Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Visit Uganda to enjoy the best gorilla trekking safaris in either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, or both. These are 2 of the best places in Africa to view the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking safaris are so unique and unforgettable and have attracted thousands of travelers worldwide to visit Uganda.

Trekking through the dense forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park presents the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent primates, and witnessing their complex social interactions. Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda is very significant since it not only gives the visitors the opportunity to improve the livelihoods of the local communities but also to contribute to conservation efforts.

Locating the endangered mountain gorillas during gorilla trekking safaris in both Bwindi and Mgahinga must start early in the morning. On trekking day, visitors should gather at the park headquarters before 8 am for a briefing session. This is conducted by a ranger guide, who edifiesthe visitors on matters regarding proper code of conduct for a successful gorilla trek. After this session, visitors are divided in groups of 8 individuals to seek for a designated gorilla family. Each group is led by a ranger guide and armed guards to move through specific forest trails.Meanwhile you should expect to spot a variety of wildlife beside mountain gorillas. There are various mammals, rodents, birds and plant species.

The hiking duration may take between 2 hours to 8 hours or more, depending on the location of the gorilla family and your fitness level. Once you encounter the gorilla family, you are allowed only up to 1 hour in their presence, to prevent them from feeling disturbed. Observe their behavior and take pictures. You will then return to the park headquarters where you will receive a certificate indicating the successful completion of your gorilla trekking safari.

Where to do gorilla Trekking in Uganda?

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is approximately 321 square kilometers and is located within the Albertine Rift Valley. With altitudes of 1,160 – 2,607 meters above sea level,Bwindi is located within coordinates of approximately latitude 1.0837o S and longitude 29.6669oE. Bwindi is known for its abundant biodiversity, though the mountain gorillas are the most famous. Bwindi is also famous for its unique tree species, bird species, stunning views of undulating hills and valleys. The Batwa community adjacent to the park is also a significant tourist attraction.

Out of the current 1,063 existing mountain gorillas on the planet, Bwindi has at least 400individuals. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 22 gorilla families. These gorilla families include, Mubare, Habinyanja, Bitukura, Nkuringo, Rushegura, Kahungye, Busingye, Mishaya, Oruzongo, Kyaguliro, and Bweza among others.

Bwindi experiences a humid tropical climate that is characterized by 2 seasons, the dry and wet season. In a year, there are 2 wet seasons, the first occurring from March to May, and the second from September to November. The total recorded annual rainfall experienced in Bwindi is between 1,400 to 1,900 millimeters. The dry seasons at Bwindi are experienced from the months of December to February as well as from June to August and are mainly characterized by relatively lower rainfall amounts. Bwindi generally experiences average temperatures ranging about 7oC to 20oC (45oF to 68oF), with cooler temperatures that are prevalent at relatively higher elevations.

The scenic road trip from Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park takes between 8 to 11 hours via Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara and Kabale. A much shorter route is by air transportation, which takes 1 to 2 hours on a scheduled flight from Entebbe International Airport or KajjansiAirstrip to the nearby Kihihi Airstrip, Kisoro Airstrip or Kayonza Airstrip.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda

Mgahinga Gorilla National park in southwestern Uganda is another fascinating place to go forgorilla trekking safaris. Mgahinga occupies a land area of approximately 33.9 square kilometers and situated on altitudes between 2,227 and 4,127 meters above sea level. Situated on geographical coordinates of approximately 1.3714o S and longitude 29.6013o E, Mgahinga borders Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mgahinga is part of the broader Virunga Conservation Area and nestled amid the Virunga mountains with beautiful views of the surrounding imposing peaks and valleys. Mgahinga comprises 3 extinct volcanoes, namely Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabinyo.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has only 1 gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi gorilla family. Since Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is relatively smaller and less visited compared to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, this provides a more intimate and less crowded gorilla trekkingexperience for visitors. Additionally, travelers can choose other activities like golden monkey trekking, bird watching, and Batwa community tours among others.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park experiences a varied climate that is influenced by its high altitudes and proximity to the equator. Mgahinga exhibits a temperature and relatively cool climate annually. The park has 2 distinct rainy seasons, where the rains fall from March to May and from September to November. During these occasions, the rainfall is mostly heavy and causes luxurious vegetation in the jungle, hence increased difficulty in gorilla trekking safaris. However, even during the rainy seasons, sunny intervals are common, allowing for outdoor activities. Dry seasons at Mgahinga usually occur from the month of December to February, and from June to August. During these periods, Mgahinga experiences drier weather conditions with clear skies and reduced precipitation. These conditions are perfect for gorilla trekking safaris and other outdoor activities because the trails are usually less muddy, and the chances of encountering wildlife are relatively higher. Despite being classified as dry seasons, there are occasional rainfalls, especially in the afternoons or evenings.

