilla family you’re heading to but can take from 2 to 6 hours.
Once you reach your designated family, you’re allowed an hour, maximum with the gorillas. The gorilla trek is relatively tiresome as the forest can be quite wet and the going fairly steep. But the reward of meeting, watching, and spending time face-to-face with the world’s last remaining wild gorillas as you witness them expressing typically human gestures and emotions is arguably one of life’s greatest privileges.
Often visitors who undertake Uganda gorilla safaris to spend a magical moment with the gentle giants describe a life-changing experience. You watch the adults forage and groom each other while baby gorillas tumble and play under a watchful gaze of a giant 200kg silverback patriarch, whose soft brown eyes constantly sweep over his family protectively. After your one-hour encounter with the gorilla, you tran
WHERE TO GO FOR GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA?
Uganda is the best place where you can go gorilla trekking to see Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat. These three beautiful countries host the entire 1,063 world population of Mountain gorillas which cannot be encountered in captivity or any other place on Earth. Also, DR Congo is the only place in the whole world where you can see the Eastern lowland gorillas during your gorilla safari in Africa.
BEST PLACES TO TREK AND SEE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN UGANDA
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are the two best places to trek and see gorillas during your Uganda gorilla safari or Uganda gorilla trekking tour.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – also called ‘The Place of Darkness’ due to its dense treetops – is the best place to go gorilla trekking in Uganda. The 321 km2 park is located in the southwest of the country with an altitude that ranges from 1,160m to 2,607m above sea level.
Bwindi Impenetrable is ancient tropical rainforest hosting almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. As befits one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth, Bwindi has been designated a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Alongside over 459 mountain gorillas that live here, the park protects over 120 mammal species, 11 species of primates, 350 bird species, 220 species of butterflies, and 60 tree species, many of them endemic to this part of Africa.
Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is done in the park’s four sectors, named after the surrounding villages:
- Buhoma sector in the north,
- Rushaga sector in the south
- Ruhija sector in the east, and
- Nkuringo sector in the west
Each of the four sectors functions as a self-standing gorilla trekking destination, has its own habituated gorilla family groups, its own set of accommodation options, a variety of tourist attractions, and is reached by a different approach road from the other location.
Gorilla Families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda
There are 19 habituates gorilla families in Bwindi that are open for Uganda gorilla trekking tours. Bwindi is also home to 1 semi-habituated Gorilla Habituation Experience.
Uganda Gorilla Trekking Families in the Buhoma Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National
- Mubare Gorilla Family
- Habinyanja Gorilla Family
- Rushegura Gorilla Family
- Katwe Gorilla Family
- Binyido Gorilla Family
Gorilla Families in Rushaga Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National
- Kahungye Gorilla Family
- Bweza Gorilla Family
- Busingye Gorilla Family
- Bikingi Gorilla Family (Semi-habituated)
- Mishaya Gorilla Family
- Nshongi Gorilla Family
- Kutu Gorilla Family
- Mucunguzi Gorilla Family
Gorilla Families in the Ruhija Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National
- Bitukura Gorilla Family
- Oruzogo Gorilla Family
- Kyaguliro Gorilla Family
- Mukiza Gorilla Family
Gorilla Families in the Nkuringo Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National
- Nkuringo Gorilla Family
- Bushaho Gorilla Family
- Christmas Gorilla Family
OTHER ACTIVITIES YOU DO IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK BEFORE OR AFTER GORILLA TREKKING
Gorilla habituation is a slow and gentle process where wild gorillas are trained to get used to human presence as a way of preparing them for gorilla trekking tourism, research, and other purposes.
The process takes about 2-3 years and it is carried out by a team of researchers, trackers, conservationists, and park rangers.
In Bwindi, visitors are now able to take part in this process via gorilla habituation experience so that gorillas get used to new faces, white skin, and cameras.
The unique Uganda gorilla habituation experience is offered only in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi and currently, one gorilla family called Bikyingi is available for this experience. Only 4 tourists are permitted to visit the gorilla group under habituation.
Unlike the normal gorilla trek where you are allowed 1 hour with the gorillas, this special activity offers you a 4 hours encounter with these charismatic apes hence providing a great chance to learn more about them.
Gorilla habituation experience raises the cost of your Uganda gorilla safari since the permit costs USD 1500 compare to a gorilla trekking permit which costs USD 700, but values-wise you get a lot more in return; 4- Hours with a Gorilla Family, fewer participants, and a more significant learning experience is what you get.
Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is also alive with birdsong and has been named one of the top 10 birding destinations in Africa by the African Birding Club.
