Travel advice for gorilla tracking in Uganda – Gorilla trekking tips and advice
Travel advice for gorilla tracking in Uganda – Many travelers will always remember the popular 1988 film of ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ for its heart-wrenching narrative about the plight of Mountain Gorillas living in the African tropical rainforest areas of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Based on the book with the same title by renowned primatologist, conservationist and author Dian Fossey, this narrative helped to highlight the plight of these gentle giants. At the time, Dian Fossey acknowledged that these apes were in danger of extinction due to poaching, habitat loss and as well as death in the crossfire of human warfare.
Great Adventure Safaris brings you the basic precautions which should be taken, as in all countries, and common sense used. Do not carry excessive jewelry and money or leave them lying around. Use safe deposit boxes where available; secure travel documents and valuables. Do not walk unescorted at night. If in doubt seek advice from your guide.
Book your Gorilla permit before you travel
One of the most important aspects to remember if you are planning a Gorilla trekking safari is that you need to obtain a permit to see the gorillas in both national parks in Rwanda and Uganda:
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda: USD1500
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda: USD700
Gorilla permits are difficult to obtain because there are limitations on how many people are allowed into the National Parks. Great Adventure Safaris will obtain these Gorilla permits on your behalf and they are included in the cost of your Gorilla trekking safari. The essential thing here is to plan your Gorilla trip well ahead of time.
Prepare yourself for any weather
The good chance here is that the weather will be hot and humid as well as slightly chilly and rainy on the same day, reason enough to be prepared for varying weather conditions. Great Adventure Safaris recommend wearing layered clothing that can be adjusted according to the temperature. Prepare for the rain by packing a waterproof jacket or coat.
It is also essential that you bring a pair of good quality and lightweight hiking shoes as you will be trekking through varied montane terrain. It is also advised to keep your skin covered as much as possible as certain areas are notorious for blister bushes and stinging nettles.
Carry food and water
Although some tour operators will have options for packed lunches Great Adventure Safaris strongly advise that you pack items that will help keep your energy levels up as you may be hiking for a maximum of eight hours while you locate the Mountain Gorillas. Pack some dried fruit, nuts or trail mix for some extra energy. You guide will always make sure that you have enough drinking water with you.
Do some physicals for your fitness levels
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks have high in altitudes which will make trekking much harder, even for experienced hikers. Make sure you know your fitness level before travelling and if you aren’t an avid hiker it’s advised to hit the gym or some local trails and hikes in your area before you leave to get to your optimal fitness level. You might see Mountain Gorillas after two hours or it could take up to 9 hours to find them in the thick jungles.
Travel in the dry season
Tracking down the Mountain Gorillas isn’t limited to a season and you can visit them at any time of year. It is believed that you will just have a more enjoyable experience in the drier months as everything is a little more accessible due to there being less rain and less mud. Dirt roads will be a part of the adventure and these will be easier to tackle and much more comfortable in the dry season.
The dry season is from mid-December to early February and the long dry season is from June to September.
Respect the Mountain Gorillas’ space
While the Mountain Gorilla population is habituated and Gorillas are non-aggressive and shy, they are still wild animals. Respecting their space of 7 metres ensures that no one gets hurt. Accompanying to your trekking journey will be with experienced ranger guides. These guides are highly trained and dedicate their lives to the conservation of the Mountain Gorillas. Respect the seven metre proximity rule. An opportunity to enjoy the majestic Mountain Gorillas in their natural environment is an experience of a lifetime. Great Adventure Safaris can advise you on your Gorilla tracking adventure so do contact us for more information.
Banks and foreign exchange bureaus are available at most towns and cities.
Most hotels and lodges accept Visa and MasterCard.
In addition to credit cards, travellers should bring US dollars cash. Small denominations are recommended.
US dollars are widely accepted; however older denomination notes may not be accepted and Great Adventure Safaris advise that you carry denominations of 2009 to date.
Travel advice for gorilla tracking in Uganda – It is advisable to check with your driver guides, they will know if there are any potentially unsafe areas you should avoid.
Avoid deserted areas, particularly at night. Dress-down (i.e. don’t wear excessive jewelry) when exploring the city. Concealed travel wallets are recommended.
Ugandans are a very warm and hospitable nation; please do not hesitate in asking for assistance at any time.
Avoid taking pictures of anything connected with the government or the military, including army barracks, land or people close to the army barracks, government offices, post offices, banks, ports, bridges, train stations and Airports.
Please consult your physician before you travel to Africa for advice on precautions against malaria.
Uganda and Rwanda fall into the yellow fever region of Africa. It is imperative that you obtain a Yellow Fever Vaccination in not less than 10 days prior to travel.
It is essential that adequate Travel Insurance be taken out prior to departure. This should cover any medical situation such as hospitalization, as well as cancellation, curtailment of arrangements and baggage.
Kindly ensure to bring sufficient memory cards and batteries as these are not readily available in Uganda. Please ask permission before taking a photograph of any residents.
Great Adventure Safari advice to you is that the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) is not allowed in any of the conservation areas we manage until such time as their impact on wildlife and anti-poaching initiatives can be assessed. This rule will apply throughout Africa, as our partners in various countries and regions have adopted a similar stance.
Passport & Visa Requirements
Passports are required by all foreign visitors and must be valid for 6 months after the intended length of stay. Please ensure that you have at least 2 consecutive blank visa pages (not endorsement pages) in your passport. Great Adventure Safaris recommendation is 3 or even 4 blank pages if you are travelling through more than one African country. If there is insufficient space in the passport then entry could be denied.
It is imperative to check Visa Requirements with the Ugandan embassies as it may vary according to your nationality.
Where Visas can be obtained at the point of entry, fees are payable in US Dollars cash only and we recommend small dominations as officials sometimes are not in the position to give change.
It is recommended that travellers obtain their Visas prior to arrival, as there is a likelihood of long queues at all Airports.
What Great Adventure Safaris Say?
Ugandans and Rwandans appreciate those who dress modestly is one of the travel advice for gorilla tracking in Africa..
Cotton clothing is the most comfortable during the day. Please take note of specific packing guidelines for Gorilla tracking.
Only a limited number of Gorilla permits are available in each Gorilla National Park, therefore it is essential to book far in advance