Gorilla Safaris Uganda, Gorilla trekking Safaris in Uganda, Rwanda Gorilla Tours and Congo Gorilla Safaris
Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda offer an incredible opportunity to observe mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Uganda is home to more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population, making it one of the best destinations for gorilla trekking experiences
Gorilla Trail Safaris in Uganda is all about incredible gorilla safaris to Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. We plan bespoke gorilla tours in Uganda and all our destinations are designed to suit our clients’ needs. We offer exceptional gorilla tours at affordable rates making us the ultimate gorilla safari planners in Africa.
Our gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda take you to the dense jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the gorilla tracking destination as well as Virunga National Park in Congo. These are the only gorilla trekking destinations of the world.
Book guided gorilla safaris and hear the sounds of the lead silverback gorillas as they take control of their families. Gorilla walking tours comprise of trekking both mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas of Congo’s Kahuzi Biega National Park.
A part from gorilla safaris in Uganda, gorilla tracking tours in Rwanda and Congo gorilla safaris, Gorilla Trail Safaris also offers other African safaris. We customize wildlife viewing tours, bird watching tours, chimpanzee trekking safaris, cultural tours, hiking trips and any other adventure trips. With 12 years of tailoring safaris we have built a good reputation in providing remarkable tours in Africa to the countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Congo.
We are flexible enough with expertise in customizing short and long safaris with an expert team ready to handle trips for travelers who would love to have whether Luxury, Mid-range or budget holiday tours. We handle private tours, group tours both small and large, student tours, research groups, family trips and all kinds of traveler groups.
We are committed to responsible tourism and excel in customizing not only gorilla tours Uganda but also Kenya wildlife safaris and Tanzania tours to the renowned Serengeti National Park and other destinations. With several successful trips in the past years, some of our clients have appreciated out travel services and reviewed us on our TripAdvisor & Safari Bookings Pages.
Popular Gorilla Safaris Uganda itineraries
Uganda gorilla safaris are only carried out in two national parks in Uganda. That is; Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park. There is one always mobile, habituated mountain gorilla family in Mgahinga national park called Nyakagezi with about 9 individuals. Bwindi on the other hand has about 7 mountain gorilla families with each trek tailored to meet your Uganda gorilla safaris needs.
Mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda involves waking up early for a short briefing before the actual trek at about 7.30 am. You are then accompanied by a guide on your Uganda gorilla safaris as you head out into the deep jungle to find the mountain gorillas. Once you have found these gentle giants, you get to spend at least an hour within 7 meters as you witness the lifestyle of this endangered species. You are then escorted back to the headquarters to mark the end of the adventure.
Mountain gorilla habituation on the other hand is quite different in terms of the activities involved and how long the experience lasts. Habituation on your Uganda gorilla safaris will involve you heading out into the jungle with the game trackers and rangers themselves. You will go through the whole process of tracking the gorillas and spending half a day or an entire day studying their behavior. This activity is meant to induce the human presence into the lives of the gorillas so that they would still act normal when tourists go gorilla trekking.
5 Days Gorilla & White water rafting safari Uganda is a fantastic 5 days gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and white water rafting experience at Jinja – Nile River. On this 5 days safari you have the chance to see the world’s remaining mountain gorillas and have a rafting experience on the Nile water rapids as they still exist. Read More
5 Days Bwindi Gorilla safaris Uganda & Queen Elizabeth wildlife tour is an amazing trip for gorilla trekking, chimpanzee tracking and wildlife tours including a game drive and boat cruise. The 5 days trip takes you to Queen Elizabeth National Park for wildlife viewing and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for gorilla trekking. Read More
This 5 days chimpanzee & gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda is a gorilla and chimp safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Kibale Forest National Park. This gorilla tours Uganda includes gorilla trekking as well as a chimpanzee trek with the best activity parks in the country. Read More
This 4 Days Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Flying Safaris in Uganda is a flying tour on a chartered airline to and from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. On arrival, at Entebbe International Airport, a tour guide will be there to welcome you to the country and lead you to your book accommodation facility within Entebbe. Read More
This 3 Days Gorilla Habituation Safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an opportunity for a great encounter of the rare Mountain Gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the only best gorilla safari park for Mountain gorilla habituation as those in the other parks are fully habituated. Read More
Best Congo safari packages; Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris, Mount Nyiragongo Hiking Safaris
The Democratic Republic of Congo has in the past years suffered civil unrest that has affected even the Congo safari parks. Virunga National Park has been one of the most affected destinations and this saw the closure of the park in 2018 for about 8 months reopening for tourists in February 2019.