The diverse habitats of this Uganda’s most ancient rainforest host more than 350 species including 23 Albertine Rift endemics such as African green broadbill, Handsome Francolin, Shelly’s Crimsonwing, Dusky Crimsonwing, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori Apalis, Rwenzori nightjar, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, Purple breasted sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Grauer’s swamp warbler and much more. Birding is mainly done in Buhoma and Ruhija sectors.
Hiking/Nature walks in Bwindi National Park
Bwindi forest walks provide more relaxed opportunities to explore this Uganda’s loveliest rainforest.
As you hike through the impenetrable forest, you will get chances of seeing unique primate species like the L’Hoest’s, blue, red-tailed, and black-and-white colobus monkeys.
You come across beautiful butterflies, and various tree species and you will also have clear views of bird species singing in the air.
Cultural visits and community walks around Bwindi
After or even before your Uganda gorilla trek in Bwindi, you explore the villages around you to learn about local cultures and the way of life of the people around you.
You can undertake an exciting 3-hour stroll around the Buhoma sector to immerse yourself in the customs and practices of the Bakiga and Batwa people.
This tour takes on varied activities such as farming, brewing local beer, and dispensing traditional medicines, and concludes with dancing displays by members of the Batwa pygmy community.
Visit the magical Lake Bunyonyi
After your Uganda gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi, you can visit Lake Bunyonyi, for relaxation and recreation.
This stunning lake is the second deepest in Africa, featuring a count of 29 Islands, and is surrounded by a range of fascinating Kigezi hills.
You can take up a boat ride for sightseeing on the lake or take up a canoe paddle enjoying the tranquil waters as you view the myriad of Islands appearing in all directions.
You can then take up an Island walk visiting the Batwa Pygmies one of the last groups of short people in the world noted to be endangered for cultural and heritage experience.
Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Compared to Bwindi, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a relatively small national park covering an area of 33.7 square kilometers.
Mgahinga is also located in southwestern Uganda with an altitude that ranges between 2,227 and 4,127 metres above sea level.
The park is situated in the scenic Virunga Mountains, a chain of 8 free-standing volcanic cones that straddle the border of Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC.
Three of them – Mount Gahinga (3,474m), Mount Muhabura (4,127m), and Mount Sabyinyo (3,669m) are situated in the park.
Mgahinga is home to one habituated gorilla group which is called the Nyakagezi gorilla family. It is a well-protected and monitored reserve full of unique forest birds and monkeys including the endemic Golden Monkeys.
As well as being important for wildlife, the park also has a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies.
This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivaled.
OTHER ACTIVITIES TO DO IN MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK BEFORE OR AFTER GORILLA TREKKING
Golden monkey tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla Park
In addition to the Uganda gorilla trekking experience, Mgahinga offers an opportunity for the traveler on a gorilla safari in Uganda to track the beautiful golden monkeys, Cercopithecus kandti, which are endemic to the Albertine Rift.
These fast-moving little creatures live in social groups of up to 100 individuals and they are very entertaining as they constantly swing through the bamboo or chase each other in circles all around you.
They’re also very pretty, with shiny reddish-gold backs that blend in perfectly with the golden bamboo
Volcano climbing/hiking in Mgahinga
Guided day hikes to Mgahinga National Park’s volcanic cone peaks can also be undertaken by visitors on Uganda gorilla tours.
The most popular climb is the strenuous ascent from Ntebeko Gate to Mount Sabinyo, a hike that culminates in 3 challenging ladder climb up rock faces that will sorely test anyone with a poor head for heights, before summiting at the three-way border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Batwa Heritage Trail Experience in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga also offers you a unique Batwa Trail Cultural Experience that takes you through the heritage of a hunter-gatherer tribe who for generations depended on the forest for shelter, food, and medicine.
The trail is led by a local Twa guide, who explains how they used to live in the forest before being ousted when it became a national park.
You follow the lower slopes of Virunga as the Twa guide demonstrates several traditional practical skills such as lighting fire by rubbing sticks together, bivouac building that they lived in, hunting and trapping techniques, target practice with a bow, and arrow, and how to fetch water in a bamboo cup.
You learn about food gathering; nutritious leaves, plants, and berries that are found in the forest that you might not even notice.
Also, you learn about the plants, roots, herbs, and bark from trees that the Batwa have used as medicine for centuries. (You see plants. The Batwa people see a pharmacy).
The trail ends inside 342m long Garama Cave where a group of women in the darkness sing and act out a song of sadness about the loss of their beloved forest and their desire to return to what is now a national park.
Birding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga is also a great destination for Uganda birding tours hosting over 200 bird species. Of particular interest to birders in search of Albertine Rift Endemics include the handsome francolin, Kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori batis, dusky, and Shelly’s Crimsonwing, and regal, blue-headed, and Rwenzori double-collard sunbird.
