How to choose a Uganda gorilla trek?- Best budget Gorilla trekking safaris with Guaranteed Gorilla permits
How to choose a Uganda gorilla trek? – Are you planning your Uganda Gorilla trek? This blog post is long but you will bear with us and you read it, and you will learn what to expect, the best time to go, prices, and how to choose a suitable safari company to arrange your Gorilla tracking safari to Africa.
How to Choose a Uganda Gorilla Trek?
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest sounds interesting and it probably brings up visions of green mountains and low lying mists, the sounds of mysterious animals off in the distance. If you are lucky, it might mean the sight of some of the rarest Gorilla families in the world.
Uganda has had its share of problems in the past, but the country is currently on the road to recovery. It is more stable, there are fewer threats of violence, and resurgence in tourism has greatly contributed to the country’s infrastructure.
One of the biggest draws to Uganda is the remote area home to the country’s rare Mountain Gorilla families. While Gorilla safaris in Uganda aren’t the cheapest or easiest trips to take, they are well worth the time and expense.
What to Expect on a Ugandan Gorilla Tour?
Gorilla tracking safaris are not guaranteed to spot any Gorillas although tour companies are staffed with experts who know how to give you the best chance to see them.
How to choose a Uganda gorilla trek? – When the day arrives, it usually starts at a designated meeting point. Some Gorilla treks begin directly from here while others meet up at a spot further away. You don’t always know which your tour will be.
Tour groups receive a briefing and usually watch a video before briefing from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority ranger guide, about what to do and what to expect during the Gorilla trek. The groups always trek safely; they are always divided into manageable small groups of eight people.
The Ugandan Mountain Gorillas are known by families that live in different parts of the forest. The trek usually tracks one of these known Gorilla families through their usual territories through the mountains. The group contains a ranger guide who helps locate the families and usually an armed guard or two for safety.
It can take anywhere from one to five hours to locate a certain Gorilla family and sometimes longer. The groups are mobile because Mountain Gorillas are vegetarian and must travel vast distances to keep up with nutrition demands.
The ranger guides must track their movements through their usual territories. This can take quite a bit of time considering that the guide is also leading a group of people through the forest.
Things to Know
Once you find the Gorilla family, you spend about an hour – click on the link to read why gorilla trekking is one? – watching from a safe distance of seven metres. Any longer has the potential to cause agitation and danger. You are not allowed to eat anywhere near the Gorillas, nor are groups permitted to feed the Gorillas. There is no flash photography allowed.
If you follow the rules in place, you should have about an hour to watch the group for photography, observation and interact with each other. If you get really lucky, some of the Gorillas might approach you under the watchful eye of your ranger guide.
After the one hour is up, the ranger guide leads you back to the meeting point, and you head back to your accommodations or another activity for the day. It is best to leave the day completely open should it take longer than expected to find the Mountain Gorilla family.
Overall, the trek is mildly difficult, but most average hikers should be able to keep up without too much trouble. If you go during the rainy season, the Gorilla tracking may be more uncomfortable, but still doable.
What is involved on a Gorilla Trek?
Mountain Gorillas are a protected primate species, and their habitats are protected ecological areas. It is far too dangerous to allow just anyone to wander out into the forest.
You will need a Gorilla permit
Gorilla permits allow you to access the section of forest where the different Gorilla families live, and each Gorilla permit is issued for a specific part of that forest and valid for only a day of your trek. If you have an interest in a particular Gorilla family or a particular forest area, you should make that request either of the tour group or when applying directly.
Uganda Gorilla Trek Pricing
Gorilla permits in Uganda are around USD700 per person per trek and during the high season, Gorilla permits tend to sell out months in advance, so if you plan to go during the busy season, you must book out as far as you can.
Going during the low seasons means smaller groups and easy to secure Gorilla permits, but the weather might not be as accommodating. The most significant complaint is the rain, so plan accordingly.
How to get there?
It takes about 10 hours to get to Bwindi from the nearest city of Kampala to Bwindi is 550 kilometres. You will need to budget for the car if you plan to drive yourself, or for the driver and car if you aren’t comfortable driving. Great Adventure Safaris offer all-inclusive packages whereby you will have a driver guide for all your round trip.