The temperature patterns at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park typically range from approximately 15oC to 25oC (59oF to 77oF) during the day, with cooler nights, especially at higher altitudes. You should also prepare for cooler mornings, especially if you could trek at higher attitude regions of Mgahinga. Ensure to wear appropriately for the weather especially long sleeved clothing.

The road distance to Mgahinga Gorilla National park is about 470 kilometers southwest of Kampala. The journey is 9-10 hours from Kampala to Kisoro town via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale. This offers breathtaking views of the Ugandan countryside and provides an opportunity to experience the local culture of people along the way. Alternatively, you can move on air from Entebbe International Airstrip or Kajjansi Airstrip to the nearest Airstrip to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Once you are already in Kisoro district, you can arrange transportation to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, which is approximately 15 kilometers from the town center. Public transportation options include taxis, motorcycle taxis, and hired vehicles. It is advisable to plan the transportation arrangements in advance, especially if you are traveling during the peak season. This will ensure a seamless journey to Mgahinga.

Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda

A Uganda Gorilla permit is a legal document or card issued to any visitor above the age of 15 years by Uganda Wildlife Authority to visit a habituated gorilla family in either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Uganda, gorilla permits cost 700 US$ per person for foreign non-residents, 600 US$ per person for foreign residents, and UGX 250,000 per person for East African Community members.

Booking a gorilla permit in Uganda

Booking a gorilla permit can either be done through Uganda Wildlife Authority by contacting them directly. Alternatively, you can book through a reputable tour company by contacting them directly. You should make thorough research before doing so. Once you contact the tour company, they must ensure to check for availability of the permit for your specified date at the Uganda Wildlife Authority. In case the permit is available for that date you will be requested to make a deposit for the permit.

Best time to book a gorilla permit

Gorilla permits in Uganda should be booked 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date. This is because the permits are competitive and often get sold out quickly especially during peak seasons in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February.

Packing list for gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda

During your gorilla trekking safaris in either Bwindi or Mgahinga or even both, you must ensure to pack things that are essential for a successful and memorable trip. These include;

• Secure a gorilla permit in advance
• Strong hiking shoes or boots are required for navigating the rugged terrain
• Raincoat or poncho for the unpredictable weather conditions especially rainfall
• Light-weight breathable clothes and wide-brimmed hat for the warm conditions of Uganda
• Sunglasses, sunscreen to protect against the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiations.
• Binoculars and camera
• Cash for any emergencies or tipping local guides
• First-aid kit for minor injuries and medication for any illness.

Gorilla trekking rules and regulations

Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda are guided by quite a number of well thought after rules and regulations that aim at protecting the mountain gorillas and the trekkers. The latter should comply to the rules so as to conserve the mountain gorillas and their ecosystems. These rules and regulations include;

  1. Each trekker is required to wash their hands before commencing the trek for the mountain gorillas.
  2. In a day, the maximum recommended number of visitors to locate a habituated gorilla family is eight (8). This is essential to reduce behavioral disturbance to the mountain gorillas and also the risk of exposure to diseases that could be spread by the visitors.
  3. Trekking mountain gorillas typically involves the ranger guide first taking you to the site in the jungle where they left them the previous day. And it is from there where you will follow the mountain gorilla trails to locate them. Along the way, you should also look out for gorilla nesting sites.
  4. While trekking for the mountain gorillas, always start taking photos after being informed by the ranger guides. This is also to ensure that safety protocols are followed and disturbance to the mountain gorillas is minimized. Additionally, flash photography is not allowed.
  5. Try to keep your voice as low as possible to ensure that you do not disturb the peace of the gorillas as well as other wildlife species found in the jungles. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  6. While trekking or generally anywhere in the park, refrain from littering. And whatever items you bring into the forest ensure to carry them out with you upon departure.
  7. When you encounter the mountain gorillas, ensure to stay in a cluster. This is a safety precaution to minimize the risk of startling or disturbing the gorillas, and also to ensure everyone’s safety during the encounter.
  8. Keep a minimum distance of at least 7 meters away from the mountain gorillas to avoid the spread of human diseases especially flu.
  9. Though you are allowed to come along with your snacks or picnic lunch while gorilla trekking, do not eat or drink while close to the mountain gorillas.
  10. Occasionally, the mountain gorillas may exhibit aggressive behavior and charge at you, so mimic the ranger guides actions by slowly squatting down, while avoiding eye contact with the gorillas. Also, do not attempt to run away as this could increase the risk of attack.
  11. Do not ever attempt to touch the mountain gorillas since they are obviously wild animals and may not understand what you are trying to do.
  12. Once you have encountered the mountain gorillas, the maximum time allowed to spend with the mountain gorillas is an hour. This is to avoid the mountain gorillas from feeling disturbed since they get agitated by prolonged human presence.
  13. After leaving the presence of mountain gorillas, keep you voice low until you are at least 200 meters away from them.
  14. If you are already at the park and you feel ill or are sure that you have caught a contagious disease, you need to stay behind. Another gorilla trek will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money as per gorilla reservation guidelines.
  15. If you feel the urge to cough and sneeze after encountering the mountain gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth to minimize the spread of viruses or bacteria.
  16. If you feel the urge to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the ranger guide to direct you on how to dig a hole and ensure you cover it when you have finished.
  17. Any breach of the rules and regulations may lead to termination of your gorilla trekking safaris without any refund.

Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda and Rwanda

Gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda or Rwanda is an exhilarating experience, allowing you to encounter mountain gorillas up close. It’s an essential activity for anyone exploring East Africa, Gorilla Trails Safaris has been fulfilling this dream for countless travellers, earning a stellar reputation backed by glowing reviews.

Come with us as we venture through Bwindi National Park and  Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, located in southwestern Uganda, is one of the best places in the world to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat

Our expertise lies in meticulously organizing gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and Rwanda. We provide exclusive insights into Gorilla permit prices, availability, selecting the ideal gorilla family to track, the best time to visit mountain gorillas, packing tips, recommended travel routes, and a range of accommodation options. Whether you are a solo or with a group, based on your budget. You can also spice up your gorilla trip by adding a classic wildlife safari or opt for a shorter route via Kigali in Rwanda. Picking the right destination route is key for an amazing gorilla-tracking adventure.

In Uganda, gorilla safaris are only carried out in  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 Impenetrable National Park on the other hand has about 7 mountain gorilla families with each trek tailored to meet your Uganda gorilla safaris needs.

Gorilla Habituation Experience

Gorilla Habituation Experience

Gorilla habituation experiences are special chances for people to spend more time with gorillas than usual treks, which typically last only an hour. These experiences are available in Uganda and Rwanda.

In Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, located in southwestern Uganda, nearly half of the world’s mountain gorilla population resides. Here, visitors can spend up to four hours with a gorilla family being habituated. It’s an opportunity to learn more about gorilla behaviour and conservation efforts.

In Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park, situated in the Virunga Mountains, is famous for its mountain gorillas. Rwanda doesn’t offer as many habituation experiences as Uganda, but sometimes park authorities may arrange similar opportunities for those seeking a more immersive gorilla encounter.
Both countries have strict rules to keep visitors and gorillas safe. Permits for gorilla habituation are limited and should be booked well in advance

Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safari Packages

3 Days Gorilla Trekking Safari

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an affordable Uganda gorilla trekking safari that can be undertaken by budget, mid-range or luxury travellers to Uganda all year round

5 Days Gorilla and White Water Rafting

5 days Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda offers you a chance to see the world’s remaining mountain gorillas and have a rafting experience at Jinja river Nile

FAQs about Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda and Rwanda

What is gorilla trekking?

Gorilla trekking is a popular adventure where people explore forests in Central Africa in search of habituated gorilla families. It’s mainly done in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo where mountain gorillas live.

To see mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park, Mgahinga National Park Volcanoes National Park, or Virunga, you’ll need to get a gorilla permit first. The process usually involves a morning briefing at the park headquarters, followed by a hike into the forest along gorilla trails. Once you find them, you can spend only an hour with the gorillas before heading back.

When is the best time to trek gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda?

The perfect time to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda is usually during the dry seasons. These are from June to September and December to February. During these times, the trails are less muddy, making the trekking easier and more enjoyable. Gorillas also tend to stay at lower places during these dry seasons, which makes finding them simpler.

But you can still go gorilla trekking all year round. Each season has its perks. In the wet seasons (March to May and October to November), the landscapes are lush and green, and there are fewer tourists around. However, trekking might be harder because of the muddy trails and thick vegetation.

The best time for you to go gorilla trekking depends on what you prefer. If you want the best conditions for trekking and clear views, choose the dry seasons. But if you’d rather have fewer people around and see the lush green landscapes, go during the wet seasons. Just make sure to check the weather before you plan your trip because it can vary from year to year.

What is Gorilla habituation Experience?

The Gorilla Habituation Experience refers to a specialized gorilla trekking activity offered in some gorilla trekking destinations, notably in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Unlike traditional gorilla trekking, where visitors spend an hour observing habituated gorilla groups, the habituation experience allows participants to spend an extended period (usually four hours) with a group of wild gorillas undergoing habituation.

Participating in the Gorilla Habituation Experience provides a unique opportunity for visitors to spend more time observing gorilla behavior in their natural habitat

Is Gorilla Trekking Safe?