WHY GO MOUNTAIN GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA / BENEFITS OF GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a profound wildlife-watching experience and one that tops many travelers’ bucket lists – with good reasons;
Mountain Gorillas Are So Rare and You Can’t See Them in Zoos
So rare are the mountain gorillas that they can only survive in the wild. These great apes are among the most endangered primates in the world with about 1,063 in existence which makes a gorilla safari to Uganda to see the rare mountain gorillas in their natural habitat a once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Mountain Gorillas Are Among Our Closest Living Genetic Relatives
A big part of what makes the gorilla trek in Uganda so special is that these big apes are so closely related to humans (the difference in DNA is only about 1.6%).
Aside from the DNA, it is hard not to find gorillas eerily similar to humans by just staring face-to-face with them.
They live in family groups and gorilla mothers take very good care of their babies. Each gorilla family is led by one giant Silverback male.
Gorillas are also extremely intelligent primates and communicate with each other through vocalizations like grunts and barks. They are capable of feeling emotions like we do.
Witnessing these great apes expressing typically human gestures and emotions is a truly profound experience and one of the reasons that gorilla trekking is such a life-changing adventure.
Gorillas Are the Largest, Most Powerful, And Most Impressive Primates on Earth
Gorillas are the strongest and largest primates on earth, almost 3 times as bulky as an average man. Despite their immense size, strength, and fearsome appearance, mountain gorillas are remarkably peaceful creatures.
More impressive even than their great size is their unfathomable attitude to people, which greatly differs from that of any other wild animal you know.
This makes a gorilla safari in Uganda to encounter these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat the most intimate wildlife encounter you can have in Africa, if not the world.
Gorilla Trekking is a Great Chance to Taste Your Physical Fitness
Mountain gorilla trekking destinations in Uganda have challenging terrains.
The trek to see our giant cousins usually involves hours of navigating uphill and downhill through dense forests with thick tangles of vines, roots, and muddy areas.
It is relatively difficult, but a face-to-face encounter with the majestic mountain gorillas will gift you with soul-stirring memories that will stay etched in your mind forever.
Gorilla Trekking Contribute To The Protection Of These Endangered Mountain Gorillas
Anyone visiting a gorilla perk for a gorilla trekking tour is by definition, ensuring the survival of these endangered primates.
If you, for example, buy a Uganda gorilla permit, you not only buy a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with charismatic apes, you’re providing the economic incentive for the protection of the endangered mountain gorillas.
Without gorilla tourism, mountain gorillas might have gone extinct.
Many scouts, who were once poachers of gorillas and other primates, are now their protectors and earn their livelihoods safeguarding what they once killed.
It’s a conservation success story and continued gorilla trekking tourism is vital to the species’ continued existence.
PREPARATION FOR A GORILLA TREK TOUR IN UGANDA
Book a Uganda Gorilla Permit
If you want to undertake a Uganda gorilla trekking safari, you will need to book a gorilla permit.
The gorilla permit is a document/card issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), an office that allows any traveler above the age of 15 to trek gorillas in Uganda.
Gorilla trekking permits grant access to one trek and one hour with the gorillas. The length of the trek may vary, depending on where the gorillas are on any given day.
It is possible to book the permits directly from UWA or RDB but the most convenient way is to use a reliable tour operator. Book at least 6 months ahead of travel to ensure availability.
How Much is a Uganda Gorilla Trekking Permit?
The Uganda gorilla trekking permit price is USD 700 per person for foreign nonresidents. The cost of a gorilla permit in Uganda for foreign residents (with work permits) is USD 600, and for East African (EAC) Citizens is UGX 250,000 per person.
Gorilla Trekking Fitness Preparation
How fit do you need to be for gorilla trekking in Uganda? Gorilla trekking in Uganda, requires a fair fitness level as you will be hiking in humid conditions through thick vegetation and along steep, at times rather muddy, mountain tracks.
As with any strenuous activity, the fitter you are on your gorilla trek, the better.
However, this does not mean that you need to be super-fit or be able to complete a bench press three times your body weight to go for a gorilla safari
Also before starting your Uganda gorilla trekking trip, you’re divided into groups of similar age and fitness levels, and the oldest and least fit people are generally allocated the gorilla family group that is nearest the starting point.
Don’t worry, you won’t be split up from your family members or friends but – obeying the golden rule of hiking – the fastest walkers will have to slow down to the pace of the slowest so that the group stays together safely.
The fittest and youngest people will be chosen to find the gorilla family furthest away.
Your ranger guide is very experienced in assessing how the group is coping and will stop when necessary for a break, to drink water, admire a view, or even have a snack.
Packed lunches contain water and perhaps energy-rich items like roasted cashews or peanuts, bananas, apples, chocolate bars, muffins, small sandwiches or bread rolls, and local treats like ‘rolled eggs’ – a kind of omelet eaten cold.
