Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, All You need to know!
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is surreal and unlike any other experience in Africa. The atmosphere of the trek through the jungle mist is unreal but bearable. With each step your anticipation builds and the reward of seeing the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world is spectacular. The setting, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, is arguably one of the most mystical in all of Africa.
When presented the opportunity to go gorilla trekking, Uganda is the place to visit. It has the largest population of mountain gorillas in the world.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a hike into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a jungle that is home to mountain gorillas. The trek involves getting a little dirty and bushwhacking through thick jungle with an experienced local guide to find a troop of habituated gorillas.
Mountain Gorillas can only be found in the Virunga Mountains in the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda and also in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Uganda holds 60% of the total mountain gorillas left in the world with about 880 of them residing in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi is the most popular place to trek the gorillas in Uganda. The park is located in the Southwestern part of the country and is one of the most diverse national parks in East Africa.
Bwindi is divided into four regions: Buhoma region, Ruhija region, Rushaga region, and Nkuringo region. Make sure to book your accommodation where your gorilla trekking permit is issued. Or contact SASO UGANDA SAFARI.
The Buhoma region is the most popular region for trekkers. There are four groups of gorillas near Buhoma that are habituated to humans. The group names are Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, and the Nkuringo group.
A typical day of trekking starts at a designated meeting point. The following are some packages;
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Finding the gorillas can take anywhere from one to five hours (sometimes longer). These are wild animals and the trackers have to locate where the gorillas have gone each day. The trek is mildly difficult. However, our guides will hand you over to the game rangers who will help you throughout the gorilla trekking process.
After finding the gorillas you observe, ask questions, and take photos and video of our encounter. There is no drinking or eating around the gorillas and flash photography is prohibited.
Gorillas share about 98% DNA with us and they are highly susceptible to human diseases so humans should not walk closer than 7 Mtrs from the gorillas, unless they approach you.
Gorillas are familiar with humans. You never feel like you are in danger with the mighty animals.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a year round activity and permits are issued every day.
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|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, 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)|
How Many Mountain Gorillas Are There in the World?
Sadly due to poaching, war, disease, and habitat loss it is estimated that there are only around 880 Mountain gorillas left in the world. The good news is that with implemented conservation efforts between Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC their numbers are slowly rising.
Ugandan gorilla permits cost individuals $600 for one day or one hour with the gorillas. This is the mid-range price point. The Rwandan gorilla permits cost $1500 and DRC gorilla permits cost $400.
I would recommend going for gorilla trekking in Uganda as they are cheaper than in Rwanda and the country is more stable and safe than the DRC. But you can visit the other countries as well.
Uganda also holds more gorillas than neighboring countries and besides the gorillas, there are plenty of other wildlife and birdlife to see in the country! Such as, the tree climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The easiest way to acquire gorilla trekking permits in Uganda is to go with a local operator, and SASO UGANDA SAFARI is the best in Uganda.
A packaged deal that includes your lodging, transport, food, and permits will save you a lot of time and headache when booking. However, it is possible to do the trek by yourself if you have your own transport or patience on a local Ugandan bus and can get to Bwindi.
It is not advisable to show up to the park without gorilla trekking permits, as they only issue a set number per day and during high season it can get busy.
Instead, I suggest contacting the SASO UGANDA SAFARIS at least one month before your arrival to Uganda to set up your gorilla trekking on your own.
Come prepared for muddy and wet conditions. It’s pretty green forest, meaning things get a little moist.
There are a number of accommodation options around Bwindi National park ranging from luxury to camping.
They provide full board, all alcoholic drinks, comfortable beds, complimentary massages, and laundry.
The lodge is eco-friendly and generate power by solar panels and heat their water with solar tanks. It is a ten-minute walk to the park entrance as well. For a more budget-friendly option I recommend checking out Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge or Buhoma Community Campsite if you would like to do the more DIY camping thing.