Gorilla trekking in bwindi impenetrable national park
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park is a major activity that involves visitors moving into the dense tropical rainforests in search of the mountain gorillas and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Bwindi impenetrable national park is one of the gorilla destinations in Uganda that is located in southwestern park of the country in Kanungu district. The national park was gazetted into a national park in 1991 mainly to protect and conserve the endangered mountain gorillas and in 1994 the national park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site due to its ecological importance.
Bwindi impenetrable national park harbors half of the world’s mountain gorillas which make it the most visited destination in Africa. there are about 19 habituated gorilla families in the park which are available for trekking on a daily basis and these groups are found in four sectors namely Nkuringo sector in the south with 3 habituated gorilla families, Buhoma sector in the north with 4 habituated gorilla families, Ruhija sector in the east with 4 habituated gorilla families and Rushaga sector in the south with 8 habituated gorilla families.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park starts in the morning with a briefing about the rules, regulations and expectations at the park headquarters. After the briefing you will be grouped into 8 people and allocated a gorilla group to trek. Grouping of individuals is done according to age, physical fitness and personal preferences therefore visitors who are not physically fit are required to communicate with their driver guide in time so that they are allocated a gorilla group that is near to trek.
Trekking of the mountain gorillas in the park starts at around 8:00am with a park guide who will be showing you the trials to follow as well as sharing information about the gorillas. Gorilla trekking in the jungle takes about 30 minutes to 7 hours depending on the location of the gorillas and once they have been found, you will spend one hour with them in their natural habitat and during this one hour interaction, you will learn about their lifestyle, habits, behaviors, take photos and record videos.
After the gorilla trekking experience, you will trek back to the park headquarters where you will be awarded a certificate to prove that you participated in gorilla trekking activity in Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Bwindi impenetrable national park also offers gorilla habituation experience an activity where the wild mountain gorillas are trained to get used to human presence. the habituation experience is only carried out in Rushaga sector southern part of the park and it involves a team of researchers, conservationists, park rangers, trackers among others and it takes a period of 2 to 3 years to be complete. The habituation experience only allows a maximum of 4 visitors and allowed to spend four hours with the mountain gorillas under habituation.
How many people are allowed to visit the mountain gorillas?
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park only allows a maximum number of 8 people to trek each habituated gorilla family. The number of people is restricted to only 8 so as to minimize behavioral disturbance and also the risk of transmission of diseases.
Cost of a gorilla trekking permit
Any visitor who wants to participate in gorilla trekking activity in Bwindi impenetrable national park is required to have a valid gorilla trekking permit which is a document that is issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority to any visitor above the age of 15 allowing him or her to visit a habituated gorilla family in the park.
A gorilla trekking permit in Bwindi impenetrable national park costs $600 per person for foreign non-residents, $500 per person for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 per person for East African citizens. Uganda however increased the price of a gorilla trekking permit therefore effective 1st July 2020 foreign non-residents will be paying $700 per person and $600 per person for foreign non-residents.
Visitors who want to engage in gorilla habituation experience, a gorilla habituation permit in Bwindi impenetrable national park costs $1500 per person for foreign non-residents, $1000 per person for foreign residents and UGX 750,000 per person for East African citizens.
Booking a gorilla trekking permit
A gorilla trekking permit is easy to book as long as you know the right procedure to follow. a gorilla trekking permit in Bwindi impenetrable national park can either be booked directly through UWA by contacting the head offices in Kampala via email or telephone calls or you can book through a tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris. When booking through a tour operator, you will contact us with the date, month and year when you want to visit the mountain gorillas. We will check for permit availability and if they are available, you will be asked to make a deposit for the permit. When the deposit has been made, you will be asked to send a scanned copy of your passport details which will be used to register for your permit. Money transfer takes about 2 to 3 working days therefore when the money has been received, we will acquire the gorilla trekking permit for you and send a scanned copy of the receipt as confirmation.
Booking through a tour operator is the best option because we will not only acquire a gorilla trekking permit for you but also plan for the whole gorilla trekking safari which involves accommodation, meals, transportation, other activities that you wish to participate in the park to make your safari exciting and memorable among others.
A gorilla trekking permit should however be booked 3 to 6 months in advance because Bwindi impenetrable national park is the most visited gorilla destination therefore the gorilla permits are competitive and usually get sold out quickly especially during the peak season in the months of June to September and December to February therefore visitors are advised to book in advance to avoid disappointments.
Where to stay in Bwindi impenetrable national park
There are a number of accommodations in Bwindi impenetrable national park where you can stay during your gorilla trekking safari and the lodges range from luxury, midrange and budget. lodges in the park include Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Lake Kitandara Camp, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Silverback Lodge, Volcanoes Safari Bwindi Lodge, Gorilla Resort, Engagi Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Gorilla Friends Lodge, Jungle View Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Bwindi Guest House, Eco Marvels Gorilla Resort, Chameleon Hill, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort and Campsite, Gift of Nature Lodge, Ruhija Safari Lodge, Cuckooland Tented Lodge among others.
Best time to go for gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park can be visited all year round though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season there is less rainfall in the forest therefore access roads to the national park and gorilla trekking trails will be dry and passable which makes gorilla trekking successful.
Bwindi impenetrable national park can also be visited during the rainy season because despite the heavy rainfall there are some advantages like fewer crowds in the park, discounts on the luxury lodges in the park and the last minute travellers will be able to acquire a gorilla trekking permit.
How to get to Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in southwestern Uganda and can be accessed by road and air transport means
Air transport, there are domestic airlines in Uganda such as Aerolink which operate scheduled and charter flights from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. air transport is the fastest way of getting to Bwindi impenetrable forest and the best option for visitors who don’t like travelling long distances.
Bwindi impenetrable national park can also be accessed from Kigali Rwanda and when using this route, you will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect to the park by road through the rolling hills in Rwanda via Cyanika border in Kisoro which takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.
Road transport, when using road you will drive from Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale and then the park headquarters which takes about 8 to 9 hours’ drive.
Bwindi impenetrable national park can also be accessed from Queen Elizabeth national park where you will drive via Ishasha sector which is famously known for the tree climbing lions. Connecting from Queen Elizabeth national park which is the second largest national park in Uganda takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.
Gorilla trekking is a breathtaking and adventurous activity that shouldn’t be missed on your safari in Uganda.