It’s always easiest to trek Uganda gorillas, Rwanda gorillas, or Congo gorillas in the dry season. In the rainy season, the trek can be tougher as the forest trail is muddy and slippery.
Gorillas may also seek refuge from the rain in their nest or trees, making them harder to find and see.
Packing List for Uganda Gorilla Trekking Tours
Gorilla trekking involves hiking in wet conditions through thick vegetation and along steep, at times rather muddy, mountain tracks.
Therefore, you need to prepare for your gorilla trip by packing essential clothes, shoes, and other gear.
And as prepare your gorilla trekking safari packing list, don’t forgettable COVID-19 prevention items.
Best clothes for gorilla trekking/What to wear for gorilla trekking in Africa?
- Neutral color clothes including greens, greys, and browns blend in with nature. Camouflage should be avoided- it is illegal for civilians to wear it in many areas. And don’t wear animal print as the gorillas may become alarmed at seeing a ‘leopard’, for example.
- Long trousers and long-sleeved shirts protect your legs and arms from scratches and bugs.
- Gardening gloves to help you grab onto plants and branches for support without worrying about hurting your hands.
- Strong waterproof hiking boots/shoes that provide ankle support.
- Thin moisture-wicking socks and thicker cotton socks to cover them to prevent blisters
- Broad-breamed hat to protect you from strong equatorial sunshine
- Hooded waterproof jacket
- Buff to act as a dust mask and keep your neck warm and sweat out of your eyes.
- A pair of gains to prevent bugs, water, dirt, and pebble from entering your boot.
- Face mask
Gorilla Trekking Gear
- UV-filter sunglasses
- Gaiters to keep water, stones, mud, and sand out of your boots
- Twin trekking poles for balance on uneven grounds
- Mini first aid kit with antiseptic, plasters & moist towelettes
- UV-filter sunglasses
- Water bottle or hip flask. Be sure to keep hydrated, especially at altitude.
- Camera and extra batteries
- High SPF sunscreen & bug repellent
- Microfiber towel for rinsing hands and face
Other essential things to carry for your gorilla trek
- Hand sanitizer
- Energy-giving snacks for a quick energy boost.
- A light day pack with a camelback for hands-free hydration. If you are offered the option of a porter to carry your pack, please consider employing (and tipping) him.
- Many porters are reformed poachers and rely on the income from trekking to support their families (and not slip back into lucrative poaching).
UGANDA GORILLA TREKKING RULES
Before you visit the gorillas
- If you are sick you cannot visit the gorillas. This is to prevent exposing the gorillas to human diseases that they may not have any resistance to (the permit fees will be refunded).
- A maximum of 8 people per group is allowed to track one particular gorilla family per day to void behavioral disturbances in the gorillas.
- The minimum age for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is 15 years. This is because anyone below this age is considered a young and vulnerable person and therefore not fit to trek the gorillas. In most cases, persons below 15 have unpredictable characteristics that may lead to a change in the primates’ behaviors. An example is when a gorilla tries to fume or come near a visitor in the presence of a child, she may decide to run or scream hence disorganizing the gorillas.
- Always wash your hands when heading into the forest and when out of the forest
On the way to the gorillas
- Please always speak in a low voice in the forest. This will also enable you to observe other natural treasures in the forest such as birds and other mammals.
- Don’t throw away garbage in the forest. Whatever you enter into the forest with, must be brought back out when you are living in the forest. This is to preserve the ecology of the park and to avoid the spread of diseases.
- If you need the toilet whilst, in the forest, you must dig a hole at least 30cm deep. This is to avoid the contamination of human germs. Therefore it is important to first go to the toilet before starting the gorilla trek.
When you are with gorillas
- One encountered, trekkers should not approach the gorillas more closely than 10 meters, a rule often contravened by curious youngsters and sometimes adults approaching their human visitor. In this case, you will need to slowly and calmly move backward to regain the 10 meters distance.
- Gorillas don’t like flashlights, so flash photography is forbidden since it may cause the gorilla to charge at you.
- You should also note that gorillas are tricky photographic subjects, on account of their sunken eyes, the gloomy habitat in which they are often found, and the jet-black coat that tends to distort light readings. So carrying a tripod or monopod will help you to get sharper results.
It is worth programming your camera to a relatively high ISO (around 800), and pushing it even higher if conditions demand it.
- It is forbidden to eat, drink, smoke, urinate, or defecate in the vicinity of the gorillas. Gorillas can easily can your diseases.
- Speak in a low voice. However, it’s ok to ask the guide questions
- Don’t feed gorillas
- Sometimes Gorillas charge. Follow the instructions in the guide. Don’t run away, it will increase the risk of a gorilla chasing you.
