Top Gorilla trekking locations in East Africa -Uganda and Rwanda Gorilla trekking holidays – Guaranteed Gorilla permits in Uganda and Rwanda
Top gorilla trekking locations in East Africa- If you are looking at watching mountain gorillas in the natural habitat of your holiday in Eat Africa, look no farther that Uganda and Rwanda for the best experience, in this article we bring you all you need to know before booking your east African Gorilla vacation. many travelers /tourists identify East Africa as the base for the thunder of hooves(great wildebeest migration) , Great Adventure safaris gives you an insight on other things to add on your itinerary and safari to East Africa.
Gorilla trekking is a once in the life time experience for most travelers that visit Uganda and Rwanda and it is not something that one can hastily put together, as there are exceptions where things fall into places at the last minute, but Great Adventure safaris always advise clients/travelers to plan and book a gorilla trek well in advance most during the peak season months of June to September and December to February.
The top gorilla trekking locations in East Africa are Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda but you need to plan well your trek in advance and you will have all the permits you need at hand even during high season for Uganda or Rwanda which is the best and safest countries for trekking along with mountain gorillas in the natural setting.
For the adventurous of heart and experience, you can trek mountain gorillas in Rwanda in the virunga volcanoes massif and in Uganda in the ancient RAMSAR site of Bwndi impenetrable National park and Mgahinga gorilla National park
Gorilla trekking safaris can start from Kigali-Rwanda or Enteebe/Kampala Uganda, can be by road or take a domestic flight. Contact Great Adventure Safaris for more details.
Where to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda?
Bwindi impenetrable National park, popular for gorilla trekking in Uganda
The popular and ancient forest which survived the massive plate shift of the earth that created the western Rift Valley is the most amazing. Bwindi in the local Bakiga language means a dark, difficult, a fearful place, so actually one could say impenetrable forest. In some places of Bwindi the canopy of the trees is so thick that no light gests through. There is also a large swamp deep in the forest called “Mubwindi Swamp”. Thankfully the mystical Bwindi impenetrable forest in not so impenetrable and in fact it is quite accessible and it is the best place to see mountain gorillas in Uganda if not, the best place to trek along with mountain gorillas in East Africa.
Bwindi impenetrable forest is the only place in East Africa with almost half of the world’s wild mountain gorillas in a natural habitat, with approximately 550 individuals (last census). Also a place of tremendous biodiversity rarely found, 310 species of trees, over 100 species luscious ferns, over 310 species of butterflies, 346 identified species of birds, see the checklist, that are found the western Rift Valley, with other big wildlife like Elephants, duiker, Antelopes and many others.
Gorilla trekking regions/zones in Bwindi impenetrable forest
The Buhoma region, is the most less strenuous gorilla tracking area in Bwindi because of its lowest altitude. Making the terrain easily accessible as compared to other trekking locations. The region has the most lodging facilities from budget to luxurious up market establishments with splendid views of the incredible forest.
There are five habituated gorilla family groups in the Buhoma region of Bwindi, namely-Mubare group-Habinyanja group-Rushagura group-Binyindo group-Katwe group and at times some lodges even have a visit from a gorilla group, which is an added advantage of staying in Buhoma region. Also you can stay in Buhoma lodges and trek mountain gorillas in Ruhija region which is the next region with a 2 hours’ drive to the gorilla trekking start point.
There are many other activities at Buhoma such as batwa community experience, village walks. Water fall walks, visiting iron smelting places, visiting community hospital, self-help activities for women, mountain bike rides and all are guided activities.
The Ruhija region is a diverse area of the park and if you are tracking a gorilla family group of Oruzogo group-Bitukura group-ukiza group-Kyaguriro group, Great Adventure safaris recommends that stay in one of the lodging facilities in Ruhija sector ( budget to Luxurious up market) unless you would like to take a 2 hours ride/drive on a rocky road from Buhoma to Ruhija prior to your gorilla trekking experience.
With an elevation of 2350M, which is 1000M higher than Buhoma. The Ruhija area has been a birders destination for years and as of now there four gorilla family groups that you can trek, you can also take a village walk and support the local community. For birders, you need to take a walk to the Mubwindi swamp or bamboo trail which has most of the albertine endemics in Bwindi forest.
