Uganda Gorilla Trekking – Ultimate Guide to Uganda Gorilla Safaris 2022
Uganda gorilla trekking are Africa wildlife safari designed for mountain gorilla encounter and conservation.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is one of the most exceptional out-door activities and one a kind experiences that allows tourists on Uganda safari to encounter a family of mountain gorillas face to face while in their natural habitat.
Gorilla trekking is undoubtedly a bucket-list adventure for most travelers on East African safari holiday.
What is Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking is a means in which trekkers/visitors/tourists on gorilla tour can see gorillas in the wild. It is entirely an on-foot-walk experience taking visitors via lush juggles with park guide on lead and includes use of machetes to create path as you search for a gorilla family.
Gorilla trekking takes time and depending on visitor physical levels, nature of habitat among other factors, this adventure can take 2 to 6 hours.
Where do Gorillas in Uganda live?
There are only 2 places to see mountain gorillas in Uganda while on your gorilla safari tour. The 2 magical gorilla trekking spots in Uganda include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
However, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the most famous gorilla safari park in Uganda due to its huge profusion of gorillas and habituated gorilla families to trek, varied accommodation choices among other factors.
The gorilla safari park a tourist chooses to visit to see mountain gorillas in Uganda all depends on their travel plans or time available. The cost for gorilla permits remains the same in all the 2 Uganda gorilla trekking spots.
Note, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park all straddle in the far Southwestern side of Uganda, close to Rwanda border to the South and D.R. Congo to the West.
Uganda gorilla trekking can be conducted as an independent activity or combined with other unique experiences in the savanna parks, other rainforest parks like Kibale National Park for chimpanzee tracking or still, add on various activities within Bwindi or Mgahinga Gorilla Park on your gorilla safari package.
Uganda Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, lying in the extreme Southwestern part of Uganda is without doubt the country’s premier gorilla trekking destination.
The park sits on 331sq.kms of land area, featuring an extensive impenetrable forest and boasts of 20 habituated gorilla groups all set for gorilla trekking. All habituated gorilla group families in Bwindi are accessible from the 4 major regions/trailheads/sectors; Rushaga, Nkuringo, Buhoma and Ruhija.
In every region or sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, each gorilla family has its own story to share and levels of difficulty do vary. Visitors depart a gorilla trekking sector after briefing with maximum of 8 visitors assigned to track only one gorilla family. Normal gorilla trekking begins at 8:00am and visitors are accompanied by an armed park guide.
Uganda Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga offers a great opportunity to tourists on Uganda gorilla tour to explore the park’s only habituated gorilla family- Nyakagezi. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park lies near Uganda border with Rwanda and it is not only popular for gorilla trekking but also for golden monkey tracking.
How many Mountain Gorillas are in Uganda?
Uganda is a home to only the endangered mountain gorillas, one of the Eastern gorilla sub-species. In Uganda alone, a total of about 459 mountain gorillas exist in the two of its gorilla trekking spots- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
The remaining portion of these rare apes are protected within the Virunga Conservation Area/region that is composed of 3 National Parks- Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park D.R. Congo and MGNP- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Uganda shelters variety of primate species with mountain gorillas being the most distinct creatures. Over 98% of mountain gorillas’ DNA is similar to that of humans and on Uganda gorilla trekking in Bwindi or Mgahinga National Parks, you have a chance to make comparison on how humans are closely related to these rare apes.
Gorilla Trekking Vs Gorilla Tracking
Many times, gorilla trekking and gorilla tracking have been used interchangeably by most Uganda gorilla safari holidaymakers. The two terms have a slight difference- gorilla trekking is all about following gorillas with the lead of the park guide to see a habituated gorilla family.
Gorilla trekking includes trackers/park rangers using monitoring method to search for a particular habituated gorilla family. They (trackers/park rangers) are always sent early to the field to trace where the gorillas are before visitors depart the briefing point.
The park rangers/trackers co-ordinate with guides and direct them where the group of gorillas they are searching for is located and generally, this has made gorilla trekking easier.
What is the age limit for Gorilla Trekking?