- Don’t touch the gorillas, they are wild animals.
- If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth to minimize the spread of bacteria or germs.
- Visits are limited to one hour per gorilla group per day. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
- After the visit, remain silent or speak in a low voice until you reach at least 200 meters away
SOPS FOR GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA DURING COVID
Gorillas share around 98.4% of our DNA and are therefore highly susceptible to many of the viruses that we carry, and coronavirus is no exception.
To keep these wonderful primates safe, the Ugandan, Rwanda, and Congo governments have established several safety protocols/Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for gorilla trekking tours:
COVID-19 Gorilla Trekking SOPs For Uganda
- Travelers on a gorilla safari in Uganda are required to produce proof of negative COVID-19 test results on arriving at Entebbe International Airport (no older than 120 hours) and again at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
- All trekkers must carry at least two surgical masks, double-layered cloth masks with filters, or N95 masks
- Mandatory temperature checks and sanitization protocols must be observed
- A distance of 2 meters (6.5 feet) must be maintained between trekkers
- The viewing distance is set at 10 meters (33 feet)
- Carry light equipment to minimize the need for porters.
CHANCES OF SEEING GORILLAS IN UGANDA ON A GORILLA TREKKING SAFARI
Because mountain gorillas are so closely monitored, and either researchers or trackers are in touch with them every day, guides know more or less where the different families are, and you probably have a 99% chance of seeing them.
Of course, there are no guarantees with wild animals, and an overnight thunderstorm or an unexpected encounter with a predator may cause a troop to move unexpectedly in a completely different direction, but scouts will likely pick up their trail again soon.
It is very seldom that travelers don’t find these giant Apes during a gorilla trekking expedition.
BEST TIME TO GO GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA
The best time to go gorilla trekking in Uganda is during dry seasons, although a gorilla safari can be undertaken at any time of year.
Uganda has two dry seasons, the first one runs from about the middle of December to the end of February and the second dry season is from early June to September.
These times of the year offer comfortable gorilla trekking adventures. However, conditions are still very humid and wet in the gorilla parks with plenty of mud, so don’t forget your gaiters!
The ‘low rainfall’ season, which goes from June to September, and the ‘gentle rainfall’ season, which runs from December to February, are the best times to go gorilla trekking in Uganda. July and August are generally the least rainy and coolest months of the year.
IS GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA SAFE?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is safe. Regardless of their size, fearsome appearance, and unfair reputation, gorillas are not dangerous creatures.
All Gorilla treks are done in the company of expert local ranger guides who spend most of their time with the mountain gorillas.
Also, the gorilla families you are allowed to visit are those which have been habituated to the presence of a human, meaning they are used to having people near them and understand they are generally not a threat.
Mountain gorillas are typically shy and gentle, usually spending the majority of their time feeding and looking after their young.
However, like any other wild animal, gorillas can show defensive behaviors if they feel threatened or uneasy, especially around their young ones.
Your expert ranger guide can recognize the signs; which may include mock charging, aggressive chest-beating, and grunting.
You are advised to always follow your guide’s instructions, however, if faced with an aggressive gorilla, crouch down, look away, and try to act relaxed.
You will be advised by your guide further during the gorilla trekking briefing.
OTHER ACTIVITIES YOU CAN DO BEFORE OR AFTER YOUR GORILLA TREK IN UGANDA
Other Uganda Wildlife Safari Experiences
Besides Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, this landlocked East African country features 8 other national parks, 12 wildlife game reserves, a variety of forest reserves and is a strong contender for one of the world’s best bird-watching destinations.
You can visit Kibale Forest National Park, a magnificent tropical rainforest that supports Africa’s highest diversity and density of primates including Africa’s biggest population of common chimpanzees.
It is the best place in the world to track and see chimpanzees in their natural habitat and is also a haven for birders.
You can visit Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, and Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for classic big game viewing including rhinos, elephants, buffalos, ground-dwelling lions, tree-climbing lions, leopards, giraffes, zebras, hippos, hyenas, Cheetahs, and numerous antelopes.
Uganda also features several fantastic mountain hiking/climbing destinations including the Rwenzori Mountains Africa’s highest mountain range rising to 5109 meters with snow-capped peaks.
The country is also home to Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest lake, and the source of the Nile River – the world’s longest river.
You can enjoy world-class white-water rafting and river cruises along the Nile as you view waterbirds, hippos, and crocodiles.
Uganda is a wonderful destination for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts and a safari to Uganda can easily be combined with a safari to Kenya, Rwanda, Congo, or Tanzania for a holistic East African safari experience.
Are you ready to begin planning your gorilla trekking safari in Uganda?
