Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a highlight that all gorilla trekkers have on their bucket list. 97% of all mountain gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda take place in Bwindi Impenetrable national park. It is for this precise reason that we make it a priority to offer you the best deals for your gorilla trekking tour in Uganda.
A Brief History on Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the South western part of Uganda in Kanungu district. The national park is part of the famous Bwindi Impenetrable forest Reserve and covers an area of 321 km². It is home to over 120 mammal species, 220 species of butterflies and about 348 bird species.
The national park is bordered by Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bwindi national park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. It is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
In 1991, Bwindi Impenetrable forest reserve was gazetted as a national park, together with Rwenzori Mountains Reserve and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The national park is an habitant for about 600 individual mountain gorillas.
Trekking Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
There are a total of 19 habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and 15 of them are open to tourists. Tourists visiting the park can do gorilla trekking from four different sectors which are; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is carried out in groups of 8 members per gorilla family/ group. Each gorilla trekking group is given strictly an hour to spend in the midst of the gorillas. Trekking commences at exactly 8 am; however, trekkers are advised to be at the park’s headquarters at exactly 7 am for a briefing by the park’s head ranger.
Gorilla trekkers are placed in tracking groups depending on which gorilla group the visitors are going to track. Each group of gorilla trekkers has an experienced guide, armed ranger and porters to carry your luggage in case you hired one.
Hiking through Bwindi Impenetrable forest can prove to be one heck of a vigorous activity since the hiking trails tend to be steep and slippery most of the time. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi also involves walking through the thick forest vegetation and therefore gorilla trekkers must be physically fit and healthy.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can take between 4-8 hours of tracking the gorilla families and once a gorilla group has been located, trekkers are given only an hour to spend in their midst. This marks the highlight of any gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and visitors can use the opportunity to take pictures of the gorillas as well as record videos. However, it is important to note that flash photography is not accepted while in the presence of the gorillas. Always endeavor to make sure that the flashlight on your phone and camera is off.
Gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to 19 habituated mountain gorilla families;
- with 8 habituated gorilla groups in the Rushaga sector which are; Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahunge, Busingye, Bweza, Bikyingi, Mucunguzi, and Rwigi gorilla families.
- The Buhoma sector in Bwindi national park has 4 habituated gorilla families namely; Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, and Katwe gorilla families.
- Further south of the national park is the Nkuringo sector which has 3 habituated gorilla families which are; Nkuringo, Bushaho and Christmas families.
- In the Ruhija sector which is located in the eastern part of the park, there are 4 habituated mountain gorilla families and these include; Oruzogo, Bitukura, Kyaguriro and the Mukiza family.
Rules and Regulations of Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
There are certain guidelines that every tourist doing gorilla trekking in Bwindi should know and observe. These include;
- Every tourist must have acquired a gorilla trekking permit before visiting the park.
- Gorilla Trekking can be done by adults 18 years and above.
- Tourists can interact with gorillas for only an hour.
- There is a maximum of 8 visitors per day per group.
- No use of flashes in cameras when taking photos of gorillas as this can easily disorient them.
- A safe distance of 7 meters should be maintained between the tourist and gorillas.
- Only tourists who are healthy are permitted to trek gorillas so as to reduce the chances of spreading diseases between the tourist and gorillas.
- Tourists are advised to lower your voices when in the forest and when in close proximity to the gorillas.
- Do not litter the park.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke when in the presence of gorillas.
- Limit unnecessary movement when with gorillas.
Cost of Gorilla Trekking Permit in Bwindi National Park.
Gorilla trekking permits in Bwindi cost 600 USD per person and tourists are advised to acquire gorilla trekking permits 4-6 months in advance because of the high demand by tourists to do gorilla trekking in Uganda over Rwanda and Congo. The advantage that most tourists have here is that the cost of the permit covers entrance fees to the park, guide fees and a contribution towards the development of the neighboring communities.
The park also offers gorilla habituation experience at a fee of 1500 USD. This activity gives visitors an opportunity to take part in gorilla habituation projects in the park; where along with a team of highly trained and experienced park staff, visitors can help in integrating the gorillas with humans. This activity also involves observing the gorillas in their natural habitat, monitoring their behaviors and way of feeding as well.
The gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi national parks allows visitors to spend up to 4 hours with the gorillas. Gorilla habituation experience is done in the Rushaga sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and starts at 7:30 am in the morning.
Best Time to do Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be done throughout the year. However, the activity is best done in the months between June- September, and December-February when it is the dry season. During this time of the year, it is much easier for visitors to trek through the forest while locating the gorilla groups.
What to wear when going Gorilla Trekking.
It is recommended that tourists visiting Bwindi national park on a gorilla trekking safari, pack light clothing for warm weather when temperatures in the park are high. However, also pack with you a raincoat for emergency purposes, as you will be in a forest where it can rain at any given time. Also pack with you a good pair of hiking boots, sunscreen cream and a water bottle/mineral water to keep hydrated as you trek.
Where to stay when visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
There are plenty of accommodation facilities for tourists visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These accommodation facilities range from luxury to mid-range and budget lodging, depending on the preferences of the guest. Some of these facilities include; Bwindi Gorilla Camp, Gorilla Resort Bwindi, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Gorilla Forest Camp, Mantana Camp and Rushaga Gorilla Camp among others.
How to Get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be accessed by road and air. The main entry point to Uganda is Entebbe International Airport which is about 8-10 hours’ drive to Bwindi national park. Alternatively, one can choose to charter a flight to Kihihi or Kisoro at an extra fee and then drive to Bwindi. It takes about a 1½ hours’ drive from Kihihi to the park’s headquarters in Buhoma and approximately 3½ hours from Kisoro to Buhoma in Bwindi.
For those travelling from Kampala, it takes approximately 8½ hours driving via Kabale- Mbarara road to get to Buhoma in Bwindi. In case you are using the Masaka- Mbarara highway, it will take you about 9-10 hours to reach the park’s headquarters in Buhoma.
Travelers can also connect to Bwindi from Queen Elizabeth National Park via the Ishasha sector. This drive will take you approximately 2-4 hours to reach Buhoma.
Bearing all the above information, do get in touch with us for the best options and gorilla trekking safari packages.