When you move to Uganda, you have an opportunity to experience something that only a handful of people get to do every year; see some mountain gorillas. And you should never leave the country until you do. Gorilla trekking is one of the most uncommon things you can do while traveling around Uganda. Being the most endangered species; gorillas are a spectacular creature to behold for a life time, seeing one of the most magnificent animals on the planet is simply amazing. Encountering with the gorillas in the wild is once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can never mind doing again. Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is dreamlike and different from any other experience in Africa. The firmament of the trek through the jungle is mythical. With each step your suspense builds and the reward of seeing the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world is striking. So, when you are presented the opportunity to go gorilla trekking, just make your way direct to Uganda and visit the largest population of mountain gorillas in the world homing in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in the southwestern part of Uganda. Bwindi is home to more than half the world’s total population of Mountain Gorillas, actually there are over 300 mountain gorillas vacating here. Gorilla lovers come for Uganda safaris from different corners of the world come to enjoy this Ultimate gorilla trekking tours. The mountain gorillas in this park have 12 families and these are distributed in four gorilla regions which include Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.
However, these regions have changing terrain and unique experiences, but they are accessible and gorilla trekking is carried out lyrically. Buhoma which is strategically located in the northern part of Bwindi national park has three gorilla families which include; Habinyanja, Mubare and Rushegura and is generally liked by travelers on gorilla safaris in Uganda due to its closeness to Queen Elizabeth National Park, effortless connection from Kampala and a variety of accommodation facilities. Ruhija in Bwindi’s eastern region has 3 gorilla families including Bitukura, Kyaguriro and Oruzogo. The research group Kyaguriro also thrives in Ruhija sector. Rushaga positioned in the southern section of the park has many gorilla families compared to other regions of Bwindi. It has 5 gorilla families including; Mishaya, Bweza, Busingye, Kahungye and Nshongi. Nkuringo in the south western section of Bwindi has only one gorilla family which is Nkuringo family. Nkuringo area renders the most zealous gorilla trekking encounter that you can ever have in this region.
The gorilla region you are to track is indicated on your gorilla trekking permit and if interested in particular region, it is better to let your booking agent know by the time of making a reservation. Its allocation will definitely depend on its availability as eight (8) persons are only allowed to trek each gorilla family per day.
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Besides Bwindi Impenetrable national park, you can also do gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National park. Gorilla trekking is the most breathtaking activity done in this park, and it is only Nyakagezi gorilla group that has been habituated for trekking here. Gorilla tracking starts in the morning where by the trekkers start off from Ntebeko gate where they will have a pre trek briefing by the rangers before heading out to encounter these unique apes in their habitats. This is one of the incredible activities carried out in this park, as you move through the forests you hear the sounds of birds in the trees, monkeys, and other animals, something that is simply memorable!
Truly, if you ever thought of trekking these beautiful gentle giants of the jungle, Uganda gorilla safaris should be number one on your travel bucket list.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Have a question about gorilla trekking? Below some of the most frequently asked questions get answered by experts.
- Is there gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Yes, there is gorilla trekking in the densest forests of Uganda where one can watch in admiration of the gentle giants in their jungle.
- Where can I go for gorilla trekking in Uganda?
In Uganda you can find it in Bwindi impenetrable national park and also in Mgahinga national park .But you can find most of the gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park than in Mgahinga. Bwindi has 12 gorilla families namely Mubare Gorilla Family, Habinyanja Gorilla Family, Rushegura Gorilla Family, Bitukura Gorilla Family, Oruzogo Gorilla Family, Nkuringo Gorilla Family, Nshongi Gorilla Family, Mishaya Gorilla Family, Kahungye Gorilla Family, Bweza Gorilla Family, Busingye Gorilla Family, Kyaguriro Gorilla Family located in 4 different regions, which include; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo whereas in Mgahinga national park there is only one family known as Nyakagezi family.
- Where is Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park located?
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in the southwestern Uganda in areas of Kanungu, kabale along the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border near Virunga National Park also on the edge of the Albertine Rift in the highest part of the Kigezi Island.
Mgahinga National Park is also located in the southwestern part of kisoro about 540 km from Kampala. Mgahinga can be reached by road from Queen Elizabeth NP (three to four hours) or from Lake Mburo NP (five to seven hours). If coming straight from Entebbe or Kampala, the trip will take about eight hours. A 4WD vehicle is crucial in the Wet season.
- How can one get to one of these parks?
Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park can be accessed by both air and road transport which are well built; Mgahinga national park can be accessed by air from Entebbe International airport to Kisoro air field, it can also be accessed by road; it is an 8 hour drive via Kabale. There are bus transport services daily which leave Kampala at 0700 hours.
Bwindi impenetrable national park; It is possible to fly by domestic carrier from Entebbe or Kampala (Kajjansi Airfield) to Kihihi or Kisoro near Bwindi. Chartered flights to Bwindi can also be booked. Bwindi forest can be approached while from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern within 2 or 3 hours drive, and from Kampala via Mbarara is about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the southern you can get there in just 1 to 2 hours. The roads meet at Butogota, just 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance-gate. A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi.
- Are there accommodation facilities in gorilla destinations?
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest offers unique luxury accommodation with breathtaking views of the forest: Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Community Bandas, Clouds Lodge, Mahogany springs among others
The same applies to mgahinga national park it has; Mount Gahinga Safari Lodge, Amajambere Iwacu Camp, Travellers’ Rest Hotel and many other lodges in Kisoro town.
- What time does gorilla trekking start?
A typical gorilla trekking tour starts as early as 8:00am with a briefing from the guides who will remind you of what to do and what not to do during the trekking experience; and morning hours are better because that’s when gorillas can be just leaving their nests as they go looking for their daily food, during afternoon and evening hours, they are always relaxing mostly the silver backs.
- What is the climate in the trekking areas?
As you know, Uganda is blessed with pleasant and friendly climate and weather all year through. The weather is cold most especially in the night, and temperatures can drop up to 10⁰C and during day it may range from 17⁰-20⁰C. One is advised to carry a jacket /jumper /sweater to serve the changing climate.
- What are the best clothes to put on for gorilla trekking?
Make sure you put on -Trekking/Hiking boots,
- Long sleeved shirts
- A pair of long stockings
- Bush hat that bare a brim for sun protection
- And also a sweater to keep you warm
- Items to carry while on a gorilla trekking safari?
- Rain jackets and sweaters or jumpers in case it rains,
- You can also carry a camera and an extra battery
- Water resistant bags to protect your devices from the effects of water in case it rains.
- Insect spray,
- At least two liters of water
- Packed lunch since it’s an activity that is most likely to take the whole day.
- Gloves; – are useful for grabbing bushes
- Walking stick – provided by the camp
- How fit do you need to be to do Gorilla trek?
If you can put a feet in front of the other for some hours, it means you can do this. The guides are there to walk with you at the pace you can manage. However it needs some average fitness, depending on the pace of the gorillas. You also don’t need to have experience for you to engage in this activity of tracking gorillas. However, you should not guarantee that you will see the gorillas because sometimes they can hide inside the bush but our guides will always try tooth and nail for you to see them and make sure you don’t leave without seeing them.
- How much does it cost to see gorillas?
Recently permits for gorilla trekking within Rwanda were recently increased up to $1500 per individual and in Uganda each is still at USD 600 and gorilla habituation goes for 1,500$ in Uganda.
However, you can enjoy low season discounted rates fin Uganda, of up to 15% on each gorilla permit you purchase, and it comes down from 600$ to 450$ in the months of April, May, and in November