Gorillas are endangered the treks are carefully regulated in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, and Congo’s Virunga National Park, and Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Gorilla permits are not easy to secure and expensive and traveling to such a remote gorilla trekking destination and ensuring the best chances for a successful gorilla trekking tour needs the kind of direct experience and local knowledge that you get from an African safari expert.
You can get in touch with us to plan your Uganda gorilla safari, Rwanda gorilla tour, or gorilla trekking tour to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT GORILLA TREKKING IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK UGANDA & MGAHINGA GORILLA PARK
If you would like to have the best gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, here are accurate answers to your gorilla trekking frequently asked questions.
When talks turn to gorilla trekking whether in Uganda, Rwanda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo; the only three countries in the world where mountain gorillas live, it basically means following mountain gorillas in their natural habitats.
Gorilla trekking involves a group of 8 tourists walking through dense tropical montane forests (for about 1-8 hours) in search of habituated gorillas until they find them and spend an hour with them in their natural habitat, Read more
Uganda is possibly the most iconic place for gorilla trekking in the world, any visitor on Uganda safari shouldn’t miss out on trekking gorillas in Uganda because of its thrilling primate-watching experience. Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the only 3 countries in the whole world where you can meet endangered Mountain gorillas. So, if you’re wondering why you should go gorilla trekking in Uganda?
One thing is for sure – going gorilla trekking is not cheap, but it will definitely be one of the most memorable moments of your life. It won’t be easy, either. You must be reasonably fit to trek even for hours through muddy steep terrain, and lush dense forests. Read more
Uganda has only two national parks where one can see gorillas i.e Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and this is where gorilla trekking in Uganda is done to search and find the rear endangered Mountain Gorillas. With about 1063 mountain gorillas that still exist on earth today, Uganda is home to more than half of all these endangered Great Apes making it one of the only 3 countries in the world where mountain gorillas live and Uganda gorilla tours are only done in there two national parks. Read More
To prepare for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo in Africa, Book your safari with a gorilla permit, check your fitness, and choose jungle fit attire as mountain gorilla trekking involves climbing mountainous landscapes in search of the gorillas as well as sloping down. As you prepare for a gorilla trek in Africa:-
- Carry Sunscreen
Gorilla trekking is relatively difficult depending on one’s fitness levels. gorilla trekking in Uganda is also relatively hard as it involves walking through thick forests, valleys, hills, and swamps, Gorilla trekking can be challenging for one physically unfit leading to exhaustion. How hard is gorilla trekking in Uganda?/How difficult is gorilla trekking − is one of the most frequently asked questions by travelers while preparing for their Uganda gorilla tours. Mountain gorillas of Uganda are found in mountainous-forested areas and Uganda gorilla treks in search of these great apes can go up to 8 hours, scrambling through dense vegetation up steep, muddy hillsides, sometimes to altitudes of more than 3500 meters.. Read More
There is little or no opportunity for fashion while on a gorilla trek in Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park. Therefore as you envision your gorilla tour in Uganda, you also need to consider the gorilla trekking dress code. Below are what to wear when tracking gorillas in Uganda.
- Long-sleeved shirts/t-shirts: The shirt should have a synthetic material since cotton ones get muggy. It protects you from insect bites and stinging nettles during the gorilla trek.
- Long trousers: Jeans are mostly recommended for most of the hikes and treks since they show less or no dirt and offer safety and protection from giant stinging nettles and weeds that may clasp at your ankles and legs during Jungle hours. Read more
Preparing what to bring for gorilla trekking in Uganda goes beyond gorilla trekking clothes. The best backpack for gorilla trekking should also include the following gorilla trekking essentials/items.
- Cameras and extra batteries: Photography is an important component of a gorilla safari in Uganda. You should ensure that you have your camera ready and you’re advised to charge your batteries very well and if necessary, carry extra batteries as you will need to take many photographs during your one-hour encounter with the mountain gorillas. You are strongly advised to switch off your flash while taking gorilla photographs.
- Binoculars: Remember that you are on safari and you want to have clear views of everything. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park is biologically diverse with over 360 bird species, and 120 species of mammals including black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, L’Hoest’s monkeys, bushbucks, duikers, forest elephants, and buffaloes. So, during your mountain gorilla trek, you will have a chance to spot some of the above. Read More
The age limit for trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, and Cong Africa is currently 15 years and any visitor below this age is considered a young vulnerable person and therefore not fit to do a gorilla trek in Africa. Below are the reasons why is the age limit for trekking gorillas in Uganda 15 years and above.
