Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and best Gorilla treks tours in Africa, Costs and Best time: The Complete Guide
Uganda Gorilla trekking best time to go, Your Gorilla tours in Uganda – the Ultimate Guide
Why you need to see Africa’s Mountain Gorillas in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a top Uganda safari activity with the country hosting more than half of the remaining Mountain Gorillas.
There are many frequently asked questions about Mountain Gorillas tours, trekking, habituation, cost, recommended itineraries, best time and many more.
Whether you would love to keep in the know or want to plan your next trip, here is the most important information on Gorilla trekking in Uganda/ Gorilla tours Uganda
Which Gorilla Specie is in Uganda?
Gorillas are predominantly herbivorous apes that are ground dwelling inhabiting the forests of central sub-saharan Africa.
The world has one genus of Gorilla which is divided into two species. These are the eastern and western gorillas.
The Eastern and Western gorillas are further divided into the Mountain and Lowland Gorillas. The Mountain Gorillas live in the Albertine Rift montane forests of the Virunga Volcanoes and Bwindi Forest.
Uganda hosts the Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) a sub specie of the Eastern gorillas.
These are the largest living primates sharing about 95-99% DNA with humans coming the third closest to humans after Bonobos and Chimpanzees.
Up to date gorillas live in their natural habitats with several unsuccessful attempts of keeping them in zoos.
How do Mountain Gorillas look like?
Mountain Gorillas are more darkly colored (the darkest of all) than the western gorilla. With the dark color the mountain gorilla also has the thickest hair with a longer face and broader chest.
Looking closely into the eye of a mountain gorilla, their eyes are dark brown in colour with the iris framed by a black ring.
Gorillas move by what is known as Knuckle walking and rarely move bipedally (upright) for short distances especially during defensive situations.
Some mountain gorillas are also known to use knuckle walking as well as use other parts of their hands especially the back.
Male wild adult gorillas can weigh about 136 – 195 kg whereas adult female gorillas weigh about half of the adults with about 68 – 113 kg. With height, adult males are about 1.4 -1.8 m tall and the females a little shorter at 1.25 – 1.5m tall.
Experience Gorilla trekking in Uganda – Video
Where can I go for Gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Both parks are good gorilla trekking safari in Uganda destinations situated in south western Uganda close to the border with Rwanda.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has the highest gorilla families of all the four gorilla parks in the world. 19 gorilla families are fully habituated as well as a gorilla family available for gorilla habituation.
The park has 4 different gorilla trekking sectors in which tourists can trek gorillas from depending on the available gorilla permits.
Habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include;
|Buhoma Sector||Ruhija Sector||Nkuringo Sector||Rushaga Sector|
|Rushegura gorilla family
Habinyaja gorilla family
Mubare gorilla family
Katwe gorilla family
|Bitukura gorilla family
Kyaguriro gorilla family
Mukizo gorilla family
Oruzogo gorilla family
|Bishasho gorilla family
Nkuringo gorilla family
Christmas gorilla family
|Nsonji gorilla family
Mishaya gorilla family
Bweza gorilla family
Kahunjye gorilla family
Businjye gorilla family
Rwiji gorilla family
Muchunguzi gorilla family
Bikyinji gorilla family
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has only 1 habituated gorilla family known as Nyakagezi gorilla family. The Nyakagezi gorilla family of Mgahinga has three silverbacks, two adult females, 2 black backs and 2 infants making a total of 9 family members.
This is one of the easiest gorilla families to trek while on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda since they prefer to have a narrow home range for feeding and nesting.
The group is also playful and attractive to see while tracking.
What is Gorilla trekking and how is it done in Uganda?
Gorilla trekking is the process where tourists go to the natural habitats about 2,607 m above sea level in search of the gorillas.
Mountain gorilla trekking is referred to as so because it requires hiking and searching for these rare animals in an unpredictable time frame.
They are locomotive and therefore as you trek they could also be on the move making trekking itself an experience.
Gorilla trekking is only for the trek of already habituated gorillas with a total of 8 trekkers only tracking a single gorilla family.
Gorilla trekking is done each morning starting with an etiquette briefing programme at 8:00am.
During the briefing each family is allocated a gorilla family to trek depending on their hiking ability. Each group goes for the trek alongside an armed park ranger.
On meeting the gorillas, a maximum of 1 hour is spent in their presence for photography and a moment of their social life. They will always amaze with their lifestyle and a lot of unexpected acts.
At the end of the 1 hour, your gorilla safari Uganda experience comes to an end and you return to the park headquarters.
Here you receive a Uganda gorilla trekking safari permit then after be driven b your safari guide to your next destination.
Why trek Gorillas in Uganda rather than in Rwanda or Congo?
Uganda is definitely the best destination in the world to trek Mountain gorillas. The reason as to why Uganda is best for gorilla trekking is that the country is safe and stable from any kind of political unrest.
The other reason is that Uganda gorilla trekking permits are cheaper than those or Rwanda. Rwanda gorilla trekking permit is almost twice the price of a Rwanda gorilla trekking permit.
A Ugandan permit costs 600 USD for foreign non residents as well as that of Rwanda costs 1500 USD.
Congo sells out their gorilla permits at a less cost than Uganda about 450 USD however, the country is politically unstable and therefore you can not predict what happens before your trek day.
Uganda is host to almost half of the remaining Mountain gorillas which makes it an amazing and sure sighting destination.
19 Gorilla families have been habituated both for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park trekking.
Mountain Gorilla habituation is only possible in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park unlike all of the other parks that have habituated all of their gorillas.
