Exclusive Information and Tips on Gorilla Trekking Uganda – All you need to know about Uganda Gorilla Safaris
Gorilla trekking is one of the most exclusive activity in Africa basing on tourism, therefore as noted below are some of the practical information that will guide you while on your gorilla safari based on our experienced knowledge about what is involved in gorilla trekking.
Uganda is a home base to over a half of the remaining gorilla in the world with specifically two national gorilla parks which includes; Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national parks. Uganda has always been the best leading destination when it comes to gorilla trekking. And also, being the safest and affordable country to trek mountain gorillas, the gorilla permits is at USD 700.
Be informed about Gorilla Trekking Uganda before you go;
As you’re planning for your Uganda gorilla safari, get to know which country you’re going to do your trek. For example, the endangered mountain gorillas cannot be found in any zoo in the whole world, therefore you need to know the facts and background of mountain gorillas, where they are found, their diet, habitat and so on. Mountain gorillas can only be spotted in Uganda, Rwanda and democratic Republic of Congo.
In Uganda we can discover the mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park where it is known to be the home of the endangered mountain gorilla. Within the park, we are likely to find other four areas where the trekking takes place, like for instance there is Buhoma in the north of the park, Nkuringo to the south where 3 groups are trekked via here and also, it’s the most difficult place for trekkers since u climb 600metres (from) and 600metres (to).
Whereas for those who want to trek all the gorilla families, Rushanga is a good spot to go even though it is still under development but that doesn’t hinder you from having your best experience of trekking.
Secondly, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park commonly known for its calm and peaceful surroundings where you can be able to trek the gorillas without the noise from the crowd. Unlike the other parks, here we only find one family and that is the “Nyakagezi gorilla family”
However small it is, Mgahinga gorilla national park is full of tremendous activities such as trekking golden monkey, a 3 day volcano climbs and also not forgetting the first forest people (Batwa pygmies) which is a must do Uganda cultural encounter while in the park. As mentioned above, these two parks can be found in southwest Uganda and visitors can also use air transportation from Entebbe international airport to reach the park via Kigali to the southwest gate, whereas if one decides to use road transport it can take 9-10hrs drive to the gorilla park.
Where to stay on a Gorilla Trekking Safari?
While as you’re planning your gorilla safari tour in Uganda, it is wise to put in mind the accommodation, meaning where you will lay your head once you’re in your trekking destination. The park has got quite a number of lodges which may be favorable for your budget.
For instance you may prefer to stay in a mid-range or luxury lodge depending on your budget as long as your lodge will be close to where you will trek mountain gorillas. Luxury lodges are more available in Rushanga and Nkuringo at the south of the park (Bwindi impenetrable national park). The security is well reportedly tight for lodges in all parks, so be sure for your safety. Read Uganda Safari Lodges.
What it is like? (gorilla Trekking Experience)
As we said earlier that this unusual adventure cannot be done in any zoo, national park or every country in the world, so those who get a chance to experience this once in a lifetime capability can say that this activity is unlike any other safari tour in Africa because they not only observe the mountain gorillas but they spend long hours with them and their gorilla families. Uganda Gorilla Trekking involves early morning wakeups, hiking into thick, impenetrable forests while climbing up and down mountains. It requires physical fitness, special clothes and maximum silence while in the forest.
Gorilla Trekking Choices;
This is a personal choice for every individual who wishes to do a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, some tourists prefer to trek in both parks and other prefer to join the gorilla habituation experience which requires only a minimum of 4 people. Whereas others decide to participate in an 1hr experience with the gorilla family and this consists of 8 participants. Thus the choice is yours as the rangers and the porters will be pleased to serve you.
Other Activities to do after or before your Mountain Gorilla Trekking;
As our main focus is on trekking mountain gorillas, the park also provides some activities which may likely interest the tourist more. For example, the “Batwa people” commonly known as the first people of the forest can help you be acquitted with their cultural way of living and their social life at large. there is also bike riding and hiking in Bwindi impenetrable plus nature walks and volcano climbing in Mgahinga national park.
Safety and Security;
Uganda is one of the safest safari destinations in the whole of Africa and gorilla tracking is among the safe tourist activities in Uganda. This activity involves the escort of a ranger, military armed soldier and porters. Therefore, with no doubt Uganda is a no spin reality when it comes to safety and security within the parks. Read Is Safe for Travel?
Best Time to go for Gorilla Trekking
Most often daytime temperatures range around 150c with night dropping to a cool 100c, there two dry seasons; December to February and early March and June through September. Therefore, tourists are recommended to plan their gorilla trekking safaris in the month above in order to have the best experience ever without any interruptions in the forest. You are advised to book your gorilla permit at least 90 days in advance if you wish to go gorilla trekking during high season.
The rest of the year, it happens to rain heavily making the forests un-trekkable. Although, the wet season tend to be the best time for butterflies, cheaper accommodation rates and discounted gorilla permits. If you aren’t afraid of trekking through muddy roads and chilling at lodges alone or with few individuals, you can book your gorilla safari during April and May or October and November.
Gorilla Trekking Permits;
Gorilla permits are required pass for every visitor to encounter with any mountain gorilla family. They are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Currently there is 180 gorilla permits available with a maximum number of visitors limited to 8 per gorilla group. For some instances like trekking Nyakagezi group, permits are issued on a fixed date because it is the only group in Mgahinga gorilla national park unlike other groups in Bwindi impenetrable national park. Thus, the easiest months for booking a gorilla permit is in off season (April or November) and the members authorized to obtain these permits are the AUTO members (Association of Uganda Tour Operators).
