Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is regarded as one of the most breathtaking activities one can enjoy while on a safari. The Pearl of Africa is gifted by nature; with the deep lakes, spectacular greenery, exclusive cultures, soaring mountains and above all half of the world’s reaming gorilla population which live in the mountains in the southwestern part of Uganda.
Uganda is home to over half of the world’s total population of mountain gorillas. Many people prefer spending their money on a safari to Uganda because they want to have the best out of their money with a life-changing experience in the interesting parts of the country where mighty beasts are found.
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Parkwhich are both located in southwestern Uganda. Bwindi Forest is one of the few ancient rain forests in Africa to have flourished, well placed in a magnificent verdant swathe across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley and is a home to half of the world’s endangered population of mountain gorillas.
This explains why most clients book safaris that include a tour to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Moving through the thick forest of the park is an adventurous experience full of amazing encounters with different primates and other hard-to find creatures. Though these mountain Gorillas can also be found in the Virunga Massif in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo
Located in the southwest of Uganda, Bwindi is the most visited park in the country. The park is divided into four regions namely;- Rushaga, Ruhija, Buhoma and Nkuringo. Each of these regions act as a trekking site with different habituated mountain gorilla families.While coming up with a choice of which region of Bwindi to track, one should have it in mind that all the four regions are equally interesting and offer a stunning gorilla tracking experience.
One interested in tracking the gorillas in Bwindi, should be selective on which family to trek so that it simplifies the booking of accommodations.
There are four sectors within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where various habituated gorilla families can be tracked and booking is currently done per sector.The sectors for tracking the different gorilla families are as below:
This is the northern part of the park and where the Bwindi park headquarters are located. There are 3 gorilla families in Buhoma including; Mubare group (11 members), Rushegura group (15 members), Habinyanja group (17 members)
This is the eastern part of the park as is home to 3 gorilla families including; Bitukura group (15 members), Oruzogo group( 17 members), Kyaguliro group (20 members) which is set aside for research
Kyaguliro group is now considered two separate groups: Kyaguliro-Rukara’s group and Kyaguliro-Mukiza’s group, according to the names of the leading Silver backs.
This is southern sector of Bwindi Park is the least developed area for tourism, with 5 gorilla groups habituated here, and several other un habituated gorilla groups. Though there are few lodges here, there are several options where you can stay, and they are near. The gorilla families include: Bweza group (12 members), Nshongi group (7 members), Kahungye group (18 members), Busingye group (9 members), Bikingi group (18 members) and is the only group set aside for the Gorilla Habituation Experience.
This is the southern sector of the park and it is where the headquarters in Bwindi are located. Despite the very tough terrain, it is having one of the best groups in Bwindi. With 2 groups available, Nkuringo group(12 members) is available for normal tourism while Bushaho(9 members) is available for Gorilla habituation experience. Tracking the Nkuringo Gorilla Group takes a bit more energy and stamina and is the toughest trek in Uganda.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has only one gorilla group, the Nyakagezi group with 10 members in this group, with 5 silverbacks. If you love seeing silverbacks, this is where to be. The group is also known to be having the oldest known gorilla called Rukumu who is thought to be more than 50 years old. The group has a migratory spirit within them and often move across Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda borders. They returned to Mgahinga Gorilla Park in 2012 and this time have stayed awhile up to now.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an amazing experience where you will be able to view more than gorillas but other mammal species, including 11 primates and prominent bird species. It is a treasure chest of flora and fauna with ten gorilla groups currently available to be visited by only eight persons per group on daily basis.
Gorilla tracking in Uganda can take from twenty minutes to three quarters of the day depending on the gorilla family trekked. It should also be noted that the maximum time one is allowed to spend with the gorillas is one hour therefore a tourist is advised to maximize the time he/she spends with the primates with strict rules to be followed to prevent behavioral disturbances and transmission of diseases.
People having trekked in both countries Uganda and Rwanda have expressed different and opinions including:
Gorilla Permits for trekking in Rwanda USD 1500.00 while in Uganda one gorilla permit to trek gorillas in Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park cost USD 600.00, With the Habituation experience costing USD 1500.00.Implying that that gorilla tracking in Rwanda is more expensive compared to gorilla trekking in Uganda.
Gorilla tracking is boosted by a short drive time from Kigali Airport of approximately three hours to Volcanoes National Park where these gorillas are located while Uganda Gorillas are located approximately 9-10 hours drive from Entebbe International Airport to Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park.This gives Rwanda a more competitive advantage compared to Uganda though the long journey from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is full of many scenic scenaries that are worth the longdrive.
Most travelers wonder if it safe to be with mountain gorillas in the jungle, and the answer is YES.Though the gorillas are wild animals, they are habituated and are used to being in the presence of human beings.Visitors wondering about the experience and safety in presence of the silver back, travelers are assured of a safe and enjoyable interaction with mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. They are very peaceful animals and calm unless they are provoked thus travelers are given a pre-tracking briefing with rules and regulations to be followed.
Keeping a distance of seven meters from the mountain gorillas to avoid close interaction, the gorillas may come close to the travelers since they do not know about the boundaries but trekkers are highly reminded to avoid them and move away when approached by the passing by gorillas as they also provoked by getting close to them as a threat.
Do not trek when you are sick as gorillas are so susceptible to human diseases especially communicable diseases such as cough and flue, which is harmful to their health and a traveler with weak immunity can may not be able to do the activity in case the gorillas are not in close vicinity .
Keep within your group that you have been allocated to them as led by a park ranger. Splitting from a group is very dangerous for a traveler exposing him/her to wild animals. Besides gorillas, there are various wild animals in the park, which are not habituated and can be harmful to people if not with an armed ranger.
Armed rangers are provided for every group of travelers with one in front and another behind and this is to ensure travelers’ safety while in the jungle with great protection. In case any wild animal disrupts the group, rangers shoot in the air to scare away the animals ensuring travelers are safe.
Avoid direct eye contact & be calm considering that mountain gorillas are naturally shy animals, which are disrupted by a direct eye contact and this can make them charge at you. Keep calm while with the gorillas, speak at a low tone and also avoid touching the baby gorillas as it is a threat to the gorilla family.
Dress right for the jungle as this is a strenuous activity that entail hiking in the steep slopes, thorny bushes and slippery muddy grounds. The recommended dressing code for gorilla trekking include light hiking boots for easy movement in slippery grounds, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, hand gloves for grabbing on the thorny bushes for support, sunglasses, and hut to deal with direct sun, sweaters and rain jackets since in case of any pour.
Gorilla Trekking can successful be done all through the year though there are specific months when the activity is most interesting.During the months of June to September, then December, January and February though this does not mean that other months are not good to go for a trek and it doesn’t stop a client from making his/her own choice when it comes to deciding when to travel to Uganda.
A visitor is only allowed to trek the mountain gorillas in Uganda after obtaining a gorilla tracking permit. This acts an authorizing document to track the gorillas in either Bwindi or Mgahinga national parks. A gorilla trekking permit specifies the gorilla family to be tracked by the client. Each tourist requires one permit and it allows one track.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a lifetime experience where you engage with the endangered mountain gorillas and the exercise can take as less as 2 hours or more than 8 hours.
At Off Road Safaris we will craft your African holiday to Uganda according to your tastes and preferences to fit your interests including Gorilla trekking & Chimp trekking, wildlife tours, Birding safaris, Culture and community safaris, Photography, Water rafting, Mountain Hiking/mountaineering or Forest Hikes.