The habituation experience offers a chance to spend more time with the gorillas, learning their behavior and understanding how they actually behaved in the wild before getting used to human presence.
How much does it cost to go Gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Mountain gorilla trekking is one of the most expensive activities in Uganda. The cost for Gorilla trekking tours in Uganda is applicable for both Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Gorilla trekking costs in Uganda are as follows;
|Foreign non residents||Foreign residents||East African citizens|
|2019 -1st July 2020||600 USD||500 USD||250,000 UGX|
|1st July 2020 onwards||700 USD||600 USD||250,000 UGX|
Why is Gorilla trekking expensive?
To many travellers, Gorilla trekking is expensive, however, this price is worth for the activity. What makes gorilla trekking a little more expensive than other activities is the fact that Gorilla conservation is expensive.
Rangers spend each single day in the forest protecting the gorillas and ensuring they are safe from poachers. Gorilla doctors too spend a lot of time ensuring that gorillas are doing fine.
Mountain gorillas are so vulnerable to disease and can easily lose their lives if exposed to a cold from humans.
Unlike other safari parks in Uganda, the gorilla safari parks do charge park entrance fee as part of the trekking fees.
Therefore the cost is generally for the whole experience without any extra charges. To support conservation this price is just worth it.
Is it safe to go Gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Ever since 1993, Gorilla trekking has been done in Uganda and millions of tourists have trekked and appreciated the activity. Uganda as a country is safe to visit and so is gorilla trekking.
Yes, it is safe to trek Gorillas in Uganda with a few cases of unsafe incidences maybe when tourists come along insects in the jungle.
Gorillas are gentle animals and very peaceful. Their social life is so accommodative and can interact with humans as long as you keep a distance and treat them as wild animals.
Before each trek, tourists are advised on how to keep safe while trekking gorillas in Uganda, you just have to follow what your guide tells you.
To ensure Uganda Gorilla safaris are safe, each gorilla trekking group, is accompanied with an armed park ranger to ensure the safety of each trekker.
Always follow the rules and be cautious while in the forest, the gorillas will always mind their business and you will share this amazing habitat for a while.
What is the best time in Uganda to go Gorilla trekking?
However much Gorilla trekking is regarded as an all year round activity, the best time for a gorilla trekking safari experience in Uganda is during the 2 dry seasons of the country.
This is during the months of late December – February and June – September.
Gorilla trekking is possible each single day of the year however, the dry season offers better trekking opportunities and the trails are drier and photography more clearer.
However, the dry season is always the peak season and therefore more tourists in the park making early permit booking recommendable.
- Best time: December – February and June – September.
- Peak season: June-September
- Rainy season: September – November and March-May
The advantage with trekking gorillas in the rainy season is that there is less congestion in the park and the lodges. Most Lodges in Uganda will in most cases reduce the cost of accommodation.
Since Uganda is along the equator there no extreme weather conditions and therefore weather conditions don’t interrupt the activity a lot.
What is best to wear for a Uganda Gorilla trekking trip?
- Wear long waterproof trousers and long sleeved shirts for the trek for protection against bites directly to you skin and also to keep warm.
- Wear gardening gloves for hand protection especially from bristles in case you would hold onto any tree species during the trek.
- In the rainy season especially, wear a waterproof hat for protection on the head
- Carry a small waterproof zip lock bag to put in your camera
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes. Always try on the shoes before the hike to make sure they do not cause any ache on the ankles or toes.
- Always remember to carry Insect repellent for protection from insect bites.
Uganda Gorilla trekking rules and regulations
For any Gorilla tracking safari in Uganda, all trekkers need to follow the set rules and regulations or the dos and don’ts of the activity.
This is what makes the trek memorable as there is amicable understanding for everyone, here are the rules and regulations;
Only persons of 15 years and above are allowed to trek gorillas. This is because children below 15 are known to be unpredictable and therefore you can not determine how they will behave in the presence of the gorillas.
- In case of a cold, you are advised not to trek gorillas since they can easily catch a cold.
- While in the forest, human waste should be buried 30cm deep
- Always keep a 7m (21ft) distance from the gorillas
- Any kind of smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted allowed during gorilla trekking
- If you must sneeze or cough always cover your face and turn away from the gorillas
- One hour is the maximum time for each trek in the presence of the gorillas.
- During the trek, do not use flash photography
Is it possible for the disabled and aged to trek Gorillas in Uganda?
A special needs gorilla safari can always be planned for travelers who can not hike either because of disability or old age.
We are dedicated to ensuring accessible tourism and therefore plan trips for the disabled. Yes, it is possible for people with disabilities to have a gorilla trekking experience.
The disabled are advised to hire a sedan chair either metallic or made out of bamboo that is used to carry them along the trek.
Four energetic men from the community will offer a service at an additional fees to carry the person all through their trek.
On reaching the gorillas, the tourist is put down for a chance to take photographs and spend 1 hour with the Mountain Gorillas.
How do I book for a Uganda Gorilla trekking safari?
Now that you know what Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda is all about, in case you need to book a safari all you need to do is contact Kabira Uganda Safaris.
We are a fully registered and accredited Uganda safari company based in Uganda.
We pride in customizing Uganda gorilla safaris all year round. We plan your trip according to your need whether as a short or long trip.
Many travellers prefer to plan their gorilla safaris with Uganda wildlife safaris and bird watching tours in Uganda. Just contact us and we shall ensure all you bookings are done before you start your trip.