To enable effective gorilla trekking safaris in Congo, several tour packages were tailored. Booking became easier but planning became more difficult since these safari packages depart on specific day.
Therefore the easiest way of now planning a safari to Congo is by contacting a tour operator on ground to choose a package that perfectly suits your travel needs, preferred dates and accommodation. For tourists tailoring trips from either neighboring Rwanda or Uganda, your tour operator will be able to fix dates exactly matching the packages by Virunga National Park management.
4 Days Congo gorilla trek and Nyiragongo Volcano hike is a gorilla trekking safari and Mount Nyiragongo hiking trip to Congo’s Virunga National Park. Your 4 days Congo safaris tour is a private tour that can be planned all year round with 4×4 safari vehicle ground transfers. Read More
4 Days Virunga gorilla trek & Nyiragongo hiking safari Congo is a short safari in Congo for gorilla trekking and hiking trip to Mount Nyiragongo Volcano. This 4 days Congo safari is a trip to Virunga National Park where all of the activities will be done on an exclusive private tour. Read More
5 Days Congo gorilla safari and chimpanzee habituation tour is a 5 days great Ape Congo safari to Virunga National Park for gorilla trekking and chimpanzee habituation experience. Taking up this 5 days safari to Congo requires adventurous travelers ready to hike/trek mountain gorillas twice as well as go for chimpanzee trekking. Read More
Rwanda safaris tours, Rwanda Gorilla tours, Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Your Rwanda gorilla safaris will entail a blissful experience where you will visit Volcanoes national park. This is one of the four parks in Africa, and the only one in Rwanda, where you can trek mountain gorillas in the wild. The park is located in north western Rwanda within the Virunga mountain ranges. In fact, you will find five of eight of the Virunga volcanoes within the park while on your Rwanda gorilla safaris adventure.
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda requires you to hike on the various volcanoes since the gorillas like to stay on very high altitudes of up to 3,000 ft. Volcanoes national park has about 11 habituated families of mountain gorillas and you can trek any family of your choice while on your Rwanda gorilla safaris basing on your physical capability, the location and nature of the gorilla family and how much time you have on your hands.
Unfortunately, for the time being, Rwanda does not offer mountain gorilla habituation so you would not be able to engage in this activity on your Rwanda gorilla safaris. However, you can still enjoy hiking to challenging heights of the Virunga volcanoes in search of these gentle giants and watching as they feed, care for their young and interact with other family members. Mountain gorilla trekking is quite the enchanting activity to add bliss to your Rwanda gorilla safaris.
3 days Rwanda gorilla tracking safari is a short gorilla trekking safari to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. This is the only gorilla safari Rwanda destination situated within the Virunga Mountains in north western Rwanda adjacent to Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Virunga National Park of Congo. Read More
This amazing 12 Days Uganda Rwanda Tour offers travelers a double gorilla trekking experience as well as wildlife tour in the two countries of Rwanda and Uganda. Arriving at Kigali International Airport in Rwanda, you relax in Kigali and thereafter embark on a gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Read More
Frequently Asked Questions about Gorilla Safaris
Is it Gorilla Tracking or Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla tracking and trekking are in most cases used concurrently however there is a slight difference between the two words. The difference is that with gorilla trekking tourists hike through the trails alongside a ranger guide following a habituated gorilla family in order to see it.
In this sense, the guide is aware of where the gorillas are.
With gorilla tracking a team of gorilla trackers/ranger guides used different methods to find out where the gorillas spent the previous night and after finding out give a lead to the guides who take tourists for a gorilla trek. Though both involve hiking the difference is with who does what.
What is gorilla habituation?
Gorilla safaris Uganda mountain gorilla habituation is a thrilling activity involving tourists heading out with game rangers to observe gorillas go about their day to day lives for an entire day. This activity is aimed at introducing the mountain gorillas to human presence and ensuring that they are comfortable around people before they are eligible for mountain gorilla trekking. Mountain gorilla habituation permits are often more expensive than trekking permits but the experience is quite rewarding as well.
What do mountain gorillas look like?
One of the most common questions asked by tourists on their gorilla safaris in Uganda is what mountain gorillas actually look like. Mountain gorillas are believed to be descendants of ancient apes that lived in Africa and Arabia about 34 -24 million years ago. They are a subspecies of the eastern gorillas. Mountain gorillas have thicker and longer fur compared to that of other gorillas and the males can grow up to 150 cm while the females can grow up to 130 cm standing upright.
