Mountain Gorilla Tracking Tips and Guidelines
Practical advice to make your Gorilla Safari more enjoyable
For most travelers, trekking the Mountain Gorillas ranks among one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Uganda, and the spine-tingling feeling that you get being so near to one of our closest relatives is hard to describe. The Mountain Gorilla Tracking Tips and Guidelines written here will help you plan your gorilla trekking safari with less to worry about.
Mountain Gorillas are one of the world’s most endangered apes and it is estimated that there are only 880 (November 2012) left throughout the world. Almost half of these can be found in Uganda, as well as populations in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, there is a 95% chance that you will come across mountain gorillas on your trek. Your journey will be an exhilarating one: cutting your way through dense jungle, thick bamboo, past local homesteads, and up forested hills… Gorilla tracking spans vary and can be anything from as little as 30 minutes to 7 hours! Your efforts will be rewarded with your first sighting of the Gorillas, as these gentle giants shyly approach you and you come face-to-face with one of nature’s greatest animals.
So let’s get started with the mountain gorilla tracking tips and guidelines:-
Before you set off on your Mountain Gorilla Tracking Safari
- Be in reasonable shape and have no communicable diseases or cold or flu. If you need to cough, sneeze, blow your nose, move your head away from the gorilla in order to keep the risk of infection to a minimum.
- Be at least 15 years of age.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the mountain gorillas.
- Wear appropriate clothing since it is often cool there, a jacket might be helpful, a light backpack where you can put your packed lunch, and proper boots to support your ankles.
The Mountain Gorilla Tracking Experience
- A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group (family) of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbances to the mountain gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the mountain gorillas.
- Pack it in and pack it out. Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you since it would spoil it for the next visitors.
- You will be taken to where the guides left the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the mountain gorillas’ trail to find them. Look out for the Gorilla’s nesting sites along the way.
- When you approach the Gorillas, the guides will inform you when to get your cameras ready.
- Please always keep your voices low. This will ensure that you will be able to observe the beautiful birds and other wildlife in the forest.
In the Presence of Mountain Gorillas – Your time with the Gorillas
- Keep a minimum distance of 5-7 meters (15-21 feet) from the Gorillas. (This reduces the risk of transmitting diseases between humans and Gorillas.
- Keep your voices pretty low at all times but it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- Do not partake of food or drinks in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas.
Sometimes the Mountain Gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example by crouching down slowly, and do not look the Gorillas in the eyes. Wait for the gorilla to pass you by and do not attempt to run away (this will increase the risk of attack).
- Flash photography is not allowed, when taking pictures, move slowly and carefully. Do not make lots of movements when taking pictures-keep it calm.
- Do not touch the Mountain Gorillas, remember they are wild animals.
- The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the Gorillas is one hour; however, if the Gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early.
After the visit, keep your voices low until you are at least 200 meters away from the Gorillas.
- Mountain Gorillas are closely related to us they are susceptible to diseases carried by humans.
- If you are not well, let it be known and remove yourself from the gorilla tracking team.
- If you need to cough, sneeze, blow your nose, move your head away from the gorilla in order to keep the risk of infection to a minimum.
- No smoking, eating of food, or drinking of beverages is allowed in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas.
Acquiring Uganda Mountain Gorilla Tracking Permits
The Mountain Gorillas in Uganda is one of the main attractions to visitors to Uganda. Mountain Gorilla Trekking permits are a much sought-after commodity and with a small number of people allowed to track each day, it takes a lot of planning to ensure an opportunity for the tracking of Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Since the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is unstable presently, there is more pressure on Mountain Gorilla Tracking Permits in Uganda. Fortunately, we also have Rwanda which is just a hop across the border from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and at times the Mgahinga Gorilla Park area. We can help you acquire an Uganda gorilla trekking permit even if you are coming from Rwanda – also arrange transportation.
Your best bet for obtaining a Mountain Gorilla Tracking Permit is to book a Mountain Gorilla Tracking Safari with us like a 3-day Bwindi gorilla trekking safari or as part of a longer Uganda safari taking you to other Uganda Safari Parks such as the Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest, the wildlife, birds, and chimpanzees at Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The price of Uganda Gorilla Trekking Permit cost USD $700 per person. You must be at least 15 years of age. Permits can be obtained for two different parks, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla Park. However, the situation in Mgahinga is a bit more fluid, since the habituated Mountain Gorilla group there moves back and forth to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Since Saso ‘Gorilla Trips’ Uganda Safaris is a licensed tour operator and registered as such in Uganda, we have a better opportunity to meet your schedule and if you book a Mountain Gorilla Tracking Safari with us, we are flexible to adjust the date of the gorilla tracking to fit into the overall safari itinerary we have for you.
Most people going on a Mountain Gorilla Tracking Safari actually see them since your Guide is extremely knowledgeable about the area where your habituated group is located in. Upon completion of your successful Tracking Safari, you will be issued a certificate by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The USD $600 for a gorilla trekking permit may seem steep but it’s worth it and upon completion, there is no mention of the money, – only the satisfaction of having seen these magnificent and rare animals.
When to Visit The Mountain Gorillas in Uganda
|Best time to go:||June to August and December to February (All parks)|
|High Season:||June to September (It’s rarely crowded, but you’ll need to book your gorilla permits long in advance)|
|Low Season:||March, April, May, October, and November (Some lodges and camps in high rainfall areas close down; roads and forest trails can be in poor condition)|
|Best Weather:||June-July and January-February (Little rainfall)|
|Worst Weather:||March, April, and May (Peak of wet season)|