What is Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla Trekking Tours Uganda gorilla trekking/Gorilla trekkig Rwanda / congo gorilla trekking are tours that are organised by different tour companies that take tourists to jungles / Gorilla forests were gorillas live. Mountain gorilla species. Some of the most known places with these gorilla species are located in different national parks in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gorilla trek Africa / gorilla Trek in Africa or gorilla trekking tours In Africa are thrilling activities one can ever take part in while on Uganda safari or Rwanda Safari, Gorilla trekking Rwanda and congo tours. Mountain gorilla trek/ Tracking takes places in 3 countries namely Uganda in bwindi forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park, Rwanda in Volcanoes Rwanda National park and in Congo at Virunga national park. Gorilla trekking tours/ gorilla trekking safari can be challenging since they heading to this gorilla trekking destination in the mountains , being briefed about the gorilla trek/ Gorilla tracking Rwanda dos and donts and later going into the jungle to look for the gorillas.
The search for gorillas in the mist can take about 30 minutes to even 8 hours, depending on different reasons such as gorilla movements etc
Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo
Gorilla trekking cost in Uganda , Rwanda and DR Congo can be high in comparison with other primate safaris. Gorilla trekking in Africa is a unique experience because mountain gorillas look and behave so much like us. They live in small families with with the alpha male silver back making important decisions that must be followed by the family. Gorilla trekking is expensive there are few tickets available to see gorillas each day to avoid crowds and because mountain gorillas are were almost getting extinct hence being on the bucket list of many visitors. Also the cost of maintaining their habitats is very high. It is because of gorilla trekking that the numbers of mountain gorillas are now about 1000 individuals
- Uganda Gorilla Habituation Permit Costs $1500 ( Behind the scene with Gorilla doctors and researchers )
- Rwanda gorilla permit Costs $ 1500
- Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda $700
- Congo Virunga Gorilla Trekking Permit Costs $ 400
- East African Citizens 250,000 shillings for the permit
- Foreign Nationals leaving or holding ar EAC Resident visa / work permits in East Africa $500
Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
- 1 day Gorilla Trekking Uganda Costs about $1100
- 2 Days Gorilla Safari Costs about $ 1280
- 3 day Gorilla Tour Costs about $ 1350
Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
- 1 day Gorilla Trekking Uganda Costs about $1100
- 2 Days Gorilla Safari Costs about $ 1280
- 3 day Gorilla Tour Costs about $ 1350
- 1 Day Gorilla trekking in Rwanda cost 1700$
- 2 Days Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda Cost from 2000$
What is Gorilla Habituation?
Habituation of Gorillas
Gorilla habituation entails travelers spending longer periods of time in the presence of mountain gorillas solely to allow these gorillas to accommodate human contact. During this time, visitors help name, collect, and test gorilla stool, listen to informative talks from experts, and learn about the different behaviors of these gorillas, such as anger and stress, and what might trigger them.
To do gorilla habitat, one must have a pass, which can be purchased in Uganda for $1,500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents, and UGX750,000 for East African citizens from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
In Uganda, gorilla habituation begins in the Rushaga gorilla sector, and because passes are limited, travelers are advised to book ahead of time. Every day, only four people are permitted to participate in this activity.
How does gorilla trekking differ from gorilla habituation?
Gorilla trekking involves only one hour of interaction with the gorillas, whereas gorilla habituation involves four hours.
Gorilla trekking is less expensive than gorilla habituation. However, the cost is justified.
Gorilla trekking allows up to 8 people to trek, whereas gorilla habituation allows only 4 people per day per group.
There are many gorilla groups available for tracking in gorilla trekking, whereas there are only a few groups open to visitors in gorilla habituation.
Gorilla trekking, as exciting as it is, can be supplemented with other activities such as a forest walk in Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park, golden monkey trekking in Rwanda and Uganda, volcanic hikes, or a true safari experience in any part of the region such as Tanzania, Kenya, Zanzibar, and many more destinations as you see fit.
