Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda marks one of the highlights for most primate safaris in Uganda. Many tourists travel from all parts of the world to Uganda, so as to have a chance at experiencing the ultimate gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. There are only three countries in the whole universe where visitors can get to track the endangered species of mountain gorillas and this is in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Where to go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
In Uganda, tourists can only get to track mountain gorillas from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, which are all located in the south western part of the country.
1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Visitors who choose to trek mountain gorillas from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda can be well assured that they are going to have an experience of a lifetime. The national park is located in Kanungu district in the south western part of Uganda. The park covers an area of 321 km² and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with over 348 species of birds, 120 mammal species and 220 butterfly species.
Gorilla trekkers in Bwindi National Park should know that the national park is a habitat for an estimated 400 gorilla individuals. There are 19 habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi and these can be tracked from four sectors namely; Ruhija sector, Buhoma sector, Rushaga sector, and finally Nkuringo sector located in the southern part of the park.
Each of these sectors has a number of gorilla family groups which include;
- The Ruhija sector has four habituated gorilla families that tourists can track and these include; Oruzogo, Bitukura, Mukiza, and Kyaguriro.
- The Buhoma sector also has four habituated gorilla groups which are; Mubare, Rushegura, Katwe and Habinyanja gorilla groups.
- The southern sector of Nkuringo in Bwindi has three habituated gorilla families and these include; Bushaho, Rushegura, and Christmas.
- Rushaga Sector in Bwindi, there are 8 habituated groups which visitors can track from. These include; Mishaya, Kahunge, Busingye, Nshongi, Bweza, Rwigi, Bikyingi and Mucunguzi.
Gorilla Habituation in Bwindi National Park.
Visitors on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda can also opt to do gorilla habituation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. At a cost of 1500 USD per person, travelers visiting Bwindi national park can choose to embark on a gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi. Gorilla habituation is only done in Bwindi National Park and the activity takes about 4 hours of quality time spent 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. During the activity, visitors can take part in monitoring the behavior of the gorillas and watch them feeding. Visitors don’t need to worry about their safety during the habituation activity, as you will always be in the company of well trained, knowledgeable and experienced park rangers.
Where to stay when visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Visitors on a gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda, have a number of accommodation facilities that provide guests with descent and comfortable lodging, ranging from budget to mid-range and luxury suites. These include; Lake Bunyonyi Overland Camp, 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.
Tourists intending to travel to Bwindi national park for gorilla trekking can opt to travel by road. Visitors can drive about 460kms from Kampala City to get to the park’s headquarters in Buhoma. This journey will take you about 8½ hours.
Alternatively, visitors can access the park by air. You can opt to fly from Entebbe International Airport to Kihihi and the drive for about 1½ hours to Buhoma.
2. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda can also be done from Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is located in south western Uganda. The park covers a surface area of 34km² making it Uganda’s smallest national park.
The national park has one habituated trans-boundary mountain gorilla group named the Nyakagezi gorilla group and visitors can track this group. Trans-boundary mountain gorillas are basically mountain gorillas that are shared by Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. These gorillas are always moving and crossing into the boundaries of the three countries, with the most recent migration in early November 2019, where about 20 gorillas crossed over from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Trekking mountain gorillas in Mgahinga national park is easy compared to Bwindi national park because the gorillas of Mgahinga are easy to locate and be seen in their natural habitat.
Other activities that visitors can take part in while on a visit to Mgahinga national park include; cultural tours/ community walks where visitors can get to visit Batwa village communities within the park, golden monkey tracking, bird watching, hiking, and nature walks.
Where to stay when Trekking Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Tourists visiting Mgahinga national park to trek mountain gorillas can book for accommodation in the following lodging facilities; Mount Gahinga Lodge, Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp, Mt. Muhabura Climbers Rest Camp and Lake Mutanda Resort to mention but a few.
How to get to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Visitors traveling to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park can access the park either by road or by Air. The national park is situated in the south western region of Uganda, about 494 km from Kampala City. The journey is approximately 8½ hour’s drive to the national park via the Kabale- Mbarara highway. Alternatively, visitors have the option of flying to Kisoro from Entebbe International Airport. Once you land in Kisoro town, drive 11km to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, which is a 30-minute journey.
Cost of Gorilla Trekking Permit in Uganda.
- Permits for Gorilla trekking in Uganda 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.
- However, it is important for visitors to note that starting from 1st July 2020, gorilla trekking permits in Uganda will increase to 700 USD per person.
- The gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi national parks costs 1500 USD per person.
Where to obtain a gorilla trekking permit from in Uganda.
Obtaining a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda is quite simple with visitors having the option of acquiring a Uganda gorilla permit from a trusted tour operator or directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority. However, whether you are using a tour operator or the Uganda Wildlife Authority, you will need to present a copy of your valid ID or passport.
Safety of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is totally and absolutely safe for any visitors planning to partake in the exciting, thrilling and adventurous activity. Most national parks in Uganda are safe and while on your gorilla trekking adventure, visitors are always accompanied by experienced guides and armed park rangers for extra security.
Also before trekking gorillas in either Bwindi or Mgahinga national parks, trekkers are briefed and given a set of guidelines to follow while tracking the gorillas.
Rules and Regulations of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.
There are certain guidelines that every tourist doing gorilla trekking in Uganda should know and observe. These include;
- Every tourist must have acquired a gorilla trekking permit before visiting the park.
- Have a valid Uganda or East African Tourist Visa and your passport MUST be valid for at least 6 months.
- Gorilla Trekking can be done by adults 15 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 carry insect repellent cream or spray just in case you are allergic to bugs and mosquitoes.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke when in the presence of gorillas.
- Limit unnecessary movement when with gorillas.
Best Time for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.
The best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda is from 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. However, gorilla trekking in Uganda can be done all year round.
What to wear when going Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.
It is recommended that tourists visiting Uganda 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.
How to get to Uganda
Tourist traveling to Uganda on a gorilla trekking tour can access the country by flying to Entebbe International Airport. It is the main entry point for most travelers in Uganda and it is also the only international airport serving the country. It is about 8-10 hours of driving from Entebbe airport to Mgahinga national park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Uganda can also be accessed from Kigali in Rwanda through Kisoro district in Uganda via the Cyanika border, or use the Katuna border in Kabale district in Uganda.
Do get in touch with our team of tour consultants to get the best offers for Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda.