Practical Gorilla Trekking Information for Uganda
All you need to Know – Practical Gorilla Trekking – Information -Tips – Advice
Practical Gorilla Trekking Information -Tips – Advice for those trekking the Gentle Giants in Uganda and Rwanda. We cut across they hype and wrong information found on the internet and give you the straight facts, we also update the information if changes occur.
Rwanda Gorilla Permits doubled in price to 1500 USD – this is to fund the conservation efforts and aiding the local communities around Volcanoes National Park, it is also part of the country’s effort to market itself as an upmarket destination, especially when it comes to Gorilla Trekking.
Uganda’s Gorilla Permits remain at 600 USD until December 31, 2019. This gives the African Travelers a choice between safe and secure Gorilla Trekking since both countries are considered secure for Trekkers.
Mountain Gorillas – you cannot experience them in person anywhere else in the world (they do not survive in zoos) but in this small slice of Africa, which is the heart of the continent, in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo there are the 880+ remaining Mountain Gorillas – when the Census in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is completed we will update this figure.
You can safely track them in Uganda and Rwanda – we have compiled some pages that if you are wanting to go on a Gorilla Trek here is all the Practical Gorilla Trekking Information -Tips – Advice that will enable to have the best experience tracking Mountain Gorillas in Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and in Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park. Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic Congo is closed for the remainder of 2018.
The best option for those wanting to trek Gorillas in a safe and secure setting at a more reasonable price than Rwanda is in Uganda.
You will make your Gorilla Trek more memorable if you “Know Before You Go” about what is involved with you having a memorable Encounter with the Gentle Giants of the Forest.
Helpful Practical Gorilla Trekking Information -Tips – Advice
Mountain Gorilla Background Information – Mountain Gorilla Background Information-Facts-History-Behavior of Mountain Gorillas, Habitat and Diet and Predators – chief predator being a man.
The endangered Mountain Gorillas of Uganda will not be found in any zoo in the world (they do not survive in captivity and there are no surviving mountain gorillas in zoos), you can only find them in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Mountain Gorillas, thanks to Conservation Efforts supported in large part by Gorilla Tourism and Permit Revenue are growing in numbers in a dramatic way.
Preserving and enlarging their habitat remains the biggest Challenge, Larger buffer zones between parks the local Communities are also a Priority.
The Father of Gorilla Tourism in Uganda– Walter Baumgartel
A South African wrote some time back that he felt that gorilla tracking was not really worth it. Too much hassle, too much money, too many bugs, too much effort. How wrong he was and is.
The Thousands that go on a gorilla trek each year will tell otherwise and one never hears a bit of regret, only wishing that they could track the gorillas once again.
Gorilla Tracking like all priceless things in life has a price – 1500 USD for permits in Rwanda and 600 USD in Uganda, add-on top of that lodging, transport, guides, tips and yes, it is a bundle of money – no one has ever complained but the writer of a blog that I answer in the link above, who never tracked gorillas.
Gorilla Trekking is the most Expensive Tourist Experience in Africa – yet Thousands flock to the Heart of Africa for an incredible, up-close encounter with them.
The above is question one often receives from clients. One also sees such questions on forums, TripAdvisor, and blogs.
Uganda and Rwanda offer similar experiences when it comes time to spend that hour with the Mountain Gorillas.
The above link gives the pros and cons of Rwanda and for Uganda when it comes to Mountain Gorilla Trekking.
If you are in doubt regarding which country to visit take a look. Our suggestion – Track the Mountain Gorillas in both Rwanda and in Uganda. Even better track the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and go on 4 hours with the Gorillas on a Gorilla Habituation Experience.
Gorilla Trekking is expensive, there is no doing a Gorilla Trekking on the Cheap, it is the most expensive tourist activity in Africa and most likely beyond.
There are some money-saving choices that you can make. Choices that can save you hundreds of dollars. This is where we can be of help and assist you in creating a safari that is within reach, ways of stretching your hard earned money, getting as the Americans say, More Bang for your Buck.
When it comes to Gorilla Safaris, there are no fire sales, no more seasonal discounts, no Black Friday Sales Days, but wise choice, and a Tour Company that understands your needs and wishes can keep within reason. Many potential Trekkers come down with a case of Gorilla Safari Price sticker shock. There is no cheap gorilla Trekking safari in spite of some tour operators using that term, we like to say, remember the Yugo, the cheapest car made in its time.
Gorilla Tracking – both in Rwanda and in Uganda are safe and secure and there have no issues with insecurity in either country.
The safest place to be is on a safari in either Uganda or Rwanda.
On a gorilla trek, rangers guide you along with an armed military escort. Pretrackers are out in search of your Gorilla Group and the way is laid out before you hit the trail.
Gorilla Trekking is a major source of income for both Rwanda and Uganda and both governments have done everything to make it a safe experience for visitors since all it takes is one incident to destroy Gorilla Tourism for a country and that is the last thing Rwanda or Uganda want.