Where in Uganda Can You Go Gorilla Trekking?
Uganda’s gorilla trekking tours are divided into two sections: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. There are 18 gorilla groups or families in total, and you can only track one of them per day. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to 17 gorilla groups, making it the best place or park to see gorillas in the wild. Bwindi is an ancient forest with 90 mammal species, including 11 primates such as the black and white colobus monkey. Gorilla trek Africa
Groups for Bwindi Gorilla Trekking
Ruhija Trek groups: with Mukiza, Oruzogo, Bitukura, and Kyaguliro gorilla families
The Buhoma groups Trek includes stops in Habinyanja, Katwe, Mubare, and Rushegura.
Christmas, Nkuringo, and Bushaho Trek
Kutu, Bikingi, Mishaya, Bushigye, Kahungye, Rwigi, Bweza, Nshongi, Mucunguzi Trek
Family of Mgahinga Gorillas You can track the Nyakagezi group in Mgahinga Park, which is surrounded by the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes, Mt. Muhavura (4,127m), Mt. Gahinga (3474m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3645m).
Luxury Gorilla Trekking Safaris
Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park offers the most luxurious gorilla tours. A gorilla permit costs $ 1500 per person, but a 9-day luxury Rwanda safari costs more than $15,000 if you stay in luxury lodges such as Bisate Lodge, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, or Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Rwanda. Clouds Lodge, Mahogany Springs, and Gorilla Forest Camp are the best in Uganda.
Budget Gorilla Trekking Safaris
The cheapest gorilla permit in Congo is $450, and $700 in Uganda. Budget accommodation for Uganda gorilla tours in Bwindi National Park starts at $100 per night. Select from Bwindi Backpackers Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, or Buhoma Community Rest Camp. Hotel Muhabura is the most affordable option in Rwanda.
How difficult is Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla Trekking has a rating of 50 to 100. Hike Difficulty: Moderate The most common factor influencing the difficulty of gorilla trekking is your physical fitness. Other factors include the weather and your pack weight. It is possible to request a gorilla troop to march your fitness levels. A porter is essential; gorilla trekking is not difficult; people in their 60s and 70s have completed it. So, how difficult is the hike? To begin, 60% of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is above 6,600 feet in elevation. The park’s elevation ranges from 3,904 to 8,553 feet. Some areas have steep slopes. Depending on the gorilla family, the experience lasts between 2 and 6 hours.
Booking Your Gorilla Trekking permits in Advance
Because of the high demand for gorilla permits, it is recommended that you secure your gorilla trekking permit at least 6 months before your scheduled trek, especially if you plan to go on a gorilla safari during the peak months of June to September. Gorilla permits in Uganda cost $600 per person for non-residents, $500 for residents, and UGX 250000 for East African residents. You can book one through a reputable Ugandan ground tour operator or through the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s reservation office (UWA). If you want to go on a gorilla habituation experience, you’ll need $1500 to help you get a permit that allows you to spend the entire day and 4 hours with mountain gorillas.
Some of the Rules for Gorilla Trekking
During the briefing, pay close attention.
- You will be briefed on the set rules and regulations that must be followed while on a gorilla journey before embarking on the actual trek. Among them are the following:
- At all times, keep a distance of about 7 meters from gorillas. Mountain gorillas share 98 percent of their DNA with humans, making them our closest relatives and putting them at risk for human infectious diseases.
Avoid direct eye contact with gorillas and stay still in case the gorilla charges.
- Please do not use a flashlight camera, and if you do, please turn it off before photographing these creatures.
- Only people over the age of 15 are permitted to trek with gorillas.
You have only one hour to have a magical encounter with gorillas.
- If you are sick, avoid trekking mountain gorillas and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Leave the habitat in the same condition as you found it; if you need assistance, please bury human waste 30 centimeters deep.
