Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda – Budget Gorilla tours in Africa – Cost of a Gorilla permit in Uganda is $700 per person
Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda – Mountain gorillas are found in the mountainous borders between Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. They are larger, have blacker coats, live in a smaller range and are usually led by a dominant male silverback. They live in dense jungle and high altitudes feeding mainly on foliage in the mornings and afternoons. Despite their large size, Mountain gorillas are more peaceful and calmer than lowland gorillas. They move constantly to new feeding grounds as they build nests for the day. Mountain gorillas are not found in zoos. The western world first came to know of mountain gorillas when German explorer Von Berenge spotted a group of mountain gorillas in 1902 while hiking in Rwanda’s Mount Sabyinyo. After further analysis, it was discovered that mountain gorillas where a different and larger specie than the already known western lowland gorillas.
The Mountain Gorilla Trekking Experience
Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda-Mountain gorillas are wild animals and, as such, sightings cannot be guaranteed. However viewing success rates are over 90%. Once sighted, visitors are allowed an hour with the gorillas. Overwhelming in Bwindi is required the night before tracking due to your early morning start. As tracking can sometimes take a full day, a second night’s accommodation is also highly recommended. Ideally 2 to 3 nights are suggested to enjoy this region.
Gorilla tracking timings and conditions vary tremendously as the gorillas move continuously through the rain forest. It is good to be prepared and remember the weather can change with very little warning. The terrain is often steep and through areas where there are no marked paths.
It can be VERY strenuous – it may be just a couple of hours but it can also be for a full day of up to 8 hours or more of hiking in hot, high altitude conditions – please be prepared for this by being as fit as possible!
Guides & Porters
You will be guided through the forest on your gorilla tracking by a Uganda Wildlife Authority guide whom you will meet at the departure point in the morning of your trek. Your guide can help you book a porter (or two!) so that you can track without having to carry the few essential items listed below in a day pack which you should bring with you. The porters are from the local community and very used to the local conditions and can assist in pushing, pulling and supporting you during your trek to the gorillas. They are usually an additional fee, over and above your safari cost, and you should budget on approximately USD15-20 per porter per day as a fee with additional tipping being optional.
As the porters do not have tracking permits they will be stopped a short distance from the point you will be viewing the mountain Gorillas. Please remember to take whatever you may need from your bag to view the gorillas and rather leave valuables at the lodge/camp.
You will be allowed up to one hour for viewing of the gorillas / chimps from when they are sighted by your group. This is to ensure that the wild animals are not over exposed to human presence. Whilst in their presence you will also be required to keep minimum distances from them – generally between 5-7 metres and your guides will ensure this is enforced. understand more about why you need a porter.
- Plenty of water – 1-2 liters per person
• High energy snacks in addition to your packed lunch provided by the lodge / camp
• Spare film and batteries for videos and cameras
• Gloves (gardening type are good)
• Waterproof bag to protect photographic equipment
• A hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and band aids might be useful
• A lightweight water proof jacket / poncho
• Walking sticks are made available at the start of the trek for some of the steeper and more slippery tracks and may prove to be very handy.
Gorilla Trekking Age Limits
The age limit for gorilla tracking, chimpanzees, AND Golden Monkeys is 15 years and the authorities are very strict on this!
Videos & Photography
There is no charge for personal filming of gorillas and other scenes with personal video, digital or SLR cameras in Uganda
Professional photographers, film makers or media should advise Great Adventure Safaris at the time of booking as special procedures are required as well as costs to be incurred for photographing and filming.
Other things to do on a gorilla trekking Safari
Buhoma Community Village Walk
This walk provides guests with an opportunity to support the local community whilst enjoying visiting various interesting places as you follow a walking trail through the village. Highlights include the traditional healer, banana brewery and Mukono Primary school where you may interact with the children.
Bwindi Community Hospital
Established during 2003 and has grown from small beginnings to become an essential service provider for the immediate communities and much of the surrounding areas too, caring for more than 100 000 individuals. Visit it to learn how it is helping to improve the quality of many lives.
The Batwa Tradition
A guided walk of around 1-2 hours established to provide its visitors with a better understanding of the Batwa’s early way of life whilst assisting them with additional income.
Batwa Cultural Experience
A full day experience provided by the Batwa Development Program allowing one to see, understand and participate in the lifestyle of the Batwa when they lived in the forest and depended upon their hunting and gathering skills for their daily needs.
Bwindi Forest Walk
This can be undertaken with a Uganda Wildlife Authority guide to allow you to hike along the trails and enjoy the forest flora, fauna and wildlife such as monkeys at close proximity. A popular choice is the 3-4 hour hike to the waterfall.
This can be done around the lodge and walks in the forest with local qualified guides. This forest area has recorded over 350 bird species. Of particular interest are the 23 species endemic to the Albertine Rift and at least 14 recorded nowhere else in Uganda
Possible in the forest with Bwindi being home to over 200 species, some of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley
Mgahinga Gorilla National park
Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda-Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern Uganda on the border with Congo and Rwanda. Covering an area of about 33.7 sq kilometers, the park is a habitat for man’s closest, the mountain gorillas which roam about the whole forest in search for food. This park is one of the few places in the world where the endangered mountain gorillas live and it attracts people from different countries to come on Uganda Gorilla Safari. There is no doubt that Mgahinga Gorilla national park is one of the leading tourism sites in Uganda since it harbors these rare primates.
One may wonder why gorilla Safari should be done in Mgahinga and not other places but the secret behind it is that this park has a thick rain forest with a wide variety of tree species and gorillas are known to be vegetarians. There is enough food for them in the park and this is the reason why some even migrate from Congo and Rwanda to this place. Though not in large numbers, gorillas of Mgahinga are easily seen in their natural habitats and this makes tracking more easy compared to other parks.
When to Trek Gorillas in Mgahinga National Park?
The best time to visit the place for tracking is during the two dry seasons when the park is easily accessed. It is during this time that the thick forests can be penetrated easily and when the paths are not as muddy as it is in the rainy season. The two dry Seasons best for Gorilla Safari are; mid-December to end of February and June to October. However, gorilla tracking tourism is possible throughout the year.
How to get there?
By road, one can access the park by use of a car from Kampala via Kabale to Kisoro. This journey takes about 8 hours.
By air, one can board a plane from Entebbe to Kisoro Airstrip which is near the park. This is the quickest mode of access and it takes about 1 hour. There are daily scheduled flights which must be booked long in advance with your local Uganda safari operator. Great Adventure Safaris arranges gorilla trekking tours in Uganda and Rwanda.