Gorilla Trekking Uganda: Gorilla trekking in Uganda is unlike any other African experience. The environment of the jungle trek is breathtaking. With each movement, one’s anticipation grows, and the pleasure of seeing one of the world’s last gorillas is incredible. The forest, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, has been identified as one of the most fascinating destinations in Africa. It was designated as a national park in 1991, with the Mubare group being the first gorilla group to be habituated in 1993. It has been verified that poaching has resulted in a decrease in the number of gorillas in the world.
According to the 2018 census, there are 1000 mountain gorillas in the world, with Uganda accounting for half of the total population. The gorillas are fascinating to observe because guests get to view them in their natural habitat. So take advantage and go gorilla trekking in Uganda, which has the world’s largest population of mountain gorillas.
Gorillas are the centerpiece of any gorilla trekking expedition in Uganda. Mountain gorillas, with their awe-inspiring presence, form the focus of conservation efforts. Visitors have the opportunity to observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat, witness their family dynamics, and marvel at their sheer strength and beauty. Gorilla trekking, gorilla habituation, and encounters with gorilla families are among the unforgettable experiences that await adventurous travelers looking for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
In Uganda, gorilla trekking in Uganda entails a long trek into the dense forest, such as Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla National Park, in pursuit of gorillas. The hike entails getting a little dirty, and exhausted, and traveling into the jungle with an expert ranger through the “impenetrable” forest in search of a family of habituated gorillas. Gorilla trekking is incredible and provides people with lifelong memories.
Mountain gorillas can be found in the Virunga Mountains of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, as well as in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Uganda is home to half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world, with approximately 500 of them dwelling in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park while 1 gorilla family is found in Mgahinga gorilla national park. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is well known for Uganda gorilla trekking and is one of the most prominent national parks in East Africa. Bwindi National Park is separated into four gorilla trekking sectors: Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga, and Ruhija. These industries offer a diverse range of luxury lodges and campsites, as well as restaurants, craft shops, and guide services.
This is the most renowned sector for trekkers, consisting of four habituated gorilla populations. The gorilla groups are mubare, habinyanja, nkuringo, and rushegura. Buhoma community rest camp, sanctuary gorilla forest camp, Buhoma lodge, CTPH gorilla conservation camp, and silverback resort are among the developed and pleasant accommodations in this sector.
This section is home to gorilla troops like the nkirungo, named after a Rukiga word for a round hill. Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Nshongi Camp, and Chameleon Hill Camp are examples of accommodation in this sector.
The Ruhija sector is home to the bitukura group, which was named after the river where they were first spotted and comprises of 12 members, including four silverbacks. Other gorilla groups are Oruzogo and Kyagulilo. Accommodations in the sector include Ruhija gorilla safari lodge, Ruhija gorilla mist camp, Trekkers Tavern mist camp, and Ruhija gorilla resort.
Rushaga is made up of the Nshongi gorilla family, the Mishaya family, the Kahungye family, and the Bweza family group, and guests can stay at the Gorilla Safari Lodge or the Chameleon Hill Lodge.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has 80 mountain gorillas in total, but only one gorilla family is habituated and exposed to tourists – the Nyakagyezi family. The group used to go to Rwanda and Congo, but they have now been in Uganda for almost three years. Mgahinga gorilla safaris are ideal since the park is less crowded. With only one habituated gorilla troop, only eight gorilla licenses may be sold on a single day. Visitors are recommended to book gorilla permits at the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala or the Park Headquarters in Ntebeko several weeks in advance. A gorilla permit in Uganda costs $700, but a permit in Rwanda costs $1,500.
Trekking through the lush forests and rugged terrain of Uganda is an exhilarating experience. Gorilla trekking routes take you on a journey of discovery, immersing you in the sights and sounds of the wilderness. Equipping yourself with hiking boots, gaiters, and appropriate gear will ensure you are well-prepared for the adventure that lies ahead.
A typical gorilla trekking tour day begins at a designated meeting location, such as the Buhoma park headquarters. When guests arrive at any time for a gorilla briefing from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The tourists are then divided into small groups of 8 people and allocated to different gorilla groups. The group size is chosen because small groups are easier to manage and do not frighten the gorillas. The Habinyanja gorilla group comprises 17 gorillas, which makes it the largest habituated gorilla group in Bwindi National Park.
The beginning point is determined by the Gorilla family which you were allocated. Some groups begin their journey from the headquarters of specific sectors (Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija, or Nkuiringo), while others must drive into the forest as a starting point. In most cases, travelers do not know where their trek will begin until the day of trekking. Tourists are instructed to follow their individual ranger guides through the dense forest once they arrive at their starting sites. Security is also provided by armed guards. check out what is the best sector for gorilla trekking
Finding these gorillas can take one to five hours or more since the trackers have to locate them on that particular morning. The walk is somewhat difficult, but travelers in good physical and mental health would thoroughly enjoy gorilla trekking in Uganda. If a tourist is uncomfortable lugging their bags during the walk, he or she can employ porters from adjacent communities for $15.