We wish you a memorable gorilla viewing experience in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, a country rich in fascinating experiences. It’s critical to keep these pointers in mind as you plan your next trip so that you can have an authentic African experience unlike any other! Traditional game viewing safaris in savanna national parks, chimpanzee tracking, mountaineering, bird watching, sport fishing, and simply viewing Uganda’s rich scenic beauty are just a few of the interesting attractions to include in your Uganda safari holiday itinerary.
Where to go Gorilla Trek In Africa
Gorilla trekking Tours in Rwanda can be done in Virunga mountain ranges that are between Uganda, DRC and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park are home to over 600 mountain gorillas. Rwanda is one of the best places to see mountain gorillas. It has ten groups available for tracking, including the Susa group which lives high up on Mount Karisimbi and was studied by famous primatologist Dian Fossey.
The downside is that Rwanda’s permits are expensive at US$1500. With super-luxury accommodation now available in Musanze, Rwanda is offering great experiences but that comes at a high cost.
The best Gorilla tours / Trekking in Uganda are in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Bwindi has 13 groups and around 400 gorillas and 300 gorillas in Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, bordering DRC and Rwanda.
The hiking can be tougher in Uganda unlike in Rwanda – there’s a reason it’s called impenetrable – but some groups are easier to reach than others. And the permits cost just US$700 vs 1500$ in Rwanda.
DR Congo is unique it has both lowland and mountain gorillas. Mountain Gorilla trekking in Congo is done in Virunga National park. Trekking in the Virunga Volcanoes takes place at higher elevations above 2,100 meters above sea level
Compared with Uganda and Rwanda, in comparison with her neighbours receives very few tourists very adventurous and cheapest gorilla permits. US$500. You can also do lowland Gorilla trekking in Congo’s Kahuzi Beiga National Park they are bigger than mountain gorillas. The downside is the security in Congo that is fragile. We organize tours here for those adventurous travellers and Photographers.
What your Gorilla trek African experience will be like!
The Gorilla trek can seem easier at the start but things immediately change when you reach the jungle proper. You might not see the path for you to follow. Just the gap the ranger guide has forced in between the trees with casual swings of his machete.
Gorilla trekking will involve hikes up and down difficult terrain, thick vegetation, muddy paths, hills and valleys, sometimes to altitudes of more than 3700 meters above sea level.
In the same way, Gorilla Trekking can be quite difficult for unfit Gorilla trekkers. Please let us in advance and we can arrange something for you should you consider yourself unfit.
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda vs Rwanda vs Congo
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
- Short drives to Volcanoes National Park
- Gorilla Trekking is easier in Rwanda vs Uganda and Congo
- Gorilla permits are very expensive in Rwanda $1500. On the other hand, in Uganda is $700 and actually 4 times expensive than in Congo
- Fewer options for affordable lodges in Rwanda vs Uganda. Lodges in Rwanda tend to be high end while Uganda has more or budget and midrange lodges and Congo has midrange.
- Rwanda is safe, peaceful and clean with very high standards.
- Rwanda and Congo have no options for Gorilla habituation while Uganda has a Gorilla habituation experience where you accompany researchers and Gorilla doctors to have a front seat on gorilla conservation efforts.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda
- Long but scenic drives from Entebbe airport (8 hours) Domestic flights are available on Aero link Uganda
- Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda at $700 are way more affordable than $1500 in Rwanda
- There is a wide range of accommodation especially budget and midrange
- Gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi are harder to reach you will need to walk deeper in the jungle unlike in Rwanda and Congo
- The drive inside Bwindi is bumpy, no paved roads in the forests unlike in Rwanda with clean and paved roads
- It is possible to go for Gorilla habituation in Uganda unlike in Rwanda and Congo. During your Gorilla habituation experience, you accompany researchers and Gorilla doctors to have a front seat in gorilla conservation efforts and protection
Availability of Permits
There are 152 permits available in Uganda, 80 in Rwanda, and 64 in DR Congo. Booking in advance is very essential.