The Rushaga region is in the upper southern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest and has many lodge choices from budget to upmarket and the the region has the highest number of mountain gorilla groups namely, Nshongi group-Kahungyegroup-Busingye group-Bweza group-Bushaho group-Muchunguzi group-Mishaya group. In Rushaga region once again you can not only trek mountain gorillas but hike the trails, take a village walk, batwa experience and you can enjoy birding trips around the area. The experience makes Bwindi the best place for gorilla trekking in Bwindi. You can stay in the area before gorilla trekking or Nkuringo side as the locations are so close to each other. Rushaga region of Bwindi popular now because of its proximity location from Kigali- Rwanda and it has the highest number of Gorilla permits due to the highest number of gorilla families in Bwindi. Rushaga region is the only location where you can get the four hours experience with mountain gorillas, now you can spend more time with mountain gorillas with rangers and researchers as they take you through the whole gorilla habituation process and the activity is call gorilla habituation experience.
Gorilla Habituation experience safari itineraries ( more hours with Mountain Gorillas)
The Nkuringo region is one of the most scenic areas of Bwindi impenetrable forest but it also an area where you are going to burn a few calories gorilla trekking especially as you return from your gorilla trek, climbing up a long distance towards the top, no one complains – the experience of visiting the Nkuringo group and Christmas group is worth the efforts.
There are prestigious lodges here and moderate and budget facilities with all facilities and fascinating views of the forest. Other activities in the area include, village walk, where you get a taste of locally brewed sorghum beer and local food.
There is also the top of world walk with stunning panoramic views of the virunga volcano massif, simply amazing and at times you can see the fire and smoke from a volcano in the DR.Congo, all these reasons makes bwindi and Uganda the top gorilla trekking places in East Africa
Mgahinga gorilla National Park in Uganda
There are over 80 mountain gorillas in Mgahinga national park, there is however only one habituated gorilla family group that can be tracked with in the park, and only one gorilla group that crosses from Rwanda to Biwndi, called SUSA Group but it’s crossing is occasional.
Gorilla permits are available and can be obtained every day from Uganda Wildlife Authority through a genuine tour operator like Great Adventure Safaris and can be obtained on last minute. One can stay between Nkuringo which is the south of Bwindi, lake Mutanda around Kisoro and Mgahinga has some lodges now from budget to luxury.
Popular Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda offered by Great Adventure Safaris
All these safari itineraries can be customized to suit your travel dates and budget, also you have an opportunity to fly one leg or both legs between destinations. still you can combine Gorilla trekking with wildlife viewing in Uganda.
Where to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park-Rwanda
Rwanda has 10 habituated gorilla family groups that can be visited and trekked by travelers in Volcanoes national park that is translated in 80 gorilla permits per day, available for visitors at 1500 per person per trek. The Gorilla families range in size from number and your fitness level helps in matching you with the right gorilla group for you to trek on the day of gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
At 7 am the gorilla orientation/briefing begins with a cup of coffee or tea and a traditional Rwanda Itore Dance performance. The treks range from shorter likes to all-day treks in the case of Susa group. As in Uganda, pre-trackers are out locating your gorilla group –meaning that very rarely do visitors not see their gorilla group on their scheduled day, And Great Adventure Safaris has not registered any case of not seeing mountain gorillas as of now. But if it happens, Uganda wildlife authority gives you another chance the following day to trek mountain gorillas again.
Top gorilla trekking locations – Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is different from Bwindi impenetrable forest in Uganda, both are found equally rewarding but Rwanda tracking is on the slopes of the virunga massif and in Uganda in the ancient Bwindi impenetrable forest. The difference makes Uganda and Rwanda the top gorilla trekking locations in East Africa.
Top Gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda offered by Great Adventure Safaris
If you have limited time in Rwanda and Uganda, but you would like to see mountain gorillas, you can take a private charter or scheduled flight to Bwindi impenetrable National park and Volcanoes National park respectively. in Uganda Aerolink operates domestics flights to Bwindi impenetrable National park on daily basis and times a day, you can access the Mountain Gorillas either from Kisoro airstrip or Kihihi airstrip depending on where you got the Gorilla permits. In Rwanda Akagera Aviation operates Helicopter flights to Volcanoes National park.
Gorilla trekking permits in East Africa
Both Uganda and Rwanda offer safe and accessible gorilla trekking experience all year round and one difference between Uganda and Rwanda is the price and cost of the Gorilla permits – U$ 1500 in Rwanda and U$700 In Uganda.
If you are planning for Rwanda gorilla safari or Uganda gorilla safari in East Africa, you can contact Uganda wildlife authority or Rwanda development board to book your gorilla permits. These bookings can be done by a phone call or email but it is advisable to book you gorilla permits through a tour operator like Great Adventure Safaris, as direct bookings may take a lot of time as the issuing bodies are always busy and take long to respond to emails but the operators travel to the head offices and book the permits directly without the hustles. We always advise the travelers to book gorilla permits in advance at least 3-4 months before the actual gorilla trekking date. Great Adventure Safaris can help you arrange a top gorilla trekking safari in East Africa.