Travellers are allowed to observe, ask questions, and take photos and films of the gorillas after discovering them. Eating or drinking in front of the gorillas and flash photography are prohibited. Since these primates share 95% of their DNA with humans, you are not allowed to get closer than 10 meters to the gorillas. They can easily contract diseases from humans. More to that, close proximity could make the gorillas uncomfortable and cause them to charge at you. This is for your safety while trekking with the gorillas. Tourists are supposed to travel back through the jungle after an hour with the gorillas.
Gorilla trekking is done all year and permits are provided on a daily basis. However, most people choose to trek during the dry months of the year, which are January and February and from June-September. During these months, the area receives less rainfall. Note that since Bwindi is a tropical forest, it could rain at any moment. You are advised to carry a waterproof jacket.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda demands moderate physical fitness, but it’s a challenge most healthy individuals can handle. As you embark on your trek at an altitude of 2500-3000 meters, the thinner air and increased demands on the lungs require some stamina. The terrain in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda’s primary gorilla trekking destination, is mountainous and covered with thick vegetation, adding to the hiking challenge. The duration of the trek can vary significantly, ranging from 45 minutes to 6 hours or more, depending on the group’s luck in finding a habituated gorilla group. For those interested in gorilla trekking, it’s essential to be prepared for the effort it entails.
If you’re concerned about the difficulty of the gorilla trekking in Uganda, consider trekking during the dry season from June to September and December to February, as the ground can become very muddy in the wet season. However, remember that rainy weather clears the dust, providing better visibility and improved opportunities for keen photographers to capture exceptional gorilla photos.
A typical gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda involves hiking through dense forests in search of habituated mountain gorilla families and allows visitors to spend around an hour observing the group. On the other hand, the gorilla habituation experience is a unique opportunity that lets you spend four hours with a group of gorillas. This exclusive gorilla encounter is only available in the Rushaga sector in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. While a standard gorilla trekking permit costs $700, the gorilla habituation experience is priced at $1,500 at the time of writing.
The gorillas encountered during the habituation experience are still getting accustomed to human presence (they are being ‘habituated’). However, it’s essential to note that the experience is entirely safe. The significant advantage of spending more time with the gorillas is the opportunity to understand their behaviors and social interactions better. Moreover, you can capture incredible photographs without feeling rushed, making this encounter remarkable.
To ensure a safe and respectful gorilla trekking experience in Uganda, adhere to the following rules:
To book a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda for 2024-2025, you must go through registered Ugandan tour operators. These permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the government body responsible for tourism and wildlife conservation. A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs USD 700 per person for foreign non-residents, USD 600 for foreign residents, and UGX 250,000 per person for East African Community residents.
Comparing gorilla trekking experiences in Uganda and Rwanda, both countries offer the chance to observe mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. The main distinction lies in the vegetation – Rwanda’s gorillas inhabit the Virunga ranges, with bamboo as the primary vegetation. In contrast, Uganda’s gorillas live in a rainforests and Bamboo with diverse trees and plants. However, the chances of encountering gorillas in both countries are equally high at 99%. Some believe Rwanda’s gorillas are more accessible to spot due to the vegetation, but the truth is that gorilla tracking in either country is well-organized and rewarding.
When choosing between Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking, Those with a bigger budget prefer Rwanda because Volcanoes National Park is only a 2-3 hour drive from Kigali, while Bwindi requires an 8-9 hour drive from Entebbe. However, booking a gorilla trekking tour to Bwindi via Kigali is a convenient option, reducing the travel time to 4-5 hours. By doing so, visitors can save USD 800, as the permit cost in Uganda is USD 700 compared to USD 1500 in Rwanda. Using the East African Visa also allows budget travelers to explore Rwanda and Uganda affordably.
Proper clothing and gear are essential for a successful gorilla trekking expedition in Uganda. You might be interested in our article about acclimatization on gorilla trekking Tourists should bring at least two long-sleeved shirts, lightweight and waterproof safari clothing, binoculars, gardening cloves, insect repellent, and a backpack bag to keep all their possessions in. Cameras are also encouraged for taking pictures and documenting your Africa Safari. At the park headquarters, you will be given a walking stick which will be of much help during the trek.
The funds raised from tourists are used to protect Uganda’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. This has resulted in a recent surge in the number of mountain gorillas. I’d like to emphasize that the only way to conserve these gorillas is for tourists to visit them. A portion of the funds are also distributed to the neighboring local communities in Bwindi and Mgahinga to improve education and food provision.
Conservation efforts are crucial for the survival of mountain gorillas and their delicate ecosystem. Protecting their habitat and raising awareness about wildlife conservation are key priorities. Visitors to Uganda can actively contribute to these efforts by supporting responsible tourism practices and engaging in conservation initiatives in the villages.
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