- It is possible to do safaris on top of your gorilla’s trekking in Uganda. There are six Savannah Parks with abundant wildlife for your Big-5 African Safari plus Gorilla and Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda. On the other hand, Rwanda has the excellent Akagera National Park with few animals but beautiful sceneries.
What are the chances of Gorilla sighting?
Even when we dont guarantee gorilla sighting because this is not a zoo and these animals remain wild, Your trekking guide will follow the hints on where they were last sighted meaning you will most likely find the gorillas. In the worst case scenario you will be allowed to trekk gorillas for the second time without any paymentsor get a 50% refund of the total gorilla trekking fees. In our personal experience in Trekking Uganda, Rwanda and Congo we’ve never had any client not see the gorillas.
Gorilla trekking in the DRC
Gorilla tours / Trekking in DR Congo is currently closed due to current military operations against the rebels and the recent volcanic eruptions that are still active.
There are currently six habituated families in the DRC. Although this number is always in flow as new families can be created from breakups from the existing ones. Or a family from Rwanda could travel across as it happened in the opposite direction in the past.
All the gorillas are found in the southeastern part of the Virungas National Park. On the border with Rwanda and Uganda. Gorilla permits cost 400$ here.
Comparing Gorilla trekking Uganda vs Rwanda and Congo.
Prices: For many people, the most deciding factor is prices/ affordability and safety. If it’s for prices only, then Congo gorilla trekking could be the best bet. However, the security situation in DR Congo is volatile and kidnappings involving tourists have happened before.
If you’re a budget traveller or midrange-semi-luxury in our unbiased opinion its Uganda is the best destination for you. In Uganda, you have gorilla permits for 700$ and affordable from 50$ to 1000$ for lodges. Unlike in Rwanda that only offers high-end experience with gorilla permits costing $1500 and lodges that go for 2500$ per night.
- For the luxury traveller, Rwanda would suit you perfectly because it has some of the best high-end lodges in Africa. Like Singita, Bisate lodge, One&Only among others the luxury experience that you won’t get in Uganda and Congo.
- Both Uganda and Rwanda are some of the safest places in Africa for Gorilla experience
We shall leave the choice to you now that we have put all the cards on the table. In case you want an adrenaline-pumping adventure experience in some of the least visited places in the world. In that case, it is Virunga National Park in DR Congo.
Suppose you want to trek Gorillas in a modern country that represents the hopefully future face of Africa. In that case, Rwanda is the place for you to track Gorillas.
In case you want that Primate Trek in Africa as you dreamt of it it, but even better. Then “concentrate on Uganda” for your Primate Trek, flora and fauna, adrenaline, culture and diversity.
Uganda, out of the three countries, is the one that offers the most. Lonely Planet said, ” Uganda is all of Africa concentrated into one country.” No wonder Winston Churchill called it “the Pearl of Africa.”
Nevertheless, We specialize in tailor-made Gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo
Where does the money earned from gorilla trekkings go to?
Much of the money from gorilla trekking go to the protection of national parks and gorillas. Similarly, 10% of the revenue goes to local communities. In this way, one ensures that local people do not become farmers and therefore do not cut down trees for agriculture. Schools and roads are also being built with profits from gorilla treks. The rest of the money goes to the governments of these countries.
What is the best time to go gorilla trekking?
Although it is possible to go on gorilla trekking in Uganda, Congo and Rwanda all year round. The dry months are the best. The best time for gorilla trekking is December to February and June to September.
What to Pack/Wear on the Gorilla trek Africa Tour?
Gorilla Permits and Passport: You will be required to show your gorilla permit and passport at park offices before beginning your trek
Hiking Boots: High-quality hiking boots will ensure a better grip of the hilly and sometimes muddy terrain Gorilla trekking involves climbing steep hills and valleys.
A Rain Jacket and sweater: This is important especially in the rain season Gorillas are found in tropical rain forests. And rain should be expected at any time regardless of the season.
