Uganda Gorilla Trekking
Uganda Gorilla Trekking is one of the most selling tourism activities that travelers love to engage in when they visit the pearl of Africa. Gorilla trekking is an interesting activity where visitors above the age of 15 moves in the dense tropical forests in search of the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are endangered species that are found in the dense tropical forests of Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park. Gorilla trekking is also carried out in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Where to go for Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi national park
Bwindi national park is located in south western Uganda in Kanungu district bordering Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bwindi Impenetrable national park is a protected area that was gazette in 1991 to protect and conserve the endangered mountain gorillas. Bwindi national park is the only gorilla destination in Africa that harbors over 400 mountain gorillas which is half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable national park are found in four sectors namely Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo sector.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park harbors 19 habituated gorilla families found in the four sectors of the park including
- Rushaga sector which is located in the southern part of Bwindi national park and harbors 8 gorilla families namely Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza, Mucunguzi, Rwigi, and Bikingi family.
- Nkuringo sector is located in the southern sector of Bwindi national park and is a home of three habituated gorilla families namely Nkuringo family, Bushaho family and Christmas family.
- Buhoma sector is located in the northern part of Bwindi national park and is the most visited sector in Bwindi national park because of its easy accessibility and connectivity to other tourism destinations. The Buhoma sector is a home of four habituated gorilla families namely the Mubare group, the Rushegura group, Habinyanja group, and Katwe group.
- Ruhija sector is located in the eastern part of Bwindi national park and is a home of four habituated gorilla families namely Kyaguliro group, Oruzogo group, Bitukura group, and Mukiza group.
However Bwindi national park is the only gorilla destination that carries out gorilla habituation and it’s done in the Rushaga sector. Gorilla habituation process is an activity where gorillas are trained to get used to the human presence. The habituation process takes about two to three years and is carried out by a team of researchers, park rangers and guides.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Bwindi Impenetrable national park can be reached by the road whereby you can drive from Kampala City to Kabale and then Bwindi Impenetrable national park which takes about 9 to 10 hours. You can also use public means of a bus from Kampala to Kabale and then hire a taxi from Kabale to the park headquarters.
Bwindi national park can also be reached by air transport means where you can fly from Entebbe international airport or kajjansi Airfield to Kisoro Airstrip, Kihihi Airstrip or Kayonza Airstrip.
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park
Mgahinga Gorilla national park is another destination in Uganda where you can visit the endangered mountain gorillas. Mgahinga national park is also located in southwestern Uganda Kisoro district, Bufumbira County and is a home of one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi with 10 members.
How to get to Mgahinga national park
Mgahinga national park can be reached by road whereby you will drive from Kampala to Kisoro on a tarmac road and then to Ntebeko park headquarters and the journey takes about 8 to 10 hours. Mgahinga national park can also be reached by Air transport means where you can fly from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro Airstrip through domestic airlines like Aero link or Eagle air.
When to go for gorilla trekking activity in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park can be done anytime throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, December, January, and February. During this time both parks receive less rainfall, therefore, the trekking trails are always passable which makes gorilla trekking successful compared to the wet season in the months of March to May and September to November where the forests receive heavy rainfall. The rainy season in Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park makes gorilla trekking difficult in that the rains make the trekking trails wet, muddy and slippery. However, the rainy season is good for bird watching adventures because there is always plenty of food for the birds which attract migratory birds.
Cost of a Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda
A single gorilla trekking permit in Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park costs $600 for Foreign Non-Residents, $500 for Foreign Residents and UGX 250,000 for East African citizens. The prices of gorilla trekking permits in Uganda were increased to $700 for Foreign Non Residents and $600 for Foreign Residents starting in the next financial year hence visitors who will book for gorilla trekking permits in Uganda from 1st July 2020 will pay the $100 increment. The gorilla trekking permits are cheaper compared to those in Rwanda which cost $1500 for all nationals hence visitors who want a great experience at a cheaper cost should book for a gorilla trekking permit in either Bwindi national park or Mgahinga national park.
The gorilla trekking permit allows you to visit one gorilla family and spend one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat learning more about the gorillas, watching them feed, play and breastfeed, taking photos with a flash less camera which gives you lifetime memories on your safari in Uganda.
When to get a Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda
Uganda contains 152 gorilla permits available in Bwindi national park and 8 gorilla permits in Mgahinga national park which makes 160 permits available on a daily basis. A gorilla trekking permit in Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park should be acquired 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date so as to avoid disappointments because they are competitive and on high demand hence always get sold out especially during the peak season in the months of June, July, August, December, January, and February.
Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda can be acquired either directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala by contacting the offices by either email or telephone calls. A gorilla trekking permit can also be acquired through contacting a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris which will book the gorilla permit for you hence saving you all the hustle. Booking through a tour operator is the best option in that our company will not only acquire your gorilla trekking permit but will also plan for your entire safari inclusive of transportation, accommodation, meals, organize for you the activities to engage in and the destinations to visit so as to make your safari in Uganda memorable and unforgettable.
What to pack for a gorilla trekking experience in Uganda
Due to the weather changes in Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park, visitors are advised on what to pack when visiting Uganda for gorilla trekking experience which include
- Gorilla trekking permit, when going for a gorilla trekking activity in either Bwindi national park or Mgahinga national park it’s important to carry your gorilla trekking permit because it’s the most essential equipment in that without a permit you will not be allowed to trek any gorilla family.
- Long sleeved shirt and trousers, the long sleeved shirt and trouser will protect you from coldness especially in the morning and at night.
- Hiking boots, hiking boots should be comfortable so as to keep your feet dry while hiking in the wet and muddy grounds.
- Garden gloves, garden gloves will protect your hands from germs and getting hurt by thorny tree branches in the jungle.
- Insect repellent, an insect repellent will protect you from insects when trekking in the forest such as safari ants, tsetse flies among others.
- Waterproof rain jacket / poncho, the waterproof rain jacket will protect you from the rain especially during the wet season when the forest receives heavy rainfall and always drizzling.
- Energy snacks, due to the long period taken trekking gorillas in the jungle, visitors are advised to carry packed lunch and at least drinking water so as to give them strength and energy to continue trekking.
- Camera, a camera is important equipment that shouldn’t be forgotten when going on a safari in Uganda because it will be used to capture all the moments on your safari.
- Backpack, the backpack is used to carry the equipment for your gorilla trekking safari such as energy snacks, permit, camera among others.
- Walking stick, you can bring your own walking stick though it can also be provided at the starting point to help you when trekking on the steep slopes and slippery grounds.
- Hiring a porter, it is important to hire a porter when going to trek gorillas in the jungle especially during the wet season because the grounds are always wet, muddy and slippery hence the porter will help by giving you a pull or push and also carry your backpack.
Uganda does not only harbor half of the world’s mountain gorillas but it also offers you the best gorilla trekking experience on your Uganda safari with unforgettable moments.