Gorilla Tracking takes place in Uganda and Rwanda all year-long – there are two rainy seasons where the trails become quite muddy. One must also realize that it does not rain all day long during the rainy seasons. Most often it will rain during the night and the early morning hours. The sun will still come out on most days.
In the rainforests of Uganda and Rwanda, it can rain during the dry seasons. When it rains in Uganda and Rwanda – it is mostly during the night or early mornings and then it clears up once again as the sun comes out.
Luxury lodges in Bwindi Forest offer seasonal discounts. Lodges set their own dates and they most often differ from another.
Road quality, already bad road become worse, especially unpaved roads, we do use 4-wheel drive vehicles that will ease getting around.
Rainy Season means trekking without the Crowds.
This is a frequent question we receive/ At the crack of dawn, which is around 6:30 am, Pre-Trackers head into the forest, to the last GPS location of a Gorilla Family. From there they follow the tracks left by the Gentle Giants.
Gorillas move less than three kilometers a day. When they find a group, the GPS location and other references are communicated to the Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo UWA Trailhead.
The Rangers and trackers that lead you into the forest on your trek are not the ones to find your group, that has been already done by the pre-tracking team. This is something most Gorilla Trekking do not realize.
Do Visitors ever miss seeing their assigned Gorilla Families? It happened once to one of our clients 8 years ago, the next day the client did.
Here is practical advice about what to wear for while Gorilla Trekking in Uganda or Rwanda. Often Trekkers are not dressed right for the occasion and that can spoil your day and your focus might not be the Gorillas but personal discomfort and misery.
Wearing the right clothing is about protection. There are not many mosquitoes found on a trek, but there are flies and ants. You need protection from nettles, thorns, branches that can scratch you.
This is the day where you need to dress for the occasion, Gorilla Trekking in the African Wild of Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Just look at what the Rangers are wearing.
One of the complaints that one hears about Gorilla Trekking – actually two. I wish I had hired a porter to free me up for the trek and the second one is – I wish I had used a Walking Stick to steady myself along the steep paths while gorilla trekking.
When you hire a porter, you make it easier for yourself and it allows you to focus on the trek, it also empowers a Ugandan with an income that exceeds most public servants in government.
A Walking Stick is one of the handiest things you can have along on your gorilla trek, it will steady your hike in and out to your gorilla family and give you the support that you need.
You can even buy a carved walking stick that you can take home as a souvenir of this day.
Porters make a difference in the Quality of your Trek.
Habituation is a process where a Gorilla Family Group becomes used to Human Visitors and continue with their daily activities while visitors are present. The process of habituation is normally about two years where researchers, trackers, rangers work in getting gorillas ready for visitation.
The Family Groups vary in numbers of family members and though one could put a number to each family group, by the time you arrive it can change. There are family feuds that lead to splits in families and new groups are formed.
There are also birth and deaths take place in the families, presently they vary in size from 6 to over 20 in number.
You can take part in the Habituation Process by going on a Gorilla Habituation Experience.
In 2013 a 94-year-old woman was carried on a stretcher on her Gorilla trek and fulfilled her lifelong dream to see the Mountain Gorillas in her lifetime – she did. She was carried by 12 men in relay teams and did it – most that go gorilla tracking are a bit younger, though we have clients that were 80 years old and did just fine.
One should be in reasonable shape and state of fitness to track the gorillas. The gorilla group requiring the most stamina and strength is the Nkuringo Gorilla group since you have to ascend and descend 600 at the beginning and the end of the trek – however, Porters can be used to carry your daypack and walking sticks can be purchased or some lodges have them available for their guests.
Both Uganda and Rwanda have tough groups to track and easier ones – we will work with you according to your fitness level and stamina.
Your time with a gorilla group is one hour in both Uganda or Rwanda –that does not take into account the time it takes to track your group. Even before you go to the park headquarters – pre-trackers are out finding the location of your group for that day.
The whole normally takes about 5 hours – it can be longer (up to 8) or shorter in time depending on the location of your gorilla group on that day.
That one hour with a Gorilla is for most a once in a lifetime event however you can also be with the Gorillas for 4 hours on a habituation experience.
Most want more time with the Gorillas…
Gorilla Permits for Uganda and Rwanda are best booked through your Safari Tour Operator such as ourselves. That is the easiest and hassle-free way.
Permits in Uganda are booked through a member of AUTO – The Association of Uganda Tour Operators that work together with the Uganda Wildlife Authority in the promotion and sales of permits.
In Rwanda, Gorilla Permits are booked in a similar manner by Tour Operators who fully understand the routines and ways to obtain permits for your Gorilla Trek in Rwanda.
Discounted Gorilla Permits in Uganda were discontinued at the end of November – 2017 – the reason was one of marketing. Uganda Permits 900 USD less than Rwanda Permits and no reason for even lower permits was seen as unnecessary. Uganda, unlike Rwanda, offers discounts to Ugandans, Foreign Residents. East African Citizens.
The Number one Gorilla Permit Mistake made by African Travelers is that Gorilla Trekking is an afterthought, an add-on.