Headband and Hair Ties: Your hair could get caught in the branches of the trees
A hat, Sunglasses and sunscreen: These will protect you from the suns heat especially during the dry season.
Camera with strong battery and memory: You cannot go for a safari in Africa without a good camera. How will your friends and know about your experience of African safaris?. But remember African animals hate flash so be sure not to use the flashlight
Binoculars: You will encounter a lot of animals during your gorilla trekking safari and bird species that would require you to have a good pair of binoculars.
Phone sim card: We can help you through a quick registration when you arrive so that you have a sim card to keep communicating with your loved ones while on a safari.
Have a simple first aid kit with you.
Gorilla trekking Rules and Regulations.
On the day of your gorilla trekking a staff from the National park will guide you on the rules to be followed during your gorilla trekking.
You will be required to pay attention as you listen closely.
The rules are:
- Youre allowed 1 hour to spend with the gorillas once you spot them. You will take this time to observe the gorilla grooming eachother, feeding may, beating chests and young ones playing. Should this hour no be enough for you, you can request for gorilla habituation experience where you will spend a day with researchers and
- You’re required to keep a distance of at least 7 meters. sometime gorillas can come super close to you
- No flash is allowed when taking gorilla photos
- Gorilla trekking is strictly for 15 years and older
- You must notify the staff should you feel unwell or having flu like symptoms.
Best 5 Gorilla Safari Lodges in Uganda
- Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge, High End prices range from $760
- Gorilla Height Lodge prices range from $ 700
- Mahogany Springs prices from $ 240
- Gorilla Safari Lodge from $ 233
- Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge from $ 173.
Best 5 Gorilla Safari Lodges in Rwanda
- One & Only Gorilla Nest, (Exclusive/ High End ) prices from 3390$
- Sabinyo Silver back lodge prices range from $ 640 per person sharing
- Bisate Lodge (luxury) prices from $ 750 to $1250 per person
- Kinigi Guest House from $ 150
- Muhavura lodge $ 173
How To Book a Gorilla Trekking Permit in Uganda
Because Gorillas in Mgahinga National park move between Uganda and Rwanda people tend to book Bwindi gorilla trekking because it have the majority of gorillas in the wild In Uganda, a gorilla permit cost US $ 700. In the past years, April, May and November used to cost US $ 450. At the moment gorilla permits don’t get discounted only 8 people are allowed to see a gorilla family each day . With the limited permits, We strongly encourage you to book your gorilla permit in advance with us, the most common mistake done by clients is to book a gorilla family which is far away from your choice of accommodation . The roads to Bwindi trekking points are not paved this is a remote area. If you would like to do the gorilla trek on your own so as to save costs, you might end up loosing your permits or accommodation if you make this mistake.
Gorilla Groups in Uganda for Trekking
- Ruhija section of Bwindi Forest : gorilla families here include Mukiza, Oruzogo, Bitukura and Kyaguliro
- Buhoma Section of Bwindi: This sector has 4 groups including Habinyanja, Katwe, Mubare, Rushegura
- Nkuringo Sector of Bwindi Forest National Park: Nkuringo, Bushaho
- Rushaga Sector: Kutu, Bikingi, Mishaya, Bushigye, Kahungye, Rwigi, Bweza, Nshongi, Mucunguzi
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Gorilla trekking families. In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, there is only one gorilla group called Nyakagezi but ocassionally there some gorilla groups from Rwanda Volcanoes National Park that cross to Uganda for example Hirwa Gorilla Group of 20 individuals in 2019 migrated to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. But later returned home in Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda at the end of the year.
Gorilla groups for Trekking in Rwanda.(Gorilla Trek Africa)
- Agashya Group,
The group is headed by a silver back called Agashya who recently overthrow Nyakarima before taking over the throne. The family’s population has grown from 13 to 27 members in a space of 8 years.