Gorilla Trekking Rules – Dos and Don’ts of a Gorilla Safari
Before you set for a gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda, it is better you first acknowledge the rules that govern the gorilla trekking process in these countries. For instance, these rules don’t change; the rangers still imply them to the tourists. Below are some of the rules that tourist should abide by while planning to visit the park;
- Don’t use your camera without a flash.
- Tourists with health issues e.g. cough, flu etc. will not be allowed to trek because you may infect the mountain gorillas. And so many more other restrictions.
What to wear on a Gorilla Safari
Very often most trekkers don’t know what to wear while doing a gorilla trekking trip but here are some practical steps on what to bring on your Uganda gorilla safari tour; long trousers, hiking boots, long sleeved shirt, gloves, walking sticks, rain coat, insect repellents etc.
Physical Fitness for Trekkers – Moderate level of fitness;
Individually we all know our physical ability, its better we think of our health before participating in the activity. In 2013 an incident happened when a 93-year-old woman collapsed while she was trekking and she was carried on a stretcher back to the lodge. Therefore, one should be in a reasonable state like having stamina and strength to do the trekking. Otherwise it is recommended for healthy people who still have energy to climb to and from at the end of the trek.
On the other hand, we also have some information and guidelines regarding the gorilla habituation and it is inscribed below;
Information and Tips on Gorilla Habituation Safari
About Mountain Gorilla Habituation, lately we saw that Uganda is a home to half of the remaining mountain gorilla in the whole world and they can be found within only two national parks and that is Mgahinga gorilla national park and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park.
Just as you plan for your gorilla habituation experience safari, you need to know what is required and needed. Unlike gorilla trekking which requires just observing and photographing, here you take the initiative to participate in the habituation process. Thus, it is best to know that gorilla habituation is not just a more time but it is a realistic experience in the wild.
Where to go for Gorilla Habituation Experience;
It has been proven that Rushanga area in Bwindi forest is the most convenient place for gorilla habituation; it is in southern part of the park. Whereas other areas like Buhoma, Ruhinja, and Nkuringo habituation cannot take place. Getting to the area it takes 9 to 10hrs drive from Entebbe and other tourist can reach Rushanga with the shortest means of flying or from Kigali on road 90 min to the area.
Choice of the gorilla family;
Currently, there are two groups released for visitation but only one family that is “Bikingi” which one can spend 4hrs on all day. And since many clients say trekking is a lifetime experience then why not says gorilla habituation is an infinity moment.
Time for Gorilla Habituation;
As you’re planning for your Uganda gorilla safari, its better you know what period is best for you to enjoy your tour. The experience is similar to that of gorilla trekking; the season still ranges from mid-December – February and June – September.
Gorilla Habituation Permits;
The permits for this experience are issued by the Uganda wildlife authority and the members of the AUTO, and they are 1500USD each.
Where to Stay while on Gorilla Habituation Safari?
The lodging adds to your gorilla habituation experience, the park has a quite a number of luxuries, mid-range and budget lodges within and outside Bwindi impenetrable forest. Therefore, if one wants to have the best of the best, Rushanga or Nkuringo areas should be your ideal place to be.
What to wear on a gorilla habituation Tour;
Similar to that of gorilla trekking, tourist is recommended to mind about what they pack while planning for their gorilla trekking safaris, hiking boots are recommended, rain jacket, packed lunch, walking sticks, long trousers, long-sleeved shirts and bottle of drinking water etc. With all that in your suit case, you’re all set up for the gorilla habituation experience.
Rules and regulations to follow;
The rules and regulations that govern mountain gorilla trekking are the same as those which applies to the habituation experience for example; smoking is not allowed, no eating and drinking while mountain gorillas are watching, no use of flash lights because it may frighten the gorillas and they run away or even attack the tourists, no loud noise etc.
Who can go on a Gorilla Safari?
Since mountain gorilla tour is an exclusive African Safari, not everyone is allowed to go gorilla trekking. This activity requires reasonable state of physical fitness, so if you know you’re not energetic enough, this may be a wrong experience to participate in. However there is an option of helpers (porters) who can help you with your bags while ascending and descending the 600 meters to the end of the trek.
Also, individuals under the age of 15 aren’t allowed to go on gorilla safari. People with infectious diseases are restricted from the activity, and if you qualify for the great safari experience, please make sure you acquire a gorilla permit so as to be allowed to trek these endangered giant primates.
Why is Gorilla Trekking so Expensive?
The kind of gorilla being discussed here are the Mountain Gorillas. If it wasn’t for the conservation efforts being put in by the Uganda government being supported by you, tourist, Mountain gorillas would be extinct by now. These gentle giants can only be found in 3 African countries in the whole world; Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Read Mountain Gorilla boom in Uganda.
Therefore, gorilla safaris are expensive because the money spent on gorilla permits is used in conservation processes. It is also in developing and supporting communities around the gorilla parks who long ago used to live in these forests and threatened the survival of the mountain gorillas.
Read 5 Reasons why You Need to See Mountain Gorillas in Uganda here.
Gorilla Trekking Uganda Tours