Best Time to Trek Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda: Visiting habituated gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda has long been a popular tourist activity. Tourists who want to go gorilla tracking in Africa should start with Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. In Uganda, there are two national parks: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Rwanda and Uganda share the same average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius, which drops to 12 degrees Celsius at night. Every year, the nation receives between 1000 and 2000mm of rain. This is excellent for the survival and population expansion of these primates.
Uganda is one of Africa’s most popular and appealing tourist attractions. In Uganda, the rainy season is separated into two seasons. That falls between October and November, then again between mid-March and the end of May. The remaining months are considered the dry season. Uganda is currently experiencing some climatic change.
This has made it more difficult to predict the weather than it was previously. It’s also worth noting that Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a tropical rain forest, so it can rain at any moment, even during the dry season. As a result, determining the optimal time to visit Uganda’s mountain gorillas is challenging. As a result, travelers are usually urged to have the necessary gorilla trekking gear so that they may fulfil their desire of visiting the endangered unique primates rather than focused on the weather.
Best Time to Trek Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda.
High Season Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.
In all-mountain gorilla destinations, the peak season is known as the dry season, and it lasts from June to August and December to February. There is little or no rain throughout this season. As a result, the months of June-August and December-February are ideal for mountain gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda. When the hiking routes are not very muddy and slick. This makes this a wonderful pastime, allowing people to walk during the dry season.
December is also the busiest month of the year. This is because most travelers throughout the world choose to have a long break or vacation at the end of the year. So, if you’re intending to visit or go gorilla trekking, book your gorilla permits ahead of time. To minimize hassles, plan your trip three months in advance.
Low Season Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.
Tourists that visit during the rainy season typically have a great time. This is because the mountain gorilla destinations see few visitors during this season. In addition, because gorilla tracking attracts a small number of visitors, most lodging establishments provide discounts. Hotels and lodges are less popular than during the peak season. You may also schedule your gorilla safari at the last minute because they are always available during this time of year. However, during the rainy season, most trekking paths become wet and muddy, making gorilla tracking difficult.
What to Pack for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda?
Prepare for the difficulties that may inevitably arise when gorilla tracking. As briefly stated below, these are the items that should be carried when hiking gorillas:
- Mountain gorilla sites are tropical rainforests, so they may be visited at any time of year. It may rain, so bring a rain jacket with you just in case.
- Shirts with long sleeves. Protect yourself against tropical insects by wearing clothing that covers your entire body.
- Hats and sunglasses are also recommended, especially during the dry season.
- Repellents for insects. This is beneficial for tropical insects such as mosquitoes and spiders.
- Mountain gorilla trekking begins early in the morning, so bring a packed lunch, snacks, and energy drinks. You may become hungry or thirsty, so bring a packed lunch, drinking water, and energy drinks. Your resort can assist you with packing a meal and drinking water.
- Binoculars: Binoculars are recommended for bird watchers since mountain gorilla natural habitats are also home to other animals such as birds, tiny primates, butterflies, moths, antelopes, forest pigs, and many more.
- Tourists are also given a complimentary walking stick at the starting point or at their registered accommodation to help them navigate the muddy and slippery pathways as well as while trekking.
- Porter expenses, you may hire an expert porter to assist you with long-distance hikes. Porter services might cost up to $15 per hour.
Cost of a Gorilla Permit in Uganda and Rwanda?
A gorilla permit in Uganda cost $700 per person for foreign residents and $1,500 per person in Rwanda. However, Uganda also offers gorilla habituation where you can get to spend up to 4 hours with a gorilla family at a fee of $1,500 per person. The gorilla habituation experience in Uganda is done from Rushaga sector in Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
How to book your Gorilla Permit in Uganda and Rwanda?
Visitors interested in doing gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda can purchase your gorilla permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Board respectively. Alternatively, visitors can book gorilla permits through a reputable tour operator company like Explore Rwanda Tours.
Where to stay when trekking Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda?
Visitors doing gorilla trekking in Uganda, either in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, can stay in any of the following lodging depending on where you will be tracking Mountain gorillas from; Buhoma Haven Lodge, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Sanctuary Gorilla Camp, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Lodge, Four Gorillas Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp, Clouds Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Engagi Lodge, Lake Mulehe Hotel, Ichumbi Lodge, and Travelers’ Nest to mention but a few.
Visitors doing gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park can stay at any of the following lodges; Songa Lodge, One and Only Gorilla’s Nest, Virunga Lodge, Tiloreza Eco Lodge, Le Bambou, Bisate Lodge, Virunga Resort Inn & Spa Hotel, Muhabura Hotel Hotel Fatima, and Da Vinci Lodge to mention but a few.
How to get Gorilla Trekking Parks in Uganda and Rwanda?
Getting to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
Bwindi is accessible via scheduled or chartered aircraft. Kihihi is the nearest airstrip to the Buhoma and Ruhija trailheads, while Kisoro is the closest to the Rushaga and Nkuringo trailheads in the south. Both are around 40km/25mi from the park, and the travel from either takes approximately 1½ hours.
In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there are four distinct trailheads for gorilla trekking. Buhoma and Ruhija are in the north, and Rushaga and Nkuringo are in the south. By car, they are many hours distant. Buhoma, the main gorilla trekking trailhead, may be reached from Queen Elizabeth National Park in 2 to 3 hours (from the Ishasha sector) or 5 to 6 hours (from the more northern sectors) as part of a Ugandan trip. The drive from Lake Mburo National Park to the numerous trailheads takes 5 to 7 hours. The journey by car from Entebbe or Kampala will take around 8 to 10 hours. Some trailheads need 4WD vehicle driving during the wet season.
Getting to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park-Uganda.
Kisoro is best reached by taking a regular light plane journey from Entebbe. Daily departures last around 90 minutes. Kisoro may also be accessed by car from Entebbe/Kampala, which is a lengthy day journey of 10 hours or 5/6 hours from Lake Mburo National Park.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda is located 14km/9mi from Kisoro over a hard uphill route (about 45 minutes). A 4WD vehicle is always advised for this route and is required during the wet seasons (February to May and September to November). The park is 510km/317mi from Kampala (at least 9 hours’ journey), and it is accessible by road from Queen Elizabeth National Park (about 6 hours to drive 310km/193mi) or Lake Mburo National Park (5 to 7 hours to drive 316km/196mi).
How to Get to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda?
Volcanoes National Park is located in northern Rwanda, approximately 105 kilometers/65 miles from Kigali, 60 kilometers/37 miles from Rubavu, and 10 kilometers/6 miles from Musanze. It should be noted that the speed limit in Rwanda is 60km/h throughout. The travel from Kigali takes around 2½ hours, and the drive from Rubavu takes approximately 1½ hours. Participants in any park activity must report to the park headquarters in Kinigi by 7 a.m. As a result, staying in the park or in nearby Musanze is advised.
Volcanoes National Park has no regular domestic flights. Akagera Aviation provides charter helicopter transfers to destinations around the country, including Volcanoes National Park.