- Sabinyo Gorilla family, This gorilla family tend to be in areas of the park that with a less bushy settings makes and its easy to see and photograph them as they go about their normal-lives. The group is led by Guhonda silver back and has 12 members.
- Titus Gorilla Family, Titus family is the famous gorilla that was shown in the National Geographic Documentary about Diann Fossey; Gorillas in the Mist. More to that, he is one of the main characters in “The Gorilla King” a documentary film by BBC that took 2008 by storm.
- Amahoro Gorilla family, Amahoro is a word in Kinyarwanda language with a meaning of something whose peacefulness is profoundly inspiring. These gorilla family members 18 members of this group are true definition of peace. They are extremely tolerant to visitors and only put up a fight in the unlikely even of fear of danger. It is important to not look directly in the group leaders eye Ubumwe because to him its you trying to challenge his authority and its a sign of disrespect.
The Amahoro Gorilla family has 2 female black backs, 5 juveniles gorillas 2 silver backs and four adult mothers.
- Umubano Gorilla Family, This Gorilla family is comprised of 13 members Charles the boss and created this gorilla family after endless fights with Amahoro group it has a blackback, six young ones, Charles the dominant male convinced 12 other gorillas that were tired of fighting with other gorilla families to join him to make family away from violence. That’s why this group was named Umubano, translated into living together in harmony.
- Kwitonda Gorilla family,
Kwitonda Gorilla family has 23 member led by Akarevuro silver back gorilla the group used to live in Virunga National Parkin Congo. This gorilla group got its name from Kwitonda silverback gorilla that led the group from Congo due to the war thatwas going on in Virunga National park.
- Hirwa Gorilla Family, This gorilla family was named Hirwa a word that means luck in Kinyarwanda. They have a twin in the family something that is very rare and twins are considered a symbol of luck in Africa. This gorilla family has 17 individuals who are known to standing by their side even when conflicts occur their favorite location is in Sabinyo mountain.
- Karisimbi Gorilla Family, This gorilla family was created in 2008 after a break up from another gorilla family, it has a number of 15. They prefer to stay in the higher ranges of Mountain Karisimbi- that is Rwanda’s highst point (4,507M). Visiting them is challanging and rewarding at the same time than most gorilla groups in Rwanda. You will have to hike up high Rwanda from where you can take in views of Rwanda’s thousands
What to expect on a Gorilla trekking in Africa?
In the morning before going to gorilla trek in Africa, expect to have an early morning breakfast and transfer from your lodge to the National park headquarters where you will be required to show your gorilla trekking permits and identity documents. After that a short briefing about the rules to follow during your gorilla trek before you will be assigned an armed ranger to take you to the actual gorilla trekking. You will be paired with in groups of maximum eight people and then given a particular gorilla family. Porters are available to assist you during the trekking, Gorilla trekking in Uganda can be more challenging as compared to Gorilla trek in Rwanda and DR Congo We advise you to take porters since its one way of creating employment for people that live arround the gorilla habitats. Taking a porter means you probably creating employment to a would be poacher who knows?
How hard is Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trek in Africa requires a moderate level of fitness, but most fit individuals should be more than ready to take on the steep valleys and mountains challenge.
During your gorilla trek in Africa you will be trekking at an average altitude of 2500-3000 metres, The air here tend to be thinner making breathing a little harder in places where mountain gorillas live In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Virunga National Park and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, the terrain is mountainous covered with thing undergrowth vegetation and rain forests therefore trekking gorillas in these areas requires level of physical and mental fitness.
Since gorillas keep moving in forests, its unclear how long a given gorilla trekking session could last for. Some gorilla families can be seen in as little as 30 minutes others in 7 hours or even a full day trekking. If you do your Gorilla trekking in Uganda or Congo, expect to go through a challenging terrain, crossing through water streams, hiking hill and going down steep valleys at the end of your gorilla trekking, you will be exhausted and definitely muddy if you come in the rainy season so be prepared to take on the challenge on the gorilla trek Africa