The mean weight of an average male mountain gorilla is 195 kilograms while a female can weigh up to 100kgs. These gentle giants can be identified by their nose prints which are unique to each gorilla. Mountain gorillas have deep brown eyes and a black ring around their irises. While on your Uganda gorilla safaris, you will be able to reach within 7 meters of the gorillas and observe these unique and memorable features.
The males grow a patch of grey hair on their backs with age and are called silverbacks. This hair often comes with dominance, leadership, and free mating rights. These gorillas mainly feed on roots, leaves, shoots, stems, and sometimes insects with an adult male eating up to 34kgs of vegetation and females only about 18kgs. Mountain gorillas also eat fruit and tree bark to supplement their demanding diet.
Where to go Gorilla Trekking; Uganda, Rwanda or Congo?
Most of the travelers planning to go for gorilla safaris keep wondering where to go for their gorilla trekking safari. All of the three countries have a reason as to why you could visit depending on your interest.
Uganda is mostly the popular gorilla safari destination because of the high mountain gorilla population in 2 Uganda safari parks. The gorilla permit price is also less expensive than that of Rwanda with the Ugandan permit at 700USD and that of Rwanda at 1500 USD.
Rwanda offers easier trekking as well as the park being accessible at a shorter driving time from the Kigali International Airport just about 3 hours. This makes the park more preferable than any other destination where there almost full day road drives to the park.
Congo is a preferable budget trekking destination since the permit only costs 450 USD. However, in the past years the country has been affected by political unrest and therefore referred to as an intrepid traveler destination.
What are the habituated wild Gorilla Families to trek in Uganda?
Each of the 5 national parks that are host to gorillas has several gorilla families or groups. Gorilla families are formed within the habitat with each family being led by a dominant silverback gorilla. They are known as silverback gorillas because of the silver hair that develops on their backs when they grow older.
A habituated gorilla family is one that has gone through the habituation process of about two to three years and is familiar with the presence of human beings. Here is a list of all the gorilla families in each gorilla habitat;
Habituated Gorilla Families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
As per September 2019, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda is home to 19 gorilla families found in the four gorilla trekking sectors and these are;
- Rushegura, Habinyaja, Mubare and Katwe Gorilla groups in the Buhoma Gorilla trekking sector
- Bitukura, Kyaguriro, Mukizo and Oruzogo Gorilla groups in the Ruhija Gorilla trekking sector
- Bishasho, Nkuringo and Christmas Gorilla groups in the Nkuringo Gorilla trekking sector
- Nsonji, Mishaya, Bweza, Kahunjye, Businjye, Rwiji, Muchunguzi and Bikyinji Gorilla groups in the Rushaga Gorilla trekking sector
Habituated Gorilla Family in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smaller Uganda gorilla safari park with one gorilla family known as Nyakagezi Gorilla Family. The Nyakagezi gorilla family has 10 family members including led by silverbacks Mark and Mafia who took over from their father silverback Bugingo who now happily plays the role of grandfather; there are 2 other silverbacks known as Rukundo and Ndungutse, 2 female adults known as Nshuti and Nyiramwiza and 3 youngsters. This group is unique for gorilla trekking because the family has 6 silverback gorillas living in harmony within the same group; this is a unique family of all the gorilla families in Uganda.
What are the habituated wild Gorilla Families to trek in Rwanda and Congo?
Habituated Gorilla Families in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is the only gorilla safari in Rwanda destination with several habituated gorilla families for gorilla trekking. The gorilla families include Igisha gorilla family, Susa gorilla family, Karisimbi gorilla family, Amahoro gorilla family, Sabyinyo gorilla family, Agashya gorilla family, Umubano gorilla family, Kwitonda gorilla family, Hirwa gorilla family, Ugyenda gorilla family, Bwenge gorilla family and Muhoza gorilla family.
Habituated Gorilla Families in Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park is the top Congo gorilla safari destination found within the Virunga Mountain ranges. Virunga National Park is home to 8 gorilla families which are known as Rugendo gorilla family, Munyaga gorilla family, Mapuwa gorilla family, Lulengo gorilla family, Kabirizi gorilla family, Bageni gorilla family and Nyakamwe Mountain gorilla family. These gorilla families are each head by a male silverback gorilla who leads the family in all of the activities.
Habituated Gorilla Families in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega National Park is a habitat to the lowland gorillas of Congo making the country the only world destination with both mountain and lowland gorillas. There are 2 habituated gorilla families for trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park named Chimanuka and Mugaruka respectively. The Chimanuka gorilla family is led by the lead silverback Chimanuka consisting of about 36 gorillas. This is one of the biggest gorilla families a traveler can ever encounter in the wild.
