Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is the major activity that is carried out and the activity allows you to move into the dense tropical rain forests in search of the habituated gorilla families and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa because it harbors about 459 mountain gorillas which are half of the world’s total number of the mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is carried out in two destinations namely Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Where to go for gorilla trekking
Bwindi impenetrable national park, Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in Kanungu district southwestern Uganda and it’s the most visited national park due to the fact that it harbors the highest number of mountain gorillas in Africa. Bwindi impenetrable national park is a home of about 19 habituated gorilla families which are found in four sectors of the park namely Nkuringo sector in the south, Buhoma sector in the north, Ruhija sector in the east and Rushaga sector in the south.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park starts with a briefing about the rules and regulations at the park headquarters. After the briefing you will be grouped into 8 people and allocated a gorilla family to trek. Grouping of individuals in the park is done according to personal preferences, physical fitness and age among others so that visitors who are less physically fit are allocated a gorilla group that is near to trek. trekking of the mountain gorillas in the park is done with the park guide who will be sharing information about the gorillas and once the gorillas have been found, you will spend one hour with them in their natural habitat learning more about their lifestyle, behaviors, habits, taking photos and recording the moments which gives you fascinating and lifetime memories.
Bwindi impenetrable national park also offers gorilla habituation experience an activity where the wild mountain gorillas are trained to get used to human presence. Gorilla habituation experience is an interesting activity that is only carried out in Rushaga sector Bwindi impenetrable national park. The habituation process is carried out by a team of researchers, conservationists, park rangers, trackers among others and takes a period of 2 to 3 years to be completed. Gorilla habituation experience allows a maximum of four visitors to engage in the activity and spend four hours with the gorillas under habituation.
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga gorilla national park is another unique national park situated in southwestern Uganda in Kisoro district that harbors the endangered mountain gorillas. Mgahinga gorilla national park harbors two habituated gorilla families namely Nyakagezi and Hirwa family which are available for trekking daily. Just like Bwindi impenetrable national park, gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park is done with a park guide and start in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters. After the briefing, you will be grouped into 2 groups where each group has 8 people and then start trekking in the jungle.
Trekking of the endangered mountain gorillas in the park takes about 3o minutes to 6 hours and once the gorillas have been found, you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat as you learn about their lifestyle and take plenty of photos.
Cost of a gorilla trekking permit
A gorilla trekking perm it is a legal document or card that is issued to any visitor above the age of fifteen allowing him or her to visit any habituated gorilla family in either Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Any visitor interested in gorilla trekking safari in Uganda is required to have a valid gorilla trekking permit which 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 by $100 effective 1st July 2020 therefore the foreign non-residents will be paying $700 and $600 for foreign residents.
How to book a gorilla trekking permit
A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda can either be booked directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a tourism body and this can be done by contacting the head offices in Kampala via email or telephone calls. You can also book a gorilla trekking permit through a tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris. when booking through a tour operator you will contact us with the date, month, year and destination when you want to visit the mountain gorillas. We will check for availability of the permit and if available, you will be asked to make a deposit for the permit on our bank account which will be sent to you. After the deposit has been made you will be asked to send a scanned copy of your passport details that will be used to register for your permit. When we receive the money we will acquire the permit for you and send a scanned copy of the receipt as confirmation. Booking through a tour operator is the best option in that it saves you all the hustle and we will not only acquire the permit for you but also plan for your entire gorilla trekking safari which involves transportation to the destination, accommodation, meals among others.
Booking for a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda should be done 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date because the gorilla trekking permits are competitive and usually get sold out especially during the peak season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February therefore in order to avoid disappointments, you are advised to book in advance.
Company to use on your gorilla trekking safari
When going on a gorilla trekking safari, you should choose a company to plan for your safari. there are various tour operators in Uganda which organize gorilla trekking safari therefore when choosing a company you should consider various factors such as gorilla trekking packages, company reviews from the previous visitors, permit availability, form of communication, company profile, reputation, safari prices, registration to know if the company is registered with tourism organizations, mode of payment among others and with all these qualities I recommend Achieve Global Safari because it’s the best and leading company in Uganda.
When to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park can be done all year round though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. The dry season is also known as the peak season and during this period many visitors prefer to travel due to less rainfall. During the dry season the access roads to the gorilla destinations will be passable and the gorilla trekking trails in the jungle will be dry and passable.
Regardless of the heavy rains during the months of March to May and October to November, visitors can still travel for gorilla trekking because there will be less crowds in the national parks, luxury lodges will be offering discounts so a form of attracting visitors and the last minute travelers will be able to acquire a gorilla trekking permit easily.
What to carry on your gorilla trekking safari in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is carried in the tropical rainforest therefore it can rain anytime of the day regardless of the season hence visitors are required to carry various essentials such as hiking boots to keep your feet dry, garden gloves to protect your hands from germs, long sleeved shirt and trousers to keep you warm, long socks, rain jacket/poncho, energy snacks such as drinking water and packed lunch, insect repellent, backpack to carry your essentials among others
Where to stay on your gorilla trekking safari in Uganda
There are a number of accommodations where you can stay on your gorilla trekking safari and the lodges range from luxury, midrange and budget. you are however advised to book a lodge near the destination where you will be trekking from for example in case you are visiting Bwindi impenetrable national park you should book lodges near the sector which you will be visiting for easy accessibility.
Getting to the gorilla destinations
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is carried out in southwestern part of Uganda and accessing the national parks is either by road or air transport
Road transport, when using road you can either use private, public or on a self-drive starting from Kampala via Mbarara, Kabale and then to Bwindi impenetrable national park which takes about 8 to 9 hours’ drive and 9 to 10 hours’ drive when going to Mgahinga gorilla national park .
Bwindi impenetrable national park can also be accessed from Queen Elizabeth national park therefore in case you are coming from the second visited national park in Uganda, you will drive via Ishasha sector where you will view the tree climbing lions and then continue to Buhoma sector in Bwindi impenetrable taking about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.
Air transport, this is the fastest way of getting to the gorilla destinations in Uganda. There are domestic airlines like Aerolink Uganda which operate scheduled and charter flights from Entebbe international airport or Kajansi airfield to Kihihi airstrip for visitors goring to Bwindi impenetrable forest and Kisoro airstrip for visitors goring to Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Both gorilla destinations can also be accessed from Kigali Rwanda and when using this route, you will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect by road to Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga gorilla national park via Cyanika border in Kisoro and Katuna border in Kabale. The journey takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive therefore visitors who prefer a shorter distance should use this route.