Going on a mountain gorilla trekking adventure is super safe for you and your safari buddies. In Uganda, when you’re out on your gorilla safari, a ranger and guide will be with you the whole time. These rangers come prepared, sometimes carrying guns just in case any other wild animals show up. And don’t worry, when you’re observing the mountain gorillas, you’ll be standing about 7 meters away from them. This distance helps keep you safe during your Uganda gorilla safari.

What’s the minimum age for gorilla tracking?

The minimum age for gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda, as well as for golden monkey trekking in Uganda, is 15 years. Authorities strictly enforce this rule, so everyone involved must be 15 or older to avoid any issues, like being denied permission to track. Before booking your safari with us, we’ll make sure you know all about these age limits.

For chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, the minimum age is 12 years old. In Rwanda, children aged 10 and up can trek golden monkeys if they’re with an adult. While children under 15 can visit Dian Fossey’s tomb, keep in mind that the hike there is tough, so it’s not recommended for kids under 15-13 years old.

How much does getting a permit to see gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda cost?

In Uganda, for non-residents, it’s $800. If you’re a foreign resident, it’s $700. In Rwanda, it’s $1500 for everyone. This permit is like your ticket to spend an hour with mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda) or Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda). If you’re planning a gorilla safari in Rwanda or Uganda, you have to make sure you get this permit beforehand.

How long does gorilla trekking usually take??

The duration of a gorilla trekking experience can vary depending on several factors, including the location of the gorilla group, the terrain, weather conditions, and the movements of the gorillas themselves. However, in general, a typical gorilla trekking experience can last anywhere from 1 to 8 hours.

In some cases, visitors may locate the gorillas relatively quickly, while in other instances, it may take longer, particularly if the gorillas have moved deeper into the forest. Once the gorillas are located, visitors typically spend around 1 hour observing and photographing them before returning to the starting point.

When should I get my gorilla permit for Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda and Rwanda?

It’s best to book your gorilla permit at least three months ahead, especially during busy times, to make sure you don’t miss out. If you want to go gorilla tracking in Uganda or Rwanda on a specific day, let us know your preferred date for your trip. We’ll check if permits are available and help you plan your amazing gorilla trekking adventure.

What’s included with the gorilla permit?

To go on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or. Rwanda, you need a permit for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes National. With your permit, you get to spend 1 hour with mountain gorillas in the stunning settings of these parks. The permit covers entry fees to the parks so you can see the gorillas in their natural habitat. Plus, experienced guides and rangers from the National Park will accompany you through the forest, making your gorilla trek even more special. We’ll make sure to get your permits well in advance, so you can have a smooth and unforgettable encounter with these incredible animals

What are the chances of seeing 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 safari 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 other safari 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

Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safaris

We plan special trips to Uganda so you can have a great time in the “Pearl of Africa.” You can do lots of cool stuff like seeing gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, watching animals in big grassy areas, finding chimpanzees, looking at birds, taking walks in nature, climbing mountains, and learning about Uganda’s culture and history.

The best places to go on these trips are Murchison Falls National ParkQueen Elizabeth National Park, , Kidepo Valley National Park, and Lake Mburo National Park for seeing animals. Kibale Forest National Park is where you can find lots of primates like chimpanzees and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is good for seeing golden monkeys and gorillas. Mount Rwenzori National Park and Mount Elgon National Park are where you can go mountain climbing.

Bwindi Impenetrabel National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, located in southwestern Uganda, is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity, particularly its population of endangered mountain gorillas. However, beyond its remarkable wildlife, the park also holds significant cultural value.

Nearly half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. tourists can trek through the forest to see these amazing creatures up close, which is a dream come true for wildlife lovers and bird watchers, more than 350 bird species can be found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, including unique ones like the African green broadbill, Grauer’s rush warbler, and Shelley’s Crimsonwing, the park is a birdwatcher’s paradise

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest offers an exciting mix of wildlife and cultural experiences, making it an unforgettable destination for anyone exploring Uganda

Highlights of Cultural Experience at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Batwa People: The Batwa are indigenous hunter-gatherers who historically inhabited the forests of southwestern Uganda, including Bwindi. While their traditional way of life has been significantly impacted by conservation efforts, some Batwa communities still reside near the park. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about their unique culture, traditions, and survival skills through guided cultural experiences.

Cultural Performances: Local communities around Bwindi often showcase their traditional dances, music, and ceremonies for tourists. These performances provide insights into the rich cultural heritage of the region, including storytelling, drumming, and vibrant costumes.

Community Engagement: Various community-based initiatives and eco-tourism projects have been established around Bwindi, aiming to promote sustainable development and empower local communities. Visitors can participate in activities such as village walks, handicraft workshops, and cultural exchanges, fostering mutual understanding and support.

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