What are the chances of seeing the mountain gorillas?
Although mountain gorillas are often on the move, making new nests to rest in each night, chances of finding them on a Uganda gorilla safaris are pretty high. Some authorities have perceived the chance to be as high as 99%. The gorilla trackers will head out early and find the gorillas then alert your guides of their whereabouts, who will, in turn, lead you straight to them.
What can i pack for a gorilla trekking safari?
For a memorable gorilla trekking tour, remember to always pack these items;
- Comfortable hiking shoes
Hiking shoes are one of the most important items to pack for your gorilla trekking safari. Bwindi Forest and the Virunga mountains where the gorillas live are mountainous with steep terrain. Seeing the mountain gorillas involves hiking through the dense forests and therefore a comfortable hiking shoe should be packed for this purpose. Remember to purchase and try out your hiking shoe to make sure it’s comfortable enough for a hike.
- Waterproof trousers & Long-sleeved shirts
Gorilla habitats be it in Uganda, Rwanda or Congo receive at least higher rain totals than the other parts of the country therefore, it could probably rain during the trek. The waterproof trousers help to keep you dry during the trek as well as protect you from bites. Long-sleeved shirts will also help to protect you from insect bites during the trek.
- Hand/gardening gloves
Hand gloves are very necessary for hand protection during the trek. During the hike, it could get slippery and you need to hold on to a tree branch, however, some branches may be itchy or have biting insects. Hand gloves help protect you from any kind of harm on your hands.
- A raincoat
It’s wise to carry at least a light rain jacket for your gorilla safari. At any time of the year, consider traveling with a rain jacket since the gorilla habitats are tropical forests and could receive rainfall at any time of the year. Traveling during the dry season in the months of June-early September and December to February many travelers tend not to consider this however, it should be highly considered.
- Waterproof hat
For the rainy season, the waterproof hat is very comfortable since you protect your head from the falling water droplets. On the other hand, in the dry season the hat will still protect the head from any crawling insects and the sun.
- Small waterproof zip lock bag
In your luggage remember to put in a small backpack that you will carry along for the trek. As you head out to the jungle, you will have to carry bottled water, a camera and at times packed lunch. A small backpack will be comfortable to carry along but remember to pack light such that it doesn’t get you so tired during the trek.
- Insect repellent
To ensure your skin is protected from several insects and bites while in the jungle carry along with insect repellent. This will help protect your skin and make sure you return home with nonaffected skin.
- Non-flash photography camera
When you go for gorilla trekking, a maximum of 1 hour (60 seconds) is allowed to be spent with the gentle giants. During this time you can take all kinds of pictures as well as record videos but using non-flash photography gadgets.
Is gorilla trekking safe?
A mountain gorilla trekking safari is very safe for you and your safaris partners. While on your gorilla safaris in Uganda, you will be accompanied by a ranger and guide. The rangers often carry guns to scare off any other wild animals that you might encounter. During the process of observing the mountain gorillas, you will stand within 7 meters from them so that your safety is enforced while on a Uganda gorilla safaris.
How many gorillas are living?
There are two populations of mountain gorillas; one population dwells within the vast Virunga Mountain ranges encompassing Volcanoes national park in north western Rwanda, Virunga national park in eastern Congo and the Mgahinga national park in south western Uganda. The other population lives within the Bwindi Impenetrable forest in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park in Uganda. Mountain gorillas are an endangered species with numbers expected to be around 880 – 1000 individuals in the entire world.
What is the cost of a gorilla permit?
Gorilla permit prices on your gorilla safaris in Uganda differ from country to country. In Uganda for a single foreign non-resident to trek the gentle giants in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park, they would currently have to pay up to 600 USD or 700 USD starting 1st July 2020. Foreign residents can pay 500USD while East African residents can attain a gorilla trekking permit for as low as 250,000 UGX.
In Rwanda however, you could attain a permit at USD 1500 while in DRC, it goes for USD 400 to foreign non-residents and USD 150 to citizens willing to go on a gorilla safaris.
What’s included on the price of the gorilla permit?
While on your Uganda gorilla safaris, you will realize that your permit may cover some costs like park entry fees, rangers and trackers fees, and park patrol police to curb poachers. You can enjoy your time with the gorillas freely. Your permit will however not include personal expenses and tips for gorilla safari staff. If you wish to offer tips as a sign of your gratitude, you can plan for that separately from your gorilla permit fee.
What is the Best time for Gorilla Trekking Safaris?
The best time of the year for a gorilla tracking safaris is during the dry season months of June –August and December –February which makes it easy to go through the trails.