Such planning often results in no Gorilla Trekking or Gorilla Habituation Experience Permits.
The way to avoid hearing that Permits are sold out is simple. For the African it means reverse planning, not beginning with the Serengeti or Masai Mara that can be done anytime but beginning with the Gorilla Trekking part of your time in Africa.
Avoid hearing the permits are sold out on the dates you gave us. Read our suggestions.
The Gorilla Tracking Safari has some rules, guidelines, etiquette that go along with it and it is best to know about them prior to the gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda.
The rules for Gorilla Tracking are most similar and they are strictly enforced by the Rangers in both countries.
They range as to how much time you will have with the mountain gorillas, to rules about your health and well-being so that you do not infect a gorilla with the flu or a cold for example.
The distance you will have to be from the gorillas, the use of a camera without flash and more. Simple things that are good to know.in both countries taking our Ultimate Gorilla Challenge.
Always follow the instructions of the Rangers leading your Trekking Party.
Gorilla Photography is a bit different, at times it can be the lighting since often you will have you’re one hour encounter in the forest where the conditions are a bit different.
Here is practical advice for you to get the best results while taking pictures of the Mountain Gorillas while tracking them in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda or Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
Photography of gorillas made a bit easier for you…enjoy your Trek while taking some great photos of the mountain gorillas in both Rwanda and Uganda.
Best Tip – take many pictures – keep the best ones.
Children under the age of 15 cannot track mountain gorillas, however, we design special children activities while the parents track the mountain gorillas. For younger children, we have even engaged nannies to entertain them while the parents are off on their trek.
Cultural Visits – including village – school visits are often arranged by us and of course, since we use kid-friendly driver guides the children will be in good hands with us.
Presently there is no nature – bush-craft program for children that takes place in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Volcanoes National Park such as there is in Kibale Forest while parents track Chimpanzees.
Exceptions to the 15-year rule can be obtained under certain conditions such as being close to the 15th Birthday.
A Gorilla Habituation Experience is being for four hours with the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest on an all-day trek.
Here you will find all that you need to know about the Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda
You can only have the Experience in Uganda, not any other Country. There are only two gorilla families that you can visit on a Habituation Experience in the Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The number of participants is limited to 4 per day, per group which means that only 8 participants are allowed each day in total for two groups. Permits cost 1,500 USD per person and are obtained through the warden of the Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. This is a great opportunity for those that want to spend more time with the Gentle Giants of the Forest.
Comparing the Gorilla Habituation Experience with regular Gorilla Trekking
You can fly into Kigali, Rwanda and then trek Gorillas in Uganda. It is a 4 hour plus scenic drive through the scenic highlands of Rwanda and Uganda to the southern area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It is only 3 hours to Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
The drive from Entebbe in Uganda to Bwindi Forest is 9 to 10 hours. This is much more convenient for many of our Clients and saves you a lot of wear and tear unless you are visiting other Parks in Western Uganda. you might also want to check out “The easiest ways of getting to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.”
Kigali has become not only the gateway to Rwanda but the gateway to Southwest Uganda. The border crossing has become easier, especially with the East African Tourist Visa that you can obtain. You can also get a Rwandan Visa on arrival and a Ugandan Visa at the Border.
In Rwanda Lodging for your gorilla is often right in town except for upmarket and exclusive Lodging. In Uganda, you need to have your tour operator put you into a lodge near to where you will be trekking Gorillas. Lodging for Mgahinga Gorilla Park can be near the park, along Lake Mutanda or in the town of Kisoro.
If you are going on a Gorilla Habituation Experience then you need to stay in a lodge near Rushaga, in Nkuringo or along Lake Mutanda. This is best handled by a Tour Operator such as ourselves.
Rwanda has more exclusive Lodges for Gorilla Trekking while Uganda gives you a greater choice and wider range of prices from Budget to Luxury and exclusive Lodges. There are now 4 exclusive Lodges in Buhoma and Nkuringo areas of Bwindi Forest.
In Rwanda Gorilla Trekking takes place in Volcanoes National Park – yet there is much more to do there then to track Gorillas.
In Uganda, the primary Gorilla Trekking Park is in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where you have 12 Groups that can be tracked. There are also two groups that are undergoing habituation and you can see them in Rushaga.
Mgahinga Gorilla Park is the other park for Gorilla Trekking with one Gorilla Family open for visitation. There are 80 plus gorillas that live in the park and the trek takes place on the sides of the Virunga Volcanoes which is very similar to treks in Rwanda but at a 900 USD savings on permits.
Uganda in 2018 remains the Best Gorilla Trekking option for most Trekkers.
Gorilla Trekking and Gorilla Trekking Safaris are what we do best. We know all about the Gentle Giants of the Forest.
We use tried and proven quality mid-range and luxury Lodges and most of all we as a member of the Association of Ugandan Tour Operators we partner with Uganda Wildlife Authority as an authorized Sales Agents. All of our Primate come with permits and AUTO Members have the first access to the permits.
Over a Decade we have taken Clients on their Incredible Up-Close Encounter with the Gentle Giants of the Forest.