Children below 15 years are known to have unpredictable characteristics that may lead to changes of mountain gorilla behaviors. For example, if a giant silverback gorilla tries to come near a visitor in the presence of a child, he/she may decide to scream or run hence disturbing the peace of these gentle primates. Read More
A gorilla trek in Uganda can last for about 2-6 hours and it involves hiking through the dense vegetation and steep slopes while in search of mountain gorillas. How the start and the entire day of the gorilla trek like? Prime Uganda safaris and tours, give an insight into what the day of gorilla trekking entails from start to end.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Rwanda in volcanoes National Park. Congo in Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Biega National Park. Bwindi is home to almost half of all mountain gorillas on earth. A trek to see gorillas can last from 2 to 8 hours, involving hiking through the thick, dense forest, up and down hills! It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Below is what a gorilla trek in Uganda entails. Read More
In order to ensure sustainable and safe Uganda gorilla treks, care is taken to maintain and protect gorillas and their refuge and tourist groups as well, which are accompanied these days by armed though usually inconspicuous guards. Below are gorilla trekking rules and regulations every trekker must observe.
Due to conservation efforts intended to protect/safeguard and increase the number of Gorillas in the whole world, protect the habitat and environment where Gorillas and other wildlife live, and protect the travelers who track /visit the gorillas, a carefully crafted set of gorilla trekking rules and guidelines/requirements were put in place before starting the gorilla trek. Read More
Gorilla trekking usually lasts from 1 to 8 hours (including the journey to the gorillas, the 1 hour spent with them and the return journey back to the briefing point) in Uganda, Rwanda, Congo Africa depend on how far the group has moved since it was last observed nesting up the previous evening. However, whether it is a short or a long trek, travelers are 99% guaranteed a chance to definitely find and be triggered to an endless marvel to these peaceful, magnificent, gigantic, great gorillas the biggest of all man`s cousins in the wild yet 98.6 DNA similar to humans... Read More
A gorilla trekking permit is a document or card issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) that allows any traveler above 15 years of age to trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
A permit offers visitors an opportunity to view mountain gorillas for only one hour but the gorilla trekking itself can take up 1 to 8 hours while looking for gorillas in the forest.
The gorilla trekking permit helps in controlling the number of people visiting these endangered primates. Also, the national park obtains the money necessary to protect these endangered by selling gorilla trekking permits. Read More
Uganda has 160 gorilla permits available each day. These are split between the habituated gorilla groups/families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park.
A gorilla trekking permit is a document or card issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) that allows any traveler above 15 years of age to trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
A permit offers visitors an opportunity to view mountain gorillas for only one hour but the gorilla trekking itself can take up 1 to 8 hours while looking for gorillas in the forest. Read More
For those wondering how many people are allowed to track a gorilla family group, Only eight (8) people per day are allowed to track a gorilla family/group in Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park & Mgahinga National Park, Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park or Congo in her Virunga National Park or Kahuzi Biega National Park in Africa and after once you find the Mountain Gorillas after the long gorilla trek that takes 1-8 hours, trekkers/tourists are allowed to have only one (1) hour.
For Gorilla Habituation Experience, only 4 people are allowed to habituate a gorilla family/group in Uganda per day at a cost of 1500$ per person (per gorilla habituation experience permit) and after finding them in the mooring before they nest out, you will stay with them for only 4hours. In Uganda, gorilla habituation experience in Rushaga & Buhoma regions of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.. Read More
Yes! It is important to note that the demand for gorilla permits always exceeds the number of permits available each day, especially during the high season. If you are planning your gorilla safari during the ‘low seasons’
Travelers are recommended that they book a gorilla permit at least 6 months earlier in advance, especially if they are to trek gorillas in Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park or the Democratic Republic of Congo in Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Biega National Park during peak seasons of June, July, August, and December, January & February Read More
How much is a gorilla permit in Uganda? A gorilla permit in Uganda costs $700 per person for foreign nonresidents and $600 for foreign residents, but both pay $1,500 for gorilla habituation experience in Uganda. Rwanda Gorilla permit costs $1500 for foreign nonresidents and $500 for foreign residents. They both pay a uniform amount for Rwanda Behind the Scenes gorilla trip for 3 days costs US$ 30,000 for 3 persons.