When trails are drier, gorilla trekking is easy since trails are passable and the park is accessible. It is best advisable to track gorillas during the dry season since it’s easy to trek gorillas as well as view wildlife.
However, the dry season is actually the peak or high season therefore early booking is recommendable since permits can easily get fully booked as well as accommodation. The dry season almost cuts across the three countries.
How does a traveler book a gorilla trekking tour?
Booking for a gorilla tour Uganda can be one of the complicated trips to plan, however just find the right tour operator to do this for you. Gorilla Trail Safaris and Wild Jungle Trails Safaris and have expertise in planning gorilla trips and can do all the best planning.
We prioritize in gorilla tours and therefore have all of the best packages and advise for your gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
How does a traveler book a gorilla trekking tour?
- Do not visit the gorillas if you have a cold or other infectious illness
- Human waste should be buried 30cm deep
- Maximum number of visitors is eight persons per gorilla group each day
- Maintain a 7m (21ft) distance from the gorilla
- Smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted on the trek
- If you must sneeze or cough cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, as they can catch coughs and colds from humans
- Visits are limited to one hour per gorilla group per day
- Do not use flash photography
How long does a gorilla safari trek take?
Uganda gorilla safaris adventurers always wonder how long gorilla trekking lasts. Mountain gorilla trekking can last from a few hours to half a day depending on which gorilla family you are trekking with and where they are located. Trackers head out into the forest early morning to trace the gorillas so that you can easily find them. You can then spend an hour with the gentle giants before returning to the park headquarters to mark the end of your one in a lifetime experience.
Where to stay?
While on your gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, there is a variety of accommodation options ranging from budget, midrange to luxury facilities. Some of the most popular ones include;
- Mikeno lodge:
Mikeno lodge is located in Virunga National Park overlooking Mount Nyiragogo and the rift valley just a 90 minutes’ drive away from the border town of Goma. The lodge has 12 rooms built by larva stones and Mahogany surrounding the forest. There is a fully furnished restaurant on the premises including a local gorilla orphanage that you can visit if you are staying at the lodge.
- Bisate Lodge:
Bisate lodge is located just outside volcanoes national park overlooking Bisoke and Karisimbi peaks and an eroded volcanic crater. The lodge provides 6 en-suite rooms fitted with modern and comfortable furnishings. There is a well-stocked bar and restaurant, a massage parlor and wifi services on the premises.
- Mgahinga rest camp:
This camp has 9 grass thatched bandas, 3 tents and cottages facing Lake Mutanda with private balconies. All the rooms and tents are fitted with private bathrooms. Mt. Mgahinga rest camp is located near Mgahinga gorilla national park with amazing views of the Virunga volcanoes. The facility uses solar lighting as a source of energy.
- Buhoma community rest camp:
This accommodation facility is located in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park within the gorilla highlands of south western Uganda. It offers accommodation options ranging from budget to mid-range to suit your gorilla safari Uganda.
What is the age limit to trek the mountain gorillas?
Children below 15 years of age are exempted from trekking mountain gorillas in the wild. This is mainly because these children might not be strong enough to hike, might have communicable diseases that they can easily pass onto the gorillas, or might act fearfully when they encounter a family of gorillas while on a Uganda gorilla safari. However, if a child is almost making 15 or displays maturity and is physically strong, they could be offered the chance to participate in the gorilla safaris.
Is it possible to track Uganda gorillas from Kigali?
Yes, you can track Uganda mountain gorillas from Kigali. The gorilla family in Ruhija of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park is just 4 – 5 hours from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. For your gorilla safaris, you could fly into Rwanda and there be met with your tour operator who will transfer you to the Ruhija region of Bwindi to start your gorilla trekking experience.
What other activities can I engage in while on a gorilla trek?
There are plenty of activities that you can undertake while on your gorilla safaris and they include; chimpanzee and golden monkey tracking, birding, sight-seeing, game viewing, hiking or mountain climbing and cultural tours. All these activities work together to give you a blissful Uganda gorilla safari.
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Josh H – US – Visited: June 2019 Reviewed: Aug 26, 2019
5/5 We asked Wild Jungle Trails to create a bespoke tour for our family of four (the two young-uns 22 and 18) and they gave us everything we wanted and more. White Water Rafting on the Nile, abseiling down the incredibly beautiful Sipi Falls and creating our own local coffee, three extraordinary days of safari in Murchison Falls, rhino trekking and some time for us to catch up with Son no.1’s Ugandan family and friends in Lira and Kampala. Read More
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