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Gorilla trekking in Uganda: If there is that one most captivating primate adventure experience you shouldn’t miss to participate on Uganda safari then it is mountain gorilla trekking. This unique wildlife experience usually comes second after game drives on most of the visitors’ bucket list experiences. Presently, fewer than 1063 mountain gorillas still live in the wild and they only exist in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Where to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda

A Uganda safari is never complete without a trek to see mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is conducted in only 2 magical parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These 2 premier gorilla safari parks are among the 4 destinations where the endangered mountain gorillas exist. The others include Volcanoes National Park in Northwestern Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are set in Southwestern Uganda and the 2 parks are reachable about 8 to 9 hours’ drive starting from Kampala capital city of Uganda and 3 to 4 hours’ drive beginning from Kigali capital city of Rwanda. From Kisoro town, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located approximately 10kms.

Of the 1063 mountain gorillas, Uganda is estimated to host over half of the total mountain gorilla population that still exists on earth today and the rest are shared between Rwanda and DR Congo. Tourists on gorilla tour in Uganda have 21 habituated gorilla groups readily available for tracking mountain gorillas. 20 gorilla families are in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park only has 1 habituated family.

Trekkers on Uganda gorilla tour in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 4 regions set for tracking mountain gorillas; Nkuringo and Rushaga in the southern area of the park, Buhoma in the North and Ruhija sector in Eastern side of Bwindi. Every region has habituated gorilla group families with Rushaga region featuring groups like Kahungye, Kutu, Nshongi, Bweza, Busingye, Mucunguzi, Mishaya, Bikingi and Rwingi; Buhoma area consists of habituated families such as Habinyanja, Katwe, Rushegura, Mubare gorilla family; Nkuringo region in the south is composed of Christmas, Nkuringo, Bushaho gorilla families while Ruhija sector is comprised of habituated groups like Oruzongo, Bitukura, Mukiza, Kyaguriro families. Tracking mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is only possible in Nyakagezi family which is the only gorilla family habituated and set for tourists to trek.

When to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda

Understanding the best time to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda is by far one of the significant factors in planning a successful gorilla safari holiday. Although tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda is possible at any time of the year, the dry season is recommended. The dry months to consider visiting Uganda for gorilla trekking start in June, July, August, September and December, January, February. Tracking to see mountain gorillas is easier during the dry months the fact that low rainfall is experienced making the ground and trails drier.

The wet or rainy season is also significant on its own when it comes to gorilla safaris and the rainy months begin in March, April, May and the other phase commences in October, November. During the wet season, there is plenty for mountain gorillas to feed on. This is also regarded as a low season and unlike the dry months, at times, it takes less time searching for mountain gorillas since they keep around other than moving to longer distances to search for what to feed on.

How to obtain gorilla trekking permit in Uganda

Obtaining a gorilla trekking permit is essential when planning for your Uganda gorilla safari. Due to high demand, we always encourage all our clients to ensure they book their gorilla permits in advance about 3-4 months prior the actual date of tracking mountain gorillas.

Gorilla permits in Uganda are obtainable at 700 US Dollars for foreign non-residents, US Dollars 600 for foreign residents and 250000 Uganda shillings for East Africa Community citizens. For visitors who are interested in incorporating gorilla treks with gorilla habituation experience, permits can be obtained at 1500 US Dollars.

There are 2 ways for you to be in position to obtain your gorilla permit in Uganda; first and the easiest is through a reliable tour operator or directly through reservation team at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

What is gorilla trekking in Uganda like?

Generally, gorilla trekking in Uganda starts with an early morning briefing on guidelines which you have to observe while on a search for mountain gorillas in the wild. The whole adventure involves hiking via a lush tropical rain-forest and steep slopes to see, explore more about the daily behavior of these rare apes. A group 8 trekkers will be assigned to a habituated group of mountain gorillas and a park ranger guide to accompany them. The actual trek begins at 8:00am and the entire experience may take you between 2 and 6 hours depending on your speed of hiking, nature of the habitat and where the family assigned to you is found.

Gorilla trekking rules and regulations

  • A maximum of 8 visitors are accepted to trek 1 habituated gorilla family
  • Persons above 15 years are eligible to track mountain gorillas.
  • Keep a distance of 7 meters away from gorillas.
  • Do not trek mountain gorillas if you are sick or ill. These great apes share about 98 percent of their DNA with humans making them to be susceptible to human infectious diseases.
  • Leave the gorilla habitat the way you found it or in a better state.
  • Always keep your voices low while on a trek to view mountain gorillas.
  • A gorilla permit is a must-have for every trekker on Uganda gorilla safari.

Where to stay on a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda

In Bwindi, the available luxury gorilla safari lodges to consider for a night stay include Mahogany Springs Lodge/Chameleon Hill Lodge/ Buhoma Lodge, the mid-range options include Clouds Mount Gorilla Lodge/Gorilla Mist Camp/Bakiga Lodge, and for budget travelers on gorilla tour in Bwindi, the best options include Wagtail Eco Safari Camp/Buhoma Community Rest Camp/ Lake Mutanda Resort.

In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park some of the available lodges include Mucha Hotel Kisoro/Traveler’s Rest Hotel Kisoro (Midrange), Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp (Budget); Mount Gahinga Lodge (Luxury).

What to pack for gorilla trekking in Uganda?

Essential items should always come first on your packing list for gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda. Ensure you pack appropriately and lightly starting with waterproof hiking boots, insect repellents, rain jacket or poncho, camera with no flashlight, sun hat, long sleeved shirt, snacks, first aid kit, bottled drinking water, trousers, sweaters, sun glasses, daypack, gorilla permit, valid passport, visa and others. With these at hand, you will certainly have the most memorable Uganda gorilla safari experience.

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