Aerolink and Air Uganda offer domestic and charter flights from Entebbe International Airport and Kajjansi Airfield respectively to Kihihi and Kisoro Airfields. You will still require some transport from the Airfield to your accommodations, but the flight will cut down on the transport time to the National Park.
Accommodations and Lodges
There are many lodges and camps located in many of Uganda’s National Parks including Bwindi Forest National Park. Accommodations include running water, en-suite bathrooms, and fantastic views of the forest.
Many of the cabins are eco-friendly and offer solar power along with designs that are intended to blend into the natural view. They are smaller lodgings that will give you a more intimate feel and make it easier to meet new friends if you so choose.
Some of the rooms are also family friendly, offering cabin style lodgings with a little more space. Many of the tour groups will be able to book accommodations that will fit your preferences to help you before and after your Gorilla tracking experience.
Best time to go for Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
There are several options for Uganda Gorilla trekking best time to go. The weather is much more accommodating during Uganda’s busy seasons.
The months of January and February are reasonably dry, but this time of year is still considered the low season. It offers the best time to view the Mountain Gorillas without the huge crowds but before the rains comes.
The months of March, April, and May are the rainiest months. Although many tour groups still operate during this time, more planning is involved in making sure that Gorilla permits are still being issued. If they are, you will practically have the Gorillas to yourself although the rain might make the trek uncomfortable for you.
June, July, and August are considered the high season months. The weather is excellent and many tourists combine this trek with a trip to view the wildebeest migration in neighboring countries of Kenya and Tanzania. This time is the most difficult time to get a Gorilla permit, and you must purchase your Gorilla permit months in advance. This also means more Gorilla trackers, making locating the skittish families much more difficult.
September and October are good months if you plan to combine with a trip to hike the Mountain Kilimanjaro. The conditions should be just about right to handle the trek to high altitudes, but the second rainy season won’t quite have arrived.
November and the beginning of December are part of the second, smaller rainy season, during this time there are few tourists coming in and this is good for a quieter Gorilla safari experience.
Around Christmas time and on into the following months are good times to go when the weather has greatly improved, but it is still considered Uganda’s low season.
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda and Uganda
wondering hoe to choose a Uganda gorilla trek? – You have two choices for finding the Mountain Gorillas and that is Uganda and Rwanda. Most people consider Uganda vs Rwanda Uganda Gorilla trekking because of the Gorilla permit price.
Gorilla permits are the most expensive in Rwanda at USD1500 per person per trek. Uganda costs USD700 per person per trek. Although Rwanda might seem like a massive price increase, it is actually much more expensive to travel to both Uganda and Rwanda, so the cost somewhat evens out in the end.
It is best to fly into Rwanda for trips in both countries. From Rwanda, it is a simple car transfer of 2-3 hours to Ruhengeri and then to the Volcanoes National Park. To get to Uganda, it is a four-hour car ride with a border crossing to Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Both two countries offer equal chances to view the rare Mountain Gorilla families, and each trek is staffed by people who are trained to locate the families. Most families live in Uganda, but this doesn’t increase your chances by too much since all the families have patterns of travel well known to the trackers. Uganda and Rwanda offer plenty of luxury and budget accommodations within the National Parks.
Uganda is the best if you are looking for a more comfortable trek, either for personal preference or physical needs. It is also best if your Gorilla trek is merely a small part of a larger excursion. You will appreciate that everything is well laid out with minimal effort on your part.
Best country for Gorilla Treks
For the best adventure and safety, Gorilla safaris in Uganda are the best choice. It is a beautiful safari destination in its own right offering stunning views, out of the way National Parks, and a variety of accommodations.
It is still considered off the beaten track, even in the high season, so your Uganda Gorilla trip will have a personal feel. It is also a perfect trip to pair with time spent at Lake Victoria, one of Uganda’s most beautiful natural sites. Many safaris operate out of Lake Victoria and will handle all the transfers necessary to get to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and to Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks.
Uganda as a Tourism Destination
Uganda is one of the most promising places in Africa to visit due to its unique history and geography, and still being off the beaten path. Visiting Uganda is a perfect way to get to know a culture and area that are sure to be some of the best stories you will ever tell.
Although a Uganda Gorilla trek is not cheap, spending time with some of the world’s rarest primate species is a chance you won’t want to miss in a lifetime.
Your own opportunity to meet the rare endangered Mountain Gorillas in the mist and experience something few people in the world will ever get to see.