Whether it is in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park where you plan to go to enjoy Uganda gorilla trekking, the minimum age limit is 15. Not only does this apply to Uganda alone but also cuts across other gorilla safari destinations such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The amazing part about gorilla trekking is that even persons with disability, expecting mothers and elderly/those above 65 can be part of this exhilarating adventure.
Is it safe to go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda-The pearl of Africa?
What makes Uganda an outstanding and preferred gorilla trekking destination is a fact that it is safe and secure. In Uganda, visitor safety comes first regardless of your Uganda safari or travel plans in the Pearl of Africa.
On actual Uganda gorilla trekking in Bwindi or Mgahinga NP, the park officials assign tourists already habituated gorilla groups and each group of trekkers are led by an armed park guide. Also, briefing is done before any group of trekkers departs for actual gorilla trekking adventure.
The best time to go for Uganda Gorilla Trekking?
Uganda is an all year-round gorilla trekking destination due to her favorable weather and climatic conditions. But, the dry season is the best period to visit Uganda to enjoy this thrilling experience- either in Bwindi or Mgahinga.
There are 2 drier seasons Uganda experiences each year- the first that begins from June to September/December to February. During then, the tracking trails tend to be dry and passable
Why is the cost of Gorilla Trekking high?
Gorilla trekking has been described by many as “expensive”, “costly” but why? Gorilla trekking is costly or expensive for many reasons but majorly because of the high cost for conserving and protecting the endangered mountain gorillas.
What park authorities such as Uganda Wildlife Authority collect from gorilla permits, a large portion of it goes to facilitate conservation activities, paying park officials/guides/rangers, vet doctors, researchers etc. Mountain gorillas are only 1063 worldwide and an encounter with them in the wild is a priceless experience.
Securing a Gorilla Permit
As of 2021/2022, all Uganda gorilla trekking permits are currently fixed at USD700 for foreign non-residents, USD600 for foreign residents and UGX250,000 per person for East Africa citizens.
When and how should you book a Uganda gorilla permit? All gorilla permits must be booked early at least 2 to 4 months prior setting off for actual Uganda gorilla safari trip.
Most times, there are visitors who prefer booking their permits one year early and it is possible to do this with a trusted ground tour operator like Hail Tours Uganda.
What to wear/carry on a Gorilla Trek in Uganda?
When choosing what to pack for a Uganda gorilla trekking tour, essentials must be considered first. These should include waterproof hiking/trekking boots/shoes, light waterproof pants, long socks, rain jacket/coat, long sleeve shirt, insect repellent- preferably get DEET, gardening gloves, hand sanitizer, first aid kit, bottled water, daypack, snacks and more.
Gorilla Trekking Rules & Regulations/guidelines/safety measures
Prior setting off for actual gorilla trek in Bwindi or Mgahinga, briefing is conducted by park official where visitors get to learn the gorilla trekking rules/guidelines.
These should be observed at all times and they include; observing a distance of 8-10m, no use of flashlight cameras, no going to track gorillas when sick/ill, keep low the voices when tracking/trekking gorillas, spend only one hour with gorillas, a maximum of 8 visitors are allowed to track one gorilla family, cover your mouth if you are coughing or nose when sneezing, persons above 15 years are allowed to go see gorillas and others.
Are gorilla encounters guaranteed in Uganda?
There is a 99% chance to encounter mountain gorillas in the wild while on Uganda gorilla safari. The number of gorillas in Uganda has risen and interestingly, before actual treks begin, a group of trackers are sent to search for these apes hence increasing visitor chances of seeing them in the wild.
How difficult is Uganda Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda like it is Rwanda or D.R. Congo requires certain physical fitness levels. The entire activity includes walking via the beautiful tropical rain-forest or tough terrain to see a group of mountain gorillas.
Walking sticks are essential and shall be provided but carry plenty of drinking water, snacks to keep you fit all your trek.
Where can I stay on Uganda Gorilla Trekking?
Most gorilla safaris are concentrated in and around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and few are in Mgahinga.
They existing accommodation options range from budget to luxury with popular ones including Bwindi Volcanoes Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Nshongi Camp, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp, Nkuringo Lodge, Mount Gahinga Lodge.