The Rwanda and Uganda gorilla permit fees as well as gorilla habituation fees include the park entry and ranger guide fees (who will be with you in the forest looking for the gorillas). The gorilla permit and gorilla habituation fees exclude accommodation, meals, transport, and other expenses.. Read More
How do I get a gorilla permit in Uganda? is a common question for those planning their Gorilla tours to Uganda to trek and see mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable or Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. You can book a permit for gorilla trekking in Uganda yourself or through a trusted Uganda Gorilla Safari Company / Tour Operator. You can directly apply for a gorilla permit to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) by email or telephone. It’s however important to note that applying for a gorilla permit in Uganda directly is not easy and most people who apply directly become frustrated. Many are unable to get through with calls or emails. You should also note that only a small portion of permits are allocated for direct sales. Read More
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is among those activities that draw a lot of travelers to Africa and it’s done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park And Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. Gorilla permits are demanded highly by travelers and they easily get sold out. The high demand for permits has led to many travelers booking permits in advance; 6 months, 9 months, or even a year before the dates of the trips. With this world full of mysteries, the future is unforeseeable and uncontrollable. There are lots of predicaments or issues that might happen to the traveler and end up canceling his Uganda gorilla tour yet he has already paid the gorilla permit fees…Read More
Are there discounted gorilla permits in Uganda? there are no more discounted gorilla permits in Uganda and Rwanda for April, May, and November as it used to be before 2018. However, affordable gorilla safaris/budget gorilla trekking in Uganda can be arranged for those who want to trek gorillas but are short of money in the months of March, April May and November.
Uganda Budget gorilla trekking packages can be arranged in the above mentioned months due the fact that there is relatively low numbers of Uganda safari visitors undertaking gorilla trekking in Uganda‘s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park….Read More
The least price for a gorilla tour in Uganda is $900 but the total cost for a Uganda gorilla safari trip depends entirely on the preference of the individual traveler or groups of travelers. When planning your Uganda gorilla tour, there are 3 key things you must consider so as to have a fair picture of how much a gorilla safari in Uganda costs;-
How much does a gorilla safari in Uganda cost? or how much does it cost to see gorillas in Uganda? − is very important when planning your gorilla trekking holiday to Uganda. The gorilla permit price is just a fraction of the overall cost of gorilla trekking in Uganda safari.
The cost of a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Read More
Gorilla permits are certainly not cheap and the cost of a gorilla trekking trip can quickly mount up with a permit alone. Why a gorilla permit is so expensive? It is because of the high costs of conserving the high gorillas. Approximately, about 75% of your gorilla permit fees go into conservation initiatives to protect endangered mountain gorillas.
- Poaching; as they are often killed by traps set for other animals. In fact, gorillas are also abducted for illegal selling to zoos and as pets. As result, other adult gorillas are killed in the process.
- Habitat loss; is the most severe threat to gorilla populations. The forests where mountain gorillas live are surrounded by rapidly increasing human settlements. Through shifting (slash-and-burn) agriculture, pastoral expansion, and logging, villages in forest zones cause fragmentation and degradation of habitat…….Read More
If you are wondering What is the best time to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda?/when to go gorilla trekking in Uganda? This is one of the most frequently asked questions. Uganda has two seasons; the wet season and dry season. Travelers intending to visit Uganda for gorilla trekking should note that trekking gorilla is a physically demanding wildlife experience that can take the whole day, moving uphill and downhill through thick tangles of vines, thorns, and roots.
The dry season is the best time of the year to go gorilla trekking in Uganda. Uganda’s dry season starts from June to September and December to February. These months offer the best weather for gorilla trekking in Uganda. Read More
The good news to all tourists to Uganda is that it is safe to visit gorillas in Uganda and gorilla trekking in Uganda is safe, the Pearl of Africa-Uganda as a country is safe as well. It is important to note that there have been no gorilla trekking security incidents in Uganda nor gorilla attacks on tourists during the past many years as well. Now for those asking Is it safe to visit gorillas in Uganda? Is gorilla trekking in Uganda safe? Is it safe to go gorilla trekking in Uganda? Is Gorilla trekking dangerous? Uganda is one of the most peaceful destinations with humble and happy people.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda security measures and initiatives are taken by both government and the local communities around the gorilla parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are some of the main reasons that Uganda has become the best gorilla trekking safari destination in Africa. Read More
Gorilla Trekking Rwanda vs Uganda−Mountain gorillas are found in Uganda (in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park), Rwanda (in Volcanoes National Park) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (in Virunga National Park). However, Uganda and Rwanda are the most popular destinations for mountain gorilla safaris. Travelers, who wish to go on mountain gorilla safaris in Africa always wonder:-which is better for gorilla trekking Rwanda Vs Uganda? Is Rwanda or Uganda better for gorilla trekking? Here is a comparison between the two countries; the choice is yours…Read More
A wide range of Luxury Uganda safari lodges, Mid-range Uganda safari lodges, and budget Uganda safari lodges are available around Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks for your accommodation during your Uganda gorilla tour. These lodges offer guests quality services and amenities such as comfortable beds, en-suite bathrooms with cold and hot water, restaurants that serve both local and international dishes, Wi-Fi, and other facilities and services.
Lodges in Bwindi are situated in all the four gorilla trekking sectors of the park. It is strongly recommended that you choose your lodge in the sector where you are going under the gorilla trek. Read More
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